Bikini Beach: Organlegger

Bikini Beach: Organlegger
By Ellie Dauber (c) 2007

Somebody once said that no good deed goes unpunished. Somebody else said that joy divided is joy multiplied.

Grandmother and Anna discover how changing an old man' s life creates wild magic that saves the lives of four others.

Bikini Beach: Organlegger
By Ellie Dauber (c) 2007

An explanation of the title follows the story.

September 14, 2003

Anya walked across the lobby of her apartment building to the newsstand near the entrance. "Morning, Tommy," she greeted the man sitting on a stool inside the stand. "How're you this morning?"

"Not too bad, Miss Anya... considering. How's yourself?" Tommy was a slender man in his seventies, with the trace of an Ozarks accent and thinning, silver hair. He gave her a wink as he handed her the morning paper.

She took the paper and reached into her purse for the money. "I'm good, thanks. Here's --" She stopped when she read the hand-lettered sign taped to his cash register. "Hey, what's this? Why are you closing?"

"Doctor's order. My heart... it ain't too good. I sold my house, and I'm moving into one of those --what ya call 'em -- assisted living apartments over on J Street."

"I'm truly sorry to hear that, Tommy. I'll miss you."

"And I'll miss you and that pretty smile of yours, Miss Anya, but it's for the best. I-I ain't as young as I used to be." He sighed. "It'll be nice to take it easy for a change, or so they tell me."

Anya didn't need to be the mind reader she was. "You hate the idea, don't you? You can tell me."

"Can't fool you, can I?" His smile faded. "But what else can I do?"

Anya looked at her watch. "The morning rush is over. Close down for a while, and come over to the Park with me."

"What good would that do?"

"More than you can possibly imagine." She tried to look encouraging. "Please."

The man raised his hands in defeat. "I never could resist a pretty girl." He pulled the wire screen out and around the stand. Once he was sure that it was locked, he followed Anya out the door.

* * * * *

"I don't know why I'm doing this," Grandmother said, as Tommy walked into the Men's Locker Room. "I'm not making a penny out of it."

"Because he's a sweet old man, and he deserves a little happiness," Anya told her.

"He deserves a lot of happiness. His only son was killed in Vietnam, and he's been alone since his wife died three years ago. And now an enlarged heart." She sighed and wiped a tear. "May he... she find that happiness in this second chance you talked me into giving him."

* * * * *

Tommy closed the locker door. He was wearing a pair of baggy, gray trunks that Grandmother had loaned him. "I don't know how I let myself get talked into this." He shrugged. "Well, I always did wonder what it was like in this here park of hers."

He walked over to one of the showers and turned on the water. He let it run for a moment and adjusted the temperature. "Just right," he said and walked in. The warm water seemed to relax every tension out of his body, even the slight twinge he felt when he breathed. He closed his eyes to better enjoy the sensation, so he never noticed the pink mist rising from the water.

He felt odd when he stepped out, full of more energy than he'd had in years, but his body seemed wrong. He walked over to look in the mirror when he saw... "Oh, excuse me, Miss." Now his voice sounded off, much higher in pitch than it should be. What was the matter with him?

The woman he saw was young, no more than her early twenties, with a firm, athletic body. She wore a gray bikini panty, cut high to show off her long legs. And no bra. Her breasts were perky with large, dark nipples. "Here, Miss." Tommy tossed her the towel he was carrying and turned away. He waited a moment for her to wrap the towel around herself before he looked back.

The towel was on the floor. The woman was still there. "My... my reflection." He realized that he was looking in the mirror. He looked down at his body. No, her body. "They're real," he said, carefully touching his breasts. He shivered at the feelings, especially when he... she ran a finger against one nipple. "But... but how?"

"Magic," came a voice from behind her. Tommy turned quickly and saw Anya and that older woman -- her grandmother, Anya had said -- standing by the row of lockers.

"I created this water park so women could have a place to relax without being ogled by men," Grandmother explained. "If a man comes here, the magic changes him into a woman."

"For how long?" Tommy asked.

"For as long as the pass he holds plus a few hours. Anya asked me to give you a one-day pass. You'll be a man again by midnight."

"Or," Anya continued, "you can upgrade it to a lifetime pass and be Tammy Sue Delmar for the rest of her... your life."

"Tammy Sue? I-I don't understand."

"The magic that changed you can... adjust reality, too. Tommy Delmar won't be at the newsstand anymore, but his granddaughter, Tammy Sue, will be."

"Granddaughter?" Tammy Sue turned again to look in the mirror. Tommy's thinning silver hair was now a thick, lustrous strawberry blonde. Mae's hair had been that same color. It was the first thing he'd noticed about his wife-to-be when they met so many years before. That and Mae's smile, the same one Tammy Sue now saw on her own face.

Anya handed her a matching top for the bikini. "Here. Grandmother doesn't allow topless bathing." The new woman nodded in understanding and put on the garment quickly as if she'd been wearing such things for years.

"You just have a good time here in the park, my dear," Grandmother said. "Think about our offer and let us know at the end of the day."

Tammy Sue shook her head, feeling her long hair twist around her head. It felt... interesting. It was just so wonderful to feel anything besides fatigue and pain. "I don't have to think about it," she told the other two. "To be young again, healthy, even as a woman, is beyond anything I could have hoped for. Where do I sign?"

* * * * *

2007

"Watch it," Phil O'Connell warned. He and Al Brooks hadn't seen Jeff Zimmer's motorized wheelchair until they turned the corner on their way to fifth period geometry class. The chair was electric with a nearly silent motor.

Al scowled as they stepped back. "Damn him and that chair of his. I don't know why they even let him in here with normal people."

"He's got to go to school someplace," Phil answered. "It's not like he's retarded or anything. He just gets sick a lot; he's kind of... fragile."

"He's creepy; him and that chair, sneaking up on people. It's no wonder he doesn't have any friends. Who'd want to hang out with somebody like that?"

"He's not that bad."

"I don't see you hanging with him."

"I tried -- a couple of times, to tell the truth." Phil sighed. "We used to be buds back before..."

"Before he screwed up his body getting high huffing gasoline, you mean."

"A lot of kids huffed gas." Phil looked at Al for a moment without saying anything. "His luck just ran out. Hell, man, he almost died."

"Too bad he didn't."

"That's a lousy thing to say."

"It's true, and you know it. He was a damned druggie, and he got what he had coming to him."

Neither boy had tried to keep his voice down. Jeff's liver was shot to hell, but his hearing worked just fine. "Screw you, Brooks," he whispered. He looked down, towards his knees, as he pushed the small toggle switch to move the chair forward. That way, no one could see how hard he was working at not crying.

* * * * *

"Good afternoon, Ms. Hudson." Dr. Ranjiyapur stood at his desk to greet his patient. "Please do sit." He gestured towards the chairs on her side of the desk and sat down.

Marian Hudson studied the two chairs. The one on the right was wide enough not to pinch her hips. Better yet, it looked sturdy enough that it probably wouldn't creak when she moved. "How did my tests come out, doctor?" she asked as she settled slowly into the seat.

"I have been saying for some time that you need to lose weight. You have tried, but you have not been very successful at the trying. I know that it is not as easy for a woman in her 40s as it would be for a younger woman."

'Especially, someone like me,' Marian thought to herself. 'I work late all the time, and the only men in my life are Ben and Jerry.'

"I am so sorry to be telling this," the doctor continued, "but your blood sugar test shows us that you have developed the diabetes."

Somehow, she was relieved that it had finally happened. "Is that why I've felt so out of sorts lately? Am I going to have to take insulin?"

"Most likely you shall, but there is more, I am afraid." He flipped the pages of her chart back almost to the beginning and looked closely at the page. After a moment, he went back to look at the top page, her test results most likely. "I see that there is some history of renal diseases in your family."

"My... my father died of acute renal failure. He and my mom are about the only family I have... had."

* * * * *

The phone rang five times before she answered. "Hello?"

"Hello... Susie," Dennis Marcus said hopefully.

"What do you want?"

"It's my birthday. Can't a father call his only daughter on his birthday?"

"Happy birthday; are we done now?"

"Please, I'd like to talk to you for a bit -- maybe even buy you dinner some night."

"You just want to ease your conscience a little, now that you're so sick."

"Susie, I... I just didn't know how to talk to you after..."

"After the divorce? Dad, you didn't want to talk to me long before that."

"Didn't... I loved you. I-I was on the road so much. And when I was home, it seemed that all we ever did was argue." He felt the tightness in his chest again.

"That's because you never gave me -- or Mom -- a second's thought. It was all just that damned job of yours."

"That 'damned job' put a roof -- cough -- over your heads. It paid for you to go to a pretty good college, too." He coughed again and tried hard to catch his breath.

"Dad?"

Was that concern in her voice? "Yeah, I-I'm okay."

"I'll let you go now. Call me when you're feeling better."

"Do... do you mean it? Can we meet someplace for dinner? I'll buy."

"Let's see if we can talk civilly over the phone first."

It was a start. "Okay -- cough -- I'll call again tomorrow. Bye."

"Bye, Dad... oh, and... uh, happy birthday."

She sounded like she might actually mean it. Dennis leaned back in his chair to catch his breath. Smiling now, he hung up the phone and replaced his oxygen mask.

* * * * *

James Larkin looked at his notes. "Last item on the agenda is the reorganization of maintenance programs in the northeast district. Paul, I read your report. I've made a few changes, of course, but we will be going with your recommendations for the most part. Good job."

"Thank you, sir," Paul Larkin answered. He was always careful at work not to address his uncle by the man's first name.

James nodded in reply and continued. "The revised version of Paul's report is in a WORD file on the s-drive -- NEMaintRe-org, one word with a hyphen in 're-org'. All of your individual assignments are in the appendix. Get started, and we'll meet again a week from today for individual updates." He stood up. "That's it; let's get started." He walked out the door.

The others rose and filed out of the conference room. Paul decided to celebrate his uncle's praise with a smoke, even if his doctor said that he needed to stop. He put a hand in his jacket pocket. "Damn, left 'em at my desk."

He retrieved his cigarettes and headed for the designated smoking room. As he walked in, he could see that Andy Cheskis and Leo Rychek were outside on the balcony, taking advantage of the good weather.

"You think Paulie even wrote that report?" Andy asked. Paul could hear them through the open door.

Leo shrugged. "Does it matter? Jim says he did. The kid makes a good front. If the scheme works, his Uncle Jim gets credit as team leader. If it doesn't, little Paulie takes the blame."

"Paulie'll probably get some high-visibility job that doesn't really mean anything."

"He always does. Nobody takes the kid serious."

The urge to smoke was gone. Paul listened for a moment longer, and then left.

"Damn it," he told no one in particular, as he walked back to his desk. "I worked hard on that report. I work hard on everything I get assigned."

He felt a strange tingling in his fingertips. "Shit!" He reached down in his pocket for the digitalis pills. He found the bottle and quickly popped one under his tongue.

There was a chair nearby. He sat down and leaned forward, lowering his head almost to his lap. He stayed that way for about ten minutes. A few people, maybe even Andy and Leo, walked by. No one even stopped to ask if he needed help.

* * * * *

November 7, 2007

The nurse looked over at the monitor. "There's almost no indication of brain activity, doctor."

"She suffered massive trauma when that drunk's car hit her. He knocked her a good ten feet into the air, and when she landed, she smashed her head against the curb. What a waste." He sighed, looking up from his patient. "Such a pretty little thing; she's about the same age as my oldest."

A second nurse pushed back the curtain. "How's Ms. Delmar doing?"

"No brain function to speak of, breathing with a respirator, and her pulse is thready." The doctor glanced past the new nurse. "Is her family here?"

The nurse shook her head. "A card in her wallet listed a friend as the emergency contact. The desk called her and was told that your patient had no family. The friend, an Anya something, is on her way to the hospital."

"She doesn't have anyone else?"

"No... but she did have a signed organ donor card."

"I'll keep working on her," the doctor said. "Tell the hospital's lawyers to make sure we have legal permission to harvest this lady's organs."

* * * * *

Grandmother found Anya sitting in the Tiki Hut, nursing a diet coke. "Are you all right, dear?"

"I was just thinking about Tammy Sue," Anya said mournfully. "For all our magic, we couldn't do much for her."

"Nonsense. She spent her last years as a healthy young woman instead of the very sick old man she had been. She had a job she enjoyed -- that newsstand of hers, friends like you and Vickie." She winked. "Even a man or two."

Anya gave a faint smile. "She was happy. I suppose that's something."

"Being happy with your life is a great deal." Grandmother paused a beat. "And I'll miss her, too. She was a sweet, caring woman."

"She certainly was that. Did you know that she was an organ donor?"

Grandmother's expression darkened. "A what?"

"An organ donor. The ambulance crew found the signed card in her purse. They asked me about it when I got to the hospital. I figured that it was her last wish, so I said that they should go ahead."

"Oh, my stars." The older woman thought for a moment. "Do you know if Dr. Chastity is in the park today?"

Anya could see the older woman's worried expression. "I saw him and Daphne about an hour ago. What's the matter?"

"We may have a problem, a very big problem."

* * * * *

November 8, 2007

"What's for lunch, Mommy?"

Marian Hudson blinked and glanced around. This wasn't the hospital room she'd expected to wake up in. She was in a kitchen, one she didn't recognize. Was this some delirium from the anti-rejection drugs? It seemed real. She looked down. A little boy, no more than four or five, she guessed, was tugging at her apron. "Who... who are you?"

The boy laughed. "I'm your Petey-Weetie, Mommy. Are we playing a game?" He smiled innocently and held out his arms to her, asking to be picked up.

"Yes, a game." She reached for him, then stopped and stared at her body, her suddenly, wonderfully, magically thin body. She was wearing a pair of blue stone washed jeans that hugged trim, dancer's legs and a matching camisole top that bared a flat stomach. "I... I look like I lost a couple of hundred pounds."

"You look pretty," the boy -- Petey -- told her." He reached for her again.

She laughed heartily and picked the boy up. She hugged him and kissed his cheek. "Thank you, Petey. Are you still hungry?"

"Like a horse." He giggled. "That's what Daddy says when he's hungry."

Daddy? That was something she'd have to think about, Marian decided. She held up her right hand. There was a diamond on her ring finger, her long, slender ring finger.

'I wonder who I'm married to,' she thought. Her mind didn't know, but her body did. As she thought about her unknown husband, a warmth that she recognized as sexual arousal flowed through her. 'Later,' she told herself. 'Right now, I've got a... a son to feed.' A son, she couldn't help but smile at the idea.

"Well, Petey-Weetie," she told him happily, "today, you can have whatever you want for lunch." She put the boy down and paused to admire her slender new body. "And so, it seems, can I."

"Ice cream?" Petey asked, hoping for a yes.

A maternal voice in Marian's head quickly answered, 'No.' Instead of repeating it, she told him, "Yes... for desert, but a nice sandwich first." And she knew what kind. "Baloney... hot and on a roll."

"Yippee!" The little boy squirmed in her arms. "You're the best mommy ever."

And, somehow, she felt that she was.

* * * * *

Dennis Marcus blinked. He should be in a hospital bed, doped up on drugs to help him recover from the lung transplant he'd had the day before. Instead, he was in a cubicle someplace typing away at a PC. Typing? He looked down at his hands. They were somehow slim, feminine, with manicured, painted nails.

He was in a satiny, white shirt -- no, a blouse. And, judging from the breasts he could see inside the blouse -- his breasts, he could feel the bra containing them -- he was a woman.

He was staring down at his new body, trying to understand, when the phone rang. "Hello?" Maybe whoever this was would know what was happening.

"Hey, Sis. How's it going?"

"Susie?" His daughter... and she had called him... called her... sister.

"Just how many big sisters do you have, kiddo? I called to see if we were still on for lunch today. I thought we could grab something quick at the Galleria, and then do some shopping till we have to go back to work."

"Yes, yes, of course." She could hardly contain herself. Susie actually sounded eager to see her. "I'll even buy lunch."

"You bought lunch last time. Today's my turn, Denise."

Denise? She glanced around her desk. Several of the papers had the name Denise Marcus on them. "I... uh, okay."

"Well, that sounded sincere," Susie said sarcastically. "I'll see you at 12:30, hon. Bye."

Denise couldn't help but smile. "12:30."

* * * * *

"Paula, do you have anything to add?"

Paul Larkin shook his head. How could he be at work? He was having... having surgery. What was going on? "I... I'm sorry..." he started to ask.

"You have nothing to apologize for," James Larkin told him. "There was nothing wrong with your plan. Your team leader, Leo Rychek, messed it up all on his own."

"So who'll be taking over for him as team leader?" Cathy Trask was one of the other members of Leo's team; a slinky brunette Paul had tried to date on more than one occasion. She had never seemed interested in him, either as a date or a colleague.

James looked surprised, as if he didn't have a real answer. "I... uhh, I was thinking that Andy Cheskis --"

"Why not give Paula a chance," Cathy asked. "It is her plan."

"I won't have it look like I'm favoring her." James answered firmly. "You all know that. Paula gets no special breaks just because we're related."

"Paula?" "Her?" Paul looked down at his body. This had to be a dream. He saw a woman's body, not his own. Whoever's body it was, it wore a stylish gray dress with a high collar. The bodice held a pair of breasts as large as Cathy's 36-C, and below, the dress clung to a narrow waist and a broad pair of hips. 'This has to be a dream,' he thought.

Cathy wasn't satisfied. "That's a pretty easy excuse, sir. You can keep Paula under that infamous glass ceiling and sound noble about it because you're doing it to avoid practicing nepotism." She chuckled sarcastically. "How very noble."

"That's not true," James replied. "There's no glass ceiling for women in this firm."

Cathy tried another ploy. "Then you must think that she can't do the work."

'Now I know I'm dreaming,' Paul told himself. 'First I get a girl's body, then Cathy stands up for me.'

"I know that she can do the job," James said. He was beginning to get angry.

Paul decided to put his -- 'her,' she corrected herself -- two cents in. It was, after all, just a dream. "Then let me do it," he interrupted.

Everyone was staring. "If you give me the job," she continued, "and I can't do it, and you still keep me on, then it's nepotism. If I screw up, and you fire me, it isn't."

She took a breath, wondering at how high, how feminine, her voice sounded. It better be a dream; she was taking one hell of a chance. "But what will happen is that I'm going to do well. Then, when you keep me on, it'll be because that's what's best for the company."

"Anybody buy that?" James Larkin looked around the room. Cathy's arm shot up. She jabbed Andy Cheskis with her elbow, and he reluctantly raised his own hand. Paul -- or should she call herself Paula? -- raised hers, as well. She saw one or two others do the same.

Her uncle smiled. "Good, because so do I. Okay, Paula, the job is yours."

"Congratulations." Cathy slapped Paula on the back, slapped her hard.

Paula's eyes widened in surprise. She'd felt the blow. She was awake. She glanced down at her breasts. She could feel the bra supporting them. "What the hell happened?" she asked aloud.

"You just got your uncle to break that damned glass ceiling, girl," Cathy told her. "You better pull this off because every other woman in the company is depending on you." She laughed. "But, hey, no pressure."

* * * * *

'What the hell?' Jeff Zimmer thought. The last thing he remembered clearly was riding a gurney down to the operating room. 'They found a liver that matched me, and they were gonna put it in.'

Now he was back in Señora Jackson's sixth period Spanish II class, and, he realized, he was in a regular chair, not his motorized one. He glanced down. He wasn't in anything. She was sitting there, wearing a cheerleader's sweater that was pushed out by a pair of really cool tits. Tits? She looked at her hands, her dainty hands with the slender fingers and the nail polish in the school colors.

"I... perdone, por favor." She stood up and bolted from the room and down the hall. Despite the panic she was feeling, she enjoyed running for the first time in three years, even in the short cheerleader's skirt she was wearing. By some instinct, she headed straight for the Girls' Room. She went inside and stared at her face in the mirror.

The girl staring back looked a lot like her former, male self. Her hair was the same brown color it had always been, but it was longer, almost shoulder length, and with blonde streaks. Her jaw was narrower, giving her more of an oval face. Her nose was smaller, but it still had the same bump on the ridge that ran in her father's side of the family. Her eyes were the same color, too, hazel with gold flakes. "I... I'm my own sister."

"Are you okay, Jenn?" Toni Giamotto, by male consensus one of the five hottest girls in the school, hurried into the bathroom. "You freaked everybody the way you ran out of class."

How to explain? "I... I, uhh..."

"Hey, don't worry about it." Toni put a hand on the new girl's shoulder. "Sometimes, I get real crazy right before my period, too."

"P-period?" Oh, Lord, was she that much of a girl?

"Uh huhn. You're due in about three days, same as me, aren't you?" Toni giggled. "I never thought of using PMS to get out of a dull class, though."

"Señora's class isn't dull." Jeff had always enjoyed the class.

"That's not what you said last week."

"I never..."

"You sure did. You told me that some days it was just a way to kill time until practice."

"Practice?" Jenn looked in the mirror again, stepping back this time to see her full reflection. He saw a girl's athletic body, breasts more than filling her sweater, short skirt defining a narrow waist and wide hips, and legs... legs to die for. She looked hot, as hot as Toni, and a part of her liked it. Then she realized what she was wearing. "I... I'm a cheerleader."

Toni gave her an odd look. "Don't you remember, girlfriend? You and me've been on the squad since we were freshman."

* * * * *

November 9, 2007

"So what did you find out?" Grandmother asked.

Dr. Chastity Middleton shifted in her seat. The two women were in the Park office. The doctor took a breath and began. "I had to call in a couple of favors -- and grant a couple of new ones. There's a doctor named Jim Metrovich that you owe a one-day pass."

"Is that all?" Grandmother asked.

Chastity sighed. "No, I have a date tomorrow night with a male senior clerk in the medical records office."

"I'm sure that Daphne is pleased about that?"

"Fortunately, my wife is forgiving. She's heard me complaining about the new confidentiality laws more than once. Also, she was fond of Tammy Sue, and she understands that this is important to you."

"It certainly is." The older woman shuddered. "Wild magic can do terrible things, and I can't always undo them. Whoever got Tammy Sue's organs may be in terrible trouble. I need to know who they are, so I can try to help them."

Chastity took a small notebook out and flipped pages. "The records are confused in ways that I didn't think were possible. Procedures were -- and -- weren't done; patients admitted and not admitted."

"Wild magic can be powerful," Grandmother said with a chuckle, "but so can bureaucracy, it would seem."

"Somebody once said that 'the force that binds the galaxy' is red tape," the doctor replied. "To get back to those semi-unreal patients, the surgeons managed to harvest -- that's the correct term by the way - - Tammy Sue's heart, lungs, one of her kidneys, and her liver. Each went to a different person. Their records were the way you said they'd be, two sets of names, with different addresses in a couple of cases. The information switched back and forth when I looked at them."

"If it weren't for the shifting reality of your own situation, you most likely would have only seen one name and address on each record." She considered the situation. "You might not even have been able to see the records. In the new reality, Tammy Sue wasn't..." She made a face. "...harvested."

* * * * *

"Here's the report from the Connecticut office." Cathy Trask tossed a folder onto Paula's desk.

Paula looked away from her computer and at Cathy. "What's it say?"

"That we're ahead of schedule," Cathy replied. "Setting up that wiki was a good idea. Where'd you get all the material?"

"A lot of it is the research I used to draft the re-org plan: journal articles, instruction manuals, and the like. I just sorted it by area, with some duplicates so people would have what they need all together. I thought it'd make a good support system for the re-org."

"It did. I've seen e-mails from all over the network talking about it -- all of it positive, too."

"That's what I've heard, as well," James Larkin said, standing by the cubicle opening.

"Things are going pretty good," Paula answered. "Everybody's working hard to pull this off."

The man nodded. "Especially your team; better than I ever expected, in fact." He gave them a wry smile. "I've never been so pleased to be proven wrong."

"I told you that Paula was the one to put in charge," Cathy said proudly.

"And you were none too polite in doing so, Ms. Trask. It's a good thing, my niece had the skills to back you up."

"Do you really think so?" Paula asked, a little taken aback by what her uncle had said.

Jim smiled broadly. "I do. And so, I am pleased to say, does Mr. Garrison." L. Rhys Garrison was James Larkin's boss, regional vice president of the company. "Unless something goes very wrong, and I don't think you -- or you, Ms. Trask -- will allow that to happen, you're in line for a sizeable bonus, Paula."

* * * * *

"And that... is... it... two... three," Ms. Gilhooley called out, clapping the beat. The cheerleading coach was a tall, trim woman in her late 40s. "Very good, ladies. "Give yourselves a hand." When the two ranks of girls started applauding, she added. "Then hit the showers."

The squad had been practicing routines for the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game between Westside, their school, and Central High. They caught their breaths as they clapped their hands. A few waved to the boys sitting in the bleachers watching.

"Showers now, ladies," the coach ordered. "You can flirt with the boys later." The girls pouted, but they all started for the door to the locker room. Jenn Zimmer walked with the others.

"You did a lot better today," Toni Giamotto told her as they walked. "Yesterday, it was like you never did those routines before. What was the matter with you?"

Jenn had panicked the day before, not knowing a single step at first. "I... I wasn't myself yesterday. It's kind of hard to explain."

She couldn't explain. She'd stumbled her way through a simple warm- up, barely able to copy the other girl's moves. Gilhooley had been furious. Then, almost by accident, Jenn had discovered that, if she didn't think about it, her body knew what to do. The coach had yelled at her more than once, but she had improved with each routine. By the end of practice, she was moving as well as any of the others.

"Just so you don't lose it again." Toni stopped and kneaded a muscle in her back. "Mmm, that hot shower is going to feel good." She started walking again. "Hey, we've got some time before we have to head home. After we shower, how about you and Dana and me go over to Overbrook Mall and troll for boys?"

"I guess," Jenn answered. A hot shower did sound good. Yesterday, the thought of showering with some of the sexiest babes in school sounded like a dream come true. Only she was one of those babes, and looking at all those others, wet and slippery, soaping their breast and their pussies, hadn't done a damn thing for her. She looked, but she found herself only comparing their bodies to her own, new one, and often the comparison was in her favor.

"Hanging out with Toni and Dana should be fun,' she told herself, 'Jeff didn't have any friends. I do.'

The fact that she was thinking of her old self as a different person didn't bother her. Neither did the fact that she liked the way she looked in the pink baby-T top and pastel blue shorts she had worn to school this morning. Or that she found herself hoping that Phil O'Connell also liked the way she looked. She had seen him sitting in the bleachers with Al Brooks during her practice, and he seemed to be watching her.

* * * * *

She picked up the ringing phone. "Denise Marcus."

"Hi, what time do I pick you up tonight?" Susie Marcus asked the person she thought of as her younger sister.

"Pick me up? For what?"

"Don't tell me you forgot. It's the second Friday of the month; we're having dinner with Mom."

"Mar... Mom." Denise had almost said her ex-wife's first name. She -- in her old life as Dennis -- hadn't seen or spoken to the woman in over two years.

"Duh... yes, Mom; who else?" She chuckled. "You know the routine: we eat, she asks us about our jobs and why we aren't doing better. Then she asks the embarrassing questions about our sex lives and tells us about the son or nephew of some friend of hers and what a nice boy he is. Finally, she gets obvious and talks about her friends' grandchildren."

Denise made a face. "Sounds lovely."

"Oh, it's not as bad as all that, not even when she sighs while she talks about other women's grandchildren. It's for show, really. She just misses us -- and Dad. These dinners are a way for us to all keep in touch."

Denise was astounded. "She misses me -- him, Dad?"

"Of course she does. Sure they were having some problems, but it was a real shock to her when he passed."

He, her old self, was dead. Denise sniffled. "I... I'm sorry."

"I miss him, too, kiddo, but Mom's still around. So are we. And we can get together tonight, eat some of her brisket, and talk about the good times when we were all together." Susie stopped for a moment. Denise heard her saying something to someone else at her end. "Look, I've got to go. When and where do I pick you up?"

"Ummm..." A time and place popped into Denise's mind. They took turns driving out to their mother's suburban home, the house she was beginning to remember growing up in. "How's 5:30, here, at my office?"

"The usual, eh. Okay, bye." There was a click, followed by silence.

* * * * *

November 10, 2007

Marian felt something brush her cheek. "What?" She opened her eyes. This wasn't her bedroom. Then, in a sudden rush of memories, she remembered. "Ralph?"

"I'm sorry, if I startled you, hon," Ralph Tucker told his wife. "You just looked so sweet..." Ralph was a mechanical design engineer at Mecham and Todd. In her old life, Marian had worked in their graphics/blueprints department. They knew each other, but had never talked beyond the details of whatever projects they were assigned to.

Marian smiled up at him. "That's all right." She looked over at the bedside clock. "Look at the time. I have to get up to get breakfast for the kids."

"It's Saturday. They're fine by themselves watching TV. If Petey or Elyse do get hungry, George can fix them something." Elyse and George were her other children. Marian had almost fainted when she discovered that she was the mother of three. Then she had proceeded to fall in love with her children.

"But..." She started to get out of bed. "...I'm their mother." It still felt odd when she said it, but, she had to admit, it was such a nice kind of odd.

Ralph gently took her hand. "Honey, you can get out of bed and go do something that our kids are used to doing for themselves." He leaned over and kissed her shoulder. "Or, you can stay here and snuggle with your husband."

"Ooohh." Marian felt the warmth of sexual arousal flow like hot wax through her body. "That's a tough choice."

"Is it?" Ralph kissed her shoulder again.

She turned and put her arms around him. "It is, if all we're going to do is snuggle." She smiled in anticipation and kissed him back.

* * * * *

"Jennifer... telephone." Her mother stood at the bottom of the stairs, holding the phone.

Jenn came running down from her room. "Who is it, Mom? Is it Phil?" She giggled, amazed once more at how "girly" she was acting.

"It's some woman." Mom handed her the phone. "I didn't recognize the voice."

"Hello?" Jenn said.

"Hello," the voice answered. It was a woman, a young woman from the sound of her voice. "Am I speaking to the former Jeff Zimmer?"

Jenn's eyes widened in surprise. "Uhh... yes, but who... how..." Someone knew. Someone knew that she had changed; maybe even knew why.

"My name is Anya," The voice told her. "Have you ever heard of a water park called Bikini Beach?"

Jenn had. "Yes... it's over near the expressway."

"What's over near the expressway?" her mother asked.

"Mother!" Jenn said quickly. "This is a private call." She watched her mother's reaction. Her Mom's face had the same look of concern -- and love -- that Jeff had seen when he was having a particularly bad day. "Please..." Jenn added softly.

"All right," her mother replied. "Just don't take too long. Supper will be ready soon." She smiled and headed back to the kitchen.

Jenn waited till the older woman was out of sight. "Who are you?" she whispered. "What's going on?"

"It's a bit hard to explain over the phone. Come to the Park tomorrow at 1 PM. Come alone. Tell them at the gate that you're Tammy Sue's special guest?"

"Who's Tammy Sue?"

"I'll explain it all tomorrow. For now, let's just say that she's the reason you're not Jeff anymore." There was a click; then silence till the dial tone came back.

* * * * *

Grandmother looked up from the notes on her desk. "Come in, Mrs. Tucker."

"How did you..." Marian took a step into the office. "Oh, I guess they called from the gate."

"If that's what you want to believe, then go right ahead. I would hope, though that you'll keep an open mind about things later."

"I... uhh, I suppose." Marian gave her a nervous smile, as Petey stepped in beside her and took her hand. "I know you said to come alone."

Grandmother shook her head. "It's all right. He's a sweet child. I'm just relieved that you didn't bring George, as well."

"Bring a 13-year old boy to a place called Bikini Beach? Please." She laughed. "Lord, I sound just like a mother."

"You are a mother, Marian, even if you weren't one a few days ago." She hesitated. "Does that bother you?"

"Heavens, no." She sat down, and Petey clambered up onto her lap. She leaned back and slowly stroked the boy's head. "I gave up a long time ago on any hopes of marriage and a family. Now... it's all come true."

"I'm very glad to hear that."

"Yes," Marian told her. "I came mostly to say thank you. I don't really care how or why it happened."

* * * * *

Grandmother looked around her office. Anya had brought Paula to the office a few minutes after Marian arrived. Jenn and Denise arrived shortly afterwards. Now the five women were sitting around the desk looking back at her. "I suppose you're all wondering why I asked you here today," she began.

"You're about to reveal who the murderer of Mr. Boddy was," Paula said sarcastically.

"You're closer to the truth than you think, Paul," the old woman answered. "Only, the person who died was killed by a drunk driver. Her name was Tammy Sue Delmar."

"Tammy Sue was a lifetime member of this Park," Anya added. "A caring woman who had signed an organ donor card."

"Organ donor..." Denise said softly. "I was going in for a lung transplant."

"So was I," Jenn said, "only I was gonna get a new liver."

Paula nodded nervously. "A new heart for me." She looked at Marian.

"I... I had acute renal failure." She glanced down at Petey, then over at Grandmother. "Are you saying this happened to me because I got somebody else's kidneys?"

"That's exactly what happened," Anya replied. "You see --"

Denise interrupted, "How? What sort of weirdo was this Tammy Sue?"

"She was not weird," Grandmother spoke firmly. "She just wasn't always Tammy Sue." She took a breath. "Tommy Delmar was an old man, a man my niece, Anya, befriended. I built this park as a refuge, a place where women could relax without being leered at by men. If a man buys a pass to come into the Park, the magic turns him into a woman for however long the pass is for. That plus a couple of hours."

Anya looked embarrassed. "I... uhh, got Grandmother to give Tommy a pass."

"How long was her pass for?" Paula asked.

"It was a lifetime pass," the old woman replied. "The spell should have died with her. It was some kind of wild magic that passed it on to the four of you."

"Wild magic?" Jenn cocked an eyebrow. "What the heck is that?"

"Magic is a... force," Anya tried to explain. "Spells direct it towards a specific end. Sometimes, it goes crazy, though, and acts on its own. It's like... an electric current and a bolt of lightning."

Grandmother nodded. "And it's usually as dangerous as lightning -- doing all sorts of terrible things to whoever gets caught up in the magic."

"Wait a minute." Paula's eyes were wide. "I just remembered something about transplants. They... they take out the organs while... while the donor's still alive. Does that mean that they --"

Grandmother finished the thought. "That they were still under the spell when they were sewn into the four of you?" She thought for a moment, and then beamed. "Very good, Paula. Yes, the spell was transferred to each of you along with whatever organ you received."

"And we... changed." It was Jenn. "But why didn't anyone remember who we were?"

"Tommy Delmar was an old man," Grandmother continued. "The spell changed him into a young woman, a granddaughter he never had. Reality warped to accommodate the change. You got all of the spell, including a change in your own realities, so that you had always been the person you became; at least as far as anyone else was concerned."

"That's some story," Denise said, "rather hard to believe."

"Look at yourself, Dennis," Anya answered, "and see if you can come up with any other explanation."

"If any of you do need proof," Grandmother added. "I'll be happy to give Petey a one-day pass. You can all watch him turn into Patty."

Marian clutched the boy to her. "No, that's... you don't need to do that."

"I won't... unless you ask me to, Marian." The old woman shook her head. "Come to think of it, though, since the magic changed the four of you, you all share Tammy Sue's lifetime membership." She pretended to scowl. "I knew I wasn't going to make money on that pass I gave Tommy."

Anya chuckled. "And we can't say that the pass is non-transferable any more. You just have to give a major organ to the person along with the pass."

"I'm going to have to do something about that," Grandmother said. "The one thing I can't figure out is why none of you were harmed. Wild magic is very unpredictable. I'd have expected at least one of you to have become something bad."

"Not me," Jenn declared. "I never wanted to be a girl, but, now, I've got friends... even a boyfriend, I think. I don't hurt any more, and I can run and jump -- be an athlete, instead of being stuck in that chair." She spoke the last word as if it meant something loathsome. To her it did.

The others nodded and spoke words of agreement.

"I'm glad for you, of course," Grandmother told them. "But I am curious."

Anya closed her eyes for a moment and read their thoughts. Then she remembered the day that Tommy Delmar came to the Park and was transformed. "I-I think I have an answer, Grandmother. When Tommy went into the Locker Room to change, you wished that he would find happiness in his new life as Tammy Sue."

"And she did," her grandmother agreed. "She was very happy as Tammy Sue. She told me so herself, and more than once."

"The spell that changed her was forming when you wished for her happiness," Anya continued. "Your wish became part of the spell, and it was passed on to the others."

"I think you might be right, Anya." Grandmother smiled with satisfaction. "You're really starting to understand the meta-realities that underlie our magic."

"So the final piece of the magic is that we'll all be happy for the rest of our lives. Is that it?" Marian asked.

"No one can be happy forever," Grandmother told her, told the four women. "There's an old saying that 'the sadness in our lives just makes the happy times taste more sweet.' But I do think that you all have a very good chance of being happy, a much better one than you would have had in the lives you were living."

"Just being alive is better," Denise said, and everyone agreed.

"There's just one more thing that I'd like you to do," Grandmother said. "Then you can go. Or, if you want, I'll give you the lifetime passes that you 'inherited', and you can stay and enjoy the Park."

She turned around to a small table against the wall. When she turned back, she was holding a tray with seven glasses and a bottle of red wine. No one had seen the bottle, the glasses, or the tray a moment before.

"I'd like to propose a toast." She poured wine into the glasses. The wine in one glass changed from a reddish to a bluish cast as she poured. "That's grape juice for Petey," she explained as she handed out the glasses.

"To the woman who made it all possible." Grandmother lifted her own glass. "Tammy Sue Delmar, a fine woman who will be missed by everyone who knew her.

Denise raised her glass. "To the woman who made our happiness possible." She looked at Grandmother. "And to Tammy Sue Delmar."

"To you and to Tammy Sue," the four women repeated in unison, all of them looking at Grandmother. "Thank you both."

* * * * *

This story is based on a true incident involving an organ donor who was HIV positive. The HIV wasn't detected in time, and the transplant recipients all developed the disease. After this incident, testing and preventive procedures were improved, so that wouldn't happen again.

Similarly, Grandmother and Anya spent a few days analyzing how the Park's transformation spell had been passed on to the four recipients of Tammy Sue's organs. When they found the answer, the Park was closed for two days, so the spell could be altered. Now the only person ever affected is the one who buys or is given the pass.

And now that it's safe, Grandmother encourages all the Park's members to sign organ donor cards in Tammy Sue's memory. Just as I encourage you to do. I've had "organ donor" printed on my driver's license (that's how we do it in Pennsylvania) for almost thirty years,

"Organlegger" is a term created by science fiction writer Larry Niven for a story by that name about criminals who dealt in stolen human organs. I've been told that, in California, organ donor cards have to be signed by a witness, and that, in commemoration of his story, Mr. Niven sometimes shows up at meetings of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society to encourage the members to become organ donors by offering to sign their cards as the witness.



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