"You've got to have a sense of humor about this sort of thing, Mouse," Blake playfully instructed his assistant as he carefully dipped his brush back into the thin black paint. He cocked his head to the side, and then brought his brush back down to Mary Cooper's face.
"I always look for a little irony, to keep it interesting. People pay us an enormous amount of money to make their anxieties go away. They want a 'cure' for their unhappiness. Damn, what a shallow society that allows people to believe in such a thing..."
"Amongst other things, Mary was tired of being compared to other women by her husband. It's kind of sick, really. These cultural ideals ... she was worried that she would never compare to the magazine bunny-type that he finds so attractive."
He pulled the brush back from her face, and then dabbed his patient one more time on the nose.
"Truthfully, I think she came here looking for a revival of her feminist ideals, and a boost to her self-esteem. I'm going to go at it from another direction. It's cute, isn't it?"
Mouse nodded her head meekly. That was her outward reaction to everything the doctor said.
Her true reaction was one of shame for being a part of this. The ridiculous whiskers and black nose that Blake had painted onto the woman reminded mouse sharply of her own reflection in the mirror...
... or was that just in her mind. She had trouble knowing the difference these days.
Blake had changed her self-image so many times, it was hard to know where it had all began. Mouse vaguely remembered that she was once an intelligent, competent woman. In particular, she remembered the strong, confident gaze she would rely upon to find the truth in people. Now, her eyes were dark and shifty, and betrayed no sign of the intelligence locked behind them.
Before she became Mouse, something told her that she was sexually assertive, and proud of her body. Now, when she looked at herself, the view was distorted. Her breasts were tiny little nubs of flesh, just barely protruding erectly from her chest. The rest of her curves were diminished too. She had a boyish figure that the other nurses constantly ridiculed.
"I'll need you to sew a costume for this one. Make it a soft pink, I think. Yes, with cute little bunny ears that fit on her head."
Mouse nodded again. This is what her skills had been reduced to. She was an errand girl for the doctor. Sewing. Milking. Grooming the dogs. Feeding the pigs. Again, a rush of shame pounded through Mouse's body. The force of it almost brought her to her knees.
This was all programmed too. He had given her the thrill of a true submissive. Her hairless pussy reacted to all of his condescension with little jabs of pleasure.
Why did he leave her half-finished like this? She was stuck. He had left Mouse smart enough to know how much of a joke she had become to him and the rest of the staff. It was torture. Sometimes she wished she could be like the others. Finished.
"It'll be perfect. Make it a fluffy bunny suit, almost like you'd see on a ski hill. Give her a puffy little tail too. Heck, with all the hopping around she'll do, and the diet of a rabbit, maybe she'll have the kind of figure her husband admires after all. In fact, why don't you call him up and tell him she's requesting a breast augmentation. I'm sure he'll spring for it."
Mouse paused before nodding. Of course he would. The husbands always did.
Playing the part of the hunter, Jackie had expected the expansive thrill of the chase to overcome her. Instead, her hands trembled from a fear she had nurtured for almost five years.
Weakling, she cursed herself silently.
In following her sister's footsteps, Jackie had studied every detail of Blake Calder's career. Maybe that was the problem. Jackie had read every journal article, and every court transcript. She had immersed herself in the theories and techniques that made the man a leader, and later an outcast, in his profession. Jackie had built the man up so much in her mind, it was hard to shrink him back down to size now that she was near.
Her heart was pounding quickly, like the music spilling out from nearby dance clubs. She followed the doctor through the crowded streets of South Beach.
For all of the research Jackie had done, it was troubling to admit that she really knew very little about this man. There was no way to know where the chase would lead next. Jackie wondered if even the doctor knew where he was going. He walked slowly with his small entourage, stopping frequently to check text messages on his cell phone, or when someone caught his eye in the crowd. He would pause, in those moments, apparently fascinated by the way someone was dressed, or the way a couple of friends interacted.
The entourage paused too. It looked like they were accustomed to his strange meandering. Nobody else paid much attention either. In this part of the world, no one seemed particularly concerned with purpose, just with wealth and notoriety. They were here to be seen, so if the Blake Calder was willing to be their audience, the attention was quite welcome.
Jackie was the one who felt out of place. Too much function, not enough fashion. Given some preparation time, she knew she'd fit right in with the beautiful people. Tonight, she was under-dressed, but it would have to do. She'd ditch the bra to add a little sex appeal. Whatever. Whatever it took. There was no way she was losing track of her prey now that she had him so close. His movements were unpredictable. It might take months to get this close again.
The doctor had steered away from the most exclusive places this evening. It was a departure from his reputation. How many other ways would Dr. Calder surprise her, Jackie wondered? All the carefully prepared research was failing her now. It was time to rely on instinct.
Jackie closed in on the group as they entered a dance club. Electronica. Loud. It was early in the evening, and the club wasn't crowded enough to have a line-up yet. As Dr. Calder settled in to a semi-private booth at the edge of the room, Jackie took the time to assess his entourage.
There were two young women with him. They seemed to be fashion accessories more than anything. The two girls looked enough alike that they could be sisters, but maybe that was just the way they coordinated their styles. Jackie had no information on them, but was sure she'd be able to find them somewhere in the 'social' column of a New York or Los Angeles newspaper.
The man who sat at Blake's side was famous. He was a stage magician named Mav Branson. 'Mav' for Maverick? It was a stage name, of course. Dr. Calder stood taller, and seemed to command more attention, but Mav would be better known to the average member of the public. They were similar in a way. Both were well known for feats of hypnosis. Blake was known for his clinical work. Mav was a stage hypnotist.
It was an odd association. Jackie had done her research on both men. They came from different fields, but each had taken an interest in the other. Mav had sought out the academic notoriety of Dr. Calder to lend credibility to his act. Blake had oddly embraced the attention of the younger man. It had cast him into some disrepute with his fellow clinicians, but he had always played the role of non-conformist anyhow.
One other man was nearby. He was dancing by himself without a trace of self-consciousness. His movements were smooth and flowing. His name was Lincoln Romero. In his own specialized circle, that of mixed martial arts, the Brazilian man was a legend. He had dropped out for unknown reasons after an undefeated stretch against several higher ranked fighters. The rumor was that he continued develop his skills privately, but had vowed never to fight professionally again.
His athleticism was apparent. His body seemed lean and powerful, but here in the club, unless somebody knew his reputation, he wouldn't draw much note.
Jackie ordered herself a drink. She didn't care what she ordered. It was just to get her nerve up. Now was the time. She needed to get closer to this clique. She needed to get inside.
Mav was the easiest target.
"Oh my god," she feigned surprise, as she stumbled across the table. " You're Mav Bransen ... the magician. I can't believe it!"
They received her warmly. It was almost too easy, but it seemed like they were used to the attention. After they had invited her to sit down, and had a few rounds of drinks, they actually joked about it.
"If they recognize me," explained Mav, with dramatic flair " they're usually - no offense to you personally, Jackie - just dopey fans of magic tricks or stage hypnosis. There are a lot of groupie-type girls too, who just want bragging right for hooking up with a celebrity."
"Now if they recognize the Doctor, it's a much stranger lot on the whole. There's a whole strange mind control subculture that just idolizes Blake. He's like a cultural icon to these people ... good psychiatrist goes bad, and all that..."
Everyone laughed. Jackie realized how condescending the conversation was to her, but she laughed along weakly anyhow.
"If they only knew the half of it... " Blake added, then stopped coyly. It was the first time he spoke to her this evening. Jackie blushed despite herself.
He was attractive in person. Metrosexual was a pop-culture phrase that Jackie hesitated to use, but given their surroundings, it seemed appropriate. He dressed beautifully. He didn't seem to much care to define himself as masculine.
His eyes were piercing, insightful. Or was that just what she was reading into it? He was focused on her now.
.... There is more of this story ...