Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 135: Working Late.
A short time later, Scott called the FBI and reported the gun and the dvds from the safe at Leatherman’s. A couple of plainclothes men arrived not long after that and looked through the contents of the safe and then left with the bag.
I remained upstairs and checked on Bootboy. I gave him a copy of the key to the private entrance and, although he didn’t seem at all interested in living there without Leatherman, I suggested he remain until we could figure out a better plan.
It was late by the time Scott and I got home. We parked side by side in the driveway and headed into the house.
The TV was on in the living room, and Wade was asleep on the couch. Scott walked up the stairs while I went and nudged Wade’s shoulder.
He looked at me sleepily. “Chris, what time is it?”
“It’s late. What are you doing sleeping on the couch?”
Wade sat up. “I was waiting up for you guys. I must have dozed off.”
“Did you eat anything?” I asked.
“I ordered pizza. There are slices left in the refrigerator.”
“That’s great. I’m starved. I missed dinner.”
Wade followed me into the kitchen and sat at the table while I busied myself heating up the pizza in the toaster oven.
“No Austin tonight?”
“He had homework he had to do. Andrew stopped by.”
I turned. “How was that?”
“A little awkward, but not bad. He seems really happy. He was checking to make sure we were all right.”
“I owe him a phone call.” I grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and drank.
“Where were you guys all day?”
“At the club mostly. I’m going to be there tomorrow afternoon too.”
Scott came down the hall and into the kitchen. He had a coat on. “I’m going in for a bit.”
“Are you hungry? Wade ordered pizza.”
I opened the toaster oven and handed the slice I had heated to Scott.
He kissed me on the lips, then took a bite of the slice. “I don’t think I’ll be too late.”
“I love you,” I said as he left the house. I put another slice of pizza in the toaster oven.
Wade was eyeing me. “Scott has to work tonight?”
“He’s trying to help Craig not go to prison.”
My eyebrows shot up. “Wade, you don’t really think Craig should go to prison for the things Richard made him do, do you?”
Wade was quiet. “I guess not. I mean, I get that he didn’t really want to hurt me. But it still sucked. And if I was Scott I wouldn’t be helping my boyfriend’s ex-boyfriend out of trouble at all.”
I laughed. “I don’t think Scott feels threatened by Craig, Wade.” I sat down at the table with my slice of pizza on a plate. “Are you really doing ok with all of this Craig stuff?”
“Yeah. I keep thinking about him pointing the gun at me and then at his own head. He wasn’t anything like he used to be. When he lived here, even when he was mean, I never thought he’d hurt me.”
I chewed my pizza. “I think that was the problem. Richard ordered Craig to hurt you, but I think somehow Craig was trying to resist.”
Wade sighed. “I thought hypnosis sounded like it would be fun to learn. But I didn’t count on stuff like this.”
“That’s a conversation for another time. I can teach you if you really want to learn. But we’ll have to discuss safety and responsibility and a lot of things I didn’t handle well when I taught Craig.”
“There is something else, though, Wade. But you can’t tell Austin or discuss it with anyone.”
Wade’s eyes lit up. “Ok, Chris. You can trust me.”
I smiled. “We found videos Richard had kept. He was really pretty brutal to Craig. But they might help get Craig out of trouble and prove what Richard is capable of.”
Wade’s whole face lit up with his smile. “You mean Richard won’t be able to get near us anymore?”
“I believe that’s why Scott went to work tonight.”
Scott was wrong; he was apparently very late getting home. I had fallen asleep before he had gotten in, and, when I woke up a few minutes before my alarm on Monday, he was sleeping soundly.
I got ready for the day and left the coffee on before I departed for the college. Scott, Wade and Nick were all on time to class and the lesson went smoothly.
After class Wade waved at me and walked out of the classroom with a couple of the girls. Scott lingered until the room had cleared and then approached the podium.
“Thanks for letting me sleep this morning,” he said.
He nodded. “I may have some news later today about the videos, but no guarantees.”
“So, nothing yet?”
He shook his head, then brushed a lock of glossy hair back from his forehead.
“I’m heading to the club when I leave campus. I’m going to call my lawyer and let the cleaning crew in. Then I want to visit Craig.”
Scott nodded. “It’s already arranged. Show the guard your license when you get there, and you’ll be allowed in.”
I gave him a peck on the lips. “Thank you.”
He shrugged. “I know you well enough, Chris, to know you were going to ask.”
“And I know you well enough, Scott, to know you’re not thrilled about it. But I’ll tell you what…do you think you’ll be home at a decent hour tonight?”
“I can try. Why?”
I gave his jacket lapel a tug. “I was thinking you could tell me another of your fantasies and we could see about making it happen.”
Scott flashed his dazzling grin. “You’ve got a date.”
To be continued in Part 136...
Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 136: Blue Monday.
I hadn’t been at the club long when two vans from the cleaning service pulled into the lot. I gave two men and two women a tour of the entire club and the basement and they began to work.
Bootboy had been nowhere to be found, but I thought that was just as well.
I sat at the desk and punched Gus’s cell phone number on my phone. While it rang I thought about Augustus Smith. I hadn’t talked to him in a while, and I had to wonder if he had been following the news about Richard and Craig already.
Just when I was expecting voicemail to kick in, Gus answered. “Christopher, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
I rolled my eyes. “Hi, Gus. How’ve you been?”
“Busy. But if my sources are correct, not as busy as you.”
“What have you heard?”
“Two of your exes are on the hook for various and sundry crimes.”
“Your sources are good. That’s part of the reason I’m calling.”
“Yes. Do you recall when I asked about adopting Wade?”
“I do. That was around the time you revised your will.”
“I think it’s a go. Can you draw up whatever paperwork we need?”
“I can get started on it.”
“Craig Matthews is in the hospital and likely going to be charged soon. He’s going to need a lawyer.”
“Can he afford to pay me?”
“No, but I can.”
“Is Craig not your ex?”
“He is. But the circumstances are complicated. The bottom line is he was forced to do what he did, and he doesn’t belong in prison.”
“It doesn’t quite work that way.”
“I know. But will you talk to him?”
“Has he been charged yet?”
“Not as far as I know. I’m going to see him later today.”
“If they charge him, call me.”
“Thanks, Gus.” I disconnected the call and busied myself going through Leatherman’s laptop. If I was understanding his figures correctly, the club was a lot more profitable than I had imagined. That made sense though; Leatherman always seemed to have ready cash. Next, I set to work contacting the employees, calling each and informing them that we would reopen on Friday evening and that they would be paid for the full week. The few people I actually spoke with were obviously surprised by that. Mostly I left messages on voicemail.
My ear was starting to hurt by the time I finished the calls. The cleaning crew had finished the club, kitchen, bathrooms and backstage area. The two women had traipsed upstairs while the two men ventured down. I could hear a vacuum running upstairs at one point.
I wandered out of the office into the club. The entire place was sparkling, from the stage to the bar to the kitchen. It even smelled clean. When I got back to the office the two women were dusting and vacuuming in there.
I grabbed a trash can and began throwing out any open bottles of liquor in the bar in the office. I didn’t know if Richard had drugged any of the bottles, but I was certainly not going to take the chance. I hauled the bottles out to the dumpster myself and when I returned the bar had already been polished.
The women soon finished the office and went downstairs to join their coworkers. I was curious how that was going, but not curious enough to check on the progress.
I went out to the stockroom and selected a few bottles to replenish the office bar. I had officially run out of things to do to keep myself busy when the cleaning crew started to pack up their equipment. I signed the invoice, wrote a very large check, and waited for them to leave before locking the door and walking to my car.
A short time later I was walking from my car into Our Lady of Loretta Hospital. I wound my way to Craig’s room and showed the guard my license. He opened the door and let me in, closing it swiftly behind me.
Craig was asleep in the bed. He appeared to have been cleaned up and shaved today and looked a lot better, not to mention a lot less crazy, than he had the last time I had seen him.
I called his name a couple of times and his eyes opened.
“Chris, when did you get here?”
“Just a few minutes ago. How are you feeling?”
I pulled a chair over near the bedside and seated myself. “Are you in pain?”
He shook his head. “My leg hurts but it’s not terrible. I just keep thinking about all the things I’ve done.”
“Well, I have some news on that front. Some new evidence has come to light that may help prove you weren’t completely responsible for everything.”
“What new evidence?”
I bit my lip. “I don’t think I can tell you that right now. But trust me, it should help. I also talked to my lawyer. He said that if you’re charged we should call him and he’ll represent you.”
“Chris, I can’t afford a lawyer. I don’t even think I can afford this month’s rent.”
“It will be taken care of.”
“By who? You? Why would you pay for my lawyer after all the shit I put you through?”
I held up my hand. “I’m not here to discuss that. I need you to answer a few questions for me. They’re letting me visit you, but I don’t know how many times that’s going to fly.”
I chose my words carefully. “From what I gather there were a group of guys who would meet in the basement of the club with Richard on a regular basis. What do you know about them?”
Craig frowned. “Master would call and summon us. And once he did we were compelled to go.”
“Are they all as controlled as you? I mean, do I need to track down these guys and find out if they can function?”
Craig shook his head. “Alan and I were completely enslaved. I think Leatherman might have been too, but I’m not sure. He was usually on his hands and knees on a leash.”
I hated to think that Leatherman’s last days were spent as a dog. He and I didn’t always get along, but we had been friends for a long time.
“The rest of the guys would do what they were told while we were in the dungeon, but then Master would release them, and they would just pack up and leave and go back to normal.”
“So all of the other guys should be ok then?”
Craig avoided my eyes.
“Craig?” I didn’t mean to sound quite so sharp.
Craig flinched. “There’s one guy who needs help and it’s my fault.”
I said nothing.
“Brian Wolf. He works at the club. He was a nice guy who was studying to be a lawyer and working at a hotel I think. Master forced me to prove my abilities by hypnotizing him.”
“What did you do?” I asked quietly.
“First, Master had me make him over from a preppy guy in a shirt and tie to a redneck.”
“Then I made him always horny. He sort of forced himself on me after that but it wasn’t his fault.”
“You were assaulted?” I asked.
Craig shook his head. “After Brian was horny all the time Master locked him in a chastity device and told him it could never be removed.”
“That’s just cruel,” I said in as level and measured a tone as I could manage.
“He’s gonna need help, Chris. He was a really nice guy who was trying to earn extra money to pay for law school. I hope I didn’t ruin his life like—” Craig stopped and looked away.
I wondered for a moment if he was going to say himself, but I knew even Craig wouldn’t be that selfish. “If you were going to say like Alan, I don’t think you can take responsibility for that.”
Craig looked miserable.
“Richard is an opportunist. You were targeted because of your connection to me. Richard knew I had hypnotized you and he knew that meant he could take you over. I’m not sure why he decided to go after Alan. We may never know.” I didn’t add that barring the random guys in the basement all of the affected players had ties to me except Alan. “Anybody else?”
“There was a guy who was put in a rubber suit and told he never wanted to take it off, but I don’t know who he is or where you’d find him.”
I sighed. “That’s not much to go on.”
Craig shifted a little in the bed. “I’m sorry.”
“I believe you are,” I said. “And you don’t have to keep telling me.”
“Chris, what Master—” Craig grimaced and concentrated “—Richard did to me wasn’t like what you did. I knew what I was being made to do and I knew I didn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t stop myself.”
That was the Richard I knew. A total sadist.
“You said you could help me. Can you really? I need him out of my head. I don’t want to keep thinking of him as Master and I don’t want him to be able to control me anymore.”
“I don’t know if this will be any comfort to you, but Richard seems to have lost some of his memory. So, I don’t think he will be controlling you anymore, even if he could get to you. But I think I can help with the Master stuff. It might take a few sessions though. I have no idea just what he did to you.”
“I just need to feel like myself again,” Craig said.
I took a deep breath. “My shoes are tight.”