The Graduate, Vamped and Revamped: 6 / 6

The Graduate, Vamped and Revamped: 6 / 6

An Altered Fates Story
A second look at the 1967 film, The Graduate
and the 1963 novella of the same name by Charles Webb.

By Iolanthe Portmanteaux
 

Ben felt someone nudging him, poking him, insistently shaking him awake. It was Jenny, and she was frantic. The sun was already up, and the light hurt his eyes. Last night’s overstrong margaritas had devolved into this morning’s headache. “Wake up, Ben! Wake up! I didn’t mean for us to fall asleep!”

“Huh?” Ben grunted. He moaned and put his hand to his forehead.

“Ben! You’ve got to get out of here! My parents will be home any minute, and they can’t see you here! Do you understand?”

Ben gasped and groaned in reply. Struggling his way into wakefulness, he stumbled out of bed and pulled on his pants. “Your underwear!” Jenny hissed. He shoved his underwear into his pocket and pulled on his shirt. Backwards, as it turned it, but there wasn't time to fix it. Holding his shoes and socks in his hand, he told Jenny, “Thanks for last night—”

“Yes, yes!” she interrupted. “Now go! Go! Just go!” She gave him a wet, soft kiss by way of apology, and ran with him to the garage. Ben nearly stumbled, he was so distracted by the bounce and sway of her breasts as she struggled into a robe while she shooed him along.

She stopped him as he closed his car door, and kissed him again. “Thank you,” she said, looking into his eyes with a very serious expression. “Now I have something to compare him to.”

 


 

It was 6:15 AM when Ben arrived back home, back at the Haddock’s house. He entered silently, went to his room, and took a good, hot shower. As he lathered his body and ran his hands over himself, he realized that he liked this body: the flat chest, the tight abs, and below all that, his penis. Ben was surprised how much he liked having that meaty appendage hanging down there. He stroked it, there in the shower, and it came to life again, stiffening, arousing him. He continued stroking, slowly, thoughtfully. Inevitably, the feelings of pleasure turned into a nagging sense of guilt. It wasn’t guilt about touching himself — Ben was no prude. The guilt centered around someone else: Leslie. Or, to be more precise, the temporary Leslie; the real Ben. While the real Leslie had already experienced the medallion’s power, the real Ben was taken by surprise. It nearly counted as an ambush. And then, while the temporary Ben was off having fun with Jenny, temporary Leslie was stuck alone with a piece of vibrating plastic — if she had the nerve to use it. Ben — the real Ben — had gotten the short end of the stick this time, he told himself. He’s probably scared to death, wondering whether he’s lost his mind.

When he finally emerged from the shower, Ben balled up his dirty clothes and dropped them into a hamper in the bathroom. He dressed, and as he caught a look of himself in the mirror, realized that he’d need to shave — or, at least he would if he were going to remain male. Still, as a tradeoff, it was an excellent one: rather than half hour (at least) on hair and makeup, he could spend a couple of minutes shaving. Or simply grow a beard! Not a bad deal.

After a last look in the mirror, brushing his hair with his fingers (another great perk!), he straightened up and took a look out the window at the Crusoe house — Leslie’s house — and was astonished to see a pair of red panties hanging in the box room’s little window. It was their signal: the beacon Leslie established to call Ben over — although the real Leslie was never so crass as to hang her panties there. She had a red t-shirt and a black t-shirt; those were her flags. Leslie must have hung the red flag this morning — or could it have been last night? Ben had another twang of guilt: maybe suddenly finding himself a woman was too shocking, too mind-bending. The poor thing was probably frightened out of her wits. She must have had enough of being female and was anxious to return to being Ben once again.

Ben was hungry, but he decided to breakfast over there. And he might as well bring his car. After all, Leslie — the real Leslie — was about to disappear, and Chad was on a trip, any way. There was zero fear of discovery.

The car would be handy later, as well, after Leslie and Ben were back to being themselves. Leslie needed to get to Viv Errisson’s house and kick off her exit strategy. She really should have lit the match a few days earlier, but she wanted to see Ben one last time. Their last night turned out to be nothing like she’d imagined: Leslie pictured a night of good, solid sex, and then goodbye. For that — for her hunger for one last taste of Ben, Leslie dithered and delayed.

Now, the waiting was over. Leslie was ready to start her new life.

Leslie-as-Ben was smiling as he pulled into the Crusoe’s driveway, but her sun-like happiness abruptly hardened and turned inward, becoming a seething volcano of anger. The trigger for the change was a message from Bagger on Ben’s phone. It said, “what u missed last night”. Attached was a short video that began with a closeup of Bagger’s face. He said, “Guess who’s sucking me off? Go ahead and guess!” and then panned down to show Leslie’s face bobbing up and down, her mouth wrapped tight around his cock. Then Bagger’s voice: “Jealous, Ben? Are you jealous?” and Leslie’s murmur of assent.

Dumbfounded, white-faced, thunderstruck, offended to the core, Ben was in a state of shock. His feet were glued to the driveway. His jaw hung open in astonished disbelief. His hands trembled as Ben watched the video a second time, just to be sure there was no mistake. No, it was really her: Leslie Crusoe, on her knees like a cheap floozy. Far from being “alone with a vibrator,” indeed! And she clearly wasn’t alone with Bagger either — there were other male voices in the background, and glimpses of other male legs and hands.

Ben growled with anger and distress, and was about to barge in the front door, when he remembered that he didn’t have the keys. Feeling foolish (on top of everything else) he ran around back and into the kitchen, where he found Leslie. She could not have been more utterly naked, yet there she was, her breasts and ass dangling provocatively as she fumbled with the coffeemaker. “Oh, hi!” she said. “You’re just in time! I can’t figure this thing out — can you help me?”

Ben didn’t even bother to close the door. He ran across the room, grabbed Leslie by the arm and started slapping her across the face, over and over, crying, “What did you do? What did you do?” Then his shouts collapsed into sobs. He let go of Leslie’s arm, and sank to his knees, and from there sank to the floor, face in hands, sobbing like his heart was broken.

Leslie was too shocked to cry. She was so utterly taken by surprise that the slaps barely registered, although they hurt quite a bit now that he’d stopped. Hand to her face, she went and closed the kitchen door before returning to the prostrate Ben, who by now was crying more softly. She didn’t know what to do — to touch him? To hold him? To talk? To stay silent. Ben resolved her impasse by holding out Ben’s phone.

Leslie took it, punched in his code, and immediately saw the video. “Is this why you’re upset?” she asked him. “I thought that you’d be glad!”

”GLAD?” Ben shrieked. “Why on earth would I be glad?”

“Because *you* didn’t do it,” he replied.

“Oh you supid ass! I DID do it,” she told him. “Nobody knows that that’s you and not me.”

“Ah,” he said. “But you didn’t *do* it. You didn’t feel those things. They didn’t happen to you.”

Ben covered his face with his hands. “Oh, God. You are such an idiot. You’ve been a woman all of twelve hours, and you’ve ruined my reputation. You’ve ruined it — completely! Beyond repair!”

“No,” Leslie contradicted. “I told them that I was going back to the old Leslie today. I told them they couldn’t expect me to do those things again.”

“It doesn’t work that way,” Ben groaned. “You can’t unring that bell. You’re tainted.” After a shuddering breath, he added, "I'm tainted." Still on his knees, face in his hands, Ben fell silent.

Leslie stood by. It didn’t seem as dire as Ben painted it. She looked down at her body, and ran her palm over her belly. “Well…” she began, tentatively. “There might be a way to make it work. I’ve had an idea.”

“Oh, lovely,” Ben said, shaking his head. “An idea. Too bad you didn’t have any ideas last night. I mean good ideas.”

“No, listen. I think this *is* a good idea. What if we stay switched? Why don't we stay this way?”

“No,” Ben said, in a decisive, cutting tone. “No. That is not going to happen. I am not going to watch you debase me. I will not let you tear my life down. You will not drag my life into the gutter and turn me into a slut and a pariah among my friends. You cannot turn me into a worthless piece of trash.”

“But it won’t be you,” Leslie protested.

Ben wasn’t about to say so, but he, too, was strongly tempted to remain as he was — as Ben. Aside from the game-changing aspect of having a penis, it was clear that Ben’s life was perfectly poised to develop into an interesting and successful life — exactly the sort of life that the real Leslie dreamt of, all her life, and it was a life she was far better prepared to live than the actual Ben ever was.

Ben sighed and looked up at the naked woman she once was. “Get dressed,” he said. “We need help from a better mind. A mastermind.”

“Who?” Leslie asked.

“Just get dressed,” Ben told her.

 


 

Forty minutes later, the pair were eating breakfast in Viv Errisson’s sitting room. The real Leslie, who knew Viv well, spoke first. She gave a short, angry summary of last night’s adventures, dwelling bitterly on Ben's sexual debasement.

Ben-as-Leslie was over-awed by Viv, and had trouble at first admitting to what he'd done. Viv, who had a quiet intimidating presence and manner, simply waited, gazing at her expectantly. At last Ben blurted out everything he'd experienced, while Leslie gasped and cried out in horror and alarm

Feeling the ground slipping away from under his feet, Ben-as-Leslie concluded by exclaiming, “I think we ought to stay the way we are! It’s a win for everyone!”

Leslie-as-Ben growled, “It would kill me to see her run my name into the ground.”

Mrs. Errisson regarded the two in silence for a moment, peering at the pair, like a judge looking down from her bench. After it seemed that both Leslie and Ben had emptied themselves of all the things they had to say, Viv spoke.

“I have to say — you two have really screwed things up. Really, really, screwed things up — to an incredible extent. Luckily, they aren’t beyond repair.

“You, Leslie — the real Leslie — you were supposed to leave town two or three days ago. Your divorce is ready to file. Your lawyer has power of attorney. You have a new identity waiting, ready to go. What happened?”

“I wanted to see Ben one more time,” Leslie-as-Ben mumbled.

“Mmm,” Viv acknowledged. “And after that, it was just the war of the whims, wasn’t it.”

Viv asked a few key questions, and then told the pair. “We’re going to settle this today. We’re going to fix everything, for good, with no going back. I’m going to meditate for forty minutes. Then I’ll come back with my decision, and — I want this to be crystal clear — my decision will be final.”

“What gives you the right to decide?” Ben-as-Leslie challenged.

“I have the medallion,” Viv replied, as she picked up Leslie’s case and left the room.

 


 

Leslie and Ben sipped coffee and continued to nibble at the breakfast spread. There was nothing else for them to do. They didn’t speak. They barely looked at each other. Leslie would have gladly talked — she was overflowing with feelings — but Ben had sunk into a dark, angry silence.

After forty minutes passed, Viv returned to the room. She was carrying a necklace case and a large shopping bag.

“Alright,” she said. “First of all: Leslie — the real Leslie — would you be satisfied to remain as Ben? And if so, why?”

“Yes, I would love to remain being Ben. I found I like being a man: the whole thing. The way a man relates to the world; the things he doesn’t need to do; the things he doesn’t need to put up with… it suits me to the ground.

“Also, Ben has a perfect situation in life: he just got his bachelors degree, and his family will help him go on from there into whatever life he chooses.”

“And what life would you choose?” Viv inquired.

“I’d go to law school,” Ben replied immediately. “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. With Ben’s grades and preparation, I could get in anywhere.”

“That’s true,” Leslie agreed.

“And you, Ben — real Ben — would you mind if Leslie took over your life in that way? Remember, once we three agree, there will be no turning back.”

“Yes, I’d be fine with that. I don’t know what to do with my life. I’m amazed that anyone does.”

“Does what?”

“I’m amazed that anyone knows what to do with their life.”

Viv’s eyebrows went up at that, but she refrained from comment. She pressed on with the matter at hand, asking, “And you’d like to remain a girl?”

“Oh yes! It’s incredible! I love it!”

Viv took a deep breath. She shot Ben a glance that said, Don’t say a word. I’ve got this in hand. To Leslie, she said, “When you say that you love it, you’re specifically talking about sex, aren’t you.”

“Yes,” Leslie admitted.

“That's not all there is to being a woman,” Viv told her. “There is much, much more — some of it good, some of it bad.”

Leslie nodded, though she didn’t really understand.

Viv went on, “There are some serious problems with your remaining as Leslie: One problem is that the real Leslie would suffer greatly if she had to witness what your choices would do to her life and reputation. Another, even more serious problem, is that, given your tendencies, I’m afraid that you’d end up as a sex slave or worse.”

Leslie rubbed her chin thoughtfully. She wondered what the worse could be. Sex slave didn’t sound bad to her. She looked up from her thoughts to see Viv watching her attentively, as though she could read her thoughts as if they were written directly on her face.

“The problem is,” Viv explained, “That you never grew up as a girl. You look at women — even yourself as a woman — through the eyes of a man. In other words, you have no idea what it means to be a woman.”

She opened the necklace box and took the medallion in her hands. “We can’t let you remain as Leslie. We could change you into another woman your age, but I shudder to think where you’d end up. So—” she moved behind Leslie, draping the medallion around her neck. “This is my decision: I’m going to grant your wish and allow you remain a girl, but—” she pulled a bunched-up article of clothing from the shopping bag and pressed it against the medallion. “I can’t let you make such an uninformed, misguided choice. If you want to be a woman, you need to grow into it. There is so much organic, physical, societal experience that you’re utterly lacking. You’ve got to start where every woman began: as a little girl.”

”What!?” Leslie exclaimed. She tore the dress from the medallion — it was a little girl’s dress — and threw it to the floor. No change was immediately apparent, so Leslie believed she’d caught the metamorphosis in time. Viv understood this, so she returned to her chair facing Leslie and Ben, and continued her explanation.

“Let’s talk about this: I know a couple, a lovely married couple. They’re just under thirty years old. They aren’t rich, but they have a nice life.” Viv handed Leslie a photograph. In it, the couple looked closer to twenty than thirty, and they appeared to be nice, normal people. Wholesome people. “They live in Cleveland. They’ve tried fertility treatments, without success, and they’ve asked me to help them fund another round. It’s physically demanding and emotionally draining. It’s put their relationship under a severe strain, and I know that — in spite of the fact that they're planning to do so, neither of them want to go through it again..”

“So you think they’re open to adoption?” Ben asked. Viv nodded.

“They don’t belong to some crazy cult or anything, do they?” Leslie queried.

“No,” Viv said. “To the best of my ability to tell, they’re lovely people, good people.” Then, with a small smile, she added, “And I know for certain that they’d love to have a little girl.”

“Hmmph,” Leslie mused. “How would they feel about a big — a bigger girl?”

“Well, they’ll get that eventually in any case, won’t they?” Viv quipped, smiling more broadly.

Leslie was distracted by the discussion, and didn’t feel or notice the changes she was undergoing. “It might be a good idea,” she said, “but how little would I have to be?”

“I was thinking that nine years old would be a good place to start — that would put you in third or fourth grade.”

Leslie barked a contradictory laugh, and looked up from the photograph. She was about to say that she was thinking more along the lines of nineteen years old, but as she raised her eyes, she instantly took in several facts at once: She’d lost several inches in height: now she had to look up to both Ben and Viv. Her feet no longer touched the floor; instead, they dangled a good foot above it. Her feet and hands were half-sized: her shoes hung like absurdly large weights. Her breasts were gone — completely gone. Her chest was as flat as a boy’s. And the chair seemed to have grown so large that another girl her size could have sat beside her without crowding.

“What the hell!” Leslie exclaimed, in her high, little girl voice. Ben couldn’t help but laugh.

“No!” Leslie shouted. “Fuck to the hell, NO!”

Viv cautioned her, “You’re going to have to lose that sort of language, young lady.”

“The fuck I will,” the little girl replied.

“Don’t think that I’m beyond spanking you,” Viv warned her, and the little girl blushed.

“In this bag you’ll find a set of clothes that fit you perfectly,” Viv told her. “I suggest that you change into them now.”

As the little girl lowered herself from the chair, gingerly trying to keep her oversized clothes from falling off her, Ben asked, “What’s going to happen now?”

“First of all, Ben, you’re going to need to send an email from Leslie’s account to instruct your attorney to serve papers on Chad and set your divorce in motion. Then, send your goodbye video — you did prepare that, didn’t you? Good. Send that video to your list of friends. If Leslie needs to put in an appearance for one thing or another, you can come here, change back, do the necessary, then turn back to Ben.”

Ben nodded, and moved across the room to sit at Viv’s computer.

The person who once was Ben, then briefly was Leslie, but now was a little girl, dressed herself in pair of pale blue jeans and a pale pink top. On her feet were a pair of pink sneakers. “Pink,” she observed, not sure whether that was good or bad. And yet, her cheeks were flushed with embarrassed excitement. She could see herself in the mirror, and was quite aware of how cute she had become. “And what will happen to me?” she asked.

Viv looked the girl over, smiled approvingly, and pulled her into a warm, accepting hug. “Come here, you adorable little thing!” Viv cooed.

“You’re going to be fine,” Viv assured her. “First of all, and in case you hadn’t noticed, you’ve become a little-girl version of Ben Haddock. You’ll see it in your face and coloring whenever you study yourself in the mirror.” She held the girl’s chin in her hand, and turned it this way and that, considering. Then she announced, “We need to give you a name, baby girl, and that name will be Sienna Harmon. How do you feel about that?”

“It’s okay, I guess,” the girl replied. “I think I’d rather choose my own name, though.”

“No one picks their own name,” Viv told her. “You didn't when you were born, and you're not going to do so now. In any case, you’re going to stay here with me until we settle things with Mr and Mrs Comenci — my friends in Ohio. While you’re here, I’ll provide you with a simple wardrobe, and suitable toys and books for a girl your age.”

“What if they don’t want me?” Sienna asked.

“Oh, honey, they will want you, believe me”

Sienna bit her lower lip. This was not a future she’d ever anticipated, or even knew she could dream of. Still, it was better than being Ben Haddock. Ben Haddock sucked. If Leslie wanted to be Ben, God bless her. She could have it, and welcome. Sienna knew there was no guarantee, but she did feel she could trust Viv to look out for her. In spite of Viv’s bossy, take-charge manner, she was obviously a caring and reliable person.

“While you’re here,” Viv was saying, “I’ll help you fit into your new role in life, so you know how to talk and behave like the nine-year-old girl you are. I have a few friends with girls your age. Spending time with them will help.”

Sienna took a deep breath to steel herself for all this. It was daunting, but it held the promise of a new life, a live she might enjoy living. “Okay,” she said. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, hun,” Viv replied with a warm smile. She tousled the little girl’s hair and pulled her into another warm, maternal hug.

 


 

Things worked out generally as Viv had foreseen. Ben’s parents were over the moon! They were extraordinarily pleased with Ben’s new direction in life.

Chad was caught completely unprepared by the divorce. He alternated between anger and depression, and began spending even more time with his lover Justine than ever before. Justine, for her part, was frightened by the development. She was just on the verge of cutting her ties with Chad and moving on with her life. Now she felt caught by his desperate need. I’ve got to get out before he asks me to marry him, became her daily mantra.

Ben, the Ben who used to be Leslie, didn’t think at first that she needed to avoid Chad. However, a chance encounter on a downtown street quickly clarified things. Chad grabbed Ben by the arm and pushed him into an alley.

“Ben — what I have ever done to you? Why do you hate me? What have I ever done or said that made you look at me this way?”

“I don’t hate you,” Ben stammered in reply.

“Then why did you fuck my wife, you little prick? You little asshole? I’d like to beat the living shit out of you for what you’ve done.”

“I think you’re making a big deal out of nothing,” Ben told him.

“Nothing? NOTHING?” Chad’s face contorted with the anger boiling inside him. “You’ve wrecked my marriage! You ruined my life, you bastard! And now you have the bare-faced gall to stand there and say to my face that it’s nothing?” Then, somewhat nonsensically, he shook Ben violently by the arm and shouted, “I’ll show you NOTHING, you goddamn piece of shit!” And he struck Ben in the stomach so hard that Ben fell to ground, out of breath, clutching his stomach in pain.

Chad stood over the lad, shaking, frightened by his own violence, until he managed to croak out these words: “Stay the hell away from me, boy. Do you hear me? Stay the hell away.

When Ben returned home, he turned the focus of his law-school search to colleges and universities well out of state. In fact, he began to favor the East Coast schools, since there was nothing farther.

 


 

Sienna’s adaptation was easier. At least, no one swore at her, or punched her in the stomach.

She ended up spending three weeks with Mrs Errisson. She learned a great deal about being female, and specifically about being a little girl. Her old life, and especially her brief stint as Leslie Crusoe, began to seem like a movie she’d seen.

The fact of being given a second chance at life was a blessing that wasn’t lost on her. She understood for the first time how she’d wasted her first chance, and finally saw that as Ben, she’d simply drifted through school, without a goal, with no consideration for his parents or the people around him. As Ben, she had worked hard academically, it’s true, and for the most part Ben was a conscientious, polite, kind person. Still, there was little else to him — nearly nothing, aside from the things he was obliged to do.

Also, he found life as a girl much richer, complex, and challenging than life as a boy. She found that she not only needed, but wanted, to pay attention to her life and to those around her. After Mr and Mrs Comenci asked her to come live with them, Sienna began to find that her life was more filled with people than it had ever been before.

She realized — and it was true — that nine-year-old Sienna Comenci was a more mature, fully developed person than she had ever been as Ben Haddock.

And yet, for all her experience of life, Sienna was still only a little girl, standing on the verge of life — about to begin her her journey of self-discovery and growth.



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