Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Salesman

Title: The Salesman
Author: Ranger

The asthma attack hit while I was unlocking my car on a driveway still shining with frost. Damien, who I’d just kissed goodbye and who was waiting for me to get my car out of his way, hesitated for a minute while I wheezed, hoping my tightening chest would relax. It didn’t. I heard his car door slam and his arm closed around me as I started to gasp in earnest, panic setting in. By the time we got inside he was more or less supporting my full weight. He put me down on the sofa and found my inhaler in my pocket. I grabbed it from him and pulled at it, hard. He let me have two breaths from it before he prised it out of my fingers. 
“Calm down. Nick calm down NOW. You can breathe slowly if you try.” 
He and my mother are the two people in the world who can talk me out of an asthma attack. Damien held on to me until he was convinced I had some self control, then he went for my nebuliser. It was while he was upstairs, through the haze of effort and panic an attack always brings, I remembered that the last thing I wanted him to be doing this morning was looking at that wretched machine. He brought it down, set up, ready, and without saying a word. I took the mask from him and concentrated on getting my body back under some sort of control. It took nearly ten minutes but by the time I stopped sounding like a rusting radiator, we both knew this wasn’t going to be a hospital job. Damien gave me a brief and comforting hug and got up. I heard him use the phone in the hall- his office to tell them he’d be late, then my office to tell them I wouldn’t be in at all. My wheezing gradually quietened down to the low-level rustiness I knew would last for the rest of the day. I peeled the mask off with my best attempt at nonchalance. Damien turned the nebuliser off. 
“What time did you use this this morning?” 
“I don’t remember-“ I hedged. “Early-“ 
“It must have been early. It was stone cold when I picked it up. What time exactly?” 
Oh damn. 
“I’m not sure- I think it was before breakfast-“ 
“Or not at all.” Damien said exasperatedly. I winced. 
“I forgot then-“ 
“What did I tell you I’d do the next time you forgot?” 
I flushed still darker. “I’ll put a note on the fridge-“ 
“Now, Nick.” 
Arg. Dominant boyfriends. Who’d have them? 
I gave him a look which implied that he was a heartless bastard and that only a sadist beyond salvation would consider doing this to someone who’d just suffered an unpleasant asthma attack. He took no notice whatsoever. I scuffed across to him, very unwillingly. He put his hands up to my flies and began to take down my pants, something I loathe. The humiliation of being stripped like a naughty child is as bad as any of his lectures. He pulled my trousers to my knees, felt under my shirt for the waistband of my briefs and tugged them down just as firmly, making me tremble. All that was left to do was to bend across his lap and lay myself down, my bare bottom surrendered and prickling with apprehension: Damien’s spankings are cathartic to put it mildly. However this morning for the first time I was lucky: he was pushed for time and had his mind on the rush hour traffic. He simply turned me around by the arm and his hand slapped down sharply across the base of one cheek, stinging hotly enough to make me jump. He lost no time in making the rest of my bare backside sting and glow just as warmly, but I got off with no more than a few sharp smacks: not pleasant but far better than one of his real spankings. 
“And that’ll have to do you,” he told me, letting me go. “I’m late. You could have saved yourself a lot of trouble this morning.” 
I rubbed my backside, hot and smarting, although the sensation was already fading away. He kissed me, heartlessly cheerful, and paused to put a hand over my chest. 
“You’re not too bad now. If it gets any worse, ring me. I’ll come straight home. Behave.” 
It was an incredibly boring day. I drifted around, watched tv until the morning programmes drove me to screaming point, then drifted around some more. The knock on the door came at three pm and was a welcome relief until I realised the man was an insurance salesman. Things went downhill from there. 
For a start he put his foot in the door. I hate that. I couldn’t escape from the man and I couldn’t shut him up from his super-cheerful sales patter. When he followed it up with forms, I was really in trouble. There was this man, carrying on at me and offering papers for which he had a hundred reasons that I ought to sign, and he didn’t understand the word ‘no’. And I never do like being rude to anyone. 
I dived into the kitchen on the pretence of making a cup of tea. He continued to talk at me from the living room. By now he was driving me spare. In desperation I grabbed the fuse box and turned off the power. It was a dark, wintery afternoon, rapidly approaching twilight, and the house was in near total darkness. 
“Oh dear.” I said brightly. “I’m sorry. This happens quite often, it’s such an old house.” 
“It’s probably just a blown fuse.” The bastard told me. 
“I know, but I’m terrible with electrics- I’ll just have to make do with candles until my partner comes home. I’m sorry, maybe you could call later on when he’s fixed it-“ 
Damien would sort out this pushy so and so in three seconds flat. 
“All you need to do is turn the main switch.” The man insisted. 
“I wouldn’t know how.” I pleaded. 
“I can do it for you.” The man got up, quite undaunted. I swore under my breath as he approached the kitchen. “Where’s the box?” 
“In the cellar.” I said, opening the door. He felt his way down the cellar steps. 
I shut the door on him. 
Once the door was shut and he was gone, the most logical move seemed to be to turn the key. 
I turned it. And pocketed it. And shut my eyes as one salesman went ballistic on the cellar steps on the other side of that door. 
He made a ridiculous amount of noise for a grown man. I finally went upstairs to get as far away from the noise as possible, and tried to think what on earth I should do next. Obviously he couldn’t stay in the cellar. Apart from anything else, Damien probably wouldn’t be pleased about it. But I’d locked him in on impulse. Once released, he was very likely to be annoyed. If not insist on calling the police. 
Someone knocked at the front door. 
I went downstairs, gave the cellar door a wide berth and opened the front door a crack. It was one of our neighbours, a sweet woman who knows Damien and me well. 
“Nick are you allright love?” she looked anxious and she had her voice lowered. “I heard all the shouting, what’s going on?” 
“That bloody salesman.” I looked back over my shoulder. Margaret’s eyes nearly came out of her head. 
“What’s going on? What’s he done?” 
“I can’t talk,” I said hurriedly, making sure the door stayed closed enough for her to see only me, “He wants me to sign these papers and he won’t go until I do-“ 
“Oh my God! Has he hurt you?” 
I shook my head in a way that implied Not Yet as I realised- maybe the best defence was a good offence. The idea was brilliant! I switched on all the pathos I could manage. 
“Margaret call the police. Please.” 
Margaret visibly paled. 
“Nick come out of there! Shut the door and come in with me, he won’t get through my front door.” 
“I can’t, he’ll go mad.”  I told her. 
And it wouldn’t get him out of the cellar. The police would, and it would be his word against mine- I could always claim self defence. Right now I had only one thought and that was to get that wretched man out of the cellar and out of the house without him rearranging my teeth or me having to sign anything. 
“Just call the police.” I begged Margaret. 
“Straight away. Give me Damien’s number-“ 
NO thank you. 
“He’s away today, on business- I don’t know where-“ 
“Allright love, hold on. I’ll call the police now.” 
I shut the door with relief. 
Problem solved. The police could let him out, he’d hardly assault me with official witnesses and I could claim anything I felt like claiming and serve the bastard right. We were home free. A minute later I heard another bang on the front door. It was in perfect time with the bang on the cellar door. I looked out of the front room curtains. A small knot of neighbours stood on the front step around a policeman with his motorbike parked on the pavement. I opened the window a crack. The policeman moved towards me. 
“Are you allright sir?” 
“I’ve got a bit of a problem.” I admitted. He lowered his voice. 
“We’ve got his name from his firm, sir. He left a card with one of your neighbours. Someone from his company will be here as soon as they can-“ 
Now that wasn’t helpful. The policeman beckoned me towards him. 
“There’s a squad car coming, sir, you’ve got nothing to fear.” 
I didn’t agree. I backed away and went to sit on the stairs. Why do these situations get so hideously complicated? I heard the voices on the front doorstep over the hammering and bellowing of the man in the cellar. Then suddenly a key turned in the lock. 
“-ridiculous.” I heard Damien saying indignantly, “Constable you are not going to break anything down! Please wait there and I’ll find out what’s going on.” 
I ran down the stairs and flung myself at him. He gave me a quick hug and pushed me off, looking me over and then looking at the shuddering cellar door. 
“Are you allright?” 
“Yes.” I admitted. 
“Who on earth have you got in there?” 
I didn’t answer that one. Damien surveyed me in the way I know so well. “Is it the same person who is apparently holding you hostage?” 
“He’s an insurance salesman.” 
“What is he doing in the cellar?” 
I gave him my look of bewildered innocence. 
“Nicholas.” Damien said gently. “There’s a large crowd on the front door step. Be careful what they witness.” 
I winced.  “I locked him in.” 
Damien clicked his fingers. I took the key out of my pocket and surrendered it. He flicked it over in his palm. “What happened to the lights?” 
“It’s the central fuse.” I mumbled. “It’s out.” 
“Would you be kind enough to go and fix it, darling?” Damien said pleasantly. “In your own time. If its not too much trouble.” 
I fixed it. 
“You‘d better get out of the way before I let this gentleman out.” He commented when I finished. “I don’t imagine he’ll be too fond of you at the moment.” 
I headed for the stairs. He paused, hand on the cellar door. 
I hesitated. He lifted an eyebrow at me. 
“Can I expect any other complications to this situation?” 
I considered carefully. “There might be a police car on its way round.” 
“And what will the officers be concerned about?” 
“Someone being held hostage.” 
“Of course. Oh and Nicholas?” 
“Why don’t you find yourself a corner to stand in? Preferably a dark corner.” 
There is something curiously peaceful about the corner on the landing. I stood and admired the cream paint, listening to Damien’s distant voice calmly and capably dealing with three police officers, Margaret, two neighbours and our irate insurance salesman. He’s so good at it. I am never more proud of him than when he is dealing with the incomprehensible, irate general public. Eventually the front door shut and our home regained its air of peace and tranquillity. 
Damien came upstairs, a glass in his hand, and sat on the top step behind me. 
“Before we embark on this confession, perhaps you’d tell me if one brandy is going to be enough?” 
“Definitely.” I promised. 
“Good. Do I need the whole story, or can I ask straight out why you found it necessary to lock an insurance salesman in the cellar?” 
“He went down there to fix the fuse box.” 
“The fuse box isn’t in the cellar.” 
“I forgot to tell him that part.” 
“And you turned the lights off before hand.” Damien went on. I felt he was taking a bit too much of this as read. 
“He was trying to make me sign something. I didn’t know what he was talking about.” 
“You couldn’t have just said no?” 
“Not politely.” 
“Of course, it was politer to lock him in the cellar.” Damien gave me a patient look. “And where does Margaret fit into all this?” 
“She heard the banging and came to see what was going on. I hoped she might get help.” 
“She did. She called the police for you. On your instructions, apparently, as I was off on some mythical business trip. The local constabulary took some persuading to leave without searching the house. Or arresting you for locking the salesman in. I managed to convince them both that the door had stuck and that you panicked. Otherwise you might well have been arrested for wasting police time and for illegal imprisonment.” 
“He was trying to make me sign this form.” I pleaded. Damien propped his chin on his hand and studied me. 
“Nick, you can’t go about making up stories like this, or wasting people’s time! If I hadn’t come home, there might well be an armed police unit around the house by now!” 
“I’m sorry. I really am sorry.” 
“You realise I’ve just had to lie to the police for you?” 
“It won’t happen again.” 
“What won’t specifically? Tricking members of the public into the cellar and then locking them up? Making up wild stories and telling them to anyone passing by? Involving the police in your fantasy life? Making me lie to prevent you being arrested? You’ve got no idea of the trouble you could have got yourself into! What if this chap had turned violent? What if they’d taken the hostage threat seriously and someone got shot?” 
“They didn’t.” I pointed out. “You came home.” 
“You CAN’T go about creating havoc in the hope that sooner or later I’ll turn up and sort it out!” 
Actually that seemed fairly reasonable to me, but now was obviously not a good time to point it out. 
Damien rose to his feet like a cat and gestured politely at the open bedroom door. 
Oh God. I followed him very slowly, mentally scanning down the list of Ten Sure Ways of Distracting Damien. One, and top of the list, Cry. That worked so well I tended to keep it only for the direst emergencies. Five, grab him and hope he was in the mood. That one was risky: great if he WAS in the mood, extremely dangerous if he wasn’t. Eight. Have an asthma attack. I knew there was no chance at this moment of having a real one. I tried a few experimental wheezes. Damien gestured at the bed. 
“Don’t you dare. Sit.” 
Ten. Throw a tantrum. That was a last ditch solution: I would almost certainly end up over his knee. However, the whacking I’d get would probably be a lot less than the one he was planning here and now, and with luck, he’d forget the original offence in the process. Damien really and seriously annoyed with me was worth almost anything to avoid. I took a deep breath. Damien’s voice sharpened. 
It’s not easy to work yourself up to hysteria sitting down. Damien stood over me, arms folded. 
“Just what exactly do you expect for this?” 
Oh I hate it when he does this bit. Torture time. 
“Look at me please.” Damien said gently. I looked up, feeling about six and a half and very much in disgrace, to the point where I was squirming with embarrassment. I’ve learned the hard way not to cop out with answers like “I don’t know”. 
“A spanking.” I muttered. “Except it isn’t fair. You weren’t here and he was pushy as hell, I didn’t know what to do with him-“ 
“I let you off with a warning this morning” Damien said sternly,  “and it’s obviously had no effect at all. I should have sorted you out properly then.” 
He went to a cupboard I hate and withdrew the one thing that makes my knees start to shake and my ears suddenly pick up on the fact that I’m sounding like a brat and I’ve gone just a little too far. 
“Oh no, Damien don’t – please – I’m sorry, it’ll never happen again-“ 
“I think you deserve a full six for this, my boy. You’d better bend over the bed.” 
He flexed the cane in his hands, warming it. I would have burst into tears except by then I was just too scared. 
“Damien please don’t, I’m sorry- I’m really sorry-“ 
“You’ve got to get out of this Walter Mitty habit before you get into real trouble.” Damien pointed the cane at the bed. “Bend over. Nick come on please, you’re not going to talk your way out of this. Hands flat on the bed, knees straight and stay put until I tell you.” 
Trembling, I bent across the bed and braced myself. I seemed to be left standing there for several years, knowing he was holding that hateful cane right behind me, then it gently touched my backside, making me jump. 
“Stand still, Nick. Don’t string this out.” 
Bastard. He knew how much I hated this. I shut my eyes tight. Swish, crack. Fairly quiet, undramatic. Except my behind was abruptly lit up with a line of fire, right across both cheeks. I jumped, hard, and the breath rushed out of my lungs. Swish, crack. The cane struck half an inch lower and the fire stung until my knees twisted and I gasped. 
Strike three. Half an inch lower again. The man has an appallingly straight eye and a swing like a cricketer. Strike four swiped hard across the lowest curve of my buttocks and the sting jerked me upright, clutching at my backside with both hands, tears in my eyes. 
“Ow!! Damien PLEASE-“ 
Damien pointed back at the bed. “Take your hands away and bend over. Nicholas bend over!” 
Somehow I turned around and bent forwards, once more surrendering my blazing bottom to that horrible cane of his. Stroke five fell firmly across the upper slopes of my backside and made me bellow like the salesman in the cellar. Damien swiped my poor behind once more with that appalling flick in his wrist and the cane bit like a swarm of wasps, right across the middle of both cheeks. 
“I really,” Damien said severely, “Ought to give you another one for standing up.” 
I knelt down on the bed and gingerly clutched at my stinging, throbbing backside. The cupboard clicked as he put the cane away, then he ruffled my hair and pulled me to my feet. 
“Get yourself a drink and bring some cream up, I’ll rub it for you. I haven’t even asked what state your chest’s in yet.” 
“I don’t know why you bother living with me.” I sniffed. He grinned and pulled me against him. I wriggled, but he held on until I gave up and leaned against him. 
“I like living with you.” 
“I drive you mad.” 
He nudged my chin up and kissed me. “You do. But who else could I come home to who’s got salesmen locked in the cellar?”
 ~The End~
 Copyright Ranger 2010


Anonymous said...

I'm still laughing at Nicks list of Ten Sure Ways of Distracting Damien!

Dark said...

loooool such a funny story
love the end :)
Thank you

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