The genesis for "Sandra/Sandy," another of Lew Baird's fantasies about a nameless Agent of Balance, is a bit different from his previous stories. It started with an unexpected phone call on a Tuesday evening last spring. I was sitting at home, watching a recorded ep of "The Barefoot Contessa," when I received a phone call from Lew. It was a first for me - our previous communications had all been written ones - so I didn't immediately realized who I was talking to. He sounded like a young Walter Brennan, which definitely threw me.

To be honest, I wasn't all that sure I wanted to talk to the guy: I'm most comfortable hiding behind a keyboard, and, besides, you know what kind of weirdos fanta-sizers can be. But it turned out to be an enjoyable little talk: he'd seen his previous tales posted on the Dimensions site and wanted to tell me he liked the way I'd "spruced up" his unfinished works. You want to win over a free-lance writer, just toss 'em a few compliments, so I was sufficiently buttered up when he finally dropped his request.

"Real life's been getting in the way of my writing," he said, "but I've had this idea bumping around my noggin for weeks. Wouldn't it be fun to show our Agent of Balance and his newly recruited wife Rachel working together? The family that alters reality together?"

"What are you thinking?" I asked, and he told me. The story idea intrigued me, so we tossed a few specifics back and forth. Before too long, I had ten pages of 6-x-9-inch steno pad filled with story notes. My own real life kept me from getting back to them until winter of this year, but once I did, it didn't take long for me to flesh our phone talk into something resembling an actual short story. Like all the other Baird Agent pieces, it's a tale of female weight gain and class/lifestyle modification, though the key for me on this 'un is its husband/wife collaboration, which I found as much fun to write as I did the title character's changes. I hope Lew thinks I did justice to his ideas and that you enjoy the results.

Winter 2010