Jonelle arrived at the restaurant and walked quickly up and down the aisles. She was looking for Dawn, her heart racing. She had finally come to realize that David was gone when she had received the phone call less than an hour ago. A phone call from Dawn. Dawn, who was David.
But she wasn't here. She looked everybody in the face, and did not see Dawn. She went into the restroom and found nobody. She decided to ask someone.
"Did you notice a woman, about 28, brown hair, green eyes?" Jonelle asked the waitress. " She just called me from here not twenty minutes ago."
The waitress looked at her and waved her hand to bring Jonelle closer to her. Then spoke in a near whisper. "Yeah, l saw her. She left with a couple of big gals about ten minutes ago. l remember her because she winked at me!"
"Really? Did you know the other women? Any idea where they were going? Did my friend look like she was being forced to leave?"
"Listen, l don't know nothin', but that friend of yours, l gotta tell you, l ain't never been winked at by a gal before, you know? And know what else? l could swear I'd seen her before in here at some time. l just can't figure it..."
"Okay, thanks." A disappointed Jonelle left the restaurant, while inside, the waitress suddenly remembered who the winking woman looked like. "That dead detective!," she gasped. Nobody paid her any attention.
Dawn by this time had been escorted into an abandoned three-story building that was surrounded by the remains of its dilapidated neighbors. She found her right arm in the firm grip of the large woman who, only moments before, had admitted being a man before sex change surgery!
Dawn was forced to sit on a dust-covered chair in the midst of the rubble while her captors stood over her.
"Now Dawn, dear, it's time to face up to reality." The speaker was Bertie, current leader of the radical feminist group known as Them. "Your former identity as David Cole has been erased forever. It's time to start a new life e. We are more compassionate than you probably give us credit for, so we are you offering you a choice."
The other two women - Sandy and Sybil, stood at opposite ends of the seated Dawn, arms folded, looking on stoically. Bertie's tone of voice did not reassure Dawn that things were going to suddenly get better.
"Here are your choices, Dawn, love." Bertie said. "First - you can rejoin us. Become a full fledged sister. You obviously enjoy being a woman. We can make that permanent in all respects."
Dawn snuck a quick look at Sybil, the self-admitted sex-change, and saw her smile back at her. Dawn shuddered. Bertie laughed.
"Your other choice is simple - leave the city. Right now. As you are. We will provide you with a new identity, all the legal documents you would need - a new birth certificate, driver's license, credit cards, the works, all in Dawn's name. A job will be set up in whatever city you choose, by sisters in that city. You will be constantly monitored to make sure you are being a model citizen, and a proper woman. Sound good?"
Dawn looked at Bertie, not believing a word she had said. She didn't believe for a second that they would let her go. She would have to play along with them and hope that Jonelle would find her.
"I would like to stay here with you and become a full sister."
"Excellent choice, sister! We can always use an intelligent recruit! You will begin indoctrination immediately." Bertie motioned to Sandy and Sybil and the two women approached Dawn menacingly.
"One of our most important rules, and least broken as it turns out, is to never show up a sister, or cause her embarrassment. Unfortunately you broke that rule today. You were entrusted to Sandy's care, and you ran away. Sandy has paid for her sin." Bertie waved a hand in front of Sandy's face and Sandy smiled, showing the chipped teeth Dawn had noticed earlier in the car. "Sybil can get too rough sometimes. Anyway, you now have to pay for your little daytrip. I'll leave you ladies alone now."
Bertie walked out the front door and Dawn looked up into the faces of Sandy and Sybil. They both wore maniacal grins on their faces. Sybil backhanded Dawn hard, sending her sprawling into the garbage piled against a wall. Dawn turned over, resting on one arm, wiping her mouth with the other arm, finding blood there. Sybil walked across the room, rolling up her sleeves. It was the last thing Dawn remembered.
Jonelle bean to do some detective work of her own. She didn't want to feel obligated to David, she had made that clear from the beginning of their relationship - no strings. She didn't go to his funeral, because she didn't want his family to think they were a couple. She knew this was weird, but she didn't want to belong to someone, especially a man.
But David was in trouble, big trouble. First she had to reconcile herself to the idea that he wasn't dead. And any organization that could pull off a fake death as elaborately as David's was no organization to trifle with. She would need help.
She decided to drop in on Senator Boyce.
."..not dead!! Are you crazy?!" Senator Boyce his desk, fists clenched, staring woman who had called him about the late David Cole.
"Yes, Senator. He's very much alive. His death was faked somehow. By Them."
"Ridiculous! Preposterous! Impossible!"
"Excuse me, Senator, but what good would it possibly do me to make this story up?" Jonelle had remained calm and in control during the Senator's tirades.
"Young lady, l have no idea.l do not know why you are here, but the kidnapping of my son is very serious to me. I'm sorry your friend died in my employ, but he knew it was a dangerous assignment. he wasn't the first detective to die trying to find my son."
"And he won't be the last, Senator. We have a chance to blow Them right out of the water, don't you see that? They don't know that l know David's alive. They're overconfident in their power.lf we can just locate David, rescue him, it would be all over for them. This is your big chance, Senator. To find out once and for all what happened to your son."
Boyce slumped back down into his chair. "It's been too long - so long since I've seen my son. I've never given up hope, but what good would it do to find him now? I'm old, tired. . .I can't help you, young lady.l have no real power, no one to call on to help me, no markers to call in. Rescue him? l wouldn't have any idea how to do that."
"You must have hired another P.I. after you heard David had died."
"Call him, I'll need him."
Boyce picked up the phone receiver. "Good idea. Yes, capital. But l hired a woman this time.l figured a woman couldn't do any worse than the men l had hired."
Jonelle bristled as Boyce dialed and left a message on an answering machine. "She'll be in touch, she's very prompt about answering my messages." He handed a pad of paper and a pen to Jonelle. "Write your name, address and phone number down.I'll have her contact you." Jonelle took them and scribbled the information.
"Thank you," he glanced at the paper handed to him,"Jonelle.l wish you the best of luck in finding your friend."
"And I hope you find your son, Senator. Thank you for your time." She left .
The detective called Jonelle that evening and they made arrangements to get together at Jo's apartment. While waiting for her to arrive, Jonelle began to think about what she had to tell her about David. She realized she would have to tell her about Dawn, but how much? And what would she tell her about them, their relationship?.
After downing a cup of coffee, the doorbell rang and Jonelle opened the door to a pretty redhead.
"Hi, I'm Tiffany Hardcastle."
"Come in, I'm Jonelle. Coffee?"
"Tea, please, lf you have it. With just a little lemon. Nice place."
"Thanks. Make yourself at home, I'll only be a moment." Jonelle retreated into the kitchen and Tiffany found a seat on the couch.
The female detective was nothing like Jonelle had pictured her. She was well-dressed in a silk skirt suit, with expensive looking patent leather pumps. Her long red hair fell half way down her bock, her facial features were soft and understanding. She was someone you would trust with your life just by looking at her. She carried a leather briefcase, which she laid down next to her on the couch and opened. She was ruffling through papers when Jonelle rejoined her carrying the steaming liquid in a china teacup.
"Thank you," Tiffany said taking the cup and saucer. "Okay, let's get down to business, shall we? Senator boyce said your boyfriend's still alive and being held captive by Them?"
Jonelle bristled at the word 'boyfriend' but didn't say anything. "Yes, he called me from a restaurant near his apartment and office. He convinced me it was actually him - you can imagine my hearing his voice after all these weeks thinking him dead! - anyway, he told me where he was and he needed to see me right away.
"I rushed right over there, but he was gone. A waitress in the restaurant remembered him being there and saw him leave with three other women."
Tiffany was writing ferociously as Jonelle talked, then looked up. "You said 'other women', what did you mean by that?"
"Well, as you know, Them is strictly a female organization.in order to infiltrate the group, avid assumed the identity of Dawn and managed to join as a woman."
Tiffany looked at Jonelle incredulously. "Be serious!"
"Oh, l am serious. When David is all dressed up as a woman, he's undetectable. Nobody would ever imagine he was really a man."
"You mean to tell me an organization of woman, with a deep-rooted hatred of all men, would allow a man dressed as a woman, a detective no less, to infiltrate them? And nobody would suspect? Come on now."
"It's true. It happened. Dawn must have managed to escape briefly when she called me.l wasn't quick enough to help her though." Jonelle averted her eyes from the wide-eyed stare of the detective. She sipped at her cold coffee.
"Tell me more about your boyfriend," Tiffany said.
"He's not my boyfriend!" Jonelle snapped. He's just a friend."
"I'm sorry. Tell me about him, then. How was he able to fool an entire organization into believing he was a woman?"
"He's a transvestite," Jonelle said, as Tiffany began writing again. "I met him years ago. l owned a boutique in the Village and he came in dressed as a girl . He looked awful - like a man dressed as a woman.l calmed him down, and helped him look more presentable.l thought he was interesting, and was fascinated with his desire to pass as a woman. We stayed friends ever since.
"I have to tell you that he took it very seriously - being a woman. He would spend hours upon hours practicing makeup, hair styling, and mannerisms. We used to go out a lot as girls, to movies, shopping, that sort of thing. he continually amazed me with his transformation. He was like a whole other person."
Tiffany looked up from her notepad. "This is fascinating.l never realized there were people like that. l mean, I'd seen transvestites on Donahue, of course, but they looked horrid, almost parodies of women. But lf he managed to get accepted into the group, I'm sure you could."
"Me? Why would have to join Them?"
"I'm too well known. They would check on me and find out i'm a detective.lf they know about David, they're not going to be too keen on letting another detective into the group."
"I don't know about this..."
"It's the only way. We have to get you inside the group. You have to find out where David is, and somehow get word to me. Then we'll figure out how to get him out. And, Jonelle. . ."
Jonelle couldn't get a word out, and just looked at Tiffany.
."..you have to go into this with the realization that David may already be dead. For real this time."
Jonelle swallowed hard. "I know. Okay, let's do.
Dawn was back at the townhouse uptown, but things had changed for her there. Her meals were restricted to vegetables and fruits with water. Twice a day she was given a small purple pill with her meals. A female doctor visited her daily and gave her a shot once a week. She was constantly in one class or another, taught by Them members. In the mornings she was given classes in makeup, haircare and deportment. In the afternoons, cooking, sewing and speech classes. And the evenings were reserved for her sociodrama class - taught by a tall blonde named Rachel .
Rachel was a knockout - about six foot tall, with long blonde hair. She carried herself with elegance and grace, and dressed beautifully. Her voice was silken, and authoritative. You listened to what she had to say. She had been put through New York University by Them and she had graduated with a degree in psychology.
The sociodrama class was used to allow Dawn to relive the past, this time as lf she had been born a girl. They would re-enact real scenarios from her life and change them, this time, instead of David going to his senior prom, Dawn attended. Dawn went to her grade school graduation, her first high school dance, college, dates
The classes were taking their toll on her. At dinner each night, she would sit at the large dining room table with the other members that were currently staying at the house and they would discuss the groups current endeavors. Dawn found herself fascinated by the group and its members.
The diet and classes were succeeding in remolding her body as well as her mind. The omnipresent Sybil (her appointed bodyguard) and her drama teacher Rachel had become close friends of Down's. She found herself looking forward to her classes with Rachel. And Dawn had long since forgiven Sybil the brutal beating inflicted on her after she was re-captured.
After three weeks, Dawn sat and waited for Rachel to enter her room for their nightly sociodrama situation. Rachel arrived late, and with Bertie.
"How have you been, Dawn?" Bertie said.
"Well, thanks. And you?"
"Fine, fine. How have you been feeling, truthfully? Tired, depressed? Any violent mood swings? Any burning or itching in the breast area?"
"The pills and shots we've been administering to you are female hormones. All of the symptoms I've described to you may very well take effect soon. Okay, then, you seem to be making excellent progress in your new identity. You may continue, Rachel." Bertie left the room, Dawn caught a glimpse of Sybil in the hallway before the door closed again.
"Hormones? I'm being given hormones?"
"Sure. We all are!," Rachel said, taking her seat.
"Didn't you know? We all used to be men!"
To Be Concluded Next Issue...
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