As the darkness lifted and his eyes slowly opened, the patient was conscious once more. His eyes flickered in the blinding sunlight streaming into the sterile hospital room. Dr. Romeu's smiling face brought him back to reality. Now, if only he could remember his "new" name!
"Good morning! Things got a little complicated at one point, but your transformation is now complete."
"You mean I'm..."
"That's right, Blair Croftsford the third, from a long line of royal princes. How do you feel?"
"Sore!" The newly christened Blair Croftsford managed to squeak out.
"You'll get used to it!" Dr. Romeu reassured his latest creation. "I've taken off most of the bandages, so you can give me your final approval."
Dr. Romeu held up a small mirror in front of the half awake patient. Blair's eyes nearly popped out of his body and the hair on his arms stood up on edge. Gone was his former pudgy face with the double chin. In its place was perfectly parted russet blond hair, an aqualine nose, and sparkling white teeth. He looked like a cross between Paul Newman and Robert Redford in their 30's.
"Oh my GOD! You're a genius!" Blair couldn't stop staring at his new very handsome self.
"Thank you!" Dr. Romeu nodded and smiled profusely. "But this is just the beginning. I did a liposuction on your gut and got rid of quite a bit of your chest hair. Even experimented a little with your larynx...you know, so you could have a new voice."
"I do sound a little different." Blair wasn't quite used to his slightly higher pitched voice, yet knew it was a step up from his former gravelly intonation.
"You'll be quite sore for a week or so." Dr. Romeu tried to look sympathetic. "If anyone notices the scars just say you had to have your Appendix out."
"Uh..sure..I guess." Blair was still overwhelmed by his new body, not quite believing his old self was simply a memory.
"I'll be back in a little bit. Try to relax." Dr. Romeu shuttled away to check his other patients, leaving Blair time to think.
What was his former name? Oh yes...of course, Jack Stanley. He had lived as the hapless Jack Stanley for 32 years, a misshapen lump of a man that sent little children fleeing and caused old ladies to shake their heads. Although Jack made plently of money from his mail order business in baseball cards, he was the most miserable man on earth. Convinced by constant teasing in High School that he was the runt of the litter, Jack completely lost confidence in himself. His social life with his buddies was okay, but nothing much was happening in the romance department. That is, until he crossed paths with Denise Ropartz.
Jack went to Bingo every Thursday night at his church religiously. The crowd was generally boisterous old women, but once in a while someone his age attended. This special Thanksgiving session was quite a draw, luring over 100 people to the uncomfortable benches and droning announcer. As Jack took his usual seat toward the back, where the fewest possible people could see him, a flash of blond hair caught his eye. There, only one bench away was the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen.
All of her features were competing for his attention, but the first thing he noticed was her very cute dimples, complemented by a perky nose and lovely blue-green eyes. Her hair was flaxen and buoyant, looking like the models from a shampoo commercial. But nothing could compare to her smile, melting his heart immediately and turning his brain to mush.
"Hi, I'm Jack!" He extended his hand, half expecting her to recoil in response.
"And I'm Denise...I just moved here."
"Uh...Welcome." Jack was completely tongue tied.
"Thanks, would you like to sit over here?" Denise gestured to the edge of the bench to her left.
"Uh...s-sure." Jack felt like a Freshman in High School on his first date.
Nothing much happened that first night. Denise was friendly, and smiled at Jack every so often as if they shared some wonderful secret. Jack actually had enough courage to invite her to a church dance the following weekend, and almost fell off his seat when she accepted. That night was even better, and as the music slowed their bodies melted together as one, but something was gnawing at Jack the whole time. Denise couldn't possibly like his looks, she was just being polite. It was just a matter of time before she rejected him, just like every other woman had. The self doubts gnawed at Jack so much he couldn't even concentrate. He was vaguely aware of Denise mentioning something about meeting her family, but he shrugged it off. Why would anyone want to meet a hunchback that looked like a cross between Walter Matthau and Jack Klugman? Denise seemed very confused at the end of the evening as Jack hurried off, muttering something about seeing her at Bingo next week. In his dejected state, he hadn't even noticed her concern.
The next day Jack was moping around the house watching dopey made for television movies when he happened upon an unusual advertisement in the weekly program guide. It was a full page announcement and had a prominent border in an archaic ornate style:
"Change your life! Dr. Romeu's beauty secrets will reveal your lovely inner self with minimally invasive plastic surgery. Tired of those ugly jowls? Embarrassed by multiple chins? Frustrated by a beer gut? Look no more. Dr. Romeu guarantees success, or your money back. Call today for more details. You too, can be REBORN!!"
Jack read every word of the ad three times, convinced he was being spoken to by deities from above. He called the number immediately and made an appointment to see Dr. Romeu. To his great surprise, the busy surgeon agreed to a consultation immediately. The two men hit it off from the very beginning, and Jack could hardly wait to get started.
"How long before I look like Robert Redford?"
"There there boy, calm down." Dr.Romeu placed a bony hand on Jack's shoulder. I have a lot of work to do, but I think you will be very pleased with the result. First, I'll be taking off all the excess fat from your abdomen. Then, I'll permanently remove some of your thick chest hair. Women don't like apes you know!"
"Do I ever!" Jack nodded.
"Then, I will give you an entirely new nose, mouth, teeth, and hair, and even change your voice."
"Whoa!" Jack could not believe his ears. "Won't all this hurt?"
"You'll be sore for a week or so, then will be completely ready for your new life."
"What about..." Jack faltered a little "my name?"
"Oh yes, I've taken care of that as well. When you wake up all evidence of Jack Stanley will have been erased from the earth. You will engineer your own disappearance and simply be listed as "missing." After a couple of years of looking for you, no one will bother anymore and that will be the end of it."
Jack looked at Dr. Romeu quizzically, waiting for him to finish.
"Oh yes...your name...I have chosen Blair Croftsford."
"Blair Croftsford" Jack repeated slowly, a huge smile forming on his face.
"I've arranged for Blair Croftsford to come complete with a sterling credit record, so you can relocate with no problem."
"Relocate." The gravity of what he was about to do was slowly sinking in. Suddenly glad his parents were deceased and that he was an only child, Jack signed his old name for the last time on the dotted line.
"Good!" Dr. Romeu was radiant. I propose we get started tomorrow."
"T-T-omorrow." Jack couldn't believe everything was happening so quickly.
"Christmas is in four weeks and I want you to be established in your new life well before then."
"Uh..sure." Jack's mind was racing. Only a few weeks and Denise would be his steady girlfriend!
"Now get a good night's sleep and leave your car on the exit ramp leading to the hospital. A shuttle bus will pick you up. Don't forget to leave a note taped to the steering wheel."
"You really thought of everything." Jack shook Dr. Romeu's hand as he walked slowly on air to his ratty apartment. Composing a short note to the effect that he was taking a three week vacation and would be back by Christmas, Jack mailed his baseball card inventory and supplies to the address which Dr. Romeu had given him. His new place of course, which the wise Doctor had insisted would be quite a step up from the present one. Then, Jack melted into his stained sleep sofa, imagining himself as Blair Croftsford holding Denise Ropartz tightly in his arms...
"Ah, you've been resting a bit." Dr. Romeu's stentorian voice took Blair Croftsford out of his foggy past memories. "I've arranged for an entire new wardrobe to be delivered to your condo tomorrow, and you will find your baseball card inventory and new computer up and ready to go. You'll be about an hour from your old location, so there will be no need to give up your old friends."
"Great!" Blair was radiant, dying to rekindle one friendship in particular.
"Good luck!" Dr. Romeu gave Blair a big bear hug. "You're one of my best Reborns."
"Re-what?" Blair recoiled abruptly.
"I m-m-m-ean you've been revamped...it's like being born again." Dr. Romeu was turning bright red.
"Oh, of course, I feel born again!" Blair's wide perfect smile returned.
Dr. Romeu disappeared into the morning mist and Blair was on his own. He got into the silver Toyota Camry that had been leased for him, marveled at his driver's license, bandages and all, and drove the ten minute trek to his new abode. Blair couldn't believe his luck. He was in an end unit with a separate entrance and every amenity had been provided, from a huge fireplace to am olympic sized swimming pool. He was finally going to lead the good life! Now there was only one small detail to attend to...
Blair traveled the busy highway to his old town, humming a gentle song as he prayed that Denise would be at Bingo night. It was about three weeks before Christmas, and if all went well he would propose to her in front of her parents, on Christmas eve. The hour long ride seemed to fly by, and in a matter of minutes Blair was pulling up in front of the massive granite church. Various familiar faces rushed by his car, but no Denise. He hurried in past a group of grumbling old women, and looked for his familiar bench.
In a corner of the room away from everyone else, Denise sat dejectedly. She was dressed entirely in black, and Blair almost didn't recognize her. Walking up in back of where his Juliet was crying softly, Blair put a trembling hand on her shoulder.
Denise recoiled in fright, uttering a exclamation of fear which sounded like a muffled scream.
"Oh, I'm sorry to have scared you Miss, it's just that I'm new here."
"I'm sorry, too, your voice reminded me of a dear friend." Denise tried to regain her composure.
"Oh!" Blair tried to cover his shock. "My name is Blair Croftsford."
"I'm Denise....nice to meet you." she extended a small trembling hand.
"Originally, I'm from Bosford, but come this way every so often."
"That's nice, why don't you sit down?"
Blair took the seat besides Denise, gaining a little confidence. The evening proceeded quickly, with Blair doing most of the talking. He seemed a little surprised that Denise seemed indifferent to his looks, as he was dressed to the nines in his expensive wool suit. After a bit of urging, he was able to get her to agree to a dinner date the following night. But in his heart, Blair felt something was missing. Where was the spark he had felt between them as Jack Stanley?
Determined to woo Denise by his charm and good looks, Blair chose an upscale French restaurant as the scene for his seduction. Denise looked a little better than the night before, wearing a turquoise gown that revealed a matching skimpy bra. The conversation was again lopsided, with Blair making a lot of corny jokes and Denise attempting to laugh feebly. All in all, the night went better than the Bingo session, and Blair was extremely surprised when Denise invited him up to her apartment. He followed her like a puppy dog in heat, his pounding boner pressing against his slacks and boxers insistently. She went up to the bedroom without speaking, slipping off her high heels and throwing her purse on the floor. Then, she quickly got out of her gown, laying on the queen sized bed in her matching turquoise blue bra and panties.
Blair practically ripped his clothes off, stripping to his tented blue boxers in a heartbeat. He knelt by the bed and reverently lowered Denise's cute panties. Using his tongue like he was licking a delicious ice cream cone, Blair flicked back and forth against Denise's clit like a madman. She was a bit dry down there, and Blair eagerly sloshed around with his tongue, providing more lubrication. Finally Denise began to moan when Blair found her g-spot, but he had this nagging feeling she was holding back. Renewing his efforts, Blair wagged his tongue back and forth across her clit and labia, as his hands massaged her hardening nipples.
Denise groaned and grunted a little more, but Blair wanted to hear her really scream in abandon. He suddenly got up and pushed his boxers down to his ankles. At the same time, he deftly undid Denise's bra and pulled off her panties completely. Entering her in one quick thrust, Blair pinned her on the bed so hard he lost his breath. Their bodies came together with audible slaps, Denise moaning in a high pitched squeal and Blair grunting like a sweaty pig as he screwed her into oblivion. Although he tried to hold back, after 2 minutes of frantic thrusting, he was close to the brink.
"I'm cum-ming!" Blair could hardly get the words out.
"Aaaiiiieeee!" Denise managed a half baked wail as Blair pulled out of her, exploding all over the bedsheets. In his haste he had totally forgot about a condom, and didn't want Denise to think he was a one nighter type of person.
Blair collapsed on the floor, breathing like a sweaty wrestler.
"That was g-g-reat!" He tried to smile in Denise's direction.
From her position on the bed, Denise sobbed quietly. Then, her grief exploded into loud cries of agony, as her virgin tears stained the lavender pillowcase.
"Denise...what's the matter?" Wasn't I good enough?" Blair looked at her incredulously.
Denise continued to cry uncontrollably, yet managed to get herself off the bed and sat next to Blair. It was a long while before she could speak.
"T-there was this guy I met a couple of weeks ago. We went on one date and I knew he was the one for me...."
"W-w-hat happened?" Blair's eyes opened wide in astonishment.
"I asked him if he wanted to meet my parents for Christmas and now he's....missing!"
"Missing?" Blair feigned concern as his stomach started to churn.
"He left a note saying he was going on a vacation but I don't believe it. I think he's dead!"
With that, Denise began to wail again even louder than before.
"There, there, calm down. What was so special about him?" Blair looked Denise straight in the eye, almost dreading the answer.
"Well, he wasn't what most people would consider good looking. But he had a gentle voice and he cared for me, I just know it."
"If he cared for you so much, then why did he leave all of a sudden?"
"That's just it, he would never do that. Somebody killed him!" Denise continued to sob quietly as Blair massaged her shoulders.
"If he had met my parents I just know we'd be together today. He would have proposed to me on Christmas Eve!"
Blair felt rather than heard the gasp escape his throat. That was exactly what he was planning to do!
"What's the matter?" Denise looked at him alarmingly.
"I have to go....I'm sorry, I just have to go!"
Blair threw his clothes back on and ran to his car, ignoring Denise's pleas to come back. He drove down the highway at 80 miles an hour, swearing at Dr. Romeu for getting him into this situation. So Denise wanted the homely Jack Stanley after all! All right, he could arrange that simply enough.
When Blair got back to his condo it was 2 A.M and he paced the floor restlessly, munching over a plan in his mind. At the crack of dawn he called Dr. Romeu's office and left a message every half hour. Finally, around 9 o'clock he reached a human voice.
"What is it Blair?" Dr. Romeu sounded mildly annoyed.
"Doctor, Doctor, the girl of my dreams wants Jack Stanley, not Blair Croftsford. I want to go back."
"Go back...but that is unprecedented!" Dr. Romeu voice broke down to an unintelligible mumbling.
"I don't care, I want to be Jack Stanley again, and I'll pay you big money to do it!"
"But I haven't perfected..." Dr. Romeu continued to waffle.
"I want to come in today, right now, and be Jack Stanley, RIGHT NOW!" Blair was losing control, but he didn't care. He just couldn't let Denise slip away.
Driving to the hospital like an addict on crack, Blair screeched to a halt in front of the Admissions area. He ran in the door like a crazy person, only to be met by a wizened old lady at the desk.
"I have an appointment with Dr. Romeu." Blair was completely out of breath and could barely get the words out.
"Not so fast buster," the old bitch frowned at him. "You have to sign some documents first."
Blair signed the huge pile of papers blindly, without reading more than a few words here and there. After two minutes of frantic scribbling, he was ushered into a waiting room and told to put on a hospital gown. Looking in the mirror for the last time at Blair Croftsford, the patient smiled. Yes, he would soon be humdrum Jack Stanley again, but who cared? Denise would be his wife and they would have two lovely children and live in a nice house in the suburbs...
"Ah Mr. Croftsford, here you are."
Dr. Romeu entered the waiting room with two attendets holding a portable bed. Blair was ushered into position on the glorified cot, and Dr. Romeu quickly shot something into his arm.
"Ouch! What was that?" Blair winced.
"Just a little something to calm you down."
Dr. Romeu and the attendents wheeled Blair into the hallway, where they were joined by a man dressed entirely in black.
"Hello Father Digham." Dr. Romeu smiled. "You're just in time."
Blair couldn't figure out why a priest was following them but assumed it was standard procedure. He began to feel woozy as the bed picked up speed. The quintet careened down a hallway Blair didn't remember seeing before...
"Let's see..." Dr. Romeu started to write in a little notebook. "I'll make the date of death December 25th."
"The date of WHAT?" Blair croaked.
At that point the priest began to chant, holding up a small chalice.
"Per istam sanctam unctionem..."
"The date of Jack Stanley's death. He's going to be found shot to death under a Christmas tree. That's the best I could do with such short notice..sorry."
"et suam piissiman misericordiam...."
"Shot to death? But I'm going to be Jack..."
Blair started to thrash his hands and kick his feet, but the attendants restrained him.
"adiuvet te dominus gratia spiritius sancti..."
"I couldn't risk this one Blair, my malpractice premiums are already high enough. Don't worry, there won't be any pain, I've perfected this great new gas."
"ut a pecatis liberatum te salvet..."
"NO, NO!! I don't want to die!! Denise, Denise, SAVE ME! I LOVE YOU!!! I LOVE YOU!!
"atque propitus alleviet."
The bed crashed through two aluminum swinging doors leading to the County Coroner's office. A tremendous clattering of metal smothered Blair's last poignant utterance.
"I LOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEE YYYYOOOOOUUUU!"
Dr. Romeu took one final look at his favorite Reborn. Wiping a tear from his eye, he began to prepare the gas...