Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 41: Psychology & Adjustment.
The rest of Sunday was pretty uneventful, if you ignore the physical pain and emotional distress. That sounds overwrought. The truth is even if I hadn’t been accosted in a public parking lot by three teenagers and physically abused because of who I’m attracted to I would have been feeling rather anxious today. Classes were due to begin tomorrow and I was still working out just what it was I was planning to teach based on the course description I had been handed. At this point I decided tomorrow was going to be very informal. I’d meet the students, apologize for the condition I currently found myself in, and dismiss early.
Once again I spent an inordinate amount of time on the telephone. I called Marty and suggested that he and Nick not return for a couple of days. I returned Lee’s message, informing him that there was a minor delay and postponing delivery on Nick. Leatherman called to inquire why I hadn’t been at his Club the previous evening. It seems he had intended to introduce me to another potential slave. At the rate he was going I was going to need a new Master for him. Ditto David in the basement. What was I going to do with all of these Masterless slaves?
These thoughts kept me awake much of the night. By the time Wade came down to breakfast I had already struggled through my morning routine, dressing for success in navy slacks, a pale blue shirt, and a jauntily-striped tie. I would have enjoyed the morning paper with the cup of coffee I was nursing, but the thought of walking out front for it convinced me world events could wait.
“You’re all done up,” Wade said, pouring cereal into a bowl.
“First day of school,” I said, adding, “For both of us.”
“Your eye looks better today,” he said with a smile.
“Liar.” There wasn’t enough make-up on the planet to cover the many shades of purple the left side of my face had turned.
“I bet nobody even asks what happened,” Wade crunched through his cereal.
“They might not ask, but they’ll wonder.”
Wade rinsed his bowl in the sink. “So what are you gonna do?”
“I guess we’ll find out at 10 am.”
“I better go get ready!” And he was gone.
I sighed. David was down in the basement awaiting breakfast. I poured a glass of juice and a bowl of cereal and set them on a tray. I managed to maneuver down three steps before the pain in my side caused me to break into a sweat.
“Slave,” I called. “Come to the stairs and get your breakfast.”
He hurried into view, pausing at the bottom of the staircase. I wondered how many men would enjoy a Guatemalan houseboy at their beck and call.
“You may come upstairs to take the tray from me.”
“Yes, sir!” he said, padding up the stairs. He took the tray and smiled.
“Now return downstairs and eat. And remember you may only come upstairs with permission.”
I watched him return down to the basement, then cradling my side turned around and climbed the three steps to the kitchen. How was I going to make it through class?
I slowly ventured to the den and sat at my desk. I removed my tie. The hell with it. I’d have to be known as the underdressed professor. I unbuttoned the top buttons on my shirt then fired up my computer. I needed to find a placement for David today.
Wade bounded down the stairs a short time later. I had been engrossed in email and hadn’t realized how late it was getting. He was frowning when he entered the den.
“What’s the matter?”
“I hope I’m dressed okay. I don’t know what the guys will be wearing.”
I gave him the once over. He looked adorable in his jeans, sneakers, and striped shirt. “I think you’ll impress.”
His face lit in a grin. “You ready?”
“I hope so.”
God bless Wade. He helped me into my coat, into the car, and dropped me off closer than legally possible to the door to the Humanities building. I stood outside the building waiting for him to return from parking with my attaché. I had the collar of my jacket turned up and dark sunglasses hiding much of my face. As students hurried by I wondered if any of them were on their way to my class.
And then I was very happy to see Scott Wilson striding toward me. He wore black jeans, a pair of oxfords, and his P-coat.
“Why are you waiting out in the cold?” he asked as he approached.
“Wade is on his way. How are you, Scott?”
“Eager to attend my next class. I hear the Prof is really hot.” He grinned devilishly.
I smiled at him.
“How are you feeling today?”
“I’ll probably live through it. What do you think? If I leave the sunglasses on inside is it too Jack Nicholson?”
Scott made a face. “I don’t know, I think it might be too Jackie O actually.”
I feigned shock which only made him laugh harder.
Wade hurried up to us, his backpack slung over his shoulder and my attaché in his hand. “Hey, Scott!”
Scott reached out toward Wade’s hair, then seemed to think better of it. “How’s the college man?”
“I just hope I don’t fall on my face today.”
“You’ll do fine. Stick with me. I have a break after this class, I can show you where your next one is.”
“Thanks.” Wade smiled.
I drew in a slow breath. “Ready?”
Scott looked concerned. “Chris, are you sure you’re up to this?”
I lowered my voice conspiratorially. “I hear the Prof is probably letting class out early today.”
The guys laughed. We made our way inside to the elevator and to the classroom. I glanced at my watch. It was 9:59 am. Nothing like making an entrance.
I took my attaché from Wade and swept into the room as best I could, setting it down on the desk and stepping up to the lectern. If I was going to make any impression other than victim today I was going to have to act my ass off. Here goes…
“Good morning, everybody! I’m Christopher Boldt and this is Psychology of Adjustment. I hope you’re all in the right place.” I opened my attaché and retrieved the class roster. There was no way I was going to be able to take attendance wearing these dark sunglasses. So I reached up and removed them.
Somebody in the room let out a surprised gasp. Several other people seemed to begin rustling papers.
I looked up at them. There were about 25 students seated in rows in the room. Scott and Wade had found seats next to each other near the front. They were both smiling encouragingly at me. Suddenly I realized how warm the room felt and that I was wearing a winter coat. I winced as I shrugged out of it. I draped it over the back of the desk chair and straightened up, holding my side.
Turned out it still felt awfully hot in here. Damn nerves.
“From what I can tell the course syllabus for this class is actually a combination of two classes that used to be offered here. They retained the title Psychology of Adjustment but incorporated the class Behavior Modification: Principles and Procedures. So we have a lot to cover over the next fifteen weeks. Now, apparently Professor Damian Edwards’ specialty was Behavior Modification. I hope his absence doesn’t disappoint too many of you.” I leaned against the lectern and took attendance. Every student on my list was in the room—except one: Nick Phillips.
So far Wade and I were both correct: no one asked what had happened, but their expressions told me they were all speculating. I made my decision in that moment.
“This is a class dealing with adjustment processes. I have been debating with myself all weekend whether or not I should share a few details about myself which I would normally keep out of the classroom. As it is I may be opening a can of worms. But it seems obvious to me that I can’t ignore the condition you see me in today.”
Scott raised his eyebrows.
“On Saturday afternoon I went on a lunch date at a local restaurant. In the parking lot as I was leaving I was attacked by three young men. Under any other circumstances I would be at home right now with my feet up, but I couldn’t rationalize canceling the first class of the semester. I do hope you’ll bear with me today. Hopefully by next class I’ll be much more exciting and educational.”
Several students smiled at me.
A hand went up in the back of the room.
“You were at Belladonna’s, weren’t you?” The voice belonged to a dark haired man with heavy eyebrows and a long nose.
My surprise must have registered on my face.
“I work there,” he said. “The bashing was big news.”
I cringed. I hadn’t intended to use the word ‘bashing.’
“Wait. You’re gay?” the voice came from by the windows.
I nodded. “However, since this is a class dealing with adjustments, I hope you can all adjust to an openly gay professor. And if not, add/drop is going on this week.” I gestured toward the door.
The Belladonna employee’s hand was up again.
I waved toward him.
“So I heard there were three of them and one was holding you and the other two were beating on you. Were you freaking out?”
“I don’t think this is really the time for this discussion. We have a lot of information to cover…”
“This is a class in Psychology and Adjustment, right?” a girl asked. “I’m Jeanette. Correct me if I’m wrong, but coming out is an adjustment. I think this is more fascinating than anything else I’m going to hear in class today.”
“You’re good.” I shook my head.
“What I want to know is why’d they pick you? You were alone in the parking lot? Honestly until you said it I didn’t figure you for gay.” Belladonna again.
I raised a finger and pointed. “Now that opens an interesting discussion. Why is it we assume some people ‘look’ gay? And does gaydar work? Recent research indicates that approximately one out of every twenty high school students is gay. There are twenty-five students here today. At least one of you is possibly homosexual. Could you pick that person out?”
Several students glanced at the person next to them.
“But to answer your question, I was alone at the time of the attack. My date had just pulled away in his car. It was a bright, sunny afternoon near a busy street.”
“You must’ve done something.” Blond guy in the back of the room.
“Well, the date ended with a kiss in the parking lot…”
Wade’s eyes popped. He swiveled his head toward Scott, who was looking anywhere but at Wade. Ordinarily that might have seemed comical, except it was my life on display.
“Apparently the three young men saw us kiss and waited until I was alone. Personally I don’t believe I did anything wrong. I realize our government is rather conservative about these issues right now. Regardless I don’t believe physical violence was called for.”
“You really think somebody in this class is gay?” Jeanette asked.
“I’d venture to say several of the students here today are. But that shouldn’t matter. You were correct when you said that a class on adjustments should include homosexuality. It is just one subtopic that we will discuss. Actually there has been some fascinating research done with behavior modification and sexuality. Some of you may have heard of places which claim to be able to ‘straighten out’ former gays. Some of their methods are very primitive and based in a reward and punishment system. As much good as psychology can do, it can be used to inflict a lot of emotional pain. Modern society hasn’t completely embraced homosexuality, but thankfully it is no longer viewed as mental illness. Honestly, if I’m to be viewed as crazy it has nothing to do with which sex I am attracted to.”
A couple of students chuckled.
“But isn’t sexuality a choice? I mean, I know that’s not a popular view, but my church is very adamant on the point that people choose to turn away from God and be gay.” This was from a redheaded girl in the front.
Students were leaning forward in their seats. I suspected they were expecting a fight.
“Listen, I’m not here to preach. I believe tolerance is important and I would hope that educated men and women such as yourselves would not view violence as an acceptable reaction to sexuality. Read Kinsey if you’re interested in sexuality research—that’s not the purpose of this course. As for your religious beliefs, I respect them. However, I say if God doesn’t make mistakes—and he made me—being gay must be okay in His book.”
Scott began to clap. Several students joined in.
I chuckled. “Okay, I’m stepping off the soapbox. Read chapter one for next class. And expect to actually get into the syllabus on Wednesday! If you need to get in touch with me before next class my email address is Boldt.C at the college.”
The room emptied out pretty quickly. Scott and Wade were the last two in their seats.
“Well, that was a short class,” I said, stuffing the class roster back in my attaché.
“You were great!” Wade said. “But I didn’t think you wanted to tell the class what happened to you.”
“I realized there was no way to avoid it.”
“And I can’t believe you two kissed and neither of you told me!”
“I don’t think we should really be discussing this here.”
“Wade,” Scott said, “Do you think you could find your next class on your own? I could meet you after that one.”
“Yeah, probably, why?”
“I want to drive Chris home. Then I’ll give you the grand tour of the campus.”
I shook my head. “That’s not necessary. I can wait.”
“Nonsense. You’re barely standing. I saw you leaning throughout class. You came in and you taught. We all know how strong and dedicated you are. Now give it up. You need to go home and rest.”
He was right so I gave in. He picked me up at the door, where I wished Wade good luck before leaving. Scott helped me out of the car and up to the house, but declined coming in. I asked him to call me later.
When I entered the den the light on the answering machine was flashing. I tapped the button.
“Hello, Christopher,” a deep, mellifluous voice came through the speaker. “It’s Richard...”
I slammed the stop button.
To be continued in Part 42…
Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 42: New Solutions & Old Problems.
I was seated at my desk staring at the blinking light on the answering machine. I had been there over an hour working up the will to listen to my messages. I got up and crossed to the bar, pouring straight vodka into a tumbler. I drained a quarter of the glass before I sat back at the desk and finally reached out and pressed play.
“Hello, Christopher. It’s Richard. I’m back in the area and look forward to seeing you, perhaps picking up where we left off?” He let out a low chuckle. “Perhaps not. But a walk down memory lane might be enjoyable for both of us. Give me a call.”
He had left his number, but I didn’t bother to jot it down. I wouldn’t be returning his call. What was he doing here? And why was he calling me after all this time? And why now, with all that’s been going on around here?
I gulped down more vodka. There was more than one way to dull pain.
When the doorbell rang I nearly jumped out of my skin. It couldn’t be Richard. Not when I looked and felt like this. I didn’t have the energy to deal with him right now.
I walked to the door and glanced out the window. Leatherman stood on my doorstep. I didn’t know whether or not I should feel relieved by that. I twisted the doorknob.
He surveyed my face. “What the hell happened to you?”
“I walked into a door.” My tone was so dry I even surprised myself. I stepped backward to admit him.
“Is this the real reason you weren’t at the Club on Saturday?”
I nodded, returning to the den for my drink. I was going to need a lot more vodka at this rate.
Leatherman remained in the foyer.
“Well, come in, you must have had a reason to drive over here,” I said as I lowered myself into the desk chair.
He joined me in the den. “I had hoped you’d be able to stop by the Club later today. I want you to meet the new kitchen help. He’s very pretty to look at. And he’d make an excellent slave.” As he said the word ‘slave’ Leatherman’s left eye seemed to twitch.
“Are you still on this slave kick? Leatherman, I’ve currently got more boys than I can handle. I am NOT starting up with a new one.”
“This is a special case for a friend. Do you recall my introducing you to Daniel several weeks back?”
“Daniel?” I gave a facial shrug. The name didn’t ring a bell.
“Sure, you remember. The retired Army Officer. Silver hair, great body… Anyway, he’s looking for a boy with dog training.”
I looked at him over the rim of my glass as I emptied it. “And you think I’m going to turn your new kitchen help into a dog for him.”
“What would it hurt? Daniel’s a good man. He’d be a good Master. He’s been alone the last several years. If owning a dog will make him happy I think we should help him.”
“Yes. I scouted the boy, now you train him.”
“That’s what I like about you, Leatherman. This equal partnership we have going.” I frowned. “Meanwhile, who are you kidding? You’re far from selfless. What’s in it for you?”
“Why can’t you believe that I would like a deserving Master to have a devoted slave of his own?”
Because I created the monster before me. I felt a little like Dr. Frankenstein. I probably should have eaten something with all that vodka. I wondered if the current Leatherman, formerly Mitch Driver, should be Daniel’s new dog. He’d already been trained. I shook my head. Bad idea. However…
“Are you always this suspicious, Christopher? Daniel dedicated much of his life to training men to protect this country. Now in his retirement he wants a boy to train for pleasure.”
“So let him place an ad. How does it become my responsibility? I met him once. I can’t even recall who he is.”
“Why is this a problem? We’ve been discussing doing this for months. Here’s a willing Master in need of a trained boy. How much work would it really be for you?”
Hmmm. I had been reading ads on the computer just that morning trying to locate a Master for David. Was it possible that Daniel was the answer to a prayer? The only problem with using a contact of Leatherman’s was that Daniel would no doubt know of my involvement. And I’d been trying so hard to extricate myself from anything illegal. There were too many cops coming around these days. Then again David had quit his job and told his superiors he was leaving town. It wasn’t like he’d been kidnapped. And technically he had asked for the life of a slave. Well, very technically, since I’d fostered the desire in him to believe the cover story he’d begun playing while working at the Club. Still, something in him must have responded to the conditioning he’d received. After all he was currently naked except for socks in a cage in my basement with a Prince Albert piercing answering to the name Slave.
I knew I was going to hate myself for what I was about to do, but it did seem like some weird karmic relief had brought a Master for David to me right after I was beaten so much I was having trouble taking care of him. “I’ll tell you what, Leatherman, you set up a meeting at your Club between myself and Daniel. If I approve then I’ll arrange for a boy for him.”
Leatherman smiled at me in satisfaction. “I know once you talk to Daniel you’ll want to meet Brian. He’s working tonight. I’ll see if Daniel can come to the Club around eight.”
“I don’t know that I’m up for it tonight.” My head was pounding. Vodka mixed with painkillers mixed with being beaten up was turning out to be less solution and more problem.
“I’ll pick you up myself. That way you can make the meeting without even having to drive. I’ll call you shortly if it’s a go.” Leatherman headed toward the door.
What had I gotten myself into? And when was I going to have time to dog-train David?