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“Just who the fuck do you think you are?!”
Running, Arthur was running so fast he couldn’t believe it. City lights were curving and springing in his vision. His thoughts were drops of watercolor paints falling into way too much water, frail, thin, and overpowered.
“FUCK YOU!! GET OVER HERE, YOU LITTLE SHIT!!”
Away!! Get away!! Jake was danger, nothing but danger.
Wait. That wasn’t Jake!!
Arthur was suddenly in someone’s arms, and he was being carried away.
No more cities, and no more Jake. There were only trees and minty beach cologne.
Arthur knew it was him. They were walking, sticking together, clinging. Moonlight came, and Arthur was pleased to see it glow on Vince’s suave face.
Vince bent down to kiss Arthur, and he said, “Don’t worry. Don’t every worry again. He can’t hurt you anymore.” His words echoed, but not in a loud or annoying way. His voice moved all around Arthur’s body instead.
The trees opened like doors, and they were in an interior. The forest disappeared. There was only a room of cushions and flowing, gauzy curtains. With open sighs and rough licks, the men laid down there, and their clothes melted into nothing. They held each other, kissed each other, and said all the sweetest things.
Arthur smelled the beach … then felt the beach … even though they weren’t there, were they?
Where were they?
“Just stop worrying, Artie. Stop worrying.”
But he heard Jake’s screaming again. “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!”
Vince covered him, hid him, and kept telling him not to worry. He wasn’t allowed to worry.
“Arthur, time to get up.”
He opened his eyes, and he left the dream.
He was in Vince’s big bed, safe in the darkness of the round canopy. He understood that Vince was sitting on the bed, right beside him. He heard him, smelled him, just sensed him all around. “Hm? What time is it?”
“Five after eight.” Vince ruffled Arthur’s messy hair. That made Arthur open and rub his eyes.
“Oh, right.” They were supposed to go visit Arthur’s parents for Thanksgiving.
The trip had the vehicle switch, getting out of the limo and into the pickup truck after stopping at some nearly dead road. Then they continued.
Mama and Daddy put so much food in the men that they nearly got sick. Then they watched sports on TV, but Arthur didn’t know what was going on half the time. The men stayed at the house for three days. It was a wholesome, wonderful visit.
Benny was clingy when his favorite human finally returned to him. Every time Arthur put him down, that cat crawled or jumped right back to him, meowing and purring. Arthur kept him on a pillow in his lap for a while as he played Papers, Please. For him, it was a difficult game, but he loved the concept and the graphics. The sound effects were also quite satisfying. After maybe half an hour, there was a knock on his bedroom doors. After making sure the progress he wanted was saved, Arthur called out, “Yeah?”
“Hey, Artie! You want some muffins?”
Petting Benny’s head, listening to him sneeze a bit, Arthur said, “What kind?”
One of the doors was pushed aside, and Vince stepped in with a plastic container of muffins in his hands. “Pumpkin and cinnamon.”
Arthur put Benny on his desk and the pillow next to him. “Thanks, Man.”
They didn’t eat in his room. They went to a game room. Between each turn in a bowling game, they munched on the muffins and drank ginger ale. Arthur watched Vince’s legs and backside as he moved. His jeans were just tight enough. Arthur thought of all the times he got to run his hands up and down Vince’s legs. Then he remembered the taste of his skin and body hair. His eyelids felt smoother as his thoughts wandered into a sexual realm.
Vince gave him an insightful look as he walked back to him after a strike. He knew what Arthur was thinking. He touched Arthur’s shoulder and planted a tight kiss on his forehead.
I love you, you crazy, weird, intimidating guy.
That’s what Arthur was thinking.
It was the sort of love one holds despite all the bad elements in the relationship, an almost desperate love.
But it still felt warm.
On a curved sofa, facing the shiny lanes, Vince kept Arthur’s backside there as he knelt down.
Random blowjobs, sometimes they were the best blowjobs.
A wad of fluff from a sock, a woman’s broken hair clip, one of Arthur’s rings that he’d stupidly left out in the open, and a strip of cardboard taken from a box of frozen pizza. The strip had been designed to be ripped away in order to open said box. Arthur described these items to Vince as they left the game room and walked down a hallway.
“He sure does love to steal the weirdest things, huh,” Vince said as he reached up to comb his hair with his fingers. “But be more careful with your jewelry.” His fingers still in his hair, he looked down at Arthur with eyes that could slash his his heart out. “When a lover or spouse buys you jewelry, it’s bahis firmaları special, you know.” There wasn’t a questioning tone there at all.
“Yeah yeah, I know.” Arthur sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“Hey, I mean it.” Vince looked almost like he wanted to pounce on him.
Suddenly on edge, Arthur fumbled with his words as he looked away. “I … I mean … it’s cool. I know. I won’t … I won’t let anything happen to my wedding ring, or my engagement ring.”
Vince mumbled something that sounded like, “Well you don’t wear them every day, so they’d better be locked up.”
Great. Did that mean Arthur had to start wearing his rings daily?
The men watched an animated film. Then they went back to Arthur’s room. Vince was setting something up on the game console when Arthur went to check on Benny’s bed and cat tree.
More disgusting hair. Same color. Same thickness.
“Okay, what the hell?!” Arthur called Vince over.
“What is it?”
Pointing at the bundles of hair with closed fingers, Arthur asked his husband, “Whose hair is this?!”
Vince crouched down at Benny’s pet bed. The cat himself was on Arthur’s bed, playing with one of his toys. Arthur watched Vince’s head move to one side as he looked down at the hair. “We have a lot of people in this building. It could be anyone’s.”
“Well, who the fuck is plucking their hair and leaving out?! It couldn’t have been shaved!” Arthur folded his arms and tapped his foot. “It can’t be shaved! There isn’t any shaving cream or gel on them! And I can see the little bulb things on the ends!”
Wrapping the hair into a scrap bath rag Benny had also stolen, Vince lightly asked, “Why are you asking me, Honey?”
“I don’t know!” Arthur turned back to give Benny an impatient glance. “Check out the bathrooms or talk to your employees. This is creepy. If they have some weird hair plucking fetish, then fine, but they need to do that at home.”
Straightening back up, tightly holding the bundle in his hand, Vince gave Arthur a peaceful smile. “I guess I don’t mind, but they need to clean up after themselves. I’ll look into it. Don’t worry.”
“You sure do love to say don’t worry a lot.”
Vince headed towards Arthur’s bathroom. “That’s because I don’t want you to worry. I really don’t.”
But that didn’t matter. Arthur worried.
And not just about the hair. The hidden door bothered him too.
Vince was at a meeting, or that’s what Arthur was told. It was a chilly morning. Arthur had to adjust the thermostat a bit. Benny had just finished his breakfast, and after some gulps of water he went off. Arthur thought it would be an okay day to follow him again. Maybe this time he might have the courage to ask a guard about the door. The guard might accidentally give him a hint for once. Of course, this was all assuming Benny would go to the door again, and he might not.
Feeling a little sneaky, Arthur put his phone on silent mode and kept a short distance away from Benny as the cat ran off and down all those stairs. Such a ridiculous, yet determined little kitty cat!!
He knew he’d once thought he didn’t want any trouble, but he was compelled to learn something new, anything new, about that fucking door. It was kind of stupid, really, but he was too curious to care.
At the wall, which was pushed away, Arthur thought he had an idea of what the code to the keypad was. Checking the hallway for guards, he walked up to where Benny was getting ready to hop, and he lightly tapped the white creature with his shoe’s toe, letting him know that he shouldn’t hop at all. The tip of Arthur’s index finger pressed the keys. Those keys vaguely reminded him of old public phone booths.
Arthur was able to open the door. Benny ran inside.
With a single, deep inhale, and tingling toes, Arthur tried to enter the space. He saw a long hallway, but then he saw a blur rushing towards him.
Arthur hollered out as he was knocked down to the floor. The person stepped onto him with socked feet. They were big feet, so Arthur assumed it was a man. It hurt, but not too much. He thought he’d only get a bruise. When he looked up, he was able to see a tall man. He had messy, short black hair with a few bald patches, so short that it was mostly cropped close. One of his arms was in a sling. He was wearing a hospital gown.
The moment Arthur was on his feet, he saw two guards come in from seemingly nowhere. The guards tackled the odd man with a sling, which had him yelling out unfathomable noises and struggling the best he could.
Huh. He had a weird, unkempt, and short beard.
A third guard appeared and gently took Arthur’s arm. “Sir? Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, but what’s with that guy?”
The guard lightly pulled Arthur away from the scene. “I’m not allowed to say anything. If anyone will give you information, it’ll be the boss.”
Arthur looked back as the other people seemed to grow smaller and smaller in his vision. Just before they reached a corner, he thought he saw a guard take out a syringe with a needle. kaçak iddaa The guard near him told said to look ahead with an unusually strict tone. Arthur obeyed.
That freaked out guy with the sling was probably about to get drugged.
He knew better than to ask Vince about that guy with the sling. He wouldn’t get an answer he wanted to hear.
But, even though he didn’t want to ask Vince about anything weird, he certainly wanted to know something about what was going on.
Hey, maybe it was a spy or assassin and Vince was keeping him for questioning, like a spy movie villain or something.
Arthur assumed Vince knew he’d been sneaking off to the secret door. The guards would’ve told him, wouldn’t they? But Vince never said anything. If he knew, he likely didn’t care, or that’s what Arthur thought. It bothered him. There were secrets in this house, and the secret keeper wasn’t acknowledging the fact that someone was getting closer and closer to them.
Sometimes, Arthur would look up at Vince’s face, trying to find something that at least hinted at his knowledge, but he found nothing.
Eventually, Arthur tried it all over again.
He followed Benny the cat on a cold morning. He even made sure he was wearing comfy, snug shoes that wouldn’t make any noise. The cat was swift and uncaring, but when he stopped at the secret wall in one of the basement levels, Arthur was the one to slide it into its pocket. He pressed in what he thought was the password.
He opened the door. Benny hurried through. Arthur did the same. Then he turned to close the secret wall, then the door.
The hallway … it seemed normal enough; there was even a carpeted floor.
But the lights went out. There weren’t any windows. No daylight. Might as well have been nighttime.
Benny’s sneezing faded away as Arthur fumbled with his silent cell phone. He pressed a side button to let his screen give what little light it could. He explored the hallway, and he found a few branching paths, even some staircases, which he used to get to higher secret levels.
What he couldn’t find was an unlocked door. Every door he found refused him, but at least he had some kind of clue in this hallway. Each door had a letter with a number, like A-21 for example. Whenever he thought he heard footsteps or voices, or saw a flashlight, Arthur hid behind a corner and waited.
The guards sounded concerned.
“The power went out!”
“I can’t believe it!”
“Is someone checking the fuses?”
Arthur listened the best he could. He thought he could learn something, anything, if he just listened. And at one point, he heard a guard say to another, “Didn’t the boss say he wanted B-6 opened?”
Vince?! Vince wanted something?! Something about one of these rooms?!
Arthur put his palm to his lips and crouched down, his free hand gliding down a wall without a sound.
“Yeah, Clark is supposed to unlock it later.”
“What if the power doesn’t come on by the time the boss needs the room?”
“Oh … he’d be pretty mad. He really wanted it opened up.”
There was a lumpy kind of masculine laugh, then that guard said, “What a freak.”
“I think Clark said he had an emergency at home, so he just unlocked the door early and left. Do you know who has his keys?”
“I think it was Frankie?”
The rest of the conversation was fruitless, but Arthur didn’t mind. His stupid video game brain imagined that he’d just received the flag. The event had been activated. He knew there was something about the B-6 door. So, he needed to go there. He needed to see what was inside, needed to know why Vince wanted that door opened.
When Arthur thought it was clear, his shoes softly moved on the carpet as he flashed his phone’s glowing screen over the doors he passed.
B-2, B-3, 4,5 … There!!
Arthur’s heart fluttered. His hand quivered. His belly felt like it was curdling.
He slid the door away, stepped inside, turned to close the door, and then turned back to look into the room.
It was pretty dark, just like the hallways. Arthur really needed his cellphone.
The pale light shone just enough to show him that the floor was concrete for some reason, and there was a sturdy chair bolted to that concrete, with restraining straps on the arms, legs, and the back. A prisoner’s chair or something? Arthur slowly waved his phone to the right and left, and back again, to get a feel of the room’s size. It was actually pretty wide, but also bare.
Wait. Was that glass?
A window between rooms?
He couldn’t exactly make out what was behind the glass. His phone’s light didn’t do enough for him.
But as his fingers touched the smooth glass, as his eyes toiled, there was sudden light on the other side.
Arthur blinked a few times as he thought, “Oh, the power went back on?”
Then his thoughts changed.
The room he was in was still dim, but the room on the other side …
A white upholstered button headboard and frame.
Red pillows and bed-sheets.
White kaçak bahis carpeted floor.
The room …
That fucking room!!
The recognition sent Arthur’s body backwards as he dropped his phone, put his hands in his hair, and screamed.
And got to his knees, curled over.
This was fake, a lie. This wasn’t real. Vince loved him. He was wacky and kind of dangerous, but he loved Arthur. He wouldn’t do this.
A grip on his shoulder.
“Good morning, Artie.”
Rugged, yet somehow smooth, and very eager. That was the voice Arthur heard.
He opened his eyes.
A dark brown ceiling.
He tried to move his arms. He couldn’t. He felt belts on his wrists. His arms were held down, palms facing whatever mattress he was on. Was it made of foam? There wasn’t a bed-sheet.
He tried to sit up. Again, he couldn’t. There was a belt over his collar and shoulders. He couldn’t move his torso up.
He tried to kick his feet. No dice. His ankles were belted down … on stirrups? His socked feet were definitely on stirrups. He could sense that his legs were being held up, knees bent, and a little bit spread out.
And Arthur was pretty sure the only pieces of clothing he had on were the socks.
“What the fuck is going on?!” His fingers scratched at the material supporting him. It reminded him of an exam table one might find in a clinic.
“Hey. How are you?”
The part of the table that Arthur’s torso rested on was pushed up with hardly a creak. Turns out, yes. Arthur’s feet and legs were belted down in stirrups.
Ahead, there were dark cream colored walls and a dark brown carpeted floor with a single patch of concrete. Bolted to the concrete was a chair similar to what Arthur had seen earlier, only this time there was a man inside. It was the same man that had basically trampled Arthur some time ago. The arm that wasn’t in a sling was bound to the chair’s arm. His ankles were bound to the chair’s legs. His throat was belted against the chair’s back. There was a ball gag in his mouth. He was much like Arthur, unable to leave his seat.
Arthur’s body flushed as he realized he was naked and exposed to this stranger. “Vince!! What the hell?!” He turned his head left. Nothing but a wall and a door was there. On to the right, there was more space, and Vince. He was smiling down at him with closed lips, his hands behind his back. His black hair was tied up, and he was wearing a reasonably snug T-shirt with sexy black jeans.
There was a cart near Vince, loaded with what seemed to be very clean tool cases and square plastic bowls with lids. Why?! What the fuck was in those containers?!
“Vince!” Arthur’s eyes and voice turned pleading as he looked up at him. “Get me out of this thing! Please!”
His husband … just kept smiling. His eyes were calm.
His husband’s lips drew back. The teeth were shown.
Arthur’s wrists tugged on their restraints. “At least tell me how much time I lost!”
Vince finally spoke then, still happy. “Not much. Less than a day.” And, oddly, as if he wanted to make a point of something, he reached down to Arthur’s throat, and he caressed a spot on one side, firmly. There was a twinge of mild pain there, not enough to ache, but enough to remind Arthur of all the times he’d gotten vaccinations.
Vince bent down to kiss Arthur’s brow. “You know, Honey, I was so happy when you said you love me.” A kiss on his cheek. “That made the game so much more entertaining.”
“Game?!” Arthur’s skin cooled, or that’s what it felt like. “What game?! Who’s that guy?! Why am I tied up?! Why am I naked?!”
Air went past Vince’s teeth. “Ssh!” He put his fingertip on Arthur’s lips. His gray eyes looked perhaps a dose more savage, almost worrying Arthur more than his current situation.
And he smelled so lovely.
“I’m only having fun, Artie.” He tapped Arthur’s nose. “Just breaking someone’s spirit.” As if on cue, Arthur heard the third man growl and pull on his belts. “Don’t you recognize that guy?”
Arthur straightened his neck and seriously put his eyes to the third man. His brain stretched and clicked. Then he looked at the arm in a sling, the skin hidden from view. He looked like he’d been through all kinds of hell. His eyes were angry and frenzied.
Another horrifying, freezing form of recognition.
Quietly, he said to Vince, “Jake never went to jail, did he?”
“Hey,” Vince said as he affectionately ran his cheek back and forth on top of Arthur’s head, “it’s not like he didn’t get proper care. I own a hospital, after all.”
Since when did Vince own a hospital …?
Arthur’s jaw loosened as he put even more puzzle pieces together in his mind. His eyes forgot how to work properly. He could only see watery shapes as he remembered the now suspicious fact.
The Pomegranate Valley Medical Center was a private hospital.
The Green Parrot Wellness Center was a branch of that. Arthur had found that out on their website not long ago, although he didn’t do an in depth bout of research.
And Arthur had seen one of the guards take out a syringe to use on Jake.
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