Two Forms of ID (the Original)
by Joe Six-Pack
It was so hot, you could have fried an egg on it. His forehead, that is.
Over in the corner of a dim office, a woman was punching furiously at her multiplexed office phone, hunting and picking for the right convenient preset to turn off that damn hold music. How had she turned it on in the first place? Her claw-like nails clacked and scraped on the flimsy plastic buttons, as she fruitlessly kept pushing and poking at random. The woman was somewhere in her mid- thirties, not particularly attractive, skinny and frazzled. Her stringy brown hair was her most recognizable quality.
The air above Harvey Angler's head was - if you looked closely - rippling with heat. That's how hot his forehead was. It wasn't because of the season, or because of the poor air conditioning in the cramped office, it was something on his mind. He was stewing over his incredible situation. Which, by the way is also something that you could have cooked on his forehead: stew.
The sound of the muzak version of "Summer Breeze" piping loudly out of the phone's tinny speaker finally caused Harvey to momentarily ignore his problems. He took his fist and slammed it down on the phone, causing the handset and base to bounce onto the floor. But at least the music stopped.
"You're trying to get us caught, aren't you?" The woman said, under her breath.
With those words Harvey's dark mood returned, twice as intense as before. But you see, it wasn't really Harvey's fault at all. It was his situation.
"Hello, Jean." A stout man with horrible skin said. "Not having problems with the phone, are you?"
The woman gathered up the loose phone parts and clumsily dumped them on her desk. "No. No." Jean Angler said. "My daughter is just a bit clumsy, you know." She shot a look at Harvey.
"Oh, is this your daughter, Jean?" The lump of a man said.
"You haven't met yet?" Jean straightened up in her chair to do the introductions. "Richard, this is my daughter. Honey, say hello to Mr. Rollins, the office manager." Richard stuck out his hand and smiled broadly. Harvey got up and politely shook it.
"What's your name, sweetie?" Richard said.
Harvey swallowed a truckload of pride and answered:
"Christina." He cleared his throat and concentrated on sounding more like a chipmunk on helium. "My name's Christina." Harvey smiled through his revulsion.
"Well, be careful with that phone, Christina. They're not cheap." Richard then turned to Jean with a smile. "What is it with girls and phones?" He laughed to himself at his own observation.
"Ha-ha!" Jean replied, trying to pretend it was funny. "Oh yes. Kids. What're you gonna do?" She smiled back in the empty, hollow way you do with tepid office humor.
"Who knows!?" Richard turned around. "I don't!" He continued to chuckle as he proceeded on his way. "Good to meet you Christina." He added as he left.
"Yeah." Harvey muttered. "Nice to meet you." He plopped back down onto his butt and started to rebuild the momentum in his snowballing anger.
"Will you just take it easy, Harvey?" Jean hissed.
Harvey bounced up in his seat to tug the backside of his dress under him. As he did, his long wig of mousy brown hair flew along his shoulders, held in place by a pink hair band. He continued to fool with his little-house-on-the- prairie dress and it's stupid doily collars until he couldn't bear to touch it anymore. A faint sizzling sound could be heard coming from his ears as his brain broiled in it's own juices.
Jean's face showed fear. "I need you to get yourself under control, Harvey. Don't make me lose my job! We still have five hours to go." She gently kicked him in the ankle, leaving a scuff on his white stockings.
Harvey's mind started to misfire and sputter. He was barely getting through this as it was, and it was getting worse and worse by the millisecond. To keep himself from going mad - if he wasn't way beyond that already - he reviewed the events that led up to this nightmare in the hope that he could now spot the exact moment where it all went wrong.
It was three weeks ago when he had first heard of Jean's problems at work. She was harping and whining on the subject incessantly. She was going to lose her job, no one liked her, no one respected her, the work was too hard, the air conditioning didn't work, blah, blah, blah.
Jean was Harvey's older sister. Much older. She was ten years his senior, physically - but years behind in emotional maturity. It seemed to Harvey that she might never settle down and learn to take life easy.
His sister was the sort of person who should have never been entrusted with the responsibilities of a job, or even the responsibilities of dressing herself. She was a twenty- four hour a day basket case, a bundle of jittery, spazmatic nerves. One day, she would surely explode in a tangled mess of anxiety and paranoia.
But until that day, she was Harvey's own personal demon. He lived with Jean, in the house he had grown up in, as his parents moved away when they retired. Harvey had grown up the neglected one in his nuclear family, being too well adjusted to warrant the sort of attention his frazzled parents paid to the trouble-ridden Jean. But his parents had burnt out long ago. So now the problem had been dropped into his lap. He could deal with it well enough, his resistance had been built up for many years. And he could tolerate her quirky, draining personality without too much strain on his life.
That was until Jean started in on her new job. Her complaints and worries about work were always the same, and became like a mantra as she chanted and recited them at every opportunity. Harvey tried hard to console her, but he had run out of answers. He was reduced to pleading for sanity and calmness, only to be rewarded with Jean's list of problems once again. He begged her to stop. He held her when she cried. He promised her everything would be okay. And he promised her that he would "Do anything on Earth to help."
What would it take to calm her down? Harvey resolved to help her fit in at work. It was really so much more effort and trouble than anybody should have had to make on behalf of another grown adult, but she was his sister. He had to help her adjust.
He set to work on rebuilding his sister in the mold of a driven, professional businesswoman. Harvey was by trade an electrician, but his flexible schedule allowed him a lot of free time. It was needed. He chose Jean's outfits, drilled her on using business jargon and even wound up spending his nights finishing most of the work she was supposed to be doing. It paid off slowly - ever so slowly - in good performance reviews, compliments and even a raise. For the first time in a long time, Jean was settling in and calming down. And Harvey could relax.
For a minute or two. No sooner had the paranoia about her abilities left her when new worries burrowed into her head. She was obsessed with her inability to bond or socialize with coworkers. They were all mothers and fathers, raising families and talking about the tests and travails of being parents.
So here it was, April 25. Bring Your Daughter To Work Day. And here Harvey was, dressed as a young girl, pretending to be Jean's daughter. This, despite the fact that he was twenty-four years old and holding an M.B.A. Why?
When Jean had first mentioned it, he couldn't even believe that she'd ever suggest such a thing. Pretend to be a girl to help Jean's social standing at work? Was she insane, or just oblivious to reality?
She did know one thing about her brother. He liked to dress.
He didn't do it often, but he never turned down the opportunity. Halloween, costume parties, Mardi Gras. Whatever excuse he could find, he was in a dress and on the town. Not that he was a habitual crossdresser. Harvey never felt any overpowering need to dress, nor was he sexually aroused by it.
He may have been twenty-four years old, but he was in that small percentile of men who were under 5'5". And he was very young looking. On a good day he could be mistaken for a college freshman. It was only a few years ago that he discovered he had a useless talent he never before suspected a man could have. He could be a girl. A teenager, to be specific.
David Ibsen, a longtime friend of Harvey's was the first to spot it. He'd tease Harvey from time to time, but never think twice about it. But a drunken bet made by David and his friends resulted in Harvey making himself up to be a teenage girl for a day, and he collected some easy cash. He was unnervingly convincing as such. He was no beauty queen, more like a portly chess-club loser type of girl, but the disguise was credible. His friends were visibly uncomfortable and disturbed with Harvey's newfound skill. And Harvey liked the power of making his friends so obviously uneasy. So there wasn't any thrill he got from wearing women's' clothes, he just simply liked freaking people out. And he was quite good at it.
So it was that Jean had made her suggestion. Harvey would come to work in a dress and pretend to be Jean's nonexistent daughter, Christina. Jean had already bought the dress, the wig and the shoes. All Harvey had to do was put on his little-girl act and hang out all day at her office. This wasn't any big problem, was it? He did say he would "Do anything on Earth to help," didn't he?
Harvey was aghast. He hadn't suspected that his sister was so off the deep end. It was unbelievable. Jean apologized, and retracted her idea. He was right. It was silly and dumb. Then she just waited for the inevitable.
When Harvey had opened Jean's dresser drawer to get the dress three days later, he had made his fatal mistake. Jean had left a note inside for Harvey, letting him know that the webcam pointed at him from Jean's desk was beaming his image straight to her desktop at work. And she had him.
"Harvey." Snap, snap.
"Harvey!" Jean snapped her fingers in front of his face again. Harvey broke from his shoe gazing to focus his glare on his sister. "The sandwich cart is coming by. Do you want a snack?" Jean asked.
Harvey said nothing, intensifying his glare.
"You hate me. You're going to hate me forever, aren't you?" Jean whined. Harvey clenched his jaw and sneered. The cart wheeled on by, unmolested by the self-involved siblings.
"Hey!" Harvey yelled to the sandwich guy before he got to the elevator. "Do you have tuna?" He sprinted to stop the closing doors. "Tunafish?" He repeated. The man handed one over, and Harvey thanked him.
When he got back to Jean's desk, she was pretending to concentrate on paperwork. "I knew you couldn't stay angry all day. See? I told you you'd get used to it."
Harvey talked with a full mouth. "I'm hungry, okay?"
"Whatever you say, sweetie." Jean replied. "Who can understand teenagers, anyway?"
A large, rotund gentleman stopped at Jean's desk. He smiled and nodded a silent greeting at Harvey. "Oh! Is this your sister Jean?" he said with sarcasm.
Jean's head snapped up with alarm. It was her boss, Mr. Parkinson. "My sister!?" Jean said with the typical sense of panic she infused into her speech.
"I was kidding, Jean." Mr. Parkinson said.
"What?" Jean replied in distress. "What do you mean?"
Harvey stepped in to save her. "He was joking, MOM. Relax. MOM."
Jean's worried eyes darted back and forth between the two people. She was sure that this was going to get her fired. Right now. This instant. She'd be alone. On the streets. Lying in some dark alleyway. And then she finally caught on.
"Oh. Sorry. Busy day." Harvey rolled his eyes.
"And what's your name, little lady?" Mr. Parkinson asked.
A small bit of tuna caught in Harvey's throat. He tried to make his coughing sound as effeminate as possible.
"You all right?" Mr. Parkinson asked out of courtesy.
"I'm fine." Harvey said with a smile. He was going to have to pour on the charm. If he made a good impression here, it would certainly speak favorably of Jean to have raised such a delightful young daughter. "Thank you for asking." He tilted his head to the side and put on his cheesiest aw- shucks little girl big-toothed smile. "I'm Christina."
Mr. Parkinson held out his hand to shake, and Harvey grasped it lightly and limply. "I'm very pleased to meet you, Christina. Your mother speaks very highly of you."
"Really?" he replied to Parkinson. Harvey twisted his head slightly to peer at Jean. She blocked his stare with a manila folder. "How nice of her." For a moment, Harvey almost dropped the act. "She's just the greatest Mom in the whole world!" He said through his clasped teeth.
"How old are you Christina?" Mr. Parkinson asked for no apparent reason.
Harvey brought himself back to the task at hand. "I'm almost eigh..."
"Fifteen!" Jean interrupted.
Harvey's head darted back at Jean. He so wanted to bean her. But this was no time to crack. He was here for one reason: to leave a good impression. "I'll be fifteen in three month..."
"Seven months!" Jean interrupted again. Harvey was wondering just how much of this Jean had worked out in advance. Much more than she had let on previously, it seemed.
"Isn't that like kids? Always trying to be a little older. And they grow up so fast." Mr. Parkinson smiled at Jean. She missed her cue to say something like "Before you know it, they're all grown up," or some other parental cliché.
"Fourteen, huh?" Mr. Parkinson looked at Harvey with a critical eye. "You seem awfully grown up and mature to be only fourteen, Christina."
Harvey coughed again. What did this guy know?
"Yes sir. Very poised for only fourteen." Parkinson said, obviously contemplating something. "Jean..." He asked.
Jean's overanxious voice responded. "Yes, Mr. Parkinson?"
Parkinson paused as he thought deeper. And paused. And paused.
Harvey decided he needed to bail out. Now. If he came clean, maybe they could just claim that this was a sort of practical joke. Ha. Ha. Everyone would have a good laugh. He reached for the seam of his wig to pull it off.
Mr. Parkinson finally finished his thought. "Has Christina ever done any modeling or acting?"
Harvey discreetly pulled the wig back onto his head.
Jean looked as nervous as she had all day. And that was saying something. "Acting? What do you mean some kind of acting job, or was she an actress or or..." She went into the first stages of hyperventilation.
Boy she was good in a crunch, Harvey thought. He stepped into the fray. "No. No. I've never done anything like that, Mr. Parkinson."
"Would you like to try?" Mr. Parkinson asked. "You're very tall for a fourteen year old, which is what people look for in a model. And you're so well poised, I think you'd make a great actress."
"She'd love to!" Jean suddenly shouted.
"What?" Jean said.
"You KNOW what." Harvey said with the greatest degree of gravity. He was at home now, so he no longer had to pretend. He no longer had to hold back.
Jean's worried eyes looked at Harvey in despair. "I knew it. You hate me."
"I don't hate you, Sis. I just sometimes..." Harvey searched for the right words. "Don't know what you're thinking."
"You hate me!" Jean wailed.
"I just said I don't hate you Jean!" Harvey barked. He quickly got a hold of his emotions. It was a big mistake to yell at his fragile sister. She would always take it too hard and emotionally curl up into a ball for days. "Let's just back track a little here, okay?"
"You hate me." Jean repeated.
Harvey rubbed the temples of his head. "You were perfectly aware that I was pretending to be your daughter just for the day, and just to help you out, right?"
"And I really was uncomfortable doing this."
Jean nodded again.
Harvey once more collected his thoughts and tried to frame his speech in the least threatening way. "So... why then, would you volunteer me... for a commercial... where I would have to go though even more... potential embarrassment... and discomfort?"
Once finished, he awaited the response from Jean, knowing perfectly well he wasn't going to hear anything he wanted to.
He felt the same feeling he had grown up with. Jean was taking over his life. When he was younger, all he ever wanted to do was get out of this house. He just wanted to have a real life of his own. But Jean was so needy. She had to be constantly watched. The demands were incredible. And now, here he was, a grown man whose life was being taken over again by having to look after his sister.
Jean pleaded. "You don't understand, Harvey." Harvey agreed with that. "Mr. Parkinson's been having a tough time casting that spot for the commercial."
"I don't really care about that Jean..." Harvey tried to say.
"No! You... You see..." Jean's nerves started to kick in. "If I could get Christina into the auditions, Mr. Parkinson would love me for it! I might get a raise, a promotion..."
"There is no Christina, Jean." Harvey wanted to make this clear. "She doesn't exist."
"But..." Jean protested.
"She doesn't exist." Harvey said again.
"Glaucoma. He's got badeyes. Itwillonlybe fora minuteortwo!" Jean's speech was sped up in fear of not getting it all out. "Youjust haveto goandshowup thenyougettoleave!! See? See!? Youdontunderstand! Youneverlistentomeandyouneverunderstand!!!"
Harvey reached inside his shirt pocket and picked a B12 vitamin from it. He was going to need the strength. He swallowed it down with an audible 'gulp' sound.
"Slow down. And try that again." He said, resuming his temple massage.
"Mr. Parkinson is nearly blind. He's got glaucoma. He can't see."
Harvey waited for the relevant part.
Jean concentrated, knowing this was her only chance she was going to get. "He never even saw you. He thinks you really are some cute fourteen year old girl." Jean saw that she had grabbed a sliver of Harvey's attention. "You go to the audition, the director gets one good look at you, and we go home."
Unbelievably, now that he had heard the explanation, he saw it's twisted, cruel logic.
"I can't do that again, Jean." Harvey felt the need to say it out loud, just to save face.
"Please, Harvey." Jean asked.
It was going to be just a few minutes. A few minutes out of the rest of his life. He could manage it. He could get his sister the promotion, the raise and the respect of her coworkers. He had to try. Against ninety-nine point nine percent of his better judgment, he had to agree. Which is why he found himself on his way to the audition the very next morning.
"You said it was going to be quick."
Jean barely even heard him. "Shush! We've only got a few minutes!" She then rammed a tube of lipstick into Harvey's lips. "Pucker like a fish."
Harvey grabbed Jean's arm and tore it away from his face. "Just give me a moment, all right?"
Jean almost opened her mouth, but it quickly dawned on her that it was one of those instances where she had better do what Harvey said. She walked away without another word.
When he was a kid, Harvey would have killed to be in this spot. He had always been overshadowed by Jean and her needs. His parents rarely even noticed his difficulties with life. He had spent many a night as a kid dreaming of the opportunity to go out in the world and make a name for himself. He desperately wanted to become famous. Fame was the only way he'd ever be able to show his family how special he was. But now, he was trapped in a lie, as if life were turning his dreams back on him and laughing.
Harvey spun around on his stool to look at himself in the mirror. He had on his wig, the hair band, and a new dress from the costuming people. He did look like a young girl, he knew that well enough. But he had always thought he was kind of a dog. His face was kind of chubby, his legs were thick, he had squinty eyes and thin lips. Sure, he could pass as an ugly eighteen year old, but as a cute fourteen year old girl? Mr. Parkinson must have been as blind as a bat.
Across the sound stage, the director huddled with his production assistant. "They're all drama queens, Shana. Damn stage mothers. I can't use any of them. Is there anybody left on the list?"
Shana, a heavily made up woman of elusive but advanced age, checked her list. "Three more." She stopped on one name. "And this Christina Angler girl. She's the one Parkinson suggested, Luke."
Luke the director peered over the tops of his sunglasses. "That's all?"
"That's the lot," said Shana.
Luke turned his head and eyes to the sky and waited for divine inspiration. None came. "Okay. Here's what we do. If none of these other girls pan out, we just cast the one Parkinson wants."
Shana was suspicious. "Are you serious? Did you see her?"
"I know. Arf. But Parkinson writes the checks for this godawful commercial shoot." Luke pushed his glasses back onto his face. "And you can't go wrong casting the bosses' favorite, now can you? Let's just get this done and get the hell out of this town."
"Amen." Shana agreed. She turned to the remaining actresses. "Let's have the next one!"
Back with Harvey, Jean was licking her thumb and using it to scrub something invisible off Harvey's face. "Stop fussing!" She said.
"Stop rubbing your spit on me then." Harvey cracked.
Jean disregarded his request. "It'll just be a few minutes. You're the last one they'll look at. They've probably already made their choice by now."
"Good." Harvey said. "Just let me get out of this meat market! They want me just for my body!"
Jean played with Harvey's bangs.
"That was a joke." Harvey said.
"What was?" Jean replied. "Look, honey, just memorize the line, okay?"
"Parkinson picks the perfect peaches?" Harvey asked.
Jean nodded. "That's the one."
"Parkinson picks the perfect peaches!" The cute girl on the TV said. She took a big bite. "Mmmmmm! Peachy!" she further added.
"Dude, I can't believe that's you." The guy sitting next to Harvey said.
Harvey couldn't even look. His head was between his legs, sitting bent over on the sofa. It was the perfect position for a crash landing in an airplane, but it was only his life that was out of control.
Jean came into the living room with a bowl full of bugles. "Did I miss it? I missed it!" Jean whined. "Did I miss it, David?"
David Ibsen, a good friend of Harvey's, was sitting on the couch next to the distended man. "Yeah. I told you not to leave."
"Jean?" Harvey asked from between his knees, "Why is David here?"
"Don't mind him David, he's just a little cranky." Jean said, dismissing her brother.
Harvey's upper half sprang up as if here a resurrected corpse. "Just a little!!"
"Maybe you can reassure him that it's not the end of the world if he helped out his sister and filmed a TV commercial." Jean popped a crisp in her mouth. "And made thirty thousand dollars I might add."
"I'm not complaining about the money, Jean." Harvey said softly. "It's the whole face-on-national-television-as-a- girl thing that's got me kind of..." Harvey's tone changed. "CRANKY!!"
"I didn't know it was going to be a national ad, Harvey." Jean said innocently. Harvey's eyes would have burnt a hole trough Jean's head if humans had such powers.
David nudged his friend with his elbow. "I wouldn't worry about it, man. That girl looks nothing like you." Harvey looked at his friend suspiciously. David was watching the show. "She was cute."
Harvey was sure that was an unintended insult in some weird way, but he let it go. "They used computers or something." Harvey muttered.
"No shit?" David said. "Wow. They can sure do miracles with computers."
"They didn't do that much. Just a good make-up job." Jean interjected. "Good lighting."
Harvey scanned the area for blunt objects he could club Jean with. None. He went back to an earlier question. "Why is David here?"
"David is here to take a look at the contract we signed."
"I signed. Minors can't sign a contract." Jean corrected.
"David, did you read it?"
"What?" David replied, distracted with the TV show again. "Oh yeah. The contract."
David was a skinny man, about twenty-eight or something and had graduated from drinking buddy to good friends with Harvey some years ago. His hippie looks, complete with scraggly beard and sandals belied his true occupation. He was a lawyer.
David plucked the contract in question from underneath his butt, where he had been keeping it. "It's all on the up- and-up. It's got no tricks or anything in it. It's pretty fair."
"It depends on how you look at that." Harvey grumbled.
Jean was intent on pursuing her line of questioning. "So, what if they want to do more commercials?" Harvey's head snapped to attention and gave her such a look.
"Well," David said, pausing to sip his beer. "It's a standard commercial contract. The producers of the spot - Parkinson Packing & Canning - have an option to make what's known as a 'callback' where they can have Harvey come back to film another spot, but at twice the previous rate."
"Come back?" Harvey said.
"Twice the rate?" Jean said.
"Twice the rate? Sixty thousand dollars?" Harvey computed.
Jean's face lit up. "Sixty thousand!"
Harvey's brief moment of happiness vanished when he saw the look on Jean's face. "You know something, Jean."
Jean's face turned a deep red. "I got a call this morning when you were in the shower."
Harvey for the first time in his life ground his teeth. "David." He turned to face his friend. "What happens if I don't want to do another commercial?"
"Then you have a buy-out clause. You refund a certain amount of money and you break the terms of the contract." David continued. "In this case, it's five thousand dollars."
"Shit." Harvey cursed. "They're vultures!"
"Hey, don't sweat it, man." David said. "I wouldn't let anything happen to my pal. Don't let this get around, but I think of you as the kid sister I never had."
"Shove it, fuckface." Harvey looked at his hands as if they had an answer. "Five thousand." He came to a decision. "Fine. I'll do that."
"Harvey!" Jean snapped. "Sixty thousand!"
"Forget it." Harvey stated. "This ends now."
"Nope." David said, his face still pointed at the television. "'Fraid not."
Harvey had a handful of his vitamins, slapped them into his mouth and chased it with some beer. "What?" He asked.
"To enact the buy-out clause, the parent and/or guardian of Christina Angler must make an affidavit as to Christina's status." David finally broke his attention from the set. "But if Jean makes this statement, she could be sued for fraud, you for identity fraud, and everyone goes to jail. Even me, now that I know."
Harvey's world suddenly became more claustrophobic. "You're telling me there's no way out?"
"Nope." David said simply. "If they want you, they can have you."
Harvey turned to look at Jean again, and she already knew the question.
"They want you."
It was a long year for Harvey. The callback wasn't so bad. But the second callback was too much. The third was impossible and the fourth and fifth had sort of been a blur to him. It was a very, very long year. But there were good things in his life, though. Jean had been promoted three times. She was still a basket case, but was managing it better. At times, she almost seemed happy.
That didn't last very long, however. When tax time came, the IRS became suspicious of the money that had flowed into Jean Angler's accounts on behalf of the minor "Christina Angler". After all, you can't hide $380,000 very easily. On that kind of money, Harvey had thought he was set for at least a few years, and he quit his electrician job. But the IRS demanded that the money go into a trust fund that only "Christina" would be able to access at age eighteen.
By that point, though, Harvey had already blown $32,000 on a new car, and another $20,000 down payment on a new condo. Which left him in the position of owing himself $52,000.
And that meant it was back to work for Christina.
Harvey gripped the towel rack with his free hand as Jean grasped the wax on Harvey's forearm. And she pulled. Harvey cursed and swore as he rubbed the arm with a towel.
"Not fun." He growled.
"Baby." Jean joked. A patented Harvey stare told her it was not the time for humor. "Is that everything? Arms, legs, chest..."
Harvey was very sure that was everything.
"Eyebrows!" Jean remembered.
"Fuck." Harvey said.
He dropped his shoulders and walked over to the chair in front of the sink. He sat, and awaited the next round of humiliation. His objections were minor, however, to the stink he had been putting up previously.
Because there had been a change. He was no longer pretending to be Christina to help his sister. He was doing it now to keep himself from spending the next ten years in prison. If he couldn't come up with the missing money he was done for.
"How much do you think?" Harvey said, pulling his brow around to visualize it.
"Not too much. Younger girls have thicker eyebrows, normally." Jean said.
Harvey wasn't sure. "Really?"
"I'm sure. They get thinner when they get tweezed over a lifetime."
"Let's get going, then." Harvey gripped the counter to prepare for the oncoming rush of pain.
After that, the hair would get colored, the skin exfoliated, and the nails lengthened. Jean would cut his now chin-length hair and mix up a tooth whitening treatment. And Harvey sat still for all of it.
This wasn't the first time he had done this. It was now a part of his weekly routine. Every Sunday was his "day of beauty." He had been through the routine half a dozen times now. He had to keep himself looking a good as possible, because this was now his full-time job.
Jean would drive him from audition to audition, trying desperately to get work. But since he was well-recognized from his commercials, few wanted to cast the "peach girl" in another commercial. The same went for TV shows and movies. Especially after they saw how much help make-up and computer wizardry had done for Harvey's career.
What remained for him were the leftovers.
As Jean parked the car in the lot, he turned to her brother. "You ready?"
Harvey checked himself in the rear view mirror. He took a deep breath. And let it go. "Yeah." He whispered.
For show, Jean held Harvey's hand as she led him into the building. It was an old creaky soon-to-be-demolished palace located in the forgotten part of the theater district. Inside, they were assembling the finalists for a children's anti-drug performing troupe called "The Yes! To Life Gang." They traveled the country, going from school to school giving 'uplifting and inspiring' motivation to a bunch of disinterested kids. It was hideous and sickening, but it was work. And it paid very well. It would singularly erase his $52,000 debt.
Harvey reflected on the moment, realizing that his childhood dreams of fame were now so amazingly perverse that it would take years of intense therapy to undo the damage. He'd have to just get used to the idea that this was his course in life for the immediate future. God help him if he should think too much about it, because he'd go insane in an instant.
Jean and Harvey shuffled into the theater, and found seats alongside the kids and mothers packing the first few rows. One by one, the kids got up on stage and did a little song and dance number and then thanked "everybody" for "such a wonderful, fabulous time!" Gosh!
Harvey got up and did his bit, thanked everybody and returned to his seat. His voice was kind of deep, and he wasn't so good on his feet. And certainly was the least enthusiastic 'kid' on stage. He was ready to get out of here and go to the next audition.
So when he piled into the "Yes! to Life" van nine days later, along with the rest of the troupe for the six-month national tour, he was still a little confused.
Jean had been there, and was actually crying for him as he was set to leave. She had hugged him like a mother would have, seeing her baby off on a long trip. It made Harvey feel extremely uncomfortable, but every real mother and father was doing the same with their kids.
He had to do some things he wasn't proud of to get ready for the long trip. He couldn't get away with growing a beard, so he had undergone some intense, daylong sessions of electrolysis to take care of that problem. He had been watching MTV for the whole week before the trip, so he'd at least have a clue as to what everyone would be talking about. For the last eight days, he had been talking at the highest possible pitch for all of his speech. He needed to make it a habit. And most embarrassing to him, he had to work on a new, imperceptible method to 'conceal' the family jewels. It took a lot of attempts, a lot of mistakes and a lot of pubic hair pulled out by the root. But eventually he had something close to perfect.
Harvey had packed all of his three or four "girl" outfits he had, along with a hastily assembled array of grooming items and cosmetics. Jean had given him a few things as well, like a bag full of his vitamins and a portable video game. It was going to be a long six months, and he would be spending it with a van full of kids who were about half his age. Harvey kept reminding himself that this would take care of his money problems. It would be all right soon.
A slight sense of panic and a definite sense of dread took hold of Harvey as the door of the van slid shut. It clacked and locked, leaving the people inside in total darkness.
When the door finally slid open for the last time six months later, Harvey had grown used to the noise, used to the feeling he was being feed from a cave. He stumbled out and stretched out into the cool air of spring.
"Christina!" a blonde girl with a bright smile called.
"Amber!" Harvey spun around and hugged her tight.
"You've got my phone number, right?"
"Christina!!" a black girl joined in the hug. And an Asian girl joined in as well.
A chorus of goodbyes and sad farewells lingered forever before the group finally broke up and went their separate ways. Harvey scanned the parking lot and found Jean. He sprinted across the lot with his bags in tow and embraced Jean as if she were a lost teddy bear.
"I missed you SO much!" Harvey said.
Jean was a little startled to greet this chipper, upbeat version of her brother. But she had clues. Harvey would write every so often, and make the occasional phone calls. Jean realized a slow change had come over Harvey. After all, you can't spend six months on the road with kids without building up a resistance or just giving in.
Harvey leapt into the back seat of Jean's car out of habit, and started rifling through his bags. "I got you something!" he said. "Look!"
Harvey produced a snow globe with the script "From beautiful snowy Utah!" written on the base. "I thought that might keep you thinking cool at work. Even though it's only March. Well, summer's only three months away! You can use it then. Do you like it? Isn't it cool?"
Jean wasn't used to not being able to get in a word edgewise. "Yeah. Great, thank you. It's real nice."
"So did all the checks clear?" Harvey asked. After all, that's why he had gone through all this in the first place.
"Yes. Everything's taken care of." Jean reassured. "The tax problems are behind us."
"Oh my God, I was so worried." Harvey tucked his should- length hair back behind an ear. "It would have totally sucked to go through all this and not get the money, you know?"
"No, everything's just fine." Jean paused. "But there is something I have to tell you about."
"Yeah, you mentioned it last week! On the phone? Remember? Vice President! That is such a cool title!" Harvey bubbled.
Jean looked a little closer in the mirror. Did he have his ears pierced? "No, honey. That's not what I meant."
Harvey stuck his head into the front. "Can we stop somewhere to eat? I'm mega starved."
"I have dinner at home." Jean said. "I wanted to make it a bit of an occasion."
"Okay. I guess I've had enough fast food to last me a lifetime."
Harvey flipped the long hair out of his face and began to play with the zipper on his jacket. Jean had to keep driving, but the more she looked at Harvey, the more things she spotted.
Harvey was wearing one of those puffy ski jackets that were popular with girls these days. He was also wearing what were obviously girl's jeans, a shiny dark blue denim that had flowers stitched along the cuffs.
But what made the biggest impression on Jean was the definition in Harvey's face. Gone was the puffy fourteen year old girl look he had when he started, months of dancing had slimmed him down and taken the fat out of his body. If Jean didn't know better, she'd have said he had lost his baby fat. He looked like a healthy, young and vibrant fifteen year old girl. And he was smiling.
It was so unusual a sight that she had forgotten to mention the very important thing she needed to talk to him about. Until it was too late.
"You must be Christina." The man in Jean's house said to Harvey. He was about six feet tall, dwarfing Harvey by seven inches. He had a satisfied smile on his face. "You're even more beautiful than your Mother said you were."
Harvey smiled and then slowly turned on his heel to face Jean. Through his smile he asked in a very quiet voice: "Who's he, Jean?" The stare Jean remembered from long ago returned.
"Say hello to Patrick, dear." Jean asked. "Don't be rude."
Harvey whisked back around and slipped back into sweetie- pie mode. "Hi, Patrick." He stepped forward, shook his hand and then stepped back again.
Patrick turned his attention to Jean. "Didn't you tell her, Jean?"
"Tell me?" A pit formed in Harvey's stomach.
"Well, Patrick and I..." Jean's famous nerves started to flare up. "You see, that is, I..."
"Show him the ring." Patrick said.
Jean haltingly offered her hand to Harvey for viewing. "Patrick and I are..."
"Your Mom and I are engaged!" Patrick proclaimed with pride.
"Sometimes, Jean, I don't know what you're thinking." Harvey said.
"How many men have ever proposed to me, Harvey?" Jean had obviously practiced the answers to the obvious question. "I'll tell you how many. One. Patrick. It's my one chance at happiness. You know that."
Harvey's pretty head was spinning, shocked into near stupor. Everything he had planned on was falling apart again. He just wanted to get things back to normal. "Couldn't you have just told him?"
"That I had a daughter who is really my brother and he's touring the country to avoid fraud charges?" Jean reminded him. "He'd have had me locked up!"
Harvey was seated on "Christina's" bed, in "Christina's" room, looking at "Christina's" things, scattered about the room. Apparently, Jean had redecorated his old room as a cover for her story with Patrick. She had thought of every detail. There were posters, a closet full of trendy teen fashions, and a vanity in the corner. Harvey surveyed the room and buried his head in his hands.
"Why did you have to say anything about having a daughter at all?" Harvey wanted to know.
"How could I have hidden that?" Jean replied.
"Can we at least tell him now?" Harvey said, in a whine.
Jean stared into space. She didn't have a good answer for that one. "I don't know. I think he really does love me, but I have to be sure, Harvey. Otherwise, he might leave me." Jean's hands started to tremble.
If there was one thing that Harvey had noticed about his sister was her newfound sense of calm. He heard it on the phone when he called on the road. She seemed at peace. Maybe that's what a relationship could do for her. It would help her find that stability she had been looking for for so long. And now here she was, her hands shaking and body shivering, about to lose all that she had gained.
Grudgingly, Harvey took her hand and tried to comfort her. "It's all right, Jean. It'll be okay."
Jean hugged her brother, and Harvey hugged back. "I'll tell him if you really want me too, Harvey. I can't keep hurting you like this."
Harvey held her tighter. "It's all right Jean. I'll be Christina for a little while longer. You tell him when you're ready. Just remember, I'd rather it be sooner than later, okay?"
"How's it feel to be sleeping in your own bed again, short stuff?" Patrick asked Harvey the next morning. Harvey involuntarily twitched at the nickname.
"Great!" Harvey said brightly. Six months of being a "Yes! to Life" troupe member had left him with the ability to fake happiness without even thinking about it. "It's so great to be back home!" Harvey sat down at the table in a shapeless nightgown he had found last night in his closet. It had a pattern of tiny strawberries on it.
The sound of cereal spilling into harvey's bowl temporarily halted conversation. Harvey had correctly figured the "Boo Berry" cereal in the cupboard was for the child in the house. It was then that Jean appeared in the hallway in her robe, yawning and stretching. "You'd better get off to work, hun."
"I don't..." Harvey started to say before he realized who Jean was talking to.
"Ha!" Patrick chuckled. "You don't have to go to work for a few more years, Christina, do you?" Patrick continued to chuckle as he rose and put on his coat. He walked over to Jean and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. "I'll be back by five thirty. What say I pick up some chinese on the way home? We'll have a party! Just the three of us!"
Harvey sat up straight in his seat. "That'd be great! I'd love that!" He was obviously too used to going along with the group.
"I'll see you then my lovely ladies!" Patrick said, as he left the house.
"Oh God." Harvey said, the instant the door closed. "I don't know if I can keep this up." He got up to go to the fridge to get some milk. "Look at me. I'm eating kid's cereal even. God help me."
"Oh!" Jean said, intercepting Harvey's attempt to fill his bowl with milk. "Don't use that milk!" She swiped the carton from his hands. "It's bad." Despite that, Harvey saw her put it back in the fridge. She then produced a new container, and gave it to Harvey.
"I can use this one?" Harvey sarcastically asked. "I mean, it's okay?"
Jean watched him pour before talking. "So what do you think?"
"Looks white." Harvey said.
"No, not the milk! What do you think of Patrick?"
Harvey spooned a couple of mouthfuls before responding. "I guess he's okay. He seems nice."
"Yeah." Jean replied dreamily.
"Hey, why aren't you going to work?" Harvey asked. "Aren't you going to be late?"
"I quit," She responded.
"You QUIT?" Harvey asked. He slurped down more cereal. "Why?"
"Patrick's rich. He makes a lot of money. More than I ever will." Jean smiled.
"You were a vice president!" Harvey couldn't believe that the reason he had to start dressing like this in the first place was now irrelevant. "You... You had everything!" He spooned up his last few bits of cereal. "You just gave it up?"
"Well... yes." Jean said. "I want to be his full-time wife. And if I never see that dumb office again, it will be too soon."
"Huh." Despite his shock at learning this, Harvey stifled a yawn and picked up the bowl. He loudly slurped down the remaining milk. "What's he do?"
Jean looked nervous for a moment. "He's a recruiter. He recruits people for highly specialized work."
"Really?" Harvey said. His eyelids started to close on him. "I must be really tired from all that traveling." He shook his head to try and wake it. "I'm dead on my feet. Spent."
"Really?" Jean said, interested. "Tired? But you had a full night's sleep."
Harvey kept blinking. The room turned colors. "I know. I guess I didn't get enough, though."
Jean closely observed her brother. "So, Harvey, I think we need to keep working on our cover story until we tell Patrick the truth, don't you?"
Harvey nodded. "Mmm-hmm."
"So let's just get in the habit of using the right names around the house. Right, honey?"
Harvey nodded again.
"Why don't we try it." Jean asked. "What's your name?"
"Hrrrvey," he slurred.
Jean corrected him. "No, Your name is Christina."
"Chrrsstna." Harvey repeated.
"What's your name?"
"What is it? Concentrate, now."
Harvey squinted in mental effort. "Christina."
"That's right, honey. You're my daughter, Christina." Jean's face relaxed. She was in total control. "And who am I?"
"Jnn?" Harvey said, now unsure of everything.
"Mother. I'm your Mother."
"That's right, honey. Just keep listening to your Mother. She'll help you figure everything out." Jean unfolded a piece of paper she had in the pocket of her robe and started to read from it.
"Patrick's home!" Jean called from the living room. "He's got dinner!"
Bursting out of his room, Harvey appeared at the front door to relieve Patrick of his bounty. In a flash, the take-out cartons had been opened, and Harvey was busy dumping a bunch of rice onto his plate.
"Must be hungry!" Patrick observed. Harvey nodded in response. He had too full a mouth to answer.
"Have a nice day, honey?" Patrick asked Jean.
"Very productive." Jean answered with a knowing grin.
Patrick smiled back. "Good. Good." He looked over Harvey carefully. "Christina..." Harvey looked up, ready to respond. "...when do you go back to school?"
"Mom wants to home-school." Harvey grabbed a spring roll and nibbled.
Patrick bowed his head in respect to Jean. She had been very productive with Christina. "What about while you were on tour? Didn't you need to be in school then?" he further queried.
"They had a tutor for us." Harvey spat out a little cabbage as he talked.
"Christina! Watch your manners!" Jean scolded.
"Muth-errr!" Harvey complained.
"Chew. Then talk." Jean said forcefully. Harvey mockingly exaggerated his chewing motion in response.
Patrick chuckled at the mother-daughter interplay. "Well, it must have been a very interesting six months on the road."
"Umm...." Patrick was at a loss for conversation. "Honey?" He said to Jean.
"Christina, I did get a call today from an agent." Jean said.
"Wha 'bout?" Harvey asked, half listening.
"Somebody who saw you on the tour. He said he was very impressed with your singing and thought you were a great dancer. He asked if you wanted to do some demos and send them to the record companies." Jean nonchalantly picked out some glazed pork from a carton. "I told him you weren't interested."
"What!?" Harvey screeched. "Why!?"
Jean pretended to be surprised. "I thought that you were through with show business now, sweetie."
"Are you crazy? This could be my big break!" Harvey couldn't believe it. "Please tell me you at least got his number!"
"Oh, I think I wrote it down somewhere..." Jean teased. She plucked a note from her pocket. "Oh! Silly me. Here it is."
Harvey dropped everything, grabbed the note and sped off to get to a phone.
"Harvey!?" David called from across the lawn. "Harvey!"
Harvey, who was fidgeting with the lock to Jean's front door, turned to see a man locking up his car. "David!" Harvey called. He ran along the walkway and tackled David in a bear hug. "Where have you been!?"
David had to find his feet again, knocked off balance by the embrace. "I've been around." Harvey let go and started to guide David to the house. "I've been calling you and there's no answer. I thought maybe your tour got extended."
"Well, I guess I should have called you." Harvey said apologetically. "I've just been so busy since I got back."
David, now close up and personal with Harvey, noted that the man before him had undergone some drastic changes in almost every way. He barely even recognized his friend. His personality was definitely different, a lot more "up" than he thought Harvey was capable of.
Harvey must have just returned from some exercise or jogging, as he was wearing a ball cap, baggy sweatpants and a large loose t-shirt that almost fell to his knees. The shirt had the logo for the Powerpuff Girls on it. If he hadn't seen this person at the front door of Jean's house, he might have never made the connection to Harvey.
"Do you have another gig or something? Didn't the money thing work out?" David asked. He wasn't sure why Harvey was still pretending to be a girl.
"What?" Harvey responded. "No. I'm not working right now." He finally unlocked all the locks and opened the front door. "Mooo-ooom!! I'm home!!" He called out.
David was a little startled to hear Harvey call out for his mother. She was living in Florida. Was she visiting?
"She's not home. Cool." Harvey went into the kitchen. "You want a Pepsi?" He asked on his way.
"Beer?" David replied.
"Sorry! The beer's not mine! It's Patrick's!"
"Who?" David thought for a minute. "Oh yeah, Jean told me about him! Is he living here?"
Harvey returned from the kitchen with two cans of Diet Pepsi and tossed one to David. "That's why I'm still doin' this." Harvey said, referring to his appearance. He jumped onto the sofa and curled his legs under him as he grabbed the TV remote. "They're engaged."
"Really!" David said with surprise. He was one of the many that figured Jean would spend her life as on old maid, clinging to Harvey's side. "Dude! That's good news. But why..."
Harvey was flipping through ten channels a second. "All he knows is that Jean's got a daughter. He doesn't know the rest."
"Ohhhh." David said, finally getting the picture. "I mean, you're gonna tell him, right?"
"Jean's going to. When she's ready." Harvey sipped his drink. "Which better be soon. Believe me."
David popped the top on the can, and started to drink down the strange non-alcoholic substance. "Urf." He said to the can. He wasn't used to it. "Um. So... You gonna be okay?"
"I'll be fine. After six months pretending to be a girl, I can do it for a little while longer." Harvey said, finally stopping the channel on "Spongebob Squarepants."
"The money worked out okay?" David wanted to know.
"The what?" Harvey replied.
David was a little worried. "The money for the trust fund?"
For a moment, it didn't look like Harvey knew what he was talking about. "Oh..." It was coming back to him. "Yeah. The trust fund. That's all worked out. Sucks that I won't be able to touch it 'till I'm 18, though."
"You're 25, Harvey." David had to clarify.
Harvey looked confused, then snapped out of it. "You know what I mean." He said, dismissing his error with the wave of his hand. He then decided to remove the cap he was wearing, which released his shoulder-length hair.
David nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the lush, well-kept, feminine hair on Harvey's head. "Are you okay, man?" David had to ask.
"Yeah. Fine. Why?" An alarm went off on Harvey's watch. He stopped it quickly.
"You just seem... different." David was trying to say something very strange without sounding strange.
Harvey reached onto the table and stuck his fingers into a tiny bowl on the table. He found a few of his vitamins and popped them into his mouth and took a swig of the soda to wash them down.
David took a long look at that bowl. "Those aren't your normal B-12's are they?"
"Hmm?" Harvey said, not really listening.
David reached over and grabbed a few pills and took a look at them. "They're awfully big for just vitamins." He carefully examined them. "Mind if I try 'em?"
"Okay. But don't chew them - they're groce tasting."
"Thanks." David said. Harvey's attention was into the cartoon, and David pocketed the pills when he was sure he couldn't be seen. "So, what'cha been up to?"
"Just stuff." Harvey responded. Suddenly he remembered something. "Oh! It's the coolest thing! I did this demo for this guy, and he's going to try and get me a record contract!"
"A record contract? For what?" David was curious. Harvey had never said he could play an instrument.
"Singing?" David had to say, to make sure he heard that right. "As a girl?"
"This guy thinks I've got a great voice." Harvey said, excitedly. He seemed to ignore the more important part of David's question.
"Uh. Okay." David needed to pause. "I was going to ask you about that. You've always had a high voice, Harv, but right now you kinda sorta sound like a perky... cheerleader... or something."
"I've been working on it!" Harvey said with pride. "I think I can still get it higher!"
"Good?" David replied, unsure that was the correct answer.
"Yeah, it's good! The more range I have, the better I can sing."
"Okay." David was more and more suspicious.
Harvey sprang up off the sofa. "I must stink. I'm gonna shower and change." He tossed the remote to David. "You wanna do anything? Go anywhere?"
"You wanna see a movie?" David asked.
"Yeah! Just give me a few minutes." Harvey said, disappearing into the hallway.
David heard a few doors open and close before the shower noise began. He flipped through the channels until he just let it stop on some old movie. He turned up the volume and checked down the hallway.
He went to the front door to check and make sure Jean or Patrick weren't pulling up in the driveway, and then he went into the kitchen. He didn't know exactly what he was looking for, but he knew something very strange was happening in this house.
David looked through all the cabinets and found nothing strange. Except for the Boo Berry. He moved on to the living room and opened the drawers and checked the shelves. He read through the book titles. He couldn't find anything. He checked down the hallway and saw the bathroom door was still closed.
Carefully, quietly, he snuck his way down the hall, and abruptly stopped at the first door. Inside, the pink walls and canopy bed made it clear there was a teenage girl living here. "Wow." David muttered to himself. It was really authentic looking. The details were incredible. It really looked like Harvey was selling this "Christina" identity hard.
He opened up a drawer on the vanity, only to find a haystack of cosmetics. He moved over to the closet, and saw the small amount of clothing hanging there. Most of the clothes were strewn about the room in chaos. He walked over to the bed, again checking for anything out of the ordinary.
David heard a loud gasp from behind him. He quickly turned to find Harvey standing before him in the doorway, naked to the world. David would have apologized, he would have come up with some excuse. But instead he couldn't tear his eyes away from Harvey's body.
It curved. And not in the way a man's body should.
The hips kind of flared. The shoulders were narrow. The neck was thin. His legs gently undulated in a very feminine shape. And where Harvey was trying to cover himself, he had very small lumps. On a girl, they would be called boobs.
"What!?..." Harvey started to say.
David slowly approached Harvey and pulled his arms away from his chest. He studied it and felt his throat go dry. "What's happened to you, Harvey?" He croaked.
Harvey dove to avoid him, and grabbed a bed sheet to cover himself. "What do you mean?" He said.
"Harvey. What's happened to your body?" David asked. "You've got..." He made the international sign for breasts by cupping his two hands.
"It's just an infection." Harvey said, trying to regain his composure. "It'll go away."
"Harvey." David said.
"It's not your problem anyway. Why don't you leave?" Harvey protested.
Harvey got loud. "Just get out! You're invading my privacy!!"
"Harvey!!" David was louder.
Harvey slumped onto his bed. "I don't know. I don't know what's happening. I... I... It started happening in Arizona. On the tour. It was just one day, I looked down and something had changed."
"Has it gotten any worse?" David asked.
"Yeah. I thought it would stop. I thought it was the flu or a weird bug. But it seems to be happening faster, now." Harvey seemed to be on the verge of crying.
"You need to see a Doctor." David stated the obvious. "Right now."
"I asked Patrick, but he said I should just wait it out." Harvey said. "And I couldn't tell Jean."
David felt the vitamin pills inside his shirt pocket he had taken. "I think she knows."
"What?" Harvey asked.
"I just don't want you talking to Patrick or Jean about this, okay?"
"Just promise me, you'll keep this to yourself, until I can check on something. Okay?" David grasped the small man by the shoulder. "Okay?"
Harvey looked up into David's eyes. "Okay."
"Good. I'll call you tomorrow morning. Just go on like normal, and wait for my call."
"Okay." Harvey sniffed.
David drove off that afternoon worried. He knew perfectly well what was going on, but he couldn't figure out the 'why' question. His best friend was being feminized, slowly and carefully. Harvey's world had been somehow controlled, forcing him to make all the wrong choices, and forcing him to adjust to the impossible situation he was now in.
When he had first heard of the 'Christina' plan, he had laughed hard and long. It was one of the funniest things he had ever heard. Now that humor had turned into horror. Harvey seemed more Christina then he did Harvey, in body, and his mind would surely follow.
It was Jean who was behind it. It had to be. She was the one with all these weak excuses to keep Harvey in skirts. How in the hell would she have ever gotten away with all the lies she's been telling Harvey? And this Patrick guy was in on it as well. He knew Harvey was changing, and he had tried to hide it from him.
Did Jean want a family - and for some twisted reason decide to turn Harvey into her daughter? Did Patrick have some sort of control over Jean and Harvey? And why didn't Harvey suspect anything? It was plainly obvious what was happening to his body. And he ignored it?
David pulled up to a forensics lab he used in some of his legal cases. Inside, he handed over the pills to one of his most trusted experts for analysis, and told him to "put a rush on it." David hung around for the results, knowing one thing for sure. They had estrogen in them. This was how Harvey was being changed physically. But mentally? Maybe it was drugs. Maybe it was hypnosis. Maybe it was something else.
When the tech came back with the result four hours later, David went over it in every detail. Sure enough, the pills were cocktails of estrogen and anti-androgens. There was a small percentage of human growth hormone, to accelerate the changes, and a smaller amount of progesterone for breast development.
David didn't find what he'd hoped he'd find. There were no trace of muscle relaxants, mind-altering drugs, or even sleeping pills. All these things did was feminize. The mental aspect of Harvey's change was still unsolved.
The next morning, he tried to call Jean's old number, but couldn't get through. It hadn't been disconnected, but the phone would ring once and then hang up. He knew well the sound. A caller ID block had been placed on his number. Someone there at the house didn't want him to talk to Harvey.
David parked his car down the street from Jean's house and waited patiently. A tall man in a business suit left around 7:45. That was probably Patrick, leaving Jean and Harvey inside. Soon after, David accidentally dozed off. He awoke sometime around two, cursing at himself for doing so. Looking at the driveway of the house, he saw that Jean's car was gone. That meant that either Jean had left alone, or possibly both Jean and Harvey were gone. He waited a little while longer to pick up any more clues, but there were none forthcoming.
David found himself at the front door of the house. He wasn't sure what to do. He'd have to tell Harvey about the pills, but after that, then what? If he was sensible, Harvey would leave with him right then and there. But If Harvey had been coerced in to staying, or if he didn't believe him, what was he going to do?
He rang the bell.
The curtain at the side of the door opened briefly, and the door started to unlock. "David! Why didn't you call?" Harvey ushered David inside. David stood there, contemplating exactly how he was going to say this. But before he could form a thought, he was attacked.
Harvey leapt up and wrapped his arms around him, screaming. "I got it!! I got it!!!" Harvey shrieked. David swam his way out of Harvey's hold and put him back down on the ground. He looked around to see the other people in the room. There weren't any.
Harvey, however, was hopping up and down with the goofiest look of glee on his face. "I got it!!" He repeated. And he hugged David again. He had been into hugging lately.
"What!?" David needed to know what was going on.
"I got the contract!" Harvey said, bouncing still.
David's reply was to twist his face to indicate a lack of information.
"The record contract! They want me to be a rock star!" Harvey caught his breath and pulled the hair from his face. "They phoned me this morning. They like the demos I made so much, they're going to re-mix then and release them on CD!"
David was still unable to form a reply.
"Two million dollars!" Harvey said, filling in an important blank. "They're going to pay me two million if it sells two hundred thousand! Five million if goes gold!!" Harvey started to bounce again, and David tried to hold him still.
"Harvey! I have to tell you something!" David tried to say.
"The contract is getting FedEx'd here by four! That's why I'm so glad you're here! I need you to be my lawyer!" Harvey was an uncontrollable ball of energy. "Can you check the contract!? I can pay you any fee! A huge retainer! We'll both be rich!"
"Harvey! They're turning you into a girl!" David said.
"They're going to shoot a video next month! I get to be in a video!!" Harvey went on.
David grabbed Harvey by the shoulders and shook hard. "Stop it!!"
Harvey's face turned to shock.
"The vitamins are hormones! Jean is turning you into a girl!!" David said firmly.
Harvey had no reply. He wasn't ready for that.
David lowered his voice. "Those B-12 vitamins. I had them analyzed."
"W-W-What..." Harvey sputtered.
"They're hormones. Estrogen." David wanted to be as clear as possible. "They're the pills they give transsexuals before surgery. Girl pills"
Harvey's eyes widened out as his mind was about to complete it's 180-degree turn. "What?"
David went over the facts again. "You're being changed into a girl by your sister and maybe her lover. We need to get out of here, immediately." Harvey lost his strength as David was holding him, so he deposited Harvey on the nearby lounge chair. "Harvey?"
Harvey could only hear a buzz in his ears.
When David stopped the car, he let himself out and went around to the other side to let Harvey out. Harvey wasn't doing a lot of things on his own. He was in too deep inside his own head.
David had stopped the car at Whitaker Park, the only local park in the area. He assisted Harvey to the park bench where they both sat down. David didn't want to take Harvey back home, and he figured that as long as they were both out in public, there wouldn't be anything suspicious. That's the way he thought, being a lawyer.
"I suppose I knew it." Harvey said, after not speaking for an hour or so. "Somewhere, inside, I guess I knew." David was ready to let Harvey talk it out, and he just listened. "Mom... Jean gave me a bag full of pills before I left on the tour. Mark - one of the guys in the troupe - said he knew what they were. His Uncle was using them - his Uncle was a transsexual."
Harvey turned to face nothing in particular. "I thought he was just trying to screw with me. But I think... At least I'm pretty sure... I knew. I don't know why I kept taking them. By the time I could see what was happening, I guess I tried to ignore it. I didn't want to believe what it meant." Harvey then started to rub his neck.
"When Jean started coming up with these weird excuses... I don't know why I went along with everything. Maybe it was just the easiest thing to do."
David finally spoke. "I think they may have been controlling you somehow. Hypnosis maybe."
Harvey didn't budge. "Makes sense. I guess nothing would shock me now." Harvey got on his feet and started to walk along the path. David joined him. "I don't know about Patrick, though. I can't pin much of this on him."
"I don't know how he could have not known." David said.
Harvey shrugged. They kept walking until they came upon another bench, where they sat again. Harvey's hand balled up into fists. "Two million dollars, David."
David was startled to hear that. "But Harv..."
"Two million. A record deal. Videos." Harvey turned away from David. "Did I ever tell you I wanted to be a rock star?"
David chuckled. "We all want to be rock stars, Harvey."
"Yeah." Harvey said. Followed by a long silence.
"You're thinking about it, aren't you?" David asked.
Harvey sighed. "I'd be set. No more money problems."
"But money's not the reason, is it?" David hid a smirk on his face.
Harvey looked at him, and said something as honestly and earnestly as anything he had said in his life. "I want the fame, David."
"Jean was always my life. I wanted to leave that house. But I couldn't. I wanted to go somewhere. Do big things. Be famous. But there was always Jean to worry about. I could never leave." Harvey's eyes wandered into the ether. "If I just could have left that house. And done something big with my life."
"Get your parents' attention."
"Thanks, doc." Harvey cracked. "Yeah. If you want to go that deep."
"Do you want me to take you back to Jean's, Harvey?"
Harvey wasn't sure that what was what he was getting at. But then he realized it was. "I can't leave that contract on the table. It's what I've always wanted." Harvey thought for a long minute. "Come back with me, David."
David lifted an eyebrow in curiosity.
"I'm going to sign that contract. I don't know what Jean's up to, but I don't think she means me any harm. I don't know about Patrick." Harvey stood up to leave. "If I can trust one person in this world, I trust you. If you'll help me do this the way I want to."
David got up and scratched his beard. "Patrick? Jean?"
"I can handle 'em."
"I think you're getting in way over your head, Harvey." David said. "I think this is the stupidest thing you could do." David pulled his car keys from his pocket. "But let's get going. I have to check out that contract."
Harvey walked up to David, ready to thank him. David retreated a step, ready to get hugged again, when Harvey stuck out his hand. David shook it firmly.
Jean was trying vainly to stop Harvey as he went through the house, grabbing the things he wanted. "I don't understand, Christina! What's wrong?"
"HARVEY!" Harvey corrected her harshly. "Your brother, Harvey!"
Jean followed Harvey from room to room, in tears. "I don't understand! Why are you doing this, honey!?"
"Just get out of my way, Mom!" Harvey yelled. "Jean! Goddamn it!" He swore as he corrected himself. "What the hell did you to to my head!?"
Harvey went into his room and grabbed a bag full of clothes, and slung them over his shoulder. He tried to find anything from his former life to take with him. He didn't see anything he recognized.
The doorbell rang, and Harvey headed off for it, pushing the crying Jean aside. At the door was Patrick.
"Sweetie? What's wrong?" Patrick asked.
"Get out of my way, man." Harvey said tersely. "You just get her some help." He was pointing to Jean. "She needs it." A FedEx van pulled up in front of the house, and Harvey went out to go meet it. "That for Christina Angler?" He asked the driver.
"Yeah." The driver responded. It was the contract. Harvey signed for it and took it away.
Patrick, who had been brought up to speed by now was going after Harvey, following him as he walked to David's car. "Hold up there, Christina!" He called out.
"Stay out of this, Patrick!" Harvey called back. "You don't know the whole story!"
"Christina!" Patrick yelled back. "Don't do this!" He caught up to Harvey, as he was getting into David's waiting car. Gasping for breath, he caught up as the car started. "Don't throw your future away, Chistina!" Patrick the positioned himself in front of the car, to block them. "Don't tear up that contract!"
Harvey stuck his head out the window. "Get out of the way!!"
"Just tell me what's wrong!" Patrick yelled back. "We can try to fix it!! Together!! I just think you need to take it easy, okay!? That contact could make you a lot of money!"
Harvey gave him a funny look. "Who said I wasn't going to sign it?"
Patrick then relaxed. He gave Harvey a long, studied look. Then he stepped out of they way. Not waiting, David stepped on the gas and drove on.
"Before you do sign that, you'll need a proper I.D. and such, you know." David said to Harvey.
"You have any contacts?" Harvey asked.
"No." David said. He handed Harvey a piece of paper with a few names on it.
Harvey grinned. "You are such a lawyer."
As the car sped off in the distance, a puzzled Jean ran up to Patrick. "Why did you let her go, Patrick!? WHY!?"
Patrick put his arm around Jean's shoulders. "I think it's her time. I think she's ready."
Escorted by her lawyer David Ibsen, Christina Angler was seated out side the opulent Los Angeles offices of the Cannon Record Group, waiting for her appointment with the Chairman and CEO of the company.
Harvey thought that he was just coming to the place to introduce himself to all the record people. But now he found himself on the top floor of the tallest building he'd ever seen, ready to meet the most powerful person in the entire industry. Harvey's knees were knocking as he sat in the comfortable waiting-room chair.
"Stop that. You're making me nervous." David mumbled under his breath.
"I'm doing it on purpose?" Harvey whispered back.
Edward J. Cannon was seated in his oppressively immense office, reviewing a tape of Christina Angler singing and dancing. Photos Christina's face and body were sprayed across his desk. "Patrick, this Christina girl couldn't get a Catholic priest to jack off to her face. She's downright ugly."
Patrick, Jean's soon-to-be fiancee, was seated on the opposite side of the desk. "We always take care of it, Edward. It's part of the program. You know that." Patrick said. "But she's quite special to me. She's got potential."
Mr. Cannon crossed his arms. "I can't cash checks written out to Potential, Patrick." He picked up another photo of Christina. "I don't want another Emily Grant."
Patrick looked at Edward Cannon with a self-satisfied grin. "Emily liked life too fast. So I've tried to find a more emotionally mature type this time."
Cannon drum-beat his hands on his desk. "I have my doubts, but I trust you. You've never been wrong about these girls of yours."
"And you always have the same reservations." Patrick used his finger to make his point. "And you always wind up getting filthy rich off them."
"You're sure she has the 'unique' qualities we need in our top stars." Cannon asked.
Patrick smiled. "I've made sure of it. Personally."
Cannon gathered up the photos on his desk and put them away. He pressed a button and the TV screen on his wall rolled up into the ceiling. "Well, I suppose it's time to meet the next big thing. You'd better be on your way." Patrick walked over to a wall as a concealed door opened automatically, and closed behind him.
David looked at Harvey and his jitterbugging knees with a mild sort of anger. "You're going to wear out those pants if you keep doing that."
"Just shut up." Harvey said. "You're making me agitated."
From the elevator came Rick Gilburn, the VP in charge of artist development and business affairs, whom Harvey and David had met with just a few minutes ago. He was a shorter, stockier man who looked a little uptight in his suit. Harvey thought he was a nice enough man, but he was far more interested in numbers than music.
"Still waiting?" Mr. Gilburn said. "I'm sure it will only be a minute or two."
A secretary's desk buzzed from the other side of the huge, cavernous room. "Mr. Cannon will see you now. Go right in!" She said.
With that, the giant double doors that led to Mr. Cannon's office clicked open of their own accord, and gracefully opened. "All set?" Mr. Gilburn said.
Harvey and David stood, and followed Mr. Gilburn into the office. It was as large as an indoor tennis court, with a fifteen foot ceiling and a view of the city that was breathtaking.
"Ms. Angler!" The sharply dressed, trim figure of Edward J. Cannon said. "Welcome to the Cannon Group!" David noticed the giant doors closing behind them.
The four people exchanged introductions. David and Harvey found seats, but Mr. Gilburn remained standing.
Mr. Cannon wasted little time. "I won't beat around the bush. Christina, we think you have what it takes to become our top selling star."
David and Harvey turned in unison to face each other. They shared the same startled look.
"You do want to be a star, don't you, Christina?" Cannon said.
"Uhh... Yeah!" Harvey wasn't expecting such adoration. "That'd be great!" In his head, Harvey cursed at himself for sounding so stupid.
"Good. That's the right attitude." Cannon poked at a button on his desk. "Send Donyell in, Marcie."
The giant door clacked open again, as an unfamiliar figure entered.
Mr. Cannon introduced the man. "This is Donyell, one of our top stylists. He'll be working with you, Christina, to develop and hone your... sense of presentation." The young black man introduced himself wit a silent handshake and a smile. Harvey was expecting this, someone who would be assigned with the task of fashioning his new 'look.' Harvey was relieved to see that Donyell was dressed in a black turtleneck and khakis. Not too flamboyant, and not too swishy.
Cannon turned his attention to David. "Mr. Ibsen, if you could go with Mr. Gilburn to hammer out the contractual details and all that legal hoo-hah. Christina, you stay here, and Donyell and I will give you a rough outline of what we have in mind."
David turned to Harvey, to make sure it was okay. Harvey gave him a subtle nod, and David was on his way. Mr. Cannon waited until he and Mr. Gilburn had left - and the doors had shut - until he continued.
"Christina, I believe in being frank with my talent, so I'll say it straight. You're where you are now because of your dancing skills and voice. That's two parts of the package. We need to work on the missing part, and that's your style.
"You're sixteen, and that makes our approach simple. You need to be the sort of act that gets discovered, rather than pushed on the public. We've found that heavy marketing campaigns for new talent invariably wind up hurting long- term sales.
"If we have you to sneak up on the public, and you get 'discovered' by critics and fans, that's where we can make the most impact. What we'll do is position you as a girl- next-door type, an all-American apple pie local-girl-makes- big sort of thing.
"At which point, if sales are positive, we'll then progress you down the line, expanding your audience with more traditional marketing approaches that cross multiple demographics with a worldwide promotional strategy."
Harvey was following it up to that last sentence.
"So, now I'll put you in the capable hands of Donyell, and get you started. Sound good?"
Harvey talked for the first time in a few minutes. "Yes."
"All right then. If you have any questions, just give my office a call, or talk to Mr. Gilburn." Mr. Cannon got up to offer a handshake. "I hope this is the beginning of a long, mutually beneficial relationship Christina."
"Okay, very first thing you need to know about me." Donyell said, as he led Harvey into the limousine waiting outside, "I may work for you, but I'm always going to tell you like it is."
Harvey crept into the ostentatious white stretch Cadillac and had flashbacks to his prom night. Donyell sat beside him.
"I am going to be one hundred thousand percent honest with you at all times, so don't you ever worry about me. If you're dressed like a bag lady, I'll tell you. If you smell like a skunk, I'll tell you. If you're talkin the talk, but not walkin the walk - believe me I will tell you the truth! Now, is that clear?"
Harvey nodded. He was wrong about this man not being flamboyant.
"First stop is the salon. It all starts with the hair." Donyell pulled a small stack of photos from his clipboard. "And... These are computer composite images of you with six different styles and colors."
Harvey took the photos and tried to give them a good look. But the Donyell put his hand in the way.
"But before you even look at those, I want you to do something for me." Donyell let out a dramatic sigh. "When I think of Christina, I think: hello, eighties! And when I think of Angler, I think of fish. And I don't want nobody looking at Christina Angler and thinking about fish or the eighties, or nothin!"
Donyell steadied himself. "So what I need you to do is think of a new name. Something that just says 'Hey! I'm new, I'm fresh, and I got it goin on!'"
It was a moment later that Harvey realized he had been asked to do something. "Right now?" He asked.
"No time like the present!" Donyell said.
"Uh... I really don't know... How about... 'Harley?'" Harvey said.
"Biker slut. Get serious."
"Ummmm... Uhhh.... Jasmine."
"Oh PLEASE!" Donyell threw up his arms. "I don't want stripper names! This doesn't have to be so hard! Just... I don't know... work with... 'Christina' a little."
"Okay... um... How about Chris."
Donyell shook his head.
Donyell covered his face in shame.
Harvey sounded it out. "Crus... Creee.. Crooo... Cruss... Chriss... Chrisss..teee...."
All of the sudden, Donyell started to wildly point at Harvey, as if he were in a game of charades.
"More like... K-R-Y... S-T-I!" Donyell proclaimed.
"Krysti - young, hip, groovin'!" Donyell snapped his fingers for emphasis.
Harvey let it rattle around in his head for a while. It had a ring to it. He started to smile. "Krysti. Krysti. Krysti. Krysti. Krysti Angler." Then he had another idea. "Krysti Angel." He said, beaming.
Donyell held up his palm to the excited Harvey. "No more calls we have a winner!" Harvey and Donyell high-fived. He pointed back to the pictures Harvey was holding. "Now which one of these girls is Krysti Angel?"
Harvey flipped through them quickly, giggling. Then he stopped on one, kissed it, and held it up to Donyell. "THIS is Krysti Angel!!"
"Yeah!" Harvey said. The stylist at the salon, had just turned Harvey's chair around, so he could see the finished product in the mirror. "That's perfect!"
Harvey fluffed his new mane of hair from the bottom. It was a golden blonde, feathered and winged at the sides. It was like Drew Barrymore's from Charlie's Angels. And it looked great to Harvey. He couldn't stop playing with it.
Next was the make-up table, where he was made up with glittery pink cheeks, shimmery pink lips and the legal limit of mascara. Harvey then had his nails done in clear polish with a nice pink tint to it.
From there he was driven to the glitziest, highest-class clothing store that Harvey had ever been allowed in, and found they had shut the place down to let him shop alone. And with Donyell at his side, they cleaned the place out.
They had an arm full of the 'punk' look. They took six bags' worth of the 'sporty' look. They loaded up the limo with the 'all-American' look. And they had to call for a truck to haul away all the stuff for the 'teen princess' look.
And the shoes. They bought slides, they bought flip-flops. They bought thongs, sandals and sneakers. Knee-length boots. Calf-length boots. Ankle boots. One inch, two-inch, three-inch, four-inch heels. They had enough shoes to outfit an army and have something left over for a navy as well.
Then it was on to accessories...
David had been in the middle of some light reading, but his book had fallen out of his hands. Because a few seconds ago, some teenage girl skipped into the room, dressed in tight dark jeans and a black belly-baring halter-top. Slung over her shoulder was her denim jacket. Her pink toenails poked out from under her cuffs, resting atop platform flip- flops. And the little tart was smiling at David.
She tossed her jacket onto a chair, and thrust her hips forward and to the side, keeping her hands behind her. "Hi, mister! I'm Krysti Angel!"
David's first impulse was to demand this girl leave his hotel room. But having the logical mind a lawyer has, he analyzed the facts. You needed a key to get in this room. Harvey had that key. He knew only one person in 150 miles of this city, and that person happened to be dressed like a girl. And the voice of this girl perfectly matched the perky, irritating voice he had grown used to hearing from Harvey.
"Harr..." David began. He had to run through his logic again before he continued. "Harvey?"
The girl shifted her hips and crossed her arms in front of her. "No, mister! I just told you, I'm Krysti Angel!" And she giggled.
David approached the girl, examining her like a mysterious artifact unearthed from a crashed spaceship. "Harvey."
The girl couldn't hold back anymore. She collapsed in laughter, having just scared the life out of his good friend.
"Asshole!" David yelled, kicking Harvey in the rear. Harvey continued to convulse on the floor, cackling. "You... I... DON'T DO THAT!!" David bellowed.
"Oh God, you just about shit your pants!!" Harvey said, in between laughs. David fell back into the chair he had been sitting in. Harvey tried to find his feet. "I gotta stop laughing before my eyes run."
Harvey made his way over to the couch, still randomly spurting a laugh or two. He slumped into the seat, leaving David with a chance to realize what the heck was happening here.
"What did they do to you?" David begged to know. "You look like one of those girls you see at the mall - only... concentrated."
Harvey rose his arms to display himself better. "That's the idea!" His arms fell down again. "I'm the girl next door. I'm the sweet young thing America will fall in love with - Krysti Angel." He poked his cheek with a finger to drive the point home.
"Jesus Christ. They don't fool around, do they? And where did they come up with that stupid name!?"
"I chose it!" Harvey said with a slight air of indignance. "And I like it. I think it's cool."
"Anyway, get all your stuff. We're checking out." Harvey got his feet again.
"Huh?" David was confused.
"I rented a house out in Beverly Hills."
"You're kidding." David had to ask.
Harvey dug out his suitcase. "Well, I personally didn't rent it - I had someone do it for me. But I saw some photos, and it looks real nice!"
David still couldn't believe it. "You rented a house!?"
"I'm not going to go back to Jean's place. And I need to stay out here for the publicity, recording, video shoots and stuff." Harvey shrugged off David's concern.
"You just can't go renting a house without checking with me first, all right?" David said with a severe look on his face. "I have to go over the books to see if..."
"David, you're not my father! I'm perfectly capable of making my own decisions!"
"I wasn't saying that! It's a matter of money!" David countered.
"Do you want me to book into the Y?! A public figure like Krysti Angel can't stay in a hotel." Harvey pointed out. "It's something I would had to do sooner or later."
"But how much does it cost, Harvey!?" David growled. "All this comes out of your earnings!"
"David, we're going to have to spend some money on the essentials, and this is an essential, okay?" Harvey said to clear things up.
"Fine." David wanted to drop the subject.
Harvey was glad to let it go. "So hurry up. The limo's waiting."
David experienced the same high school prom flashback Harvey had when he go to the limo. Inside was Donyell, looking very impatient, and cursing on his cell phone. But as soon as he saw Harvey, he put the phone away without even saying goodbye. "Well, let's get go-innnng!" He sung out.
Once David had found a seat, he and Donyell reintroduced themselves. He noted that Donyell's handshake was little more than a weak pinch. "You two have been busy." David said.
"Oh, let me tell you! We have been to the salons, we have been to the shops, we have been to the spa, we have been all OVER the town!" Donyell's head pivoted from side to side as he talked. "And this is just day number one!"
"Well it sounds like you had fun." David said, trying to keep up in a conversation he didn't want to have. He turned to Harvey. "Man, you're gonna have to be put on an allowance."
Harvey eyes turned to Donyell, with a catty look. "Krysti Angel a spoiled princess, David. A girl's gotta shop. It's part of the image."
"Mmm-hmm!" Donyell agreed.
David wasn't sure what to make of that. "Just take it easy, that's all I'm saying."
"Never mind him, Donyell. He's just a stick-in-the-mud." Harvey said, laughing.
David sat back and decided not to say anything until the ride was over.
Which it was, forty minutes later when the limo pulled into the long gated driveway of some sort of gaudy theme hotel. Or at least that's what David thought it was. It wasn't.
When David stepped out of the limo, he couldn't believe it. "Holy fuck! You paid money to live HERE?
"Oh my God!" Harvey yelled as he got out of the car. "This is too much!"
David looked around the naked statues spouting out water into a huge artificial pond. A garden of loud, neon flowers packed every available square inch of the yard, excepting for the drive way which was made out of white gravel. A walkway of cobblestones wove around ornate French streetlights until it led to the house.
The house itself was in the style of a Spanish monastery - if it had been attacked by giant, man-eating plants. Vines and ferns emerged from every visible ledge. Trees shaded the building, nearly obscuring it totally. All one could see was vegetation and stucco. As they drank in the sights, a maid and butler slowly approached the car, and stood by patiently to greet the new master of the house.
David saw them first, and realized who they were, and more importantly how expensive they were. "How much is this COSTING us?" David yelled at Harvey.
"Stop worrying!" Harvey yelled from the other side of the limo.
"I cant believe this! We're getting out of here! NOW!" David back.
Harvey gave him a dirty look. "Why don't you go fuck yourself, David!"
"What?" David said. "WHAT did you say to me?"
Harvey ignored him and ran into the house. David reluctantly followed. As he passed through the enormous oak doors, and into the white marbled interior, he wondered where the furniture was. But it was just the receiving room. In the next room, he found the furniture.
When the Nazis captured France, they plundered all it's treasures and riches, taking it for their own. And they must have deposited it all in this one room in Beverly Hills.
A mad array of paintings were scattered along the walls, almost concealing the maroon velvet wallpaper. Huge, overstuffed, gilded furniture straight from the palaces of beheaded Kings were arranged in a tight circle around a round gold table with a turquoise stone top. Above it, a crystal chandelier with 1000 or so tiny bulbs hung on a golden chain from the vaulted ceiling. The dull orange shag carpet on the floor contrasted with everything else in the room, if not everything else on the planet.
Harvey's head popped up from behind one of the sofas "Don't you LOVE it?" He then hurtled the back of the sofa and arrived at David's feet, excited and deliriously happy. "It's SO Hollywood!!"
David had his hands already on his head, gripping his hair in preparation of pulling it out. "What in the world... are... you... thinking?" He said slowly as the words came to him. "This is going to cost a fortune, and it looks like Sigfield and Roy and Liberace threw up in here!"
"It's perfect! I love it!" Harvey squeaked.
"You're NOT renting this house. And THAT'S final!" David demanded.
The expression on Harvey's face turned dark. "You can go back home if you want to David, nobody's stopping you. I like this. I think it's incredible!"
Donyell strolled in, followed by the dour maid and butler. "Wait 'till you see the safari room!" He said. He continued to walk on into a hallway, calling out "This way!"
Harvey turned to follow, but David grabbed him by the arm before he could move. "Are you fucking insane? Have you lost all your goddamn perspective?"
"I'm a star now, David! This is what stars do!"
"You're..." David looked around to see if anyone was around. No one was, but he lowered his voice. "..you're Harvey Angler, a 26 year old man. You're an electrician. You're pretending to be a teenage girl, pretending you know how to sing and pretending you know what you're doing! There's not even a fucking record yet!"
Harvey looked shocked. Then he looked angry. He tugged his arm out of David's grasp and his face went red with fury. "I have more TALENT than you could ever DREAM of! I have a GREAT voice, and I'm a GREAT dancer!! I employ YOU and YOU do what I tell you to! If I want to get a house, I'll get whatever FUCKING HOUSE I want!! This is MY life, and all you need to do is read the contracts and file the papers!"
Harvey growled a feminine grunt. "You're jealous. You're jealous of all the fame I'm going to have! Well, if you want to go and tour the country in some STINKING VAN for six months and eat 10,000 FUCKING PEACHES, then go ahead and be my GUEST! I EARNED this, I DESERVE it, and I'm going to ENJOY it!! And David..." He took a breath. "YOU can call me KRYSTI ANGEL from NOW ON!!" Harvey turned on his heel and strutted out of the room.
David watched Harvey go, disappearing into the darkness of a hallway. David trembled with rage, and then let out his breath. He tried to drain his bad feelings out with it. He felt betrayed, somehow. And now he was standing here in someone's else's house, far away from home, and more alone than he had ever felt in his life.
The album, simply titled "Krysti Angel" performed poorly upon release, selling only 20,000 copies in its' first month. It's overproduced, tuneless music was a poor showcase for the singer's voice, which on most tracks wasn't even Harvey's anymore. The video failed to gain airplay on TV. And the song was never on the radio.
Until, that is, a throwaway track called "Luv Me 4 Me" appeared on the soundtrack of the sleeper blockbuster hit move of the summer. A video was quickly shot and a new single was issued. In only a few weeks, 50,000 more copies of "Krysti Angel" were sold, and the sensation started to build.
Publicity and promotion was needed. Fast. The moment of opportunity would certainly pass quickly. Harvey spent nearly three whole days in a photo shoot, trying to get the perfect pictures to put in the magazines and on sleeves and posters. But the shoots had gone badly. Harvey was tough to work with. He was nervous about his looks, nervous about being photographed and petrified about being spotted. He was certain someone might see through his disguise if they could examine the pictures closely enough.
"Krysti!" Mr. Cannon said, on the other end of the phone. "I hear the shoot's not going well. What's the problem?"
Harvey didn't know what to say. The phone felt like a hundred pounds in his hand. "I guess I... I'm a little nervous."
"Oh, I can imagine all this attention can be difficult to deal with for a girl your age." Cannon said, with a kind tone.
"I guess so."
"Well, I'll tell you what. I'm giving a party for some of the media people tonight, I'd like you to come. It'll help you relax and take your mind off things."
Just the opposite, thought Harvey. He couldn't imagine a more tense situation for him right now. But he already knew you never said 'no' to Edward Cannon. "Sure! Sounds great!" Harvey said with that "Yes! to Life" attitude that had gotten him so far.
"Wonderful! Wonderful!" Mr. Cannon proclaimed. "I'll have a car for you outside in a few minutes. They'll pick you up, drop you off at a salon for a quick touchup and then I'll see you around seven at the Mayfair Ballroom."
"Okay! I'll be there!" Harvey said. After putting down the phone, he fell back onto the satin pink sheets on his waterbed. "This is going to be a nightmare." He decided.
The limo did indeed pick up Harvey and take him to a salon, but a private one that was hidden behind a pottery store and very exclusive. The stylist there gave Harvey a load of skin treatments and shampoos to use every day, as well as making him over for the night's affair. When they were done, Harvey had never looked so good. Or so girlish. His eyes here large and bright, his lips big and shiny and his skin was flawless. They had twisted and pinned his hair up in the cutest way. He was so impressed, he made an appointment for every Thursday from now on.
Back in the limo, the driver presented him with some white boxes "compliments of Mr. Cannon." Inside Harvey found a daring new outfit that he'd never have chosen on his own. It was a sequined rose red spaghetti-strap top which left his midriff bare. His midriff wasn't his best asset, he knew. The skirt was ankle-length in the same rose color, but was made of a satin-like material with a lining for fullness. Included was a pair of clear high heeled platform sandals, and a simple crystal pendant necklace and matching earrings. Harvey did his best to enhance his sub-A cups, but there wasn't much to be done. And the skirt hid his best features, his lean dancer legs.
He dressed in the car, and then arrived at the ballroom. It was a red carpet affair, and as he departed the limo, he was help up by a doorman into the flashbulbs of a pack of paparazzi. Harvey tried to smile, but felt like diving back into the car. He stumbled twice before making his way into the lobby, where he was led into the main ballroom, packed with hundreds of men and women in semiformal attire.
"Krysti!" The deep voice of Mr. Cannon came from behind. "I was afraid you'd have second thoughts. I'm so glad you're here." He wrapped his strong arm around Harvey's waist, resting his hand on Harvey's half-bare hip. Harvey shuddered, but he didn't stop smiling. "I want you to meet some of the big players here in the media market." He looked around for a moment, before yelling "Larry!" in the general direction of a gray-haired and bearded man with thick glasses. "Larry, meet Krysti Angel, Cannon Group's hottest rising star!"
The man turned around slowly, and held out his hand. Harvey shook it firmly. "Hi there!" Harvey said earnestly.
Larry looked at Harvey up and down, seemed to sneer a little, and looked back at Cannon without speaking. He just sipped his drink and turned away.
Harvey led Cannon away where he couldn't be overhead. "What's his problem?" Harvey asked.
"Larry's an old timer. He's seen a lot of girls come and go. I suppose he's a little jaded." Cannon patted Harvey on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it."
Harvey played with his new necklace as he had started to worry. This was going to be a stinking, grisly disaster. It was a very bad idea to come here. "I have to go to the bathroom." He needed to get out, and he left Mr. Cannon's presence swiftly.
Harvey leaned forward on the counter of the ladies' washroom, breathing heavily as all his worries caught up with him. He was in over his head. David was right. He had no right being here.
He looked at himself in the mirror, his makeup still intact despite his pouting. He looked at his exposed belly, thick and undefined. His broad shoulders. If you looked closely, you could even see an Adams' apple on his neck. This was ridiculous.
A sneering voice came from the doorway: "The one and only Krysti Angel." Harvey was caught off guard, and turned quickly to see the familiar figure of Emily Grant. She was the hot young thing just a few years ago, it seemed to Harvey. She was the biggest selling artist the Cannon Group had. The music was crap, but she sure was a looker. Even if she was too young.
Emily had obviously led a fast life, as her face was now ravaged by time, despite the fact that she couldn't be older than nineteen. Her eyes had bags, her skin creased on the sides of her nose. Her bare arms looked bone-thin and fragile. She had a cigarette in one hand, which she kept perched at her mouth. She looked at Harvey with disgust. "Krysti Angel. Mr. Cannon's newest protégéŽ. How sweet."
Emily slowly approached Harvey, not breaking her laser-like stare. "Is this my replacement? This fat cow?" She was now so close, they were almost rubbing noses. She took a long drag of her cigarette and blew the smoke in Harvey's face. "You're pathetic!" She sneered. She took a few steps around the backside of Harvey examining him. "My God, how desperate are they? You're a fucking pig!"
The smoke made Harvey feel dizzy. "Hey..." Harvey said, in a meeker tone of voice than he intended. All of the sudden he felt tired. Dead on his feet. Spent. The room turned colors.
"Hey!" Emily mocked. "Hey!" she said again. She walked around in front of Harvey again. "You shouldn't be much of a challenge. The cameras get one good look at the fat, fucking, cow behind the music, and you're history. And Cannon will come back to me, desperate for a star to sell. Classic!"
"Fffat" Harvey mumbled. "Cowww.."
Emily turned her back and started to laugh. "Ha, ha, ha!" She then turned around again and spoke clearly. "If I were you, I'd do whatever it takes to make sure I stay at the top."
"Whatevr it takes..." Harvey repeated.
"Because you're nothing, if you aren't a star. And I'M the star here." Emily then stuck her nose in the air and left.
Harvey's eyelids fluttered involuntarily. "A star..." He said. "Wht evrrr it takesss..."
Mr. Cannon greeted Emily as she exited the washroom. "So?" He asked Emily.
"I think it went fine, Mr. Cannon, sir." Emily said. "I went through the script word for word."
"That's wonderful, Emily. I'll make sure you'll have as much... Um..." Cannon searched for the right word.
"Smack." Emily quickly interjected.
"Is that what the kids call heroin." Mr. Cannon rhetorically asked. "Anyway, you'll have whatever $10,000 can buy you. Now please leave."
Emily retreated, backwards. "Thank you sir, thank you!" She turned tail and briskly sped out of the hall, rubbing her arm.
She'll probably have overdosed and be dead by morning, Cannon thought to himself.
The door to the washroom opened as Harvey stepped out, wobbly in his heels. "Mr. Cannon?" He said, with a slight slur.
"Oh!" Mr. Cannon said, feigning surprise. "I was getting worried, Krysti."
Harvey looked up, and found his view blurry. But quickly his world seemed to come into focus. "Don't.. Nothing for you to worry about, Mr. Cannon." Harvey straightened his posture and put on his best smile. He shook his hair back out of his face and straightened his top. "I need to meet more people, don't you think?"
Edward Cannon smiled. "Yes. Of course." He escorted Harvey back out onto the floor. "Walter!" he called. A pudgy man who was sweating in his suit turned around to acknowledge Cannon. "This is Krysti Angel, the Cannon Groups' fastest rising star!"
Harvey smiled brightly and took Walter offered hand with both of his hands. Harvey then leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. "Hi! What do you do Walter?"
Walter smirked. "I work for the Daily Entertainment Bulletin."
"Oh my gosh!" Harvey placed is hand over his chest in astonishment. "That's a big important publication! Do you write?"
"Well I edit some, and do some ad sales." Walter said, definitely warming up.
"That's fascinating!" Harvey gushed. "Tell me all about it!" He took Walter by the arm.
A smile crept across Mr. Cannon's face as he left Krysti alone, and moved on to other guests.
Sales were up. Way up. The schmoozing made a real difference. Krysti was in magazines, her video was in heavy rotation on TRL and her songs were everywhere. By the end of the fourth month of release, "Krysti Angel" had been certified gold, selling 500,000 copies. There was a buzz around the record, and its' star.
For the next video, the record company went all out. A cast of fifty extras and twenty dancers were used. The set was lavish, costing alone a million dollars. And the special effects were cutting edge. It all came together beautifully, producing one of the years' most talked-about music videos.
It was when he saw the final cut that Harvey noticed something strange. Krysti Angel was a bit player. You couldn't see much of her, and when you did, it was only for brief moments. The director had seemed to deliberately cut away from Krysti and distracted the viewer from seeing her.
Lounging on a love seat in his new house, Harvey was watching the video over and over. "Donyell..." Harvey asked the young man reclined on the nearest sofa. "Why is Krysti, I mean me.. why is it that they keep cutting away from me?"
Donyell shrugged. "Don't look at me!"
"It's MY video! It should be nothing BUT me!" Harvey whimpered.
"You should complain." The girl who was doing his nails said. "That's totally bogus."
"Mr. Gilburn?" Harvey said into the phone. "Why do they keep cutting away from me in the new video?"
"Focus testing." Mr. Gilburn said. "The numbers don't lie."
"Numbers?" Harvey asked.
"We made a number of different cuts of the video. The final cut is the one that scored highest within key demographic groups and subgroups." A long silence required Mr. Gilburn to translate. "Simply put people really liked the version with fewer shots of you in it."
"Um. Okay. Thanks." Harvey said, placing the handset back in it's gaudy golden cradle. "They don't like me." Harvey said out loud. "People don't like me."
"They just don't know you." Donyell reassured.
The nail girl chimed in. "You shouldn't stand for that!"
In his stomach, he felt a pang. It sickened him. He was losing his grip. His grip on everything he had worked so hard for. People not only needed to like Krysti, they needed to LOVE Krysti. Without that, he was a has-been. A forgotten face and name. He had to do something.
Harvey turned off the VCR, and the TV switched over to MTV, where it always seemed to be tuned. It was an old Emily Grant video, part of a marathon they were playing to remember her after her untimely death last week.
Harvey devoured the video. And the one after it. And the next one. He sat through the entire Emily Grant marathon. Emily as the reluctant sexy lover. Emily as the misunderstood beauty. Emily as the innocent lonely teen. Emily as the racy renegade. When it was done, Harvey had come to some definite conclusions. "I don't have the look. I'm not trying hard enough. I need to do whatever it takes." He said.
Harvey jumped onto the phone and started to make some calls. One after the other, appointments were scheduled. Dates were set. And a new path had been charted.
"Hello?" David called into the colossal, opulent and tacky living room. He hadn't been back for nearly three months. Most of his business he handled over the phone now and liked it that way. Harvey had insulted him enough. With time and distance, things would heal, so he had given himself plenty of both.
A pounding beat came from another room, and David followed. Harvey had asked him to be here for a meeting, so he had expected him to be waiting. But he still didn't see anyone. He turned a corner, and the beat got louder.
Suddenly, Donyell appeared and halted his progress. "Why hello, David." He said sanctimoniously. "You're here to see Ms. Angel?"
David never liked this guy. "Yes." he responded, trying to make it sound like he wasn't going to take any attitude.
"Hmm." Donyell considered it. "Well, all right, she's in there, but she's very busy." Donyell then froze in place.
David had expected him to move out of his way, but he didn't. So David grunted when he had to walk around Donyell as his eyes followed him disapprovingly.
In the next room, the girl who was obviously Harvey was doing a high-energy exercise routine in front of a wall of mirrors.
"Hello David." The girl said, stopping. "How was your flight?" As she turned around David lost a breath. She was different. Her leotard emphasized a super-trim physique, a tiny waist and a supple butt. She was walking on the balls of her feet, arching her back and pushing forward her bosom. Her new, D-cup breasts. She was incredible.
"Harvey?" David said.
"Don't be like that, Davy. I'm Krysti Angel." Krysti said.
As she got closer, David could see her face better. Her eyes were bigger. Her nose was smaller, her lips were fuller. She had a perfect face. "The bandages came off two weeks ago. There's still some redness." David's head imploded. What had happened here?
Krysti slowly walked up to David and stopped, brushing her breasts against him. She draped an arm around his shoulders and rested her head on his chest. "What do you think, baby?"
David pushed her away gently, and backed off. "Ha," he said, trying to find humor. "That's very... It's just..."
Krysti walked back up to him, stood on her toes, and grazed her finger along his lips slowly. "David, please don't be afraid. I just wanted you to see the new me. Don't you love it?"
David's body tensed up in fear. He didn't understand this.
Krysti hung her arms around David's neck and kissed him. He didn't respond. Krysti tried to use her tongue. David shook her off, and put a healthy distance between them. "What the fuck are you doing, Harvey?"
"Oh David! Don't you want me?" She mocked. "I'm so horny for you."
A sudden thought hit David hard. He looked at Krysti's spandex-covered crotch. Had he?
Krysti caught it. "Oh, it's still there, baby. I know you like it."
The color of David's face vanished.
"You don't want anybody to know, but I do. I could always tell." Krysti approached again. "You love cock, don't you big boy?"
David was so far outside of reality, he had actually considered the offer. But whatever Harvey had become was sick and twisted. The real world - what was left of it for David - made his course of action clear. Harvey was beyond help now. David gathered up all of his courage for one final statement. "You're psychotic. I don't even know you. And I don't think I ever did." David turned and left.
"You ARE jealous." Krysti teased. "Admit it."
David flipped her off.
The new, brighter, younger face of Krysti Angel was a photographer's dream. It looked good from any angle - sweet, innocent and pure. Her face spread like a virus through the media. Magazines were publishing as many Krysti covers as they could. Posters were selling like crazy. Websites of Krysti images were popping up everywhere. Record stores were stacked to the rafters with Krysti CDs, and still selling out. Triple platinum in eight months.
But there were rumors. Some claimed that Krysti was a slut, a girl who would do anything for fame. Some even suggested that she was some sort of nymphomaniac. But no one really believed these wild tales. After all, she was a sweetheart of a girl - just sixteen - and the living embodiment of all that was good.
She was on TV at every opportunity. She did the local shows first, then the national shows. Late night, mid day, morning. Krysti was a guest in demand. If you had her on your show, your ratings doubled. She was clearly the newest, biggest thing in the United States. Next, the world.
But it wasn't just savvy publicity that had gotten her so far. It wasn't her talent. And as good looking as she now was, it wasn't her looks that had shot her to the top. It was what she was willing to do with her assets that made the magic.
Behind closed doors she was a shameless tease. She was all over helpless producers and directors. Five minutes with Krysti Angel would get her anything. And her victims were all too happy to pay the price. Nobody said no.
Krysti was on the set of her first commercial, a promotional spot for a teen TV network. It was a short 30- second thing, but it was exactly the sort of audience that Krysti needed to reach. As the crew finished setting up, she was in her trailer, trying different outfits on.
"What do you think?" She asked the director. She was dressed in daisy duke denim shorts and a torn American flag T-shirt that only had one sleeve left. All it did was cover up the areas you couldn't show on TV - and little else.
"Krysti, this is a promotional spot, not softcore porn." He protested.
Krysti pouted. What fun was it to be on camera, if she couldn't look like a tramp? Taunting the world with her body was such a rush. Fortunately, she had learned a few tricks in the business. It wasn't hard to win arguments. You just had to know what buttons to push. Literally. She undid two buttons on her button-fly shorts, and pulled up the pink thong underwear so that the top was visible above the already super-low belt line.
"No, Krysti. Please try on something else."
"But Krysti wants it sexy." She said. Then she smiled and massaged her breasts, gasping in ecstasy. "Do you like Krysti sexy?"
No answer was coming.
She advanced on the man, and pushed him back onto the floor, where she crawled onto him. "Krysti always gets what she wants." She said slowly and seductively.
The director stumbled out of the trailer a few minutes later, with a silly grin on his face. "All right! Let's get it ready!" He yelled to his crew.
Inside, Krysti re-did her hair and smiled at herself in the mirror. "Isn't it great being me?" She asked her reflection.
She freshened her lip gloss made sure everything was perfect. Then she pinched her nipples so they would be hard and very visible underneath her shirt. "It sure is, Harvey!" She said before leaving the trailer.
A deranged figure leapt at Krysti, its' hands ready to claim whatever prize they could. "I LOVE YOU KRYSTI!!" It screamed.
The gauntlet of crazed humanity that Krysti had to pass through whenever she wanted to move anywhere was like sailing a tornado of flesh and sweat. The hands grabbed and clutched at her, the faces pleading and desperate for recognition. At the heart of the swirling, feverish, screaming mob of teenagers, it sounded like one was trapped inside the engine of a jet plane.
Krysti took her time, occasionally taking something offered, signing it and giving it back to whoever claimed it. "Thank you!" She said. "I love you all!" She went on slowly, kissing, smiling and waving to the crowd.
"Krysti! KRYSTI! Please, Krysti! Krysti Krysti!! KRYSTI!! Please!! Krysti! I love you!"
With a loud thud, the door closed behind Krysti's entourage. The sound of the crowd was muffled down, as the activity of being backstage at a concert took over her senses.
A camera crew and interviewer dove in, the lens and microphone probing for anything it could catch. "Krysti! What kind of show can we expect tonight?" The man asked.
"It's going to a fantastic show! I hope everyone loves it!" Krysti squealed.
Another question: "What will you be wearing tonight!?"
Krysti giggled. "You're just going to have to wait and see!" She turned, following her bodyguards down into the bowels of the amphitheater. Another microphone was stuck into her face, with a blinding camera light that turned her world white. She didn't even blink. She just kept smiling.
"Krysti! The show is sold out! 60,000 people have come to see you tonight! How does that make you feel!?" Another interviewer asked.
"I'm so humbled! I'm glad people like my music! It's going to be a great show!" Krysti said. "I'm sorry!" She pouted. "I have to get ready!"
Finally, her bodyguards cut off access to the throngs of people following her, and ushered Krysti into her dressing room.
Inside - as was contractually required in Krysti's rider - were four couches, two easy chairs, three full-length mirrors, one 44" projection TV, two CD players, two large coffee tables and a buffet of food. An iced tub of 24 spring water bottles, one quart of cranberry juice, 12 cans of Coke and assorted Gatorade flavors. A kettle of hot water and a box of lemon tea and a tin of assorted international coffees. There were two deli platters, a plate of fresh fruit, a plate of veggies with ranch dip, four tunafish sandwiches, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, one box of Captain Crunch, one box of Fruit Loops, 12 assorted candy bars, and a small box of Andes chocolate mints.
Krysti spent twenty minutes counting everything, making sure that all of her petty whims and desires had been met to the letter. She was positively overjoyed to note that they had forgotten her required 20" x 30" oriental rug, and whispered it into the ear of one of her attendants. He left, and Krysti was a twitter with the knowledge she could throw a wonderful fit when the stage manager came to apologize.
Donyell and a couple of his helpers came in with two racks of glittery, gauzy scraps of clothing for tonight's performance. There would be seven costume changes, each outfit more revealing than the next.
Her first outfit was a white men's dress shirt that tied closed under her breasts and pleated plaid skirt. Of course it was dressed up with sequined highlights and made from slivery, shiny materials. Krysti took off her black tank top and slipped out of her jeans, when a young stage worker entered the room.
His face was red, blushing at his mistake of entering Krysti's dressing room while she was only in her underwear. Immediately her bodyguards blocked his path. "Get out of here!" Donyell barked. "Get the fuck out of here!"
Krysti slowly came forward, blocking Donyell from making a move. She motioned to her bodyguards to back off. This was just another thrill for Krysti. "It's okay, guys. I'm sure it was an honest mistake. She pranced over to the stunned nineteen year old in her lacy pink underwear and planted a kiss on his lips. "Besides, he's kinda cute." She could feel his dick stiffening against her hips. She smiled and looked deep into his eyes, smiling vapidly, as if she had suddenly fallen in love.
She then turned around and headed back to her dressers. "Kick his ass, boys." At which time the startled boy was slung outside the room and beaten black and blue.
As she modeled her outfits in the three full-length mirrors, she loved everything she saw. He tight ass, her big breasts, her tiny waist, her perfect face and hair. She was the singular incarnation of everything people wanted, but would never have. Krysti giggled and laughed until it was time to go on stage. She loved every single second of this life. Being Krysti was intensely intoxicating, as if every cell were infused with ambrosia.
"Teen Starlet Comes From Broken Home" was the headline. It appeared in one national tabloid. Then another. Then it was a story on Hollywood Tonight. And all of the sudden, a storm of whispers threatened to taint the purity and wholesomeness of her image.
The plan, pushed by Mr. Cannon, was for Krysti to make sure - at all costs - that any family liabilities were brought "on board." And to make sure the public knew everything way okay in her family. The questions about her past had to be answered, to remove the distractions from the marketing steamroller that was the Krysti Angel phenomenon.
Krysti was seated aboard Mr. Cannon's private Lear Jet, a few hours out of LAX, on her way back home. Secretly, she was excited. Excited to see the places and people she had one been so close to. And excited to see the jealous, bitter look in their eyes as an untouchable teen princess like her strode through that little podunk town, doing anything she wanted to, and throwing around her money like holy water purifying the unclean.
"Krysti. What does it feel like, going back home after all your success?" A camera crew and reporter were tagging along, promised an 'exclusive' look at Krysti's trip. The 'all-access' and 'candid' story was of course, heavily choreographed. But the story would dispel once and for all any hints of a family problem.
"I have kinda mixed feelings, Dirk." Krysti said, trying to look thoughtful. "Can we try that again?"
"Sure Krysti." The man known as Dirk was maybe in his late thirties, trying desperately to look young and hip with his goatee and spiky frosted hair. He's a VJ for NYX, a New York-based music video program that falling all over itself to get this opportunity. "Let's pick it up from your response."
"I..." Krysti looked thoughtful and reflective. "I guess I sorta have conflicting feelings, Dirk." She sighed. "It's going to be a lot of fun to see all the people I love so much. But, I'm still a little nervous." Krysti had built up a little tear in her eye. "I just hope they don't have any... Well, I just hope people don't think I've changed because of success. I'm really just a small-town girl at heart."
"Okay. Brilliant. I think that's all we need for now." Dirk said. The cameraman and soundman deactivated the equipment and packed it away. They then retreated to the rear of the plane.
An hour or two later, the plane had landed and was taxiing to the gate. Before they got there, the camera crew was let off so that they could set up a shot of Krysti coming off the plane from the outside. And Krysti found herself alone with Dirk.
"I can't tell you how much I like your work, Dirk." Krysti said. "I've always thought you were the cutest guy on NYX."
"Really?" Dirk said. "Thanks Krysti. And I appreciate all you're doing for us."
Krysti got closer. "Is that shirt silk, Dirk?" She rubbed her hand up and down his chest. "Ooh! It is!" She started to use both hands. "You know, I won't sleep on anything but silk anymore. Its' touch is addictive."
"Krysti? I mean, is this..." Dirk was unsure of her intentions.
Krysti erased any questions by kissing him. "Your goatee tickles." She giggled.
Dirk grabbed her by the arms forcefully. "So, you're a dirty girl?" He said with more than a hint of interest. He then grabbed her loose shirt and tore it down her body, exposing her breasts.
Krysti looked into his eyes and saw lust. Fine. Less work for her. This wasn't going to be very hard now, was it? Dirk then pinned her to her seat. He tore the shirt completely off and started to suck on a nipple. Krysti let out a moan, partly for show and partly because she had to.
The sound energized Dirk, making him even bolder. Before she could stop him, he had grabbed the top of her jeans and started to try and undo them.
"No!" She yelled. He couldn't go there. That would destroy everything! She squirmed, and she bucked. Dirk held onto her tightly, keeping her from escaping. "Get off me!" She yelled. One of Dirk's arms got too close and she bit it, forcing him to release his grip. She then got a leg between them and kicked him off.
From the floor, Dirk rested on his arms, knowing he didn't have to move. She had nowhere to go. "You like it rough, Krysti? You like biting?" He taunted. Krysti had refastened her jeans and positioned herself near the door.
"Don't come near me, Dirk." Krysti said forcefully. "I'm stronger than I look."
Dirk stood up and dusted himself off. "We don't have to fight, Krysti." He grinned a malicious grin. "Because I know you want this." He grabbed his bulging crotch.
Krysti was sickened. She used men the way she wanted to. She was in charge. "You can kiss your exclusive goodbye, dumbshit."
Dirk lunged at Krysti, tackling her, and sending her to the ground. Dirk grabbed her long hair and pulled it like a bridle, causing Krysti to yell in pain. Dirk trapped her, keeping a knee on her chest. She was at his mercy.
Dirk then used he free hand to pull down his pants. "We're going to have a party, Krysti." He said, short of breath. "You look like a party girl. Am I right?"
The pilot's cabin door opened, distracting Dirk. Krysti pulled her head free and slid halfway out from under Dirk. The captain gave the two a look of concern. "We're at the gate." He said. "Time to disembark." The pilot stood his ground, unable to discern what exactly was going on, but definitely disapproving of it.
Dirk silently but indignantly got up off Krysti. She rose to her feet quickly, grabbed a coat from the luggage rack, and hurriedly put it on. She looked at Drik, who had taken a seat, staring at her with hatred. Krysti then nodded to the door, and the pilot walked over to open it.
A crowd of excited teenagers waited outside, and when they saw Krysti emerge from the plane, a scream that shook the ground erupted. Flash bulbs were going off like lightning. Krysti smiled as best she could to the crowd, but quickly pressed on through, not stopping until she got to the limousine.
Dirk, meanwhile, collected his stuff and departed the plane to little or no acknowledgment. When he got to the airport pickup curb, he wasn't surprised to find nothing but a single dingy taxi waiting for passengers. He and his crew piled themselves and their equipment in, and headed for the nearest - god help me, Dirk said to himself - motel.
He spent the short drive thinking of what he was going to tell his producer, when he'd have to admit he lost the exclusive. He'd be lucky to have his job tomorrow. Once they all settled in, the two other members of his crew left to go get something to eat, leaving Dirk to sulk in his room.
He tried to just let TV wash away his problems, but after an hour, it proved to be no shelter. Especially the crap that they had out here in the middle of nowhere. Since when was "Supermarket Sweep" in prime time? Finally he gave up and headed out for a bite.
He hadn't gotten far when a sleek black limousine pulled up behind him. "Dirk?" A meek voice came from the window.
Dirk didn't turn around. He knew who it was, and he was a little surprised to say the least. But he had no reason to turn around.
"Dirk? Please look at me Dirk." The voice of Krysti Angel sounded like it was begging. "I...I'm so sorry, Dirk. Don't be angry."
Finally, Dirk turned around to face Krysti, and saw the look of regret and guilt he hadn't expected to see. Not after what had happened on the plane.
"I really need that report of yours to get on the air. I'm sorry for what I did. I want to make it up to you Dirk." She bit her lip. "I've been bad." She then removed her coat and let her bare breasts spring forward.
Dirk thought about it for a moment and then lurched to grab the door handle. This was no time to think too much. Once he made his way inside, Krysti reclined on the seats, making herself the most convenient thing to lie down on. Which Dirk did.
Krysti started to undo his belt and fly, carefully but quickly. Dirk had already helped himself to Krysti's boobs, tuning then like radio dials.
"Do you have a cigarette, Dirk?" Krysti whispered in his ear.
Dirk hurriedly checked his shirt pockets for the pack he knew had to be there. It was. He offered it to Krysti, who removed her cigarette using nothing but her tongue. Dirk was trying to hold himself back, a feat which he was not accustomed to.
"Light me up?" She said.
Dirk found his light and flicked it. Krysti took a long, seductive drag. She then blew it out of her mouth in one full-mouthed puff. The smoke lingered around Dirk's head. He closed his eyes and inhaled it all in.
Krysti then flipped Dirk, turning him on his back and her on top. She then forcefully yanked Dirk's black jeans and briefs down, letting his swollen dick point to the sky. Krysti sat up on Dirk's legs, taking another long breath of smoke, and exhaling it out her nose.
"Now, promise you'll be gentle with me, Dirk." She said in a little-girl voice.
"I make no promises." Dirk said, smirking.
Krysti smiled back, and took her fire-hot cigarette and extinguished it on Dirk's testicles.
As the limousine squealed away, Dirk lay in a fetal position, rolling around in the ditch by the side of the road. Pain beyond pain was his only emotion, his only thought.
Krysti watched in the rear window as the car pulled away. She hadn't had a good laugh like this in a while. "It's a childless summer for Dirk!" He howled in laughter. "Oh my God, he fell for it all the way." Krysti tugged her coat back on.
"It's too bad, you know he was kinda cute for an old guy."
"Yeah." Krysti said, "But he deserved a that."
"We still might have gotten a good fuck out of that before we did that."
Krysti just giggled. "Maybe next time."
A few minutes later, Krysti had gotten hold of herself. She brought her emotions under control and focused. The limo was now parked outside Jean's house, and Krysti was making her final plans. Her plan was to offer Jean a role in her life, albeit a small one, as her real mother. The papers and certificates had already been drawn up, creating the family that Krysti never had.
Jean might be very willing to jump on the gravy train, but then again maybe Krysti would have to shell out a bribe up front. But if Jean was really stubborn, all she'd have to do was threaten her with whatever laws she had broken getting those estrogen pills. Once they had an agreement, she'd be back later with a camera crew for the tearful reunion. She had already arranged for a local news crew to take Dirk's place.
"I'll call for you to come pick me up." Krysti said to the driver. She didn't want the limousine to be spotted before she was ready. She left the car and walked up to the old house. Oddly, she felt a little nervous. She hadn't felt nervous for a little while now, and she didn't like it.
It didn't take long before the door opened. The woman who answered was unrecognizable. Gone was the skin & bones Jean, the frazzled thirty something she had last seen the day Harvey had signed the contract.
This woman was outrageously domestic. A smile reached from ear to ear. And she was happy, bubbly, and motherly. The perfectly idealized mother. From her home permanent on her short hair, to the housedress, to the frilly apron she had on, she was all mom. "Oh, Krysti!" She held out her arms. "My baby's come back home!"
Jean's embrace practically lifted Krysti into the house. Inside, it had been transformed as well. The sparse, functional furniture had been replaced with antiques. The tables and bookshelves were crammed with silver-framed pictures. Pictures of Krysti.
"Mommy's so happy to see her baby!" Jean cried, engulfing Krysti in her hug. "Did you have a nice flight?" She asked.
Krysti looked at this woman who was once her sister. Nothing remained of her. Had she gone mad? Had she slipped into believing the lie that she herself had created?
"Mom!" Krysti suddenly burst with happiness. "Mommy!" Krysti hugged her and clung. "I missed you so much! I missed you, I missed you, I missed you!!" Then she started to break down and cry.
From another room, Patrick arrived. "Short stuff!" He said.
"Daddy!" Krysti squealed. She minced over to Patrick and squeezed him tight. "I missed you all so much!"
"I'm just finishing with cooking dinner now, sweetie!" Jean said. "Why don't you and Father talk and I'll have everything on the table in five minutes! I hope you like tuna casserole!"
"Oh, you're the best, Mom!" Krysti twittered. But then her faculties seemed to come back to her. She couldn't explain what had just come over her.
"Confused, Harvey?" Patrick said. "Here. Come sit on Daddy's lap."
Harvey? What did Patrick know? Why couldn't she control herself? Even struck scared as she was, Krysti found herself following Patrick to the couch where she sat on his lap, quietly.
Patrick patted her on the thigh. "You're absolutely sexy when you have that dumb look on your face." He said.
Krysti tried to speak.
"Unh-unh." Patrick interrupted. He stopped her from talking by placing his finger on her lips. "Let Daddy talk. I've been waiting a long time to tell you, Harvey." He wrapped his arms around her as he started to whisper in her ear.
"Did I ever tell you how I met your Mother? Well, I was passing through your town when I stopped off at the drug store for some sunglasses. Your Mom was there, trying to talk the pharmacist into giving her estrogen pills.
"Good god, she was ugly then. And a total basket case. But I was curious. What did she want the pills for? I had to buy her a few drinks at a bar, but eventually she told me. And my God, it was the craziest thing I had ever heard. But it interested me."
"Do you know what Daddy does for a living?" He asked. Krysti shook her head timidly. "Daddy finds girls who will do anything for fame. I take their ugly, pathetic lives and reshape them into whores. Whores for fame. You take a shy country girl and give her the looks of a porn star and she's yours for life. At least until you find the next girl.
"But I was bored. When your Mommy told me what she was doing, you know what? I knew I had found my greatest challenge!
"A grown man, to be turned into a cockteasing little girl. Well, the idea was incredible. But not impossible. The more I thought about it, the more I was hooked. Once I slipped Jean some of my favorite little hypnotic drugs and she was mine totally. I could tell her to do anything and she would do it without question. Even feed you the same drugs and convince you to be her daughter.
"You know, you scared your mom and me when you left like that. I was really worried for a moment. But when I looked in your eyes, I saw that I had nothing to worry about. You were mine. Body, mind and soul. My finest creation.
He kissed Krysti's ear, gently. "You're almost like my own little girl! I made you totally. I got you sent off on that six month tour. I fed you the pills, I drugged you up, and got you a record contract! And then, I made you want it. You're doing it all yourself now. Turning yourself slowly into a fragile, pretentious starlet."
Patrick bent forward to make eye contact. "Who am I, honey?" He asked.
"You're..." Krysti wanted to answer.
"My name. Simple stuff." He tweaked one of Krysti's thick nipples.
"You..." It was coming to her...
She had no other answer in her head. "D-D-Daddy."
"I didn't even have to do that to you. You can't control it now, can you? You're no longer who you think you are. You actually believe you're Krysti now." He got his mouth as close as he could to Krysti's ear. "Daddy's so proud of you."
Krysti stared to shake. Patrick could feel her fear and he loved it. "Just one more thing, short stuff." He placed his hand in between her legs. "It's the last thing you need to do."
Krysti leapt up from Patrick's lap. Something had snapped loose inside. She backed away slowly, like a caged animal. "N-N-No!" She cried.
"Dinner's ready!" Jean said, coming into the room with a casserole dish in her oven-mitted hands.
Krysti found the door behind her, and managed to open it and run. She streaked into the darkness, unaware that she wasn't running from anyone but herself.
"But I made pie!" Jean called out after her.
Rain fell from the pitch black sky, invisible at night. The sound of the drops on the ground was a white noise with no pattern or tone. Harvey ran, a scrambled mess of emotion, down the middle of the blackened street. He knew the streets well, having grown up here. Because even without thinking about it, he had arrived in the last place he should have been.
He was beating on the door. "David! David! Please, be home!!" He hollered. "DAVID!!" he screamed. No one answered, but he kept beating. He kept pounding.
Then a sound came from inside.
Harvey continued to pound the door, as rainwater poured over him. "David!! Please!!! I need you!! I'm sorry!"
The door slipped open, cautiously. "Hello?" A weak, nervous voice replied.
"Please, David. I need your help."
An eternity passed before David's lone, visible eye blinked. Lightning flashed in the sky, illuminating the scene. David didn't move. Then, seized with energy, he suddenly opened the door all the way.
Harvey ran into the dark, unlit room, grateful to be out of the rain, out of the unknown, out of the insanity.
"Take your clothes off." David said with little emotion. Harvey quickly stripped in the darkness, grateful to take the cold, wet things off.
"Do you have a blanket?" Harvey asked. Without waiting, he followed the dim lights down a hall into the bathroom. He had spent a lot of time in his old friend's apartment, and knew it well. He grabbed a towel and started to dry himself off. As he did, Harvey noticed a tube of lipstick on the sink counter. David had a girlfriend?
"David?" Harvey called into the darkness. He wrapped the towel around himself and returned to the living room. "I'm sorry, David. I'm sorry for what I did to you. Are you in here, David?" Harvey then reached for the light switch.
The lights revealed lunacy. Every available inch on the walls and ceilings were plastered with posters. Posters of Krysti Angel. Garbage littered the tables and chairs, made of fast food bags and wrappers.
In the center of the room was David, who had disposed of his clothes. He was now wearing the coat Harvey had just removed, and he was now trying unsuccessfully to pull Harvey's miniskirt onto his large male frame.
"David?" Harvey asked.
David's head jerked up to meet Harvey's eyes. "I'm Krysti Angel." David said.
"David?" Harvey asked again.
"NO!!!" David screeched at the top of his lungs. "I'm Krysti Angel! I'm Krysti and no one else!!" He leapt at Harvey's face with his claws. "You're all impostors!"
Harvey ran a few steps away to get clear, but David came right after him. "I'm the REAL Krysti!!! I'll kill all the impostors!!" He shouted.
Harvey ran for the door, and David tripped in the skirt. Harvey had it outside, and ran as fast as he could. He heard the pounding footsteps behind him, in the dark. David was following, screaming and cursing. Harvey could hear the gasps and grunts David made as he ran, putting the fear of God into him. He was getting closer with every step.
Harvey took a shortcut through a yard, and leapt over a fence into an alley, losing his towel in the process. He kept running down the alley until he reached the street again. He thought he heard some scuffling in the gravel of the alleyway, and took off in another direction. After what must have been a couple of blocks, Harvey couldn't hear any more noise. It was hard to tell over the pounding of his own heart and his belabored breathing, but he thought he was in the clear.
Harvey looked around to see the familiar surroundings of Whitaker Park. Harvey stumbled through the street lit walkway to the one building on the grounds, the public restrooms.
Inside, the bright fluorescent lighting hit him like sack of nickels. He leaned against the sink for support, and to catch his breath. All he could hear was the huffing and wheezing he was making.
"Poor baby." A voice said.
Harvey looked around. He checked the stalls. He was alone. He stood perfectly still to hear what he could hear. Nothing. He went back to the sink. When he saw the mirror, he saw the mess he had made of his face. It revolted him. Everything about him was revolting. The hair, the underwear, his very body.
Harvey turned on the faucets and used his bare hands to scrub the makeup off.
The true horror of his life had finally caught up to him. He had been at the mercy of jackals, preying on him and laughing at his pain. He had been giving in to his darker urges, slowly killing those who loved him and selling his own identity away, chunk by chunk. With the scrubbing, Harvey was trying to wash the world away. The world was no longer a place he wanted to live in. He scrubbed until his face felt as raw as his spirit.
He grabbed a load of paper towels and wiped his face dry. And he looked in the mirror. What he saw wasn't his scrubbed, red face. Not his clean, makeup-free face. Not his feminized face. In the mirror, was Krysti Angel.
It was the face he had seen in his dreams. The perfect, ultimate vision of Krysti Angel. The real Krysti Angel. With her vapid expression, her platinum blond hair and her dark, defined make-up. She was the unrivaled, absolute vision of sexual desire.
"Poor Harvey." The reflection said. "Poor little Harvey."
Harvey flew from the restroom and ran again. He ran in panic and raw terror.
"You're not going to ruin it for me, Harvey." The high, bubbly voice said. It giggled. "I've worked too hard for it."
Harvey suddenly came upon a building. The same building he had just left. He turned around and ran the other way. In only a few steps, he came upon the building again. It was impossible. He turned again, but now suddenly found himself back inside.
The voice came from the mirror again. "I'm right here, Harvey." Harvey turned to look. Her near-white hair was fluffed out for maximum volume, virtually exploding from her scalp. Harvey placed his hands to his head, and found that his own hair was now exactly the same.
He ran out the door again, but instead of finding himself outside, he was back in his Beverly Hills home. He was in his exercise room, with the giant wall of mirrors. And in the mirror he could see Krysti again. He turned away, but the mirrors were on all the walls. There were infinite reflections of the girl in the mirror. But no reflections of Harvey.
The girl was dressed in tight, skimpy clothes. A miniskirt that seemed to deliberately show the panties underneath. A bikini top held her enormous boobs to her body. Harvey felt his body and felt the very same clothes on himself. "Oh God." He whimpered.
"Don't cry Harvey. It's what you wanted." The voice said. In the reflection, the girl drew her fingernails down her body. Harvey looked at his hands, to see the long red fingernails on his hand grow even longer.
"Don't. Please." Harvey cried.
"Harvey, you were going to take it all away from Krysti. Krysti can't let you do that. So, it's not your life anymore." The high-pitched, childlike voice said. "Silly Harvey."
Harvey fell over on to his side, not able to stand any longer.
"It's Krysti's world now. Just like we wanted it to be. Only now..." The voice giggled insipidly. "...I'm no longer a dream in your head. YOU'RE the dream in MY head."
Harvey grabbed his scalp and screamed with all of his energy, until the voice in his throat became even higher than it had been before.
The exploding balls of flame splintered into a thousand white-hot embers that fell gently over the heads of the crowd. They went wild.
Krysti led her dancers on the most difficult routine of the show. The finale. After they ten dancers moved in unison, strutting their long legs and thrusting their slim waists to the crowd, Krysti's body rose up over the stage, and she flew above the crowd, as if she were what her name implied. An angel.
Her popularity was still peaking. Everyone was talking about her. And everyone either wanted to be her, or be with her. Now eighteen, the restraint of childhood was gone. She lived on her body and her face. Impossibly, while her body got more and more lush and fertile, her face seemed to become younger and younger. It was an irresistible combination.
The Krysti Angel phenomenon was now a global enterprise. Girls all over the world dressed like her, talked like her and wanted nothing less than to be exactly like Krysti. But it was with her second album "Krysti's World" that her critics decried her abuse of such power.
Her new look, dubbed 'Call Girl Camp' by the media, was made up almost entirely of PVC rubber clothing. Tight, short skirts, and tiny bikini tops. Rubber opera gloves and chokers. And Krysti's trademark: her rubberized six-inch heeled, 2-inch platform knee-high boots.
The parents, priests and politicians were shocked with the new look. But before they could mount any opposition, the girls had already started to pick up on it. Before anyone knew what was happening, every girl in America seemed to be dressing in the rubber clothes and boots. Every attempt made to stop the craze from spreading was met by the rebellious teens with even more extremes in replicating Krysti's look. They imitated Krysti relentlessly, even copying her odd habit of referring to herself in the third person and not using words of more than two syllables.
In interviews she proudly admitted to using plastic surgery to enhance her appearance - and almost immediately, fourteen year old girls demanded that their families pay for surgery. And the business for surgeons skyrocketed.
Krysti's songs, like "Sell Yo'self", "Toys for Boys" and "3way" seemed to have overt messages of sexual promiscuity and the degradation of women, but Krysti's record company insisted that it was all done in satire.
Still, it swept through America like a plague. Soon, all the singers and actors had picked up on the new look. Even the 'family' TV shows started to show their teenage female characters in plastic bikinis as if nothing was amiss. It became the status quo.
"Do you want Krysti now, Daddy?" Krysti asked her father.
Patrick was busy signing off on a small stack of papers. "Daddy's busy honey. Your movie contract needs a little more work."
Krysti pouted, playing with her see-through pink baby-doll nightie. "But Krysti's ready now, Daddy."
"If you really want it, princess, why don't you go ask Mr. Cannon?" Patrick said.
"Eddie doesn't like Krysti ever since he found out about Harvey." Krysti sulked.
Patrick chuckled to himself. "Mr. Cannon just needs some time, Krysti. He's not as open minded as your father. Why don't you just check and see if he's interested?"
Krysti skipped down the private, secret hallway to Edward Cannon's office. Krysti checked the light to see if it was okay to enter, and saw that it was green. It took her a few minutes to remember if that meant it was all right or not.
"It's going to be hard to top yourself, Krysti." Mr. Cannon said, when he found his breath.
Krysti wiped the goo from her mouth and bent up to talk. "But Krysti can always try harder, Eddie." She then went back to her task.
"Uhhh... Yes. But... Oooh. Krysti." Mr. Cannon found it hard to think. "I don't think we can push the envelope any farther... Euurrrr....uhhh..."
Krysti finished her licking and started to move slowly up the naked body of Mr. Cannon. "Daddy has an idea he told Krysti about." She positioned herself atop his dick.
"I just don't know, baby." Cannon said. "You've already turned the girls of the world into junior whores." He laughed. "Now those airheads will buy anything! Dumb sluts!"
Krysti let Cannon's rigid, rock-hard shaft slip into her. "But Daddy has an idea!" She then started to make little 'eep' noises, as she bounced up and down. "The girls are all sluts now. Just like Krysti... But what about boys?"
She started to scream as Mr. Cannon's hot semen jetted into her. Cannon's eyes lit up with inspiration and orgasmic ecstasy. "Yes!" He yelled. "YES!!"
"Oh goodie!" She giggled. Krysti took her bosses' exclamation as the approval she was looking for. "Krysti was getting bored!"