Whitfield Junction

Whitfield Junction

 
By Melissa Tawn
 
What would you do if a man shows up at your door, giving away a billion dollars?


 
 

Whitfield Junction, Nebraska, used to be a small but prosperous agricultural town, catering to the needs of the farmers in the area. However, after the railroad ceased operation and the new superhighway was built 20 miles to the south, it slowly withered and dried up. Officially, it ceased to exist when the post office was closed, 30 years ago, but a letter addressed to there will still arrive with no problems. Its current population is 1: me! My great-grandfather founded Whitfield Junction. I live in the big house built by my grandfather. Most of the fields surrounding the junction, as far as you can see, belong to me. Until five years ago, my late husband and I farmed them, with the help of several hands. However, after he died I leased the land out to an agribusiness conglomerate headquartered in Omaha. It, in turn, is owned by an investment firm in New York which, in turn, is owned by a shell corporation in the Cayman Islands. That, in turn, is owned by a reclusive godzillionaire in Denver, or so I am told.

I work as principal of the district elementary school, some 15 miles to the east of here. Living alone doesn’t bother me. An older woman is safer living alone in rural Nebraska than she would ever be in, say, Manhattan. I have satellite TV and a fast internet connection, and I read a lot. I also have two dogs to keep me company and a loaded pistol in the kitchen drawer which, believe me, I know how to use.

One Saturday, as I was just washing the luncheon dishes, I was rather surprised to hear the doorbell ring. When I went to answer it, I found a nice well-dressed young man carrying a briefcase, who said he was looking for a Kenneth Whitfield, formerly of Whitfield Junction, and wondered if I knew where he was. I told him that I was the only person living here now and, seeing that he seemed a bit hot (it was high summer on the prairies) invited him to come in for a cold drink. After I served him a glass of lemonade and some of my home-baked cookies, I asked him what he wanted Kenneth Whitfield for. “To give him some money he has coming to him, a bit more than a billion dollars,” he replied.

I told him he must be joking. “No,” he replied, “this is quite serious.” First, he showed me his card. His name was Alex Anderson and he was an investigator for a firm of private investigators from Denver, employed by the most prestigious law firm in the state: McClosky, Feinstein, Nicholson & Bowen. He then took two documents from his briefcase. The first of these, a copy of a will dated ten years ago, was very short and to the point:

“I, Howard Hunter, being of sound mind and body, leave my entire estate to Kenneth Whitfield of Whitfield Junction, Nebraska. Should Mr. Whitfield not be located within three years of my demise, I leave my entire estate to the Humane Society of Denver for the purpose of housing and feeding stray cats and dogs.”

“At the time of his unexpected death two months ago,” Alex explained, “Mr. Hunter’s estate was worth 1.05 billion dollars. If I don’t find this Kenneth Whitfield, Denver is going to have the richest stray cats and dogs in creation.”

“I still don’t understand,” I said. “What is the connection between Howard Hunter and Kenneth Whitfield?” To answer this, Alex gave me a copy of a second document, much longer than the first, and written in Mr. Hunter’s own handwriting. It was dated with the same date as the will,

TO BE OPENED ONLY AFTER MY DEMISE

I, Howard Hunter, was born and raised in the city of Wenatchee, Washington. In 1976, after receiving my degree in business from Washington State University, I found employment as an intern with a (somewhat dubious) investment firm in Denver that specialized in selling stocks to potential customers contacted over the phone. (This technique is generally known as a “boiler room operation”.) To save money, I shared an apartment with another intern -- Kenneth Whitfield, who came from a very small town in Nebraska.

We were both a bunch of hayseeds, to tell the truth. Like most young men in the big city for the first time, we spent a good part of our time outside work having fun, or at least trying to as best we could on a limited budget. This, of course, is easier dreamt of than accomplished, but after a while we had settled down to a routine of bar-hopping and socializing. By the end of the first few months of work, I was making very good commissions, while Kenneth was still struggling. I could have easily afforded to live alone, but he was a nice guy and I enjoyed rooming and socializing with him.

Neither of us found a steady girlfriend, but we were joined more or less permanently by Katherine Bell, a costume designer and makeup artist for one of the local theaters. Katherine was more of a boon companion than a girlfriend — she was a confirmed lesbian — but she was a Denver native and knew all of the right places to go and the right times to go to them. Often the three of us would end up picking up a trio of girls and having a good time. Katherine could drink both Kenneth and me under the table, if she chose to do so — which she often did.

One Friday night, we were sitting in a bar, not getting much action, when an absolutely stunning blonde walked in, dressed in a very short miniskirt, 5” heels, and a very revealing top. All three of us followed her every move, as she walked the length of the bar to the waiting arms of her boyfriend, who looked the size of a moving van. Kenneth, in particular, couldn’t stop staring at her. Finally, Katherine asked him what he found so interesting. “I was just wondering,” he said, “what it must feel like for someone to walk into a place like this in an outfit like that, knowing that every eye in the house will be on her. What must she be experiencing?”

“Why don’t you try it and find out?” Katherine replied. “You’re joking,” Kenneth said. “Not at all,” I bet I could make you up to be a bombshell at least as lethal as that one.” Katherine took Kenneth’s face in her hand. “You have good bones, Kenny boy, and with the proper makeup and … err … certain additions, you could make that cheap bimbo look like Raggedy-Ann”. “Oh come on now,” I interjected, “I know you are good at your job Katherine, but what you are claiming is impossible. There is no way that you could turn Kenny into something like that.”

“I am willing to put my money where my mouth is,” said Katherine. “Let’s make it a bet. I bet I can make Kenny up to be a woman at least as beautiful as that one. The stakes are steaks … the loser takes the other two out for a steak dinner at the fanciest restaurant in Denver.” “You’re on!” I said. Kenny protested that he wasn’t exactly being consulted, but we ignored him. Finally, he agreed to go along with the bet. At 10 am the next morning, Saturday, he would meet Katherine at the theater. I would show up that afternoon, and we would go out for a steak dinner that evening.

When I showed up at the theater that afternoon, I found Katherine sitting and talking to the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, clearly one of the company’s new actresses. She introduced her to me as Pamela. I asked where Kenny was, and said that I bet he chickened out of the whole deal. Before I could answer, Pamela took my hand in hers and whispered in a very sexy voice: “Howard, honey, don’t you even recognize me?” I couldn’t believe it! Even after looking very carefully, it was next to impossible to discern that this fabulous female was really my male apartment-mate Kenneth. I don’t know what magic Katherine had worked, but it was absolutely unbelievable.

Katherine explained that, as she suspected, Kenny really was a natural. All it took was some depilatory treatment, prosthetic breasts, a wig, a gaff, and a waist cincher, together with far less makeup than one would think, to turn him into a beautiful girl. Most of their time together had been spent on acting and deportment lessons and even then, Katherine maintained, it was a matter not so much of teaching patterns of behavior as of liberating patterns that seem to have been already there, waiting to come out into the light. She had clearly won the bet.

The three of us piled into my car, and Katherine gave me a suitcase containing Kenny’s old clothes as well as “some other clothes which Pamela will certainly need over the weekend” and, we went off to the promised steak dinner at the fanciest restaurant I could afford. Never was I prouder to walk into a room with a girl on my arm than I was then, and never did my date attract so much attention. The eyes of all of the men in the room were on Pamela, and some of them made it so obvious that it was almost pathetic. One very big guy was totally ignoring the woman who was with him and just staring at her, with his eyes popping out of their sockets. I pointed him out, and said that he looked familiar. “He should,” said Katherine, “he is the quarterback for the Broncos, and that woman with him is one of the Broncos cheerleaders.” Pamela got up and walked over to him, taking a small notebook out of her purse. She talked to him for a few minutes and then came back, after giving him a peck on the cheek. The poor fellow just sat there and looked like he had wet his pants. “My gosh, what did you do?” Katherine asked. “Oh, I asked him for his autograph,” Pamela smiled, “and he gave it to me. He also promised that there will be box-seat tickets to the first Broncos game of the season waiting for the three of us at the stadium box office.”

We had a wonderful time. Katherine phoned one of her friends to join us, and after dinner the four of us went dancing and later to a bar. When we finally came home, Pamela took her suitcase into Kenny’s room, and disappeared. However, after 15 minutes there was a knock on my door and there she was, dressed in a very sexy pink baby-doll. “I thought I would give you a goodnight kiss, Howard, you were so sweet,” she said and pressed her lips against my forehead. She then ran off, before I could do anything else.

The next morning there was another knock on my door and Pamela, dressed in very tight jeans and one of Kenny’s old T-shirts, brought in a tray of breakfast. “This is to pay you back for the wonderful dinner,” she said, and again kissed me on the forehead. It was another lovely day. After we ate, we took my car and drove to the mountains, where we had a wonderful time just walking around. There is nothing like being with a beautiful girl to make a man feel great. Pamela also was happy and perky. I was so excited that, on the way home, I insisted we stop off at a mall and bought her a special present — a silver bracelet on the inside of which I had engraved a special message. Only when we came home, did she suddenly look very depressed.

“Well,” she said in a low monotone, “I guess it is over, isn’t it.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Tomorrow we have to go back to work, and I have to go back to being Kenneth,” she replied, looking at the floor.

“Stay Pamela for a while, please,” I answered. “Call in sick or something.” “I can’t,” she answered. “I have that stock package I have to get rid of.” It seems that the firm had bought a large block of stock in an unknown and rather weird new California company called Apple Computers, which looked like a sure dud, and Kenneth had been trying, unsuccessfully, to flog the paper over the phone. He had not had much luck and his supervisor finally gave him an ultimatum. Get rid of the stock — all of it -- by Tuesday or find another job. I offered him a deal. If he agreed to remain Pamela for a week, I, personally, would buy up all of the stock in the portfolio. What the heck, it was cheap and Wenatchee, my home town, was the self-proclaimed apple capital of the world, so maybe it would bring me luck.

And so Pamela remained Pamela and I was the happiest man alive. We were happy together, and went out that night to celebrate.

If, two months earlier, a genie had appeared and asked me what I most wanted in the world, sharing an apartment with the most beautiful girl in creation would have been right up there at the top of the list. Could I possibly want anything more? Well, yes … S E X for instance. Pamela was lovely, considerate and a joy to be with; she was a fun person and a wonderful dancer; but our personal relationship never got behind a few hugs and kisses on the forehead.

After two weeks, I couldn’t stand it any longer, and tried to embrace her tightly and kiss her on the lips. She wouldn’t let me. “Howard,” she said very slowly, “let us not forget reality. You know that my breasts are fake and that bulge I have between my legs is not. I am only an illusion.” I got down on my knees and begged. I told her that I loved her, that I needed her, and that I wanted her more than anything in the world. I told her that I had read about sex-change operations being done by a doctor at Johns Hopkins University, and that I would gladly pay for her to have one. She cut me short. “Howard, it is too soon to even think of those things. You are a wonderful man, and if I were a real woman, I would be all over you by now. But if this is all complicated to you, it is even more complicated to me. I have to sort it all out in my mind, and that will take time” Then she bent over and kissed me on the lips. “Let me think about things, honey, while you are at work tomorrow. I will try to come up with a solution.”

The next day, Pamela fixed breakfast as though nothing had happened, and I managed to go off to the office for another day of sticking shady stock on suckers. When I came back, she was gone. There was just a short note which she left on my bed: THIS IS THE ONLY WAY, HOWARD. IT JUST CANNOT WORK OUT. All of her clothes and personal effects were gone. I never saw her again, nor did she ever try to contact me.

I did not even have a picture to remember Pamela by. The only thing I had was that large block of stock in Apple Computer Co., which I had bought from Kenneth and which in fact made me its third-largest stockholder. I kept it at first for purely sentimental reasons, without even thinking about it, but of course it soon started its meteoric rise and became the basis of the fortune which I am now in the process of parlaying into what even I believe are obscene proportions. I never married, since no woman I ever met could compare to Pamela, about whom I have dreamt every night of my life. I have no heirs to leave my money to, and never will have. My fortune, as my life, are only hers, and she should receive them when I am gone.

“That is quite a story,” I told Mr. Anderson, and handed the papers back to him. I then refilled his lemonade and asked him to excuse me for a few moments. I am sure that he thought I was going to the bathroom. In fact, I went up to my bedroom to bring down two manilla envelopes.

The the first envelope contained a silver bracelet, with an inscription on the inner rim: TO THE LOVELY PAMELA, FROM YOUR DEVOTED ADMIRER, HOWARD. The second envelope contained the legal documents showing that, before my SRS operation twenty years ago, my name had been Kenneth Whitfield. There was no envelope to hold the trials, frustrations, heartbreaks, and crises I went through between the time I left Howard and the time I finally became a woman in full, as I had always dreamed of being.



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