By Karen Singer
Chapter 66 Part 1 of 2
The sky was cloudy and light rain showers were falling from the sky as Candy helped them load their luggage into the back of the black SUV. The day was gloomy, but his spirits were brighter than they had been in a long time. He couldn’t wait to see that car drive out of sight. The anticipation of it made the actual time it took seem to take that much longer. But eventually he stood inside his garage and watched through the rain as they backed out of his dirt driveway, turn onto the road, and disappear. Finally! He did his best to put out of his mind that eventually they would be back. And when they did come back, he prayed that it would be only a very short time before they were gone again - permanently.
She had left him with very few restrictions while they were gone… on top of all the permanent things she had done to him. He still had to wear his corset… but now only when he was working. And since it was her will that he do so, he had no choice in the matter. Wearing his boots for all his jobs was a given. Another major sticking point was that until they were gone for good, their bedrooms would remain the same. He wasn’t even to go into her bedroom unless there was a real need.
In reality, they were small things. Things he was more than willing to accept. He was simply relieved to have them out of his life again… for the next four to six weeks. Hopefully even longer!
His phone rang and despite the rain, he hoped it was someone calling with another job. With Janice no longer supplementing his income, he knew he was going to be more desperate than ever for those jobs. “Hello?”
“Yes,” Candy replied.
“This is Mike Clemmons, I’m sorry but I don’t remember the new name you told me you were going by.”
“Candy,” Candy told him. “And it’s official now. My name has been legally changed.”
“Yeah, okay, whatever,” Mike replied.
“What can I do for you, Mike?”
“I need your help,” Mike told him.
“Look,” Mike replied, “let me say this first so there’s no question about it. I wouldn’t be calling you at all if I wasn’t desperate. I don’t exactly approve of what you’re doing to yourself and I’m more than a bit worried about how it will go with the rest of the guys. So I just wanted to get that out of the way first.”
“Gee thanks,” Candy replied. “You really know how to make a girl feel good. So I think you mentioned that you were desperate? It sounds like you must be!”
“Yeah, I’m afraid I am. I need another carpenter in the worst way right now, and you’re good at everything I need.”
“What happened to all the guys you have? You said a few weeks ago that you were keeping several crews busy.”
“One guy went into the army, one is moving to Mississippi, and I had another one just stop showing up. And none of my framing crew are experienced with finish work.”
“Geez,” Candy said, “You got hit all at once.”
“Yeah, well I’ve got a number of big projects going right now and the guys I have left are spread pretty thin. So how about it, can you help me out?”
Candy was about to say yes, right away, but he stopped. “Mike, I think it’s going to have to depend on a few things, and I’d rather be up front with them now than have any problems later.”
“Okay, like what?”
“Do you think your guys can work with someone like me?”
“I already talked to the crew you’ll be working with. They’re not exactly happy, but they agreed to give it a try.”
“Fair enough,” Candy said. “Another major thing for me is the business I’m trying to build. I have a few customers now that call me… and one of them is a contract for a shopping center that I do all the maintenance work for. If I have to attend to my business, then I need to be able to do that.”
Mike was silent for a moment. “How much business have you been getting lately?”
“Unfortunately, not much,” Candy replied.
“So you’d still be able to devote most of your time to my jobs?”
“Most likely. Of course there are a few other considerations too. I have two standing appointments that I can’t miss for my transition. One is early Tuesday mornings for an hour or so, and the other would mean I would have to leave by mid Friday afternoon every week to see my therapist.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem,” Mike replied. “I’m sure we can work around that.”
“Good,” Candy said, “And I’m afraid there’s one other thing that I’m going to have to insist on.”
Mike sighed. “What now?”
“My boots,” Candy said. “I wear high heeled boots whenever I work now and I don’t want anybody giving me any grief over it.”
“You’ve got to be kidding? That’s absurd… and probably dangerous! Why would you insist on doing something so stupid?”
“That’s my business,” Candy replied. “Take it or leave it!”
Mike was silent for a few moments. “Okay,” he finally replied. “Whatever you want. I just need your help.”
“Just tell me where and when. In fact, if you need I can leave right now.”
“You have no idea who much I would appreciate that!” Mike declared.
Janice only had to drive as far as Atlanta to meet with the Wu’s client. She was quite happy about that since she would be right there to catch a plane out to the Bahamas as soon as her business there was done. The hotel was easy to find, and just as fancy as Janice had suspected it would be. She pulled her car up out front and a valet took all their luggage out of the back and put it on a cart. Another attendant took the car to be parked. Check-in was fast and easy and it only took a few minutes before Janice and Carol were in their sumptuous suite. Now all they had to do was to wait for the Wu’s to call.
While Janice was checking into the hotel, Susan Wu and her father sat in the back of a large limousine at the Atlanta airport. They, and their accompanying parade of SUVs, were parked just outside of a small terminal for business jets only. They watched as an executive jet pulled up nearby and parked. They watched as two customs officials hurried onto the plane. They watched as the customs officials left the plane and the passengers were allowed to get off. At a signal from one of the terminal’s ground crew, the line of cars pulled closer to the plane. It was still a minute before anyone got off the plane though.
Mr. Wu and his daughter got out of the limo to wait for their guest. She didn’t appear however until nine of her men got off the plane first… and had checked the area as well as they could. All nine stayed near the stairs that led up into the plane as an older woman finally appeared. She carefully made her way down the steps to the pavement below.
Mr. Wu stepped forward. “Mrs. Alverez,” he said with a slight bow. “It is so good to see you again. I do hope your flight was a pleasant one.”
“Better than I expected,” Maria Alverez replied. “I just don’t like flying.”
“Then we appreciate this visit even more for your effort,” Wu replied. He introduced his daughter and escorted Maria into his waiting limo. All of Maria’s men began grabbing luggage as it came off the plane, and with the help of Wu’s people, it was all stowed away into the back of the SUVs. Maria’s men got into the SUVs as well, and the entire parade went straight to the hotel.
Before going up to her room, Mr. Wu stopped her for a moment. “Mrs. Stokley is already here in the hotel. She arrived just a little while ago. When would you like to meet with her?”
“Would half an hour be too soon?” Maria asked. “I’d like to get down to business as soon as possible.”
Wu bowed. “My daughter will come for you in half an hour then to escort you to the meeting.”
Candy pulled his truck into the job site and parked. He had worked for Mike many times before during his summer breaks from school. He had no doubt that there would be at least a few men on the crew that he knew. He was fairly sure he recognized two other pickup trucks already… other than Mike’s.
The looks started the moment he nervously got out of his truck. He saw a few heads turn… and one guy poking someone else to take a look as well. Candy did his best to ignore them as he headed directly for Mike Clemmons… who was already watching him approach. He was just glad he didn’t hear any wolf whistles from the guys. Neither he nor Mike said the first words though. The first words were said by one of the guys that Mike had been talking with… one of the guys that Candy already knew.
“Damn!” Pete exclaimed. “Is that really you in there Roger?”
Candy did his best to smile. “I’m afraid not much of Roger is left here anymore. And it’s Candy now. Officially in fact.”
“That’s what Mike here said,” Pete replied. “It’s just hard to believe that you could ever look like… that!”
“Take it or leave it,” Candy replied. “I am what I am.”
“Shit!” Pete exclaimed. “You keep showing up like that around here, and I’ll take you out for dinner and something else!” he laughed.
Candy did his best to laugh as well. “If you cleaned up half way decently, I’d take you up on that offer! But you’re such a slob I’m amazed your own wife puts up with you!”
The groans and laughter were immediate. The good natured jesting was all part of the game played between the guys. But Candy was very aware that there was a difference this time. A difference that couldn’t be ignored because he looked so much like a woman now.
“Hey Brinkley!” another voice called.
Candy looked up to see another guy he knew. “Hey Jerry,” he called. “Good to see you again.”
“Good to see you,” Jerry called back. “Especially looking like that! I never had a clue you were a sexy lady at heart.”
“Well aren’t you?” Candy called back. “I got the idea from watching you!” Again the laughter and groans went among the men.
“Hey Brinkley,” Jerry called back, “how come you’re doing construction work if you’re a woman now? I would have thought you’d be more interested in girly things… makeup or something.”
“I’m wearing makeup,” Candy called back. “Want to borrow some? There’s some pretty good moisturizer in my lipstick.”
“Okay, enough!” Mike called. “You can all talk to Candy later. Now get back to work!”
“That went better than expected,” Candy said to Mike a moment later.
“With those two anyway. But Pete and Jerry have worked with you before. It’s a few of the others I’m not totally sure of. But I did talk to them all, so they better at least be nice to you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Candy replied. “I’ll handle it.”
“Hope so,” Mike replied. “Hey Fitz!” he yelled to someone in the distance. They waited until a large guy walked over to them. “Candy, this is Fitz… Freddy Fitzgerald. We just call him Fitz. Fitz is my foreman on this job. Fitz… this is Candy.”
Candy held out his hand to shake Fitz’s hand, but Fitz wasn’t interested in shaking hands with him. Instead he said, “How the hell can you work in boots like that? I know Mike said not to give you any problems about it, but I can’t have you doing anything at all up high with those damn things on. It’s stupid!”
“Fitz! I told you to leave her alone about it! So don’t mention it again!”
“But that’s going to limit me to where I can use… her!” he spat the last word. “It’s not safe!”
“Let me worry about that,” Candy replied. “I’ve been working in these things for a long time now. Most things I can do just fine. There’s a few things that I can’t do as well. But there’s also some things I can do better in these boots than you can in yours!”
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding!” Fitz replied. “Like what?”
“Can you hook those flat soled boots of yours over a ladder rung so you’re more stable up there?”
Fitz looked back angrily… while Mike broke out laughing. “I never thought of that one,” Mike replied. He didn’t miss the look of hatred on Fitz’s face though. “Fitz, show Candy around. There isn’t a job here that she hasn’t done before and she’s one of the best I’ve ever had working for me, so make use of that!” He turned to Candy, “I’ll leave you in Fitz’s good hands. I gotta go now and check on another job.”
Candy just wasn’t too sure yet how good Fitz’s hands were.
“Mrs. Alverez,” Mr. Wu said, “this is Janice Stokley.”
“Mrs. Alverez,” Janice said as she shook the hand of the woman in front of her.
She was surprised to see that Alverez appeared to be in her mid-sixties… at least.
“Mrs. Stokley,” Maria Alverez replied. “Mr. Wu speaks very highly of you.”
“He must think very highly of you too,” Janice replied. “He went to a lot of trouble to set up this meeting.”
“I have… certain goals in mind for the future,” Alverez said, “and Mr. Wu assures me that you can help with them. And please, call me Maria.”
“Janice,” Janice replied with a smile.
“Please,” Wu said, interrupting the two women. “Shall we all sit down?”
The room they were meeting in was a conference room, but the room had a comfortable sitting area arranged at one end filled with brightly colored comfortable chairs. They each took a seat while several of Maria’s men and Wu’s men stood nearby. Susan came over carrying a silver tray of tea. She offered a cup to Maria first, then Janice, and finally her father.
“Mm! Good,” Maria exclaimed after a quick taste.
“Thank you,” Wu replied. “We import it directly from China. Would you like to begin this meeting?” he asked Maria.
Maria set her cup down on an end table next to her seat and turned to Janice. “I’m told you can work wonders on someone’s mind.”
“I don’t know if you could call it wonders,” Janice replied. “But I can do certain things to someone’s mind… although, to be perfectly honest, what I prefer to do is to totally destroy male minds.”
Maria smiled. “Sometime I must talk with you more about that. We may have a lot in common.”
Janice smiled in return. “Anytime.”
“Mrs. Stokley… Janice…” Maria continued. “Mr. Wu tells me you’re not very fond of working with drugs.”
“I’m not!” Janice replied with certainty. “I never touch them and I make sure my daughter will never touch them either!”
Maria nodded. “Very wise! But I come from a different world where the control of drugs rules everything. And in that world, I’m afraid that I am something of an oddity… being a woman. In my world, everyone else who does what I do, is a man.”
Janice nodded. “There are way too many men ruling this world. It’s about time we women put them in their place! All they’ve done is to make a mess of things!”
“A woman after my own heart!” Maria exclaimed. “I couldn’t agree more!”
“So I take it you want me to destroy some of your competition?”
Maria smiled. “Not exactly,” she said. “I have something much more subtle in mind that will produce far better results.”
Janice nodded, “But first you want a demonstration,” she said.
“Wouldn’t you if you were in my position?”
“Without a doubt,” Janice replied. “What did you have in mind?”
“Something small and unrelated,” she said. “Mr. Wu has told me of what you did recently to a woman… a doctor I believe. You saddled her with childish behavior for her gambling habits.”
Janice’s face clouded. “You know, I don’t like to work on women unless I have to. What I do can all too easily destroy the brain completely if I’m not careful. That was the one and only time in my life that I’ve worked on a woman… and it was only because she made me very angry. I will tell you though, that afterwards, things have worked out better with the woman than I ever hoped. So there was a bright side to it all. To be honest, I’m not all that concerned about damaging the brain of a man at all. And more often than not, damaging that brain is my final goal.”
“Interesting,” Maria replied. “The test I was thinking of is not a woman however, but a man. My nephew to be exact. He is along on this trip as one of my bodyguards, and he has no knowledge at all of what I have in mind.”
“Your own nephew?” Janice asked. “I can’t guarantee that he will ever recover from what I may do to him.”
“All the better if we can come to an agreement as to what you try to do to him,” Maria replied.
“What did you have in mind?”
“Eduardo is my sister’s child. His father begged me to take him on. He has worked for me for almost a year now. Mostly, he does okay… with little stuff. Things that take no responsibility. But anything else? Pfft! Useless. He’s more trouble than he’s worth!” Since then, his father has done some things that I’m not at all happy about. Things that involve speaking to the wrong people. Not only that, but since Eduardo has been in my employ, I’ve discovered that he has too much of a fondness for the ladies. Twice now I’ve discovered that he has gotten young girls pregnant. But in our world, it’s all too common for men to laugh at a woman’s plight after they’ve had their fun with them. And Eduardo is no different. I do not like to see young women stuck like that with no one to help care for them at all. But such things happen all too frequently in my world.”
“I understand,” Janice replied.
“Knowing that,” Maria said, “what would you recommend as a fitting punishment for my nephew?”
Janice shook her head. “May I have time to think on it? I’m thinking perhaps something that will return your nephew to his father in such a way as to punish the father as well.”
Maria smiled. “Take all the time you need. Perhaps we can meet again tomorrow if you are ready? I have no doubt that you and I are already… of the same mind on this.”