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Once again, this chapter is much longer than I thought it should be. Please send me any comments you may have about the story, I look forward to reading and responding to them. The email address is listed below.
WARNING! This and the next chapter deal with some real life experiences in a highly fictionalized manner. Storm chasing, the main topic in these chapters, can be extremely dangerous. DO NOT attempt this activity unless you have had proper training or are with an experienced storm chaser with the proper training.
The events in these chapters are based on real experiences during a group of severe thunderstorms that blasted through Upstate NY in the late 1990s. The storms had wind gusts over 125 miles per hour and extremely heavy rain and lightning. They swept through central New York taking down power lines and damaging buildings all over the area. The storms caused several million dollars damage in central NY.
If anyone reading the story discovers a typo or other error please let me know so I can correct it. You can send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let me know where you saw the story and what the error was. Ill attempt to get it corrected.
This is a work of fiction with a few life experiences added in. All of the characters in this story are fictional and any resemblance to anyone else living or dead is probably a coincidence. This story and the other chapters may be archived on any web site provided no fees are charged for access to the story. Please notify me if you are archiving this and the other chapters of the story on a web site. If you intend to publish this story in magazine or book (paper or electronic) format, please contact me for arrangements.
by: Bob Arnold
© - All Rights Reserved
Chapter 4 The Calm Before
Waking up this morning was a unique experience, especially since I woke up several times. At least I was getting used to waking up in a womans body by now, that didnt seem to upset me. What did frighten me was waking up to the sound of a woman screaming as loud as she possibly could. It scared me even more when I realized it was ME!
That was around 3 am. I found myself setting up in my bed screaming something incoherent about a black monster. I finally realized where I was when Peggy came charging into my room, baseball bat in hand, in the t-shirt I had left on the foot of her bed last night. "Jen, are you alright? I heard screaming."
"What makes you think theres anything wrong when I wake up screaming my head off in the middle of the night?"
"You didnt do that in the hospital. Now spill it, whats going on?"
"My nightmare has returned, Peggy. It started a few weeks before the accident. The dream is that a huge black monster is chasing me. Its roaring as it follows me and it keeps throwing things at me. The person in my dream looked a lot like me at least when I was a man. Its so hard to see the face clearly. This time was different though. There were two people being chased in this dream. They looked like a man and a woman and I think the woman was me." I sat there shaking.
Peggy came over to set on the edge of the bed. She hugged me tight until my shaking stopped. It must have been almost half an hour. "Thanks, Peggy, I think Ill be ok now."
"Do you want me to stay with you for the rest of the night?"
"Yes, please! I had hoped that the transformation would have made the dream go away. I guess it didnt. Do you mind staying?"
"If it was a problem I wouldnt have asked, Jen."
I had a large king size double bed so there was plenty of room. She went around to the other side of the bed. "Peggy, I "
"I know, you arent ready for that type of stuff yet. Dont worry about it. I dont go that way. Im quite happy with my hubby in bed and I have no need or desire to experiment. She lifted the covers on her side and slipped into the bed lying with her back towards me.
"Thanks, Peggy. If I have to get up Ill try not to wake you."
"Thanks again, Peggy." I reached over and hit the remote switch that killed the room lights. I heard her gentle steady breathing after a few minutes and I followed her example drifting off to sleep.
Waking up again a few hours later was different than any other morning so far. This time I felt a hand on my tummy and an arm across my waist and someone snuggling against my back. I realized that Peggy and I were nestled together like two spoons in a drawer. I enjoyed the feeling of warmth and security that the contact gave me but decided that, while the feeling was something I could get used to, I would much rather it be with a man than another woman. For the moment though, I figured I would just enjoy the feeling regardless of who was providing it. I looked at the clock on the nightstand. Almost 7 AM. I didnt need to get up so I drifted back off to sleep.
I woke up again almost an hour later when Peggy started to wake up. I could feel her moving behind me. "Good morning sleepy head! Thanks for the cuddle. I really enjoyed it."
"Oh, Jen, Im so sorry. I didnt mean to do that. Its just how I usually wake up with my husband. Can you forgive me?" She started to move away from me.
"Peggy, please stay there for a little while and talk." She snuggled back into position again. "As for forgiving you, theres nothing to forgive. I havent felt like this waking up in a very long time. The last time was when I was a kid and I slept in my parents bed because I was scared of a thunderstorm. The feeling of another person cuddling you as you wake up is something special that Ive missed for a very long time. Almost 40 years in fact."
"Jen, didnt you ever spend the night with a woman when you were a man?"
"Never, Peggy. I never had the chance to know what sex was like with a woman. I do know what the male feelings were. Because of some blood pressure medication I had to take, I had to make sure my male equipment was working on at least a weekly basis. One of the side effects of the medication was an increased potential for impotence. I may not have used my male equipment but I tried to keep it in working condition just in case."
"So are you still a virgin?"
"Yes. The doctors told me that my hymen is intact. I guess that makes me a virgin all over again. Because of the feelings this new body is sending to my brain I dont know how long that will last. I dont have quite the level of control of my emotions in this body yet as I had in my old one. Ive been working on it though."
"The only advice I can give is to take your time. When you decide to let it happen it MUST be on your terms for it to feel right for you. Dont settle for anything else. And be sure to use the proper protection. I dont think you want to get pregnant right away do you?"
My mind boggled at the thought. Pregnant, now theres a word I never thought would apply to me. Get a grip on yourself girl. Its possible now.
"OK, Mom! I promise to be a good girl!" I reached back and gave her a big pinch on her but. She responded by tickling me on my side. I tickled her back and soon the two of us wound up in a giggling session lasting several minutes.
"TIME OUT! If I dont get to the bathroom Im going to have to change the sheets AND the mattress because Im going to soak it! LET ME UP!"
"Me too, truce?"
"Truce. I GOTTA GO!" I tossed aside the covers and made a mad dash to the toilet. I just made it and got the lid up. It started dribbling out as I sat down. Then the flood started. I sighed as I cleaned up and flushed then went back to my bedroom. Peggy was gone. A few moments later I heard the toilet in the guest room flushing. A minute later Peggy popped back in.
"So what are we doing today?"
"Since I didnt get around to the shopping trip we planned yesterday I thought we would go back to the mall and finish it properly."
"You just want to go back and see Adam again dont you?"
"Why whatever makes you say that?"
"The look in your eyes whenever you or someone else mentions his name. Are you sure you started out as a man because you sure dont act like it at times."
"Im sure, Peggy. I feel much more at home in here since I got the ring yesterday. As I said, it feels like the last 45 years were the mistake not what I became. Besides theres something about Adam I cant quite put my finger on. There is more to him below the surface and Id like to find out what it is."
"Will the ring come off now?"
I pulled on the ring and it slid effortlessly off my finger. "See?" I decided to slide the ring back on. "Now lets get something to eat and get going. We have a lot of things to do today." I headed for the kitchen with Peggy following me. As I passed the phones the private line rang. I picked it up. "Hello?" "Yes, shes right here. Hold on " "Peggy, its your husband." She took the phone as I looked in the fridge to see what I could make for breakfast. A minute or two later she joined me.
"He just wanted to see how things were going, Jen. I told him I would be home this afternoon. Do you need me for the weekend?"
"Not really. Im managing to get used to this much faster than I thought. I dont think Ill have any problems."
"OK. If you do just give me a call and Ill try to help out as best I can depending on the problem."
"Thanks, Peggy. Im glad I took a moment on the way home to stop at that little store for a few things." I grabbed the eggs, cheese and ham slices I bought last night out of the fridge and took the milk out too. "How about some scrambled eggs and toast this morning?"
"Are you sure you can handle it?"
"Just watch me, Peggy! Is cheese and some ham ok in the eggs?"
"That would be great!"
I pointed to the table in the kitchen. "Can you get out some plates and silverware? The plates are in the cabinet above the sink. The silverware is in the drawer next to the sink.
"Sure." In the time it took Peggy to set the table, I had the eggs cooking in the frying pan and 4 slices of toast going in the toaster. I was tending to the eggs when the toast popped up.
"I got it, Jen. Wheres the butter?"
"I have some of that cold spreading stuff in the fridge. It keeps better that way."
She grabbed a knife from the drawer and finished off the toast while it was still hot enough to melt the butter. "What about drinks?"
"Ill take O.J. The glasses are above the sink in the other cabinet. Help yourself to anything you want thats in there. Just check the expiration date first! I still need to do some major grocery shopping."
"If you have enough O.J. I think Ill have some too." She grabbed two glasses and the orange juice from the fridge. "All set. Anything else we need?"
"Not for me. Can you think of anything to add?"
"Then have a seat. These will be done in a minute or two." Peggy sat down at the table. I hit the button on the remote control and turned on the small television on the table across the room. "Lets see what they did to us on the news last night." I served up the scrambled eggs and sat down placing the remote on the table.
I kept the volume turned down low until I saw a picture of the mall. I hit the volume control on the remote. " and at the mall yesterday students from the area school held their annual Science Fair. The students received their awards from two surprise guests. Two of the areas newest celebrities helped mall PR Director Adam Tilton hand out the awards to the winners. Peggy Thompson and Jennifer Stevens were shopping at the mall and were asked by the students to participate in the ceremonies. The students presented the two women with a special thanks for their efforts during the aftermath of the bus crash. One of the malls in the store assisted with their outfits for the evening." The video followed along with the narration showing Peggy and I entering the store after the ceremony ended. The newscast moved on to another story so I turned the volume back down.
"Beth must be in heaven right now, Peggy! A free plug like that for her store will have everyone from the next state in every direction coming for a visit!"
Peggy put a fork full of the eggs in her mouth. "Hey! These eggs are great! Jen, do you always cook like this?" Another fork full of eggs followed the first.
"No, not all of the time. At least now that I dont have to diet quite as much as I used to I can get away with things like this for breakfast." I took a drink of orange juice and swallowed.
Peggy swallowed another mouth full of eggs. "I wonder what will happen when we go back to the mall today?"
"Me too. Maybe I should call before we go. I wouldnt want to get involved in the middle of a stampede. I just remembered I have to make a few other calls too. I never called the mayors office yesterday and I need to call a friend at the drive-in theater up north to see if he still wants me to show up with my truck and weather gear."
"Remember? I told you yesterday. Im involved in severe weather spotting and I have a portable weather set-up for in-the-field activities. The drive-in is going to run a disaster double feature of Twister and Dantes Peak. He wanted me to bring my truck up for an exhibit the first night since it looks so much like the one in the movie. Besides, I like going to the drive-in. It brings back a bunch of good memories of going on a Friday or Saturday night with my folks to see the latest Disney movie."
"Sorry bout that. I must be a little more out of it from the purse snatcher yesterday than I thought, Jen. Going to the drive-in sounds like a great way to spend an evening."
"It sure is. Maybe Ill get some clothes and dress up a little like Helen Hunt in the movie for added effect. Think if I asked Adam hed go along too?"
"Are you kidding? A night at the drive-in with you, hed have to be crazy to say no!"
"I think Ill find him at the mall and ask. I did want to invite him over to see the weather stuff since hes interested in storm chasing too."
"Are you certain thats ALL hes chasing?"
"Yes, I heard him talking on his handled radio before he even knew I was interested in it. There was no way he could have known I was a ham operator and involved in the SKYWARN program."
"Jen, Im still worried about you. You seem to be adapting to this massive change in your life way to fast for it to be good for you. Are you really sure youre as comfortable about this as you say you are?"
"Peggy, weve been through a lot of things over the past few days and I feel as though Ive known you all my life. Id say we were very good friends. I feel that I do need to give you an explanation but I just want to make sure that it doesnt go any further than this table. Is that agreeable?"
"Of course it is. Im still your nurse technically so the confidentiality thing still applies here. Even if it didnt I also consider you my friend and if I remember last night correctly I may owe you my life. You may tell me anything you like and it will never go any further. I promise."
"Ah yes, last night. Well Ill get around to that. To answer your question first, what Im about to tell you my own family didnt even know. Ive been that afraid to talk to anybody about it. You see, Peggy, almost from the age of 5 Ive known I wasnt like the other kids or adults. Most other kids that age were going to friends birthday parties or other social things kids do at that age. I was scared to death to do any of that. I even turned down a few birthday parties for myself when my parents and extended family wanted to make a big party out of it. I only realized after I started school that I was incredibly shy. It was so bad that I even felt like an outcast in school. In a room full of kids my own age I felt totally alone."
"Jen, couldnt you get some help for it?"
"I did try but none of the teachers back then would pay any attention. To them I was just another first grade kid looking for attention. The other problem I had was a birth defect that left me with a speech problem. I had a partial hare lip. The doctors did repair the lip while I was still a baby but it left me with come problems. While the palate was solid my teeth were messed up and the roof of my mouth wasnt entirely normal. I had a terrible lisp. I did get help with the speech problem and after many years of effort it was almost impossible to tell I had a problem unless I got very tired or used my voice for long periods of time. Then I started to lisp a little and slur my words. That was true right up until the accident. It was always a daily struggle to sound normal. I even took up singing in the truck to help me speak faster and pronounce my words properly. Something about the rhythms of the music seemed to help. Of course after the change the speech problem disappeared."
"But what about the problem of being shy?"
"Over the years I learned to hide the feelings when I absolutely had to attend some type of social event I couldnt work my way out of. I found out that I could do a variety of things if I had a purpose in doing them. For example, I was asked many times to give speeches in front of large groups of people. If I concentrated on doing that I could suppress the other feelings and be able to handle it. I even taught adult education classes and did training for the staff at the college. I was ok as long as I could focus on something besides being myself. Over the years Ive hosted live talk shows on radio, given at least ten speeches in front of groups larger than 200 people, written a few hundred newspaper columns and lots more. In each case, what I did had a specific purpose that I could focus on while I did it. When I had to just be myself I fell apart. I never dated or went to school functions. I never even went to my high school prom. Until the change I was a very lonely man with very few close friends."
"Wow, I never knew, Jen. I gather you feel very much different now?"
"I certainly do, Peggy. When I changed all of the old fears almost completely faded away. I did have the problem at the press conference but I was able to let some of my old mind games take over and get through it. And then theres this ring. I knew instantly I had to have it when I found it. I still dont know why. All I know is that when I put it on I had a little shock run through my body and then I felt much better. Now all of the old fears are completely gone and I have a peace of mind I never had as a man. Im not afraid of going to any type of social event and Im even looking forward for once in my life to going to the Mayors award ceremony in a couple of weeks. I still have a way to go on the topic of dating and men. The more time I have in this body the more I seem to be accepting the idea. I wouldnt even consider it at first. Now Im actually looking forward to my first experience in bed with a man. As a man, I always wanted to find a wife and settle down to have kids. I think I would have made a great father. Now I may know what its like to be a mom and have kids of my own. Dont get me wrong, Im in no rush to go out and get pregnant. I want to enjoy life first and do some things Ive always wanted to do."
"I think I understand you better now, Jen. What do you want to do now that you couldnt do before?"
"I want to try singing with a band. Before I never had the voice to do it, now I might have a real chance at it. Id like to try driving a race car again.
Earlier in my male youth I did do a little driving for a friend to test his car. I just got way too heavy to continue driving. I also want to travel too. Ive never been to Disney-anything. Trips to Disney World and Disneyland are real possibilities for me now. Theres more but I havent figured out what I want to try first. I have about 40 years of re-living to do!"
"Jen, I wish you the best in everything you do. I just wish I could be there to see you do some of it."
"What says you cant?"
"My job, Jen. I just dont make that much to go traveling about. Even with what my husband makes we have just enough to get by comfortably."
"I can take care of that. I want to make sure you have some fun too after all of the help youve been in and out of the hospital. And I will be glad to have your husband along too!"
"I couldnt let you do that, Jen. It just costs too much. You need to save what you have."
I grabbed my purse from the counter and dug out the letter from the insurance company to the bank. "Peggy, this isnt to go any further than this table either, OK?" She nodded and I handed her the letter. Her jaw dropped as she read it.
"My God, Jen. Youre rich! I see why you dont want this to get around though. You would have hundreds of long lost relatives and every gold-digging gigolo in the world would be after you. You would never have a moments peace."
"Now you know. Will you let me help you have some fun too?"
"If thats what you want, Jen, Id be glad to travel with you from time to time as long as I can bring my husband when he wants to come along."
"Thats no problem. I dont think Ill be traveling for a while but when I do decide to take a trip Ill be sure to let you know well in advance. The only time I wont extend the offer is if I travel with a male friend and I want some privacy."
"Agreed. I think I see another benefit to keeping this quiet." She was tapping the letter. "If you do date and this got out you would never be certain if someone was in love with you for yourself or for your money."
"Youre right, Peggy. I didnt think of that myself. Im glad I put a lid on this at the bank. I know that it will eventually leak out but I hope that wont be for at least a year or more. By then I may have the chance to find someone that loves me for who I am and not how much my bank balance reads." I stopped and thought for a moment. "Listen to this conversation. Here we set talking about me finding a husband or a boyfriend. A few weeks ago I would never even have considered this was possible let alone even considering a girlfriend or a wife then! Quite a change isnt it?"
"It sure is, Jen, it sure is. What really happened last night?"
"You got mugged by a purse snatcher. I chased him away and got you back in the truck and we took off."
"Did I see what I thought I saw?"
"Yes, you did. I still dont know how I did it but I made a ball of energy and shot it at him with my bare hands. When I realized you were hurt I healed your wounds with a touch. Please dont ask me how I did all of that because I dont have an answer. Just accept that I did it. Eventually Ill find out what happened to me to be able to do that. Until then Im as normal as I can be in view of what Ive been through."
"Whatever happened and for whatever reason thank you, Jen. Without you there last night I may have died."
"Peggy, please dont thank me. If I hadnt asked you to go with me yesterday you wouldnt have been there to get hurt at all. I was responsible for getting you injured just as much as the purse snatcher."
"Jen, weve already established we are good friends. Please dont worry about it. I wanted to be there just as much as you wanted me to go. Other than that incident I really enjoyed yesterday. I havent had so much fun in a long time. Are you ok with that?"
"Yes, thanks, Peggy." I reached over and we hugged for a couple of minutes. Peggy broke the hug.
"Jen, look at the time. We need to get moving or well be out all day long. You may have a date with Adam tonight if hes available. Lets get these dishes taken care of and get going."
"Ill clean the table and get these in the dishwasher. You go ahead and take a shower then get dressed. There isnt a shower in the guest bathroom so use the one in my bathroom. There are clean towels in the cabinet under the sink."
I made a couple of phone calls while Peggy was in the shower. I called the Mayors office and got all of the information on the award ceremony. It was indeed one of those high-class affairs and would require a very formal outfit. Ill have to make sure Peggy picks out something great and get it for her. Then I called my friend that owns the drive-in. It turned out that the disaster movie double feature was going to start tonight. He just wasnt certain that given my problems that I would be able to attend. I told him that I would love to be there and asked if I could bring along a friend. He agreed and I got the times all set. I told him that I would bring my Twister truck and the weather gear with me. He was very happy that I could come and told me that the admission and food was on him. I thanked him and got off the phone. Peggy was out of the shower and getting dressed in the guestroom.
I made a quick stop in my radio room to start up several computer systems and get the station back into normal operation. I have a computer that monitors several radio signals and some data sources. The data includes weather alerts and updated forecasts. It pages me when the system detects a problem or weather alert. I grabbed the alphanumeric beeper that served as my mobile readout out of the charger and told the computer to send me a test message. It came through fine so I put the pager in my purse. I headed for my bedroom to get showered and dressed. In another hour we were both ready to go and in the truck headed for the mall.
This time we were early getting to the mall and I was able to park in a spot close to the main entrance. I locked up the truck and Peggy and I headed into the mall. We headed down almost empty halls towards the womans clothing store we visited yesterday. As we walked, we noticed that all of the stores still had their gates down. I looked at the pager for the time. "Peggy, were about half an hour early!"
"Do you want to try to find Adam? Hes probably here by now. I think that the mall office is one floor down and a little further on."
"If you want to wait here Ill go see if I can talk to him. If you can get in the store before I get back, find Beth and tell her we need dresses for the Mayors award ceremony. I think shes been to one before as a guest so she will have some idea of what we need. Make sure you get one too because its on me. I want us BOTH looking as nice as possible since we were a team on that rescue. Ok?"
"Thanks again, Jen. I do appreciate it immensely. Now go see if you can find that future husband of yours." She winked at me and walked over towards the bench in the middle of the hallway.
"Dont go trying to get me married yet!" I walked on towards an escalator and went down one floor. A sign at the bottom pointed towards the mall office. The door was open so I went in. A woman at the desk greeted me. "Yes, can I help you?"
"You sure can. Is Adam Tilton around? Please tell him Jennifer Stevens is here."
"Oh, Ms. Stevens! Welcome back to the mall. It was very good of you to do the ceremony last night. You made a lot of kids and one beleaguered mall PR person very happy. Ill track him down for you!" She motioned for me to have a seat. She picked up her phone and dialed a string of digits. "I just paged him. He should call in a few moments."
I shook my head and held up my own beeper to show her I knew all too well the technology. She smiled back. As I was about to put the beeper away I felt it vibrate. I looked at the message. It was an alert for possible bad weather for later tonight. I reset the beeper and decided to put it on the waist of my jeans. I know that many women dont wear one this way but I had gotten used to it as a man. I looked over to the woman as her phone rang.
"Hi Adam, Theres someone here to see you. OK. Ill tell them. Bye!" She looked up at me. "He said to tell you that he would be here in a couple of minutes. Hes on his way back now."
"How come you didnt tell him I was here?"
"I figured you wanted to surprise him. Ill bet he will be very happy to see you!"
"I didnt think of that. I guess I have a bit more to learn. Ill wait right here." It took a few minutes but Adam did return to the office. He saw me as he came in the door.
"Jennifer! How great to see you again!"
"Adam, is there somewhere we can talk?"
"Sure lets use my office." I followed him down a small hallway to a door with his name on it. He opened the door for me and motioned for me to enter. As I neared the desk he pulled a chair out for me. I sat down as he went around to his side of the desk. "What brings you here today?"
"I came back to get the clothes and things I didnt get yesterday. I also wanted to see if you wanted to go with me tonight. I have to take my truck up to the drive-in north of the city. Theyre having a disaster double feature of Twister and Dantes Peak. I know the owner and he wants me to bring the truck up with the weather gear as an exhibit. Are you interested? I could sure use the help."
He looked almost frightened for a few moments. The look on his face changed slightly as he said, "Where do you want me to meet you and what time?"
"How about my house at around 5 PM. That should give us some time to get the gear on board and working. I havent used it in a few weeks."
"I can make it. Will I need to bring anything?"
He still looked apprehensive at the way and speed at which things were developing. I could sense the tension building within him. I dont know how I knew it, I just did. "Possibly. If you want to go out on a run tomorrow some severe weather is in the forecast for the afternoon. If you bring a couple of changes of clothes or whatever you think you will need for the weekend, Ill put you up in my guest room. That way we can get a start on things in the morning. There could be some bad weather later tonight too."
"Ill figure enough stuff to do the weekend if we need to be out that long. Where do you live?" I gave him a card with my address on it and we went over how to find my house. "Well, with all of the antennas on it I think I should be able to find it easily."
I felt like inside he must have been screaming at the top of his lungs. Outside he looked completely in control. "Peggy didnt have a problem when she brought me home from the hospital. All she had was the address since I was out in the seat next to her. Just look for the truck in the front yard. It looks a lot like the one in the movie."
"Ill be there at 5. Are you going shopping now?" Now that things were winding down his tension level started to drop a little. I could feel it in my soul.
"Yes. I may be here most of the morning."
"If youre here at lunchtime give me a call. All of the stores have my beeper number and heres a card with the number too." I took the card and put it in my purse.
"Thanks, Adam. Ive got to get back to Peggy. Oh, I forgot to tell you. If you want, bring a swimsuit with you. I have a pool that you can use if we have the time." At the mention of a swimsuit and pool I felt his tension level rise much higher than it had before yet he still looked calm on the outside. Inside he must be a total wreck. We both got up and Adam walked me to the door.
"Jen, Ill see you later this afternoon at your house."
"Thanks for helping me tonight, Adam." I smiled and kissed him lightly on the cheek. He stiffened noticeably and some of the color seemed to drain from his face. A very strange reaction, like the reactions I used to have in similar situations of being near a woman when I was male. Hmmm, I wonder. I headed out of the office towards the store.
When I got back to the store, Peggy was nowhere to be found. The gate on the store was still closed with almost 10 minutes left until the store was supposed to open. I had a seat on the bench thinking that she may have gone to the ladies room. I got lost deeply in thought about Adams strange behavior. When I felt a hand on my shoulder, I must have jumped a good foot or more or at least I felt like it. I looked up to see Beth standing there.
"Hi, Jennifer! Sorry if I scared you. I wanted to tell you that you were welcome to come into the store early if you wanted. Peggy is already inside."
"Thanks, Beth. Theres nothing like a good scare first thing in the morning to get your heart started." I looked up at her and winked. "Yes, I would be happy to get in and get started. I have a lot to do today. I want to let you know that whatever Peggy wants is my treat and that includes a knockout gown for the Mayors award ceremony for her. She deserves it."
"Do you want me to tell her?"
"Yes, thats OK and dont let her get the cheap stuff. Top of the line all the way please. Shes become a very dear friend to me. Now lets get busy!"
Beth followed me into the store and we headed towards the lingerie section. I asked Beth to select a few more bras for me to try and some panties both in a rather plain style and then some sexy things. I reasoned that since Im a woman now at least I could enjoy things like that at home and maybe even later when I decided I want to date. Wait, I think Im dating already. Isnt going to the drive-in with Adam a date? I decided it really didnt matter. Maybe Im just starting to make up for all of those years without someone to cuddle with.
"Jen, are you OK?" It was Beth tapping me on the shoulder.
"Hmmmm? Oh, Im fine Beth. I was just thinking about going to the drive-in with Adam Tilton tonight."
"You have a date with Adam?"
"Yes, I do." Her eyes got real big.
"Jen, thats incredible! Most of the single girls in the store have been trying to get him to go out with them. Hes either refused to go out with them or accepted then something came up that he couldnt go. Whats your secret?"
"I just came straight out and asked him. I wonder why he said yes to me and turned them down?"
"Jen, I dont know. If you can figure out what you have and they dont I think you should try to bottle it and sell it. You could make a fortune!"
"I have no idea what it is but Id sure like to know. Do you know anything more about him?"
"He seems to be shy around most women. He functions well but he tends to keep to himself when he isnt on mall business. He has never been seen at some of the social events that are held for mall workers. He is the ultimate gentleman when hes on mall business. Other than that he seems to be a mystery."
"If Im right, Beth, Ive had LOTS of experience with the type of man he seems to be. I hope Im right because if I am theres a very gentle and caring man in there wanting to be let out. I have to be very careful or Ill hurt him emotionally. I even think I know why he said yes to going out with me when he turned everyone else down."
"How do you know all of this, Jen?"
"Beth, its a very long story. Maybe when you have a day or more with nothing to do I can tell it to you. Please just trust me, I know what hes going through."
Beth shrugged. "If you say so. Are you ready to try some things on?"
"Yes. What have you got?" She handed me a pile of clothes and I headed for a changing room. I tried on a couple of the plain bras and panties and decided to buy what Beth had selected plus a few more. Moving on to the fancy things, I changed into a strapless very low cut bra. The cups made my breasts push up and together giving some very deep cleavage. I decided to put my blouse back on to see what the effect looked like. I left most of the buttons open on the blouse and went to find Peggy. She was looking at some shoes when I found her.
"Well, what do you think?"
"Very nice! That bra shows you off very well. Hey! What did Adam say?"
"He said yes! According to Beth, its something of a miracle. Almost every single female working here has tried to date him at some time or other and failed. I think I know why he said yes to me though. Well talk about that later. I dont want to embarrass him by talking about it where someone could overhear us."
"Alright. Are you gonna wear that tonight? It will sure get his motor revving!"
"Maybe, maybe not. I think Ill scare him if I come on too strong. Im just going modestly dressed and see what happens. If Im right, the smooth outside he projects is just that, a projection. I think he feels quite different inside. Maybe a lot like the old me."
"I think I understand and I have to agree with you. Play it simple and see what develops."
"Thanks, Peggy. Sometimes I need the wisdom of another to make sure Im right. I wonder, did Beth tell you about your shopping spree?"
"Yes she did and I should be mad at you but I just cant be. Thanks, Jen. Lets get together when we try the gowns for the awards. It would be great if we were both knockouts that night."
"Are you a mind reader too? I want us both to dazzle everyone. If your husband is coming, Ill even arrange for him to get the best tux available. You two deserve it for putting up with me the past few days. Especially since I kept you away from him last night."
"Dont worry about that. Well have lots of fun tonight making up for the lost time."
"Then well have to make sure we get you a very sexy teddy or something to show off for him. Maybe well visit that big lingerie store at the other end of the mall."
"I think so. Youll need something to show off that wonderful figure of yours for Adam too, you know. Just an old t-shirt isnt going to do it."
"I will get something but I dont think Im going to use it just yet. Adam might stay at the house overnight tonight in the guest room. If Im right about him, I dont want to scare him off by sending too strong a message at first. Ill just settle for some nice pajamas for tonight."
"Adam might stay overnight? How did you work that one?"
"There may be some bad weather tomorrow that may need the SKYWARN folks to go out. Adam and I are members of the group and we might go out together on a spotting run. If hes at my house in the morning, we can get a good start on getting to where the bad weather might be. Thats all, Peggy. No motives like getting him into bed."
"Are you sure, Jen?"
"Yes, Mother Hen. You can stop worrying about your little chick. I promise to be careful." I hugged her and gave her a big smile.
"Its just that I keep forgetting that theres a 45 year old mind in that 24 year old body."
"Sometimes Im reminded of that all too well when I make a reference to something someone that looks like me would never know about. Try talking to someone else thats 24 years old about a time when there were no personal computers or even simple pocket calculators. They look at me like Im from outer space or something."
"Here we stand talking about dating and all kinds of female stuff I bet you never thought you would talk about in a million years."
"True, Peggy. Its been a very strange and wonderful few days." I looked at my pager since it vibrated. "Hey. Look at the time! We have to get moving. Let me get back to the changing room and finish up." I looked at the beeper again and saw another weather alert. The weather tonight would definitely be a problem. I had better let Adam know. I found Beth and had her page for Adam. When he called, I had Beth ask him to come to the store.
About an hour later, I had forgotten that Adam was coming and was busy trying on swimsuits for the pool. Peggy had joined me by now and she was helping to critique each one. I had quite a time finding something I liked that didnt show too much or make my butt look like two bowling balls were stuffed back there. I finally found a couple of bikinis that I liked and was trying on a bright red one-piece suit.
It didnt have any shoulder straps and the top left a lot of cleavage exposed. The material was very stretchy and conformed to every curve and bulge on my body. While it did have a bra built in, it was very thin and showed my nipples were at attention from the cool air in the store. The back of the suit covered my bottom pretty well leaving only a little of my butt on display. I was looking in a mirror as we were talking about the suit when she froze. "AH, Jen " I looked over at her and she was pointing behind me. I turned around to see Adam standing there, his mouth wide open with a look of shock on his face.
He started stammering and turned beet red. "Jen, did you w w w want to see me?"
"Hi, Adam. How do you like it? I was thinking of buying this to go in my pool this weekend." I turned around to let him get the full effect.
He finally got his breath back and a worried look came over his face. "It looks great, Jen. I I Ive had something come up though and wont be able to make it tonight." He stood there shaking slightly. I could feel the fear radiating from him.
"Sorry to hear that, Adam. What happened?" He looked like he was fighting with himself trying to come up with something. I waited for an answer for about 30 seconds. "Adam? You really dont have something else do you." He hung his head and stared at his feet. I motioned over to Peggy to give us a few minutes alone.
"Sorry, Jen. Dating scares me. Ive never been comfortable around women. What you saw before was all an act."
"I thought I saw all of the signs. Adam, lets go have a seat and talk." I took his hand and lead him back towards the changing room. I opened the door and motioned for him to go in. The look on his face was one of apprehension. I had to give him a push to get him into the small room. I grabbed a wrap and tied it around myself and decided he might be more comfortable if I left the door open a bit. "Let me guess, youve always been extremely shy right?"
He looked like I had slapped him in the face. He just nodded and buried his head in his hands. "Adam, please look at me." When he didnt respond I reached out and gently lifted his head with my hand under his chin. "Adam, remember what I was before I changed?" I took hold of his hands. They felt warm and soft in mine and they were trembling slightly.
"Yes, you were a man."
"Thats true. What the rest of the word doesnt know is that I was extremely shy just like you are now. I never dated either. I spent many years alone and it wasnt any fun." His jaw dropped slightly as my words sunk in.
"Adam, what Im offering this weekend is a chance to spend some time with a friend that shares similar interests to your own, nothing more and nothing less. Im not ready for the boy-girl dating game yet myself and I need some time to adjust. Can you just accept that youre going to visit a beautiful woman who happens to be a friend and that there will be no sexual pressure on you?"
"I I Im not sure. Can I have some time to think about it, Jen?"
"Yes. Ill meet you near the carousel in the food court at noon. I need your answer then. I want to give you this free advice. I had a similar offer from a female friend over 25 years ago. I deeply regret not taking her up on it then because I think it would have changed my life. Please dont make the same mistake and wind up living most of your life lonely and sad like I did."
"Thanks, Jen. I will meet you at the carousel. I have some thinking to do until then." He stood up and turned to leave.
I debated with myself for a few moments then decided that needed something to help him make up his mind. "Adam?" He turned back towards me. I stood up and stepped towards him. "Heres something to think about." I put my arms around his neck and gently pulled him towards me. Our faces were just inches apart. I tipped my head slightly and gave him a solid kiss on his lips. I felt the tension in the muscles of his neck and shoulders melt away and he slumped a little in my arms. I lingered for a few seconds more then broke the kiss. I slowly pulled away as he regained some mental functions. "There could be more of those in your future possibly from me or from another lucky young woman." I gently turned him around, guided him out of the changing room and closed the door behind him.
Although the sound was a little muffled, I could hear Peggy and Adam through the door. "Adam, ADAM! Are you OK? What happened?"
"She kissed me!"
"She kissed me!"
"You know, Adam, I think that was her first real kiss with a man. You should feel very proud shes taken such a liking to you. It isnt easy for her right now you know."
"Ive got to go, Peggy. Tell Jennifer that Ill definitely be there at the carousel at lunchtime!"
Moments later I heard knocking on the door. "Jen, its Peggy. Can I come in?"
"Come ahead, Peggy." She opened the door and came in closing it behind her.
"What did you do to him? He was almost in meltdown mode."
"Do you mind if I change while we talk?"
"Go ahead, doesnt bother me if it doesnt bother you. What did you do?"
"I simply figured out what his problem was and I turned out to be right. Hes a very shy person. All of the things hes done so far were just an act required by his job. Hes scared of women in social situations. I saw the symptoms in him because I know what it was like for me just a few weeks ago." I stripped off the suit and got back into my panties and the strapless bra I had tried out earlier. I took the sales tag off the bra and added it to the pile of things to have checked out at the register. I decided to add the suit to the checkout pile too. Maybe I would get to use it tomorrow.
"He said you kissed him. Well?"
"Yes, its true. I just gave him a mild kiss on his lips and told him there could be more of those in the future. Im not certain if I went over the top with that or not. Ill know if he decides to go with me to the drive-in tonight."
"Jen, are you sure youre not moving too fast with all of this? Its scary that youre thinking about dating when just a day ago you seemed to be so against it."
"Im still not certain about it, Peggy. I feel I should help Adam though. I see a lot of myself in him at this stage in his life. If he doesnt change now hell be just as lonely and miserable as I used to be. If something does happen between us I think I can handle it. If it doesnt then at least Ive helped him to overcome his fears and enjoy life." I picked up a yellow blouse and put it on, taking the tag from it and adding it to the register pile. I left the top few buttons undone leaving a tantalizing peek of cleavage visible. I picked out a pair of new jeans and pulled them on also placing the tag in the pile. "There. How does this look, Peggy?"
"I just dont believe it. From a dumpy overweight man to a drop-dead gorgeous woman in a few weeks, youre incredible, Jen!"
"Thank you! Now I need to buy some shoes then get to the carousel near the food court. Lets get going!" I grabbed the pile of new stuff and the bag that held the clothes I wore into the store. I dropped the pile of new stuff in the large pile near a register and headed for the shoe department.
I found the woman working there was the same one from yesterday.
"Hello! Back for more 5 inch heels?"
"I was a bit over the top with those wasnt I? Never again unless its for show for someone in my bedroom. Those things nearly destroyed my poor feet! I just want something more reasonable. What do you suggest?"
"Well, with your size of foot I wouldnt suggest anything over about 3 inches. It would be even better to stay with 2 inch or less heels. Anything more than that and it puts too much strain on the ball of the foot and your toes. Ill bet they really hurt last night didnt they?"
"They sure did. What have you got in the 2 inch range. Something for everyday wear and then something for dress-up type occasions please. Oh, Ill need some low heel shoes too. Some tennis shoes and another pair or two of sandals."
"Ill be right back" Over the next 30 minutes of so I tried on about 10 pairs of shoes and decided to buy most of them. I got some very sexy strap type heels with a single strap over the top of the foot and a strap around the ankle to hold them on. I also got some additional tennis shoes and a good pair of boots for the winter. I decided to wear a pair of the sandals out of the store.
Since it was almost lunchtime I had Beth total up everything and paid for it. She agreed to save it for me while Peggy and I had lunch. We really didnt get to try on the gowns yet so we had to come back anyway. Beth said she would have a couple of her staff put it in the truck while we were trying on the gowns.
I didnt want to be late to meet Adam if he did decide to come for the weekend so I almost ran to get to the food court. I shouldnt have worried. He was there waiting for me. As I got closer to him I could see he was holding a single red rose and smiling. I looked at him and he simply nodded yes, handed me the rose and extended his arm. I gladly accepted both of them. Peggy followed us to a table. "What would you like today ladies. Its on the mall again for last night and all of the great publicity you both have brought us."
I thought to myself that he had his PR director face on now. At least he handles it well. "Id love to do the Bourbon Chicken again but I try not to have the same thing twice. Ill have General Tsos Chicken from the Chinese place over there. I havent had some really spicy food with this body yet. I need to find out if I can still handle it. Just ice water for me to drink please, Peggy?"
"Ill take another one of the salads like I had last night. Theyre a favorite of mine. And a diet soda please?"
"Ill be right back."
Peggy waited until he was out of hearing range. "So what happened?"
"You saw. He gave me the rose and I noticed he shook his head. It means hes going to go with me to the drive-in tonight. Well see about anything past that."
"I hope you know what youre doing, Jen."
"So do I, Peggy. Here he comes " Adam brought the salad for Peggy and her drink over then went back to get my chicken.
"Do you want me to come with you?"
"No, Peggy, this is something I have to handle myself. I do thank you for being so concerned though. If Im reading Adam properly I think hes the ultimate gentleman. He would normally never do anything to hurt anyone else knowingly. If there is a problem you saw what I did last night."
"Yes I did. Remind me to never get you really mad at me."
Adam returned with my order and another of the same for himself. "You know, Jen, its amazing how close our food tastes seem to be. Want to do Italian tonight or do you want to just have something at the drive-in?"
"Well do Italian at the drive-in. They have really good pizza. In fact, when the drive-in is closed for the winter the pizza parlor is still open. He has quite a reputation for good food."
"Sounds good to me but no anchovies OK? Lets eat before this gets cold. Theres very little thats worse than cold General Tsos chicken."
We all dug in. Peggy and I were interrupted several times by people coming over to talk to us or ask for autographs. I guess all of the publicity meant that the time of peace and quiet I had requested from the public could be considered to be over. I idly wondered how soon I would become the target of the tabloids and their peculiar style of news reporting. Id have to grab a few of them to see what they were doing to me. The first time they reported I had a "lesbian lover" I was going to sue them for everything I could get. Ill have to talk to Adam about what could happen too. I really dont want to see him get hurt because of me.
We finished almost an hour later after additional visitors had formed a small line at our table. Peggy and I excused ourselves and left for a trip to the ladies room. At least it wasnt a repeat of the last time I was in there. No snooty old grand dame to create problems. In fact, most of the woman didnt even pay attention when I walked in. A few did seem to recognize me from the news stories though and I saw a few little waves of the hand or nods of recognition that I returned. I entered a stall and dropped my panties to go. I sat down and let loose. As I looked down, I noticed a tiny spot of red on my panties. DAMN! My first period and I had to go out tonight and probably for most of the day tomorrow. The panties werent too bad and I did have to go back to the store for the gowns. If I had to I could get another pair there. It was a good thing Peggy had thought to get some pads for me and put a few in my purse. I got one out and fastened it in my panties. I debated about using a tampon and decided for the moment that the flow wasnt heavy enough to try one. I cleaned up and got dressed again. I flushed then headed for the sink to wash my hands.
I noticed that they had a dispenser for small paper cups so I grabbed one and fished in my purse for a bottle I thought I had seen in the bottom. Bless Peggy again! It was a bottle of over the counter cramp medication. I decided I had better take some just in case and opened the bottle to get out two tablets. A drink of water to swallow them and I headed back outside to wait for Peggy. I got outside the door when I heard a voice calling to me that I thought I recognized.
"Hey BRO!" I looked around and spotted my sister leaning against the wall about 20 feet away. I ran to her and gave her a huge hug.
"God its so good to see you again, Sis! I thought you were working on Fridays!"
"Normally I am. I just got the day off to do some serious shopping. I stopped here to pick up some stuff I had on order from one of the craft stores."
"Im glad youre here. Want to meet some of my friends?"
"Sure, lead the way!" I headed back to the table where Adam was waiting.
At least the crowd of people had gone.
"Adam, this is my sister Sandra, Sandra this is Adam Tilton, the PR director of the mall. Did you see him on the news last night?"
"Hi, Adam. Yes I did see both of you on the news last night and again this morning. Excellent awards ceremony by the way."
"Thanks Sandra. I had fun doing it and I know the kids loved having Jen and Peggy present the awards." He sat back quietly in the chair. I felt the tension building again within him.
"So, Sis, how long are you here for?"
"About another 10 minutes or so. I have some additional errands."
"Oh, here comes Peggy. Let me introduce you." Peggy came back from the ladies room looking a little upset.
"Im sorry I didnt wait for you. I have a surprise! Peggy, this is my sister Sandra, Sis, this my new friend Peggy." Sandra and Peggy hugged.
"Nice to meet you, Peggy! Jen here hasnt told me much about you so Ill guess well have to catch up together at Jens house sometime. Ive got some errands to finish. Ill see you later?"
"Sure, Sandra. Ill be glad to chat with you. Take care and Ill see you later!" My sister waved goodbye and headed off into the crowd.
Peggy looked at her leave for a few moments. "They ARE all like that arent they, Jen?"
"Like I said, Peggy, its just a Stevens family characteristic between family members."
Adam looked at us then at his watch. "Ladies, I need to get back to my office since Im expecting some calls on future activities here at the mall. Its been a pleasure to have you with us today. Jen. Ill be at your place around 5 PM. Ill call for you on the repeater if I get lost. Is that alright?"
"Thats fine Adam. Remember to dress for the conditions tonight. We will probably have some bad weather and I need to warn you the mosquitoes are sometimes a problem at the drive-in. Bring along some bug repellant if you have any."
"Thanks for the warning, Jen. Ill see you later." He left to return to his office.
"Well, Jen, back to the store for the dresses for the award ceremony?"
"Lead the way, Im right behind you."
We walked back to the store. When we got inside Beth was waiting for us. I handed her my truck key and told her where it was parked and what it looked like. They had 3 huge shopping carts loaded with things Peggy and I had purchased. Im glad that we didnt have to lug all of it out ourselves.
"Beth, the small key is to the lock on the cap. Since all of that is in bags, could they put it in the back? I dont think all of that will fit in the cab."
"I agree. You do have quite a load there but then you needed almost everything anyway."
"Thanks, Beth, now lead us to the evening dresses!"
We walked over to a different area of the store with several racks of formal wear. I picked out a nice black backless dress. I held it up to myself and found that the hemline ended a couple of inches below my knees. The sides of the dress had slits that would end at my hips leaving a tantalizing peek at my legs and thighs. The dress had a unique sparkle finish to it that I liked. "Beth, I want to try this one on. What do you suggest for accessories to go with it?"
"How about some sheer black panty hose and some high heels?"
"I think I have the heels already. I like the style of the panty hose that I wore last night. Think they would work with this?"
"Theyll do fine. How many pair do you want?"
"Ill take 4 in case I have problems with them. Im going to try this on now." I headed for the changing room. I noticed Peggy looking at a similar dress in a medium gray color as I left.
We spent another half an hour trying on dresses. My final choice needed a little work to make it fit properly. Peggys did too. Beth made some notes on what was needed and pinned them to each dress.
"That wraps it up. Well have them ready for you in a few days. Want to pay for these now?"
"Yes, Ill be glad to get that out of the way. I need to make a couple more stops then Peggy and I have lots of stuff to unload from the truck." I handed my credit card to Beth. She totaled up the dresses and extras and ran the card through the terminal. A few seconds later I signed the slip and handed it back to her.
"Thanks for your help, Beth. I really appreciate it."
"Thats quite alright, Jen. Weve generated lots of business from helping you out last night. You and Peggy are welcome back anytime."
Peggy and I waved goodbye and headed back into the mall. We headed towards the big chain store that carried sexy lingerie.
I waited on the bench outside while Peggy went in and got something to wear for her husband later tonight. I figured that I really didnt want to know all about that besides my feet were a little sore anyway.
As I was resting, several people recognized me and started a conversation. In a few minutes at least 20 people had bunched around the bench talking to me and asking for autographs. A couple of guys even tried to pick me up. I politely refused their offers of dates. After nearly 30 minutes of this Peggy returned to rescue me from the growing crowd. I got up on the bench. "Thanks everyone. Im sorry I cant meet you all today. I have to go now." I got off the bench and headed with Peggy for the truck.
This time we made it to the truck without any incidents like last night and headed back towards my house. I made several stops along the way. One was at a grocery store for the much needed restocking trip. Another was at a drugstore for some feminine care products. I have to admit the array of products is mind boggling to say the least. Thanks to Peggy I got stocked up on everything I needed and a few things I really didnt need but got anyway.
We made it back to the house around 1:30 in the afternoon. It took almost an hour to unload the truck and put all of my new clothes away in the closet and dresser. I think Ill need more space since the existing closet was almost full and I really didnt have the selection Peggy thinks I should have. What is it with women anyway? As a man a few pairs of pants and about a dozen shirts were most of what I needed on a consistent basis. I wasnt certain that I would ever get used to the bewildering array of fabrics and styles in womens clothing. I may FEEL feminine but I still dont have a womans fashion sense.
I felt a little cramp and remembered to ask Peggy about tampons. "Peggy, can I ask a question?"
"Thats why Im here, to help get you adjusted to your new body isnt it? What do you need to know?"
"Well, Im starting to have my period. I noticed it when I went to the ladies room back at the mall. Will you show me how to use tampons? Ill need to use one tonight."
"I can give you the lesson. Well need to go into the bathroom and well BOTH put one in. Ill demonstrate inserting a tampon on myself then you try putting one in. It really isnt very hard, just uncomfortable at first." She headed for my bathroom where we had stored my supplies.
She dropped her jeans and panties and proceeded to demonstrate inserting a tampon. "OK, now you try it." She handed me one from the box.
"OK. Here goes " I dropped my jeans and panties and placed my left leg on the closed toilet seat. Following her instructions I had no problem getting it in place. It did feel strange having something inserted down there and I blushed a little.
"Thats exactly the proper way. I know youve never done this before so you did great for the first time. Youll need to replace it every few hours. Read over the instruction sheet in the box since the brands differ a little in how long they recommend you use each one. Be sure to replenish the supply in your purse too. You might even want to get a box to leave in your truck."
We both got dressed again. "Thanks, Peggy, that wasnt as bad as I thought it was going to be either. I think Ill go have something light to eat and take some more medication. I need to minimize the symptoms for tonight and the weekend while Im with Adam. I dont know if hell understand that Im having my period."
"If you need too, Jen, dont be afraid to tell him. I think hell understand and allow for more frequent bathroom trips for you for a couple of days."
"Do you want a snack before you go back home? Im going to make up some of my garden relish and have a veggie sandwich with it. Want to try one?"
"Whats in it?"
"I use tomatoes, onion, green peppers and celery chopped up and simmered in a thick tomato paste sauce with some additional spices. Its great on hamburgers or hot dogs and I like it on a hamburger roll as a sandwich. It tastes good and I never had to worry about too much salt or fat when I had them. I know it doesnt really matter now what I eat as long as Im careful to not get fat. I just like the stuff. It brings back memories of when I was a kid visiting Bubbles diner at Sylvan Beach. Thats where I had it first. They always had a big pot of it simmering on the grill when I had a hamburger there. They closed many years ago. I missed the stuff so much I figured out what was in it and made it myself. It took me years to figure out the spices!"
"OK Ill give it a try. If I like it can I get the recipe?"
"Its a secret. If I told you what was in it Id have to kill you." Peggys jaw dropped open. "Silly, of course you can have the recipe! You may have to write it down as we go though. Its only in my head."
"I can do that. Lets get busy!" Over the next 30 minutes, I made a batch of the garden sauce as I called it. Peggy had several samples along the way and agreed it was very tasty.
I served up two plates with a veggie burger on each plate. "Dig in, Peggy!"
She grabbed the burger and took a bite. "This is great, Jen! Could I get another one?"
"Sure. Ill even put some of this in a bag for you to take home. You can try it out on your husband."
"Thanks! I think hell like it as much as I do. Does this stuff have much of a storage life?"
"It does if you make a batch of it, let it cool off and freeze it. I usually put it in smaller bags so I can thaw out only what I need. It thaws out great in a microwave too or if you use a boil-in bag you can just toss it in a pan of hot water." I put another burger on Peggys plate and made up a plastic bag full of the stuff for her to take home. The second burger disappeared almost as fast as the first one did.
"Thanks, Jen. Youre a pretty good cook."
"When you live alone for years you either get good at cooking or eat a LOT of take-out that really isnt too good for you. At least thats what I found out because of the health problems I used to have."
"Ive got to get going and get back home. I need to get the house cleaned up and get supper ready for my husband. With the garden sauce you just gave me I think Ill make some hamburgers and use it as a relish on them. Jen, If you need me or just want to talk Im always as close as the phone."
"Thanks, Peggy. Now get going and make that hubby of yours glad he married you!" Peggy grabbed the rest of her stuff and headed out for her car. I watched her get in and back out of the driveway. I waved as her car disappeared down the road. I headed back to the kitchen and took some more of the cramp medication from the bottle in my purse. I wandered around the now quiet house and wound up back in my bedroom.
For the first time in weeks I was alone in my house and not so tired that I wanted just to fall in bed and sleep for hours. I had almost 2 hours until Adam was supposed to arrive. I decided I had time for a relaxing bath and hurried into the bathroom to get everything ready. I started filling the tub and added some rose scented bubble bath to the water. I decided that my hair probably didnt need washing and that there may not be enough time to properly dry it anyway so I put it up in a bun on top my head. I stripped off my clothes and eased myself into the warm inviting water. I leaned back and soaked for a few minutes letting the tension flow out of my body.
I almost fell asleep and woke up as my head jerked forward when I started to nod off. I looked at the clock and found out I had been napping for about 15 minutes. Hmmmm I had better watch that in the future, wouldnt want to have to use the excuse that I was late for work because I fell asleep in the bathtub! I reached down and felt that I had grown some stubble on my legs. I wanted to wear panty hose tonight so I figured I had better shave them. I got out the ladies razor I just bought along with some ladies shaving gel. It took about the same time to do my legs and armpits as it usually had taken to do a really good job on my face when I was a man. At least as a woman I might not have to shave every day like I did as a man. Another positive aspect of the transformation I guess.
As I was finishing up I dropped the razor in the tub between my legs. Not wanting to take a chance on getting something down there badly cut I carefully reached down to retrieve the razor. I found it in a ticklish spot and gently removed it from the delicate tissue it had come to rest against. As I was removing the razor, I lightly brushed the area with the handle of the razor sending a jolt of pleasure through my body. WOW! Was that ever INTENSE! I decided that the time was right for a little more exploration and soon brought myself to several orgasms. As the afterglow faded I realized that some toys might help me adapt to the feelings I should expect when I do finally have intimate relations with a man. Ill take care of that with a little web surfing over the weekend. I recovered from my latest experience and decided that I had wasted enough time in the tub.
I finished up by inserting a tampon after I dried off and within 10 minutes was back in my bedroom getting dressed again. This time I picked out a red cotton blouse with long sleeves and a high-buttoned collar and some comfortable black denim jeans. I used one of my new 36D bras for a softer look and put on panty hose under the jeans. I wanted a small extra layer of protection from the mosquitoes. I know that panty hose arent much in the way of protection but every little bit helps with the B-52 sized monsters we grow around here.
I slipped the blouse on and buttoned most of the buttons leaving just a little cleavage visible. I could button it all the way up if I got cold. I squeezed into the jeans and got them zipped and buttoned. I dont know if Ill ever get used to the buttons being on the wrong side from what I was used to. I pulled on some thin socks to protect my feet and the panty hose from the tennis shoes I put on last.
I walked over to the mirror on the back of the closet door and gave myself a critical appraisal. I decided that this was just the look I wanted for tonight. All of the right assets were showing but at modest levels. I felt warm so the cooler nighttime temperatures shouldnt be too bad. I planned on taking one of my new jackets anyway.
I went back over to the low dresser that now served as my makeup table and got to work. While I didnt have the skills yet that Peggy did I think I did a decent job of applying some makeup. I added some of my new strawberry flavored lipstick and blotted away the extra. Finally came my hair. I carefully brushed out any tangles remaining from putting it up for the tub and gathered it up to put in the ponytail clip. I had to fuss with it a little to get it right and after 4 tries I managed to get everything in its proper place. I shook my head to flare out the ponytail and looked at myself again in the mirror.
Is this really me now? I sat there looking at a very pretty face with glossy red lips, big blue eyes that you could get lost looking in and the most beautiful overall features I had ever seen. It this REALLY ME? I tipped my head and the image in the mirror responded. I winked and so did the image. I even stuck my tongue out at myself. So did the image. I froze for what seemed like an eternity looking at the beautiful image in the mirror.
I was brought back to reality by the ringing of the doorbell. I glanced at the clock only to realize the I had been setting there for at least 30 minutes transfixed by the image in the mirror. The clock said 5:10. Oh my God! Had I kept Adam waiting? I grabbed the rose scented perfume and sprayed a little on my neck and wrists and literally ran for the front door.
I had the presence of mind to slow down and take a couple of deep breaths before I opened the door. Im glad I did because Adam was standing there with a half dozen roses and a big grin on his face.
"Thank you for trying to blast me out of my shell, Jen. These are for you. No strings attached."
"Thanks Adam, I hope I didnt keep you waiting too long. I just lost track of the time. Ever since I changed it takes me a whole lot longer to get ready to do anything. I never realized what a high maintenance thing a womans body was."
"No, I just pulled in moments before I rang the bell. I like the truck. Thats my 65 Ford Mustang convertible parked next to it. I like classic cars and restored this one myself."
I walked out to the car and made a trip around it looking at the fantastic job he did on the restoration. "WOW! Great job, Adam! What engine is in it? Is it the little 289 or is it the larger V8?"
"It has the small 289 engine and a 3 speed stick shift manual transmission."
"I used to have a sky blue fastback version 64 and a half Mustang as my first car years ago. If I had known then what I know now I would have kept the car and restored it. I loved that car and had lots of fun with it."
"If you want to later we can take it for a ride and you can drive."
"Thanks, Adam, Id love it. Hey, I have a crazy idea. Now that I can afford to, if I find a good used Mustang would you help me restore it? Fortunately, money isnt a problem these days so I can really do it right. Will you help?"
"We can talk about it later, Jen. When do you need to be at the drive-in?"
"Not until about 7:30 tonight. We have almost two hours before we need to leave. Will you help me get the weather gear ready to go?"
"Sure." I headed for the kitchen to put the roses in some water then we walked to my radio room. I sat down in a chair and fired up the notebook that was the heart of the weather system in the truck.
"I just need to update a couple of things in the software and then we can get this in place in the truck."
"So tell me about this thing."
"Well, Adam, this is a Toshiba notebook PC running Windows 98. I have several devices connected to it via either serial ports or a card in the PCMCIA slot on the side. The main device is a WX-200 weather station. I mount the wind speed and direction sensors on a pole that extends about 3 feet above the truck cap. Its high enough that I have clean readings. I use an electronic compass module to let the PC know how the truck is oriented when I stop so I never have to correct the wind direction readings for true north. I also use a GPS unit connected to the PC to gather data on where we are and pop up a live position report using some atlas type software that is available. It makes for a very good portable automatic observing station. The problem is that for mobile use it needs two people, one to drive and the other to run the PC. Its not safe to try to do both at the same time."
"Do you want me to drive or operate?"
"Yes. That is you can do both. I figure if we do wind up going out on a call-up well swap off every hour or so." By now I had updated the software and made sure the system was working. I shut down the PC and put it in its travel bag.
"Sounds good to me, Jen. Here let me get that stuff for you."
"Thats OK, Adam, I have it." I tried to lift the station kit with and found that I couldnt get it more than a foot off the floor. It weighed only about 100 pounds and I used to lift that much with one hand. "I guess Ill have to ask for your help after all. I just cant pick this whole kit up like I used to."
"Thats OK. I got it. Where do you want it?"
I handed him the keys to the truck. "Just put it in cab behind the seats. Theres lots of room there. Come on back in and meet me in the computer room. Its the next door down the hall. I need to check some things and get map printouts." Adam nodded then disappeared out the front door. I headed to the computer room.
A couple of minutes later Adam returned and found me working on some weather maps. "Jen, whats that youre looking at?"
"Weather maps from the National Weather Service. I get them from their web site. They show the current weather and weather patterns for the next 24 and 48 hours. If Im reading these properly were in for it later tonight and again tomorrow afternoon." I pointed to the map for today. "See this warm front?" He nodded. "It will move into the area while were at the drive-in tonight. Around here going from cool air to warm moist air generates thunderstorms. Not as bad as going from warm to cold but still nasty. Well be in an area southeast of Lake Ontario tonight and that means that any storms that develop over the lake are likely to hit us as they come off the lake. The weather usually moves in from the Northwest so well be in a prime target area for anything that develops."
"So what is the NWS saying?"
"Theyre saying theres a good possibility of severe thunderstorms tonight and again tomorrow when a cold front comes through in the late afternoon. The warm front is going to pump a LOT of warm very moist air into the area. The problem is that the front will likely move through just at the point in the day when the sun heats the air the most. With all of that energy stored up in the atmosphere the resulting storms will be big ones and have high winds and large hail. The NWS has put the SKYWARN folks on alert for tomorrow for certain."
"Then it looks like were on for a run tomorrow?"
"OK. Let me get my stuff out of the car and get set up in your guest room if your offer still stands."
"It does so go grab what you brought." Adam headed out to his car and grabbed a suitcase and duffel bag.
"Where do you want me?"
I led him down the hall to the guest room. "Never mind the pile of old clothes in the corner. I had to take all of my old stuff out of my closets and dresser to get my new clothes put away. All of that stuff is going to go in another couple of days. This room has a toilet but the only shower is in my bathroom. Just ask to use it so I dont walk in on you."
"Ill do that. Thanks."
"Ill be out in the kitchen. Come on in when you get your things put away." I walked into the kitchen and started to stock a cooler to take with us. I added some canned soda, half-gallon of milk, a half-gallon of water and some cheese and a stack of crackers. I emptied the icemaker in the freezer and decided to make a quick stop at little store down the road for a bag of cubes to add to the cooler. As I was closing the lid of the cooler Adam came in.
"I was just getting some supplies ready for the night. Take a look." I lifted the lid of the cooler. "Anything else you can think of?"
"I thought we were eating at the drive-in. Why all of this stuff?"
"With as many of these things as Ive done I found it a good idea to plan for some extra time out. You never know when things dont go quite as you plan and youre out longer that you figured. Im just playing cautious."
"I cant think of anything else. Do you want me to put this in the truck too?"
"Yes please, behind the seat. I need to get some supplies for my purse. Oh, not to make you nervous or anything but I started my period earlier this afternoon. I may need to go to the ladies room a little more frequently for a while."
A look of concern flashed across his face. "Jen, are you sure you want to go tonight. We can just stay in if youre not feeling well. Ill understand."
"Thanks, Adam, but Im going. I promised I would be there with the truck. If turning into a woman didnt stop me a little thing like my period isnt going to do it either."
"Alright then. If you feel like you need to come back home just speak up and well head right back."
"Thanks, Adam." He grabbed the cooler and headed for the truck. I hurried into my bathroom and added a few more tampons to my purse just in case. I headed back to the kitchen. Adam came back in moments later.
"Hey, Adam, are you a little hungry? We wont be eating until after the movie starts around 8:30. I was planning on a snack here then getting a couple of slices of pizza there. I just dont feel like eating as much as I used to."
"What have you got?"
"I have something youve never had. I call it my garden sauce. Its a relish type sauce made with tomatoes, onion, and celery, green peppers and some spices. Its very good just by itself on a hamburger roll. I made up a batch earlier today. Want to try it?"
"Sure. Ill give it a try." I warmed up the sauce and put some on a lightly buttered hamburger roll. I set the plate in front of Adam then made one more for myself.
"OK, dig in. What do you want to drink?"
"Do you have any diet soda?"
"I just put the last of it in the cooler. How about some lemonade? I have a mix we can make up."
"No thanks. How about a glass of milk?"
"That I have. Let me get it for you." I got the milk from the fridge and two glasses from the cabinet. I filled one for Adam and another about half full for myself.
"Well, what do you think?" Adam had taken a large bite of the burger and was making little "Mmmmmm" sounds as he chewed.
"Jen, this is great. Is there enough for one more?"
"Sure. Let me finish mine and Ill make you another one." I took a couple of minutes to finish my burger then made a second for Adam. I put it on the plate in front if him.
"Thanks, Jen." He grabbed for the second burger and took another big bite out of it. I sat there smiling at the thought the he was really enjoying my cooking. WOA. Where did THAT come from? Me thinking that a man enjoyed my cooking and taking some pleasure from it? How fast Im changing!
"Jen, Jen, are you OK?" Adam was reaching over shaking my shoulder. "You looked like you were elsewhere there for almost a minute."
"Oh, Im fine. I was just lost in thought about how fast Ive changed and how well I seem to be adapting to all of this. I kind of space out every now and then thinking about it."
"I know. Peggy said to watch out for it." Then he visibly cringed.
"Peggy? When did you talk to her?"
"OOPS! I wasnt supposed to say anything. Please dont get me in trouble. She called me at work after she left here asking me to look out for you. Jen, shes just worried youre moving way too fast in adjusting to all of this. I said I would help."
"Adam, to tell you the truth within the last few minutes Im starting to worry about it too but not for the same reasons that Peggy is worried. When I first changed, I did feel like a man trapped in a female body for a short time. Within a day or so I felt like I should have been born as a woman. I only felt something was missing inside to make me complete. Then I saw this ring in Beths store and bought it. When I put it on I felt a little shock and my whole world snapped into place. Somehow I knew things only a woman living all of her life that way should know." I held up my hand so he could look at the ring.
"Jen, why do the stones look like theyre on fire from inside. Its the most unusual effect Ive ever seen."
"OH MY GOD! You see it too?"
"I thought I was crazy at first. Nobody else could see that when they looked at the ring."
"I think Ive seen something like that ring before. I may have been surfing the Internet and stumbled across a site that had some information on a ring like that. I thought it was sort of curious and moved on to another site. I book marked the site and wanted to get back to look at it later. I never did do that."
"Do you think you could find the web site again?"
"Probably. I remember what I was searching for. If that site is still up well find it. Do you want to try looking now?"
"No. Well be late for the movie tonight. Lets try looking in the morning OK?"
"Works for me, Jen."
"Adam, theres something else we need to talk about. Ill be under a lot of pressure from the press especially the tabloids. Anyone that is near me will also be under their microscope. I just want to make sure you were aware of that and give you the chance to get out of this before you get dragged into the publicity mill too."
"Jen, Ive been aware of that right from the start. It doesnt make a bit of difference to me. Id still like to be with you if youll accept me."
"Of course I will, Adam."
"Then let me do a bathroom trip and well get moving for the drive-in."
We headed for our respective bathrooms. I replaced my tampon and checked my purse one more time for anything I needed to replace. On my way out of the bedroom I sprayed on a little more of the rose scent. Adam met me in the hall.
"Im ready to roll. Lets get going. Adam, will you drive?"
"You sure its OK?"
"Yes. Just remember that it does NOT handle like your Mustang and youll be fine. Its a whole lot larger and takes much longer to stop. Be very careful stepping on the gas. It will break loose the rear tires with very little effort. No burn-outs please! Im set to handle other drivers on my insurance but please dont make me glad I have the insurance!"
"Got it. The keys?"
I handed him the key set for the truck. We went out the door locking the front door behind us. "By the way, the emergency override code for the alarm system is 8088. Since youll be staying here a couple of days you may need to get in when Im not around. Just use that code and things will be fine."
"Cute. Thats the model of the processor chip used in IBMs original PC."
"Score one for the geek. Im glad to see Im not alone!"
He unlocked the passenger side door and helped me into the truck. I hit the release for the lock on his door. He got in and made a couple of adjustments to the seat and mirrors. Moments later the engine came to life and we eased out of the driveway.
"I assume youre talking about the drive-in up north? Thats the only one I know of around here."
"Thats the one. Need any directions from here?"
"Nope. I know right where it is. We should be there in about 30 minutes right?"
"We need to stop at a store for a bag of ice. I didnt have enough from the freezers icemaker."
"How about this one?"
"That will do." Before I could get out when he stopped, he was out of the truck and into the store. He came out moments later with an 8 pound bag of ice cubes. He opened the lid of the ice chest and placed the bag inside after hitting it on the sill of the truck a couple of times to loosen the ice cubes that had frozen together. Another minute and we were back under way to the drive-in.
A few minutes later Adam got a thoughtful look on his face. "Jen, can I say something?"
"You can say almost anything you want, Adam."
"I have to thank you now for figuring out my problem and asking me to come with you tonight. You gave me a lot to think about this afternoon. I decided to try as hard as I can to overcome the fear I have around women. Please dont get take offense when I say this but I think youre the perfect one to help me. While youre all woman on the outside I see in you enough of the old male personality so we have some common ground to share. I also see a very warm caring person in you and Im proud to have you for a friend. Im beginning to feel very comfortable around you and I hope our friendship will last a very long time. I hope I didnt just put my foot in my mouth. Did I?"
"Not all, Adam. Im happy to know that you feel that way about me. Ive felt something similar about you almost from the start. I dont know where this is all leading so all I can ask of you is to enjoy the ride. I too am pleased to call you a friend so dont be afraid of asking me anything or making any comments you feel appropriate. Right now I think I need the stability and company of other people. Im not really certain if I can make it on my own for long periods of time. I still sometimes feel some degree of shock and wonder at what happened to me and the speed of the changes as the they happen. Things like my little space out back at the house as just one example."
"Im not certain I completely understand, Jen, but Im here to help you like youve helped me already. Thats what friends are for isnt it?"
"Yes it is, Adam, it certainly is." I reached over and turned up the volume on the radio on my favorite oldies station. We both were quiet for a while as he worked his way towards the drive-in.
He finally looked over at me. "Jen, a dollar for your thoughts right now, is something troubling you?"
"A dollar? Are they really worth that much?"
"Nope. It used to be a penny for your thoughts but you cant buy anything with just one cent these days. Whats bugging you? Youve been quiet these past few minutes."
"I have a bad feeling about tonight, Adam. I cant explain why or how I know but something bad is going to happen tonight at the drive-in."
"Jen, do you want to talk to them when we get there and tell them that youre not feeling well. We can go home early if you need to."
"NO! Absolutely NOT! I have a feeling that our being there tonight is critical and that the situation will only be worse if we leave early."
"How do you know this, Jen?"
"I said I really dont know what will happen. I only know we HAVE to be there. Lives may depend on it."
"Then Ill just attribute it to a womans built-in radar and leave it at that. My mom is like that a LOT. She knows trouble is coming long before anything happens. I still dont know how she does it."
"You said My mom IS like that a lot. Does that mean shes still alive?"
"Yes, Jen. Would you like to meet her sometime?"
"I sure would. Maybe we can make a trip back to our hometown on Sunday and see both of our parents. We could also stop at Papa Nicos for lunch. Hes open until 5 on Sunday this time of year for the tourist trade on the Thruway."
"Only if we take my car and YOU drive this time."
"Really? Thats great, Adam! Id love to get some behind the wheel time in that Mustang of yours!"
"Depending on what happens tomorrow youve got yourself a deal. Hey, looks like were here already! Do I get in the line?"
"Yes. Ill talk to the folks at the booth if they dont recognize me right away. I told Henry to have them keep a lookout for us. Henry Talbot is the owner of this place by the way. Youll meet him shortly."
We got to the window. I recognized the girl on duty taking tickets. "Hi Sally! Is Henry around?"
"Yes he is." A momentary look of confusion showed on her face. "Bob is that really you in there?"
"Yes Sally, its me and please call me Jen or Jennie now. I assume youve been watching the news these past few days?"
"Yes we all have. Ill tell Henry youre here. Just go ahead and put the truck in the usual spot. Remember not to block the window on the side for the projector!"
"Ok, Adam, you heard her. Lets get moving so she can sell more tickets! Sally, come see me when you get a break." I directed Adam to park in front of the snack bar making sure we didnt block the windows used to project the movies on the screen. "Lets get set up. Can you get the weather station case out of the truck?"
Adam got out and folded the seat back forward, easily lifting the heavy case into the front of the truck. I mused that just a few short weeks ago I could have easily done that. Now I had to have help. Well at least it was good looking help. WOA AGAIN! Where did THAT thought come from all of a sudden? It HAS to be those female hormones running through my brain. I smiled at Adam and opened the latch on the case.
In less than 15 minutes, everything was in place on the truck and the weather station was in full automatic mode. I even had Adam walk back a few rows of cars to be sure the height of the wind gages didnt block someones view of the screen.
The lot started to fill with cars and Adam and I answered lots of questions as people went to the snack bar for goodies before the movie started. I heard Henry on the radio system and the PA system mentioning the truck several times. As it progressed towards dusk the crowd tapered off. The screen lit up with the usual welcome movie clips, promotions for the snack bar and a long string of coming attractions. I have to admit it, Henry is a real showman when it comes to running this place. He has the late 50s, early 60s drive-in atmosphere dialed in perfectly. There are even nights he has set aside for the old make-out movies. He has everyone on the staff dress up in period clothes and the local car clubs bring out their classics to provide a period atmosphere to the place.
On special weekends he even has the older Disney movies so the kids and their parents can share memories of going to a drive-in on a weekend night. In my case it sort of worked in reverse. A few weeks before my mom passed away I took her to see Mary Poppins and Bambi again. With her memory failing she couldnt remember anything about the present times but all her old memories of taking us to those movies as we were kids came gushing to the surface. Its probably the last happy memory I have of her. A few weeks later she had a stroke and passed away. My eyes started to tear up a little and I sniffled as I wiped the tears away. I hadnt been able to cry about that since she died.
"Anything wrong, Jen?"
"Nothing a good cry later wont fix. I was just remembering the last few weeks that my mom was alive. I brought her here to see some of the old Disney movies just before she died. Im better now." I shoved the memory back into its special place and finished wiping the tears. "Lets go to the snack bar."
Adam and I locked up the truck and went into the snack bar. Sally by this time was working inside. "Hi there! Youve been away a long time and wow have you changed!" She gave me a big hug.
"Its good to be back, Sally. Wheres Henry hiding?"
"You know him. Hes in the booth tending the projectors. Go on in."
We headed behind the counter and towards a door marked private. I opened the door and stepped into a room full of projectors clattering noisily. Somewhere above the din I heard "I missed you. Good to see youre up and around!"
I worked my way over to the number one projector and found Henry adjusting the arc gap rods. "Henry, you always did take great care of the equipment. Still fussing over it I see?" I gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. He looked a little shocked.
"Whats THAT all about?"
"Its a girl thing I do now. How are you Henry? Still making a buck or two with this place I hope?"
"Its been rough, Bob er Jennifer. Im just about breaking even this season. I cant get the big films in here any more because they cost so much. I may have to close it up after the season is over. Its a shame to because this is the last drive-in within about 200 miles. I know I have a large group of folks that would really miss it."
"Henry, we need to talk a little after tonight. All I can say right now is DONT worry about next season. If youre willing to accept a silent partner in the business I think I can be of help."
"Thanks, Jennifer. I think thats possible. Well talk more in a week or so. Oh, who is this fine young fellow you brought with you?"
"Henry Talbot this is Adam Tilton. Adam is the PR person at the big mall."
"PR person huh? Adam do you ever do a little moonlighting? I need someone to help me get the word out better about the drive-in."
"Well Mr. Talbot, I would certainly consider it. I have many fond memories of going to a drive-in a lot like this one as a kid and again as a teenager with my friends. Well talk some more about it when you talk to Jen again."
"Right then, Adam, and please call me Henry. Jennifer can you and this young man please meet me up here next weekend at about 4 in the afternoon on Saturday? I think that may be the best time to talk without the distractions of running this place intruding."
"Alright Henry, Ill be here and so will Adam if he doesnt have anything else scheduled. Right Adam?"
"That works for me Jen."
"Now why dont you two go visit the snack bar and get set to watch the movie? Ive already told Sally that your money is no good here tonight so go and enjoy!"
"Thanks Henry!" I gave him another little kiss on the cheek. He turned back towards the projectors to make another adjustment to the arc gap. Adam and I went back to the snack bar.
"Wow. Jen I never saw the inside of a projection booth like that. Is that what the equipment of the late 50s was really like?"
"Yup. Henry is a collector of the older projection gear. I help him get some of the old stuff running. The better equipment he uses in the booth. He was adjusting the two carbon arc rods that those projectors use to make the light they use to project the film. There is no bulb in those projectors for the image on the screen, just two rods with an electrical arc across them. You have to stay on top of the adjustments since the rods burn away as they are used. There is a mechanical system for keeping the arc lit but Henry prefers to make small adjustments to the mechanical system for the best brightness. He also has to change the reels on the projectors too. Each reel can handle up to 30 to 35 minutes of film. There could be several reels of film used during a single movie."
"Ive been inside the projection booth at the multiplex in the mall before. Kind of sterile in there with all of the film loaded at once and only a single projector in use at a given time. The new equipment even runs itself. Its all on a timer that starts the movie when the starting time has come."
"Henry could have a system like that here but hes from the old school of projectionists. He and I like the hands-on approach to showing a movie. I know its sort of silly but I think an experienced moviegoer can tell when there is a real person in the booth running the show. At least I know I can tell."
We heard the last call for snacks before the main feature started so we got a large tub of popcorn with lots of butter and a couple of sodas and headed back to the truck. I tossed the keys to Adam and told him I would be right back after a stop in the ladies room.
I had never been in the ladies room at the drive-in since I had no real need before. Like everything else Henry does, this was done in the old late 50s fashion with an outer rest area with a low sit-down type counter and a big well lighted mirror. Another inner room had the stalls and wash sinks. I found a stall and changed my tampon noticing that the flow was a bit heavier than it had been earlier today. I briefly wondered about the wisdom of going out on the road tomorrow. Maybe Ill talk to Adam about going to the local NWS office instead and running the ham station there. At least theres a restroom close in case I needed to use it. I finished up and stopped at the mirror to check my hair and what little makeup I had on. I dug out my brush and untangled some of my ponytail then headed back to the truck. The opening credits of Twister were finishing.
"I was starting to think I had to send out a search party for you, Jen! Are you alright?"
"Yes, just getting used to my first period thats all. Adam, I have to ask if you would mind if we went to the NWS office tomorrow instead of a field run? I might not feel well enough to try going out with no bathroom facilities nearby. Ill know better in the morning how Ill feel."
"Thats fine with me, Jen. Well have other chances for field runs and Ive never been to the local Weather Service office before. Ill be with you anywhere that you want to go."
"Thanks, Adam, for being so understanding. Lets watch some of this movie. Keep in mind of course that all real storm chasing isnt really like this. Normally its lots of driving and hours of boredom."
We watched the movie for half an hour or so making comments about various things in the movie. I began to feel cold. "Adam, can you reach behind the seat? Theres a plastic bag with a blanket in it back there. Im feeling a little cold. With this body I dont have all of the insulation I used to carry."
"Here you go, Jen. Do you want me to start up the truck for some heat?"
"No, the blanket is fine. I dont want to risk the carbon monoxide right now. Were too close to the snack bar and the air intakes for the projection booth cooling." I wrapped the blanket around me and tried to snuggle back down into the seat shivering a little as I sat there.
"Jen, slide over this way please." Adam gently lifted one side of the blanket as I slid towards him. "Theres an old saying that two in a blanket are warmer than one. Looks like some extra heat would help you."
"Are you sure you dont mind?"
"Im sure. No funny stuff either I promise!"
I snuggled up next to him and he placed an arm around me. The blanket covered us both and in a few minutes I was toasty warm. The next thing I felt was someone gently shaking my shoulder.
"Jen, wake up. Its intermission. Twister just ended. Do you want anything from the snack bar?"
I looked up to see Adams face just inches from mine. I realized I had snuggled even tighter against him and must have fallen asleep with my head on his chest and my right arm around his waist. I marveled at the feelings running through my body and almost said I didnt want anything and that I could stay like this forever. Reason won out though and I slowly sat up rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. "Ill have just a single slice of pizza and a small soda please. How long have I been sleeping?"
"About an hour. You looked so peaceful I was almost not going to wake you. Now I know even more why you wanted to see me break out of the shell Im in. Thanks, Jen, for caring enough to put up with me."
"Adam, its great to spend some quality time away from the house with someone that shares similar interests. And thank you for putting up with me too!"
"Jen, I have to make a pit stop myself then Ill bring the food back. Ill be back in a few minutes."
As Adam opened the drivers side door the cooler night air invaded the cab of the truck bringing me fully awake. I took in a deep breath and released it. Wait! What was that smell? I inhaled again and quickly exhaled. What was it?
I got out of the truck and walked about 50 feet upwind away from the snack bar to get away from all of the food smells. As it usually was, the wind was out of the northwest coming in off of the lake. I inhaled deeply again. Yes, thats it! RAIN and lots of it!
Ask most country folks attuned to the land and theyll tell you that rain does indeed have a scent all of its own. Since I was raised in the country, I had the ability from an early age to detect rain coming by that scent. I could even make a close guess as to how long we had before the rain arrived. I was usually right to within a couple of minutes. I think the change to the female body had made my nose more sensitive because before I would not have been able to separate the rain scent from everything else I was sensing near the snack bar.
Taking a guess based on a more sensitive nose, I thought somewhere around half an hour, possibly less, and we would be into the worst of it. I ran back to the truck and looked at the weather station as Adam returned with the food.
"Whats going on, Jen? Something with the weather?"
"Yes. Smell that?"
"Smell what?" He inhaled deeply a couple of times then shrugged his shoulders. "All I can smell are the hamburgers cooking in the snack bar."
"Walk about 50 feet or so upwind towards the screen and try it again."
He returned in a couple of minutes. "I smell it too. Rain and lots of it, I guess about 30 minutes away."
"You too huh? Ever since you were a kid?"
"Yup. Whats the NWS say?"
"A watch is up for this area for severe storms. I just had the PC call my stuff at the house by cell phone and got a new radar image. It doesnt look good. Theres a huge cell over the lake and its headed this way. Ill get another map in a couple of minutes and well be able to get a better fix on the direction. If my guess is right were gonna be right in the center of the heaviest stuff as it passes over."
"Looks like our quiet night out is gone. What are we going to do?"
"Well stay here. We need to let the folks here know that the weather is going to get bad fast then monitor the storm as it approaches. The weather station is all set up and ready. WOW! Hold on I just got a red bar on the PC display. Looks like the NWS just changed to a warning. Heavy rain, lightning and large hail with this one. Thats from actual spotter reports. The leading edge just came on-shore about 30 miles northwest of us."
"What do you want me to do?"
"In the box for the station is a rain gage on a steel plate with suction cups on the plate. Put it on the roof and snake the cable inside. Plug the cable into the station electronics. Theres a jack marked "RAIN GAGE" on the box. The station will detect its there and count the rainfall as it comes. Ill go tell Henry that weve got a problem." I ran for the snack bar and passed Sally at the counter.
"Whats going on Jennifer?"
"No time now. Back in a minute!"
I tossed open the door to the booth and found Henry changing reels for the next movie. "Henry, we have some very bad weather moving in. You need to let the folks out there know about it."
"OK, Jennifer. Whats happening?" I explained what I found on the weather station and the NWS alert on the situation. His face looked worse with each word I spoke.
"What about all of these people. Where will they all go?"
"Everyone will be fine if they stay in their cars during the storm. They will be safe from the lightning. The storm is moving quickly and wont be over us for very long."
"OK, Ill make an announcement or would you do it for me?"
"Alright, Henry, Ill do it. Ive had some experience in this type of stuff." I reached over to the small mixing console and turned down the channel from the projector showing the snack bar promos and the countdown until the movie started again. Then I hit the talk button on the microphone. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have some heavy weather moving in that should be here in the next 30 minutes or less. The management asks that all people with lawn chairs or using the back of trucks and cars to watch the movie outside of your vehicle please pack up and move to the safety of inside your vehicles. The lightning with this storm may be rather intense as will the rain and hail. Again, please pack your stuff up and continue to watch the movie from inside your vehicle. Thanks!" I turned the audio from the projector back on.
"How was that, Henry?"
He was looking out one of the windows at the crowd in front of the booth. "Looks like they got the message. I see everyone packing their outside stuff but nobody seems to be leaving yet."
"Thats what I was shooting for. Go ahead and start the movie like you were planning. You may want to give folks a couple of additional minutes to get everything stowed away before you start though."
"Thanks and please make sure you see me before you go tonight."
"I will, Henry. Ive got to get back to the truck to monitor the situation." I left the booth and bumped into Sally behind the counter.
"So whats so hot, Jennifer?"
"Bad weather. Did you hear the announcement?"
"Yes. Ive been busy closing up some of the doors to keep the wind and rain out of the place. Want anything to take back to the truck?"
"Nope, I think were all set. Im going to keep an eye on the weather. Ill let you know if it looks like its going to get any worse." I headed back to the truck as the first few small drops of rain started to fall from the leading edge of the storm.
I got back in the truck. Adam was watching the screen on the PC. "Looks like the storm is moving very quickly. I think it will be here in just a few more minutes. I looked at the screen for a few moments. "I think so too, Adam. Lets get set. Is the rain gage in place?"
"Yup. Want to test it?"
"Go ahead and pour a little water into it. About a teaspoon full at a time."
He took the water bottle out of the cooler and dripped some into the gage. "OK, Adam, its working. Get back in here and hold on. Its gonna be a wild one. NWS reports gusts over 70 miles per hour so far. This truck is really gonna shake some."
"Will we be safe inside?"
"Yes, were headed into the wind. If the gusts were all from the side Id get worried but the wind is from the northwest and thats the direction were pointed. I think well be fine. Just stand by on the engine and wipers."
The movie started. We saw the lightning building behind the screen. Angry streaks of white and blue flashed above us. "Ive never seen blue lightning before, Jen. Is that common?"
"Not very. If you ever see green lightning though run like hell. Ive only seen it once and Ill tell you I NEVER want to see lightning like that again." In the dim light and lightning flashes I saw a small flag on top of the screen extend straight out then the pole holding the flag broke from the strain of the wind. "That gust measured over 50 miles per hour on the ground. It had to be over 100 up that high and were shielded by the screen! HANG ON. HERE IT COMES!"
The wind sounds rose to an incredible roar as rain and hail totally obscured the windshield. Adam started the engine and the wipers but even the highest speed of the wipers couldnt keep up with the torrent outside. The sound of the hail hitting the truck was overpowering and I put my hands over my ears as they started to hurt. The truck lurched from side to side several times and at one point seemed to come off the ground a few inches in the front. We couldnt see the screen clearly but I could tell that the power was out since there was no light visible. I looked back at the snack bar and all of the lights were out there too.
In another minute or so an eerie silence replaced the screaming wind. I told Adam to hit the headlights as I reached for a handheld spotlight to plug into the lighter socket. The headlights immediately showed several sections of the screen missing. The sections were in 4 by 8 foot sheets and were heavy outdoor grade plywood with a smooth white coat of reflective plastic on one side. If they werent on the screen where had they gone?
I opened the truck door and stood up moving the spotlight over the cars down towards the screen. We saw people getting out of their cars dazed from the beating we all had taken. A couple of the cars nearest the screen had flipped over. I shouted to Adam to get us down there. I ducked back in and closed the door so we could move. Moments later we were at the flipped cars.
I jumped out and found that while the occupants were dazed nobody was hurt. By this time other cars had started their engines and turned their headlights on to illuminate the front of the lot. Several more people came running down to help. A few were volunteer fireman and I turned the rescue efforts over to them.
"Come on, Adam. The guys here can handle it. Looks like no one is seriously injured. We need to get back to the snack bar and check on everyone there."
We raced back to the truck and drove back past a couple of cars with sheets of plywood across their hoods and roofs. "That explains where the screen parts went!" I rolled down my window as we stopped momentarily. "Is everyone Ok here?"
Someone yelled back that everyone was ok, no injuries here. Adam continued on to the snack bar. As we got closer we saw the large glass windows on one side were blown out leaving a gaping hole in the building. "OH MY GOD! Adam, lets get in there NOW!"
I found Sally cowering under the steam table that displayed the food. "Sally, Sally are you OK?"
She looked up at me with glazed eyes. "Jennifer, what the hell happened?"
"I think it might have been a tornado. I wont be certain until the weather service looks at the damage over the area. The weather station recorded a gust over 125 miler per hour before it stopped working. Any sign of Henry?"
"I think he was in the booth when it hit. I havent heard him since. She started crying.
"Adam, help Sally here. Im going to find Henry." I moved carefully over the broken glass and damaged equipment to the booth. "Henry. Are you in here?" A moan came from a corner of the now completely dark room. "Adam, get in here! I need you and that light." Adam worked his way over to me with our only flashlight. He moved the flashlight towards the sound of the moaning.
Henry appeared under a rack containing many heavy rolls of film. "Adam, help me clear this off of him. Put the light on top of that other rack and lift this. Ill try to pull him out! Ready?" Adam nodded. "Good, on three. 1 2 3!"
Adam gave a mighty heave and the rack moved enough to let me drag Henry clear. Just as his feet cleared the rack Adams strength left him and the rack went crashing to the floor crushing the old chair that had partially supported it off of Henry. Adam and I pulled Henry out of the booth into the food preparation area. His eyes began to flutter open as his breathing returned to near normal. He motioned over to us and I put my ear near his mouth. His voice was barely above a whisper. "Jennifer, what "
"Easy old friend. You had a bad shot there. You got pinned under a rack of film when the storm hit. I think youll be fine now. You might be sore for a couple of days though. The place took a good beating too."
His voice was better but his breathing was very shallow like it hurt to breathe. "Well thats it then. Im going out of business. I dont have the money to fix this."
"Youre not getting out of the business that easy yet you old coot. I can take care of whatever needs to be done. I was going to tell you when we talked but now I see you need some good news. If youll have me Id like to be a partner in the business. I got a nice settlement from my accident and I cant think of any better way to invest some of it. Well talk about this again in a couple of days. Right now we need to get you an ambulance and get the other folks taken care of. Dont worry. Nobody seriously hurt just some property damage."
"Thanks, Jennifer, its a deal. Welcome to half-ownership in a rundown storm damaged drive-in. Not really feeling too good. Cant stay awake. Ask Sally to take care of things. Gotta ." He passed out from the pain. I turned back to Adam.
"Is he going to be OK?"
"I think so, Adam. My guess is that the weight of the rack wouldnt let him breathe properly. We got him out just in time. Hell probably have some cracked or broken ribs out of all of this."
"Thats good. At least there doesnt appear to be any serious injuries. Henrys seem to be the worst."
"Yes, we were really very lucky on this one werent we? Lets get back outside check the rest of the grounds." We headed towards the door when Sally caught up with us.
"Jen, the phones work so I called 911. Help is on the way."
Just moments before we would have been outside the power flickered back on. "Can you hold on for a moment Adam? I need to get the lights back on." He leaned on the door of the snack bar. I moved back into the booth and worked my way past the broken glass to the breaker panel. I found the breakers labeled lights and hit all of them on. The parking lot lit up and almost every light on the signs came on. There were a few flashes of sparks here and there from broken bulbs but the breakers seemed to hold.
"Jen, Ill be in the truck checking the weather station to see if theres anything behind this."
"OK, Adam. Hit the horn if theres a problem." He waved as he left the building. "Sally, is there anything here thats still edible?"
"Yes, all of the things on the steam table are fine. Its all cold by now but its OK to eat."
"If anyone comes in looking for something let them have anything they want as long as its edible. If its questionable throw it away. See if you can find one of the other girls to help. And by the way, Im going to be a half-owner of this place."
Sally grinned at that. "I thought you were already the boss! Does this mean that I can ignore you too now?"
"Sheez . Absolutely no respect from the help." I winked back at her. "Im gonna point an ambulance crew in here. Have them look at Henry. He took a pretty good shot but hell pull through just fine I think. Can I rely on you to help me get this place back on its feet while Henry is out?"
"You name it you got it Boss!"
"Thanks, Sally. First order of business if youre feeling up to it is to get the place cleaned up enough so I can send those people out there in here to clean up and get treated if they need it. Ill point the fire department in here to help. Crank up the ice machine and make sure the soda and water are working. Ill be right back."
As I went outside I could hear the sound of sirens in the distance. I caught up with Adam in the truck. He was looking at the weather station and the additional reports that had come in. I was about to go back inside when he called.
"Whats up, Adam?"
"The NWS just had reports of a tornado a little further to our southeast. Ill bet thats what hit us. Other than that it looks like were in the clear now."
"Judging by the damage Id say it was a class 1 at least. The NWS will really be able to tell us after they look at the damage though. We have things under control and help is on the way. Were setting up a triage area inside now. Point anyone that comes by into the snack bar."
"Ill be inside in a few minutes."
"Thank you for being here to help, Adam. I couldnt have gotten through this without you." I paused a moment, made a decision and moved closer to Adam. Our lips were touching before he could protest. A few seconds later I broke the kiss. He nodded and I raced to the driveway to point the fire and ambulance crews to the worst hit areas. I returned to the snack bar to find people straggling in.
I got up on top of a table and got their attention. "Folks, weve been hit hard by the storm and Im happy to report there were no fatalities here. A few people were hurt and the fire and ambulance crews are here to help. If a couple of you would like to help us get the kitchen service running again the food and drinks are on the house. Any takers?" About 2 dozen hands shot in the air.
"Thank you again folks. I just want to let you know that the drive-in WILL recover from this. Maybe not in time for the rest of this season but we WILL be back first thing next season. Henry and I will see to that." As I stepped down a round of applause broke out. I went around the room and shook a few hands. Several people went over to Sally and she set them to work sweeping up the broken glass from the windows and cleaning the equipment we need to get the food going. It took about 20 minutes until things were going well enough that food and drinks were starting to appear. A few of the people even went to work at the grill and others acted as waiters in serving the crowd. I smiled at the level of support the community was providing and decided that the first night we were open again would be a free admission night for the people now helping out and the rest of the community as well. I looked over the crowd and saw Adam was setting quietly at a table munching on a hamburger. I worked my way through the crowd over to where he sat.
"Yes. Much better thanks. Well be here a while longer?"
"Yes. About an hour or so I think. I need to make sure things are secure for the night then we can get back home."
"OK, Jen. I can hold out as long as youre nearby."
"Thats quite a change Adam! Do you realize what you just said?"
"I think I do. "
"Quite a change from being afraid of women to being comfortable around them isnt it?"
"Hold on a minute there, Jen. I said as long as YOURE nearby. I think a lot of you and Im glad weve become good friends. I may even be ready to go further whenever youre ready. Ill leave that up to you."
"I dont know what to say, Adam except thank you. I feel the same way about you. Right now weve got things to do before we can go home tonight. I promise you we WILL talk much more about this as soon as we can both recover from tonight. OK?" I gave him another kiss. We broke moments later when the room got very quiet. As we looked at the crowd everyone was watching then a huge cheer went up. Adam and I both blushed but somehow we both were not scared that we kissed in public. I got up on a table again.
"Thanks everyone. Im sure you are all as tired and weary as we are at this point. Id like to have a few of you bring the pieces of the screen that came off up to the snack bar. Well use them to close up the broken windows for the night. Does anyone have a hammer and some nails?"
Someone in the back yelled he was a carpenter and he had lots of that stuff in his truck. He and a couple of other people left to bring the screen pieces and the tools up to the snack bar. A little later the windows were boarded up and people started to file out of the snack bar to go home.
"Sally? Are you here?"
"Right here, Jen." She was giving a bag of the food to a family leaving for home. "What do you need?"
"Is all of the prepared food gone?"
"Sure is. That was the last of it."
"Is there anything left in the freezer?"
"Yes, lots. Why?"
"If we cant re-open quickly well need to do something with it. Just trying to get a handle on things until Henry is able to return. I saw the ambulance crew take him out. They will call his wife and let her know hes ok and where they took him. Ill call her later myself. Right now we need to try to secure this place until we can get things fixed."
The guys were still around with the tools. "Hey guys! Is there any more of that screen material left?"
"Yes, a couple more pieces. Why?"
"We need to cover up the projector windows too. They got blown out in the storm. Can you guys handle that?"
"Sure thing. Come on you bunch of slackers. Lets get this taken care of!"
"Come see us before you guys leave OK?" They waved back they would.
About 20 minutes later the crew returned. "Sally, Can you make sure that we have the names and addresses of everyone here? Theyre all going to get free season passes for them and their families when we re-open. Thank you gentlemen for pitching in and helping us through this mess!"
"No problem miss. We were glad to help. We remember coming here as kids ourselves. It just wouldnt be the same around here if the place closed down. In fact, while I cant speak for the other guys here I for one would be glad to help rebuild the place. If youre looking for someone just let me know. How about the rest of you lot. You in?"
Every one of them said yes. "Sally, add their phone numbers to the information. When we figure out what to do and when Ill give you all a call and take you up on your offer on one condition, a fair days pay for a fair days work. OK?"
"Thats fine with us maam."
"Nope. Maam will never do. Call me Jen or Jennie please. Now give your information to Sally there and get home. You could have damage there too you know!" I gave every one of them a hug as they left.
As the last one left I turned to Sally. "Well girl, youre in charge here temporarily. Can you come back tomorrow morning and change the sign out front to read closed for storm damage repairs or something like that?"
"No problem, Jen."
"And change the answering machine message too. Thank the community for their support and tell them we WILL be back as soon as possible. Ill talk to Henry as soon as hes able to and get back to you about the plans. Let me have your phone number please." She wrote it on a small piece of paper with her address. I gave her one of my cards with the private line number. "Ill talk to you in the morning around 9 AM if thats ok with you. I think well make a trip back in the daylight to assess the damage. Can you come in for a little while tomorrow morning? Youre the only one with keys right now."
"I can fix that." She disappeared into the booth and returned carrying a set of keys. "This is the emergency set. Im sure its OK for you to have them. Just get some copies made and return these when youre finished. Makes it easier to get in here when were closed."
"Thanks, Sally, are you OK to lock up the place?"
"Yes. Go on home and Ill talk to you in the morning."
"Night, Sally. Ill call you in the morning."
Adam and I headed for the truck. "Adam, we had better at least take the wind gages off to drive back. Ill drive. Let me get this down and stash it in the back. Can you unplug the gages and get the rain gage off of the roof?"
"No sooner asked than done." He smiled and handed me the end of the cable for the wind gages, grabbed the rain gage and disappeared into the truck.
I unhooked the mast with the gages and placed it in the back of the truck under the cap. A quick check around the truck showed we were good to go. I boosted myself into the drivers seat and made a few quick adjustments to the seat and mirrors. Moments later we were headed back to my house.
We were both more than a little upset at the extent of the damage as we headed back towards the city. The storm had caused quite a bit of property damage and a good deal of the area was still without power. We had to use extreme care in going through intersections where the lights were no longer working. It took almost an hour longer than it had taken us to get to the drive-in to return home. When I pulled into the driveway I was relieved to see that the house still had power and looked untouched.
I shut down the engine and roused Adam from a light sleep. "Come on, Adam, lets get you inside and to bed. Well clean all of this up in the morning."
He mumbled something as we walked into the house. I managed to get him into the guestroom and made him change into his pajamas before I let him collapse on the bed. As he drifted off to sleep, I kissed him on the forehead.
I turned out the light as I headed for my own room. Minutes later I had changed into my pajamas after changing my tampon. Another dose of the cramp medication and I was in bed following Adams example.
So there it is again Dear Diary, yet another strange day in my life. I never had this much happen every day before now. Why now all of a sudden?
-*-*-*-*- Continued in Zapped! Chapter 5 " The Storm" -*-*-*-*-
© 2001 by Bob Arnold. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.