Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 55: Secrets and Lies.
I don’t know how he did it, but God bless him, Andrew talked Wade into staying at his place tonight. It was probably only postponing the inevitable, but it meant that I could put off an explanation of recent events to Wade. At least until I could devise a palatable explanation.
Scott offered to drive me home, but asked if I minded if he stopped at his apartment first. I didn’t. He invited me in, but I demurred, waiting in the car. A couple minutes later he returned with a small overnight bag. He sped off toward my house.
Small talk was awkward and forced between us on the ride and it didn’t get any easier once we were safely ensconced inside my house.
“Can I get you anything?” I asked.
He declined. “I’m good. You want to go into the den?”
I shook my head. “No, not in there.”
He shrugged. “Okay. No problem.” He looked around. “Upstairs?”
Scott picked up his bag from the foyer and followed me up the stairs. At the top he wrapped his arm around my waist. “If you don’t want to talk about this we don’t have to.”
I looked into his eyes. “I trust you, Scott. I’ve just,” I paused. He waited. “I’ve just never told anyone how bad it was.”
We went into the bedroom. Scott sat on the bed and rifled through his bag. I stalled. This was the second time Scott was in my bedroom, on my bed, and again the circumstances were not going to end with a night of passionate lovemaking. I changed into pajama pants and a T-shirt. Scott stripped down to his T-shirt and boxers.
“Your side looked better,” he said.
I must have looked surprised.
He smiled. “I peeked.”
I pulled down the comforter and propped up the pillows. Scott climbed into the bed. I sat up beside him. We both stared across the room.
Scott reached for my hand and took it in his. “So, how was your day?” he asked cheerfully.
“Mine was pretty good. I got some reading done for class, plus I had a good night at the bar tip-wise. Then the hottest guy in the place, who happens to be somebody I care a lot about, came in really upset. And I’ve been going crazy with worry ever since.” He squeezed my hand.
“I don’t mean to worry you, Scott.”
“I know. It’s kind of a hazard of being involved.”
Involved. Is that what we were? It sounded kind of nice. Except that my life also involved a lot of problems. “That’s why I’m worried, Scott. What if it ruins everything?” I faced him. “I care a lot about you, too. I don’t think I’ve said it enough, but I am falling head over heels in love with you. And I don’t want to spoil it.”
Scott looked surprised. “Nothing you could say could spoil things, Chris. I love you, too. I thought you knew that.” He leaned in and kissed me tenderly.
“I don’t even know where to start. I don’t even think about this stuff anymore. Not if I can help it. I’ve never talked about it.”
Scott gave my hand another squeeze. “Start at the beginning. You were born. Then what?”
I smiled sadly at him. There was no turning back now. “It was after high school. I turned eighteen that summer. And I met a man. He was strong and handsome, and powerful, and he had a lot of money to throw around, which he was happy to spend on me. We started spending a lot of time together.”
“This was Richard?” Scott asked.
I nodded. “I grew up very sheltered, Scott. I didn’t understand why this rich, older guy liked me. I couldn’t figure out what about me deserved a guy like him. He bought me things and took me out and pretty soon I was practically living at his place.”
Scott looked genuinely concerned about where all of this was leading. I wished his concern wasn’t warranted.
“You swear you want the truth?”
Scott released my hand and slid closer to me on the bed. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders.
“Things started to change with Richard. He didn’t want me to spend time with any of my other friends. He pretty much cut me off from my family. And then when I had nobody else he moved me in with him and started twisting things around.
“You know I know hypnosis. Richard is where I began to learn about it. In the beginning it was kind of fun and exciting. He would put me in a light trance and sex would be amazing. Then I started losing chunks of time. I thought I was having blackouts. I didn’t know everything when it was happening. I pieced most of it together later, when I got away from him.”
Scott’s eyebrows were lowered. “Got away from him?”
“I was lucky to get out of there. But a lot happened first.” I thought back to the early days of knowing Richard. He was younger then and quite striking to look at. Time had hardened his looks. “Richard was into bondage and discipline and a whole host of things.” I closed my eyes to block out the images that were trying to come to the front of my mind. It was useless. “He was hypnotizing me and leaving me under for long spans of time. He began training and conditioning me to be his slave.” I spat out the word.
“What?” Scott said on a gasp.
“Through a variety of means he managed to take control of me. I would do only what he told me to do. He took away my free will and he began using me for whatever he wanted. I was a live-in maid, a cook, a sex toy, whatever he wanted me to be. He kept me locked in a closet when he didn’t want me around.” I had begun to shake, but I concentrated on stopping myself. “To this day I get claustrophobic in small spaces.”
I felt Scott’s arm tighten around my shoulders.
“Richard messed with my head. He made me think I was worthless and didn’t deserve friends and that no one aside from him would ever bother with me. He made me think I was lucky to have him and that I should worship him.”
Scott looked appalled.
I couldn’t stand to see his reaction and continue. I stared into the darkened room instead. “The timeline is a little fuzzy here, because I wasn’t allowed out and I’m not sure just how long had passed, but Richard started to get tired of me. He would tie me up in restraints and go out looking for a new boy. He’d tell me that if I was good maybe he wouldn’t replace me. I was panicking—if the only person who would have me didn’t want me anymore, what would I do? Eventually he brought home another boy. He started hypnotizing him. He made us do things for him and to each other.” I shut my eyes again. “He made us do some things I would never ask another person to do.” Tears were spilling out of my eyes but I continued talking. I didn’t think I could stop now if I tried.
“Richard figured it didn’t matter what he did to the new boy in front of me because I was under his power and I would do what I was told. And I really don’t know why he was wrong. But I watched how he hypnotized the new boy. I watched and I learned. And then I started practicing on the boy when Richard would go out. I got the basics down. I thought Richard would be proud to see what I could do. That was really all I was thinking—I would make him proud. And then he wouldn’t want to replace me. One night I told him what I had learned to do. He was furious. He hurt me that night.” I took a shaky breath. “Then he decided it might be interesting to have a protégé. That’s what he started calling me. He said he’d train me to find boys for him and make them serve him like I did.”
“What he never bothered to pay any attention to was that because I was scared of him I didn’t want other boys to go through that. He had beaten me and hurt me but I thought I deserved it because I was worthless. But I figured other boys deserved better.”
Scott had begun rubbing my back gently. “Why would you think you were worthless?” he whispered.
I thought about how to answer him, how to explain what made so much sense to me then, but so little now. “Richard convinced me of it. He just kept telling me how pathetic and unlovable I was and how no one would ever want me other than him. I believed it. I really believed I deserved anything he gave me.
“Anyway he started training me to use hypnosis. Eventually he would take me out to bars and backrooms with him and I’d find a boy and we’d bring him home and hypnotize him. Sometimes Richard would have sex with them. Sometimes he’d have me join in. Richard would give every one of the boys he hypnotized a post-hypnotic suggestion. He had a fetish for boys in tight white briefs. He would tell each of them that they were only allowed to wear white briefs. We usually picked up the same boys several times. Every one of them would end up wearing white briefs the next time they came to the house.”
“He could do that?”
“He could do a lot more. After I got away from him I made a study of hypnosis. I’ve never encountered anyone with his degree of skill.”
“You keep saying you got away from him. How did you do that?”
I tugged at the comforter, seeing small flashes in my mind of the last day I was with Richard. “Richard had originally ordered me that I wasn’t allowed to leave his house. After awhile when we were going to the clubs and stuff he changed the rules so I could go with him. I don’t think he realized it. I didn’t at first. But one night he went out and didn’t come back the next morning. I went outside to look for him. And I realized I could go outside. But I didn’t leave right then. I decided to plan and leave at night when it was dark and it would be harder for him to find me. I knew if I left and he found me he’d punish me. But I was afraid he could change the rules back and I wouldn’t be able to go. So I decided I’d leave that night.”
Scott kneaded the back of my neck. “Take your time, Chris.”
“Richard kept all of my clothes locked up. He only allowed me to wear briefs when we were home. God, I still remember this like it was yesterday. When he came home that afternoon I told him I would do his laundry. I washed and dried and folded and hid pants and a shirt. I put his clothes away in his dresser and closet and stole an old pair of shoes from the back of his closet. They were big on me, but they were shoes.”
“So that night he fucked me and then fell asleep like he usually did. I crept out of the bed. I swear to God I thought my heart was going to explode, it was beating so fast. He had left his money clip on his bureau. I took the money out of it and I left the bedroom. I got the clothes and shoes from where I had hidden them, got dressed, and went out the door. I managed to get to a cheap motel and rent a room for a week with some of the money I had taken. I remember going out to get food. When I woke up I was in a hospital. The doctor told me I was dehydrated and about twenty pounds underweight. When they asked me who they could contact the only person I could think of at first was Richard. But I knew if they called him I’d never get away again.”
“What did you do?”
“I had them call my grandmother. She rushed to the hospital. She took me home with her and nursed me back to health. I don’t think she ever understood what exactly had happened to me. But she took care of me and helped me work through some of it. A lot of the time she just gave me space. I knew I couldn’t see a therapist. They’d lock me up as crazy. Richard used to say if I ever tried to tell anyone while we were out what he did to me that he’d make them think I was crazy and have them lock me up. He knew I was scared of being locked up—my claustrophobia got worse the longer I was with him. I sometimes wonder if he did that to me on purpose. I could see him doing that—strengthening my fear of small spaces and laughing as he locked me in that closet.” I was crying and had to stop talking to pull myself together.
Scott had stopped massaging by back. I turned and caught him shaking his head. “It’s amazing.”
“That’s why he’s dangerous, Scott. Richard will mess with your mind until it’s not you anymore.”
“I read about experiments with mind control that the Nazis supposedly attempted…”
“Richard perfected it.”
We sat in silence. Scott blew out a breath. “So what happened with your grandmother?”
“She took me in. She convinced me that people did love me and that I was a worthwhile human being. She also reminded me that all people need love and respect and that everyone deserves both. She was a very moral woman. She helped me figure out what lines you don’t cross with people.”
“She sounds like an amazing person.”
“She was. She put me through college. I studied hypnosis on the side. I learned self-hypnosis. I built up my strength and tolerance in case I ever ran into Richard again. I was scared to death he’d find me for a long time. Time passed though and I managed to block out most of what happened. When my grandmother passed away she left me her house. This is it.”
I remembered how her bed was on the opposite wall when this was her room and how she used to say you never leave the house without changing your blouse and applying fresh lipstick. It was good advice I had adapted to my own life. I smiled. I missed her.
“Chris?” Scott asked.
“I was just thinking about my grandmother.”
I took a deep breath. It was time to finish this and bury my past again. “I have spent the last decade of my life putting my past behind me and trying to be a decent person. I’ve been using hypnosis to help people when I can. I mean, I’ve used some of it recreationally too. And I have used it to teach people some lessons that may or may not have been completely ethical. But I have tried to not be like Richard. And now Richard’s back. And I don’t think he really intends to try to hypnotize me again or anything like that. He’s been back for awhile before I saw him. And he’s found out about Wade and you and Andrew and apparently even Craig. And I think he’s going to try to hurt you or take you all away from me as some sort of revenge.”
Scott sat back against the headboard. “You really believe he could do that?”
“I know this all sounds out there with the hypnosis and everything. But, Scott, I swear to you the threat is real and Richard is dangerous. He hypnotizes people and twists their thoughts. He uses boys. I’m not sure if I was the first or not. I think I may have been. But I know he’s had others who weren’t just the random one or multi-nighters we would pick up.”
Scott pulled me in to an embrace. “You were lucky to get away from him. You must have been stronger than you realized.”
“I think it was just self-preservation. The doctors said I had been starving. If I had stayed with Richard I may have died. I don’t know. He might have kept me alive. I do know that he never really cared about me. And it took a lot of years to realize that what he did to me wasn’t about me but about him.”
I squeezed Scott to me. It hurt my ribs a little, but I needed him close to me. “Now that you know are you disappointed in me?” I was terrified of the answer.
He pulled his head back and looked me in the eyes. They were still running. “Disappointed? Are you kidding? Not at all. Not one iota. I’m amazed by you. I can’t even imagine how you lived like that. And you’re ok now. I’d be just as scared, Chris. But you’ll be safe from Richard now.”
Safe from Richard. Scott had no idea how much I longed for that.
“I get why Richard being back makes you a wreck. He’s a demented bastard and he needs to fry. There’s really no evidence against him that could be used to put him in jail?”
“It’s been so many years that my claims would be laughed at. So would I. I’ve tried to become respectable. Can you imagine my reputation if this all came out?”
“There must be some way. You said there were other boys. Do you think they would testify against him?”
I shook my head. “God knows what he’s done to their minds.”
“What if we set him up with a boy? We could set up video surveillance or a microphone or something…”
“It wouldn’t be worth it to sacrifice the boy.”
“I could volunteer.”
“No!” I shouted.
“I-I-I mean, please don’t even consider it, Scott. Richard would destroy you.”
“Couldn’t you teach me how to withstand what he does?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.” I stared at the window. It would be dawn before long.
Scott played with my hair. I was getting drowsy. Between the crying and the talking I was exhausted. I felt wrung out, but overtired. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sleep at all.
“Chris,” Scott said.
“Wade was abused wasn’t he? By Richard? I looked up his file. He disappeared for a couple of years.”
“Wade was abused but not by Richard.”
“That’s why you took him in? Does he know that?”
“No. He doesn’t know anything about what happened to me. And I suppressed his memories of his abuse. He doesn’t remember what happened to him.” I sat up with a start. “You looked up his file?”
Scott took my hand again. “I have something to tell you. I haven’t been completely upfront with you, Chris, and it’s been driving me nuts. But I think our relationship is strong enough after all of this for you to know the truth and keep my secret.”
“I’m here undercover. I’m a Special Agent with the FBI.”