Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fifty shades of black (a story of bondage)



She knew this was the last chance she was going to get to visit her favourite spot. Already leaves were curling under her feet, evening brought on a hint of frost, and she had put on the usual five or six pounds around her hips, a layer of bear-fat for the coming winter.


This special place of hers was called Burnish Lake, and she always liked the double-entendre in the name: the coppery surface of the water in the evening, the antique gold of early-fall leaves. Burnish Lake had lots of things going for it, but most of all it had ducks. Swarms of them, and due to the mild climate in these temperate parts they didn’t seem to migrate in the fall. No need. Being social animals, they congregated in swarms around the strange geometric wooden dock that jutted out into the shallow water where they all dabbled and splashed.


It was really just a big pond, and this dock – it was more of a boardwalk, really – went on forever. Besides the ducks, all there was to see around here were water lilies. She could imagine how the frogs must sound after dark.


The child in her came out when she saw those ducks, and she wished she had bread with her, knowing full well that feeding ducks made about as much sense as feeding bears (which she had done once. Cheesies, which the big guy had really relished, until he grabbed the plastic bag out of her hands and ate the whole thing.) Then they would truly swarm, revealing the rather nasty side of ducks and of birds in general, just dinosaurs reborn with all their primitive saurian instincts intact.


They were mostly female mallards, she guessed, with a few half-grown babies – juveniles – but no drakes. She looked and looked for the gorgeous iridescent green heads, but did not see one. What, no sultans to keep the harem in order? Guess not. She threw a few stones at them, meanly, watching them “waaak” and scatter.


She had her reasons to be mean, and her reasons for wanting to come out here alone and get some fresh air. She hadn’t had fresh air in a while. It hadn’t been her idea to go to the hospital, and in fact most of the time she felt just fine. Better than fine! She was exhilarated, and people were telling her things like, “You look ten years younger. What have you been doing?”

Yes. She felt special, more special than she had ever felt before. She wasn’t really going to act on those feelings, was she? But Burt thought she might.


When you’re in a certain state, you don’t know what effect you’re having on others. You’re oblivious. So even though she stepped on every sentence to the point that no one was willing to talk to her, even though she slept barely two hours a night, even though she had lost fifteen pounds (good!), even though she was one step away from sending out the mass email that would change everything (or was it Facebook?) – she didn’t think they needed to take that kind of drastic measure.


Something wonderful has happened, the email would begin, and I wanted to share it with all my closest and dearest friends. I have received some information recently that is very special, and very exciting. I have suspected this about myself for a very long time, but now it has been confirmed by a Higher Source.  I have been granted the ability to 


That was as far as she got. So what the hell was wrong with that? Or of thinking she saw Moses one day in the liquor store? If you think he’s Moses, he IS Moses, her writer friend said to her the other day. She wanted to see Moses again, to talk to him, to ask him just how he got that water out of the rock.


Burt kept saying she wouldn’t let him talk, that he couldn’t even get a word in, and that was ridiculous. Burt kept saying she was being abusive, that she was acting like a bitch, but didn’t she have it coming with all the rotten things that had happened to her as a child? Probably. But it bothered Burt to be called a cocksucking fuck-face in front of people.


So it was the hospital for a while, again, and medication, again, and more psychiatrists to beguile. She had been seducing psychiatrists (verbally, of course) since the age of fifteen, so she was awfully good at it by now. Most of their patients were so dull, she supposed, that her clever banter and sparkling irony must have been downright stimulating, if in a rather embarrassing way.


She hated to leave those ducks, but she had to go to the bathroom. She noticed there was nobody else around, just nobody, and thought it was odd.  Then she remembered the dates on the sign.  She was the very last visitor to Burnish Lake before the season ended. But what about the staff? Nobody around, but it didn’t matter, she didn’t like people anyway and was finished with them. They were all so full of shit.


She hated the bathroom here, so primitive, almost a privy. It was just a big plywood box with hardly any light, only a useless burnt-out bulb, and no windows. Just a slot for ventilation, up too high to be of any use. She used the smelly toilet, noticed there was no sink but only hand-sanitizer. Disgusted, she squirted some on her hands and rubbed it in.


Was that why the sliding bolt lock wouldn’t move, because her hands were so slippery?


Then she remembered there was a much larger sliding bolt on the outside of the door, for when they locked everything up for the winter. To keep out homeless people or whatever. But this was the inside lock, stuck. She wiggled it gently, then a little harder, then wiggled it some more.


Panic began to rise in her. Her worst fear, worse than falling or being raped or even of dying, was of being trapped, locked inside an unfamiliar building or unable to get out of some suffocating place. The worst feeling she had in the hospital was the sound of a big heavy institutional door clanging shut behind her. It seemed to happen every time.


She wiggled some more. Banged. Then shouted. Then shouted some more. But then she remembered that no one was there.

She screamed and screamed. Her throat began to grow raw. And it was getting dark out. The little ventilation slot was greying now, and the whole stinking room was turning into a black box.

She would die in here, alone, in a shithouse in the woods. They’d look for a body for a while, then give up. What would they find in the spring? Then she realized that by throwing herself so violently against the door, she had probably bent the bolt so badly that the lock was irrevocably jammed. Only a hammer or screwdriver would get her out of here, and even if there were somebody around, how would they get it to her?


It got dark so fast. She was tired. There was no air in this place. Panic turned to despair. She was like one of those stupid hikers who goes on a dangerous trail and doesn’t tell anyone. Who knew about Burnish Lake, anyway? Not Burt. He had never even heard of it.


It had nothing to do with the poetic word “burnish” anyway, but was the name of some hopelessly dull cocksucker of a statesman who’d been dead 100 years. Nobody gave a fuck about him anyway.


She had to fall asleep eventually: her quota was four hours at least, and she didn’t want to set herself back to her Healing the World campaign, in which people from all over the globe would come to her so she could lay her hands on them.


Bullshit thought, probably, but maybe not. She still didn’t see what was so wrong with it. Lots of those East Indian women all wrapped up in white gauze had people just flocking to them, and nobody said they were crazy. She had stopped a few people on the street and started to explain it to them, and they had pulled away, but weren’t most people full of it anyway? The average IQ is 100, her writer friend said to her, and they both laughed.


She had to sleep. She curled up on the dank floor, and all the meds she was on eventually pulled her under.


At the very bottom of the murky tank of her sleep, footsteps crunched on the grass outside, leaving deep imprints. Someone was humming to himself. He was a little bit happy, mind, but a little bit sad, too. This was always the final thing he did, the very last ritual before closing up for the year.


There was a fiddly noise, a wiggling. A little bit stuck, it was. He’d fix that. He gave it the special wiggle it needed to move. He had a way with this lock.


There was a thin screech of metal on metal, then the sure-handed slide and thunk of a bolt as it dropped into place. Satisfied, the man turned his head and looked around the place one last time, then headed over to his pickup.


  1. You and Poe and James. Helluva combination.

  2. I was going more for Stephen King, but I guess you'd need a rabid supernatural dog in the bathroom or something.

  3. The mere idea scares the bejeebies out of me.

  4. What, the bathroom or the dog?

    If you had a few Milk Bones in your pocket, you'd be OK.