“Hey, you okay? Wake up.”
It takes me a minute to realize that my gag is being removed. I blink, and realize it’s Farina. When he stands back with the removed gag, I see that he is in only the same loincloth as before, but it’s tied securely this time. He is smiling genuinely, not menacing like before. He repeats, “You okay?”
I’m trying to decide if I really saw Farina suspended upside-down and spun around. I stall for time by answering, “I guess so. I think I had a dream where I got dizzy. Good think I’m tied to this chair so good; otherwise I would have fallen off.”
Farina laughs. “Well, it’s time to get you untied.” He unties my hands, and continues, “You can untie your feet. I’ll come back with lunch. Grilled cheese okay?”
“Sure.” Almost anything would be okay. As Farina walks away, I notice that there are clear rope marks around his ankles and shins. Farina definitely was tied, and recently. I become more confident that I wasn’t dreaming. Yet there’s something different about him. I straighten out my loincloth and manage to untie my feet, giving me a chance to wash up just before he comes back down with a tray of sandwiches, milk, and some apples. He sets them down on the table, and to my surprise sits down and takes one of the sandwiches.
“Hey, take a seat.”
I have gotten so used to eating alone that it takes several seconds to realize someone is going to eat with me. I have to ask,
“What’s going on?”
“Remember the bet from yesterday? I lost, so Jackie is making me take care of you by myself today.”
“And you have to wear that loincloth?”
He laughs. “Yeah. This is all I’m allowed to wear for twenty-four hours.”
“You’ll get used to it. It felt weird for a couple days, but I got used to it.”
“I got used to it right away. I never wore a loincloth before, but this feels good.”
“It will get nasty in twenty-four hours.”
Farina looks confused for a second, and then explains, “I don’t have to wear it while I sleep.”
“But if that’s all you’re allowed to wear, then you’ll have to sleep …”
“The way all of us always do upstairs. You must have thought about that yourself.”
“Not when tied up out in the open!”
Farina makes a strange snort, and changes the subject.
“Come on, let’s eat. I’m hungry.”
We finish the sandwiches, and then Farina asks,
“You wanna play some games?”
This is a surprise. “Like what?”
“Really? I thought you were going to tie me up again.”
“I could … but I got another idea.” He tosses me a long rope. “Tie your legs and body to that chair. Your arms will be free so can play video games with me.”
“What if I don’t?”
“Then I’ll just tie you up and play the games by myself. Your choice.”
I start tying myself to the chair. Farina adds, “And you have to do a good job of it!”
I tie the rope around one ankle and a chair leg, then wrap it tightly enough around my other ankle and the other chair leg. Then I wind the rope around my thighs and the chair seat, and then around my stomach and chest, threading the rope through the mesh in the back of the chair. For some reason I am determined to do a great job, and tighten the rope at several stages. Finally I tie the end of the rope to the back of the chair. I have done a great job. It will take me several minutes to free myself, when and if I get the chance.
A couple minutes later Farina comes down with a medium-sized flat screen TV. He makes another trip and comes back with some controls and cables. He sets everything up, looks at my self-tie, and proclaims, “Hey, good job! Looks like you’ve been practicing.”
Denying that would be futile, but I think of a comeback that might determine whether I was hallucinating: “Like you’ve been practicing freeing yourself from hanging upside-down?”
Farina chuckles again. “What are you talking about?” The way he says it convinces me that I wasn’t hallucinating, but I figure it’s best to let it go. Instead I ask,
“So how does this work?”
“You never played this before?”
“No, my folks are cheap, remember, and … I don’t go to friends’ houses very much.”
“That’s too bad. Here, let me show you.”
Farina turns the set on, places another chair next to me, and gives me detailed instructions on how the games work. Pretty soon I forget that I’m tied to my chair, and about our unusual attire, and it looks like Farina is equally oblivious. It’s just like two friends hanging together and having a good time.
After losing several games and finally winning one, a thought comes to me.
“Hey, did you buy this with the ransom money?”
Farina grins, and that is enough of an answer for me. We play some more games, him winning most of them, and then my stomach growls loudly.
“Guess it’s time for dinner,” remarks Farina. “I’ll have to leave you, but you know I can’t leave you like that.”
I sigh, but then reason, “Yeah, you have to tie my hands. But that’s okay, especially since I got to see you tied up and helpless.”
“Does that mean you wanted me to lose the bet?”
“Actually, I wanted both of you to lose and get tied up. It was fun watching you, but Jackie deserves it too.”
Farina perks up more. “We had an idea for another bet that involves you, but I didn’t want to tell you about it right away. I thought you might need more of a break.”
I have to know what the bet is, so say, “Tell me what it is.”
“I said that I could convince you to tie yourself up, and Jackie said I couldn’t.”
“But I already did.”
“Jackie said it has to be more than that. I’ll show you.”
Farina goes somewhere, and comes back with a rag that is knotted in one corner, a blindfold, and a pair of handcuffs.
“I’m supposed to gag, blindfold, and handcuff myself.”
“You’re pretty smart. Do it and then we get to figure out what to do to Jackie.”
“What happens if I don’t?”
“Then I’ll get tied up again and have to spend another day in just this loincloth and babysit you.”
Neither choice is bad, but I really want to see Jackie endure something like what Farina had to. Also, Farina’s been so nice to me today that I want him to get revenge on Jackie. Besides, the next time I can try to make Farina lose again. Without further ado, I stuff the rag in my mouth and tie it securely around my head. I lock my right wrist into the handcuffs, and then put on the blindfold, which looks like a mask with a string around the back and no eyeholes. Then I swing the handcuffs behind my back and catch the open link with my left hand. I stretch and strain to close that link around my left wrist with my right hand. This is a lot like I did at home with the toy handcuffs, but these are the real deal.
“Good job,” comments Farina. “I’ll go see if Jackie is back.”
I have no idea what Jackie, Joe, and Mickey were doing this afternoon, but a couple minutes later I hear two sets of footsteps approach. It is Jackie’s voice.
“Did you really do all that to yourself”
At least I can move my head, so I nod.
“Ooohh …” Jackie sounds disappointed.
“You’re paying off the bet tomorrow!” exclaims Farina gleefully. “Well, gotta go get dinner. Taco Bell okay?”
“Mmpff.” What did Farina expect me to say? I continue trying to speak to ask that the blindfold and gag be removed, but whatever I say is unintelligible.
“What did he say?” Jackie asks Farina.
“He asked us to leave him gagged and blindfolded for another hour or two.”
“See?” Farina claims my protest was agreement. He and Jackie go upstairs and I hear the door close.
It looks like Farina tricked me into tying myself up to make it impossible to escape. Well, I certainly got what I deserved. I take a deep breath, and feel the ropes dig into my skin. It still feels kind of good. It occurs to me to try to reach a knot, any knot, with my fingers, but the knots are at my feet and too high up on the back of the char for me to reach.
This is a weird feeling. Of course I’ve been tied up and unable to escape many times the past several days, but the fact that I did this to myself makes it different. Back home I always made sure I could get loose rather quickly, so now it’s like I’m a new level I was afraid to reach for before. This is similar to the position I was in when I was first brought here, but now I’m not scared at all. Maybe I should be, but today’s events have put my mind at ease. I’m confident they’ll come back and give me a break when they said they would.
Apparently I drift off, and awake to feathers brushing across my nipples and stomach. Very quickly I find I can’t move, and then I hear Farina’s voice: “Hungry? Oh here, let me uncuff you.”
He unlocks and removes my handcuffs, and says, “I’m sure you’d like to do the rest yourself.”
Not sure what to expect, I take off my blindfold first, and there indeed is Farina, grinning and still in his loincloth. I try to answer “yes,” but the gag is still there, so I nod.
“Great!” Farina continues. “I’ll be back with the food.”
It takes me almost fifteen minutes to undo the gag and the ropes binding my body to the chair. I make it to the bathroom, and when I come out Farina has put the food and soda on the table. It looks like enough for four people, but we eat all of it easily. A thought comes to mind.
“The next time we play Cowboys and Indians, you should be on my team.”
I can tell by the expression that forms on Farina’s face that he likes my idea a lot. Then he acts like he isn’t supposed to be taking suggestions from me and answers, “I’ll have to see what the rest of the gang thinks about it.”
When we’re done with dinner, Mickey, Joe, and Jackie come downstairs, and motion for Farina to join them to discuss something. It looks odd with the first three in their usual t-shirts, shorts, and sneakers talking with the fourth in a narrow loincloth, but they act like this is perfectly normal. Then they come with a phone, and Mickey tells me,
“Like you suggested, your parents say we don’t have to do a video link every day, so this is just a regular call.” That’s good, since I definitely have a lot of rope marks on the front side of my body and mesh frame marks from the chair on my back today. Joe puts the phone on speaker.
My mother says, “Hello, how are you, dear?”
Like usual I want this over with as fast as possible. “I’m fine. Got to play some games, and thanks for sending enough money for good food.”
Now my father says, “Glad to hear it. Hang in there, another few thousand will be wired in a couple days.”
“Great. Everything’s fine here. Good-bye.”
With that over with, Mickey, Joe, and Jackie head back upstairs. Farina suggests we play cards, and doesn’t want to bother tying me or having me tie myself to a chair again. Fortunately he doesn’t suggest the version of poker that wouldn’t last long with our attire, and we play things like Gin Rummy and Crazy Eights for about an hour.
When bedtime comes, Farina politely asks, “How do you wanna be tied up?”
“I need to stretch out. My hands have been behind my back a lot today.”
I sit on the edge of the bed, and Farina carefully ties a rope around each of my wrists and ankles, making sure that circulation is not cut off. It looks like he might want me to put up a fight, but like usual I’m playing it safe. Though we’re the same size, I’m sure I’d lose a wrestling match as I’m no good at that and Farina clearly has some muscle definition while I don’t.
Farina finishes with the four knots and I lie down on the bed, extending my arms and legs toward the corners. He methodically ties the other ends of the ropes to the legs of the bed. When I am securely spread-eagled, I ask, “So what are you going to do to Jackie tomorrow?”
“I don’t know yet. It just has to be more intense than what he did to me. You got any ideas?”
“Just on what he should be wearing. I think you’re a lot better at coming up with these ideas.”
“Yeah. We’ll see tomorrow.”
I have to ask one last thing: “Did you want to lose that bet yesterday?”
Without saying anything Farina takes my electric toothbrush and tickles me for I guess five minutes. This makes me believe I know what the answer is.