[tsat home] [#40] [stories]

Putting Things... Crooked
by Bill Hart
©2005 Bill Hart -- all rights reserved

Still feeling a little suspicious, Shelley stared at the dark-haired young woman that had come out of the inner office. She didn't know why her Mommy had brought her to see this doctor lady. She wasn't even sick or anything. Shelley knew she didn't need no doctor.

Besides, Shelley wasn't altogether certain that this lady was a doctor. She wasn't wearing one of those white coats like all the other doctors she'd seen on TVLand. And she didn't even have one of those thingies that one end went in her ears and the other went on somebody's chest hanging around her neck. Of course, Shelley figured she might have left it in her refrigerator so it would be good and cold the next time she used it.

She wondered if this was the same doctor lady that her Mommy had taken her older brother Nate to see yesterday and her older sister Becky to see the day before that. They'd both told her about Mommy taking them to see some pretty doctor lady that wanted to talk to them about a few things.

Shelley didn't know why her Mommy had done any of those things either. Nate and Becky weren't any more sick than she was. Her brother Nate was always getting into trouble for something or another. And her sister Becky, who was the oldest, was so quiet and withdrawn that she was nearly invisible most of the time. But that sure didn't make them sick.

Sometimes Shelley hated being the youngest child. Nobody ever told her anything. Just because she was only five, everybody always thought she wouldn't understand. She was always the last in line for everything. However, sometimes, especially when it came to dealing with her Daddy, being the youngest was actually the best. Her Daddy didn't seem to be as mean to Shelley as he was to all the others. She figured it was because he was always too worn out when he finally got around to her.

"Good morning, Mrs. Carter," said the young woman.

"Good morning, Dr. Stillwell," replied Shelley's mother. "Why don't you call me Jennifer?"

"How are you this morning?"

"I'm doing fine, I suppose."

"Have you heard anything from your husband?"

"Not really. Tommy's still out on the road somewhere," replied Mrs. Carter. "I told you he was a truck driver, didn't I? Right now, he's probably somewhere between here and Wisconsin." Shelley thought her Mommy looked tired. She always looked that way for a few days after Daddy had been home. Jennifer nervously looked around the office waiting room. She could only hope that she was doing the right thing. "Tommy won't be too happy about me coming to see you. I'm sure he'll have a major shit fit once he finds out I brought all three of our children to see you, Dr. Stillwell."

"We'll have to cross that bridge when we get to it, Mrs. Carter."

Jennifer, still looking quite nervous, smiled weakly. Trust simply wasn't something she easily gave other people any more. "I hope you know what you're doing, doctor."

"Trust me," replied the doctor. "I know exactly what I'm doing."

Jennifer still wasn't convinced. How many times had she heard these kinds of assurances before? She'd been burned more than once and wasn't overly thrilled with the prospect of being burned again. Being reassured was one of the many reasons she and Tommy had left California and moved to small town Oregon. Wasn't that a big joke?

Even if it had seemed the right thing to do at the time, Jennifer still wondered why she'd let her friend Katie talk her into seeing some shrink. However, it helped that Dr. Stillwell seemed to be a nice person. Jennifer only hoped that she might be able to help all of them work through their many problems.

The doctor was surprised when her next appointment entered the office. He was early, but then George Monahan generally arrived early. At least she wouldn't have to worry about George, who had a problem just talking to women, being in the waiting room with Mrs. Carter. Lately, she'd been thinking of referring him to a male doctor.

Deciding to let her secretary Mary take care of George, Dr. Stillwell turned her full attention to Shelley. "You must be Shelley." She smiled pleasantly at the girl.

"If I must be, then I suppose I am," replied Shelley.

The doctor continued smiling at the girl. As she'd been told, this child was wittier and more precocious than either of her older siblings. She didn't believe that she'd have anywhere near the trouble getting her to open up as she'd had with her older sister and brother. "Would you like to go into my room so we can talk for a little while, Shelley?"

"No. Not really."

The girl's answer surprised her. "Why not?"

"Duh," replied Shelley. "I don't know you, ma'am. You're just some stranger. My Mommy and my Daddy have both told me never to go anywhere alone with some stranger."

"A most sensible precaution, Shelley. It's also one with which I wholeheartedly agree," said the doctor. "My name's Samantha. You can call me Sam." She held out her hand toward Shelley. "Now that we're on a first name basis, we're no longer strangers. Are we?"

Shelley stared at the young woman for several seconds. She was trying to decide if this pretty lady doctor named Samantha was trying to trick her somehow. Grownups were like that sometimes. "I don't know about that, Sam," said Shelley cautiously, as she looked over toward her mother for some help.

"It's all right to go with the doctor, honey."

Despite that reassurance from her mother, Shelley still wasn't completely convinced. She turned and looked questioningly into a vacant area of the room. Within a few more seconds, she turned her attention back to the doctor. "I guess it's okay, Sam," she smiled. "Lucky says that it's okay for me to go with you. But you ought to know that he's going to be keeping a close eye on you."


"That's my daughter's imaginary friend."

"I see," replied Samantha. She should have anticipated this situation; inventing an imaginary friend was a very common way for an intelligent child to deal with her problems.

"C'mon, Lucky." Shelley held out her hand to the doctor. "If you don't mind, Lucky's coming with me just to make sure you don't do anything you shouldn't."

"I don't mind at all," replied Samantha. "However, you should tell Lucky that he doesn't need to worry about me."

"Why should I do that?" asked Shelley. "Lucky isn't deaf. He heard you loud and clear. Even though he's a little sensitive about them sometimes, he's got his own pair of ears, you know."

"Of course, he does," said the doctor as she continued humoring the girl. "I'm terribly sorry if I offended you, Lucky."

"Okay, I'll tell her." With a wide smile on her young face, Shelley turned to the doctor. "That's okay. Lucky said he didn't mind what you said, Sam. He said it's not your fault you're a grownup and can't see him."

"Oh." What an odd, but imaginative, notion, thought Samantha as she took Shelley's hand and led the young girl into her office. "Please take a seat, Shelley. We have a lot of things to talk about." Once Shelley had seated herself, Samantha went over and sat down in the large chair behind her desk. When she turned around, Samantha was surprised to see the second chair sitting right beside the one in which Shelley was sitting. "Who's the other chair for?"

"That's for Lucky, of course," replied Shelley. She didn't know why grownups had to be constantly reminded about her friend. "You can't expect poor Lucky to keep standing up while we get to sit down. Can you, Sam?"

"I suppose not," said the doctor. "Do you know who I am?"

Shelley looked puzzled. "Did you forget who you were?" When the doctor failed to respond, Shelley quickly added, "You're Sam. Or should I call you Samantha now. At least, that's who you told me you were before. Were you lying to me earlier?"

"Of course I wasn't lying to you. My name is Samantha, but you can still call me Sam," replied the doctor, totally caught off guard by the question. "It's not what I meant when I asked if you knew who I am. I wanted to know if you knew what I do for a living."

"Mommy said you were a doctor," replied Shelley. "But I don't know why she brought me here to see you. I'm not sick or anything, you know."

"I'm not that kind of doctor, Shelley."

Shelley looked puzzled. "You mean there are other kinds of doctors than the ones that help sick people get better?"

"There are several kinds of doctors." Samantha was suddenly glad that this child didn't know everything. "I'm a psychologist."

Shelley frowned. She didn't like the sound of that, even though she didn't know what it meant. "What's a sigh-call... oh-jist?" she asked, stumbling over the unfamiliar word, before abruptly turning her attention to the chair beside her. "Okay, I'll ask her."

"Ask me what?"

"Lucky wants to know if you're some kind of witch."

"A witch? What do you mean?" The doctor had been caught off her guard once again. "Why would you ever ask me something like that?"

"I didn't; Lucky did," replied Shelley as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Lucky can be so weird sometimes, you know. I think it must be something about your name, Sam. Samantha is the name of that witch we always watch on TVLand. Just like her, you're very pretty, not like that old wrinkly green lady with the cackly voice in the cartoons. Lucky told me he never heard of no sigh-call-oh-jist doctor before. He kind of thought if you were some kind of good witch that you could do something about my Daddy."

"Are you saying you have a problem with your father?"

"Only when he yells at us," replied Shelley. "That's just about all the time when he's home."

"He yells all the time?" That was pretty much the same story she'd heard from both of her siblings. However, it had taken a lot longer to get the story from them. Samantha began wondering if she should have started her inquiry with Shelley. Her brother Nate had redirected his anger at his father and become a troublemaker. Her sister Becky had taken the opposite route and virtually faded away into non-existence. Apparently, Shelley had gained this imaginary friend to help her deal with her father. The three children had all found different ways of dealing with the very same problem. That was one of the many things that she'd always found so intriguing and interesting with her work.

"Almost all the time. He doesn't yell too much when he's sleeping. And he doesn't yell at all anymore when he's eating or drinking." Shelley smiled at the doctor. "You now, Sam, I think it takes my daddy about fifteen minutes or so after he gets home to start screaming and yelling at all of us. I kind of think he needs some time to warm up his screamer and yeller a little first. He's probably afraid of throwing his voice out of whack or something weird like that. Once he starts yelling at us, most of the time he doesn't quit again until he storms out the door and slams it behind him."

"What else does he do?"

"Not much really. Mostly, he just yells at us," said Shelley. "He calls all of us, but mostly Mommy, a bunch of strange names. Some times I think he'd like to hit us, but he never has. Daddy's so big and mean-looking. I think he'd scare away big old nasty bears."

Shelley looked at the chair beside her again. "Lucky wants me to tell you that he'd never let my Daddy hit me. He said he'd try to keep Daddy from hitting Mommy or Nate or Becky. He's not sure he's strong enough to prevent it."

"I see," replied Samantha, as she scribbled some notes on her notepad. The others, her mother Jennifer included, hadn't wanted to talk about any of this. It would take time to get the whole story from Shelley. Clearly, her imaginary friend Lucky gave the young girl the courage necessary to speak out. "What kinds of names did he call you?"

"Daddy called Mommy a whore... and a bitch... and a slut... and a lotta other weird things I can't remember. I'm not sure what any of those words mean, Sam, but I know they can't be anything good. If they were good things, Daddy wouldn't have always screamed those words in her face." Suddenly, Shelley frowned. "I just don't think that's very nice of him. Daddies should never yell at mommies, you know."

"I agree."

"Most of the time, Mommy yelled back at him. That's not very nice either, but Daddy always started it. She always told him to go running back to his fat lazy bimbo cow in Wisconsin. Mommy told me once that cheese comes from dairy cows in Wisconsin. I know they must have a lot of different kinds of cows there, but I don't know what the fat lazy bimbo kind of cow does. Do you know what they do, Sam?" She didn't wait for the doctor's reply. "I don't know why Daddy would like some stupid cow better than Mommy."

"I don't know why he would either," replied Samantha calmly. "I guess some guys are always like that." This was also a very strong and unpleasant reminder of that bastard she'd dated in med school. After all the plans they'd made, he'd broken every promise and run off with some busty bimbo. He'd definitely soured her on the concept of marriage.

"Daddy always makes Mommy feel so sad. That's not very nice of him either," said Shelley. "Mommy always cries for a few hours whenever Daddy leaves."

"That's terrible." Samantha couldn't -- had never been able to -- understand why some men treated women they supposedly loved so shabbily.

"He always called Becky and Nate and me bastards," continued Shelley. "I don't know what that word means. I don't think I want to know what it means either. I'm not gonna give Daddy anything to hold over my head that will make me want to cry."

Samantha looked at the girl. Hers was, unfortunately, a familiar story. Shelley seemed to have more pent-up anger than her mother, her brother, and her sister combined. Something like that wasn't good for an adult, let alone a five-year-old. Somehow she'd have to find some way of relieving all that stress and pressure. There was simply no telling what might happen otherwise. "Why don't we play a little game?"

"What kind of game, Sam?"

"Why don't we call it the 'wish game'," replied the doctor. "If you could have any wish -- any wish at all -- what would you wish for?"

"That's easy," said Shelley. "I'd wish Daddy was a monkey locked up in a cage somewhere in Wisconsin near his big fat lazy bimbo cow. That would be a big improvement for Daddy. He couldn't call any of us any more names and he couldn't hurt Mommy any more either." Shelley suddenly looked over at chair beside her again. "Lucky says he thought about doing that once. He doesn't think turning Daddy into a monkey would be very fair to all the good monkeys of the world. Monkeys have feelings too, you know."

Samantha smiled. She'd never met Tommy Carter. It wasn't something she was looking forward to doing either. However, she suddenly had this comical image in her mind of a monkey riding around on the back of a portly dairy cow. "If you had another wish, but couldn't use it for yourself, what would you wish for?"

"That's really easy too, Sam," replied Shelley. "I'd wish that my Mommy had a husband that loved her, didn't yell at her all the time, never made her sad, and never made her cry."

"That's quite a wish." The doctor smiled, as she jotted down more notes on her pad. "Do you think your father loves you?"

Shelley scowled. "Do you? If he does, then he sure has a funny way of showing it." The girl's eyes narrowed. "Whenever Daddy comes home, it sure looks like he can't wait to leave again. I don't know why he ever comes back here anyway. All he ever does is yell at us and scream at us and make Mommy cry. I still don't know why, but I bet he'd rather be with that fat lazy dumb bimbo cow of his instead of us."

Samantha sighed. Such a poor girl, she thought. Shelley wasn't old enough to understand what was going on between her mother and father. It was always the children that got hurt whenever a marriage broke up. It wasn't fair, but it was, unfortunately, the way it was. "I sure wish there was something I could do to help you, Shelley."

Shelley twitched as if she'd been poked in the side. "Don't do that!" she exclaimed. "What do you want, Lucky?" The girl paused as if she were listening to her imaginary friend. "I heard her. Do you think I should?" She paused to listen again. "I can ask." Shelley turned toward the doctor. "Lucky wants to know if you meant what you said, Sam."

"Of course I meant it," replied Samantha.

Once again, Shelley looked at the empty chair beside her. "Would you quit poking me, Lucky? I heard her." She turned her attention back to Dr. Stillwell. "I don't really know what's wrong with Lucky today, Sam. Usually, he's pretty good and keeps very quiet whenever there are people around that can't see him. I think he kind of likes you, you know. Do you think that's because you're a sigh-call-oh-jist and not a bad witch?"

"I suppose, it could be." Samantha smiled. The child's imagination was working overtime. "What else did Lucky want to know?"

"He wanted to know if you were married."

"No. I'm not married." Samantha wondered why Shelley wanted to know something like that.

"He didn't think you were. He didn't see a ring on your finger." Shelley smiled impishly. "Lucky also wanted to know if you had any boyfriends."

"No boyfriends either," replied Samantha. There weren't likely to be any either any time soon, but the girl didn't need to know that. At the same time, she wasn't sure why she was answering such personal questions. However, Shelley had a very active imagination. It was no wonder that she had developed this interesting imaginary friend.

"That doesn't make any sense to me, Sam. You're just too darn pretty not to have a boyfriend or two." At the same time, Shelley smiled at the doctor. "What's wrong with all those dumb guys you know?"

"I had a bad experience once, but you'd still have to ask them," replied Samantha. "Most of them seem to be a little put off by the fact that I'm a psychologist." The doctor frowned. She didn't want to start thinking about any of this now. "I think we getting a little off the subject, Shelley."

"Are we? I hadn't noticed."

"We supposed to be talking about you, young lady, not me."

However, Shelley was otherwise occupied. "That's just plain silly, Lucky." For an instant, she looked over at Samantha. "She can't possibly do that."

"I can't do what?" asked the doctor. She wondered when she'd lost control of this session.

"You'll think it's something silly, Sam." Shelley turned back to the empty chair. "I told you to quit poking me, Lucky." After a short pause, she added, "Oh all right! I'll ask her."

"Ask me what?"

Shelley hesitated. "Lucky wants me to ask you if you'd like to be my new Daddy and my Mommy's new husband."

What an imagination the girl had! "I'm afraid that isn't possible," said Samantha gently. "I'm a woman. I couldn't possibly be your mother's husband, even if I wanted to."

Dejectedly, Shelley turned and glared at the empty chair. "See. I told you she'd think it was silly. What are we going to do now, Lucky?" A moment later, her steady gaze softened. "Are you sure about that, Lucky?" Once again, Shelley paused, as if listening to her imaginary friend's long answer. "Okay, I'll tell her. But I'm not gonna hold my breath."

Uncharacteristically, Samantha was feeling very confused by everything that was happening around her. The five-year-old girl Shelley had developed an elaborate and intricate delusion to deal with her problems. It would probably make a wonderful paper once she figured it all out. She decided it might be better for the time being to play along with the girl's fantasy. She didn't want Shelley to start clamming up now. "What did Lucky have to say this time?"

"He said there was a way."

Once again the doctor was confused. "A way for what?"

"I thought you'd been listening to me, Sam," replied Shelley. "Lucky said there's a way that you can be my new Daddy and my Mommy's new husband. And if Lucky says there's a way something can happen, there's gotta be some way of doing it."

Sure there is, thought Samantha. "And what might that be?"

"Lucky told me all you had to do was close your eyes tight and then make a wish out loud that my Mommy was your wife. He said he'd take care of everything else at the same time, but there might be a few other minor changes that he can't control."

"Is that all?" asked Samantha. "That's not a very complicated procedure."

"Why do grownups always want to take something simple and make it complicated? Its no wonder grownups have so much trouble getting simple things done." Shelley shrugged her small shoulders. "I can't help it if what you need to do is so simple," she added. "I can't do that magic stuff like Lucky can."

Samantha quietly debated with herself about her course of action. Having an imaginary friend was one thing, but this belief of Shelley's in something as nonsensical as magic was quite another. Even though the result would probably be devastating to Shelley when nothing happened, Samantha knew she'd have to make that wish for the girl's sake. Of course, the failure of that wish would also demonstrate that her imaginary friend Lucky was just that... imaginary. Once she'd made up her mind, it wasn't even a close decision. To hell with any damn paper; she was a doctor first and foremost. "Okay, Shelley. I'll give it a try." Samantha closed her eyes. "I wish that Jennifer Ann Martin was my wife."

As Samantha wondered why she'd called Shelley's mother Jennifer Ann Martin instead of Jennifer Carter, she started feeling very peculiar. As soon as she stood up, she felt extremely dizzy. "What's going on?" she asked softly, a little surprised at the odd sound of her voice.

But her voice suddenly sounding a little odd wasn't the only thing that was wrong with her.

Samantha couldn't understand what was happening. Either she was somehow getting bigger or everything else in her office was getting smaller. Neither thought made any sense.

Very strangely, her breasts were shrinking along with everything else in the room. It wasn't as if they had been all that spectacular a pair in the first place, but they had been far superior to the inexplicably flat chest she now supported.

The knee-length skirt she'd been wearing had somehow lengthened to the floor. Once it reached that length, the material of her skirt changed, then quickly reformed into a pair of men's trousers.

Her feet had enlarged. The shoes with the small heels that had begun pinching her feet as they'd changed now fit perfectly again. They no longer had any visible heels, since they'd become a pair of men's shoes.

"What's going on here?" asked Samantha. She was stunned that her voice had deepened again.

As soon as Samantha went to brush her hair away from the front of her eyes, it suddenly wasn't there. Very clearly, her hair was no longer long enough to obstruct her vision as it had in the past. Samantha couldn't believe how short her hair had impossibly become. Never in her life had it been cut so short. Somehow, her long silky tresses no longer draped the tops of her shoulders as they had for the last several years.

Unexpectedly, an odd tingly sensation quickly began spreading about her crotch. When she looked down to investigate, she almost fainted from the shock. There was an unmistakable, not to mention still enlarging, bulge present beneath her pants. "I don't believe any of this. This can't possibly be happening to me." Even though her voice had deepened once again, Samantha didn't seem to notice the change, especially in the light of her changing body's totally shocking newest addition.

Abruptly, the strange tinglings spread to her chest. "What the hell now?" she asked herself softly. At that moment, she felt her chest begin changing again. The odd feelings weren't exactly the same as she'd experienced while her breasts had deflated. It felt more like her muscles were rearranging themselves under her skin. It felt so good. At the same time, Samantha was a little disappointed it wasn't her boobs growing back. But the disappointment faded once she ran her now larger, rougher hand across her chest. "I've always wanted a great pair of pecs." Her smile widened still further when she finally realized she had the matching abs to go along with her brand new pecs.

When the odd sensations finally ceased, Samantha slowly shook her head. Even though she was still feeling very confused, she sure felt damn good. In fact she felt better now than she had in the past several years. However, she was no longer the same Dr. Samantha Stillwell she'd once been.

Her shoulders had broadened.

Her arms had thickened with a corresponding increase of muscles.

And, much to her embarrassment, she was hung like a horse and had a raging hard-on. In some mysterious way, she'd developed a totally unmistakable male physique. And what an exceptionally great physique it was!

"What happened to me, Shelley?" The good doctor's voice was now a rich male baritone. When her hand went to her throat, she discovered the undeniable shape of an Adam's Apple. Running her hand slowly upward along her throat, she also soon discovered that she'd somehow acquired a full thick beard. "What the hell is going on here?"

Shelley was pleased. She smiled as she looked at the man that had previously been Dr. Samantha Stillwell. "Wow! You've become a real hunk, Sam!" she exclaimed.

"A real hunk? Me?" Samantha shook her head again. "Where did you ever hear that expression, young lady?"

"On TVLand, of course," replied Shelley. "Where else do you think a nice five-year-old girl like me would ever hear useful stuff like that?"

"On TVLand?" mumbled the altered Samantha. "I should have known."

"Lucky and I think you'll make a great daddy now that you're a man, Sam."

Samantha turned slowly toward Shelley. "A man? What happened to me?" She ran her hand slowly across her now decidedly male chest.

"Don't you remember, Sam?" asked Shelley calmly. "Lucky said you might have a few problems with your memory at first. You just wished that my Mommy could be your wife, so Lucky gathered up all his magical might and turned you into my Mommy's husband. He also slipped Mommy's old name, including her middle name so there wouldn't be any mistakes, into your head, so you'd be the only man that ever married my Mommy. Lucky had to concentrate real hard to make sure I remained the way I was, but he wasn't too sure he could do that for my brother and sister. He said they might be a little different the next time I see them."

"But I never wanted to be a man."

"Grownups!" Shelley crossed her arms again. "It's a little too late for you to start having second thoughts, Sam. Don't you think so? If you didn't want to be my Daddy, then you shouldn't have made that wish you wished."

"The wish... it worked." Suddenly, it all sank in. The wish had worked! And whatever one wish could do, a second wish could undo. With a widening smile, Samantha said, "I wish I was the real me again."

"Samantha. Samantha. Samantha," said the girl in her very best Jan-Brady-from-TVLand voice. She sure hoped they still had cable, since she'd miss TVLand an awful lot if the cable was gone. "It just doesn't work that way at all, Sam. You made a big wish... a really big wish. That big wish took an awful lot out of Lucky, you know. Have you got any idea how much magical energy it takes to change all of reality around." Samantha slowly shook her head. "Magic doesn't grow on trees, you know. Lucky told me it might be several more centuries before he could store up enough energy to grant another big wish like the one you made."

"Centuries? What do I care about centuries? What am I going to do for the rest of my life?" In a complete fog, Samantha wandered over toward the wall where her diploma had always been hung. Along the way, a couple of shocking mental images gave her some ideas of what she might do to keep herself busy. For several long seconds, she stood there staring at the parchment in stunned disbelief. "This can't possibly be right. How can my own diploma say that my name is Samuel Franklin Stillwell instead of Samantha Frances Stillwell? It never said that before."

"That's only because you were still Samantha the last time you looked at it, Sam. Now you're Samuel," replied Shelley. "If you're going to be a man for the rest of your life, then you can't have a pretty name like Samantha. People would laugh at you all the time and call you names. You wouldn't get to play any reindeer games. I suppose some awfully silly person might write a song or two about you, but life just wouldn't be all that easy for a man named Samantha." Shelley started to smile. "But look on the bright side of all this. Now that that you're Samuel instead of Samantha, you can still be called Sam for short."

"But this is all wrong." Samuel pouted in a decidedly Samantha fashion. "I don't want to be Samuel; I want to be Samantha."

Shelley shook her head. This part wasn't going quite as easily as she'd hoped. Why did Sam have to be so stubborn about remaining Samantha? "What is it now, Lucky?" she asked her imaginary friend. "Are you sure about that?" Once she'd received the answer, Shelley looked over at the transformed Samantha. "You don't need to worry about anything, Sam. Lucky says you'll soon adjust to being a man."

"I'll what?" Samantha felt faint again.

"You'll adjust to being a man. You won't forget... exactly, but you won't mind so much being a man," replied Shelley. "Lucky told me all you need is the proper stim-your-lust, whatever that is."

"But Shelley..."

Before another word could be spoken, the door into Dr. Stillwell's inner office swung open. To Samantha's great surprise, Shelley's mother Jennifer strolled into the office. Only this woman wasn't quite the same Jennifer she remembered arriving earlier with her youngest daughter. This Jennifer was one incredibly hot-looking babe. Samantha wondered what she'd done to herself.

"It's time to go home now, sweetie," said Jennifer to her youngest daughter. "You know we can't keep bothering your Daddy all the time, especially when he has so much work to do and so many patients to see."

"Do we really have to go home now, Mommy?" asked Shelley innocently.

"Yes we do, dear," replied Jennifer. "I told you when we got here that we couldn't stay for very long." Jennifer looked over at her husband and smiled. "I'd hate to overstay our welcome."

Samantha looked and felt very confused. All of a sudden, something clicked in his head. Everything quickly came back into sharp focus. Somehow, only he and his youngest daughter Shelley still knew what had been before he'd made his wish. Jennifer didn't appear to know anything about her former life.

He was more surprised when Jennifer came over and planted a big juicy wet one firmly on his lips. Suddenly, that single hot passionate kiss made Samuel realize that being a man might not be so bad after all. Besides, he'd long been convinced that as Samantha Stillwell, he'd been looked down on by his peers and never received all the credit and recognition he'd deserved. Now that he was Samuel -- not to mention a man -- that would soon change.

But first things first. Some things were naturally more important than others. It was something he'd just realized for himself, as he'd eagerly returned some of his new wife's incredible passion.

"That was very nice, tiger," said Jennifer feeling sexy. "I sure hope you won't be working real late tonight."

Samuel smiled back. "I'll try to get home early tonight, sweetheart," he replied. If having someone like Jennifer was what it was going to be like being a man, then he was definitely all for it. "If I'm going to come home on time tonight, then I suppose I'd better get back to work."

"I suppose you should, dear." But before Jennifer would think of leaving, she had to give her wonderful husband another impassioned kiss. If nothing else, it should stoke his incentive for getting home on time... if not earlier. "We should be going home now, Shelley."

"Before you leave, can I have a word with Shelley first?"

"Of course you can, dear. You are her father after all," replied Jennifer. "I'll wait for you outside, sweetie. Don't take too long; we wouldn't want to delay Daddy's homecoming."

"Okay, Mommy." Shelley turned her attention to Samuel once her mother had exited the room. "What is it, Daddy?" she asked innocently.

Daddy? He sure liked the sound of that. "What did your friend Lucky do with your real father, pumpkin?"

"Don't you remember, Sam?" replied Shelley. "You are my real Daddy now." Shelley paused for moment, knowing she'd probably have to tell Samuel this sooner or later. "Lucky wouldn't tell me what he did with that mean nasty man who used to be my real father, Daddy."

"Can't you ask him? It wouldn't be a real good idea having your previous father walking in on your mother and me when we're... well, you know."

"No, I don't," replied Shelley. "Besides, Lucky's gone. Since you're my Daddy now, Lucky said I didn't need him anymore." Shelley frowned sadly. "I didn't want Lucky to go away, but I'm really glad you're my Daddy now." Shelley then threw her small arms around Samuel and gave him a big daughterly hug. She swiftly followed that up with an equally big daughterly kiss. "I don't think you need to worry about anyone disturbing you and Mommy whenever you and Mommy are doing whatever it is mommies and daddies do when they're alone in the dark together." Shelley smiled at her Daddy as his face flushed a bright red. It was so funny, but she sure wished she knew what she'd said to make him turn such a nice bright red color. "I'll see you when you get home tonight, Daddy," said Shelley as she skipped cheerfully out of the room.

Samuel shook his head for a moment. At this point, he was convinced everything would work out perfectly. After all, Jennifer was now his wife. Sometimes he couldn't believe how lucky a man he was to have her.

Reaching down, Samuel pushed the button on the intercom. "Will you send in my next patient, Mary?"

"Right away, Dr. Stillwell, sir," replied Mary immediately through the intercom.

As he spoke, Dr. Samuel Stillwell had looked down to review his appointment notes and groaned. His next appointment was with Gina Monahan, a sex-crazed, man-hungry, nymphomaniac that wasted most of her hour coming on to him. Unfortunately, telling her he was happily married only seemed to increase her aggressiveness toward him.

He wondered if it might not be wise to suggest she find a female psychologist to take over her case. If nothing else, it would make him feel better.

By the time she and her mother finally arrived home, Shelley was a very happy five-year-old girl.

But then, why shouldn't she have been very happy?

After all, everything had worked out like Lucky had told her it would. She and her siblings now had a brand new Daddy that would never, ever scream or yell at any of them. Nor would her new Daddy ever make Mommy sad or cry like the old had. Shelley was convinced -- at least, as far as any rational five-year-old girl ever could be, where any grownups were involved -- that her Mommy was a whole lot happier after the change in husbands than she'd been in a very long time.

She still wasn't too sure that she liked her name change from Shelley Carter to Shelley Stillwell. But what was in a name anyway? In any event, being a Stillwell instead of a Carter was a very small price to pay for her mother's happiness. She'd probably get used to it after a while. Besides, all of her friends called her Shelley Stillwell now. They'd never known her by any other name.

Shelley went straight to her room.

They were late. They were supposed to come to her room right after she and Mommy got home. Shelley would continue being worried about them until they finally showed up like they said they would. For now, she could only hope they were still all right.

Fortunately, she didn't have to wait very long. Not too long after Shelley had settled onto her bed, there was a loud rapping on her door. When she went to the door and opened it, Shelley was both very pleased and greatly relieved that her older siblings had finally come to her room.

"You guys are late," said Shelley.

"Give me a break, squirt," snapped her brother. "We're not all that late."

"And we're still here," said her sister. "We didn't go poof and vanish in a puff of smoke or anything weird like that."

In spite of all the warnings that Lucky had given them about how he might be unable to keep her brother Bobby and her sister Natalie from being changed under the spell being cast, neither her brother nor her sister looked any different then she remembered them. Bobby was still the oldest. He looked a lot like their new Daddy, but then he always had looked a lot like Daddy before. Shelley was glad that she and her sister Natalie had always taken after their Mommy.

Shelley breathed a great sigh of relief. It made her feel good knowing that nothing strange or out of the ordinary had happened to her older siblings. Even though the three always fought a lot -- what siblings didn't fight -- she would have felt terrible if the wish that had got them their brand new Daddy had done anything that made either of them disappear. She sure wouldn't have been a very nice little sister if she'd let something weird like that happen to one of them.

From everything Lucky had told them earlier, Shelley wouldn't have been surprised if her brother and sister had become different. You never could tell how Lucky's magic spells would work. She wasn't too sure that Lucky knew either. Shelley had been a little worried about this meeting ever since she'd heard Sam's wish.

If Samantha could be so easily turned into Samuel, then Shelley sure wouldn't have been too surprised coming home and discovering her brother Bobby had turned into a girl or her sister Natalie had become a boy. That wouldn't have made her happy. She liked things the way they were. But just about anything was possible with magic involved -- especially when Lucky was behind that magic.

Shelley was now fairly certain that nobody else had been changed by Lucky's spell. All they'd wanted was a new Daddy to replace the old one. They were all tired of getting yelled and screamed at. None of them liked seeing how their old Daddy made Mommy cry. They hadn't wanted to change anyone else at all.

"Did it work as he said, Shelley?" asked Natalie cautiously.

"Of course it worked," replied Shelley. "Lucky told us it would work and it did. It worked perfectly."

"Are you absolutely sure it worked?" asked Bobby. "I don't feel any different now than I did before. And you dumb girls still look the same way you always have."

"Well, I'm sure it worked," replied Shelley. "Why do you always have to doubt every thing all the time. Do you even know your name?"

"Bobby Stillwell, of course." Bobby shook his head. "I don't think that was my last name before."

"It must have worked, just like Lucky said it would," said Natalie. "This is great. I never liked the last name Carter anyway, you know. I'm Natalie Stillwell now. I sure like the sound of that a lot better." She smiled, as she looked over at her younger sister. "And you're still my little baby sister Shelley Stillwell."

"Told ya so, Bobby." Shelley stuck out her tongue at her brother. "You're just a boy. What do boys know about stuff like this anyway?" She turned back to her sister. "I'm no baby, Natalie. I'm five years old." She put her hands on her hips. "I watched Dr. Stillwell change from Samantha into Samuel right before my eyes. It was really, really weird, you know. But I could sure tell that Mommy liked her new husband."

"I told you Sam was a very nice person after I met her? Didn't I?" asked Natalie. "I knew that she'd make a much better husband for Mommy and Daddy for us than our old Daddy ever did. All we had to do was figure out some way of turning that nice lady into a nice man."

"I'm still kind of surprised that Lucky could do what he said he could do," replied Bobby. "I sure had my doubts he could change any woman into a man."

"I sort of had some doubts too," admitted Natalie sheepishly. "I'm glad everything worked out so well."

Shelley smiled at her brother and sister. "I never had any doubts. I knew if Lucky said he could do it, then he could do it. You gotta believe in the magic or the magic isn't gonna work right."

"Where is Lucky now?" asked Natalie. "I want to thank him."

"Lucky's gone," said Shelley sadly. "He said he had to leave."

"Why did he have to leave?" asked Bobby. "What happened? He must have known that we'd never want him to go away."

"He knew. Lucky said we didn't need him any more, now that we had our new Daddy to take care of us." Shelley brushed a small tear away from her eye. "He said there's a lot of other kids that need him a lot more than we do."

"I suppose he's probably right," said Natalie. "I sure wish Lucky could have stayed with us for a while longer. You know, just in case our new Daddy doesn't work out."

"I'm sure Sam will be fine," replied Bobby. "What did Lucky do with our old Daddy?"

"I hadn't thought about that." The idea made Natalie fret. "There might still be some trouble. It wouldn't be very good if our old Daddy showed up when our new Daddy was with Mommy doing any of those Mommy-Daddy things they don't know we know anything about in their room."

"Lucky wouldn't tell me what he did to him." Shelley had already decided never to think of that man as her Daddy ever again. He didn't deserve it. "I kind of think we never need worry about that other man ever showing up here ever again."

"That's good news. We're better off without him." Bobby felt snarly. He didn't quite remember ever feeling so snarly before. Maybe once everything settled back into place again, he'd start feeling more like his old self. "I'll betcha Lucky turned him into some kinda smelly monkey."

"You know Lucky would never do something like that to him, Bobby," replied Natalie. "You know what Lucky thinks about monkeys. And we all know what Lucky thought of our old Daddy. Lucky could never change him into a monkey. He thinks too highly of monkeys to saddle them with someone like him."

"I guess you're right about that, sis." Bobby sounded disappointed. "I wonder if we'll ever know what Lucky did with him."

"Probably not," replied Natalie. "But to tell you the truth, I'm not too sure I care anyway. Our old Daddy was never much of a Daddy, you know. I doubt there would have ever been a Father's Day, if they'd tried using him as the role model."

Bobby and Shelley nodded their heads in total agreement.

"We must find Sam something really, really extra-special for Father's Day."

Once again, Bobby and Shelley nodded their full agreement with their sister.

"Lucky did tell me something he said was sort of important before he left to find those other kids he was talking about helping."

"What did he say?" asked Bobby.

"Why did you wait so long to tell us, Shelley?" asked Natalie. She felt sort of bad about snapping at her little sister, but didn't exactly know why.

"I kind of forgot." Shelley shrugged her shoulders, as if what she had to say might not be that important after all. "All he said was we weren't the only ones that would be getting Sam a great present for Father's Day this year."

"What does that mean?" asked Bobby.

"You're asking me?" Shelley wondered if her brother might have been changed and become dumber. It was so hard to tell with boys. "Who knows what Lucky meant? You know how puzzling Lucky was whenever he told us something he didn't want us knowing too quickly. But he had one of those weird kind of twinkly looks in his eyes when he said it."

"I betcha I know what it is," grinned Natalie. "Do either of you wanna bet that our brand new Daddy is gonna be putting a new baby into Mommy's tummy?"

"Leave it to a girl to think of something stupid like that." Bobby was glad he wasn't some dumb weird girl.

"Do you really think so?" asked Shelley. "That would be great! You guys wouldn't be able to call me the baby of the family anymore."

"All I gotta say about that is they better have a boy this time."

"Why?" exclaimed Shelley and Natalie in unison.

"We already have one brother," replied Natalie. "Don't you think that's already more than enough boys for one family?"

Bobby glared at his sister. "I don't need any more little sisters. I still hope it's a boy."

"You would. It must be some kind of weird boy thing." Natalie's grin began widening. "I'm sure glad that I'm a girl and not a boy."

"Me too," agreed Shelley.

"What do you either of you know about anything? You're just a couple of dumb girls," replied Bobby sharply. "You couldn't pay me enough money to turn me into a stupid girl."

"How gross!" exclaimed Natalie. "Who would ever want you to be a girl anyway? You'd probably be so ugly you'd stop a clock."

Shelley sighed. Everything finally seemed to be returning to normal. If she hadn't been totally convinced about everything being normal before, she now knew that absolutely nothing had changed about her older siblings. They were always yelling at each other about something totally stupid. At the same time, Shelley thought it might have been nicer -- and probably a lot quieter too -- if they could have changed just a little bit.

"Why would you ever want another sister anyway?" asked Bobby.

"Because it's not what you what, silly boy."

"Besides that," added Shelley. "You can never have too many sisters."

Natalie turned and looked at Shelley.

Shelley looked back at Natalie.

Within a few seconds, the girls were laughing. And Bobby, figuring his sisters were ganging up and laughing at him again, grumbled something unintelligible.

Then the three of them bolted off in three separate directions to play.

Lucky smiled as he watched his former charges playing from a safe distance, even though he knew they would never be able to see him again unless he permitted it. Very soon now, the three Stillwell children would start forgetting about all of those things they simply shouldn't know yet. Even he would become a fading memory.

That was a simple kindness. After all, they were only children. And children always deserved their time as children. He saw no reason to burden any of them unnecessarily, but then he never did.

However, this simple act of kindness for the children was also one in which their former father would never share.

That man would always know what he'd been... but he'd never be able to tell anyone.

Jennifer smiled as she listened to the music on the radio, while continuing to prepare dinner for her children and her wonderful husband. For some reason, she was so incredibly happy.

For a moment or so, feeling all that happiness seemed... wrong, somehow. Jennifer had no idea why it should. On top of that, she had the strangest notion that her husband had been someone different when she and Shelley had visited him in his office. She had no clue from where that strange thought might have come.

But then, Samuel wasn't generally in such an amorous mood when she visited him.

However, thinking thoughts of her studly hunk of a doctor husband quickly forced those strange feelings of wrongness back into the nothingness from where they would never ever return again. If her Samuel was actually different -- something that seemed such an incredibly silly notion -- she sure liked the change. Jennifer simply couldn't wait for her husband to get home. She had plans. She hoped Sam would still be in that amorous mood he'd been in earlier.

Jennifer was fixing all of her husband's favorites tonight.

She wanted to keep Sam in the mood tonight. She wished that he could have come home with them earlier, but he always had so much work to do. Of course, she had known that would be the case when she married a doctor. On the other hand, she was convinced that Sam had wanted to come right home with them so he could jump her bones. Jennifer sighed as she thought about all that wasted time between then and now. A wife could always tell when her man was in the mood and Sam had unquestionably been in the mood earlier today.

She didn't want to spoil his good mood by telling him that she'd quit taking her pill last week. They'd often talked about having another child, but talk was all they'd ever done about it. Jennifer had simply decided she was tired of doing nothing but talk about it. She hoped that Sam wouldn't be too angry when he discovered that she'd unilaterally decided on taking the bull by the horns on the new baby issue.

Not taking her pills was the first shot that needed to be fired. The second shot now belonged to Sam.

Tonight, right after dinner, she'd take her husband up to their room and seduce him. That wouldn't take too much effort if he were still feeling as hot and randy as he'd been in his office not so long ago.

Jennifer was convinced he'd probably still be feeling frisky.

After all, she'd seen that slutty Gina Monahan enter her husband's office. She was one of his patients. That nympho whore had problems. She was always throwing herself at any man she saw. However, Jennifer knew that she could always trust Sam completely. Besides, that damn bitch might be doing her a little favor today. She'd have to make sure she caught Sam before he could run upstairs and take an icy cold shower. Jennifer didn't want Sam doing anything that might cool him down even a little bit.

If she could get pregnant tonight -- Jennifer was doing all she could to make sure that happened -- then she should know for sure just in time to tell him on Father's Day.

Wouldn't that make such a perfectly wonderful surprise?

How could Samuel possibly object to hearing such great news? Especially when that news came so appropriately on Father's Day.

At that moment, the radio station Jennifer was listening to switched over to their on-the-hour news update format. As was very typical of Jennifer, she paid scant attention to the news.

But then, for no apparent reason she could possibly think of, one of the news stories grabbed her full attention.

"On a most unusual note, authorities in Wisconsin remain baffled after discovering a rather large bull engaged in a frenzied act of humping an equally large, but somewhat sluggish, cow in one of the local area's Super Budget Motels."

Humping? thought Jennifer. Who says humping on the radio?

"No one seems to have any idea how the two animals came to be inside the room that was registered to a Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Carter of the small town of Switch Creek, Oregon.

"Although Wisconsin State authorities continue to search for the missing couple, no trace of Mr. and Mrs. Carter has yet been found. Authorities have not entirely ruled out the possibility that this was some kind of strange perverse prank perpetrated by the Carters for some as yet unknown reason. If that's the case, then the Carters, if Carter is actually their real name, may be facing criminal charges and prosecution under various animal cruelty laws."

A couple of real sickos.

"According to the motel manager, the large, constantly bellowing, bull, before he could be safely led away, dropped an exceptionally large and extremely ripe load of shit on the floor of the motel room. One of the motel patrons, who witnessed the act, said the shit dumping appeared to be an intentional act of defiance."

What's the world coming to? First humping; now shit... twice. Jennifer shook her head, wondering how the radio station could air such a filthy indecent report. That announcer will be lucky to have a job when the all complaints start rolling in.

"Wisconsin State Police have issued an APB for the missing couple. Although the couple is not considered dangerous at this time, the public is being advised not to approach the Carters under any circumstances.

"Anyone having any information about the missing couple is urged to call the Wisconsin State Police or the Lucky Radio hotline as soon as possible."

"How very odd," said Jennifer. She'd never heard of Lucky Radio or its hotline before.

For a few fleeting moments, Jennifer thought about picking up the phone and dialing the Wisconsin State Police. But then, she realized that she had nothing to tell them. She'd neither been to Wisconsin nor, she was fairly sure, did she know anyone living there. Although it was possible, she didn't think her husband Sam had ever been to Wisconsin.

Strangely, she'd once known someone in California named Tommy Carter, but that had been a long, long time ago. She hadn't thought of that loser in years, not that he ever deserved to be thought about. Maybe that was what had made her pay attention to the news story. Jennifer knew no one in Switch Creek named Tommy Carter. The town was so small that she was confident she and Sam knew nearly everyone. That name had to be something someone had made up to get into the motel.

Jennifer hoped the Wisconsin police would catch those mean stupid morons who had been so cruel to those two dumb innocent animals.

Suddenly, Jennifer had to stifle a laugh. The strangest image of some big old bull mounting some fat lazy cow had popped into her head from somewhere out of the blue. She hadn't the slightest idea why she found the strange scene so amusing... but it was just so hilarious!

However, she felt so embarrassed for wanting to laugh at the plight of those two unfortunate beasts. Jennifer was glad that Sam wasn't home yet and their kids were still outside playing. How would she ever explain herself?

Jennifer was considerably happier once the radio station returned to playing music. She didn't like listening to the news. Hearing the music let her concentrate on her husband Sam and what they would be doing tonight.

"Excellent! And perfectly apropos," mused Lucky, as he observed the young mother of his former charges. Quite soon now, the odd antics of that strange bull and the cow in the Wisconsin motel would cease to retain significance in Jennifer's mind. Just as thoughts of having once known someone named Tommy Carter would fade, the whole motel event would simply become something odd she'd once heard on the radio.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

That would never be the case with Jennifer's former husband Tommy -- who, after all, had brought it on himself. Lucky had always enjoyed giving people like Tommy Carter exactly what they wanted. He simply couldn't help but give it to them in ways they never would have imagined.

Tommy could bellow all he wanted now. No one would ever mind. Even that fat lazy cow would be happy and contented as long as she kept getting what she'd been getting all along from Tommy.

Besides, Tommy Carter still had a reputation to protect. From the time he and Jennifer had first moved to the Switch Creek of that other place and time, he had always been known as one of the biggest bullshitters in all of Oregon, if not the entire country.

Lucky was very pleased that Tommy Carter, even if no one knew him by that name now, would still be known much the same way in Wisconsin.

Now if only he could do something about those damn cereal commercials...

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