Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 147: Under New Management.
Saturday, I pulled into the parking lot behind the club at about a quarter to six. I was worried that I was in over my head and hoping the first night reopened would go ok. I let myself in the office door, then checked the mail, unlocked the employees’ entrance and turned on the security monitors before sitting at the desk and hooking up Leatherman’s laptop.
I heard the door at the top of the staircase open and Mike appeared on the stairs dressed in gym clothes. “Hi, Christopher.”
“Mike, how are you settling in?”
“This apartment is the best one I’ve ever had.”
“You said in your text you wanted to talk to me. Is something wrong?”
“No, nothing like that. Have a seat.” I gestured to the couches as I rounded the desk.
Mike sat and I sat opposite him. “I know you want to go back to school this fall and that you’re looking for work. I have a business proposition for you.”
Mike looked concerned.
“Before I say anything, if you’re not interested, just say no. There will be no hard feelings and it won’t affect our friendship.”
I could see Mike relax a little.
“How would you feel about managing the club?”
Mike opened his mouth twice, but no sound came out. On the third try, he said, “You’re serious?”
“Obviously you’d need training, but if you did it this spring and summer we can look into scheduling for the fall. I called a contact in the business program at the college. You might be able to use this for credit as an internship. We’d need to get more information, but the fact that I work for the college helps.”
Mike looked overwhelmed. “It sounds like an amazing opportunity. But I don’t want to disappoint you, Christopher, if I suck at it.”
“Mike, you’re intelligent and personable and I think you can do it. But it’s up to you.”
“Who would train me?”
“I’m working on that.”
Mike stood up and offered his hand.
I stood and shook it. “Does this mean you’re interested?”
“We can sit down this week and hammer out the particulars including salary.”
Mike’s eyes lit up. “Thanks, Christopher. I feel like all I do is say thank you anymore, but I mean it.”
I waved him off. “Doors open at seven tonight. I hope I’ll see you here at some point.”
“I’ll be here.” Mike disappeared up the stairs and I sat back at the desk.
Scott let himself in a short time later. “I thought you might need help tonight.”
I kissed him. “I have no idea what I’m doing. But I thought you had to work.”
“I traded shifts at Kampas. I think my days there will be coming to an end soon.”
“Even with the website?”
“The boys disappearing because of the website have nothing to do with the local bars.”
I nodded. “Makes sense.”
“Rocco did say he’d meet with us tomorrow afternoon if you want. I suggested one o’clock.”
“Perfect.” I kissed him again.
“How’d it go with Mike?”
“I’d say he’s nervous, but he said yes.”
An hour later the kitchen staff and bartenders had already prepped, the bouncers were at the front door and we had officially been open long enough to have a few guys at the bar. The DJ was playing some warm up tunes. And I had absolute butterflies in my stomach.
Scott dragged me onto the dancefloor when the DJ put on a few diva throwback tunes back to back. I was starting to relax and have fun. The bartenders and DJ were keeping things going and everybody seemed happy.
The tempo changed, and I took Scott’s hand and headed off the dance floor. Scott pointed to a high-top table and I saw Wade and Austin standing with sodas.
Wade looked cute in his Vans, jeans and a pullover shirt. Austin was dressed in all black again—a tight T-shirt, jeans and scuffed-up black combat boots.
“Hi guys,” I said as we approached. “Having fun?”
Wade’s face lit up in a smile. “This place is a lot busier than Kampas.” He leaned into my ear. “With a lot hotter guys.”
I laughed. “Just remember you’re here with someone.”
“Nothing wrong with looking,” Wade said.
I walked around Wade. “How about you, Austin?”
“I didn’t know what to expect, but this place is great!” he said with a big grin.
“It’s your first time?”
“You’re over twenty-one?”
“What are you drinking? I’ll buy you your first Leatherman’s cocktail.”
Wade put his hand on my arm. “Austin’s driving,” he said. “He’s not drinking.”
Austin’s face fell, but then a look passed between Wade and Austin and Austin started smiling again.
I raised an eyebrow. “Next time, then, Austin.”
He thanked me, and I leaned in to whisper to Wade, “Have fun, but let him have some, too.”
Wade’s cheeks flushed as I took Scott’s hand and headed toward the office door.
Andrew Brooks suddenly stepped into my path. “Christopher! I’m surprised to see you here!”
I looked Andrew up and down. He was smartly dressed in gray slacks and a sweater, with a pair of brown loafers on his feet. “How are you, Andrew?”
“Lonely!” he said, but laughed, his dimples on full display. “I’m kidding. I’m figuring out the single life though.”
I gestured around. “Well, there are a lot of options out there.”
“Yeah, but a lot for them are looking for one night. I’m looking for more.”
I nodded, not sure what to say.
“If you know anybody—”
“Andrew, I promise if I meet somebody for you, I’ll make an introduction.”
Andrew impulsively hugged me. “We still need to get together and catch up.”
“I’d like that. Text me what days you’re free next week and we’ll make it happen.”
Scott was nowhere to be seen so I made my way to the office and let myself in. I found him standing watching the monitors.
“How’s Andrew?” he asked, his tone neutral.
“He wants a boyfriend. Do you know anyone? I’ve got nobody I can play matchmaker with.”
Scott shook his head.
I looked at several of the screens. “It’s going all right so far.”
“The place is packed, Chris. I think it’s going to be fine.”
I pointed at the camera monitoring the door. “Looks like Clark and Brad showed up after all.”
Clark had on olive pants with boots and a blue button-down shirt and Brad looked very butch in his boots and jeans and plaid shirt.
“Brad’s going to draw attention,” I said.
Scott nodded. “Fresh meat.”
“Let’s go—” we said simultaneously.
I laughed while Scott continued, “intercept them.”
We made our way through the crowd and met them on their way to the bar. After greetings were exchanged Clark said loudly:
“This is more crowded than the last time I was here.”
Brad was looking around and taking it all in. He smiled. “It’s not always like this?”
I shrugged. “Give or take. First time?”
“I’ve never actually been to a gay bar.”
Scott caught my eye.
“Well, then let me buy you your first drink. What’ll you have?”
I looked at Clark and he nodded.
“Two beers,” Scott said and headed toward the bar.
Brad was eyeing several guys in the room. Clark was glancing around, too.
“I’m glad you both made it.”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Clark said, eyeing the dancefloor.
“Are we still on for tomorrow?” I asked Brad.
“7 o’clock,” he replied.
Scott returned and handed them each a beer.
“Is Mike here?” Clark asked, then quickly added, “He said he would be.”
Scott pointed to his right. “He was over near the bar when I was there.”
Clark’s face lit up.
“Go look for him. We’ll keep Brad company.”
Brad was looking around, appearing a little lost.
“Do you dance, Brad?” Scott asked.
Brad smiled. “I’m not bad.”
“Want to hit the floor?” Scott steered him toward the crowd of dancing guys.
I mouthed “Thank you,” and headed toward the kitchen.
Inside the beat was still thudding, but it was surprisingly muted. “Does anyone know if Brian Wolf is here?” I asked.
A head popped around a corner. “I’m Brian.”
“Brian, I’m Chris, the new owner. I’d like to have a quick word with you in the office, if you can get away for a minute.”
“You’re the boss,” he said cockily.
I waved him ahead of me and watched as he strutted out of the kitchen and through the crowd to the office door.
Brian was dressed in a pair of beat up Timberland boots, tight jeans that showed off an enormous bulge and a tight T-shirt. His hair needed a trim and he had some sort of beard going on, though it also looked like it needed a trim. I wouldn’t have recognized him from the dim memory I had of meeting him. Back when Leatherman had introduced us I recall him being clean-cut and handsome.
I let us both into the office. “Have a seat on one of the couches. This won’t take long.”
Brian sat on the far leather couch and spread his legs wide. He looked tired to me. “What’s this about?”
“I understand you want to be a Magician’s Assistant,” I said, using the trigger phrase Craig had told me he had used for Brian. “Is that true? Are you a Magician’s Assistant?”
The trigger seemed to hit Brian hard. He slumped on the couch immediately.
“That’s right. Be a good Magician’s Assistant. Drift deeper and deeper, further and further into relaxation. Your mind is opening, and my words are filling it, Magician’s Assistant.”
I locked the office door, so we wouldn’t be disturbed, and checked the security monitors. Wade and Austin were dancing with Scott and Brad. They all looked like they were enjoying themeselves.
I turned my attention back to Brian. “Brian, you will find that answering any questions I ask is very easy and that you are only able to speak the truth to me. You are happy to answer them and to do anything I tell you. Isn’t that right?”
“Good. Now, how old are you?”
“Are you a student?”
“Where do you work?”
“Not anymore. Got fired from my other job.”
Craig had said Brian worked at a hotel when they started meeting. I wasn’t surprised in his present state he wasn’t still working there.
“Brian, I understand that you have been in trance before. Do you remember what it felt like to be in trance and what it felt like to let someone else’s words replace your own thoughts and change you?”
“Good. I want you to remember a time when someone told you that you were going to begin to act very cocky and aggressive. Do you remember that?”
“That suggestion is being erased from your mind. It is being deleted as if it was never there. You will find that your personality is shifting back to the way it was before you were given that instruction. You can feel it happening now, in fact. And as that is happening you will drift deeper and deeper, further and further, your mind opening even more to my words. Because you were also given an instruction to behave like a redneck. Do you remember that, Brian?”
“Those instructions are being erased and deleted now, too. They are drifting out of your mind and you are returning to the way you thought and spoke and behaved before all of those instructions were added to your mind. They were added against your will, Brian, and I am restoring your will now. You are no longer to behave like a redneck. Do you understand?”
“Good boy, Brian. Good boy. There was one other suggestion made that I am aware of and that is also going to disappear right now. You were instructed to think about sex and be horny all the time. Do you remember that?”
“That instruction is being deleted and erased right now just like the others. In fact, you are having a hard time remembering ever being given those instructions. You will return to the natural level of arousal you had before you were given those instructions. And you will feel happy and good about yourself. Do you understand, Brian?”
“Good. Now, are there any other instructions you have been given by any others that are still in your mind?”
“Device,” he said dreamily.
“Device? What do you mean, Brian? Remember, you can easily answer my questions.”
“Master locked a device on. I never want it to come off.”
Mental headslap. Craig had mentioned that at the hospital the first time he brought up Brian, but it had slipped my mind. Craig had filled in many more details last time I saw him when I had him under.
“Brian, all of the instructions you have related to the device and wanting to wear it are being deleted and erased. They will have no power over you anymore. You will be able to freely decide if you want to wear a chastity device or not. Do you understand?”
“Good. That’s good. Do you want to wear the device?”
“No. It hurts.”
I bit my lip. “Brian, you are able to move freely even as you stay in this relaxed trance. You will stand up and unfasten your jeans.”
Brian did as I instructed. I could see immediately why the device hurt. It was too small, for one, and his skin was chafed, for another. There was just one problem: the device was locked on and I didn’t have a key.
I took out my phone and texted Scott: “NEED YOU IN THE OFFICE.”
He knocked at the door a moment later and I opened it. He took one look at Brian standing stock still with his eyes closed and his pants down and said, “What gives?”
I kept my voice low. “Richard told Brian he’d be horny all the time and then locked him in this chastity device. I rolled back the suggestions, but I don’t have a key. Any idea how we can get this thing off him?”
Scott’s skeptical expression was in place. “You’re kidding.”
I shook my head. “We can’t leave it on him. It’s cruel.”
Scott approached Brian and bent to look at the lock. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
“I don’t think bolt cutters are going to come in handy on a lock this small. I think you’re going to need to call a locksmith.” He straightened up and grinned at me. “We are merry men...” he singsonged.
“Rotten,” I said.
“Honestly, that might be the way to go. Who was that locksmith you hired to do this place?”
“Evan? I don’t know about calling him. It’s Saturday night.”
“If you’re lucky he’s an on-call type.”
“And just how am I supposed to explain this?”
Scott’s dark eyes glittered. “That’s up to you. I’m staying out of this one.”
“You’re enjoying this.”
He nodded. “A little.”
I pulled out my phone and punched the number for the locksmith’s. It rang a couple times, then the ring changed, and I recognized Evan’s voice when he said hello.
“Evan, this is Chris Boldt over at Leatherman’s Club. You did some work for me earlier in the week…”
“Oh, yeah. What’s wrong? One of the locks not working?”
“Not exactly. Listen, this is going to sound really weird and I’m sorry to bother you on a Saturday night—”
“We get most of our calls nights and weekends. That’s when people get locked out or lose their keys most.”
I didn’t know that. “Well, a friend of mine has a small Master lock with no key and we need to get it open.”
“Is it a collar or a cuff?” Evan asked.
“I know what kind of club Leatherman’s is.” I could hear the good humor in Evan’s voice.
“It’s actually on a chastity device.”
Evan let out a whistle. “The lock about an inch or so?”
“Might be a little smaller,” I said.
“Yeah, I can get it open. Is your friend at the club?”
“Office door?” Evan asked.
“Give me fifteen minutes to get there.” Evan disconnected.
Scott was grinning at me.
“I have a feeling this isn’t the first time Evan had to spring some unsuspecting guy from restraints.”
I took a deep breath. “Brian, can you hear me?”
“Open your eyes but remain completely in trance.”
Brian’s eyes opened.
“When Evan gets here you will behave as though you are embarrassed by the device, but you will not let on that are you in trance. Do you understand?”
Scott grinned. “As much as I’d love to see how this goes, I’m going to check on things out front.”
Twenty minutes later there was a knock at the backdoor and I opened it to find Evan carrying a small bag. He was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that displayed how much time he must spend at a gym.
“I can’t thank you enough for doing this,” I said.
He shrugged. “You’d be surprised how many couples try handcuffs or something and then can’t find the key.”
“Oh. I had nothing to do with this. Brian really is only a friend. He didn’t know what to do—that’s how I got roped in.”
Evan shrugged again.
“Brian, Evan is here to help,” I said.
Brian turned and looked embarrassed. “Thank you,” he said.
Evan set the bag on the coffee table and pulled out a small zippered pouch. He looked at the lock and then selected a couple of tools. It took him less than two minutes before the lock was open and removed from the device.
He stood and faced me. “That was an easy one.”
“Brian,” I said, “Why don’t you take off the device and close your pants?”
Brian followed my instructions.
“Evan, what do we owe you?”
“This one’s on me,” he said. “It’ll make a great story to tell my boyfriend later.”
I reached into my pocket and pulled out my wallet. I had a 5 or a 50. I pressed the 50 dollar bill into Evan’s hand. “I appreciate you help.”
He glanced at the bill and smiled. “Call anytime.”
I thanked him again and let him out the backdoor, then locked it and turned my attention to Brian.
“Brian, sit on the couch, then close your eyes.”
“Are there any other instructions you’ve been given while in trance that are still affecting you?”
“No,” he said.
“Good. When you awaken you will feel happy and refreshed and all the effects of all the suggestions you have been given will have been erased and deleted. You will wake up tomorrow and get a haircut and shave and clean yourself up and return to dressing and acting and speaking the way you choose to. Do you understand?”
“That’s good. That’s very good. There is one more thing. The phrase Magician’s Assistant will still be a very powerful phrase for you. But it will only affect you when I say it. Only when I say Magician’s Assistant will it affect you and take you down into this nice relaxing trance. Do you understand?”
“Ok, Brian, you will awaken on the count of 3 feeling happy and ready to get back to work. 1…2…3.”
Brian rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands and took a minute to focus on me. “What did you want to talk to me about?” he asked, still sounding a little out of it.
“I heard a rumor that you lost your other job. What did you do at it?”
Brian frowned. “I worked the front desk at a hotel.”
I nodded. “I’m looking for someone to take on more responsibility here—and a raise would go along with it. Are you in school?”
“Why don’t you meet me here Monday afternoon around two for an interview?”
“No promises, but if you’re the go-getter Leatherman led me to believe, then this might work out for both of us.”
Brian stood up and pumped my hand repeatedly. “That would be amazing. Thank you, Chris. I can call you Chris, right?”
I smiled. “Please do.”
As Brian stood there an expression crossed his face that I was unsure how to interpret. Then he grinned a very handsome grin. “I better get back to the kitchen.”
I followed him back into the club. I saw Andrew chatting with a couple of guys as I strode past the bar. Clark and Mike were dancing near the edge of the floor. Brad and Wade and Austin seemed to be having a good time on the dancefloor, too.
I felt a hand on the small of my back and spun around.
Scott was smiling at me. “Everything ok?”
I nodded and returned his smile. “I think it’s going to be.”