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This is the final chapter of the second book in the ‘Doll Trek’ series. I hope everyone enjoyed the story in spite of the misunderstood early chapters.
I sincerely thank everyone that stuck through the difficult parts and has continued to support the story!
The third and final book in the series will start after a short break to give my batteries a chance to soak up some summer sun and refresh themselves.
The next leg of the trip is like pretty quick, all things considered.
What? I don’t have any experience on other modes of flying, but private jet like seems the way to go in my book!
Anyway, Uncle Barn gets us back in the air and I make us some fresh coffee, then he tells me about ten thugs from the Mexican Cartel that try and storm our house in the middle of the night.
What? If you’ll like give me a minute, I’ll get to all of that! But, to like answer your question, no, Momma and Daddy weren’t in the house—a bunch of Apollo’s ‘friends’ were, though.
Now, the Mexicans thought they had the element of surprise—but, the tables were like turned on them and they were quickly dispatched.
What? No, they didn’t like kill them! Err…I think…
After he finishes that story, we’re like still a couple of hours from New York and one thing is still totes bothering me. Not that I like think that Uncle Barn has the answer—but I ask anyway, “Uncle Barn, one thing is still like bothering me.”
He grins and I give him a look. He shrugs, “Just one thing? That’s pretty good, I’d say, with everything I’ve told you on this clandestine trip. When you’re done, though, I will have to confess something that bothers me, too, OK?”
I nod, puzzled at his response. Anyway, I say, “When Barbs was like telling me her story back…well…in the beginning. Ummm…anyways, she said that her parents—as in with an ‘s’—came home and her dad pulled the guy—I guess we now know now that was Tony—off of her. Yet, I’ve never met her dad—he’s supposedly in the military overseas somewhere… And you said that Barbs was the result of an attack on her Mom—and that Barbs herself was…”
I let the sentence drop. I can’t like say it out loud.
He nods and says, “Well, Jacie, you’re the only one of your ‘Circle’—or the band—that knows the whole story—unless Barbie has told Chris, herself. It was a cover story her mother made up to protect them both. Remember, Grace didn’t want Barbie to have to suffer through the public humiliation that she did—so, she convinced her to go along with this story. It’s a wonder that girl can even think straight having to bury something like that. Although, I’m told her psychiatrist knows the truth and is treating her for what really happened. It will be up to Barbie whether she tells the others, or not—but, she was insistent that I tell you the truth.”
I nod. I for sure can like relate to burying something to protect myself from humiliation—although, Barbs hasn’t experienced that part of her ordeal. I shudder and can’t even imagine what she actually went through, though.
I pound the dash…
What? I have no idea what it’s like called in a jet!
Anyway, Uncle Barn looks at me with concern and I shrug with a red face, “Sorry! I’m just like frustrated that I can’t like call her—or anything…”
He nods and says, “I know, Jacie, I know. It’s for the best, though—until we can get all the loose strings tied up.”
I sigh and take a deep breath of the coffee-scented cockpit air, then indulge myself with a quick sip of the still-steaming brew in my hand.
I look at Uncle Barn and ask, “You like have something to confess? To me?”
He nods solemnly and says, “Jacie, you’re a very bright young lady and I know you’re still in a very confused and formative stage—so, now is the time for you to make some real choices.”
I look at him, totes confused!
He checks some instruments and leans back in his seat, then looks straight at me and says, “I know this is a very stereotypical view of California girls—but it is as prevalent as views on blond girls. You get a double whammy—you’re both. Personally, I don’t think using words like ‘totes’ or ‘perf’ or ‘like’ every other word in a sentence means anything other than a nerve-grating conversation for me. But, many people will see that as a sign of someone to not take seriously—worse, being blond, they may take it as sign of air-headedness.”
I blush deep red and want to retort, but like bite my tongue, since he doesn’t seem to be finished.
“Think about it,” he continues, “do you take a guy that talks like the sea turtle on ‘Finding Nemo’ seriously? That ‘surfer dude’ talk is meant to make people not take them seriously. Is that what you’re after with your ‘valley girl’ speak? If so, by all means carry on! If you’re just doing it to fit in—or because you somehow think it’s cute—then, at least be aware of the consequences.”
I like want to yell at him!
What? I totes don’t like talk like that! It’s kind of like dorky!
Oh… O! M! G! I l… err…do, don’t I? I talk like that…
I l… get my breathing under control and my heartrate back down…
What? Well, I am getting better at controlling the speed of ascent and descent on the ‘hormonal roller coaster ride of emotions’…
I nod and bite my lip, then I say, “Thanks, Uncle Barn. I didn’t really li… ummm… realize that I was saying it as much as I do. I don’t think my friends even say it that much… It just li… ummm… sort of slipped in and tote… errr… became a habit. I guess I do need to work on it…”
He smiles and pats my knee. Then he says, “I didn’t mean it as a criticism, Jacie—I guess I better start calling you Chrissie, so we both get used to it. I just wanted you to know what people would likely be thinking about you if you talk like that. And—you’re supposedly from Canada, so you should probably be using other lingo, eh?”
I grin and resolve to like cool down my use of ‘like’.
What? Oh… I did it again!
Uncle Barn expertly lands the plane at a small private field outside of New York…
What? Yes, New York City… What else did you li… err…think I meant?
What? I know it’s a State, too…
Anyway, he taxis the plane up to a small hangar and turns off the jet engines. I see a smiling couple standing beside an SUV outside the hangar. I assume these are my ‘exchange parents’—as in Day and Em’s parents.
Uncle Barn motions for me to open the door…
What? He had l… err…showed me how in Omaha.
Anyway, I open the door and go down the stairs as the couple walks over to the plane.
I wait nervously at the bottom of the steps while Uncle Barn comes down them. I’m suddenly embraced in a nice hug and the lady says, “You must be Jacie! Well, Chrissie, for now. Anyway, I’m Grace and this is Rich—we’re going to be your adoptive parents for the next couple of weeks.”
The guy smiles at me, but stays back.
I instantly like these two. Day and Em had told me they were l… err…the go to foster parents for the system here for many years—until they had adopted Em and Day and ‘retired’. Now, I know why…
Anyway, I nod and say, “It’s nice to meet you Mr. and Mrs. Levine. Day and Em have li… ummm… told me a lot about you. Thank you for putting up with me…and my issues… I totes… umm… really appreciate it!”
Seeing that I’m not going to bolt, Mr. Levine comes over and gives me a friendly hug and says, “Nonsense! I don’t know what issues you’re talking about! Barn! Did you hide something from us?”
I notice he’s like smiling, so I know he’s kidding!
Err… I think!
Barn laughs, “Nothing that I can think of—other than her overuse of the word ‘like’ and ‘totes’!”
I blush deep red and Mrs. Levine gives him a scathing look. He has the good graces to blush and raises his hands in surrender.
I giggle. I do like these people.
I say, “No, he’s right, Mrs. Levine. I l… ummm… do need to break that habit!”
Now it’s my turn for a scathing look. She says, “Well, I’ll forgive him—this time! But, before you start a new bad habit, you need to stop calling us ‘Mr. and Mrs. Levine’! We’re Grace and Rich—Aunt and Uncle, if that makes you feel better; but certainly not something we expect. We do expect you to be comfortable with us, though. Deal?”
I nod and say, “Yes, Ma’am… Grace…”
She nods and says, “OK, I’m sure you’re tired of traveling. It’s only about a thirty-minute ride to the house. We’ll get you settled in, then I want you to meet Jenny. She’s going to be your ‘Rita’ while you’re here.”
She notices the funny look on my face and says, “What? You thought you get a vacation while you’re here? Nonsense! You will maintain your sessions—and Jenny is wonderful. You’ll see. You’ll also be fully integrated into the school schedule. I hear you may need a little help with learning to read?”
I blush—I think I’m beginning to like her less…
What? No! I’m li… ummm… just kidding!
Anyway, I say in a perplexed tone, “I can read! Who…?”
Then it dawns on me and I blush, “Oh… You mean music…”
She giggles, “It’s no shame to be illiterate, Hon. We’ll have that fixed before you leave!”
Rich laughs, “I would feel sorry for you, Chrissie. But you can’t argue with the Headmistress of the most successful music school in the country! Not to mention, I learned a long time ago to not argue with my mother or my wife. Since, she’s now your ersatz-mother…”
He shrugs and I smile with a sigh.
What? This is going to be an interesting couple of weeks. And here I like thought I was going to be able to relax!
I look at the lines on the friendly face of Jenny and know that she likely has many stories of her own to tell—both funny and sad.
What? She has visible laugh lines—but also obvious frown ones.
She says, “OK, Chrissie. Rita has read me in on your file and I have looked through some of it on my own. I want you to understand that you are now my client, the same as you are Rita and Gina’s—and what we talk about in here stays in here, OK? I have a slightly different style than they do—and a different background. I’m more versed in dealing with trauma-related issues and I think you may have experienced a bit of that?”
She winks at me and I nod with a wry smile.
She nods and says, “OK, I don’t need you to recount the whole story. I’m sure you’re very tired of doing that, but would you tell me how you’re doing?”
I give her a perplexed look.
What? It’s a stupid question!
She smiles at the look on my face and says, “Stupid question, huh?”
I chase my eyes around the basement music studio that we’re sitting in at the Levine’s house, then pop them back in and nod.
She smiles, “OK. Let me ask it differently. How do you think you’re doing? Do you think you’re over these sessions?”
I sigh, “Umm… I li… errr… I don’t know… I l… ummm… I mean, I’m having fewer nightmares—and they’re changing. But, I’m still totes…ummm…totally confused about some things.”
She gives me an encouraging smile and gently prods, “Like what?”
I sigh again and ask, “You know about the Klingon mask?”
She silently nods.
I say, “It’s no longer me behind the mask, anymore. But, I still dream about it—only now, I have no idea who it is!”
She nods and says, “And that makes you feel confused? I can certainly understand that! Anything else?”
I take a deep breath and blow it out. Then I shrug, “Well… Li… Everything that has resulted in me being here! I mean it like totes blows my mind! Sorry… It totally confuses me!”
Jenny visibly represses a look of frustration and I want to kill her. She shakes her head and says, “I’m not judging you or your problems, Chrissie. I promise! I just am noticing another struggle you’re having. It’s like totes up to you whether you want to focus on your real problems and relax on your struggles with your bad vocabulary habits while we’re in session. I promise to help you with those habits outside of the sessions, if you want—just tell me your thoughts without worrying about that filter for now. I don’t judge you by your language, OK?”
I blush and nod.
She grins, “Perf! So, you were saying that the events that have led you here are confusing—let me see if I have them right.”
I take a breath and let it out. She’s tough! I like her!
She smiles like she knows what I’m thinking, and lets out a string of events like a machine-gun, “So, let’s see… You meet a girl back when you were presenting as a boy and wanted to get to know this girl better because you were too afraid to ask your best friend to be your girlfriend. This is when you were repressing memories of being bullyed when you were a young child—and with that, you were also repressing that you were most likely transgender. You get to know the new girl through the girl that you really want to be your girlfriend and make changes to your lifestyle after finding out the new girl was abused in order to get closer to her. These ‘temporary’ lifestyle changes lead to your repressed memories flooding back and to you having to confront those. This leads to you getting the girl you really want as your girlfriend—but as a now apparent transgender girl, yourself. It also leads to new bouts of bullying at school and for a hitherto unknown reason to your kidnapping and near murder. That, in turn, led to you having vocal cord surgery that gave you a world-class voice. Then you find out the real truth behind your former girlfriend’s attack—and that she is actually the ‘result’ of the same type attack on her mother when she was a child. To help make it all crystal clear, there is a sprinkling of Mexican drug cartels, Italian and Greek mafias, and joining a band.”
She takes a breath and smiles, “Does that about cover it?”
I sit there stunned and nod dumbly.
She shrugs, “And that confuses you?”
I repeat the dumb nod.
She nods back, “I can certainly understand that! And that was just the nutshell version! It doesn’t take into account any of your feelings—or the psychological impact of the original or later bullying, or the physical attacks on you. You have been violated multiple times, Chrissie! It’s OK to be confused! It’s healthy to be confused! You just have to unpack it and process it and not let the confusion dominate your life!”
I nod again dumbly. I think about the fact that this whole string of events actually started with Barb’s mom’s violation and the resulting pregnancy. Without that, Barbs wouldn’t be here—at least not the Barbs that I know! It shaped Grace…
What? No, Barb’s mom—not Day and Em’s!
Anyway, it shaped her—and that in turn shaped Barbs.
Then there’s like the other time thread… The one where I was bullied in Kindergarten. For better or worse, it shaped me. I have no idea how I would have turned out, if that hadn’t happened. I wouldn’t be who I am today—but would that be a bad thing? Would I be a better or a worse person? Only a time traveler that could cross the multiverse of infinite possibilities could like know!
What? Yeah! My head is starting to explode!
Then…the two timelines get thrown together and all Hell breaks loose—like the explosive exogenic reaction of two thermogenic reactive chemicals being callously thrown together!
But… Who like threw those chemicals together? Is it all some grand plan?
Jenny gently breaks into my reverie and says, “Penny for your thoughts, Chrissie.”
I shake my head—I know my eyes must like have a to… really glazed look.
I sigh, “I… I… Why? I mean… Barb’s mom—and Barbs. Such tragedies in their lives, but without it, there would be no Barbs. My…issues… Without them, who would I be? Then we were like just thrown together and it all exploded like water being thrown on white phosphorus. Why? Who orchestrated that? God? If so, why? Do we have any control over our own destinies?”
Jenny grabs my hands and squeezes. She smiles as she looks me directly in the eyes and says, “Those are excellent questions, Chrissie. They are exactly the right questions—for a philosophy class. Does God exist? Is there one God or many? If one, male or female? Is our life pre-ordained? Do we have control over it?”
She squeezes my hands again and says, “Continue asking yourself those questions—they are healthy questions for anyone to ask themselves. As long as you don’t let them consume you and lead you down a road of depression or resigned futility. But, you have identified something important in all of that. Past actions by others have shaped a lot of things about you, now. You had no control over those things. I personally believe you do have control of—at least the minor—things in your life. Do you believe that you are in control of what you do, how you act—or react to things?”
I sigh, “I like don’t know. I would like to think that the kids that tormented me in Kindergarten did so because they were influenced by their parents’ beliefs and didn’t know any better.”
Jenny nods, “Do you know any of those kids today? I know they were older than you at the time.”
I think about the few that I like still have any sort of contact with and nod, “A few.”
She asks, “How have they reacted to you as Jacie?”
I shrug, “Most are like agnostic about it. Some are openly supportive. Nobody has like actually attacked me about it.”
Jenny nods, “So, they have chosen a different path than the one they were on in Kindergarten. Why? We don’t know. But something made them change their minds… Maybe it was you…”
I give her a double-take, “Say what, now?”
She smiles, “Think about it. Maybe you coming out helped them see the light. Who knows? It doesn’t really matter for the purposes of this today. The thing is that you have to accept that sometimes bad things happen—pre-ordained or not. You have to decide whether you want to fall into the camp of ‘I’m doomed and can’t do anything about it, anyway’—or, if you want to fall into the camp of ‘OK, that sucks, but I’m not going to let it define me in ways that I don’t want’. You have the power to decide whether you want to join a convent and hide the rest of your life—or whether you want to grasp the opportunity to bloom into the person you want to be and take the licks that come along with that.”
I shake my poor aching head.
What? Here I thought she was like supposed to be helping me!
She smiles, “I bet you think I’m not helping here!”
I go find my eyes again and nod.
She says, “Think about what we talked about here, Chrissie. A lot of things have been thrown at you that you have no control over and it has resulted in you questioning some of your choices—like choosing to transition. You are not alone in the position of questioning whether events in your life guided you there—or if it is who you really are. You know at least one other person that wonders that…”
She winks and I l… err… have to wonder…
She continues before I can ask, though, “The fact that you are no longer behind that Klingon mask tells me that you have at least subconsciously worked through that particular question. You’re a remarkable young lady, Jacie. You just need to settle down your inner turmoil long enough to let your conscious catch up. As for not knowing who’s behind the mask now—well, fear of the unknown is a normal thing. Just don’t let it paralyze you and I think that particular dream will fade away, too.”
I sigh. I hate to admit, but she’s like right… I do know deep down that I made the right choice…
I’m about to respond when I hear the sound-proof door upstairs open and sounds of laughter flood down the stairs. Then I hear Em shout down, “OK, Aunt Jenny! Enough of the torture! Let the poor girl come up for air! I promise, you can torture me extra-hard in our next session!”
Jenny laughs and says, “Oh! I’m not done with either of you! We’re having a joint session tomorrow!”
Em and I both groan at the same time, which comes out as some sort of eerie surround sound—hers from upstairs and mine from down here…
I give Jenny a hug and whisper, “Thank you. I’ll like think…”
I yell, “Ouch! What was that like…”
“Ouch,” I yell again as she pinches my butt again…
She grins, “I’ll come up with something better, but for now, you’re fair game for anyone to pinch whenever you use the word ‘like’ in the wrong manner—or ‘totes’, at all!”
I groan, “And here I was l… err…going to thank you!”
She gives me an evil grin and pushes me up the stairs.
I look around the table and shake my head in wonderment.
What? I mean, really! I’m l… ummm, I’m just amazed!
Uncle Chuck is sitting at it with Aunt Mindy. Then there’s Uncle Barn between them and Grace and Rich, followed by Jenny. I’m sitting between Em and Kim and feel a strange mix of comfort and fear at that…
What? The way those two l… ummm, look at one another, they might run over me to attack each other in a fit of love!
Anyway, Uncle Chuck is recounting the last of the story, “So, as it is, Jacie. There’s no need to continue with the charade of you being an exchange student. Tony has his family under control and promises they will all leave you—and Barbie—alone. More importantly, he’s going to back the Mexicans off you—he’s confident that they want his business more than revenge. At least for now. We’re working on some more long-term protections for you—which is why you’ll be spending some extra time here.”
I look at him, “Extra time? Like… Ouch! What? Oh… Stop that!”
I rub my butt where Kim had pinched me and she smirks, “Then stop the ‘likes’!”
I sigh and continue to rub my butt. I look back at Uncle Chuck and ask, “How long is ‘extra’? Aside from school…”
I don’t add that I’ll miss Jillie.
What? Of course, I’ll miss my parents, too! Duh!
Anyway, he says, “The teacher strike has gotten so bad that they’ve just cancelled the last few weeks of school there. It’s a mess.”
Grace adds in, “You’ll just go to class here, so you’ll be ahead of the game when you go back home. Oh, you’ll need to move into the guest room, I’m afraid. Day will be home next week and will need her room—besides, I think you would prefer to be in the same room as Jillie? Not that I’m condoning any inappropriate behavior, you understand! I just know there’s no stopping you from getting together—any more than these two when Kim sleeps over here—or Em over there.”
Aunt Mindy rolls her eyes and I just shriek, “Jillie’s coming?”
Rich nods, “Day is going to spend the week with her friends out there and finish catching up. The two of them will then fly out here together. That will give you a chance to get settled in here without any ‘distractions’. Jillie will also be going to school here for the rest of the year with you.”
Grace nods, “Yes. We’ll have to figure out what musical talents to focus on with her, but I’m sure we’ll figure out something.”
I giggle as she winks.
Then it hits me.
I say in a stunned whisper, “So, it’s over… The nightmare is over.”
I feel a squeeze from Kim and Em on both sides of me and Jenny nods, “Yes, Jacie. That particular nightmare is over. Remember what we talked about, though. Choices.”
I feel a sympathetic squeeze from Em and I nod.
Then I gasp, “What about the Battle of the Bangs?”
There are confused looks all around the table—except for the giggling Em and Kim.
Kim says, “Well, when it was announced that school was cancelled for the rest of the year, Haley crowed on social media the contest was null and void—but there was a backlash and call for a video contest. We have to get you ready! Tomorrow at four our time we’ll post a video of your makeover and there will be an online vote for the best bangs and overall look.”
Em nods, “You know you’ve got this, right? There’s no way she can win! Even if she were to win the hair contest—you’ve already won the popular vote and her particular brand of venom won’t be tolerated in school anymore.”
What? Can that actually be over, too? Is there a chance that I can just live a normal life? Was this all just a big test? Some grand joke?
Then I don’t have time to worry about thinking anymore about it as the three of us have to catch the others up on what we are talking about.
I look down at my phone as Lily, my hair stylist at Kim’s favorite salon from her beauty contest days goes to work on my hair.
What? My phone? It’s a real one! I can actually l… umm… read the social media posts! Em was right. I’ve got this either way! But, there’s no way I’m letting Haley beat me, though—even though, I know she’s going to a famous Hollywood hair stylist.
Four hours later, made up like I’m getting ready to enter the Miss Universe contest, Jimmie Borden…
What? Yeah, I still almost respond when someone calls out his name. Anyway, I’m not sure, but I think he may be Day’s boyfriend…
Anyway, Jimmie turns on the sophisticated video equipment in a studio at the school that I will be starting at tomorrow, since I was in beauty sessions all day today. Kim has choreographed what I should do and I follow her script, then he uploads the video to the school’s feed.
My heart is beating hard in my throat as I watch Haley’s video. She’s beautiful—at least in looks. The venom in her personality clearly shines through the thin gilding her makeover provides, though. There is no question that her smile is fake and her ‘niceness’ is nowhere near genuine.
Em and Kim are flanking me and hugging me as we watch the votes and comments. Jillie is projected onto the wall—we’re connected via Skype—and virtually cheering me on.
I can’t stop the tears as the vote count starts rising, then sky-rockets as the message is spread to other sites and goes near-viral.
It’s not unanimous, by any means—but it’s still a landslide victory.
The vast majority of the votes and comments are in my favor—the comments all centering around my true caring and giving nature.
What? Most of the comments about Haley are about her hateful nature.
What? Yes, she does have supporters… And, yes, I l… Ummm… I know they are least one of the types of people behind that Klingon mask. I hate it! I hate that there are people like that out there! But, it takes some of the terror of the mask away!
Ouch! No fair! You’re not in on the pinching!
Anyway, I’m at peace knowing that I will have to deal with bigots. Knowing your enemy makes it easier to defeat your enemy! Or, at least not let them win…
I hug Em and Kim and blow Jillie a kiss, then jump as my phone rings.
I look down and am flooded with mixed emotions.
I know I have to have this conversation—as hard as it will be—but there are questions that I need answers to and a best friend that needs my support.
I say, “Excuse me, girls. I need to take this one in private. Love you, Jillie!”
I walk out into the hall and answer the phone, “Hello, Barbs. How are you doing?”
This is the end of ‘Disco Doll’. Stay tuned for the final installment of the ‘Doll Trek’ Series—‘Grand Doll’—coming to your device on BigCloset after a short season break.
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