The guard manoeuvred the boy into position on the lawn, and pushed him back down onto his knees on the wet grass, about twenty feet away from, and facing towards, the French-style veranda which ran right around the bottom floor of the elegant colonial building. He roughly kicked the inside of the boy's knees so his legs were spread wide apart. The boy wanted to slump down, wanted his arse to sink to the grass, but the guard quickly pulled him up, so his thighs and torso formed a vertical straight line. The rain was still pounding down, heavy as ever.
'Look at the ground. Do not look up. Keep your back straight. Do not slump. Wait here, totally still, until the master calls for you. I will be watching' the guard ordered. And then, the grip on the boy's hair was released, and the guard walked away.
Caleb listened to the jangling noise of the guard's key belt, disappearing into the distance. He wanted to rub at the stinging, sore welts across his muscular chest and stomach, but the hand cuffs made that impossible. He was very aware of his nakedness, only the soaking wet red speedos covering his modesty. Tears were running down his cheeks, indistinguishable from the rainwater that trickled down his face, but the cooling stream went some way towards soothing his pain. His view was restricted, with the water running off his matted clump of blond hair and running in streams into his eyes. All he could see was the straggling ends of his long hair, hanging limply from his forehead towards the ground, water dripping off the ends towards the grass below.
He wanted to look up at the house in front of him but he was afraid of the return of that leather strap, so he did as he was told. He stayed as still as he could, but there was no way he could control the shivers running through his body as the cold penetrated his flesh. Without moving his head, he raised his eyeballs as much as possible. He was practically peering through his own eyebrows, and it made his eyes sore, but he could just make out the base of the veranda, wood boards raising the level of the deck just above the perfectly manicured lawn. There was some ornate furniture, maybe an iron table and some spindly iron chairs, he could not be sure, as he could only see the feet, and the contrast between the bright spotlit grass and the cool dark shade of the veranda was difficult to see through. Behind, what looked like a large double glass door, and a bit of light, coming through a gap, maybe in a curtain?
He shivered, alone in his misery. Part of his body said run, escape now, while you can. But he knew it was already too late for that. That chirpy, optimistic voice in his head started up 'maybe it's gonna be alright' it said. 'Maybe things will be ok'. He didn't believe a word of it, but in his naive way, he couldn't imagine anything worse that the treatment he had already suffered.
It was difficult to judge time, kneeling there in the spotlight beam on the damp grass, but it must have been at least an hour. Caleb's thoughts had drifted, and he may have even drifted into a cold, semi sleep. Whatever it was, he suddenly became aware of his surroundings again. He was still kneeling on the ground, and his legs, still spread wide, had gone quite numb from the cold and the tension of his uncomfortable position. '
However the rain had eased off to not much more than a summer shower and the pounding in his ears had been replaced by... he was not sure, but it sounded like polite conversation. A little mild classical music. The clink of cutlery and glasses. He felt like he was going insane. He heard the noise of a door latch being released, and he forced himself not to raise his head, instead peering again through his eyebrows. The curtains had been pulled back completely from the double glass doors, and the silhouette of a man's legs could be seen. The glass doors swung open, and the party-like noise suddenly became louder. A man's voice rang out, polite, cultured, urbane. He recognised it immediately.
'Looks like the rain is easing off at last'
That was the voice that had addressed him, less than 12 hours ago, in another life, another world.
The voice of the master, the ambassador, his tormentor, the same measured, cool tones that he used when he had been discussing the matters at hand, describing the situation, and then, out of the blue, issuing that shocking proposition to Caleb. The voice was so every day, so normal, that Caleb had not even taken in the proposition when it had first been issued. It had to be repeated, and even then Caleb could not believe what he had just been told.
He had sat at the mahogany desk in the small office above the bar, the creaking desk fan providing little relief against the humid heat. Caleb sat still dressed in the beer-stained shirt and Bermuda shorts that he had been wearing last night at the chalet.
He thought back to that last innocent drink, drinking with his new friends, Tate, the proud, 19 year old African-American wrestler jock, and Angus, the 25 year old stocky, red haired Scotsman with the dry sense of humour, in their rented beach chalet.
They had befriended Caleb on the mainland, got the naive 18 year old Aussie muscle boy out of a risky situation with a Thai prostitute who was not the woman that Caleb thought he/she was. They had joked to Caleb about how naive he was, and Caleb had blushed, because here he was, on his first ever trip aboard, separated from his travelling companion who had returned to Sydney, rucksacking across Asia without a care in the world and just one plan -to lose his virginity - of course he didn't tell them about the virginity thing, they didn't want them to pity him, but they instinctively picked up on the fact that here he was, a school sports hero muscle boy who had somehow never plucked up the courage to go that extra step with any of the local girls, despite them obviously wanting him. We'll protect you, they'd promised, and they had, taking him by the hand through some of the dark corners of the continent, and ending up here, on this island, way off the tourist trail. It even looked like they were lining up one of the local girls to help him out with his problem, when the door was suddenly kicked in and the police stormed the room.
The night in the police cells had been unbearable. Constant questioning. Angry faces. No sleep. And then suddenly, being dragged from his cell and taken, unexpectedly, to the main gate of the police station, and kicked out onto the street. What about my friends, he screamed. And then, the sight of the two friends being manhandled into the back of a police Land Rover. He saw the fear in Tate's eyes, the blood on his lip from the beating he had received. His soft accented voice, echoing across the yard.
'Help me. Help me please'
'Your friends no go', the policeman behind the desk shouted in his broken English. 'They smugglers. Much cocaine. Tourist scum. They go to Hun-Kok prison. They guilty'
Caleb was at a loss, unable to think straight, so he never noticed the man in the white linen suit who walked up beside him. 'Nasty place, Hun Kok prison. Overcrowded, full of disease. I wouldn't send my worst enemy there...'
Caleb looked into the Englishman's face, a young man, brown hair, strangely free of sweat in this humid office. The man held out his hand. 'Anderson, I keep the British end up round here, if you know what I mean'
'What's going to happen to my friends?' Caleb blurted out
And Anderson laid it all out. He explained about how the two of them would be charged with smuggling, and held in Hun Kok until the trial, although by the time the trial occurred, he regretted to say, they would probably not be around to see it, as if the rats and disease in Hun Kok don't get you, the gangs of murderers and rapists... well, it doesn't matter how good they are at high school wrestling, skill in a combative sport is no match to the skill of someone who fights every day literally to survive. Foreigners in Hun Kok, especially young, sexy ones, were in for long days and nights of being traded for smokes, forced to service sex-hungry animals on the floors of the rat infested cells without contraception or protection - until one day they fail to work their mouths or butts well enough, or the local drug king-pin discovers about their little freelance drug export business, and then an example would have to be made for stepping on the wrong person's territory. Of course their consulates would try and get them out, but two young drug smugglers... to be honest, they're not going to try too hard...
'There must be something I can do' Caleb offered...
And that's when the mysterious little smile spread across Anderson's face. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card.
'There is one possible option. The ambassador. At least that's what he calls himself. He's an ex-pat businessman, an eccentric, got a knighthood for something or other, retired out here many years ago, but he has some swing with the local police chief. Maybe he can get your friends moved to a different jail while they wait for the trial. No guarantees. Why don't you speak to him. He has a bar in town; he calls it the consulate...'
And, one pleading phone call and a short taxi ride later, Caleb was looking across the table at the sweating, rounded face of Sir Harold Cartwright, the so-called ambassador, hearing him explain in his flat, pleasant monotone of the trouble his two friends were in, the penalties for smuggling drugs, and how lucky Caleb was to have been released by the police without charge.
Caleb trusted this plain speaking man. He had blurted out about how the drugs had been found in his own luggage, he had no idea how they got there, how he felt responsible for his friends, how he would do anything to help them.
'Anything?' the Round faced man had asked, raising an eyebrow. Caleb was in no doubt.
And then the man had laid out a proposal, a proposal so horrific, so perverse, that Caleb could not believe his own ears. In the same monotone, pleasant voice, the man had offered Caleb a deal, He will get his friends moved to a safe place, keep them protected until the trial, which could be two or three months.
In exchange, Caleb would come to the ambassador's residence in the hills, tonight at eight pm sharp. Caleb would be dressed only in his swimwear. And Caleb would willingly, uncomplainingly, become the ambassador's slave until the trial was over. He would submit to anything the ambassador wanted him to do. There would be no perversion or sexual act that he would refuse to carry out.
Caleb's mouth dropped, only able to offer the word 'what?'. But the ambassador repeated his proposal, coolly, unemotionally. He concluded his proposal like he was finishing any normal business consultation.
'So, if there's nothing else, I will begin work on this case and make initial preparations. If you are willing to accept the terms, please be at the designated location by no later than 8pm tonight, which gives you about twelve hours to consider the options. But please be aware, if you decide to decline this offer by not turning up at the hour stated, it will not be presented again, and there is no one else on this island that has the influence to make an offer such as this. Now if you'll excuse me, I have other business to attend to. Good day'
And with that, the man turned away and began to write notes into a large old fashioned legal journal. Caleb stood, in shock, and left the room.
That had been twelve long, mentally torturing hours ago. Caleb had sat on the beach, going through all the levels of disgust, disbelief, betrayal, and self hate. He convinced himself a dozen times that he can't go through with it, and then remembered his friends pleading. Sure, he had known them only a few days. But, mates are mates. And, once 11 of the most never ending, restless hours were behind him, he had found himself on that long winding road to the ambassador's residence.
The man's legs walked out onto the veranda. Caleb wanted to look up, look directly into the face of the instigator of his torture. But he was cold and tired, and he had no fight in him. He had to make do with staring at the man's shoes, the bottom of his elegant suit trousers.
A woman joined the man on the veranda. From where they were standing, Caleb realised they must have been looking directly at Caleb's semi-naked form, brightly lit less than twenty feet away. But the same inane, pleasant, social occasion chatter continued. The woman, in a posh, cultured voice, was saying something about hoping the roads had not been washed out by the storm. No, the ambassador countered, I don't think the storm was that bad, but I'll ask Henderson to bring the four wheel drive around, just in case. Not an elegant way for a lady and her debutante daughter to travel, he joked. The woman laughed, politely.
Caleb wanted to scream. Are these people insane? How the hell could they just stand there, prattling on, as if he wasn't in plain sight of them. Another elderly man had joined the group on the veranda now, he heard him being referred to as the colonel, and voices taking and joking inside the property suggested that there was at least a couple of other men and women still inside. Glasses clinked. The sound of a match being stuck and the faint smell of cigar smoke.
Caleb could hold it in no longer. He began to mutter, hardly louder than a whisper at first, but getting slowly louder.
'Please. Please sir. Tell me what you want from me. I'm cold and I'm hurt. Please. Please let me go...'
Sir Harold took a long draw on the Cuban cigar as he stared across the grass towards the shivering sema-naked hunk. He could see the boys lips moving, mouthing the words that could just, faintly be heard over the general revelry. Lady Margaret's daughter Amelia was just joining them on the veranda. She shivered in the chill of the evening air, and glanced out at the soaking wet boy. Her eyes betrayed her emotions for a moment-part disgust, part arousal, but her social etiquette took over, and she forced her eyes away to talk directly to Sir Harold, launching into some inane story about one of her socialite friends. Sir Harold smiled kindly, and feigned interest in the boring intricacies of the story, but he was now getting angry, for he could hear the pathetic, whining, antipodean voice echoing up from the lawn.
He kept his face controlled, but inside, the rage was seething. How dare it, he thought. How dare it interrupt this beautiful social occasion with its sexual, uncultured voice? He smiled at Amelia encouragingly, inviting her to continue her story, but he took an opportunity to peer away, catch the eye of Henderson the butler, who was circling the party, silently refreshing drinks.
Henderson knew Sir Harold's expressions by heart. This one meant 'come here immediately'. Henderson, with the practiced skill of the professional servant, moved quickly across the room to Sir Harold's side.
The master interrupted the flow of Amelia's anecdote 'Ah, Excuse me my dear, we must continue this wonderful story later. I'm neglecting my guests. Henderson, have coffee served in the main lounge' the ambassador said, in the same moderated tone.
'Oh, and Henderson, firstly, deal with that, would you'. He pointed with his cigar across the grass towards Caleb.
'Right away, sir'
Caleb, begging and sobbing, did not hear the last exchange, but he was suddenly aware of a movement from the corner of his eye. Two black trousered legs, the legs of a disciplined, formal man, moving like a soldier marching across the lawn, purposeful, quick, no hesitation. Heading straight for him. Something dangled by the man's side. A thin, black thing like a wire, or a rope. Caleb could not prevent himself looking up. Henderson the butler marched directly towards him, a stone cold look on his face, a vicious, stubby whip by his side. Caleb squealed in fear, and tried to stand, but his body was cramped from kneeling so long in the same position
'No, please... don't' he managed to squeak, but it was too late. The butler came to a stand, a few feet away, raised the whip, and, without a moment's hesitation, brought it cracking down in a practiced swipe, across Caleb's shoulder blades. Caleb screamed his lungs out and collapsed onto the lawn. This was ten times the pain of the leather strap - he felt he might pass out straight away. He saw the arm raising for a second strike, and he rolled over, protecting his back, ineffectually trying to shield himself from the blows. Big mistake. Another blow, this time across the chest, and the already sore skin exploded in lightning bolts of pure pain. He rolled over again, the agony across his already beaten Pecs and nipples literally unbearable. Another blow, this time across the buttocks, the flimsy material of the Speedos providing no protection from the blow. A final swipe, aimed for the lower back, but mainly catching Caleb across his bound wrists, and the assault was finished.
Caleb would not be talking any more, he could now only whimper and cry, the muscle boy broken like a disobedient dog, whimpering and cowering at its owner's feet. His eyes were full of tears, and he stared blurrily across the lawn towards the veranda, where the blurry silhouetted figure of his tormentor stood, the red glow of a cigar the only pinprick of light on his face. The other party goers had stopped talking, and were staring at the scene. It was clear that some of them were appalled and horrified. It was also clear that some of them were enjoying the show. The elderly major was gripping the handrail around the veranda, face bright red, eyes bulging as if he was about to have a heart attack, a prominent bulge forming in his tuxedo trousers. Henderson stood over the boy, panting from the sudden exertion. The rain had stopped now, and apart from the genteel music, there was hardly a sound but the drips of water running off the veranda roof.
The ambassador took a long draw from the cigar. 'Henderson' he said, his voice as plain and moderated as ever. 'Lady Margaret was concerned that the roads may have been washed out. After you have served coffee would you go to the gatehouse and ask Carlos to walk down the lane, and see if there are any obstructions'.
'Certainly Sir. I'll attend to it immediately'
The ambassador turned back to Amelia. He noted that the girl was staring across at the prone body, breathing heavily, and a fine shine was visible on her skin. She was aroused by the sight, he thought. He grimaced in mild distaste. He did not approve of respectable ladies becoming aroused at the sight of the body of a common slave. It was not seemly.
He decided to bring her attention back. 'Tell me more of your story, my dear' He said.
And the party resumed, as Henderson picked up the limp body from the grass and dragged it away.
To be continued...