Walking the Wild Side
by Nigel Gordon
Life proceeded onwards. I did the intensive driving course and passed my test. This resulted in Aunt Alice calling on me to drive her to various places and events. What was a bit of a surprise was that often Aunt Alice was the primary speaker at many of the conferences I took her to. I had not realised that she was quite as eminent as she was. But then, my subject was engineering, not mathematics. However, during that year I got a deeper feeling for and appreciation of mathematics and started to take a greater interest in it. I found myself quite often in discussions on the subject with Aunt Alice which took me to totally unexpected places.
Life was good and I was doing well, yet there was one thing that worried me. That was Tom and myself. I was convinced that we were deeply in love with each other but we never fucked. We made love in every other way I think was possible but not once had Tom tried to fuck me, though I was certain that he wanted to. The problem was that I was certain that I did not want him to. Even thinking about it made me feel sick.
We had discussed the issue a couple of times and Tom said it did not matter but I could not help thinking that somehow I was denying something to him that he should have. I was failing to give myself totally to the man I loved.
"What are you worried about Leo?" Aunt Alice asked on late spring morning as I was planting out some bedding plants. I had been thinking about the sex between myself and Tom the night before, but did not want to say that so made some comment about the chances of a late frost.
"Leo, come off it. You were not thinking of a late frost. You only have that look on your face when you are thinking of Tom, so something is wrong and it concerns Tom. So, what it is?"
Well, when it came to avoiding answering questions I would probably have done better with a leading member of the Gestapo than being cross examined by Aunt Alice. It took her the better part of three hours, I missed my lecture that afternoon, and at one point was in tears, but by the end of it she had the whole story out of me.
"Good," she stated. "After that I think we both need a drink." She stood up, went to the black lacquered cabinet in the living room and unlocked it using a key from the chain at her waist. She returned to the table where we had been sitting and put a glass of pale amber liquid down in front of me. "Now treat it with respect, it's the Laddie, fifteen year second edition. A really good single malt. Whilst you sip it you listen to me. You understand?"
"Yes, Aunt Alice."
"What that animal did to you was unacceptable. You are not a wimp, you are not a failure. You are Tom's lover. And Tom is a good man with good sense. If he has chosen you as his lover it is because you are a good man with good sense.
"Love is not about sex. Oh, sex with somebody you are in love with is great, so much better than the old boring romp around in the bed. Believe me I know." I looked at Aunt Alice in surprise. "Don't think I was some sort of celibate before Adhip arrived, I had more than my share of bedmates, then I found Adhip.
"It was a year before she came to my bed, and I waited for her. Even when she came to my bed it was another couple of years before she gave herself to me fully and without reservation. I waited for her. That's what a lover does. A lover does not demand of their partner; they wait and accept what they are given. If what they are given is very little they will be grateful for it, for it is worth so much more than anything else they could have. Because it was given in love by their lover."
"Thank you," I responded.
"Now finish that single malt, get upstairs to your flat and make Tom a nice dinner to come home to. Then take him to bed and make love to him in any way that you feel you can. He will be grateful for it."
So I did.
I was back in Cromford by myself for Easter. Tom was having to attend an academic conference in Sheffield at which a paper he was co-author of was being presented. As a result he would not be able to get home till the Saturday afternoon. I had brought Aunt Alice down in the Jag to stay with Mr Meadows over the weekend and had driven into town with Maddie. Our plan was to do some shopping and then meet Tom off the train, which was due in at four-thirty-six.
Maddie had gone into the covered market to get some supplies she wanted, whilst I had gone into Walman's, our independent bookshop'. I was actually looking for a present for Aunt Alice. It was her birthday in a few days and I had thought of a couple of books that might be good to get her. Unfortunately, neither was in stock. Clearly a job for Amazon.
Maddie and I had agreed to meet by the horse trough, now used as a flower display but the long-time meeting place for the youth, or anybody for that matter, in town. As I approached I saw Maddie speaking to a tallish boy I vaguely recognised. He was dressed in biking boots, blue jeans, black belt and a black tank top. There were a couple of younger bike boys with him. Getting closer still I recognised him as Keith Rogers. He had been a friend at primary school and then in my year at comprehensive school until the end of GCSEs at sixteen, when he had gone off to technical college to train as a mechanic rather than come into sixth form. His father ran the local garage. One of the boys with him I thought was his younger brother but could not remember his name. The other boy was unknown to me.
As I approached I noticed Keith had the outline of some tribal tattoos inked in on his left shoulder. Just the outline. No filling. They brought back memories that I would rather forget. Just then Maddie saw me and called out to me to join them, which I did.
"Keith," she said, "you'll remember Leo."
"Yes," he said, then looked at me directly, "but we don't talk to wimps like Leo, or is it Peter." With that he turned and left, followed by the two other boys who looked rather puzzled. Maddie asked me what was going on. So, I explained as best I could.
"You mean that Keith is messed up with that Master James character out at Lower Hamford?"
"Looks like it, he is wearing the same uniform and he has the start of the tribal tattoos." I answered.
"But you said you used the name Peter when you met them; how could Keith know you were Leo?" she asked.
"Remember the damages claim. My real name was on all the documents. Master James probably told Keith the gory details, maybe even showed him the video."
"Shit. I hope he does not get in a mess," she commented. I was surprised about the amount of feeling in her voice.
We picked Tom up from the station and then drove home, on the way giving him a brief excerpt of what had happened with Keith Rogers.
"Would you mind if we went round to Stephen's this evening?" Tom asked.
"No, nothing planned, why?" I responded.
"I know he knows Sam Rogers, Keith's father. It might be useful to let him know, see if some sort of warning can be given."
That evening Tom and I went round to Stephen's, played a few games of chess, listened to some old jazz and explained what I suspected about Keith Rogers.
"Can't say I am surprised," Stephen commented, once he had heard what I had to say. "Sam's been concerned about young Keith for some months now. Nothing that he could put his finger on but a lot of little things that are just not quite right. Like the fact that Keith has become passionate about going to the gym and doing weight training." I nodded in understanding. Keith had never been one of the more athletic or sporting boys in class. If anything he had always been a bit on the podgy side. "He has also been going off to this motorcycle club he's joined but he won't tell anyone where it is or what it's called."
"Probably doesn't want his father to know he is in the Hell's Angels," Tom quipped.
"I wish it was that easy," Stephen commented. "I know the Hell's Angels have a bad reputation but there are a lot worse motorcycle clubs around than them.
"The problem with the small groups, such as Master James' lot, is that they make themselves into a cult. They define how you live your life both inside the club and outside. They tell you whom you can meet and whom you can't. They build their whole system to enforce a level of control over you that reinforces their view of how things are and how things should be.
"I'll have a word with Sam when I can but to be honest, I do not think there is very much that can be done. The big danger is that if Sam tries to put his foot down and make the boy choose between the family and the Master, the boy is more than likely to choose the Master. They do so in nine cases out of ten."
As soon as Easter was over it was back to Brum and course work. I had end of year exams and Tom had a couple of important papers he had to get finished. I felt fairly confident with my year's work, especially with the tutoring in mathematics I had got from Aunt Alice. Though I had thought I had done well, I was not ready for the note that came from the Head of Mathematics asking me to call by his office.
I came away from that meeting a bit shaken. Maths had always been an interest of mine and I had never done badly at it, though it had been a bit of a struggle at times. Recently though I had got to understand the subject a lot better thanks to my talks with Aunt Alice. She had a way of explaining things that just made them seem sensible, especially when she gave practical demonstrations of some abstract mathematical concept. Some of what she had showed me must have stuck. It turned out that I had used two methods to solve problems in the exam papers which were not part of the syllabus. In fact, they were not taught as part of the course I was doing at any level, being considered far too advanced. It turned out that the tutor who had been marking my paper had to take it to the Head of Mathematics to get it checked as he had not been able to follow my workings, even though he knew I gave the correct answer.
The outcome of the discussion was that if I was able to apply mathematical principles such as those to practical problems then maybe I should be doing a degree in mathematics rather than my current engineering with maths joint option.
"Can I ask you," the Head of Maths asked, "just where you learnt those methods."
"My landlady showed me them, I thought they were useful," I responded.
"And just who is this landlady that can teach mathematics like that?" he asked.
"Alice Meadows. She talks to me about maths when I am helping with the garden," I replied. The Head of Maths looked at me for a moment then laughed his head off.
"Young man, Alice Meadows is probably one of the greatest applied mathematicians in the last hundred years. If you have her teaching you maths whilst you are doing the garden all I can suggest is you do more gardening. If it was up to me I would say drop your lectures and do gardening, you would probably learn more. Unfortunately, the powers that be would not countenance such an approach. However, I do recommend you give serious consideration to switching your degree to mathematics."
We stayed in Brum most of the summer. Partly because Tom had a lot of writing up to get done and needed access to the university library, partly because I still had the job with the garden centre and it was a good time to build up some extra cash. It was, therefore, something of a surprise to find Tom busy packing overnight bags for the two of us when I got home on the Sunday afternoon.
"Maddie called," Tom informed him. "Said she needs us, or more precisely you, in Cromford in the morning."
"I've got work in the morning. What am I supposed to do about that?"
"Do what I did, phone in and say it's a family emergency. Do you want to upset Maddie."
"Put that way, no." I phoned work and told them I would be away for a couple of days due to a family emergency. Then went down to see Aunt Alice to say we had to go to Cromford.
"Well, you'd better take the Jag; I'm not likely to need it," she laughed. So we did.
As we drove into Cromford I was surprised to see the petrol station at Rogers' Garage closed. Also, there were bunches of flowers being laid on the forecourt.
When we got to the house it was empty, and there was a note on the kitchen table telling me to phone Maddie as soon as I got home. There was no need. I had hardly got my coat off when Maddie came through the door with the younger of the Roger brothers in her grip and I do mean in her grip. It was quite clear he did not want to be here.
"Leo, Tom," she said, indicating the two of us, "this is Barry. He needs to tell us about his brother Keith."
"What about his brother?" I asked. "And why does he need to tell us."
Barry looked very upset and positively scared. For a moment there was silence then he blurted out, "He's topped himself".
"He what?" I exclaimed.
"He hung himself, last night, well this morning really. Dad found him hanging over the inspection pit when he went to open up." the boy responded.
"His parents brought him over to us this morning so he would be out of the way. He's my cousin," Maddie mentioned by way of information. Not surprising, in this town anybody whose family has been here for more than two generations is cousin to at least half the town.
"Keith had been bragging," Barry started, "how he was going to get his tattoo completed this weekend. He said he was not a wimp like you." He looked at me, then apologised. I told him not to bother, just to tell his story. "He went out Friday evening, said he would be with the gang till Sunday, maybe Monday morning. Dad was furious, wanted to know who he was seeing where he was going. Keith told Dad it was none of his business and left."
"Really, Dad did not have that much to complain about as it was Keith's weekend off and Keith is a good worker. Anyway, Keith left about seven Friday night. Saturday night I woke up, there was a noise in the bathroom. Keith and I share a bathroom between our two bedrooms, so I went to look. Keith was there, bent over the toilet bowl retching. He was mumbling something about not being a wimp, that he could not be a wimp. He did not want to be like Leo. I asked him what he meant but he said nothing and that I should go back to bed. Said he was sorry for waking me but he had eaten something that disagreed with him, that he was fine now and would be going out again soon.
"In the morning, there was no sign of Keith, though his bike was in the yard. I went out to help dad open up, had just opened up the kiosk when Dad called from the workshop. I went in to look and he was at the side of ... side of the pit … holding Keith up by the legs…told me to call an ambulance. It was too late though." At that Barry started to cry. Maddie put her arms around him.
"What do you think?" Tom asked.
"Master James," I responded.
"I think you're right. We need to speak with Stephen."
We dropped Barry off at Maddie's parents then made our way over to Stephen Meadows' having first made sure he was in. Maddie insisted that she came with us. When we got there I was surprised to see DI Rawlins present. He quickly made it clear that he was present in an unofficial capacity.
"I gather," Stephen stated, "from what you hinted at on the phone, that you have some information regarding the unfortunate events at Rogers' Garage. Am I correct?" I told him he was and then filled him in on what we had learnt.
"Well, Stan, what do you make of it?" Stephen asked looking at DI Rawlins.
"At a guess, the kid safe-worded and then could not face the consequences of safe-wording," the DI responded.
"My thoughts exactly," Stephen agreed.
"What are the consequences of safe-wording?" I asked.
"Well," the DI stated, "in theory there should be no consequences. That is other than whatever is happening stopping. There is nothing wrong in safe-wording. In fact, a good master will on occasions push a sub so that they do safe-word, just to make sure that the sub will use it."
"I don't understand, why would a master want a sub to use a safe-word," I asked.
"Because a safe-word works both ways. It protects the sub or slave from being subjected to something that is beyond their capacity to endure. It also provides a limiting factor for the master. The last thing a master wants is to have a sub safe-word, it means they have lost control. So, the fact that the safe-word is there forces the master to exercise control.
"Sometimes a master will push a situation deliberately to make a person safe-word. That though is to confirm that the protection is there and is working. Otherwise it is the master who has failed if a subject safe-words. Either not understood the capacity of the subject or the depth of the process being applied. It does not matter, something has gone wrong and it is the master's fault that it has gone wrong."
"Master James kept saying that only wimps safe-word," I stated.
"Don't give that bastard the title of master, he does not deserve it. He certainly has not earnt it." DI Rawlins spat out. I looked at DI Rawlins somewhat surprised at the venom in his voice.
"You'll have to forgive Stan," Stephen stated. "He gets a bit upset when people like James Halmdean take the title Master with no right to it."
"You make it sound as if it's earned, like a degree," I stated.
"It is." Stan responded. "You start off as either a sub or slave and work your way up to be a master, or you start working alongside a master as an assistant. In the old days you had to make all the 'toys' and kit yourself. That or go to very obscure shops that did not advertise and one only heard of by word of mouth amongst like-minded people to get what you needed. The problem nowadays is kids read erotic fiction or watch some online porn and think that is what it is all about. Then then go online and buy the kit and think that is all there is to it. It's not, there is a lot more to it, and that has to be learnt and you can only learn from experience."
"But can't you do something to stop him?" Maddie asked.
"Wish we could. Legally he is very clever and stays just on the right side of the law. Morally, a few of the Masters have spoken with him and made our views very clear, but that has had no effect." The was a pause, then Stan continued. "Yes, I'm a Master. A bi one. I run a small bondage club for men and women. I know a few other Masters — we all tend to know each other. We have our standards and try to make sure people respect them but these days, like cases such as this show, it is getting harder and harder. To be honest, it needs one of his victims to turn on him and take him out. Unfortunately, I can't see that happening."
We spent the rest of the evening talking. I was surprised about the amount of information Stephen knew about James Halmdean and also how much information Stan was prepared to give away. Though I suspect that might have had something to do with the quality of the scotch that was being consumed, from which I, as the designated driver, had to abstain.
Keith Roger's death was to weigh on me quite a bit in the next couple of months. I kept thinking that if Tom had not been around for me that it could have been me. That made me think were there any others. I mentioned this in an email to Maddie just before the start of term and she said she would look into it.
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