The Transformation Story Archive Strange Things and other Changes

Changes in Middle Management

by Mark Gooley

<title by me - th> This is in my old style -- of two years ago, by now; namely, a piece written as a patently unproducible play, involving people in an office who change into other people and things. ___

[SCENE: An office shared by several middle-level managers. A secretary's desk with an original Mac is in the center; behind it are three doors to the managers' private offices. Enter JANE through the main door. She is young, short, dark-haired, and pretty, with a good figure shown off by a tight, low-cut dress. She goes behind the desk, wheels back its chair, puts her large black leather purse on it. She crawls into the knee hole of the desk to unplug the Mac, gets up, pulls out and rolls up the cord, and with little effort but prodigious noise crumples the Mac, keyboard and mouse and all, into a ball about an inch across. One feels that the Mac is perfectly ordinary but that JANE's fingers exert incredible forces on it. JANE puts the wad of Mac, as light, it seems, as a wad of paper, into her mouth and chews it with junkyard noises, meanwhile fumbling in her purse. As she swallows noisily she takes from her purse a beige object several inches across, irregular in shape, deeply furrowed, and equipped with an air valve like a beach ball's. JANE stoops over the edge of the desk, puts the valve to her lips, and blows. A single exhalation of half a minute inflates the object to a computer: big deskside CPU box, monitor, etc. As it inflates, JANE gently guides its parts into place, crouching down because the valve ends up at the front of the deskside box. She closes the valve, crawls down again to plug in the new machine, gets up and turns it on. EnterSANDRA one of the managers JANE works for. She is attractively statuesque, slightly older thanJANE with short mannish blonde hair and a tight-fitting woman's business suit, of severe cut, in grey flannel.]
JANE:Good morning, ma'am.
SANDRA:Good morning, Jane. I see
That I can't get here earlier than you.
JANE: I gotta make an effort. Have you heard
About the trouble with the leaky valves?
SANDRA: It's news to me. I haven't heard a thing.
JANE: I had a look at mine, and it's okay.
But maybe you should give your own a look. SANDRA [raising her left palm and staring at the base of her thumb]:
It looks okay to me, but I'm afraid
I really just don't know. Perhaps you could...
JANE: No problem, ma'am. [She stoops slightly and takes SANDRA's hand in both of hers as if to take a closer look, then pops the valve open, puts her mouth to it and with one impossible inhalation sucks the air out of SANDRA.] SANDRA [deflating]: You filthy little bitch! [SANDRA's clothes and hair and skin combine as she deflates to form a rubbery shell; her lips have sealed together, nostrils filled in, etc. She looks like a realistic inflatable doll. JANE lets the deflated SANDRA fall to the floor, goes to the desk, and starts rummaging in it.]
JANE: No other way to get promoted here.
Although it might have been a better thing
To do this to Vanessa, who's an aide
To someone more important. She could then
Deflate her boss. Yeah, that's a better way
Of climbing up a corporation's rungs. [JANE puts a pair of sturdy scissors onto the desk and resumes rummaging. Presently she finds a roll of that wonderful Mylar packing tape, and pauses a few moments.]
It's not too late to blow her up again,
And tell her it was just a joke of mine.
She'd act like she was angry, but in fact
How grateful she would be to be herself!
But then again, the woman's been a bitch,
And treated me like scum, and worked me hard.
The hell with Sandra! I deserve her place. [JANE goes over to the deflated SANDRA and makes a cut in her, just above the breasts, from armpit to armpit. She pierces a hole between the lips. She puts aside the scissors and sits on the floor; without removing any clothes she puts on SANDRA, high-heeled feet into the slit she made. In a while she is inside, legs in legs, arms in arms, head in head, the lot. SANDRA fits very loosely over JANE, who breathes through the hole between the lips and sees with difficulty though what were SANDRA's corneas.] JANE [muffled]:
It's lucky Sandra was so big a girl.
I haven't even taken off my shoes.
I'm sure I'll have the devil of a time
To close this slit across the chest with tape. [JANE goes over to the purse on the chair and with difficulty gets out a small mirror. She sighs and the thin stuff of SANDRA's face distends a little. She puts the mirror on the desk, gropes for and finds the scissors on the floor, and after several attempts over many tedious minutes manages to approximate the edges of the long slit in SANDRA and seal the slit with many layers of tape.] JANE [more muffled]:
I hope I got her sealed up tight enough.
Here goes! [JANE puts the hole between the lips to the valve at the base of SANDRA's thumb. Another prodigious exhalation, and SANDRA inflates. In seconds the rubbery thing she became becomes a live woman again, one who looks just like the SANDRA we first saw, but with JANE's expression on her face. SANDRA calmly closes her valve, looks down at her body smugly, picks up the mirror and looks at her face.]
SANDRA: Good morning, Sandra! You look great!
Although that packing tape looks kind of strange. [SANDRA takes the tape, now stuck loosely to her suit and blouse and frilly tie, and carefully removes it, wadding it into a ball which she tosses playfully into the wastebasket by the desk.]
And now I'm you we'll be the best of friends,
And now I'm you you'll have a bit more sense,
And not get taken in by childish tricks
Of young subordinates who envy you.
And that reminds me, now I need a Jane. [SANDRA goes over to JANE's purse, puts away the mirror, and after some rummaging gets out an object that she unfolds to what looks like a flattened plastic doll, features unrecognizable, about a foot high, with a small beach-ball nozzle on its right wrist. She puts this to her lips and in about a minute -- becoming SANDRA has reduced her pneumatic powers -- seals the valve of what is now a new JANE.]
JANE: Good morning, ma'am.
SANDRA: Good morning, Jane, my dear.
JANE: You're looking great today, but not the same
As Sandra looks the first thing every day.
You're much too kind, your smile is too sincere.
SANDRA: Oh, damn! I thought that Sandra's looks would mask
Another woman's self that has them on.
This face is so forbidding, I had thought,
But that was her persona, not its looks.
JANE: Don't worry, ma'am, the men will hardly care.
They'll be so happy Sandra's turned so nice
They won't complain at all. I know you, right?
SANDRA: You ought to. Don't you recognize yourself?
JANE: Oh, clever me! I want to hug you!
SANDRA: Sure. [They embrace.]
You knew right off there'd been a change in me.
Virago's shape, boy's hair, and mannish suit
Are no disguise if you can tell at once.
JANE: But you're a better Sandra than before!
A me inside you! Work will be a joy!
SANDRA: Perhaps you too should take another form.
Before I put my Sandra body on,
Vanessa looked quite tempting.
JANE: She is just
Another underling -- or do you mean
That once I am Vanessa I should get
Old Arnold by himself and change to him?
SANDRA: Exactly!
JANE: I don't want to be a man!
SANDRA: I must admit that that's what put me off --
Of course it would, because we are the same --
But tell me, Jane, how else do you expect
To get ahead in business, even now?
JANE: Of course if I were Arnold I could give
His sexy wife a very high-up job,
And then become her.
SANDRA: That's a great idea!
So get Vanessa during coffee break
Today -- tomorrow, if you miss your chance.
We've got another Jane there in your purse,
Whom I would be quite happy to inflate. [Enter KEVIN, short, light-skinned but definitely black, dapper in dark pinstripes, carrying a large briefcase.]
KEVIN: Good morning, Sandra! Morning to you, Jane!
SANDRA: Good morning, Kevin!
JANE: How's it going, Kev?
KEVIN: I'm doing great, but I should tell you both:
I've got to go to Market Planning now.
SANDRA: How awful! I don't like the way they're run!
Although I hear that Sales is even worse.
KEVIN: I doubt there's anyone who really does,
Except in looking at the balance sheets.
I just dropped by to tell you where I'll be.
Goodbye now -- hope I'm back in time for lunch.
SANDRA: Goodbye!
JANE: Goodbye! I hope it's not so bad. [Exit KEVIN, but we follow him down a corridor. He passes BILL, a crapulous- looking oldish man with long strands of white hair fallen off the bald spot in the center of his head. BILL is half-facing the wall, tugging at his crotch in an effort apparently to get his genitals in a comfortable position.]
KEVIN: Good morning, Bill! [BILL acts as if this wasn't addressed to him.]
KEVIN: Oh, Bill!
BILL: Good morning, Kev. [BILL nervously bats his eyelashes in a disconcertingly feminine way.]
KEVIN: You're not yourself this morning, are you, Bill?
BILL: Afraid I'm not -- I should have stayed a girl,
But Bill kept rubbing up against my breasts,
And so I thought I'd do that asshole in,
Since no one else would move to take his place.
KEVIN: You did have lovely breasts when you were Pam. [BILL's tone grows almost girlish.]
BILL: The trouble is that now I've got a Pam,
Already, though I don't feel right as Bill,
I want to cuddle up against her breasts.
I think it's simply part of being him.
KEVIN: I think you'd better have a talk with Pam,
And tell her who you were, and how you feel.
Perhaps you two can figure something out.
But now I guess you'll have to let me go --
I'm late in Market Planning as it is.
Goodbye, Bill.
BILL: Thank you, Kevin, and good day. [KEVIN proceeds down the hall and suddenly opens a door to his right marked "MEN" \{including the quotes\}, goes in and through another door, and then not to the urinals straight ahead but to the left, past sinks and mirrors now on his left and enclosed stalls on his right. He goes into the last stall, and we follow him in. Built into the inside of the stall door is something resembling a small laptop computer: display embedded in the door and keyboard jutting out horizontally. KEVIN puts down his briefcase, latches the door, types a few cryptic commands, picks up his briefcase again, and stands very still. The stall melts and re-forms into a small bathroom with one toilet and a sink and mirror, KEVIN into a red-haired boy of seven named DUSTIN, and the briefcase into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bookbag. DUSTIN looks at himself in the mirror, relieved.]
DUSTIN: At least they didn't make a girl of me. [DUSTIN turns the doorknob and emerges into an elementary school classroom. Above the big green chalkboard at the front of the room is a sign reading "Miss Barton" "Second Grade" \{including the quotes\}. The students, as racially and ethnically integrated as in an advertiser's happiest dreams, are with minimal supervision drawing pictures in charcoal on rough paper, making surprisingly little mess and behaving themselves admirably. DUSTIN walks to his desk, which is in the back row and labeled "Dustin G." \{quotes included\} with a childishly-lettered nametag. He puts his bag there and goes forward to MISS BARTON's desk. MISS BARTON is a lovely young black woman of twenty-five at most, several shades darker than KEVIN and with a Michael Jackson hairdo, and DUSTIN, still KEVIN inside, seems attracted. They speak in an undertone.]
DUSTIN: Miss Barton, are the forecasts ready yet?
Northeast and Southern areas, I mean. MISS B: I've got them here, but let me sort them out.
And meanwhile, go to Sally and to Jim.
They'll give you some addenda that they've done.
Don't talk too loudly -- you'll disrupt the class.
DUSTIN: All right, Miss Barton. Thank you very much. [DUSTIN goes to the furthest-right \{from MISS BARTON's point of view\} seat of the second row, to a golden-haired girl in a blue sailor dress: SALLY. Again, in an undertone:]
SALLY: Hi, Dustin! Here's a summary I've done
On targeting the Southern coastal towns. [She hands him a crude crayon drawing of a dog savaging a cat, with a smiling sun in a green sky and gouts of magenta blood flowing from the cat, signed "Sally P." \{with the quotes\} in chartreuse lettering. He takes it and scans over it as if it were typewritten text.]
DUSTIN: It's excellent, as far I can tell.
SALLY: Why, thanks!
DUSTIN: I'll see that someone higher up
Will get a look at this and maybe then
You'll have a chance of getting out of here.
SALLY: It's really not so bad. Miss Barton does
A real good job. Ideally what I'd like
Is being her, and having her old self
Promoted even higher in the firm.
DUSTIN: You'd make a fine Miss Barton; sadly, though
I haven't got such influence as that.
Well, thank you, Sally. Now I've got to go
See Jim. Good bye!
SALLY: Good bye, and thanks as well. [DUSTIN walks to the back of the room, and stops at a last-row desk behind SALLY's, where JIM, a very dark crew-cut black boy in expensive jeans and stylish shirt, is sitting. JIM has an Oxbridge sort of English accent masking a broad Yorkshire.]
DUSTIN: Good morning, Jim!
JIM: Ah, Dustin, 'afternoon. [JIM puts his right index finger into his left nostril, extracts a snot, and eats it. He tries not to, but it's as if his body is not completely under his control.]
Oh, damn and blast it! Must I pick my nose
Because they've changed me for a little boy?
DUSTIN: Don't worry, Jim, I know it's not your fault.
Miss Barton told me you had something done...
JIM: The Metro Boston strategy, oh yes.
I've got it in my desk, hold on a bit. [JIM lifts the top of his desk -- they are the type hinged at the front -- and after some rummaging turns up a watercolor-on-newsprint, showing some talent, of a naked MISS BARTON, decapitated, a fountain of blood spouting from her severed neck, yet standing upright and holding her own smiling head as if it were a purse. He gives this to DUSTIN, who takes and reads it as he read SALLY's.]
DUSTIN: You take a bold and radical approach.
I must say I'm impressed, but I can't speak
For anyone among the higher-ups. [JIM grins and a flippant tone creeps into his voice.]
JIM: I'm certain they will hate it, damn them all.
They never seem to like a thing I do.
Another chance at swift promotion missed!
Ah, well, a schoolboy's life is not so bad.
And ogling sweet Miss Barton can be fun. [JIM picks his nose again but this time manages at least to wipe the result onto his jeans.]
DUSTIN: Well, thank you, Jim.
JIM: You're welcome, Dustin lad. [DUSTIN goes back to MISS BARTON, covering JIM's work with SALLY's so as not to get her angry.]
DUSTIN: You've got the forecasts ready? MISS B: Here they are. [She hands them to DUSTIN. They are a pile of schoolchild art. On top is a detailed and competent crayon drawing of a kitchen blender scaled up about thirty times, with a wickedly-grinning Oriental girl in pigtails leaning against the highest-speed switch, a vortex of reddish-brown murky liquid in the container, a screaming yellow-haired boy halfway into the vortex, and neat little arrows with labels reading "Me" and "Giant Blender" and "My Emeny" and "Pureed Emenies of Mine" \{no quotes\}. DUSTIN studies this with approval, and looks quickly through the other sheets. He carefully examines another picture, a watercolor recognizably of a gray bunny nibbling clover and eyeing a robin pulling up a worm, and shakes his head in disappointment. He looks at the rest of the sheets.]
DUSTIN: The correlating stuff on last month's sales--
It isn't here. NISS B: The people down in Sales,
They told me they would send somebody here
Today. But can you spare the time to wait?
The person with the copy might arrive
At any moment.
DUSTIN: I don't have the time.
I don't suppose that you could go to Sales,
And bring me back a copy right away? MISS B: But someone has to mind the class, you know,
And I'm the only grown-up person here.
DUSTIN: You couldn't have me changed? MISS B: It's not allowed,
And anyhow we've got no way to change
A child to an adult here at the school.
I'm sorry, Dustin, but you'll have to wait,
Or go to Sales yourself, whatever change
You need to undergo.
DUSTIN: Oh, damn it all! MISS B: Why, Dustin! Please remember you're a boy
Of seven; I am well within my rights
To keep you in detention after school
For using gutter language as you did.
DUSTIN: I'm sorry, ma'am; it's true, I did forget
That now I'm only seven. Well, I guess
I'm off to Sales; who knows just who I'll be?
Good bye, Miss Barton. MISS B: Don't forget your things! [DUSTIN goes back to his desk for the book bag, which he opens and stuffs with the artwork. Then he picks it up and goes back to the class bathroom where he came from, closing the door behind him. On the inside of the door is the same sort of embedded-laptop computer gadget as in the bathroom stall at the office. DUSTIN puts down his bag, types some cryptic commands, gets the bag again and waits. The room melts back into a bathroom stall, not the one at the office but one in an elegant ladies' room; DUSTIN grows and shifts into a handsome but fat woman of thirty, with perfect creamy skin and black hair and eyes, her prodigious breasts almost popping out of a tight strapless gown of black velvet under which the skeleton of a tight girdle can be discerned, her plump arms squeezed into firmness by black gloves up to her armpits. Little rolls of fat hang over the tight edges of her clothes. DUSTIN's book bag has become her small black leather purse. Her name is KATHY, and she has a rich alto voice. She looks down at her body and clothes with dismay.]
KATHY: A woman. Well, I thought those swine in Sales
Would make me into one. I might as well
Get through this all as quickly as I can. [KATHY gets out of the stall -- not easy, as the door opens inward and leaves her barely enough room to squeeze by. She looks at herself in the mirrors above the bathroom sinks.]
It's not too bad a face. I think I'd like
To see it on a girlfriend, not myself. [KATHY takes a lipstick from her purse, touches up her lips, and puts it away. The self inside her fights this, but her body does it automatically.]
I hate it when they make our bodies act
The way they think a body with that shape
Should act. Why should I give a damn
That lips that I would rather kiss than wear
Aren't painted with a double coat of red? [KATHY shrugs and leaves the bathroom. She is in a very expensive restaurant. The beautiful parquet floor creaks under her heavy tread, and she looks down to see her own plump legs in fishnet stockings, tapering down to trim ankles and delicate feet in expensive black pumps. She sighs and walks to an intimate little booth, just big enough for two, at the far end of the restaurant. Sitting there is ROGER, a thin, gawky man several years younger than she but already balding, with a bad complexion and Prince Charles ears. He wears an ill-fitting tuxedo. He has a high, reedy voice. KATHY sits down, across from him.]
ROGER: Why, Kathy, darling, you were gone so long
That I was getting worried. You all right?
KATHY: I'm fine. Oh, how I want you, Roger dear.
ROGER: The waiter should be back here pretty soon,
He's got my credit card. And once he's back
I'll drive you to my penthouse.
KATHY: Oh, my love!
ROGER: And in our sweetest moments I'll provide
Comparisons of last month's forecast sales
With those we really made.
KATHY: Just what I want.
But couldn't you have sent them on in time?
They weren't in Market Planning when I came,
So here I am.
ROGER: I'm sorry, Kathy dear,
It's not my fault at all that they're so late.
I'm here so you will have them. [A WAITER comes up, complete with bogus accent, ROGER's charge card, and the receipt.]
WAITER: Pardon me,
Monsieur will kindly sign upon this line? [ROGER signs the charge receipt and hands it back to the WAITER, who glances at it and looks annoyed.]
WAITER: Ha, ha! Monsieur will have his little joke.
Monsieur is a mam'selle named Susan Potts? [ROGER blushes, takes the receipt, crosses out the signature, signs again below it, and adds a very generous tip. The waiter takes it, checks it again, and returns ROGER's card.]
WAITER: Merci, monsieur. Be certain to return.
Your vehicle is waiting at our door.
I wish you and mam'selle a lovely night. [The WAITER stalks off. ROGER and KATHY get up; he picks up KATHY's fur wrap, which she has never seen before, and helps put it over her bare shoulders. They walk towards the main door of the restaurant. It is dark outside, definitely night.]
KATHY: Oh, Susan?
ROGER: Yes, what is it?
KATHY: Thought as much!
So you're a woman changed into a man.
ROGER: They've made me fully functional, I'm sure.
And frankly, though I really hate this job,
I've got no other form of that report. [ROGER's Ferrari is at the door. The PARKING VALET gets out, and ROGER slips two dollars into his hand, at which he nods and bows and opens the passenger door for KATHY. KATHY squeezes into her seat, and the car sinks markedly; ROGER gets in and they drive off, ROGER changing gears very clumsily.]
KATHY: So you and I will have to go have sex?
ROGER: I guess we will.
KATHY: So have you been a man?
ROGER: Oh, lots of times! I've never, though, made love.
But here in Sales they love to mix us up.
We never know just who they'll make us be.
One day we're kids, the next we're animals.
The headquarters a brothel, then a school. [ROGER takes a corner badly and nearly sideswipes a parked car after the turn. Another sharp turn and they go down a steep slope into an underground garage.]
KATHY: I don't suppose you have a thing for girls?
Not even if they're rather large in scale? [ROGER steers the car into his private space, and parks.]
ROGER: Afraid I don't, and I begin to see,
How difficult a problem we may have. [ROGER gets out, goes around the back of the car, and helps KATHY out. They start to walk towards a bank of elevators.]
KATHY: I think the scum in charge of Sales have planned
This nasty situation for us both.
They've got a grudge against me -- don't know why --
And you must be their favorite butt for jokes. [ROGER presses the call button. An elevator opens at once right in front of KATHY and they get in. ROGER inserts a key in the keyhole that is in the place a penthouse button would be.]
ROGER: Well, maybe. It's a damned expensive joke.
A penthouse with an elevator key?
But, honestly, I've only vague ideas
Of what it's like. I've never been up here. [They ride the rest of the way in silence. The elevator doors open and they step into the penthouse. A dim light shines near the elevators -- all four come up here, which looks absurd. Not much of the penthouse is visible in the darkness, but it looks suprisingly shoddy, like an enlargement of a Clean Comfortable Room at a franchise of a discount motel chain.]
ROGER: I think the bedroom's over here.
KATHY: Okay,
I'm coming -- we should get this done at once. [They go down the hallway to the right, and ROGER reaches through an open doorway for the light switch. He finds it, and a ceiling light comes on to reveal a motel-ish room with a king-sized bed and a door to a bathroom.]
ROGER: So here we are. We'd better get undressed. [He starts to strip hurriedly. Kathy drops her fur wrap on the floor and peels off her long gloves, pries her dainty shoes off her feet, and somehow gets out of her pantyhose, but that's all she can manage. By then Roger is naked, and none too attractive: weak chest, sagging belly, spindly legs.]
KATHY: Uh, Roger, can't you help me out of this?
ROGER: Oh, sorry.
KATHY: Getting in will be much worse. [ROGER unzips KATHY's dress and helps her out of her monumental foundation garment or whatever the hell one calls it. She is not so grotesque naked as might be imagined, but nevertheless exceedingly obese.]
KATHY: Well, Roger?
ROGER: There are condoms in my pants. [He picks up his tuxedo pants from the floor, and gets a rolled rubber in foil out of a back pocket. He tears open the packet and takes out the contents, then pauses a few moments, apparently concentrating.]
KATHY: Well, go ahead!
ROGER: I don't know how it works.
KATHY: What, can't you use a condom?
ROGER: No, I mean
That I can't make cooperate.
And when we get together in the bed,
I'm so afraid it's going to be worse.
KATHY: Well, fantasize!
ROGER: I'm trying. It won't work.
I'm sickened by the thought of sex with you.
I thought this body'd do it for itself:
Some children's pick their noses by themselves,
Without the wearer having much control,
And so I thought I wouldn't have to try.
KATHY: I'm really not a woman. I'm a man
Who's trapped inside this hefty female shape.
A rather handsome man, I must admit.
Now does that help your problem in the least?
ROGER: I'm sorry. Though you've got my sympathy --
Against our wills we've suffered change of sex --
As far as is concerned,
It doesn't make a diff-er-ence at all.
KATHY: Hey, wait a minute. Go into the john
Alone, and in the mirror you will see
A man of sorts -- base fantasies on him,
And maybe you can do it by yourself.
ROGER: And use the condom? Kathy, I don't know.
Perhaps the transfer of the data needs
A proper act of sex, so what results
From doing it alone will not be right.
KATHY: I think that we don't have another way.
We're taking much too long to get this done.
A garbled message? Market Planning should
Be getting one more copy anyway.
ROGER: Okay, I'll do my best. Just wait a bit. [ROGER goes into the bathroom. KATHY tries to get into her heavy-duty undergarment: it's impossible alone. Without it, her dress doesn't fit either. She checks the closets of the room for other clothes, but it's useless: they're empty.]
KATHY: If ever I find out just who decides
What forms we have to take when visiting,
I'll torture him to death, the dirty swine! [ROGER comes out of the bathroom, holding a used condom at arm's length.]
ROGER: Oh, Kathy! You were right! It looks just fine!
It isn't even garbled in the least! [KATHY steps forward, takes the condom from ROGER, and examines it carefully.]
KATHY: It's perfect! Thank you, Roger, for your time. [She gets her purse, opens it, and puts the condom carefully inside. ROGER stoops and picks up her fur wrap.]
ROGER: Good bye now, Kathy, 'cause I've got to run.
Today I am the Sales Department dog.
KATHY: Now wait a minute! Aren't you gonna help
To get me back inside my too-tight clothes?
ROGER: Why don't you wear my tux instead of them?
It changes, just as they would, when you change:
Don't worry if it's not a perfect fit. [He nips into the bathroom and shuts the door. KATHY waddles after him, but when she opens the door nobody is inside.] [Back in the office we started in. Enter SANDRA from her private office -- through the middle door.]
SANDRA: How very odd. It seems that Jane's not back.
I wonder how things went with her attempt
To make herself Vanessa. Here she is! [Enter JANE through main door. She is different, somehow...]
JANE: Good morning, ma'am.
SANDRA: Hello once more, dear Jane.
Vanessa wasn't in, or what went wrong?
JANE: Oh, she was in. She even was alone.
SANDRA: How come you didn't change yourself to her?
JANE: Vanessa saw at once what I would do.
My valve was open almost at the start.
SANDRA: Then how did you escape?
JANE: Did I escape?
I didn't. Oh, it's lovely being Jane.
SANDRA: Vanessa!
JANE: Jane, you mean. Now don't get mad.
I beat her fairly; as I'm sure you know,
I've never snatched another person's form.
But when dear Jane attacked me unprovoked...
I call it self-defense.
SANDRA: But it's a waste!
Jane tried to be Vanessa so that she
Could change herself to Arnold any time.
It's like perversion -- someone so well placed,
Transforms herself to someone like a Jane!
JANE: But Arnold is a most annoying boss,
Vanessa? She was homely, getting old,
And paid quite badly: little more than Jane.
Vanessa hated being who she was,
And being Jane is paradise for her.
SANDRA: Vanessa never kept an extra self,
So what will Arnold do now she is Jane?
JANE: I guess Replacements could make up a self.
I guess I should call down and order one.
SANDRA: I don't suppose that I could be inside?
JANE: It really doesn't matter much to me.
I've never cared for Arnold anyway.
Vanessa might as well have you in her,
But she will find that Arnold's hard to catch,
And wearing him might be a distant goal. [Back to the penthouse. KATHY has taken ROGER's advice and now wears his tuxedo. Her belly bulges out over its rolled-up trousers, the shirt is tight over her breasts, and the jacket can't be closed, but she is more or less covered. Only her shoes remain from her original clothes. She picks up her purse and heads for the bathroom.]
KATHY: It's such a lot of trouble I've been through.
At least I've gotten everything I need. [She opens the purse and happily clutches a few dozen used condoms. She puts them back, shuts and puts down the purse, and on the keyboard in the bathroom door types a few commands. She picks up the purse, stands waiting a few moments, and as usual the bathroom melts and so does KATHY and her purse. The bathroom becomes a toilet stall, and KATHY becomes KEVIN again and her purse his briefcase. ROGER's tuxedo, though worn by KATHY, does not become KEVIN's pinstripes, but rather the frilly print dress, undergarments, and white pantyhose worn by the woman who became ROGER. She must have been tiny, because just after the metamorphosis is done, the much-too-small dress, panties, and pantyhose rip. At least poor KEVIN has his own shoes. He looks down at his clothes in disgust.]
KEVIN: That stupid Susan! She and her ideas!
I guess I'll have to go around like this.
I wonder whether someone here at work
Keeps workout clothes that he would let me wear. [He leaves the bathroom and heads back toward his office. A few people stare at him in the hallway, but apparently this sort of thing is common enough. He goes into his outer office. JANE, at her desk, sees him and giggles.]
JANE: Oh, Kevin!
KEVIN: Jane, don't say another word.
But take this little piece of sage advice:
On visits to departments, never change
Your clothes.
JANE: I take it, then, they weren't like that?
KEVIN: Indeed they weren't. Does anybody keep
A set of extra clothes, for workouts, say,
Around the office?
JANE: I do, Sandra does --
I hardly think that those would be much help.
Ask Mike; I think he's in his office there. [JANE gestures towards the leftmost door \{rightmost for her\} behind her.]
KEVIN: I know ol' Mike will certainly oblige,
I'll drop my briefcase in my office first. [KEVIN goes to his door, the furthest from MIKE's, opens it, tosses his briefcase in. Then to MIKE's: he knocks, hears incoherent affirmation, and enters, shutting the door firmly behind himself. We hear muffled conversation, then something inside crashes to the floor. JANE looks puzzled, shrugs, and does nothing. Enter VANESSA through main door. She is about forty-five, with the ruins of considerable girlish beauty: deep laugh lines in her face, small breasts sagging, long black hair shot with white, buttocks and thighs all too heavy.] VAN.: Hello there, Jane.
JANE: Vanessa! Happy now? VAN.: Not really. I begin to understand
Why someone, after years of being me,
Might find a transformation into Jane
A splendid thing!
JANE: Afraid I told you so.
I've got a Sandra here. Why don't we go
Inside her office? I can blow her up,
The two of us can quickly do her in,
And put you back inside. VAN.: No, thank you, dear. [The phone on JANE's desk rings and she answers it.]
JANE: Coordination Office. Can I help
You? No, he's very busy. Can I take
A message? Wait a moment while I write... [She writes, neatly and with unnatural speed, on a memo pad.]
Okay, I've got it all, and when he's free
He'll get it right away. My pleasure. 'Bye! [JANE hangs up.]
The trouble is that blowing Sandra up
Will make a Sandra with a nasty self.
I want to stay as Jane, but if I work
With her, it takes away a lot of fun. VAN.: I'm sorry, Jane, but I have got to stay
Vanessa. Arnold can be caught, I think.
JANE: Perhaps I can inflate an extra me --
I hope she won't attack me in a rage --
Convince her Sandra's body should be hers,
And help her make the change. VAN.: It's worth a try. [She glances at the wall clock behind JANE.]
I've got to go, but call me when you like.
If you inflate a you, and need my help,
Just let me know. So long!
JANE: Good bye, now, dear. [Exit VANESSA. After a few moments, enter MIKE from his office. He is tall, Italian-looking, beak-nosed, with curly dark hair, and wears a suit in dark gray flannel. JANE is not looking that way and assumes that it is KEVIN.]
JANE: Well, Kevin, did you-- Oh, I'm sorry, Mike.
So did you have some workout clothes for Kev?
MIKE: I didn't. He was terribly upset.
Amazing what a smallish guy like that
Can do, 'cause he deflated me straight off.
JANE: You stole Mike's body just to have some clothes?
MIKE: You think it's fun to be a token black?
Why, Kevin should have done this months ago!
'Cause management kept sending him around,
And forcing him to change his very form.
They knew how much he hated womanhood,
But made him be a woman every day.
JANE: But Mike! The former Mike was Kevin's friend!
How could you do him in, and on a whim?
And changing sex -- they do it to us all,
Oh, half the time or more when we take trips
To other portions of the company.
They claim it stops harass'ment and promotes
A greater understanding. I don't think
That half a dozen people in the firm
Derive enjoyment from a gender swap.
The CEO, I hear, is one of them,
Which probably explains the policy.
But most of us -- we hate it, just like you.
MIKE: You just don't understand!
JANE: I think I do.
But never mind. You've got a message, Mike. [JANE tears the phone message off the memo pad and hands it to MIKE. He takes it eagerly and smiles smugly as he reads it.]
MIKE: Right after lunch they want me to address
The company directors and their guests!
To give a talk based on that memo, Jane,
The one I wrote last week!
JANE: Yes, Mike, I know.
I took that message, or have you forgot?
MIKE: You see, it pays to get inside a guy
Who's going places!
JANE: You were doing great
As Kevin: in another half a year
I'm certain you'd have managed just as well.
And Mike, you're three years senior.
MIKE: Never mind.
Ol' Kevin never got to see the Board.
I'm going now: I want to be there soon,
Get organized, and give the perfect talk.
I'll get the memo, then I'm outa here! [MIKE skips back into his office, rummages through papers atop his desk for a copy of the memo and presently finds one, and gets from the floor an overpriced briefcase covered in eelskin. He opens the case, which has a big leather flap inside, fitted with pockets containing an assortment of expensive pens and a pricey palmtop computer. He puts the memo inside, shuts the case, and leaves his office.]
MIKE: Good bye now, Jane!
JANE: Good bye; good luck now, Mike. [MIKE leaves through the main door.]
JANE: Well, Sandra's gone and Kevin's gone, and Mike
Is "outa here," so maybe now's the time
To get out one more me, and blow her up. [JANE's big purse is on the floor next to her desk. She bends down and finds in it another inflatable JANE as before, puts its valve to her lips, and with the usual unnatural speed inflates her, then closes her valve. ANOTHER JANE is identical to JANE in every detail of appearance and dress.] A. J.: Hey, why are you impersonating me?
JANE: I'm not. I'm just as much a Jane as you. A. J.: Then why inflate me? One Jane is enough.
And even though you're senior, Jane, to me,
I'll fight like mad before I'll let you suck
Me empty.
JANE: Jane, don't worry. I'm your friend.
I blew you up because I need your help. A. J.: What kind of help?
JANE: We need a Sandra now:
The last one's taken over someone else.
Right after I inflate her, we could put
Your better-tempered self inside of her. A. J.: Why me? Why not be Sandra for yourself?
JANE: Vanessa's who I was not long ago.
I want to be a pretty little Jane,
And not a Sandra. A. J.: Then I'm more a Jane
Than you, and old Vanessa must have killed
A Jane.
JANE: But Jane, she nearly got me first!
She would have worn Vanessa for a while
To get at Arnold, make a power grab... A. J.: You're right. It doesn't matter who you were.
Okay, I'll be your Sandra.
JANE: Let's begin.
She kept an extra Sandra in her desk.
It's nice and private in her office, too. [JANE and ANOTHER JANE hug each other and go through the middle door into SANDRA's office. JANE shuts and bolts the door behind them.] [MIKE in the bathroom. He goes into the same stall he used as KEVIN, puts down his briefcase, types commands on the keyboard, picks up his briefcase again. The stall doesn't melt this time, but merely turns pink. MIKE and his briefcase melt and re-form into a tall young woman, TIFFANY, in a tight black turtleneck blouse and skin-tight black jeans, carrying a good-sized carpetbag with an attractive pattern of roses and clematis on it. She is an embodiment of numerous stereotypes of beauty: long wavy platinum-blonde hair, fashion-model face, impossible figure (perhaps 40-20-40), long and shapely legs tapering to tiny ankles and narrow elegant feet. She wears no makeup, but her complexion is perfect. She is the wildest fantasy of a sex-starved cartoonist, brought to life; her exaggerated beauty borders on the grotesque. She looks down at her body, and her face assumes the expression of a terrified and disgusted man.] TIFF.: Oh, no! Not this! Please, anything but this! [TIFFANY is deeply horrified at being who she is: surprising because the same self turned into another woman, KATHY, with hardly a qualm. She seems most shocked at her own voice: it oozes sexual allure. A spasm of disgust contorts her features, but it dissolves into the expression of a _femme fatale_, entirely against the will of her inner self. She laughs a sultry little laugh, and tries to grimace, but her face won't obey and it shows up only as a droll little tic. She tosses her head charmingly and leaves the stall. At the same time a brunette comes into the bathroom; she looks like an ageing fashion model, and wears a low-cut red dress and heavy but skilful makeup.]
KAREN: Hello there, Tiff! You're early, dontcha know? [TIFFANY sees her face in the mirror; the self inside screams but it comes out of her mouth as a little squeal of exaggerated feminine self-delight.] TIFF.: Hi, Karen! I just wanted to be sure
That I'd present my memo perfectly.
KAREN: So, how about a look? TIFF.: Why, certainly! [TIFFANY puts down her carpetbag, opens it up, and takes out a strapless formal gown in black silk and cloth-of-gold. She holds it to her shoulders and lets KAREN have a look. KAREN almost weeps.]
KAREN: It's beautiful! I wish that I could write
A memo half as ravishing as that!
And when you wear it -- you're so lovely, Tiff --
I'm sure they'll like your presentation best! [TIFFANY carefully puts it away. A tic at the left corner of her mouth shows that someone inside is fighting back, but uselessly.] TIFF.: So, Karen, you've got on a nice report
On operating costs -- they seen it yet?
KAREN: Oh, yes. You see I've tidied up my face
With great suggestions: savings of at least
Three full percent next year. Don't I look great? TIFF.: You do -- your face looks perfect! Shouldn't I
Improve my presentation that way, too?
KAREN: Oh, no! Your face is perfect, Tiffany;
I wish I looked exactly like you do!
So don'tcha change a thing! I gotta run,
Good luck! TIFF.: Good bye, now, Karen -- see you soon! [KAREN steps into the stall and shuts the door. We hear her fingers on the keyboard, then from our point of view she vanishes. Then we see her point of view: the stall turns brown but otherwise doesn't change, and she melts and re-forms into a naked man, middle-aged, pot-bellied, stooped, balding, with sparse grizzled hair over most of his body: FRED. On his back is a sheaf of stapled-together typescript, which immediately slides off and falls into the toilet behind him. By the time he turns around and fishes it out of the toilet bowl, it is sodden with urine and diarrhetic excrement.]
FRED: Oh, shit! Which is the aptest thing to say.
As Karen I'm a moron! Back I go. [FRED holds the wet and filthy papers as gingerly as possible under his left armpit as he types in the proper commands to return. He then holds the papers to his chest. The stall turns pink and FRED melts and becomes KAREN again. But now KAREN's clothes are soaking wet, heavily stained with tarry and noisome brown gunk, and on backwards. The beautifully-done makeup is now on the back of her head, a phantom pretty face painted onto her glossy brown hair, and without it she has acne scars and the wrinkles of a woman pushing forty. Her black pantyhose are torn at both heels to let her feet protrude, and her feet are atop rather than in her red pumps, toes over the high heels so that she falls over backwards with a clunk and a cry onto the toilet seat. TIFFANY, whose inner self has forced her to stare into the mirror, trying without success to change the expression on her face, starts at the noise.] TIFF.: Oh! Karen, is that you? Are you all right?
KAREN: I think so. I'm just filthy and ashamed. [KAREN opens the stall door and staggers out.] TIFF.: What happened?
KAREN: I was wearing my report
And nothing else, and when my body changed,
It fell into a toilet full of crap. TIFF.: Your clothes are all on backwards; you're made up
In back -- it's on your hair, not on your face!
KAREN: I must have held it wrong in changing back.
I'm going to the shower. TIFF.: Need my help?
KAREN: No, never mind. I'll manage this alone. [KAREN stoops back in the stall for her pumps, then hurries out of the room before TIFFANY can say goodbye. The small disaster has distracted TIFFANY's inner self so much that the behavior that goes with her body has taken over. She pouts seductively for the mirror and then minces out of the bathroom.] [Back in the office. The door to SANDRA's inner office opens and SANDRA and JANE come out, laughing.]
SANDRA: I won't forget the look upon my face
When Sandra saw two Janes!
JANE: Yes, that was great!
SANDRA: Where's Kevin?
JANE: Oh, he's taken over Mike!
SANDRA: That's horrid! They were such terrific friends.
JANE: Now Mike is off presenting to the Board
He'll talk about that memo that he wrote.
SANDRA: I doubt a person new at being Mike
Will know the strange discomforts that involves.
JANE: It's dangerous as well -- he could be trapped.
An inexperienced Mike won't have a chance!
SANDRA: It serves him right for doing in a friend.
JANE: It's been a day of changes hereabouts.
Not one of us, it seems, is who he was.
And now I'm sure we'll need not just a Kev,
But Mike as well.
SANDRA: So call Replacements now. [A fashion show. There is a small stage with a curtain; from it juts a long runway out into the midst of the audience. An unseen epicene-voiced MASTER OF CEREMONIES announces the models and describes their clothes: one by one, models come from Stage Right in front of the curtain, walk down the runway, turn smartly around at the far end, walk back and exit Stage Left. Every time one starts down the runway, white lights along its borders blink in unison, going out when she returns to the stage. The audience is a mixture of effeminate men and masculine women of various ages, and prosperous old Board-of-Directors types.] M. C.: And now the lovely Cheryl will present
Her plans for our expansion in Brazil! [CHERYL, a natural redhead, pale-skinned, her freckles masked by body makeup over every exposed inch of flesh, starts down the runway. There is polite applause. She wears a metallic-looking green wrap over a matching bikini.] M. C.: These plans look great for semi-formal wear, [CHERYL slips off her wrap halfway down the runway and carries it in her left hand.]
Or, taking off the wrap, for at the beach,
And note the swap of debt for equity! [Resumed applause at this, and a few halfhearted cheers as CHERYL turns around smartly and puts just a touch more wiggle in her walk on the way back.] M. C.: And now the crowning feature of our show! [TIFFANY comes out from Stage Right. There are gasps of admiration. She is exquisite in her memo, its beauty and the distance taking away most of her grotesquerie. We see her in close-up for a few seconds, and for a moment some horrified thing, deep within her, looks out of her eyes before being submerged again in her charm. She starts slowly down the runway.] M. C.: Now Tiffany presents her memo on
Restructuring our European branch! [The audience overcomes its awe and breaks into wild cheers and applause. Above it the M. C. shrieks:] M. C.: Its fabrics, rich and flowing, harmonize-- [But that's as far as he or she gets, as the cheers rise to a crescendo when TIFFANY turns around twice at the end of the runway, light glinting off the gold in her dress. She stalks back, oozing sensuality, and the cheers don't die down until she's out of sight.] [The bathroom where TIFFANY first appeared. Enter KAREN from the main door. She is scrubbed clean, her hair in a girlish ponytail, no makeup; she wears a tartan flannel shirt, snug old bluejeans, a bandanna that hides the wrinkles of her neck, and a pair of soft moccasins. She looks relaxed, content, and unexpectedly attractive this way. She enters a stall and types commands on its keyboard, but there is only a dissonant chime; no transformation. Enter GRETHE through the main door; she is a tall sixtyish virago with steel-wool hair cut very short, wearing a tuxedo tailored to take into account her generous female figure. She has a soft, deep voice with a hint of Arnold Schwarzenegger in it. She stands outside KAREN's stall and hears the dissonant chime go off again.]
GRETHE: So, Karen, are you in there?
KAREN: Yes, it's me. [KAREN opens the stall door and comes out.]
Oh, Grethe, can you help me? Typing in
Commands to send me back-- it doesn't work!
GRETHE: Your destination's out of order, ja.
But surely you're not leaving us so soon?
Now, spend a while considering the job
I offered you this morning.
KAREN: I'll be sure
To give it lots of thought, but please, not here.
A week at most -- I'll take this shape again,
Return, and let you know.
GRETHE: But Karen, dear,
Another woman just as sweet as you
Might have the job by then.
KAREN: I'll take the risk.
GRETHE: I shouldn't worry, dear, if I were you.
You'd make a pretty cow, girl.
KAREN: Pardon me?
GRETHE: Your Western wear -- a pretty cowgirl, dear.
We'll get a whole new outfit for you soon.
The cowboys, seeing you, will think of home:
A female so familiar, you will be. [She smiles horrifically.]
Our hospitality might seem too much
For girls like you, unused to such a life.
So type in G X five, not G Q three,
And you'll be sent where you belong, my child.
KAREN: Oh, thank you, Grethe! I'll be back, you'll see!
Goodbye! [KAREN goes into the stall again.]
GRETHE: Goodbye, dear Karen! Happy trails! [KAREN types in the modified command and from GRETHE's point of view vanishes. GRETHE laughs an Insane Nazi Bound For Hell (tm) laugh.]
GRETHE: You little fool! Oh, yes, you will be back
Next week, but at a big Directors' Lunch! [KAREN's point of view now: she and the bathroom stall melt, but into a fine HOLSTEIN COW and a livestock pen inside a slaughterhouse. Terror appears in the COW's huge eyes when it realizes its situation, and it moos in ways analogous to screams, but a MEAT PACKER promptly stuns it with a hammer, and it slumps against the side of the pen, which another PACKER lets down so that the COW is horizontal. Two other PACKERS chain its legs together and hook the chain to a hoist; it is hoisted to the killing floor, head down, where another PACKER opens its neck veins and bleeds it to death.] [Backstage after the fashion show, in a big dressing room with row on row of seats at vanity tables, most of them occupied. All the models have female bodies, and most of the bodies seem to be in control of the minds inside. A few women seem pleased with their lot -- presumably homely women inside, or gratified transvestites -- but the others act just a touch too sexy, a shade too seductive, for the personae they exhibit to be quite real. Now and then we see a look of terror or revulsion flit across a pretty face, or a brief spasm of a shapely limb. TIFFANY is at the end of a row; she has taken off the dress and shoes of her memo and is getting out of her undergarments. CHERYL the redhead is next to her, naked, trying to take off her body makeup with cold cream and paper towels.]
CHERYL: You need some help in taking off that bra? TIFF.: Why, thank you, yes. [CHERYL unhooks the back for TIFFANY.]
CHERYL: No problem. Do you think
This swap of debt for equity can be
Cleaned off the way I'm trying, cream and towels?
Or should I take a shower? TIFF.: Well, you're sure
To miss a spot or two. A shower's best.
CHERYL: I guess you're right. Be seeing you! TIFF.: Good bye! [CHERYL leaves. Presently TINA, a tiny old lady in bright clothes and bold makeup, hair dyed an unlikely chestnut-brown, comes up to TIFFANY.]
TINA: My dear, you have exceedingly impressed
The Veep who heads the European branch.
So once you're dressed, he wants you in his rooms. [Deep inside, TIFFANY breaks into homicidal rage, but by the time it reaches her surface it is a coy batting of her eyelashes.] TIFF.: Of course I'll come! Hold on, I'll come with you!
Just help me get my street clothes on again. [TINA helps TIFFANY into what she wore when she came into existence; they put her memo-clothes back into her carpetbag.]
TINA: You're ready now. Let's go-- no, this way, dear. [TINA gestures to the right. They leave her bag behind, as if on purpose, and walk down a length of narrow hallway to a door which TINA opens and they go through. A ceiling light goes on: they are in a bare room the size of a large closet. Mounted into the wall is the usual "laptop," and TINA types some commands. Nothing seems to change, but when TINA opens the door again the two women are in a luxurious but decadently gaudy suite of rooms, light and airy, a lot of bright blue sky visible through large windows and skylights. They go down a corridor with a floor of expensive royal-blue tiles and a vaulted glass ceiling, and go through swinging doors into a geodesic dome that serves as a conservatory. A short distance down a path through recreated rainforest is a swimming pool; atop a king-sized waterbed next to it is a pudgy sixtyish man in baggy neon-pink swim trunks, half-asleep: HERMAN.]
TINA: Oh, sir, I've brought Miss Tiffany!
HERMAN: Oh, good.
So, Tina, you can go. [TINA leaves at once, and HERMAN gets up and sits on the edge of the bed.]
Ah, Tiffany!
I loved your presentation. How'd you like
To work with me -- my very closest aide? [TIFFANY's desire to murder him comes out as her sultry laugh, and:] TIFF.: Oh, sir! I must accept! Oh, thank you, sir!
HERMAN: And call me Herman! TIFF.: Yes, sir-- Herman, dear!
HERMAN: I think we'll work much better if you strip. TIFF.: I'm sure you're right, my darling -- right away. [TIFFANY takes her clothes off as suggestively as possible. HERMAN watches, goggle-eyed. When she is naked, she sits next to HERMAN and rubs one remarkable breast against his arm.]
HERMAN: Those lovely breasts -- I can't believe they're real! [HERMAN cups both hands over her left breast and hefts it, fondles it. He stoops to kiss it. TIFFANY is making little moans of ecstasy, but her eyes betray her true feelings. Suddenly HERMAN raises his head and looks her in the eyes, catching that expression before it can be masked. A bulge at his crotch grows prodigiously.]
HERMAN: Now that's what turns me on: it's not your looks,
Although no woman's lovelier than you;
It isn't your great willingness to yield
Expecting power, favors in return.
It's knowing that inside your lovely shape,
Inside the nymphomaniac you seem,
Inside the sweet, seductive, charming girl,
A rival's self is trapped, and powerless. [TIFFANY commands her body to scream and throttle HERMAN. Instead it gives that laugh, and its fingers toy with the straggly hairs on HERMAN's chest. For a long moment TIFFANY's eyes radiate despair which HERMAN drinks in greedily, and then she bats her lashes, laughs again and starts to pull off HERMAN's trunks.]

Changes in Middle Management copyright 1996 by Mark Gooley.

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