After four years with the Bowman Advertising Brokerage, Rhonda was certain that her efforts would finally be recognized. Since joining the agency, she had put in the effort - sometimes redoubling that effort - to earn commissions for Bowman by finding obscure magazines that delivered the targeted audiences client companies desired. During each year of her tenure, Rhonda had been the agency's top earner, and her earnings increased with each year.
And now, the gold ring was within her grasp. The agency's sales manager position had opened up, and she was the candidate most qualified to assume it. At least that was what Rhonda thought, until she heard the secretaries gossiping around the coffee maker.
"What a shame," one secretary groused. "To think that Bridget is soon going to be my boss. There's no justice in the world, I tell you." Another secretary replied, "What has Bridget ever done around here except flirt with top management and agree to be their arm candy at social functions? Rhonda's been knocking herself out bringing in the billings while Bridget's been primping her hair. That's gratitude for you."
Rhonda was floored. How could the job she'd been working hard to get be going to somebody who wasn't pulling her weight in the agency. Since when did shoulder-length blonde hair, a 38-24-36 figure and a wiggling behind trump ability and competence?
Opening her compact, Rhonda stared into the mirror. "Maybe if I lightened my brunette hair a little, changed eye shadow to something more attention getting, and acquired a bra with a little more padding," she thought. "No, its too late for that," she added, abandoning the idea.
On reaching her desk, Rhonda gave it such a forceful kick that items on it bounced, including the latest magazine she had acquired to investigate as an advertising media for a few of the agency's clients - The Sorcerer's Quarterly. When it dropped back onto the desktop, the magazine popped open to page 27, where Rhonda's attention was caught by a very homey photograph.
The photo depicted what looked like a mother breast-feeding her baby boy while his 8-year-old sister directed a loving glance at him. "How sweet," Rhonda thought. She then noticed that the photo was the centerpiece for an advertisement for a product she hadn't heard about before - Watkin's Age-Reducing Tonic. "Family Finances Resolved by Watkin's Tonic," the ad's headline trumpeted. The following text appeared under the photo: "Margo Belton, 33, of Dallas was angry that her husband Herb had quit yet another job because he didn't like his boss and co-workers. Now the family would have to get by on her meager income as part-time waitress, while Herb would sit home watching sports on TV and eating more than double the food he usually does. Family finances looked bleak. Then Margo bought some Watkin's Tonic. One bottle later, Margo (seated) was able to switch Herb (on her lap) to a liquid diet she could provide for free, while daughter Chelsea (left) can now earn some spending money as a baby-sitter. Now Margo's income easily covers all family expenditures - thanks to Watkin's Age-Reducing Tonic."
Rhonda flipped through the magazine and found another Watkin's ad on page 49. This one contained a stranger photo, in which a preteen girl was administering a spanking to what appeared to be a 2-year-old girl, who was naked except for an adult size bra dangling off her shoulders.
"Unpleasant Problems Eliminated by Watkin's Tonic," read the headline. "Sally Valentin, 11, of Jackson, Miss., hated that her Mother, Elizabeth, soundly punished her for anything, even things she didn't do. 'I spank you because I love you,' was Elizabeth's slogan. Sally wanted it to stop. So she bought some Watkin's Tonic. After one bottle, Sally (seated) is now able to return some of that love to Elizabeth (over Sally's knees). No more unpleasant problems for Sally - thanks to Watkin's Age-Reducing Tonic."
Rhonda continued to flip through the magazine and found an ad on page 73 that she could truly relate to. It featured a photo of two girls in underwear facing each other, the larger one on the left wearing a bra and bikini, the smaller in a girl's croptop shirt and rosebud-print panties.
"Deserved Success Assured by Watkin's Tonic," it began. "Nancy Cochran, 16, of Cincinnati was the most proficient cheerleader on the Taft High School squad. But it was up to the boys in school to vote who would be the lead cheerleader, and they had their eyes on the cuter and larger chested, but less able, Rachel. Nancy was discouraged. Then she acquired Watkin's Tonic in the new 6-oz. size with a medicine dropper built into the cap. Three drops in a soda, and Nancy (left) was elected head cheerleader in a landslide, while Rachel (right) was appointed 6th grade playground monitor. Nancy realized success - thanks to Watkin's Age-Reducing Tonic,"
Rhonda was elated! Here was a product that could help her secure that sales manager job from Bridget. But where to get it? Each ad said, "…sold in mysteriously hidden shops in malls everywhere."
Rhonda spent nearly an hour scouring her local shopping mall, but to no avail. She was ready to give up when, around the corner from the Miller's Outpost, was a tiny shop with windows that hadn't be washed in maybe a year. She could barely see inside, but decided that this business certainly met the criteria for being mysterious and hidden, as the Watkin's ad said.
Inside, Rhonda found a nervous little clerk who looked one part Gomez Addams, one part Happosai. She asked him if they carried Watkin's Age-Reducing Tonic. "What size?" he said with facial tics breaking out everywhere. "The 6 oz.? 12 oz. regular? Or 24 oz. family size?" Rhonda asked for the 12-oz. bottle. "That'll be $19.95 plus 8-percent sales tax," the clerk tittered.
The next morning, Rhonda was preparing her trap, which she hoped to spring before management revealed who would get the sales manager job. She first invited Bridget to have a talk with her during coffee break. Then she meticulously warmed in the microwave oven the bottle of Watkin's Tonic. She poured it in one of the logo'd white with blue trim coffee cups Bowman provided employees, and stirred in a packet of instant coffee. She then poured a cup of brewed coffee for herself in a similar cup, so Bridget wouldn't suspect anything.
Arriving at the appointed spot in the break room, Rhonda found Bridget busily flirting with the assistant vice president. "That last minute politicking will do you no good," Rhonda chuckled to herself. But the flirting continued for the longest time. By the time Bridget was ready to talk, Rhonda was seething at her gall.
As they began sipping the coffee, Rhonda discussed her plans for after she became sales manager, and how they may affect Bridget. Bridget replied that while she appreciated Rhonda's concern, she'd have to think things over for at least a day.
On finishing her cup, Rhonda cringed as a peculiar aftertaste filled her mouth. Then a panic swept through her body. In waiting so long for Bridget to finish toying with the assistant vice president, did she forget which cup held the Watkin's Tonic?
Rhonda hurried to the ladies' room where her worst fears were confirmed. Staring back at here in the mirror was, at most, a 16-year-old girl in somewhat lumpy clothing. The formula was working - and fast. Rhonda decided she better go back to the mall to see if the dirty little shop had something to counteract the tonic. But as she opened the bathroom door a crack, she saw the halls clogged with her co-workers. She couldn't let them see her in this condition; otherwise they'd have no respect for her when she became the agency's sales manager.
Rushing back to the mirror, Rhonda's heart skipped several beats. It was now a girl no older than 10 staring back at her, and in even more ill-fitting attire. Rhonda could feel her padded bra rubbing her chest horizontally as she ran back to the door. There was still too much traffic. She ran back, almost tripping as her blue polyester skirt slid off. Rhonda kicked it into the corner and stood on tiptoes for another look in the mirror. This time, it was a 6-year-old girl. Back she ran to the door, and then back to the mirror. She couldn't reach the top of the sink now. Then back to the door. Couldn't reach the handle to open it. Then back to the mirror, where her legs gave out.
Rhonda sat in the middle of a pile of what had been her clothing. She peered out over the area of her bra that had once highlighted her cleavage. The bathroom door suddenly started to open. Rhonda pulled her bra higher to hide her face, but she had to see who it was.
Lowering the bra, she viewed the smiling face of Bridget, who cooed, "Oh, aren't you just an adorable little girl. You're just what I wanted. I just can't wait to get you home."
Bridget put her arms under Rhonda's now tiny shoulders and raised her to eye level. Rhonda tried to say something, but it all came out babble and bubbles. Rhonda had become as young as Herb and Elizabeth in those advertisements, and she couldn't talk adult any more. So she patted Bridget on her cheek and indicated that she wanted to be put down. Bridget complied and Rhonda took a few rickety baby steps back to her clothing piled on the floor.
"Baaaah. Geeeh Gluuurg!" Rhonda babbled as she pointed to her adult clothing, hoping Bridget would get the picture and perhaps help her somehow. Bridget just smiled and said, "Baby mustn't play with dirty old rags." She then stuffed Rhonda's clothing in a waste container.
Placing Rhonda in a cardboard carton that once held two dozen rolls of toilet paper, Bridget carted the naked baby Rhonda to her desk, where she asked and received the rest of the day off. Placing the carton on the floor of the passenger side of her car, Bridget drove off toward the retail area.
Bridget first stopped at a drug store, from which she emerged with a box of disposable diapers, baby powder, Similac formula, some baby bottles, a pacifier, and an infant's car seat. Rhonda was quickly diapered in the car, fed an 8-oz. meal of formula, and deposited in the car seat.
The next stop was a large department store. Bridget carried Rhonda to the Infants Department, where she asked the clerk for assistance. Measuring Rhonda, the clerk declared her to be the size of a 15-month-old baby and pointed to appropriate sized clothing. Rhonda left the store wearing bright yellow tights and a matching baby dress, and tiny sneakers. Her combed-back hair now sported a large red ribbon.
Rhonda was seething with both anger and embarrassment when she arrived at Bridget's apartment, where deliverymen were just arriving with a complete selection of baby furniture, including a Classic Old English crib. Bridget placed Rhonda on the floor as she directed the deliverymen into the room where Rhonda would now live. Pulling herself up by latching onto the side of an easy chair, Rhonda again attempted some baby steps. She got as far as the coffee table when she slipped. Grabbing for the table, she caught a strange object off the table's surface. It was a green amulet!
Rhonda puzzled at the amulet. She then noticed familiar reading material on the table. It was the same copy of Sorcerer's Quarterly Rhonda had read at the office. And it had a turned corner marking a page. Rhonda opened it and became wide-eyed at what she saw. "Enrich Your Life with Watkin's Magic Amulet," read the headline over a photo of a woman sitting on a pile of banknotes while a nearby man nuzzled his head into a bikini-wearing supermodel. "Celia Hawkins, 34, of Seattle, and Ross Palmero, 31, of Chicago wondered why life was so good to others, but not to them. Then they stopped wondering and did something about it. Both acquired the Watkin's Magic Amulet, providing each with a single wish to get the one thing they most wanted in life. Celia (left) received an inheritance of $30 million from a relative she never knew she had. Ross (right), after being mysteriously bumped from coach to first class on his flight to Denver, found himself sitting next to the woman of his dreams, who proposed to him by flight's end. Dreams fulfilled - thanks to the Watkin's One-Wish Magic Amulet. Available for $14,999.95 in mysteriously hidden shops at malls everywhere."
"Why that dirty…" Rhonda thought as she was suddenly whisked into the air by Bridget.
Staring directly into the wide-eyed no-so-innocent face of her new baby, Bridget smiled and said, "I know its you Rhonda, and you're now the one thing I most want in life. On one hand, I wanted to be the agency's new sales manager. But I also wanted to become a mother of a cute little baby girl, without getting stretch marks and a fattened figure that would turn men off. But the amulet paid me a bonus. By providing you as my baby, it looks like I'll get the sales manager position after all."
She added, "By the way, I found out yesterday that you'd be appointed sales manager. I was trying to talk the assistant vice president into changing his mind this morning, but he wouldn't listen. Sorry I delayed our coffee klatsch."
Baby Rhonda blew up in a fury of kicks, arm swings and wails; all mostly aimed at some point on Bridget's body. But all this netted Rhonda was the same treatment Sally bestowed on her mother Elizabeth in the page 49 Watkin's advertisement.
Nursing her sore bottom after a spanking that must have lasted half way to forever, Rhonda resolved that she would have the last word on the subject. On becoming a baby, she had lost her ability to talk, but if she could still read, she could certainly write to friends explaining her predicament and where to find her. And she would also write a scathing letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, demanding that they order those dangerous Watkin's products off the market.
Yes, that was what Rhonda swore to do. She picked up a Bic pen off the coffee table, grabbed a tablet of writing paper, plopped her diapered bottom on the living room carpet, and proceeded to produce squiggles, loops, scratches, choppy lines, and something resembling a doggie.
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