Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 116: Later Friday Night.
Now if this were one of those TV shows where I had a fully appointed crime lab or could get a computer expert to enhance the footage, right now I would probably be finding some major clue in the video on my phone.
But I did not have access to any of that. I didn’t even have Scott to take it to in order to get help from the FBI. All I had was my own knowledge of my despicable ex.
I pressed play again. The video clearly showed that Scott was still fully clothed and in good physical shape. That was a relief. I knew how physically abusive Richard could be and I also knew he enjoyed nonconsensual sex.
The thought of my boyfriend being violated or tortured by my ex galvanized me. I had put this off for too many years. It was time to face Richard and deal with him. Once and for all.
It hit me in a flash why I recognized the bondage chair. I was likely standing over it. Scott was in the underground dungeon here at the Club.
My phone vibrated. Wade. Craig is here!!!!
I was near the men’s room door and I knew it would be quieter in there, so I ducked in and dialed Wade’s number. I pressed my other palm to my ear to try to blot out the music.
“Chris! Craig is here. At Kampas!” Wade sounded breathless.
There was no way I believed that was a coincidence. Richard had Scott, and Craig was at Wade’s job. “Wade, listen to me. I don’t have time to explain. You are in danger. Do not leave the crowded bar, even for a second.”
“What? Chris, you’re scaring me.”
“Richard kidnapped Scott. I think Craig is there to grab you again.”
“Oh my god. Scott? Are the police there? Should I call them?”
I pulled the phone away from my ear and read the time. It was almost nine o’clock. “I haven’t called them yet,” I said into the phone. “Wade, listen to me. If you haven’t heard from me by 9:30, call 911 and send them to Leatherman’s Club. Tell them to go through the private office to the door to the basement. You got that?”
Two guys walked into the bathroom, making out. They saw me and backed out of the room.
“Door to the basement. Yes. Chris! You’re not going down there, are you?”
“Scott’s down there. I have to. I’ve got to go. Remember—nine thirty. I love you.” I clicked off the phone and stuck it in my pocket.
It occurred to me that Richard might have suspected I would recognize the bondage chair and show up here, but even if this was a trap, what choice did I have? Scott was worth the risk.
I exited the men’s room and headed for the office. As I reached the door Mitch, dressed in full Bootboy regalia, blocked my path.
“Mitch! I need to get into the office.”
“Employees only, Sir,” he replied in a flat tone.
“Mitch, I haven’t had time to talk to you, but Leatherman gave me the Club. I own the entire place.”
Mitch’s expression didn’t change, but I swear I saw a spark of recognition in his eyes when I mentioned Leatherman.
“Mitch, what is going on? I need to get in the office.”
“Everything is fine. Everything is under control,” he replied mechanically.
Oh, for fuck’s sake. Damn you, Richard King!
I didn’t have time to argue with Mitch and I knew I couldn’t physically overpower him. Arguing with him more was only going to draw attention to me, and if I had any chance of getting downstairs unnoticed I needed to be more covert and less public.
There was no other way into the office from the Club. But there was the private entrance from the parking area. The door would be locked, of course. I didn’t have time to drive home and get my key.
I strode through the Club to the front entrance, got my hand stamped for reentry and pushed out into the night air. It had gotten colder while I was inside and I could see my breath.
I switched the flashlight on my phone and hurried down the alley to where my car was parked. The back door to the Club was lit up. I crept up to it and tried the knob. Locked.
That would have been way too easy.
Maybe this wasn’t a trap. Maybe Richard didn’t expect me. If Richard wanted me to get downstairs, wouldn’t he have instructed Mitch to let me in?
I looked closely at the door. It was a metal door, but there was no deadbolt on it. I remembered that Leatherman had a chain lock on the inside that was almost never used.
If I lived through tonight, tomorrow I’d install a deadbolt on this door. And never leave my keys at home.
I didn’t have time to waste. I knew I couldn’t pick the lock with a credit card, and hitting the door with my hammer was just going to make a lot of noise.
Once again I jogged down the alleyway to the front door. I cut the line of people waiting, showed the bouncer the stamp on my hand, and returned inside. I could see from the entryway that Mitch was no longer outside the office door.
I jostled my way through the crowd of handsome men and reached the door. The knob turned in my hand and I slipped inside.
I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding. The office was empty.
I made my way to the bank of video monitors and checked the surveillance cameras. The kitchen staff looked sparse tonight. I could see Mitch hovering near the bar. The crowd outside the door had grown denser. And the camera covering the basement was blacked out.
I walked to the basement door and turned the knob. The door wouldn’t open. I had never noticed the deadbolt on this door before. And it was awfully suspect that it would bolt from the inside. That didn’t seem like something Leatherman would have arranged.
The clock over the bar read 9:20. I had ten minutes to get downstairs and try to get Scott out of here before the police would be called. Even if it took them ten minutes to get here that left me a mere twenty minutes.
I rifled through the contents of the desk drawers. No keys. I scanned the tops of all the furniture in the room. What if Richard had the keys on him? I looked behind the bar. The liquor hadn’t been restocked in here recently. Leatherman always kept this bar well-stocked when he was here.
Just then I heard footsteps nearby. I ducked behind the bar and crouched as low as possible.
The door from the basement opened. I couldn’t see his face, but I recognized the Gucci loafers. It was Richard.
He shut the door, crossed the room, and entered the bar.
I looked up and mouthed a silent thank you.
I had no time to lose. I had no idea how quickly he would return. I scrambled out from behind the bar, opened the door to the basement and shut it behind me.
It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. I considered using my flashlight, but I didn’t know if Richard had left anyone else down here with Scott. I didn’t want to announce my presence just yet.
I made my way carefully down the stairs. I could hear someone talking but couldn’t make out who it was or what they were saying.
I crept quietly through the darkened room. The voice was clearer now. It was oddly processed, but I recognized Richard’s tone. There was an induction playing from speakers I couldn’t see.
“Surrender. Submit. Obey.”
I rounded a corner past a support beam and saw Scott. He was struggling against his bonds, but to no avail. His hair was mussed and his clothing was rumpled, but he had never looked better to me.
I ran over to him.
His eyes lit up when he saw me. Then he started shaking his head emphatically.
I reached for the metal clamp at his wrist. It was padlocked shut. In fact, all the cuffs were locked, including the leather gag in his mouth.
Scott was trying to say something, but the gag in his mouth made it impossible to understand him. He gestured with his head as much as he could with his neck clamped to the back of the chair.
To be continued in Part 117…
Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 117: Friday Night at Kampas.
“Remember—nine thirty. I love you.” The phone disconnected.
“Chris?” I said to empty air. I pocketed my phone. I knew Chris was smart and I knew he could take care of himself but I also knew if Scott was in danger Chris would rush in to save him and if Richard was as big a sleaze ball as he seemed then this could all be a trap and then Chris would need saving too and what was I going to do until nine-thirty when I was supposed to call the cops?
“You planning to serve any customers here, Wade?” Tom asked.
Tom was another bartender at Kampas. I didn’t work with him much. He was a nice enough guy and really cute in the way that Irish guys are really cute. The girls really liked him. I could see why. His baby blue eyes always had a mischievous twinkle that made him look like he was plotting something devilish. But tonight the bar was pretty busy and I understood the edge in his voice. I had been preoccupied all night.
“Sorry. Weird night,” I said to him. I took some drink orders and pulled a couple beers. I kept one eye on the clock above the bar the entire time.
When we caught up and there was no one waiting to order Tom ruffled his dark brown hair and leaned against the register. He fixed his eyes on me. “What’s up tonight? This have anything to do with why Scott keeps needing me to cover shifts here? Not that I mind the extra tips.”
“Huh?” I forced myself to smile. “What makes you ask that?”
“I know you guys are good friends. You seem worried about something tonight.” He shrugged. “It’s none of my business.”
Another group of customers showed up and while I was mixing up a cosmo I realized I hadn’t seen Craig since I talked to Chris. I did my best to look around the bar. I didn’t see him, but that didn’t mean he had left. Kampas was busy and there were a lot of people packed in here.
The clock read nine-fifteen. I was gonna be so relieved when I could call 911. I couldn’t even let myself think about what would happen if Chris or Scott got hurt. Or worse.
“Who does a guy have to sleep with to get a drink around here?” a voice asked behind me.
I grinned. The voice was Austin’s. I turned around. “Hey! What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to see you. I know you’re working, but I figured I’d stop in.”
“That’s so sweet. I can probably take a quick break in a little while. You want something to drink?”
I poured his drink, set the glass on a napkin in front of him and slid down the bar. Nine-twenty.
Tom was flirting with a cute blond when I passed him to take another order. Rum and coke.
Craig was standing at the end of the bar with his hands in his coat pockets. He gestured with his head to me.
I set the change in front of rum and coke guy and moved down the bar. “Craig, what are you doing here?”
His hair was messed up, he had a couple days’ stubble and his clothes were rumpled. “I have to talk to you,” he said.
“You look a mess. I have nothing to say to you.”
I stepped down the bar.
“Just come with me so we can talk,” he said.
I spun around. “I’m not going anywhere with you. The last time I saw you you kidnapped me.”
I took an order from a couple of guys. I set their bottles in front of them and rang them into the register.
Craig had followed and was across the bar from me. “I have to talk to you,” he said again.
“No. I’m working.”
“It’s important I talk to you.”
I put my hands on my hips. “Get out of here, Craig.”
Tom walked over and punched something into the register.
Craig pulled a hand from his pocket. The light glinted off metal. “Maybe this will make you see how serious I am.”
I cut my eyes to my left and realized Tom saw it too.
“You just want to talk? Talk,” I said.
“Not here,” Craig snapped.
“I’m not leaving the bar with you with a gun.”
“Then I’ll have to start shooting people and it will be your fault.”
Tom backed slowly away from us. I could tell he was trying to get down the bar to signal for help.
Craig turned toward him. “Don’t get any bright ideas.”
Tom flashed a quick grin. “Not me. I’ve got no bright ideas.”
I looked around the bar. There were too many innocent people here, including Austin and Tom. I couldn’t let Craig pull out a gun and start shooting.
“Fine,” I said. “We’ll go out the back through the break room.”
“There’s no—“ Tom began
“—Body back there, I know,” I drowned him out.
He nodded. I knew he’d get it.
I maneuvered past him and out the back of the bar toward the hallway to the restrooms and break room. Craig was directly behind me. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Craig had a gun. I didn’t have anything to defend myself with. I didn’t want to get shot.
Two girls walked out of the ladies’ room giggling. They slipped past us toward the bar.
We reached the end of the hallway and I opened the door. Craig followed me inside and I shut the door behind us. The break room was small, with a table and chairs, a microwave and a small refrigerator in it. There was a small window, but no exit door.
Craig looked around. He whipped back toward me. “What are we doing in here?”
“You said you want to talk. What do you want?”
“We have to get out of here. I have to take you to Master.”
“Master?” I repeated. “Craig, who is Master?”
He didn’t answer.
“Is it Richard?”
Craig pulled the gun out of his pocket and pointed it at me. “I don’t…want…to hurt you,” he said haltingly. “I have to obey. We have to go.”
Craig stepped toward me. I looked down. The gun was pointed at my stomach.
“Go,” he repeated.
I closed my eyes. Please don’t let this be the last thing I ever do. I opened my eyes and reached for the gun.
Craig stepped closer to me and shoved me back toward the door.
I worked my hands up the barrel of the gun and grabbed at Craig’s hands.
He pushed at me again but I turned and he shouldered the wall.
The sound of the gun firing was deafening.