I honestly never planned on writing in this blog ever again. My last post 2 months ago seemed like a perfect goodbye letter not only to my old life, but to the Trading Post Inn and the craziness that surrounds it and it's victims. My plan was to go back to Michigan, raise my daughter, and let the curse protect me from having to talk about or think about that place or what it did to me ever again. That was hopeful and naive of me.
It's my own fault, really. I could have just taken this life and lived it, but I got greedy. I wanted to have my cake and eat it to. I had to go back to the inn to get Kari's boss transformed so I wouldn't have to continue that damn workplace affair.
I don't know where the real Nick Latherman is now. I haven't asked and haven't been contacted. I don't know if that's the circumstances of his transformation or the deliberate machinations of those who arranged it but I try not to think about it. I don't feel guilty about it but thinking about it and not feeling that way makes me wonder if I'm kind of a bad person.
My issue isn't with the original Latherman. It's with the new one. I spent almost two weeks wondering if and when someone would show up back at the office in his body to claim his life. Towards the end I thought maybe that someone just it and his bank account and ran away to some island somewhere. I was sitting at reception playing freecell on the computer when he strolled in with a smirk on his face. You could tell whoever it was had never been there before if you looked hard enough, since he was nonchalantly checking the place out. He gave a few "good mornings" and responded to a few "welcome backs" before heading to his new office and closing the door with his new name on it.
A few moments later the door opened and he called "Kari, could you see me in my office for a moment?"
I don't know why I was nervous, but I was. What if the transformation didn't happen? What if this was the old Latherman? What if someone tipped him off? Was I about to get fired? Or worse? I walked in, shut the door behind me, and sat down.
"So you're Kari Cruz" he said sizing me up "I suppose you're the one I should thank for this new life of mine. I'd say that Inn gave you a pretty nice upgrade yourself" he leered. He could sense my discomfort and backed off. "Oops, forgot. One of the rules they gave me. No screwing the secretary. I hadn't planned on it but after getting a look at you that's a damn shame. The wife, she isn't to bad for her age, but nothing on her is built like you are."
"Umm...thanks?" I said as I shifted in my seat.
"Sorry, that was a bit forward. I'm still getting used to this male sex drive. I didn't think it would be that different, especially at this age but it's insane. I feel like a god damn animal sometimes having to strain to keep myself from pouncing."
The word "pounce" bothered me. "So you were a woman before?"
"Bizzare, right?" he said extending a hand "Arianna Pescatelli. At least that's how I was born. And no, this isn't some weird reverse Caitlin Jenner thing. If I had my choice I'd have stayed female. I just wanted a job that got me back into finance, even it meant being male, a little older, and have to live in fucking Detroit. Don't get me wrong, it isn't as bad as I expected, but it's nothing compared to Manhattan.
"You worked on Wall Street?" I asked, my old life peeking out briefly "Which firm?"
"They don't exist anymore" She then told me the name and I nodded. My old firm had swallowed them up in the aftermath of 2008. A fact which I then told her as some sort of petty point of pride.
"You worked there?" She said raising an eyebrow "That's such a small world. So at least you can understand me a bit, knowing just how hard it is for a woman in this industry."
I didn't actually, at least not first hand. Sure financial services was a male dominated industry but we always had talented and successful female brokers. I hesitated telling her that and she must have read it on my face.
"Unless..." she started chuckling "So your the opposite, then? You were a guy? Jeez! You turned into THAT and found your self blowing the boss? I don't blame you for sending the creep to Maine, but still. It's not like hundreds of women at finance firms don't find themselves coping with the same situation."
I took that as a dig at my inner strength. One of the things I've found in communicating with women as a woman is that there's a lot of passive aggressive, underhanded, and subtle ways to get under someone's skin without officially saying any thing wrong. Words don't have to explicitly insult someone to make them feel bad. It's almost like an art. The art of bitchyness. And I'm damn good at it.
"So what brings you to Detroit?" I asked casually, opening up what had to be an old wound.
"This" She said motioning down her new body "Or rather the licenses that come with it. You see when my old firm was going down the toilet they started looking for scapegoats to save face with investors and the media. Who better to blame than the woman in her mid 30s who was no longer eye candy and starting to make some noise with HR. I'll admit, I wasn't completely innocent. But the charges weren't anything anyone in the entire organization wasn't doing. Still, malfeasance and crimes of moral turpitude. Only a few thousand and fines and no jail time once I plead out, but the SEC and New York DFS banned me from any sort of brokering for life."
She had a sense of sadness when she said that. I knew why. Being a stock broker is a stressful job that eats up your entire life, but it also gets in your blood and it's hard to let go. If I didn't have Ashley to focus on I'd tear my hair out. (Which, btw is actually pretty long these days).
"I was working administrative for a fucking Primerica affiliate in New England when I spent the night at that hotel last year. During my whole year as that chubby grad student all I could think about was how I could use that curse to get back on top. Luckily I stayed connected to enough people that I was able to cash in the rest of Ms. Trust Fund's remaining tuition to bribe my way into this life."
"That's...impressive" I said after looking for a way to say moderately evil and failing.
I spent the rest of the afternoon briefing her on everyone in the office. When I got to some of the gossipy ladies she grinned.
"So they think we're screwing?" She asked "Like you've been in here more than an hour, they totally think we're fucking."
I nodded through my teeth and moved on.
It's been like that for the past 6 weeks or so. Ariana has stayed true to her promise and not tried to sleep with me. She does stare. Like I'll bend over to change the tone cartridge and she'll stare. I don't know if she doesn't know what it looks like because she's new to being a man, or she's just kind of sleazy by nature. Still, I'll take being eye fucked over having to fuck to keep my job anyway.
The thing is, she's great at the job. Ever since she's taken over profits and productivity are way up. She's getting the most out of her resources and people and I actually kind of admire that. Even though as the secretary my pay stays the same.
Anyway if Ariana is going to keep reminding me of the fact the inn exists, I might as well keep posting here. It remains cathartic and I get the feeling life is going to stay interesting for me in the near future.
Plus I wanted to be around for Tyler. I saw that he mentioned me in one of his earliest Judith posts and I want to support him in what I can promise will be most challenging and rewarding year of his life.