Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Dungeon by Kate Whitehead

Read by Bhavini Ravel at 'Kisses & Blows'

I thought he was kidding when he said he had a dungeon.

We’d drunk a fair bit and were definitely tipsy, but not smashed. At least, I wasn’t. I thought I was being hilarious. So when he said he had a dungeon, I laughed.

Gary never said anything about his boss being funny. He went on about him being a company man, but not a joker. This guy didn’t even seem as old as Gary made out. OK, so he didn’t have much hair, but you could tell he worked out. His wife was a bit of a gym bunny, too. Maybe they were one of those couples that work out together.

I might have gone into a bit of a daze - I do that when I’ve been drinking, just stare into space. Gary knows that means it’s time to go home, but he was talking to Gym Bunny. I couldn’t see anyone I knew. I thought it was going to be one of Gary’s work dos, but it wasn’t the usual crowd from the bank. This lot looked like students, only older. Bohemian maybe, but you could tell it was designer gear.

I couldn’t hear Gary’s boss over the music, had to lean right into him to make out what he was saying.

“Want to see it?” he shouted into my ear and it took me a bit to work out he was still on about the dungeon.

I was wearing killer heels - great for crossing and uncrossing your legs, but not so good for stairs so I took off my shoes - yes, you know you’re pissed when the shoes come off. And I shouted down the stairs after him - “We could do with a dungeon to lock up the kids when they’re naughty,” I said. Which now sounds like a stupid thing to say, but I thought he was having me on about the dungeon.

He said something like, “Strictly no kids down here”, and I was thinking of asking him why when he told me to close my eyes. I didn’t like that - I felt all dizzy with my eyes closed. When I opened them it was just me on the stairs. I could have gone back up, but I didn’t - I walked right on in there.

And there he was - posing like a Roman statue, no shirt and a black facemask, the sort that Batman wears. I had about two seconds to take it all in - he was well ripped and there were tattoos over his nipples - and then he lurched towards me like he was going for a kiss. I panicked and took a swing at him, got him across the face with the shoes. Whack! Everything went slow motion - took ages for him to fall and when he hit the floor it was hard. I couldn’t see his expression because of the mask, but he looked out cold.

I wanted to run upstairs and get Gary, but I froze. It was creepy down there - ropes bolted into the wall, some kind of harness hanging from the ceiling, and then he started making a weird noise, like moaning and snoring at the same time.

My mind was going fast, my life flashing in front of me like they say it does when you die, only this was fast-forward: Gary would lose his job. We’d have to leave Hong Kong. The kids would get pulled out of school. It would mess them up, they’d get into drugs, their lives were ruined. Gary and I would fight all the time, we’d split up. And I’d end up all alone and poor, really poor.

I knew I was panicking. I do that sometimes, like on Sundays when the helper leaves me alone with the kids. I tried to pull it together, but seeing my husband’s boss on the floor like that, handcuffs in his hand, there was every reason to panic. So I did the what seemed like the obvious thing - I handcuffed him to the wall.

I did it gently. I didn’t want to wake him, I just needed to buy some time and work out what to do. The handcuffs were heavy and the insides were soft like Ugg boots. Standing over him, it was hard to tell if he was awake or not. There was blood on the side of his head, but it was the tattoos I was looking at. The one on his right nipple was a wavy line, like the letter “S”, and the other one was definitely an “M”.

That did it, I was running up the stairs: a dungeon, handcuffs, S&M. I pushed my way through the party. Gary was still with Gym Bunny - she was leaning over the table like she was trying to get off with it.

I don’t remember what I said to Gary, I probably didn’t make much sense - I just wanted to drag him away. Gym Bunny was staring at me, her eyes taking over her face. I had to say something, so I blurted - “Your husband is downstairs in that room, I think I hurt him.”

She was grinning, “Ooh, he’ll love that!”

Gary was all for going down and seeing what happened, but I couldn't let him see that place or what I did to his boss.

“You can’t, he’s tied up,” I said.

That should have got the wife worried, you’d have thought, but it didn’t.

“Go girl, I didn’t think you had it in you,” she said.

That’s when Gary twigged something wasn’t right. We left pretty fast.

After that crazy night, I don’t complain about the boring banking dos anymore. Yes, Gary’s still with the bank. He got a promotion not long after that, but we’ve never been invited back to the house.

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