by Ellie Dauber
Author's Note: When I read an article about identity theft some time back, it occurred to me that such thieves better be very careful whose identity they steal.
* * * * *
T-Jay watched from the shadows while the guy from Apartment 307 tossed his trash into the dumpster. He waited till the old coot ambled back into the building. Sure that nobody was watching, he ran over and grabbed the three loosely tied plastic bags. He turned and ran back into his own apartment, locking his door behind him.
He had newspapers spread out all over the spare room with clear plastic dry cleaning bags on top to hold in the moisture. With a grimace, he opened the bags and tossed their contents onto the floor. T-Jay had already gotten trash from several other apartments, so he had quite a pile to work through. He put on an apron and a pair of old work gloves and began treasure hunting.
He got lucky after about fifteen minutes. The old guy had bought gas with his Visa card about three days before and then tossed the crumpled receipt.
It was inside a grapefruit rind, and some of the ink had run. Most of the name and all of the card number were readable. So was the expiration date.
He kept hunting. He found a phone bill. The lady in 204 would be paying for his long distance calls again this month. There were four people in the building who routinely tossed their phone bills. T-Jay liked to switch between them. There was less chance of getting caught that way.
The rest of the piles were just garbage. He found a bill for a credit card at a local department store. The problem was that the store didn't have a web site and wasn't likely to get one. It was too dangerous to try to use the card number in person. He tossed the paper back onto the pile.
When he was finished, he carefully gathered all the garbage up and put it into his own trash bags. The newspaper and plastic sheeting went in as well. He carried everything back outside and tossed it all into the same dumpster that he'd taken it all from a few hours before. The apron and gloves went into a hamper to be cleaned.
Now came the fun. And the profit.
He booted up his PC and logged onto the Internet. In a few moments, he was web surfing through one of the largest virtual malls. He looked through his stack of papers. Yes, it was there. Somebody had been visiting one of the apartments. T-Jay had caught sight of her a couple times, a really classy looking bitch with one hell of a figure, long blonde hair, and tits out to there. Classy -- but dumb. She'd been careless enough to toss a receipt for an American Express Gold Card.
With a little care, that receipt was going to pay his rent and a whole lot more. He clicked on the icon for a jewelry store and began loading his shopping cart.
He'd been at it for about a half hour. His bill was up to almost $20,000 when his mouse suddenly froze on him. A red message box filled about two-thirds of his screen. Warning! Use of this card is unauthorized. You have thirty seconds to stop by clicking on EMPTY CART or be penalized for your greed. An icon with the words EMPTY CART and a number 30 appeared at the bottom center of the message box. As T-Jay watched, the number counted down 29... 28... 27...."
Damn! The card must have been reported lost or something. Well, there was no way they could trace it back to him. He'd just wait till it counted down and jump to another site. He might even come back to this same site with that Visa. He probably wouldn't be able to buy as much, but it was the principle of the thing. Nobody pulled anything like this on T-Jay Kendall.
As he glared at the screen, the numbers finished "...2... 1... 0". The screen went dark for a full ten seconds. Then the image brightened into a swirling green mist. "What the hell?" T-Jay said. A face was appearing on the screen. It became more and more distinct. It was the bitch with the gold card.
"What the fuck? What's going on here?"
"That's what I want to know, T-Jay? Who told you that you could use my credit card?" Her voice was soft and sensual. Another time it might have been sexy, arousing. Now it was mad, very mad, and some instinct told T-Jay that he was in very big trouble.
"What's it to you, bitch? You can't do anything about it? If you could. you'd be here in person."
"Very well, if that's what you want." The woman smiled as her image slowly faded from the screen.
'Good,' T-Jay thought. He reached for another sheet, another stolen ID, from the pile. Now to get back to work.
"Is this better, T-Jay?"
The voice was behind him. T-Jay jumped up and turned around. The bitch!
She was somehow standing there in his room.
She was as pretty as T-Jay remembered. Her dark green eyes were narrow slits in a look of pure anger. Her arms were folded in front of her just below those oversized breasts of hers. She wore a long shimmering green gown with a high neck. It hung loose on her, but not so loose to hide all those interesting curves.
"How the hell did you get in here?"
"How do you think?"
"I don't know, and, unless you're a cop with a warrant, I don't care. Get out of my house."
"Oh, but it isn't your house."
"The hell it isn't."
"It isn't anyone's house, T-Jay. No one's lived here for the last six months." As she said it, the air seemed to shimmer. T-Jay had rented the place five months ago. Slowly, item by item, things began to disappear.
The couch and chairs, the table, and the floor lamp had all been there when he'd moved in. They stayed, but the pictures he'd put on the walls, his CD rig and tapes, even his PC vanished. He looked through the doorway into the kitchen just in time to see the microwave go away.
"Where'd my stuff go?"
"To the homes of whoever bought it in this new reality. Some things, the stuff that you bought with somebody else's credit card are even back in the store or warehouse. Why, even your clothes are gone."
"This is crazy." He pulled out his knife, clicking the blade open. "You bitch! Nobody messes with T-Jay Kendall like this."
The knife disappeared from his hand. The woman smiled as she saw it fade.
"Oh, but there is no T-Jay Kendall. There never was."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"You stole my identity, so I'm stealing yours. In a few moments, there will be no record of you, T-Jay. No papers with your name on it, no memories in anyone's mind. Your friends, your family will never have heard of you. Oh, you may be happy to know that you also have no debts and no criminal record."
"Then you did me a big favor, bitch. I'm into Joey Bruckner for twenty big one."
"No, that debt is gone. Mr. Bruckner never heard of you. T-Jay Kendall was never born."
"You mean, I'm going to disappear, too. That -- that's murder."
"No, T-Jay Kendall was never born. You were."
"You mean, I'm somebody else." T-Jay's body began to feel funny.
"I mean, you're nobody." She stared at him as if trying to decide something. "For a start, since you're no longer T-Jay, you don't look like him or his family any more."
T-Jay felt the muscles of his face twitching. It spread down to his throat, then down into the rest of his body. He reached up to touch his face. His nose felt different, smaller, and his beard was gone. "What the..." T-Jay stopped. He'd always been told that he had his father's deep baritone voice. Now, he had the voice of a slightly reedy tenor.
"Since you were so eager to pretend to be me," the woman said, "I think that I'll steal one more thing of yours."
T-Jay felt a sharp twisting pain in his crotch. He doubled over in agony.
When the feeling passed, he reached down into his pants. The masculine equipment that he'd used so many times in the past for his own pleasure was gone. Instead, he felt a small mound of curls around a narrow vertical slit. A finger slipped inside, and he carefully inspected what he had found. A finger brushed against a sensitive nub, his clit, and he squeaked in surprise at how good it felt.
Now he felt his clothes sliding along his body. He looked down at them.
His Lakers' jersey changed into a sleeveless pastel green blouse. The neckline moving down to the center of his hairy, male chest. Beneath the shirt, his T-shirt inched upwards to transform into a bra. His jeans rode up his legs, past his knees, shrinking into a pain of denim cut-offs that hugged his now flat crotch. Inside them, T-Jay felt the material of his undershorts change from cotton to a lacy silk.
Then the changes hit his body. His razor cut dark brown hair lightened with blonde streaks as it flowed down past his shoulders. The hair on his chest and arms vanished as they grew slender. His nipples seemed to grow as two nubs pushed out the shirt. His blouse swelled as breasts grew within, full and round, and almost as big as the rack on the bitch that was doing this to him. His waist narrowed as his hips rounded. His legs became smooth and curved.
"You may want to see what you look like," the woman said making an odd gesture with her hand. The air in front of T-Jay shimmered and changed to a mirror-like surface.
The woman in the mirror didn't look at all like T-Jay Kendall. He nose and lips were fuller suggesting an African ancestry, while her eyes had the almond shape of an Oriental. Her skin was tanned, a light coppery color.
She was damned pretty, though, with higher cheekbones and long, dark lashes. Her make-up -- when the hell had she put on make-up -- was expertly done.
Her figure was fantastic, lots of nice round curves, a great ass, and long, long legs.
The mirror vanished. The woman was standing in its place, her hand out to shake his. "Just so you know who did this to you, my name is Elsbeth, Elsbeth Lange. You won't be able to tell that to anyone though. Now what's your name?"
"C'mon, bitch. You know my name. I'm...I'm..." His name seemed to stick in his throat.
"You can't say it anymore. You know who you were. You always will. You just can't tell it to anyone. Or write it. Or identify yourself in any way."
"You bitch!" T-Jay lunged for her. He might not have the knife, but he'd been doing Aikido since he was ten. He could still hurt this Lange bitch, hurt her real bad.
Elsbeth vanished as his hands reached her. T-Jay looked around. The apartment was getting dark, hazy. His head began to hurt, as he felt himself falling towards the floor.
* * * * *
He was lying in a bed when he awoke. A wave of relief flowed through him.
The whole thing must have been a damned dream. T-Jay opened his eyes. He wasn't at home. He was in a hospital. He looked down at himself, trying to determine why he was there. His eyes widened at the sight of two feminine breasts pushing up beneath the blanket.
Maybe it wasn't a dream.
A tall man in a doctor's smock came into the room. He looked like something out of an old Western, dark features, dark coppery skin, and log straight black hair tied in a ponytail behind him. "Hello," he said, "I'm Dr. Daniel M. Twoknives. You were found in an alley not too far from here without any identification. You seem to have an injury to the head. Do you remember your name?"
"I..." T-Jay reached up to touch a bandage wrapped around his head. He wanted to say that he was T-Jay Kendall, and some bitch had done something to him, but what came out was, "No, Doctor. I can't remember anything before I woke up just now." His eyes widened in fear. He tried again and again to say his name, but nothing came out. After a while, he stopped trying and began to sob.
The doctor took a look at the bandage. T-Jay could feel a small lump under it that was tender to the man's careful touch. The doctor took his pulse and shined some kind of light in his eyes. "Now, don't worry too much about it. A blow like that sometimes causes temporary memory loss. You should be okay in time. Meanwhile, you're on the hospital rolls as 'Jane Doe'. Is that okay?"
"No!," T-Jay wanted to yell. "I'm T-Jay, T-Jay Kendall!" Instead, he just nodded and said, "I guess that'll be okay."
"Fine. I'm prescribing something to help you relax and get some sleep. You don't seem to have any sign of a concussion, so you should be out of here soon." He squeezed T-Jay's hand gently as if to comfort her and left the room. A nurse came in a few minutes later and gave T-Jay a shot. He was asleep again almost immediately.
* * * * *
Elsbeth Lange stood next to her husband staring down at the sleeping figure. "Thanks, Dan," she said. "It took a lot of magic to do that."
"I'm still not convinced that it was necessary."
"Not necessary. He was about to put $20,000 on my card when I stopped him, and he'd been using other people's credit and phone cards for months. There was almost $75,000 that went back to its rightful owners when we switched things around."
"All because he liked to play at being other people, to use their identities for his own profit."
"Yes, well, he -- or rather, she -- is nobody now. She'll be Jane Doe forever. In fact, over the next few days, she'll start getting used to it.
She'll be thinking of herself as a woman by the time she's discharged."
"Whatever she wants. She's a free agent. There's no ID in her purse, but hospital social service is getting her some new ones. And there'll be $1500 more than whatever her hospital bill is. That will let her get a start. She can do whatever she wants. With one exception."
"And that is?"
"Whatever happened in T-Jay's life to make him a criminal never happened to Jane. She'll remember her old ways, but she won't be able to follow them.
T-Jay -- Jane -- may even realize some day that she didn't get a punishment.
She got a chance to start over."
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