By Karen Singer
Chapter 51 Part 3 of 3
Jessica parked her car in the lot at the Italian restaurant and breathed a sigh of relief. So far, so good. But she was already dreading taking the stupid pacifier out of her mouth. She had called her sister to warn her of what she was trying to do. Her sister still thought she was faking most of it. She couldn’t help that. But her sister had also said to let her know again when she was on her way home so she could be there for her… eventually. She did have her husband as well as Jessica’s and her own kids to take care of.
As she turned her car engine off, she saw Candy Brinkley’s pickup truck pulling in right next to her. The fact that he drove a pickup only made Candy seem… more masculine to her. She tried to put that notion out of her head. It would do neither of them any good. She had chosen this restaurant because she knew it would be dark and she could hide a bit better in the booths. Before leaving her office, she and Candy had worked out what they would do if… if… if she didn’t make it. Basically, he would drive her home and take care of her until her sister could get there. She prayed it wouldn’t be necessary.
Plucking up her courage, she pulled the pacifier out of her mouth and got out of the car. Candy was already waiting for her. She could see how nervous he looked. She couldn’t blame him one bit. Instead of the blind leading the blind, tonight it was going to be the humiliated leading the humiliated. They would try to lean on each other. “Ready?” she asked, trying to sound cheerful.
“I’m doing my best,” Roger replied. “I can’t tell you how embarrassed I feel right now, but I know I have to get used to it.”
“You do,” Jessica replied as they walked. “But it also means you have to get better at… blending.”
“Don’t I know it!”
Entering the restaurant, Jessica’s mind dredged up haunting memories of the many times she had been there in the past – with her ex-husband… many years ago. Back before things went bad with their marriage. Now she was here again with another man. Except, she had to stop thinking of Candy as another man. That was one of the reasons she was doing her best to only think of him as Candy and not… Roger.
She sensed Candy holding back, trying to stay behind her as they approached the receptionist’s desk. With the need for her pacifier already growing more firmly on her mind, she stepped forward to take the lead and ask for a quiet table where they could be alone… to talk. She saw the receptionist stare a bit too long at Candy, before she picked up two menus and led the way.
Jessica slid into the booth first, while Candy, acting like a man, politely waited before heading to the other side of the booth. But before he sat down, she said, “Wait! Sit over here next to me.” Her hands were already desperately opening her purse to find her pacifier as Candy moved into her side of the booth as well… hiding her a bit more from anyone who might look their way. Jessica’s hand was firmly locked around her pacifier… out of sight in her purse, as the receptionist took way too long telling them who their server would be and about the new appetizers the restaurant offered. She thanked the receptionist, but her pacifier was in her mouth the moment her back was turned. She felt totally relieved the moment she started sucking on it. And totally embarrassed too. With her hand shyly covering what was in her mouth, she turned toward Candy.
Roger smiled and pulled her hand away, exposing the pacifier. “Don’t worry about it,” he said softly. “But what I want to know is, what’s everybody going to think?”
She didn’t say anything, but her eyes told him she didn’t understand what he was talking about.
“About two women sitting next to each other like this?” he finished.
If it wasn’t for the pacifier in her mouth, Jessica would have laughed for all too many reasons. “I don’t care!” she replied softly but firmly. And then she felt her crotch growing wet again. Ugh! And she had changed her diaper just before they left her office. Now she would have to sit through the entire dinner in a wet diaper!
A waitress suddenly appeared seemingly out of nowhere and Jessica quickly pulled the pacifier out of her mouth and hid it in her closed hand. But she couldn’t miss the surprised stare of the waitress. She had seen! And then Jessica saw the waitress turn her eyes on Candy… and there was no doubt that the waitress was bothered by Candy’s… appearance.
“Should we leave?” Roger asked the waitress, speaking very softly.
“Oh! No! Not at all,” the waitress replied quickly, trying to compose herself. “You’re fine. It’s just…”
“Don’t worry about it,” Roger replied with a small shake of his head. “Can I get some coffee?”
“Yeah, sure!” the waitress replied. She looked to Jessica. “And for you?”
“Iced tea?” Jessica requested.
Roger looked to Jessica as he shook his head, signifying that he didn’t want any for himself. “No thank you,” Jessica replied for both of them. She had noticed that Candy was still trying to use his “female” voice when he spoke. She silently applauded his effort to keep at it. Or did he talk that way all the time now because… that woman – Janice, had something to do with it? The moment the waitress was gone, her pacifier was back in her mouth. Relief… again. This time she kept her hand somewhat in front of her mouth again to further hide her embarrassment.
“The appetizers sound good,” Roger commented, “but I can’t seem to eat as much with this corset on.”
Jessica smiled, not sure if it was an attempt at light humor or not. “I’m not surprised she replied.
“What happened to you last week?” Roger asked.
She wanted badly to reply. She wanted badly to tell him exactly what she had endured at the hands of… his housekeeper. But she had sudden visions of that weird grey wall that separated out what she could and couldn’t do. But still, it seemed that there were things she was able to say to him. She guessed she should be grateful for that. “Um… I’m afraid I can’t… talk about most of it,” she managed to get out. “But I have managed to talk about the results so far.”
“I think I understand the part you can’t talk about,” Roger told her. “Some of it anyway. I can’t talk about a lot of things too.” He stared at her for a moment before asking, “Can I tell you a story though? Something I… overheard recently.”
Instead of replying around the pacifier she was still sucking on, she only nodded.
“I’ve been hounded lately by two FBI men,” Roger told her.
“The FBI!” she blurted out, suddenly not caring about anything that was currently embarrassing her. Would she be in trouble now with the FBI too?
Roger nodded. “Yeah. It seems they’ve been watching Janice fairly closely for… something.” And then his voice just seemed to blurt out, “But she didn’t do it! I’ve been nothing but completely happy with her since she came to work for me. I love having her in my house and she does a darn good job cooking and cleaning and a lot of other things. And I love having her daughter in the house with me too. They’ve both been really great!” He was almost breathless by the time he got it all out.
Jessica just stared at him in shock. If she wasn’t stuck sucking so hard on her pacifier it would have probably dropped out of her mouth. And somehow, she didn’t believe a single word that he had just said. Were those things something else that she had done to him? She wanted badly to believe that. “Is there more to the story?” she finally asked.
Roger looked at her a bit sheepishly. “Sorry,” he said. “Yeah, there’s more. The FBI guys met with me in the school principal’s office again.”
“Yeah, they had been there once before. They’ve been kind of hounding some of my friends too.”
She was suddenly feeling more hope than she had all day. The FBI were on to her! They would catch that woman and put a stop to all of this… and maybe in the process, they would help her too! “Okay,” she said, “so what happened at this meeting?”
“Well, one of them had a phone call while they were questioning me. The call was from a doctor in a mental institute somewhere.”
The words ‘mental institute’ grabbed Jessica’s full attention.
“Anyway,” Roger continued, “his partner wanted to hear what was said too so they put the phone on speaker. I asked if they wanted me to leave, but they told me to stay instead and I overheard everything that was said.”
“So… what did you hear?” Jessica asked, her hand still covering the bottom of her face.
But before Roger could reply, the waitress was back again with their drinks. Jessica desperately pulled her pacifier out again with her hand, but she knew that the waitress had seen her doing it.
“Did you decide what you want to order?” the waitress asked brightly, doing her best to ignore what she had seen the customer doing.
Roger looked to Jessica, then back to the waitress. “Can you give us a few more minutes,” he replied, “we forgot to look at the menu.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“So what happened?” Jessica asked as soon as she was gone and her pacifier was back where it belonged.
“As I said, the call was from a doctor in a mental institute. He told them about one of the patients there that evidently they had checked on some time ago. The doctor referred to the patient as ‘the bug man’ because everybody seemed to think he acted like a bug of some kind.”
“A bug!” Jessica exclaimed. The woman’s words about most of her victims not getting the honor of being human suddenly became more clear.
Roger nodded. “A bug. Anyway, the doctor said that they had been kind of at their wits end with him, and they finally subjected him to a few rounds of electroshock therapy.”
“What happened?” Jessica asked anxiously.
“Evidently,” Roger replied, “he woke up out of his nightmare and suddenly started screaming about how bad the walls were.” Roger looked at her more intently. “But the minute they sat him up, he went right back into his non-communicative, bug-like state.”
Jessica’s face suddenly clouded over at hearing that. “He shouted about the walls?” she asked.
“I think… he was shouting about ‘the wall’ instead. One wall.”
Jessica’s eyes quickly searched out his. “The wall,” she said breathlessly and watched as he nodded. “Stand up,” she breathed, her mind’s eye focusing on her own personal wall. And every time I…”
“Sit down,” Roger finished for her. Somehow, he felt a tiny sense of relief at being able to say that. And he was certain she understood.
Jessica stared at him. She knew it! He saw that same horrible wall every time he stood up or sat down too. The wall that locked away all her ability to not do what the woman wanted. Her own wall was impossibly thick. How much worse was his wall now? She couldn’t even imagine it. Knowing there was nothing she could do about it, she picked up her menu. “We better figure out what we want to eat,” she said, forcing herself to look at the menu and not him.
Roger picked up his menu and stared at it too.
“Thank you for telling me that,” she said softly, still staring at her menu.
“I figured you might be interested,” Roger replied, also staring at the items on the pages in front of him.
The waitress came back with their drinks and they finally ordered their food. Jessica pulled an empty baby bottle out of her purse and filled it from her glass as furtively as possible. She couldn’t help but feel Candy’s gaze as she did it. She took a quick sip from the bottle, then hid it down on the seat between them where nobody else could see it. When she was done, Roger half turned back toward her again. He wanted to know more about what she was going through. But he didn’t get the chance to ask because she beat him to it. “Tell me about yourself,” she said.
Roger shrugged. “Not much to tell. And honestly, I don’t know what to say.”
Was he ducking around more things that the woman wouldn’t let him talk about? “Then tell me about Candy,” she suggested instead. “I can’t help you, if I don’t know anything about you and what you’re trying to do.”
Roger would have rather talked about her, but it seemed she wasn’t giving him the opportunity. “I don’t know what to tell you. You know why I’m… changing. And I guess you know that I’m doing it as fast as possible.”
“In every way that modern medicine can make you,” she replied.
He looked at her for a moment. “Exactly.”
“So… what have you been… doing lately?” she asked.
He took a big breath and let it out. “Trying to cope.” It was a moment more before he spoke again. “I seem to be… Candy… all the time now, except for when I’m in school teaching.”
“You mentioned school before. What do you teach?”
“High school math.”
“Do you like it?”
“I love it. But… well… as of the end of the school year, I’m going to be a full time handyman… or handygirl… or something like that. ‘Candy girl, the handy girl,’ he quoted mockingly.
She smiled. “Catchy. So at least you’ll have a way to make a living.”
He nodded. “But the question is, how do I live with myself? How do I learn to be comfortable with myself as a woman, when…” But he found that he couldn’t tell her that he didn’t want to be a woman. He couldn’t say those words.
“When you don’t know how?” she suggested.
“That’s a lot of it,” he agreed.
“What don’t you know?” she asked.
“Everything!” he replied. “Clothes, shopping, how am I supposed to behave? How am I supposed to act? What am I supposed to think? Life!” he exclaimed. “How do I do any of it?”
She smiled. “It’s not going to be easy for you… and it’s going to take time. But I’m going to try to help you all I can. Those pills I gave you earlier will help some too… eventually. And as for clothes and shopping…” She stopped and smiled. “I guess I could take you shopping sometime and help you all I can. Shopping is something I’ve always been good at.”
“Can we go tonight?” Roger asked, anxious to take her up on that offer.
“Sorry,” she replied. “But even now I’m starting to feel more and more worried about what will happen to me. Maybe we better wait a few weeks until I’m… not so helpless anymore.”
“I may hold you to that!”
“That’s fine,” she replied.
They talked lightly through dinner. Despite their situation, they both seemed to enjoy each other’s company. Roger was desperate for someone to be kind to him and to help him, and Jessica not only found herself forced to do all she could for him, she found she really wanted to help him. She actually liked him. And by the time they had finished eating, she was wondering how he would be in bed – as a man!”
When the waitress brought the check after dinner, Roger reached up and took it.
“I’ll take that,” Jessica told him.
“It’s okay. I’ve got it,” Roger replied.
She looked at him. “I make way more money than you do Candy. And there’s something else too.”
“You’re acting like a man. You need to learn to stop that.”
“I don’t think I know how.”
She reached over and plucked the check out of his hand. “This is the first part,” she replied.
Roger relented, but again he had that feeling he had lost a tiny piece of his old life. After she had paid with her credit card, he grabbed his purse and started to slide out of the booth. “This is something else I’m having a hard time getting used to,” he said.
“What’s that?” she asked as she slid across the seat, her wet diaper making the effort feel all too strange.
“Having to carry this!” he replied.
“Your purse?” she asked.
“Yeah. It’s… weird. I hate it!”
“I love purses,” she told him as she got to her feet. “They’re so… feminine!” She looked at him thoughtfully. “But you don’t understand feminine yet, do you?”
He shook his head. “Right now, this thing is just a… necessary nuisance!”
“Momma,” Carol said, “next week is finals. Don’t forget we still need to find something for Mr. Brinkley.”
“Oh dear, I did forget,” Janice told her. “Thank you for reminding me. We’ll try to go shopping sometime this week, or perhaps this weekend.” Headlights from Roger’s truck suddenly poured through the living room window. “I think he’s finally home. That took longer than I expected.”
Roger came through the front door, to find both Janice and Carol staring at him. He looked around uncertainly. “What?” he asked. “Is something wrong?”
Janice shook her head. “No, it just took a bit longer than I thought it would. Did the doctor see you right away?”
“Oh yeah!” Roger replied. “I didn’t have to wait at all!”
“Good!” Janice exclaimed. “I want you to have perfect service from her from now on.”
Roger chanced telling her. “I had dinner with her too.”
Janice was surprised. “You did?”
“She’s… trying to help me as much as possible,” he told her. “Since I don’t have a psychologist that I can see.”
Janice considered that. “That’s actually… very helpful,” she decided. “And how… did your meeting go?”
Roger looked at her for a moment before saying, “It was… very interesting,” he replied. “Especially considering some of her… rather peculiar habits that she seems to have acquired recently. And the air was very thick with things neither of us could say.”
Janice only smiled.
The next morning, Roger took his first dose of hormones. And three days later, the depression set in.