A couple of hours later, the buzz had turned to sleepiness, and Boy’s face was starting to swell, badly. The sound of Mom shutting the front door sent a spike of fear through my gut. The bleeding had only stopped for only a few minutes at a time and now some clear snot was starting to come out with the blood, slow and viscous. To his credit, Boy held his tongue, but his face couldn’t lie. “What’s this? What’s going on here?” Boy peeked out through squinted eyes. “What happened to you?”
He played dumb. I played dumb. Mom started winding up like she always does, her voice growing shriller. Her first call was to the school, which, of course, was closed. That’s when she went to the internet, finding Mrs. Lamley’s home number. “She wasn’t at class today, actually. I was going to call you tomorrow. If she misses two more sessions, she will fail out of this semester completely and have to repeat eleventh grade.”
From there to the hospital it was all Annabelle this, Annabelle that, irresponsible, lying, cheating, this and that. Abuse. Total verbal abuse. She ought to be in jail, the kind of mother she was. A miniature tyrant. Well, not that minature, really, just insignificant. To be honest, I was a little scared when we got to the hospital. She was mad. Really, really mad, like I had hardly ever seen. She was talking to me like she did the time she hit me in the parking lot. Utter tyrant. A grown woman hitting a child!
Everyone in the waiting room heard her angry snarling and some of them even looked over. The nurse at the counter said, “We have many women already waiting to be seen. This isn’t life threatening, so it’s going to be some time.” She fumed in her jacket, rubbing her hands, looking around, avoiding my gaze until she turned her full attention to me.
“Come on.” She dragged me out into the night. It smelled cold, like the snow that was threatening to fall. We stood just beyond the lighted rectangles projected by the waiting room lights which twisted and danced as people came and went through the double doors. “What in the world were you thinking?”
“God, Mom, you need to relax. You’re going to burst a blood vessel.”
“Answer me. Right now.”
“I just didn’t want to go today, okay? I’m sick of how they treat me. You know that Mrs. Lamley is a pervert? She asks us all about sex ‘cause she gets off on our stories.”
“Annabelle Marie! You stop lying this instant. I’m sick of hearing your excuses and stories about how everyone else is responsible except for you. Tell me what happened.”
Was she drunk? Her breath smelled awful. I said, “It was just a stupid accident. I didn’t want to tell you… I mean, I know that you’ll just get mad and yell at me.”
“Damn right I’m going to yell at you, young lady. What did you do to my boy?”
“Well that’s not helping, Mom.”
Her lips pursed into an angry, wrinkled, pink coin, and her cheeks puffed out. She looked like a trumpet player without a horn. Her arms shot up suddenly, but came back down with a loud, exasperated slap of jacket on jacket, and she took a few steps in a tight circle. She looked like a frustrated penguin. “Hannie, just tell me what happened.”
“Okay, okay,” I relented. “I wanted to drink, so I asked him to open a bottle of wine for me, and he hit himself in the face with it. Okay? I’m sorry, I just wanted to see what it was like.”
Her eyes pierced mine. For a long time she let me wither under her stare, but I was already in too deep. I stood my ground. “Hannie, that makes no god-damn sense. He hit himself in the face?”
“With a cork. Hard enough to break his nose.”
Well the bottle opener, but...
It was enough to turn most of the heads in the waiting room. How embarrassing. Right in public, in front of everyone.
“You think I was born goddamned yesterday? Do you? You’ve already earned yourself such a grounding, do you really want to make this worse for yourself? Were you thinking about going to college sometime soon? How are you paying for that?”
I didn’t want to. In fact, knowing mom, telling her the truth would be the worst thing to do. All those other girls with her boy. “Mrs. Lamley.”
“Oh don’t start that shit again.” She stomped. Like an angry child, she stomped, but if I’m honest, I flinched. She was a large woman, much bigger than me. It was just like the day in the parking lot, her arms flapping around like a stupid, flightless bird.
“Stop it, Mom. Calm down. I was just having a little fun. I got a little carried away.”
She was still again, breathing hard. “What kind of fun.”
“You know… that kind of fun.”
“With his face?”
“Hannie, you stupid, insolent, immature, conniving…” her open palms came down like rain in a storm, here, there, all over my head and shoulders, several to my face. She didn’t stop until the paramedics pulled her away. I told the police that I didn’t want to press charges, but I could use a ride home. They told me to take a taxi, which exhausted almost half of my summer fun fund. I paid the driver, pulled on my winter boots, and trudged to Alex’s house, partly because it was near, and partly because she felt safe. Her Mom didn’t ask too many questions. She mostly seemed happy that Alex had a “girlfriend,” as she liked to put it.
I laid with Alex in bed. Plain, old Alex. Curious, pervy Alex. She asked me all about my afternoon and, when I had finished griping about Mom, listened with rapture as I explained the party. She didn’t seem to mind or notice that it was an attempt to get back in with my friends, away from her kind of social stigma. She wanted all the details, colors, feelings, smells. It wasn’t until then that I realized, I was the only one who missed out on a cunt lapping. I couldn’t believe it. I even told her about the little bath at the end. “Just like in a porno.” We each kept our hands to ourselves, playing like clam-cracking otters in the sun.
It was now that I made my third and worst, as the judge put it, “lapse of judgement.” I politely disagreed. Isn’t it just like adults to fill your head with stories, stories about brave people standing up for what’s right in the world. But when you do it yourself, when you threaten their preconceived notions, their narrow worldview, suddenly being right isn’t good enough. Be brave they say but what they mean is stand up for me. Don’t stand up for yourself. It’s really a testament to their ineptitude that I’m so cynical at such a young age.
I tried to sit through class. It was easy enough to lie and say I forgot my backpack or I lost my books or whatever, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Boy at home with that monster. How cruel she was to him. How mean. She probably took her anger out on him. Fix the nose so I can beat him black and blue, she probably said. And what was I going to do tonight? Stay at school? Stay with Alex? Her mom was bound to start asking questions eventually. And what would happen to Boy? I thought about Mom’s smug face, the arrogant sneer she wore as she raped poor Boy’s ass almost every night.
By lunch I had made up my mind. I bribed Annie to drive me by buying her lunch. I tried to just buy her and sandwich but she said that if she was missing a period of class she would need to be reimbursed for it. Another week of fun gone from the summer fun fund. Boy would have to start paying me back.
We sat outside of the house for a good half hour, parked down the street like in a TV show about cops. No movement. Nothing. But then, that’s how it always looked. Mom was all about fitting in, not calling attention to ourselves. “We need to get back to class eventually,” insisted Annie. Fine, fine. I hopped the fence and used to spare key to open up the back door. From there I crept to the obnoxiously loud garage door. Her car was gone. Perfect. But Boy was gone too. He wasn’t in his kennel, in the kitchen, Mom’s room, my room, the basement, nowhere.
“Boy!” I called fruitlessly. “Boy! Where did she take you? What did she do to you?” There was a noise, a bang on the wall. Was that the garage door? I hid behind the basement door and listened. Nothing. No clacking of hard shoes on hardwood floor. My heart was beating so fast, I couldn’t be sure if I heard the second thump. My breathing seemed to fill my ears, like the loudest sound in the world. She would kill me. She might legitimately kill me if I stole her Boy from her. But then I heard it again, and I knew it was coming from the wall below me, in the basement.
The basement was unfinished. It had dirty red poles all over sticking into hard, cold concrete, supporting the house above. With all the dust and spiders, I almost never came down here. Maybe a few times to use Mom’s stationary bike. It was boring: no walls, no furnishings, just white, insulated walls. The north wall was cold to the touch from the stairs to the back wall, but the back wall was not. “Boy?” I shouted, and the wall thumped back. “Hold on!” I cried. I felt my way up and down the wall all the way to the other corner and back. Finally I found a crack between a stud and the insulation. I peeled it back to reveal a small door.
Inside was like the end of a horror movie. It had the same freezing concrete floor, but the walls were finished and covered in various equipment: shelves of whips and dildos, restraints built straight into the wall, racks of ropes and paddles, and even a small bathroom in the corner. Ropes and chains hung from the ceiling and protruded from the floor. In one corner, boy sat upright in a large, wooden chair, bound hand and foot, in nothing but his cage with a gag and hood on. He had been banging on the wall with his head and had left a clear red imprint. On the other side of the room was a cage with a thin man secured within. A pipe led from the ceiling into his mouth, and another led out of him into the wall. The room smelled like the school bathroom an hour after lunchtime.
“Boy! Are you okay?” I asked, running to his side, pulling off his mask. He coughed a little as I removed the rubber ball from his mouth.
“I’m okay,” he assured me. His eyes were sad. “Grab the key. In that box on the shelf.”
I undid the bindings around his feet and ankles. One of his feet had gone purple all over. He asked me, “Are there any other keys in there?”
“Just one,” I replied, unlocking the cage on the other side of the room.
“What were you expecting?” I asked.
“I just thought there might be, you know, my key,” he explained, looking down.
“Okay,” I said, “let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
I reached into the cage and undid the bindings on the other boy. He looked old enough to technically be a man. As soon as his hand was free, it shot up to the harness on his head which he unlatched, freeing the tube from his mouth. A splash of water hit the ground followed by the poor creature’s hacking coughs. When he removed the harness from his head I could see his whole face. Though flushed and haggard, he looked familiar. He sat against the back of his cage and stared at me with huge eyes.
Boy had gotten up from his chair and started rubbing the many welts and strap marks on his skin. “That woman is crazy,” he opined, “like seriously crazy. Dangerous.”
The man in the cage squeaked, “Please have mercy. I’m happy where I am. Please don’t hurt me.”
I crouched down to his level to see him face-to-face. He looked so familiar but I couldn’t remember ever meeting him. How long had he been down here? He looked so haggard and pale. Just… unwell, really. Pathetic, actually, cowering and pleading the way he was. “Hush, hush,” I said, “stop that. Who are you?”
“She calls me Boy. Nothing special. Please don’t hurt me. Don’t kill me. I’ll stay right where I am. Just lock the door now.” He shifted uncomfortably and pulled at the tube sticking into his ass, but did not remove it. “I never did anyone any harm, I promise.”
What had Mom done to this one? He was genuinely, legitimately scared of me. “Stop that. Please calm down. Please. Take a breath. How long have you been down here?”
He shook his head, “A long time. I stopped trying to keep count. I just do what Jenine tells me. She told me she would keep me safe. Where is she? Is she okay?”
“She’s just at work,” I explained, “everything is fine. You don’t have to be afraid of her anymore.”
“Afraid?” he mouthed. “No, Jenine keeps me safe. She keeps me safe from the world.”
I didn’t understand. “What are you so afraid of?”
The man in the cage shared my confusion. “The bands… the warrior bands. Who cut off your dick and make you choke on it until you bleed out. Or are you one of them? Please, I don’t want any freedom. I just want to stay safe here with Jenine.”
His sniveling was actually getting pretty annoying. “I said cut it out!” I demanded. “Stop pleading and all that shit. Please! Just tell me who you are and what you’re doing down here.”
“You—you’re not here to kill me?”
“Jenine told me that the world had… changed since I’d been down here. That men weren’t allowed in public anymore. That we were hunted on the streets, hounded and persecuted unless we had an owner. She told me she was keeping me safe down here, away from the mad world. Are—are men safe now?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I think Mom was lying to you.”
“Mom?” he repeated. “Jenine is your mom?”
I nodded. “For the last sixteen years anyway.”
The man continued rubbing his jaw. “Sixteen years. Could that really be?”
Now I was in the dark, and I hated being in the dark. “What are you getting at?”
“It’s just,” he said, “before I was locked down here, she made me cum one last time. It was strange, she kept it all, in a cup instead of making me eat it. I guess that could have been sixteen years ago…”
He looked so familiar. Just like me. My stomach turned. “Oh my god.” Then a gush of water came pouring out of the hose descending from the ceiling. Boy stood by the toilet in the corner of the room, his hand still on the flusher. I was going to be sick. “Did that come from there?”
The man in the cage nodded. “Every toilet in the house. I’ve been processing Jenine’s waste for all of these years. And yours, I guess. She feeds me occasionally too, and there’s the injections, but I only drink toilet water.”
Every time. For sixteen years. My stomach turned properly this time, all over the floor. How disgusting. I took Boy but I left the other wretched creature in his cage, in the little room. I couldn’t bear to look at him any longer.
Annie was still in the car, although she claimed that she almost left. We went back to school. Where else was there to go? Mom would be home eventually, and when that happened, I needed to be around adults. Amy’s mom would be helpless in the face of Mom’s fury. I turned to the last woman I would otherwise trust: Mrs. Lamley. She had us wait in her office until class was over. I kept playing it through in my head: Mom getting home, going down to her sick dungeon, finding Boy gone, only that older, wretched Boy. She would know where we went. She always did. But this was more than her usual insane rage: this was bigger, a rupture of normal. Even the most supremacist judge using the full powers of the Sexual Freedoms Act couldn’t defend her. There would be no going back.
When Lamley finally arrived, she had the school resource officer with her. “Mom has been mistreating him from the first day we got him. Verbal abuse. Physical violence. Even sexual abuse.”
“Okay, okay, Mrs. Flores,” she told me. “Slow down and explain yourself.”
I told her about the spankings, the totally over-the-top punishments for even the slightest infractions. “She beat him for eating food, if you can believe that!”
The officer, a stern-looking young woman with pale skin and brown, straight hair pulled back in a simple ponytail, reminded me, “If he didn’t have permission to eat, he was stealing, and it’s perfectly legal to punish boys for theft.”
“Well is it legal to fuck them? Because that was her favorite punishment!”
“Like, in the… rear? With a blunt instrument?”
“And that’s not all. Just today I discovered that she’s been keeping another Boy in the basement, along with a whole bunch of pain implements. There’s no doubt that she has been torturing boys down there.”
“Is this true?” the office asked Mrs. Lamely. Lamley shrugged.
“Of course it’s true. Go to the house and see for yourself!”
“Hold on. Hold on,” said the officer, “We are going to have to go down to the station and take this report properly.” We rode in the back of her patrol car like criminals. And maybe we were. I had stolen Boy from my mother, stolen him for his own safety. Technically I was a criminal, and he stolen property. I tried to remember not to incriminate myself.
But when we got down there, we were swarmed by police, separated, and questioned in different rooms. They had so many questions, coming so quickly. I tried to just be honest and help them however I could, but I made a mistake. I told them everything, including the time I took Boy over to Becky’s house after school. I named names: Becky, Mattie, Stacey, Carlie, Annie, Chloe, and even the new girl, Mandy. I didn’t even realize it until later that night, laying on a cold bunk in a cell across from Boy, in protective custody. “I think I made a mistake,” I told him.
“You saved me,” he said. “How can that be a mistake?”
When they sent a task force to the house the next morning, Mom was long gone. Most of the furniture was missing, the house was in disarray, and the basement was empty. No dungeon, no whips, no chains, no physical evidence, and no sign of my possible father. In the absence of a defendant, absence of evidence and absence of ownership, Boy should have been released back into the custody of the Mangenic Corporation, but there was one wrinkle: thanks to my testimony, there were seven new defendants. The state had no choice but to press charges.
They started with Mandy, the disgusting tramp. I could have written the trial, it was so predictable. It was basically the same trial that you see on the news night after night. I took the stand and told the truth, that I had delivered an unwitting boy into the clutches of my friends, and they played out their gang rape of their own design. Boy, of course, couldn’t testify on his own behalf, but the judge let him submit a letter in private. When Mandy took the stage, she said exactly what she needed to. “He was crazy,” she testified, “totally crazy. You could see the mad lust in his eyes when he approached you. Hannie brought him over already unlocked. They must have been in cahoots. She said we were just going to have a fun party, a quick get-together after school, but it all went sour. We just wanted to have a little fun, but she insisted that Boy be—ahem—sexually free. There was nothing any of us could have done. He overpowered me first, and then one by one raped us all. The other girls tried to get away but Hannie threatened us. Everyone knows that her Mom is dangerous. Murderous. Hannie locked the doors and let the boy prey on us one by one. It was horrible, staring down the bobbing shaft of his… his penis. Please don’t make me say any more.”
After Mandy they called Mattie, then Stacey, Carlie, Annie, Chloe and finally Becky. They all told the same story. They all lied through their teeth. Boy sat silently, his face down, his eyes full of tears. The judge had stern words for us. That I was to be punished particularly hard for playing the victim and for encouraging delinquency among boys. My “reputation” from school had been considered, along with my penchant for lying. Not only had I led a horse to water, I had encouraged him to drink. Lies, all of it. I was sentenced to full-time rehabilitation for no less than a year.
Boy got the worst of it though. Poor boy. He got the only sentence for rape: castration. I never saw him again after the trial. I’ll never forget his face when they pulled him away from me, crying, pleading, begging. It was startling from a boy who had always been so stoic.
I tried a few times to find him, when I grew older and had established a good life for myself. It’s hard though, for a woman with a checkered past to find a boy. The court records said he was sent to Stoneyham Rehabilitation Center, but they had no record of receiving him. I never heard from my mom again either. Maybe she fled the country. Who knows. But some days, after a long day of work, when I go home to my lonely apartment, I think about them, the only family I ever had. The one I couldn’t avoid and the one I couldn’t keep. Despite growing into a proper, straight lady, I never found love, never settled down. A woman could never satisfy me, because my heart belongs to a boy. Do me a favor, though. Please don’t tell a soul.