Double Take


© 2003 by Thrillerauthor

Sandy Lane glanced at his Rip Curl watch as he paddled back towards the lineup. Less then twenty seconds remaining in his heat. Sandy had one good wave under his belt, but unless he nailed another one, there was no way he was going to make it into the finals.

He glanced over his right shoulder, and at first he couldn't believe what he saw. The surf had been small all morning, but looming behind him was the largest swell he had ever seen. Sandy started paddling for all he was worth, turning to his right to get into position before the wave broke. He timed it perfectly, dropping in as the enormous wave crested and broke around him. He was in free fall as he stood up and plunged down the thirty foot face, and he disappeared into a canopy of water as the raging surf engulfed him.

The judges and spectators thought he had wiped out until he was blown out of the tube, still standing, his arms raised in triumph. Awarded a perfect ten score on the wave of the day, Sandy Lane was catapulted into the finals of the Masters World Surfing Championship

He rode the shore break back in, still stoked over his amazing performance, and he didn't see Buster Cruz approaching him as he got out of the water. The reigning champion, Cruz towered over the diminutive Lane, and his face was livid with rage. He grabbed Sandy's shoulder and spun him around. "Here's what happens to assholes who drop in on me and snake my wave," Cruz said as he sucker punched Sandy in the nose, knocking him clean off his feet. Sandy was unconscious before his face went into the water.

* * *

Three days later, Sandy regained consciousness. He was aware of a tube running out of his nose, and white gauze interfered with his field of vision. When he tried to turn his head, it felt like a cherry bomb went off inside his skull. He fell back onto his pillows and lost consciousness again.

When he finally came around for good, he was surrounded by doctors, nurses, and a police sergeant. The doctors explained to him that he was suffering from a severely broken nose and a grade three concussion, and the sergeant told him that Buster Cruz had been arrested and charged with aggravated assault. When Sandy tried to speak, his voice was so weak that the sergeant was unable to take a statement from him. The doctors prescribed more rest, and Sandy returned to his nightmares.

As the days passed, his strength gradually returned. The first time his bandages were removed, the nurses recoiled in obvious horror at the sight of his smashed nose. Sandy Lane had been blessed with classic California good looks, and with his shoulder-length blonde hair and slight physique, he had sometimes been mistaken for a girl. Now his perfect nose was plastered all over his face, and his cheekbones and eye sockets were still badly swollen from the impact of Buster's fist.

The doctors assured him that surgery to repair his face would be scheduled as soon as the swelling went down enough for them to operate. Sandy spent endless days lolling in his hospital bed, bored out of his mind and overwhelmed with despair over the end of his surfing season. At twenty-four, he did not have that many good years left in him, and whatever money he had managed to save was going to be eaten up by his hospital bills. One thing was for sure, the meager income which he used to make from modeling wetsuits and board shorts would dry up when his sponsors got a good look at his face.

Even his return to pro surfing was in doubt, since Buster Cruz had made veiled threats that if he ever ran into Sandy Lane again, he would finish the job. Cruz had lost most of his sponsors, and was facing a possible jail term, all on account of Sandy Lane. If Sandy did make it back on the tour, he knew that Cruz would be laying for him.

A few days before his facial surgery was scheduled, Sandy had a visitor. She was tall, thin, high-strung, and well-dressed. She surveyed his broken face with professional interest as he studied her card. Her name was Darla Palmer, and she was an Assistant Executive Producer for a Hollywood studio. Sandy was surprised when she took a digital camera out of her purse and snapped a picture of him.

"Casting for a new horror film?" he asked her. "I can play the monster without any makeup."

"Not quite. When are you supposed to get your nose fixed?"

"Day after tomorrow."

"I'll be back before then."

* * *

"Amazing. Just uncanny," Darla Palmer said as she studied the photographs in front of her. A techie from the computer lab hovered over her shoulder as she glanced back and forth between three separate photos, lined up side by side on her polished rosewood desk. On the far left was the picture she had taken of Sandy Lane in his hospital room. On the far right was a studio portrait of Ashley Vaughn, a rising starlet who had just been signed for the lead role in Wet Girls, an upcoming television series about a female surfing professional. And in the center was a digitally recreated photograph of Sandy Lane, with a new nose. It was indistinguishable from the photograph of Ashley Vaughn.

"All I did was morph Ashley's nose onto the picture you gave me, and presto!" the techie was saying. Darla reached into a file drawer beside her desk and pulled out a buff manila folder. She took out a sheet of paper with Ashley's vital statistics, and compared it with a profile on Sandy Lane from Surfer magazine. "Age: Ashley 23, Sandy 24. Eyes: Ashley blue, Sandy blue. Hair: Ashley blonde, Sandy blonde. Height: Ashley 5' 7", Sandy 5' 7". Weight: Ashley 125 pounds, Sandy 135 pounds…nothing that a little diet couldn't take care of."

"Sex?" asked the techie.

"You are sworn to secrecy about this, or I'll have your job. Got it?"

"Sure, Miss Palmer. I won't breathe a word. What are you up to?"

"Ashley Vaughn is a lovely girl, but she has zero athletic ability. We've been pulling our hair out trying to find a stunt double for her surfing scenes in Wet Girls. I think we just found him…or rather, her."

* * *

Sandy's operation was canceled, and a few days later he was flown in a private jet to a clinic in Palm Springs, where his plastic surgery was to be performed. During the flight, he tried to get through the thick contract which Darla Palmer had given him to read on the plane. He was so stoked about the prospect of making some serious money as a stunt double that he only glanced through it. The print was very small, and a lot of the words he could not understand.

Sandy knew that they wanted him to do surfing scenes for Ashley Vaughn in a television series about a girl surfer, and he thought that was kind of cool. One of his buddies was still bragging about the bread he scored by putting on a bikini and surfing the big wave scenes in Blue Crush, and Sandy was looking forward to being surfer rich for a change. He was used to eking out an existence from tournament to tournament, and the idea of getting paid serious money to be in the water, surrounded by pretty actresses, was too good to pass up. He signed the contract in duplicate after struggling through the first few pages.

His surgery took place the next morning. Once again, he woke up with gauze wrapped around his face and a tube running out of his nose, only this time he was in a private room, with nonstop service and plenty of surfing magazines and videos to amuse him. The days passed quickly, until Darla Palmer showed up one morning with a nurse and a doctor in tow. "Ready to see the new you?" Darla asked.

"Sure, anything would be an improvement over the way I looked after Buster flattened me. Will I recognize myself?"

"I told you, Sandy, that we were going to make some changes to help you with your acting. Don't worry, if you don't like it, we can always change it again after we finish with the series. Right, doctor?"

"Of course. Let's see how we've done." The doctor and Darla watched as the nurse snipped the gauze with a pair of long scissors and gently began to unravel the bandage. When she pulled off the last of it, both Darla and the nurse gasped as the doctor nodded his approval.

"What is it?" Sandy asked in alarm.

"Oh my God, he's a dead ringer for that girl who's waiting outside," the nurse blurted out.

"What are you talking about?" Sandy asked.

The doctor produced a mirror. "See for yourself, Mr. Lane."

Sandy took the mirror and stared at his reflection in shock. He now had the cute, upturned nose of Ashley Vaughn. With his long blonde hair, he looked just like her.

"Of course, you'll look a lot better after we do something with your hair," Darla said. "Would you care to meet your twin?"

Sandy lay speechless in bed as Darla left, returning a moment later with Ashley Vaughn. "Ashley, meet Sandy," Darla said in triumph.

Ashley's jaw dropped when she saw Sandy's face. "Wow, he's perfect." She stuck out her hand and Sandy awkwardly took it. "This is going to be so cool."

"Stand up, Sandy, and let's get a good look at you," Darla said after the doctor left the room. Sandy was in a daze as he got up, feeling slightly self-conscious in his hospital gown.

Ashley walked around him slowly with her chin in her hands. "He's gotta go on a diet," she said matter-of-factly. "His legs are nice. Once he shaves them, he'll be just fine from a distance, don't you think?"

"Shave my legs?" Sandy asked. "Nobody said anything about that."

"Didn't you read your contract? If I'm not mistaken, it specifies full body waxing for the duration of the series." Darla knew she was not mistaken, since she had written the contract herself.

What else was in that contract, Sandy wondered, as the enormity of his predicament began to sink in. These people were expecting him to pass as a girl. At least it wasn't full time, he said to himself, as he watched them study him like a department store mannequin.

"Let me see you walk across the room," Ashley said. Without protest, Sandy walked a few steps and turned around to face her.

"He's gonna need some coaching," Ashley said.

"I know, don't worry. Starting next week, we have him scheduled for three hours a day with Max Perscheid. He used to be one of the top choreographers on Broadway before he semi-retired to Malibu. We're going to use his beach house as our base of operations for the next few weeks."

"Base of operations? For what?"

" While you're learning how to surf, Sandy will be learning how to be a girl."

* * *

Two weeks later, Ashley Vaughn caught her first wave, and Sandy Lane wore his first dress. He had subjected himself to hours of ballet and deportment lessons, tolerated the agonizing removal of all of his body hair, watched as his mop of blonde hair was styled into a layered shag, suffered through manicures and pedicures, and endured the piercing of his ears. The crash diet Darla Palmer put him on resulted in the loss of almost ten pounds from his already skinny frame, and when he put on a girl's swim suit for the first time, he passed inspection with flying colors. Some strategic padding, a lot of makeup, and he was ready for his action scenes as Pepper Reef, the lead character in Wet Girls.

Meanwhile, Ashley was working diligently at her surfing. The studio had paid a full-time instructor to work with her, but she was getting nowhere until Sandy took her aside one day and asked her to describe her problems. After he listened for a few minutes, he told her to meet him down on the beach right after lunch. When she got there, he was waiting for her, dressed in his powder blue woman's wetsuit, with a longer surfboard than she was used to. In their wetsuits, they looked like identical twins, and Sandy swam beside her as she paddled out beyond the shore break.

Ashley was exhausted from the effort, and Sandy made her wait and rest for a few minutes before he pointed her board towards the shore. "Just hang there until I say 'Go,'" Sandy told her, and Ashley did as she was told. When Sandy saw a perfect swell approaching, he gave her board a mighty shove and shouted, 'Go, go!'" Ashley paddled like crazy, and as Sandy had instructed her, she waited until her board became rock steady as it caught the wave. When she tried to get up, it was as simple as standing on a sidewalk. She was laughing and shouting in pure, unadulterated joy as she rode the wave almost to shore.

The entire crew was applauding them from the beach. It was not necessary for Ashley to become a proficient surfer, but the network desperately wanted a few shots of her standing on a board to weave into the scenes that Sandy would perform. Sandy was rewarded with a hug and a kiss from Ashley when he caught up with her. Although the kiss was purely platonic, a seed had been planted, and it began to grow from that moment.

As for Sandy's dress, a scene in the opening episode of Wet Girls called for Pepper Reef to run into the surf in her street clothes to rescue a drowning child. Sandy spent hours in makeup and wardrobe, getting fitted with a short sundress and high heeled sandals. Ashley was decked out in an identical outfit, and Sandy milled around awkwardly in his dress and heels as Ashley filmed her scenes. When the time came for Pepper Reef to dash into the surf, Sandy took over for Ashley, kicking off his sandals and running through the waves as the cameras rolled. When he carried the child out of the water, Ashley took over again, and Sandy had fun getting her good and wet before the cameras started filming again.

The shooting schedule was incredibly hectic, and Sandy barely had time to think about the crazy way his life was going. Up at four o'clock every morning to put on a woman's swimsuit or wetsuit, hours getting his hair and makeup done, more hours standing around doing nothing as Ashley and the other actors filmed their scenes, long breaks spent sitting around in women's clothing with Ashley and the other actors, and finally to bed with his reading assignment for the next day's shooting.

Sandy and Ashley were too exhausted to spend any quality time together, but they did come up with an amusing game to help pass the time. Periodically, Sandy and Ashley would swap trailers, and wait to see how long it would take the other members of the cast and crew to figure out who was who. They were getting very good at passing for one another when disaster struck.

It was the last day of filming for the season, and Sandy was scheduled to perform a particularly hairy stunt that had him diving off Santa Monica Pier to disable a runaway Jet Ski. Ashley insisted on taking his place on the pier, thinking it would be fun to dive off it into Santa Monica Bay before Sandy finished the scene. But when she hit the water, a sudden swell tossed her against a piling, and something snapped.

It took a few seconds before the crew realized that something was wrong, and it wasn't until Sandy dove off the pier that they knew what was happening. By then, it was almost too late. Sandy grabbed Ashley and towed her towards shore until a small boat was found to rescue her. It didn't take the paramedics long to diagnose her condition. The impact with the pier had broken her left leg in two places.

Darla Palmer was beside herself. They had one more scene to film with Ashley, involving her in a close-up with another actor. Sandy was sitting around his trailer with a hangdog expression when she came in without knocking.

"How could you have let her do that?" Darla shouted.

"She's a big girl, she does what she wants to."

"Well, you should have stopped her."

"She's the star. I'm just a stunt double, remember?"

"Not any more?"

"What are you talking about? Am I fired?"

"No, you're not fired, although I'd love to do it. You've just been promoted."


"That's right. Get off your ass and get into wardrobe. You're going to shoot Ashley's scene for her."

Sandy froze. He knew what was in the script. "I can't do that. I mean, she's got that big love scene…."

"She doesn't have that big love scene. You've got that big love scene. Now get going, Missy. It's going to cost the studio a fortune if we can't wrap this week."

"You can't make me do this."

"Read your contract."

* * *

Sandy was in a trance as the minions went to work on him. The final episode of the season ended with Pepper Reef going to an exclusive Beverly Hills restaurant with her dream guy, played by a journeyman actor named Randy Romaine. Randy was the consummate professional, and Darla had no worries about him. The question was whether Sandy could pull off the switch.

For the first time, he was going to have to really pass as a woman. He had gotten by for months wearing wetsuits and swimsuits, never spending more than a few minutes before the camera, and never opening his mouth. They would be able to dub Ashley's voice over his during final editing, but the acting would be all his. Sandy had proven that he could fool the cast and crew, but would he be able to fool the camera?

It began with a complete body waxing. Sandy was used to these by now, but this time they went to special lengths, including his face and neck, followed by a meticulous tweezing of his eyebrows. His hair was washed, shampooed and styled into Ashley Vaughn's trademark shag, his nails were polished and buffed, and his makeup session was far more intense than anything he had previously experienced.

Other than the one dress Sandy had put on during the first day of filming, he had never worn anything but beach clothes. At Darla's request, his new wardrobe was laid out for him in his trailer, and it was with trepidation that he closed the door behind him while the crew waited impatiently outside.

For the first time, he was introduced to women's lingerie. His panties were specially padded to give him a rounded ass and to flatten his front, much like his custom-made swimsuits and wetsuits, and his padded bra gave him the same illusion of cleavage. But his slip and stockings were like nothing he'd ever experienced. He could feel his penis struggling in confusion as he slid the delicate nylons up his smooth legs, and he almost had an orgasm when he stepped into his lacy slip and pulled the delicious fabric against his sensitive skin.

Pepper Reef's little black dress had a zipper in the back and a clasp at the top. Sandy managed to get the dress over his head without mussing his hair, and he tugged it into place before reaching back to zip and fasten it. He wondered how women who were not professional athletes ever managed to dress themselves. Then he sat down to put on his black 3" pumps. His stockinged feet slid into them nicely, and he took a few practice steps to make sure he would be able to handle them. For some reason, he felt completely comfortable in his new clothing, and a strange inner peace came over him as he stood before the full length mirror and surveyed the finished product. The girl looking back at him was a TV star.

When Sandy opened the door to his trailer and stepped confidently outside, he was greeted by cheers from the crew. A wardrobe person fussed with him briefly, adding some jewelry and switching his earrings to match, and then he was taken to the sound stage and shown his place on the set. The scene had been hastily rewritten to eliminate most of Pepper's lines. All she had to do was look beautiful while Randy Romaine told her how much he loved her, and let him kiss her as the camera faded to black. They pulled it off in one take.

* * *

After filming wrapped, Sandy hung around for the cast and crew party in his dress, enjoying the compliments while he reveled in the sensations of being a pretty girl. But there was someplace else he needed to be, so he said his goodbyes and hopped into a studio limousine for the short ride to the hospital where Ashley was recovering.

He was mobbed by total strangers when he got out of the limousine, and it took him a few seconds before he realized that they thought he was Ashley Vaughn. He signed some autographs with a girlish scribble before he excused himself as politely as he could, limiting himself to a few short phrases in Ashley's soft voice. He knew her room number, and he stole quietly down the hallway to her door.

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