Chapter Three: Babe Tails
by Jeffrey M. Mahr
©2000 Jeffrey M. Mahr -- all rights reserved
Did I mention that Paul is a lawyer? Have you noticed that lawyers never, ever seem to be able to give a simple, straightforward answer? If there was a fire in a movie theater, you could expect anyone but a lawyer to yell, "Fire!"
A lawyer would want to interrogate the fire first to make sure that it was really responsible for the roasting flesh and burning chairs. Paul is occasionally better than that, but this was not one of those times. He stared up at the ceiling as he composed his thoughts, cleared his throat, and then answered me, "In my experience, the most difficult questions to answer are who, what, when, where, why, and how. I cannot even begin to tell you what happened leading up to your collapse, but I can tell you what I saw.
"If you remember, you were extremely angry, probably the angriest I've ever seen you. Again, I'm not certain why you were angry, certainly it couldn't have been anything I said or did," he smiled wanly, "but angry you were as evidenced by shouting, glaring, hunched shoulders, and clenched fists."
"Stop being a lawyer." Paul always hated it when I made the word sound like an expletive. "What happened already?"
He cleared his throat and tried again. "In a nutshell, you fainted and collapsed. I didn't think you'd want to go to the base hospital where all those male orderlies would be giving you bed baths et al, especially after you blew up about some rubes at the bar, so I brought you to my car to go to St. Joe's. By the time you were in the car, you were mumbling about how you were okay, just very tired and how you didn't want to go to a hospital. Thus, I brought you to my apartment and put you to bed."
I blushed crimson as he told me he'd undressed me and put me to bed, but I wasn't sure if that was because he'd violated some gender-related taboo that I was now supposed to conform to or because I was embarrassed by how my body had changed. For that matter, I'd known Paul long enough that I was fairly sure that he was hiding something. I'd been able to tell ever since he admitted breaking the yo-yo he was supposed to give me as a present on my eighth birthday. A terrible weakness for a lawyer, he was just lucky I hadn't gone into the same profession.
"Thanks, I guess. But what is it you're not telling me Paul?"
"What makes you think I'm hiding something?" he asked indignantly. "I just did you a favor and you sit there in my clothes, on my couch, in my apartment, and call me a liar?"
"Paul?" He has this small artery just below his left ear that starts pumping like crazy when he's lying. "Don't make me bring up the yo-yo incident again."
He actually considered denying it, even after the 'yo-yo gambit', but finally he caved in, although I was not too sure listening to his elaboration. In America, we have an art form started in the hills of Appalachia, honed during lonely nights on the Great Plains and perfected in the land of the Lone Star. It's called the tall tale and some of the classics involve Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan and his giant blue ox, Babe. Someone else might have guessed what he was going to tell me from the little signals I was getting from Paul and from my own body, but I was a genetic researcher and I knew the difference between a tale and a tail... or at least I thought I did.
"Okay, you got me, again," he told me with that boyish grin that helps him win over the jurors, especially the female ones. "It happened pretty much like I told you, up to and including leaving the base to go to St. Joe's, but something happened before we got there.
"You know how Spaulding Boulevard is all lit up thanks to the Common Council's approval of billboards?"
"Yeah." I knew he had been opposed to that and had even spoken before the Council trying to get them to change their minds, but could not see where this was going at all.
"Well, it was a full moon, and we were passing through that stretch of Spaulding, and when we stopped at the light by Fulton Street I turned on the overhead light to see what I was doing as I reached over to check your pulse."
I was tempted to ask him when he'd picked up a degree in nursing but figured I'd just annoy him and he'd take that much longer getting to the punch line, so I just nodded noncommittally to let him know I was still listening.
"At first I thought it was a trick of the light, but then I looked again, more carefully. Your hair was longer. I couldn't tell how long because it was trapped behind you, but it was at least several inches longer, below your shoulder blades -- and it was lighter, a platinum blonde instead of your usual dirty blonde."
What are you talking about?" I reached for my head to show him my hair, even after three months letting it grow; it still just missed reaching my shoulders. My hand came back with a handful of platinum blonde hair extending past my shoulder blades and halfway down my back. Knowing that hair is dead material and that it does not grow a foot and more overnight, I quickly scrambled about for a rational explanation -- and almost missed the obvious.
"Nice gag Paul. Which one of your girl friends did you put up to this? By the way, is it a wig or are they hair extensions?" I had tugged gently and it was not coming loose. I was betting on hair extensions because it felt like I was tugging on discrete bundles of hair.
"Neither. I think it's real."
"Paul, you know that this much hair can't grow overnight. It only grows at a rate of about a 32nd of an inch a day. Now come clean already." I was so sure he was still pulling my leg, I didn't even check that telltale artery.
"Then maybe you'd better check out another change. Look down."
"Look down. Don't ask. Just do it."
I figured I might as well humor him and looked down. "Two arms, two legs, two breasts; what's the problem?"
But I couldn't resist, I just couldn't let it end there. "Wait a minute. Two breasts? That's not right. How did that happen?"
Paul groaned so I went in for the kill. "I'm supposed to have three breasts. Where did you hide my middle breast, you thief?"
"Alright wise-ass. If you don't want to know, go get dressed and I'll bring you home." He turned to watch yet another report of the country's rapidly spiraling crime rate on the television and refused to speak anymore. I made a few half-hearted attempts to get him talking again, but then gave up; it wasn't that good a prank anyway. Standing up, I headed back towards the bedroom to look for my clothes.
"Check the mirror on my inside closet door while you're there," he called out as I was almost to the bedroom, then returned to his studious examination of CNN.
"Why? Is it missing?" I retorted -- an absolutely abominable line if I do say so myself -- but walked over to the closet and opened the door -- and saw someone else standing there. She was my height, but she was much more buxom. She oozed sensuality. Even the act of standing still with one hand resting on the doorknob seemed an invitation to unimaginably sensual delights. My mind raced, trying to rationalize it as another trick from my personal Loki, I mean lawyer, but came up blank. It was me, or rather it was the woman I had angrily described to Paul back at the NCO Club less than twelve hours ago. Dressing forgotten, I stepped back until my legs made contact with a piece of furniture and I slid slowly to the floor, my back propped against the bed as I stared at the stranger in the mirror.
A couple of minutes later, Paul came in and stood by the door. He watched me sitting there, unmoving, staring at the image in the door. Then, with a sigh, he closed the closet door, knelt beside me and held me. I never realized how much I needed a hug until that moment and I hugged him back with sufficient force to draw a surprised grunt from him.
This seems like a good time to drop back ten and punt... er, pontificate. Having accepted with reasonable good grace the presumably more traumatic change from male to female, it might seem strange to have me break down over something as insignificant as a glamour makeover, even if it is one that might have cost a pretty penny given the breast enlargement and facial reconstruction, not to mention the lesser but still relatively astronomical price of hair extensions, dye job and perm. A lot of you men are going think it was just "wunna them thar woman things." ERNNNNT! Wrong. In fact, there were two entirely separate problems.
First, as a geneticist I was absolutely certain that this was impossible. Changes like this don't happen without some external source and there had been none. If it couldn't have happened, it must not have happened, yet it did happen so it must be possible, but it wasn't possible. See? It was cyclic logic, much like calculating pi to the last decimal place. It was the kind of logic that the heroes of cheap sci-fi adventures use to thwart the evil robot in the last reel. In effect, I just couldn't reconcile my years of study and research with the facts of what appeared to have happened.
Second, I had had years to live with and learn to accept my mortality and, more importantly, months to accept the absolute need to accept a change of gender if I wanted to continue to do the research to which I'd dedicated my life. I knew what would happen, I had even developed computer models that had predicted how I would look with surprising accuracy. In effect, I made a carefully planned transition from one me to another me. Yet here I now was, with no warning and no chance to acclimate, someone entirely different.
To be completely truthful, there might have been a third reason. I had accepted my change of gender as a necessity, much like brushing one's teeth to prevent tooth decay or wearing a seatbelt in case of an accident. Once it was over, I really did very little to acknowledge that my gender change had even occurred. I'd worn the same jeans and t-shirts as before, just a different size. I'd worked at the same lab with the same people on the same project as before. I'd lived in the same quarters on the base as before. I'd kept the same few friends as before. You get the idea; I had done the absolute minimum necessary to accommodate the changes that had been forced upon me. Yet, here I was looking like something out of my personal fantasies, read wet dreams if it will help. The way I looked now, I couldn't possibly minimize my new gender. Life with a brassiere wasn't going to be a choice but a necessity; situations like the rather clumsy pick-up attempt at the NCO Club would be frequent and inevitable. Heck, I was jealous that I could not date myself.
Now I'm sure you understand that all this wonderful introspection and analysis came later. What actually happened next was I finally regained sufficient composure to ask Paul to release me and he did, although a bit reluctantly.
Then, I had to convince him that I would be all right for long enough to get dressed. Alone, I put my words to action and dressed. He had left me with my panties on the night before and I had nothing to change into anyway so I left them on and added a borrowed pair of sweat pants to complete my lower half.
Did you ever notice that the more important something is the shorter the word used to describe it? The bra -- it was a brassiere when there was a choice -- was a total loss, painfully insufficient for my new and improved bust. Realizing that, I dropped the half-baked idea that I had been formulating involving accidentally forgetting to put a top on to tease Paul for sneaking a peek last night.
Knowing that some sort of support was absolutely necessary, I searched around in Paul's drawers -- that's chest of drawers for those of you with other things on your mind. You'd think a guy with as many girl friends as Paul would have some female clothing left at his apartment, but there was nothing. All I found was an old t-shirt about three sizes too small. I think elves place them there during the night just so half awake people can struggle with them each morning, trying to get them on and wondering why they do not fit until they wake up enough to check the size on the labels.
The next trick was to tie it. They always look so nice on the magazine models, but it's not that easy, try it some time. I fumbled around with the t-shirt until realized that I needed to cut it open first, which I did with Paul's permission, and got it pulled tight and knotted in front. It wasn't a lot of support, but it was definitely better than nothing.
I checked myself in the mirror to see how I looked and almost decided to leave it that way, nipples poking through the thin cotton material, but reconsidered. I was looking to get home, not inflame lust. As you may have gathered, until now I had tolerated being female and had tried to make it something other than the primary focus of my life. I really didn't want to start now, so I went digging through Paul's clothes again, looking for something to wear over my handy-dandy new bra.
My cover up ended up being one of Paul's old flannel shirts, also tied off, but this time at my waist. Luckily it was early fall and it was getting a bit cooler so I wouldn't roast. Unluckily, I still looked like a walking advertisement for sensuality. It would have to do. I was out of options. With a shrug of my shoulders, I headed back into the living room, returning to my same spot on the opposite side of the couch from Paul.
"Yeah?" He acknowledged my question, but kept his attention on the news.
"Do you have any idea how this happened?" I surprised myself that I was so calm.
"I was hoping you'd tell me."
"And I was hoping you'd tell me. I realize this is no gag. The hair is real and so are the breasts. I want to say it's impossible, but the proof is right in front of my face." I watched his lip turn up into a leer momentarily, then his eyes studiously locked back onto the television, and realized he was thinking that the proof was in front of me, but a bit lower down than my face.
"I can't help you there, Georgie-Girl. You're the researcher, not me. I'm just a simple country lawyer." He still wouldn't look at me.
"Is there some reason why you aren't looking at me when I talk to you? And stop calling me Georgie-Girl. You know I hate it. When this happened I agreed to go by the name Kristen, in honor of the name my mother would have called me had I been born a girl."
"I prefer not to at the moment."
"What? Look at me or call me something besides 'Georgie-Girl?'"
I was flabbergasted. "Paul! What the hell is going on here?"
He finally took his eyes off the television, but still wouldn't look at me, instead staring intently at the coffee table. "I... you... it's..."
Now I was doubly flabbergasted. A lawyer, especially Paul at a loss for words. The world was truly coming to an end. "I didn't quite catch that Paul. Did you say, 'You worship me for my brilliance and wish to humble yourself before me'?"
Now he added a crimson face to his stutters. This was going to be one for the annals. I'd never, ever gotten him so thoroughly flummoxed before. The only problem was I still didn't know how I was doing it. As I pondered how to press my advantage, I was shocked when he got up and stalked into the kitchen and then out the door, leaving me alone in his apartment.
Damn. What the heck just happened? This wasn't how the script was supposed to go. We were supposed to banter back and forth, sometimes one teasing the other and then the reverse. It was always gentle jabs not knockout punches. We were best friends, blood brothers. We 'grokked' each other. It had to be a gambit, a feint on his part. He was going to walk back in momentarily, laughing about how he'd "gotten" me. That theory was quickly shattered by the sound of a car driving away, his car.
What had changed? How had things gone so wrong? It had to be... It had to be... my body. That's what was different. Not me. Not him. Not the apartment. Not our banter. My body.
I look back now and realize I was in a near panic state. I had somehow alienated my absolute best friend, my secret brother, the only person in the world I could tell anything. And it was all because my body had somehow done the impossible.
I wanted my best friend back and I wanted my old body back, more than wanted it, I needed it. I couldn't go through life as this overstuffed bimbo. I just couldn't.
By now I was crying so hard, I couldn't see. I just kept repeating my new mantra. My body. My old body. I want my old body back. It doesn't matter which. Even my old female body.
About that time, I felt the pain start.