Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jane/Wes: First Impressions

I'll leave it to "Bianca" to fill you in on what's going on with her... she's told me some and hinted she isn't done contributing to this blog, but being caught up in this "Agency" business, she feels like she should keep her mouth shut.

Me, on the other hand, I guess I've got freedom of speech. While she was basically assigned her new life, I was just the unlucky sucker who wound up filling the extra room nearby. I say "unlucky..." I mean, nobody would get excited about having their whole life upended this way, but if you have to do it, I recommend going this way.

So let's double back a while. When I arrived in Chicago, Wes Baker's life was waiting for me. He makes a good living as an exec for this conglomerate, drives a pretty sweet car, wears nice suits (which his body wears very well, I must say,) lives alone in a spacious apartment... like, I've basically become Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother. This isn't a life I ever aspired to or saw myself living, but it has its perks.

When I arrived, I got the lay of the land, examining everything from my fashion options to what remained in the fridge and pantry, before deciding it was only right to inform the real Wes Baker that I had taken custody of his, well, life. "Bianca" told me that the real Bianca's whereabouts were not currently known to her, and she didn't even know if the change was consensual on her part. Wes was like me, I gathered... an unwilling participant in this situation. Wes' phone had lost its charge since it had been left to me, and in the craziness of my post-change days I hadn't thought to even look at it. When I plugged it in, I found numerous text messages from an number listed as Casey Duggan, declaring, "This is Wes Baker. Contact me immediately." "I am expecting a call from you - Wes." "I need you to tell me when you get this message." Et cetera.

When I dialed the number, which had an area code for back in Maine, a woman's voice answered tersely: "Hello?"

"Um, I'm looking for... Casey?"

A pause, and then, "Hold on."

I pondered for a second. He hadn't said so in his documents, but Casey is a gender-neutral name. I wondered if maybe this dashing man had gone the opposite direction. Maybe his distress was causing him to panic more than usual.

I didn't have much time with the thought before a voice returned to the phone. "Hello?"

The voice was a squeaky, crackling one... that if a pubescent teenage boy, if I wasn't mistaken

I cleared my throat and did my best to sound polite. "Is this... Wes?"

"Yes," he answered excitedly. "Who's this?"

"It's, well... you. Well, I'm the person who became you."

"I can tell that, idiot," he snapped back, "Who are you, though?"

I timidly explained my story, but he cut me off before I could get much further than "BA in Fine Arts." "Oh God," he sneered. "A chick in my body, and an artsy one at that." His broad Chicago accent made his disgust come across even more vividly.

I felt irritated by that. I'm a reasonable, capable person... I felt like maybe I had a chance at doing well enough in his shoes and giving his body back to him with minimal scuffing on his life. But the way he spat the word "Chick" reeked to me, let alone my choice of career... and was just the tip of the iceberg.

"Trust me," I said, "I didn't choose this. I'd rather not..." cause waves, I was probably going to say.

"Look, baby," he said, "No offense, I get that you didn't ask for this, but don't fuck with my shit. You sound like you're already in way over your head. I want weekly reports. I want you to get an audio recorder and send me every meeting you sit in on. I want you to tell me every interaction you have at the office, everything that gets said to you and everything you say in response, so I can grade you at how good a job you do at being me. You don't talk to anybody I don't approve of. After work, you go straight home and do nothing without my say-so. I swear, if you part my hair the wrong way, I'll find out about it. Get me?"

"Yeah," I huffed, unable to gather my thoughts to say anything else, "I get you."

Then I hung up.

I paced around the room angrily for a moment. The absurdity struck me of somebody with that voice issuing such vitriol. Maybe he was just insecure... feeling out of control for the first time, stuck in the body of a kid. I'd get antsy if I was in his position. But he struck me immediately as a nasty customer. No sooner had I put the phone down when it started to buzz again. I decided not to answer, so he left me message after message outlining in strict terms the finer points of being Wes Baker: dietary, recreational, professional conduct, finances...

I went to his bedroom. It was very much a man's space, with a solitary dresser and a closet full of those nice suits I was describing. Like the rest of the apartment it hardly looked lived in, but maybe that was because he was going on vacation. The bathroom was full of haircare and shaving products. It had a full length mirror on the back of the door.

I scowled at my reflection. This was a face that belonged to a total asshole. But it had piercing blue eyes and a strong jaw.

It figures, a guy who looks and lives like this would not cede control of his life very easily. It was clear he was used to grooming every bit of his life, obsessed with status symbols and superficial shit. I hated his attitude and resented his treatment of me, but I couldn't argue with the results. He took life a certain way, and it got him far.

There was even something of a thrill as that realization came over me, albeit a shameful one... if I was becoming infatuated with the man whose body I inhabit, he wouldn't be the first asshole who got my attention. Just the most successful.

I laid down on top of the covers, fully clothed and put my hands over my face. I looked like a million bucks, but felt like nothing at all.

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