© Copyright 2012 - Charlotte Arabella Graham - Used by permission
Storycodes: F/m; Solo-M; latex; cd; fem; corset; stockings; makeup; wig; boots; public; locks; emb; true; cons; X
Part 2: Chapter 6
Charles got back to his room and dumped the box and parcels on the table. Now that the flow of adrenaline had subsided, the thing in his bottom was making his backside ache and his nipples burned like fury. He tried to rub them through the layers of rubber, but that bought no relief, indeed, if anything it made them worse. He really had to cool off. Taking off the Wonder Woman belt and earrings helped a little once the pain of circulation returning to his pinched earlobes had subsided. What he longed for, though, was a relaxing soak in the bath, but until Amber arrived with the keys that would be difficult. He filled the hand basin from the cold tap and splashed the water on his front. After the first shock the cooling effect was wonderful.
“That does it,” Charles said to himself. He took off his wig and, in the absence of a proper block, draped it as best he could over a rolled-up towel on top of a stool and slid into the bath. With a great struggle he managed to turn round slightly, his rubber clad bottom sticking on the shiny surface of the bathtub. Then, with his feet hanging over the side to protect the boots he allowed the bath to fill up by playing cool water onto his body from the hand shower. It was bliss. As the water-level rose he tried a few experiments. He held his legs as far apart as the tight skirt would allow and shot the spray of water straight up at his crotch, “Interesting,” he thought. Trying to get the nozzle into his collar was less successful, it was simply too close fitting, but he did manage to get a little water inside and experience the sensation of a cold trickle down his spine. After ten minutes of this he felt much better.
“I feel like a new man,” he thought, then corrected himself out loud, “or do I mean, woman?”
He let the water out of the bath and tried to get up. This proved to be rather difficult. From being almost stuck to the dry bathtub, his wet bottom was now sliding uncontrollably up and down its length while he pivoted about, his legs that still hung over the edge. To make matters worse water had got inside dress and stockings that now hung heavily about him. With a struggle he got himself at right angle to the edge of the bath, grabbed a towel to dry his hands enough to stop them slipping on the hand grips. At the crucial moment the ‘phone rang. He heaved himself out; water pouring everywhere, and grabbed the handset. It was Amber calling on the house-phone from the hôtel reception.
“Would Charlotte come down for her?”
“No.” That was hardly practical at the moment. She had better come up to the room herself and then she would see why. Then the conversation was cut abruptly short as Charles slipped on the wet floor and the ‘phone went flying. He landed with a bump on his bottom and skidded a good half-metre on the tiles that were by now well awash before coming to a halt against the side of the bath. Laughing uncontrollably, he slid about trying to regain his feet. At last he was upright again. He squeezed the excess water from inside of his clothes and dried off as much wet as he could, in the process reducing the cascades to mere trickles. Wrapping a towelling robe around him, he padded to the lounge as the doorbell rang.
Leaving a trail behind him he gingerly made his way to the door. As he got there door as the bell rang for a second time, and peeped out of the spy-hole. There was Amber accompanied by a bellboy carrying a long garment bag on a hanger. Charles stood behind the door and, reaching for the handle, slowly opened it, calling to Amber to come in. Amber took one pace into the room and immediately saw the wreckage and paddle marks. She stopped in her tracks causing the bellboy to bump into her. Intuition told her that she should not let him come into the room.
“I’ll take that,” she said turning and removing the garment bag from him then, turning with her back to the room to prevent him from seeing in, she dipped into her handbag for a suitably large tip with which to send the boy away. He clearly was a pupil of the doorman and, with the same consummate skill, caused the proffered note to vanish as he too disappeared.
Amber came in, struggling to close her handbag while avoiding tripping on the trailing garment bag.
“Coo-ee,” she called, then, looking around in amazement at the scene of carnage that had greeted her.
“What have you been up to?” she asked. “And you, you look like what my granny used to call the ‘Wreck of the Hesperus’,” she burst out laughing.
“I just had to cool off,” apologised Charles.
Amber helped Charles out of his things. Unfastening the locks and putting them and their keys in an ash-try on a side table.
“Go and get yourself really dry,” she advised, “You’ll never get your evening things on if you are at all wet.”
Charles returned to the bath room found a towel that, miraculously, had avoided being soaked and dried himself vigorously rubbing the bits that had been squeezed especially tightly all day.
“So, are you going to let me look inside the box at what I paid so much for this afternoon?” he asked as he returned to the bedroom.
Amber was sitting in an armchair peeping inside the carrier she had brought. She closed it with a slightly guilty look and laughed, “I wanted it to be a surprise and to be here when you saw it.”
“Okay, lets open it together then,” replied Charles, “Do you have anything like a pair of scissors in that mobile workshop you call a handbag. Or better still, a chain-saw for all the string and sticky tape your sister had used.”
Amber gave a grimace and, wondering just how much he carried about in his pockets, searched in her bag and produced a small pair.
“Will these do?” she asked, looking up.
Charles attacked the metres of sticky-tape that bound the parcel. Eventually the lid came free. He lifted it off, not knowing what to expect. Frustratingly all there was tissue paper. All the time while he had been undoing the parcel Amber had been hopping excitedly from one foot to the other pulling at the tape, if anything hindering rather than helping. Now her anxiety got the better of her. She reached in with two hands and brought out a mass of bright red rubber. Gloves and stockings fell to the floor as she held it to her.
“Isn’t it super?” she said doing a little twirl then, holding it up against Charles. “Isn’t it gorgeous?”
Charles had to admit that it was a very nice dress, but he was less than sure that he wanted to wear it in public. The day clothes had been one thing, sexy true, but essentially he had been covered up; this was altogether more revealing.
He took the dress from Amber and looked at it, reluctant to hold it against himself. It was made of extra thick red latex with a heavily boned strapless top that fastened with lacing down the back to waist level. The boning continued below the waist to flare out over the hips to form an integrated long-line corset. The skirt had a heavy zipper running all the way down the back. The dress was also very long, so that it could only be worn with the highest of heels, and incredibly narrow all the way to the floor. Charles tried measuring the hem with his hand.
“It can’t be much more than sixty centimetres round,” he exclaimed. “How on earth can anyone walk in that?” However, as he said it he knew in his heart of hearts that he would soon be finding out.
“Come on, let’s see what it’s like on,” she said eagerly starting to peel-off Charles’s bathrobe. She let the robe drop to the floor.
“You won’t be able to wear the waspie with it because it would show at the back, but the boning should hold you in pretty well. Put the stockings on first, then the cycle shorts. They’ll be pretty tight, but will hold your stockings up and stop bumps appearing in embarrassing places.”
Charles took the first of the red latex stockings in his hands and started to try to get it on. It stuck.
“I’m still too damp,” he said, “I’ll take them into the bath-room and use some more talc.”
“Okay,” said Amber, “I’ll wait here. You had better use plenty of talc and put these on too,” tossing him a pair of shoulder length opera gloves.
Some minutes later Charles re-emerged clad from toe to waist and fingertip to shoulder in red rubber.
“You were right about the shorts,” he said, smoothing himself to be a little more comfortable. “I’m not sure that I don’t prefer this morning’s truss.”
“There’s no room inside the dress for that or anything else much,” replied Amber and she held it out for him to step into. “Hold the top up to where your boobs should be,” she said, going round the back to start to do up the laces. She tightened them a little so that the dress was more or less self-supporting with the bust cups sticking out emptily in front of Charles.
“Pull you tummy in,” she called. “I’m going to start the zip.” Charles pulled himself in as Amber struggled to join the two halves of the open-ended zip. After thirty seconds of failure Charles had to breathe again.
“Just a sec,” he said, as he pulled in even harder. Amber tightened the laces a bit more and this time was successful, fitting the zipper together and pulling it down inch-by-inch until the slider was below the bulge of Charles’s bottom and not in any danger for sliding back up on its own.
“Good grief, that really is tight!” said Charles trying to wriggle a little. “You were quite right about there not being much room in here!”
“I’ve not done yet,” retorted Amber. There’ll be even less when I’ve finished.” She took a pair of soft silicone breast forms out of a box and slipped them inside the bust cups of the dress then resumed her tightening of the corset laces, finally tying them off in a bow in the small of his back.
“There,” she said, turning him so he could see the middle section of his profile in a mirror, “what do you think of that? Not bad, eh?”
Charles had to agree. With the in-built corset Amber had reduced his waist almost as much as with the waspie, but the long uninterrupted line of the dress if anything made the effect more dramatic.
Amber couldn’t quite explain to herself why she so enjoyed working with Charles. All right, he was going to pay for their night out to dinner, but there was something more to it than that. He was somehow so natural in his new persona. All right, he needed her support, but her makeover efforts worked rewardingly well. This time she would really go to town. She did Charles’s makeup in dramatic evening style, settled the wig on his head again and re-styled it. Amber stepped back to survey her work.
“I will really have to give you some lessons on how to do your own make up,” she said making one or two final adjustments.
“That would be nice, but I would never be as good as you are,” replied Charles, genuinely pleased.
Last, but not least, came the shoes. Charles was surprised at their simplicity. Just plain red patent court shoes. Plain that was except for the eighteen-centimetre heels. Kneeling, Amber slipped them onto his feet and helped him up to stand uncertainly almost on tiptoe. Sneakily she pulled the skirt zip right down to the hem.
“Do me a pirouette,” she asked innocently.
Charles tried to take a step, but nothing happened, impossibly narrow hem and shoe heels caught in the pile of the carpet combining to prevent him moving. They both fell on the bed laughing.
“That was a rotten trick,” laughed Charles as he rolled round trying to get hold of the zip to pull it up.
“Please forgive me, Mistress,” laughed Amber in a penitent voice, “I couldn’t resist the temptation. Here, let me do the zip, you need to wear it undone at least to knee height, probably a bit more.”
She undid the zip and, sure enough Charles found that, with care, locomotion was quite possible. He paraded round the room doing a wobbly pirouette as requested and catching glimpses of himself in the mirrors.
“Gosh!” he exclaimed, “I look like a red Morticia Adams.”
“Only prettier,” responded Amber.
The transformation was amazing and the effect on him magical. For several minutes Charles was silent and Amber began to get anxious, once more fearing that she might have over done things.
“Don’t you like it?” she asked, much concerned. “Don’t you like the dress?”
“Like it?” said Charles. “I think it’s wonderful. I have to admit you were probably right in not letting me choose it myself, I sure I would not have been brave enough. But now I would not have believed what you have done was possible.”
He snapped out of his reverie, “Now let’s see what you are going to wear.”
The dress Amber took out of the carrier was also made of heavy latex, gold in colour with contrasting trimmings in a darker, pewter colour, both having a metallic lustre. Like Charles’s dress, it too was an ‘off-the-shoulder’ style, if anything even more rigidly boned. The tops of the breast cups had wing shaped cuffs in the contrasting colour. From bust to knee it was straight and tight, with six columns of boning, two to each side of a wide flat front panel, two down the sides and two at the back. Between the lines of the front and side boning were slanting bands of contrast. Below a line that started just above knee height at the front, but dipped down almost to calf level at the back, the style changed; the tight bodice being replaced by a mass of gold rubber flamenco frills, the transition being emphasised by a narrow band of the darker material. As Amber laid the dress out Charles could not suppress an envious, “Wow, that really is something.”
Amber picked up the dress and held it to herself.
“Do you want to swap? Actually,” she went on, “it’s not mine, it really belongs to Leslie. She let me borrow it once before. I hope it still fits.”
To Charles, Amber seemed to have been in the bathroom for half of eternity. His dress made sitting in the bedroom’s low armchairs uncomfortable. He tried the bed, not much better, then laughed as the tightly laced rubber tried to straighten him out and he rolled over backwards. He just lay there, looking at the ceiling and wondering for the umpteenth time, what he was doing and why it was proving to be so enjoyable. Eventually there was a call from the bathroom. He rolled off the bed and, not without difficulty, and struggled to his feet.
“Come and help me with this zip, Charlotte dear,” Amber called. “I’ve been struggling to get it up for five minutes, I think that the dress must have shrunk since last time I borrowed it.”
“That seems highly improbable, considering what it is made of,” said Charles taking his chance to get a little back for the all the aspersions that had been cast on his figure. “More likely to be the same problem that Pooh had with Rabbit’s front door; just a mo.”
Gingerly he pushed open the door. Amber stood with her back to it; her legs in the skirt of the dress, clutching the bodice together behind her with the zipper stuck at just above waist level.
“I can see the problem,” said Charles, taking hold of the zip’s slider and pulling it down again a little. “There’s a strip of thin rubber that stops the teeth chafing and you’ve got it caught in the slider, now hold the top together and I’ll do you up.” This time the job was done without any problem.
Amber turned round. “Phew, that’s tight,” she gasped.
“You should be the one to talk about tightness,” retorted Charles. “Who is it that’s been squeezing me to death all day saying that ‘good girls don’t need to breathe,’ it serves you right. By rights I should lock you in it and hide the key.”
“All right,” laughed Amber, “don’t be bitchy. You have a point and actually there is a ring for a lock. Here, pop this through the top of the slider,” she handed Charles a small padlock, “and we’ll be quits.” She turned her back to Charles again. Sure enough here was a ring fastened into the top of the dress at the back and, with a sense of glee, he linked it to the zip.
Amber finished tweaking her hair and returned to the bedroom, sat down on the edge of the bed and started to pull on her long gold opera gloves.
“Be a sweet, Charlotte and put my shoes on for me,” she smiled, “I don’t think I can bend down that far.” Charles struggled down onto his knees at her side.
“Why do you think it’s any easier for me,” he grumbled mildly, picking upon one of the gold shoes that went with the outfit and examining it. He had expected the high heels, but though of the stappiest construction these had in addition platforms at least five centimetres thick. Amber noticed,
“I need the extra height or the dress would be too long,” she said, “Leslie’s a good bit taller than I am.”
“And slimmer,” interjected Charles, giving her a playful poke. Amber slapped his wrist.
“Don’t,” she said.
Charles finished fastening the shoes, feeling somewhat disappointed that they did not sport locks, for the keys of which he might again have been custodian, and helped Amber up.
The mirror again showed mother and daughter or perhaps sister and older sister. They were a devastating pair in the red and gold latex. Amber returned to her Pandora’s Box of a garment bag and with a flourish extracted the final items; a fur stole that she handed to Charles and a long black feather boa. She wrapped the boa round her neck held the loose ends in her hands and twirled them, “Shall we go, sis?” she said.
Charles tried to do what he supposed was a curtsey and found that to be even more impossible that locomotion in the constricting dress. They laughed together and, on a high, made their way out of the room.
The two ‘girls’ arrived at the hôtel with its famous restaurant, halfway along Piccadilly and made their way gingerly up the steps, both having to take the shortest of steps, Charles because of their tightness of his dress’s hem; Amber in her platform-soled shoes . Charles had to concentrate particularly hard for fear of slipping. The foyer, resplendent with soaring columns, gilding and massive floral displays looked magnificent, but the thought of having to make his way across the great expanse of marble floor to the restaurant on the far side filled him with misgivings. Amber reached out and took his hand and pressed it. For a moment he thought that she had sensed that he was in need of reassurance. Looking at her he realised that she too as a bit scared.
“Are you alright?” he asked her.
“Yes,” was her hesitant reply. “Actually it’s the first time I’ve been here and I felt a bit overawed and self-conscious just then.”
“Now you tell me!” joked Charles. “I’m not sure now who is supposed to be looking after whom, but come on or you’ll have people staring at us; you know what you were telling me this morning.” At the last moment he suppressed the urge to give Amber a pat on her round latex covered bottom to propel her towards the restaurant. Instead he took her by the hand and bravely set off in its direction, somewhat amused to find that she was having as much trouble with her ultra-heels on the marble ice-rink as he was.
The traverse was eventually completed without mishap. They handed in their wraps and announced their presence to the maitre-’d who enquired in what name a booking had been made.
“Charlotte Graham,” answered Amber as Charles hesitated.
“Ah, yes, Madam requested a table in the centre of the room. Would Mesdames follow me, please?”
They were led to a table in the middle of the room with its high domed, coloured glass ceiling, close to the little patch of wooden floor used for casual dancing by diners, and nicely placed to hear the resident orchestra. Waiters appeared from nowhere and held chairs for them to be seated. Charles went through the motion of smoothing his skirt, not that there was any spare to smooth, and struggled down on to the seat as the chair was slid under him.
Glancing across the table, he was just in time to see Amber having even more difficulty and made a mental note to pull her leg again about the tightness of her dress and the improbability of it having shrunk.
A menu arrived. They ordered their meals, foie gras as starter, followed by lobster as the main course. The waiter gave a little bow and disappeared. To be replaced by the Sommelier to take their wine order. For a couple of minutes after his departure there was an awkward silence; then both started to talk at once. They laughed, stopped and then both started again.
“After you,” said Charles.
“No,” replied Amber, adding with a whisper, “you will have to get out of the male habit of deferring to ladies. What were you going to say?”
“I was going to ask you how you came to be doing,” he paused, “well this?” pointing at himself
“Oh,” that’s not such a long story,” Amber replied. “You see, as a girl I was always into fashion and make up and the like. I suppose that I was a bit of a tear-away. Me and school, we didn’t get on so I left just as soon as I could without any qualifications to speak of. I didn’t know what I wanted to do really. I tried hairdressing like a lot of girls do, but it was boring and badly paid. Then I got a junior job in the makeup department of a television company. I really loved the work and, as I was quite good at it, I got promoted quickly, so suddenly I had lots of money with which to indulge my love of nice clothes. Then my world started to tumble down...”
“My mum and dad,” she sniffed back a tear and dipped in her handbag for a hanky. Amber dabbed her eyes, smudging the mascara, and went on with some emotion. “My mum and dad were killed in a car crash while on holiday in France. It was bad enough for me making the arrangements to bring them back, but it really knocked my younger sister, you met her this afternoon at the shop. She got into drugs in a serious way. I had just about got her sorted out when, out of the blue, the company decided that it could ‘rationalise’ and make major economies by getting rid of all its permanent staff and then hiring them back on a contract basis as and when required. By that time I was paying for a flat for me and my sister and couldn’t face having to rely on the chance contract.”
At that moment the sommelier returned with the wine. Two ladies dining together probably always present wine-waiters with a problem. This one’s technique was to address neither of them directly.
“Would madam care to taste the wine?” he asked in the hope that one of them would respond. Simultaneously Charles was suggesting that Amber should do the honours while she was suggesting that Charlotte should. They laughed together again while the sommelier stood impassively holding the bottle in his right hand, left hand discreetly behind his back.
“I think that you should taste the wine, Charlotte,” Amber got in, “You’re better at it than I am.” Charles did the honours and accepted the wine; it really was good. Their glasses were filled and the man disappeared.
Amber took a sip of her wine. “That’s nice,” she said. Then leaned across the table and whispered in a low voice, “How does it feel to have a man waiting on you hand and foot? Where was I?”
“You were just saying that your previous employers had just decided to employ everyone on a contract basis, that’s not too bad surely, it’s how I work.”
“Well, yes,” said Amber, “it may be when you are a specialist and well established, but I was just starting out on my career and still in a shock over my mum and dad. I felt totally insecure and unsure of how much competition there really was out there”.
“Anyway,” she went on after another sip of wine, “I had known Gwyneth from school and had an inkling how she filled in her spare time though the family is very well-off and she doesn’t need the money, just a sort of hobby, really. She introduced me to Leslie. Leslie’s been a tremendous help. She’s been like a big sister to me. For the first time I felt I had someone to talk to who would understand and who I didn’t have to hide things from. I mean, I love Gwyneth and all that, it’s just that Leslie is somehow, oh I don’t know, different. She seems to understand things. She’s like that for everybody. She’s really great even though I’m sure that there is something big worrying her she never lets on. I didn’t have the inclination to do what she does nor the right place to do it, especially with my sister to look after, but it was her idea that I should use my TV makeup experience to do makeovers”.
“When I told Gwyneth, she thought that the pun on TV was great and helped me get started. Actually, Charlotte, I have to confess that you are only my fourth client. The previous ones were disasters of one kind or another and I was all for giving upon the idea, but today has changed everything. You seem to be so good at it so why don’t you tell me how you got in to TV?”
“Well you be the judge of how good or otherwise I am,” said Charles, “I can tell you I was pretty up tight this morning, especially when you kept leaving me.” Amber nodded her agreement, nibbling at a bit of bread.
“I’m still not sure,” Charles went on, “that I could really fend for myself, but I confess I feel great now with you handy to turn to if necessary. But I can see our starters coming. I haven’t eaten all day. I think it was the tight waspie, but I feel quite peckish all of a sudden.”
A small retinue of waiters arrived with the first course. The head waiter unfurled napkins and with great ceremony spread them across each of the ‘ladies’ laps in turn; using the opportunity to make a closer inspection of their striking rubber dresses. The foie gras was placed on the table in front of each of them so giving opportunity for other members of the team to have a close up. Finally a silver domed salver containing fingers of toast was placed between them, and the party withdrew, doubtless to compare notes and report back to the kitchen. Then after, it seemed to Charles, there was always a waiter hovering discretely out of earshot, but eager to dash in to be of service. He couldn’t recall such attentive service when he a dined before, with or without company.
They tasted the fois gras. It was excellent. Then, having relished a mouthful, Charles stared again. He explained that he had spent a rather lonely time at university, got a mathematics degree and subsequently a doctorate in theoretical physics. Quite by accident he had stumbled in to computing in its early days, initially as a way of doing ‘sums’ more quickly. Now he was an acknowledged expert in his field and much sought of as a consultant. He had married, but there were no children. His wife had spent lot of time looking after her ageing mother, so her own career had started late. Now she was doing very well as a marketing executive. They were still good friends, occasionally meeting, but, by mutual consent, they had drifted apart to do their own things. At the present she was in the States on an eighteen-month contract. There was a half-formulated plan for Charles to go over later in the year, but nothing definite.
Amber sat listening intently and nodding from time to time “But how did you get into TV,” she asked during a pause.
Charles explained that, for as long as he could remember, he had been a TV rubber lover in a modest sort of way. With increasing affluence he bought a range of different garments, these tending to dresses, corsetry, stockings and other articles of female attire.
“There is any number of classical explanations of why men get an urge for cross-dressing,” he theorised. “Some men feel that they are really female and that something went ‘wrong’ in their construction. Some of these go on to have surgery. For others it is a matter of temporary power exchange, wanting to be ordered about, as a maid for example, rather than they themselves giving commands all day.”
“I’ve come across one of them,” Amber murmured mordantly. “All he wanted to do was dress up and pose in front of a mirror.”
Charles paused for a moment; then went on.
“I don’t think that I really fall in to either of those categories. In my case, it was probably a sort of jealousy. You see you, Amber,” he said, “can wear much what you like. Jeans and a sweater, Victorian frills, pin-stripe business-suit with skirt or trousers, dresses such as we have on now. You can be, butch or demure as the urge takes you. Men on the other hand are, by convention, much more constrained. So, for me, it’s a kind of reverse feminism.”
“If women can expend themselves in to traditional men’s styles, why shouldn’t men be able to move the other way? Actually,” he went on, “I don’t like droopy looks and floral prints. Laura Ashley was, for me the worst thing that happened to fashion. Though I confess to liking to wear a long tight hobbling skirt, like now in fact, my preference is for the sharp lines of Thierry Mugler or Claude Montana.”
“I guess that you liked Leslie’s suit, then,” interjected Amber. “That’s a genuine Montana.”
“Yes, exactly,” he replied, adding, “I thought it was.”
Charles went on to explain that he enjoyed wearing his things at home both at his office desk and in idle moments. He had long planed how he might make a first daytime outing in women’s clothes. Many times he had taken practice walks in the evening when it was dark. Twice he had gone down to the Village, a return trip of four kilometres. Each time, at the last moment, he had funcked walking the length of the old Georgian High Street for fear of encountering someone who might recognise him or of receiving some kind of hostile reaction. Instead he had pretended to look in one of the numerous dress shops before turning round and retracing his steps.
“The second village visit might have been my last,” He went on. “Having just started back one of the twelve-centimetre heels of my boots snapped in half. It couldn’t be taken off because the boots have pad-locked ankle straps and, rather like today, I had deliberately left the keys at home.”
“You played that trick on yourself,” Amber, butted in with a hint of disappointment in her voice, “I thought it would be a new one on you.”
Charles tried to reassure reaching out over the table and touching her, red rubber clad hand on golden arm.
“Oh, it was, it’s one thing locking yourself in, it’s quite another when someone else does it and pockets the keys. And your boots are much more serious than any I have worn before.”
The Sommelier seemed to think that this action was a cue and shimmered up to recharge their glasses. When he was gone Charles picked up his story again.
“I limped back, one foot on tiptoe. When I started out the night had been cool enough to warrant putting on a hooded leather anorak over my rubber dress and I’d locked that on as well. By the top of the hill leading from the village I was sweating so heavily and was so out of puff I just had to stop for a rest. I sat down, panting against my corset, on a bench beneath the only streetlight for hundreds of yards. It was very quiet save for a faint drip, drip of perspiration falling from the rubber skirt onto the path.”
“Several cars had come by, briefly illuminating me with their headlights. I prayed that they wouldn’t stop,” Charles went on. “Mercifully for several minutes while I got my breath back they didn’t. I’d half got up to go again when one did stop. There were two men in the car. My immediate reaction,” said Charles, “was one of panic and that they were curb-crawlers”.
“The man in the passenger seat wound down the window; beckoned and shouted something that I did not quite catch. What might have happened next I don’t like to think about. Anyway, we’ll never be known because at that moment a young couple came round the corner and stopped in surprise to see what was going on. The car made off. I scrambled to my feet and headed for the safety of the darkness as fast as one-and-a-half heels would carry me. I remember thinking to myself, ‘God, that was a close shave.’ Later it seemed that the breaking of the heel had, perhaps, been a warning and I put my things away determined never to use them again; though knew in my heart of hearts that ultimately the temptation would become too great.”
“So that’s how you got into TV and rubber, then?” said Amber as Charles paused to take a mouthful of food. She went on, “Really, you have had quite a bit of experience, unlike some of the others,” she gave a little shudder as she recalled the previous disasters, “who had only just fantasised.”
“Well, only a very little,” said Charles, munching.
“You didn’t see the others,” retorted Amber.
“Actually,” Charles went on, “those nocturnal trips and village excursions were all right in their own way, but I felt that in some way they were cheating, you know, slipping out at night and so on. Someday, I promised myself, I would book a nice hôtel for a couple of days, probably in London, and do things such as I have today, but at the same time I recognised the need for more practise on a smaller scale. So what I decided to do was to drive to one of the neighbouring town and go walk about.”
Amber listened, fascinated as Charles described his first daytime outing. A day last August had turned out to be ideal. The sunny weather had broken and it had been raining heavily since the evening before. At half past seven it was still pouring. Though he had already decided to have the day off work, it happened he still had to go in to deliver an important package. Grudging the waste of time, he got back to the house about nine o’clock to change into a rubber dress, stockings and gloves, over which he again wore the fur-trimmed hooded leather anorak.
It continued to pour with rain all the way to Harrogate. His only fear now was that it would stop before he got there. He need not have worried. It was still raining hard when he got to the town so he had the added comfort of being able to hide under an umbrella. Crossing the islands at the bottom of the hill in Harrogate Charles made his way towards Betty’s café. As always, it was full, especially so because of the rain. The smell of freshly roasted coffee was irresistible and, on an impulse, and to further test his resolve, he had let it draw him inside like a magnet. Because of the hilly nature of the town, the shop is on two levels, three if you count a basement room used as overflow for the café.
The café proper is down a short flight of three steps from the shop where they sell tea, coffee and cakes. The queue for the café climbs up these steps and snakes across the shop. Charles joined the end of the queue and waited. Initially those in front of him and the new arrivals, coming up behind and blocking any quick panic flight on his part, kept their raincoats on, holding dripping umbrellas out at arms’ length to add to the water on the already wet floor. Charles hid inside his anorak hood. As Charlotte he had never been so close to so many people before.
It was warm in the shop and, as the queue shuffled slowly forward, one person after another started to remove their outer garments. Suddenly Charles had realised that, firstly he was now the only one wearing any kind of coat and secondly that he was sweating furiously. In fact, most of the water being added at his feet was now coming from inside his clothes and not from any raindrops still on the outside. Gingerly, so as not to dislodge his wig, he pushed back the anorak hood. That was a bit cooler, but he was still hot and feeling flushed. When he went into the shop he had thought he could have at least have kept the anorak on, now the build-up of heat inside was making him feel light headed, he just had to take it off. As he struggled to get the tight cuffs past his rubber gloved hands the queue reached the top of the steps.
Charles paused in his narrative and took another fragment of his lobster and pushed the rest aside.
“It’s funny,” he said looking up at Amber, “I’ve hardly eaten anything and yet I don’t seem that hungry again.”
“I expect it’s with wearing the tight corsets,” she suggested, “and I can’t have left you very much room inside that dress. But go on,” she smiled.
“Well,” said Charles. He paused and extracted a piece of hair from his mouth. “Can you explain to me how you manage to eat a meal and not your hair?” he asked, looking across at Amber.
“Mostly practice,” she replied, “try holding it to your temple on one side then tilting your head so that the other side hangs away from your mouth, but go on,” she urged.
Charles continued his story “Thinking about it now, I can never decide whether it was the heat that induced giddiness or the high heels or the wet floor, but I tripped on the top step and tumbled down to land in a heap at the bottom.”
“Crikey!” said Amber, adding with genuine concern “Were you hurt?”
“Amazingly, no,” went on Charles, smiling as he remembered the event that was funny now, but frightening in the extreme at the time. “I must say that the effect of this unconventional entrance was electrifying on both customers and staff, some of whom were no doubt treated to an interesting view rubber stockings and pantie girdle as I had rolled over, legs in the air with the dress skirt up to my thighs. I remember thinking, “It’s a good job it’s pencil tight,” as I struggled on the floor, trying to get the right way up again.
“There was a moment’s silence; then everybody was fussing around and talking at once. Enquiring if I was all right, apologising if they had pushed and, in many cases, just wanting to get close enough for a good look and to try to touch the stockings and dress to confirm their suspicions that they really were rubber. Surprisingly my wig was still more-or-less in place and nothing was torn or broken. One of the waitresses helped me up and asked in a whisper and not without a noticeable hint of suspicion, if I wanted to go to the ladies room. ‘No,’ I panted, ‘just a coffee’.
“I was led across the café to a vacant table by the window. I sat down gratefully on the hard bentwood chair and let out a ‘Ouch!’ as the, butt bug about which I had quite forgotten, but which must have partly slipped out in the excitement, rammed home again.”
“You had given yourself a bung, then?” said Amber, much impressed.
“Yes, but nothing like the size you seem to favour!” replied Charles with a grin.
“Anyway,” he went on, “the girl asked, ‘Are you really all right, shall I try to get a doctor?’ ‘Good lord,’ I thought, ‘no, not a doctor!’ ‘I’m quite all right, really,’ I replied quickly, ‘just a bit of a bruise where I bumped myself,’ and rubbed a pretend spot on my glossy rubber covered bottom to the obvious interest of both the waitress and the all those on neighbouring tables.
“For a while I was the centre of everybody’s attraction and conversation. It’s funny, in retrospect, how people changed seats at their tables so as to get a better view. But also how quickly every novelty fades and, after what had seemed for me to be an age, but that in reality was perhaps five minutes, they’d forgotten me and had returned to their own conversations. As I started to walk to the pay desk upstairs a few customers looked up and I felt the gaze of the waitress who had helped me up and served me and who, in consequence had been able to have the closest look, staring after me. Those who did follow my exit would no doubt have been rewarded with a second opportunity to view my rubber covered legs and lace-edged pantie girdle, but I don’t think anyone took it. I had already become old news.”
Amber had listened intently to this long story, nodding from time-to-time.
“I can see now,” she said as Charles paused, “why once I got you started you got on so easily. After that experience anything else is fairly tame.”
“The funniest thing, though,” said Charles, playing with his lobster again, “was when I left the café. Do you know Harrogate?”
“No, I afraid not,” said Amber, “I’m very much a southerner, except when we go on location and I haven’t been to Yorkshire yet.”
“Well, you ought to. There’s some lovely countryside and the people don’t all wear woad. Even if some of us do wear rubber,” Charles added with a smile. ”You need to know that Harrogate is quite hilly. As I made my way back to the car walking seemed more difficult than I had expected and was getting worse. That seemed odd because the boot heels were lower and wider than those I had used for the Village trips. Turning the top of the hill into Valley Drive I realised that, perhaps as a result of the tumble, the left heel had almost come off where it joined the body of the boot. The strange sensation was because it was bending this way and that on two or three nails. I must be fated with boot heels!” he laughed.
“Finally,” Charles continued, “I paused to cross the road to get to where the car was parked, taking great care not to lose the heel. Then what, on reflection, was probably the high spot of the whole adventure happened; a young man in a car stopped and asked if he could give me a lift. I just shook my head.”
Charles came to the end of his narrative and there was silence. Then Amber put her hands together and clapped silently.
“Bravo,” she whispered, “after that I really do think that with a bit more coaching you could manage full-time if you ever wanted to. Like learning how not to eat your hair,” she laughed, reaching across the table and helping him retrieve a wayward strand.
“Maybe,” replied Charles, not at all sure.
They chatted on. Having so far done most of the talking, Charles now let Amber have the floor as she told tales of media personalities, discussed the current fashion scene and generally found topics of mutual interest. Then, by an unspoken mutual agreement it was time to go. They took a taxi back to Charles’s hôtel. For most of the journey neither spoke, each deep in their own thoughts. As they neared the hôtel Amber came out of her reverie.
“Look, Charlotte,” she said. “I’m really quite tired and I’ve got to be up early tomorrow, this morning,” she corrected herself, glancing at her watch, “and it will be a long day out on location. Is it all right if I don’t collect the things you used until the weekend? If I drop you off I can take the cab straight home.”
“That’s okay by me,” he replied, “depending how things go today with my prospective client I will be here for at least three more days.”
The taxi came to a halt and Charles clambered out with a struggle.
“I thought I’d got the hang of this dress,” he said to himself, as Amber called out after him sleepily in a loud whisper.
Amber had already kicked off her shoes and was curled up in the corner of the seat. “Goodnight, sis” she called sleepily to Charles.
“Goodnight, and thank you for a wonderful day.” At the last moment he remembered the locks on the zip of Amber’s dress. Fumbling at the bottom of his handbag he found the key, bent down presenting a round rubber clad bottom to anyone who might be there to see it, and handed it to Amber, now almost asleep. “Good job I remembered that,” he said.
She blew him a kiss “Bye. Be good. See you at the weekend.”
Charles stood and waved until the taxi was out of sight. He turned to the hotel entrance.
“Be good,” he thought, “that’s ripe coming from that one!”
Charles’s doorman, who doubtless had watched everything, was still at his post. Charles couldn’t help asking him, “Do they never let you off duty,” as he made another contribution to the man’s pension fund.
“Only occasionally, miss,” he replied, touching his cap with his right hand while doing the conjuring trick with the note in his left.
Charles retrieved his room key and took the lift up to his room. He shut the door, kicked off his shoes, flopped fully clothed on to the bed and fell fast asleep.
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