They’ve taped him to the chair using three rolls of duct tape. It’s wound tightly around his hairy chest, holding him upright against the back of the chair, then around each of his bare legs, fixing them to the two front legs of the chair. It’s gonna hurt like fuck when they pull it off; if they ever do. His arms are pulled tightly behind him, bound together and secured to the two back legs of the chair with yet more tape. The fourth roll of tape from the multipack that Steve found in Kev’s shed has been used to attach flattened crisp boxes to all of the windows, both to keep prying eyes out and to keep them enclosed in near darkness inside. The only light comes from the torches that they both hold, which they occasionally shine in the man’s eyes when they hear him whimper.
They didn’t plan this. Well, not seriously, and definitely not today. But the man had pushed his luck and now it was time for him to pay. Now that they’ve started, they have to carry on. A couple of times, Kev has protested, saying they’ve gone far enough, they should stop now. But Steve is in the zone.
‘We need to teach this bastard a lesson,’ Steve says. He walks slowly round the bound figure, flashing the torch-light into his eyes. ‘What’ll we do first, Kev?’
Kev sighs. ‘Dishcloth?’
‘Yes!’ Steve says. He loves the dishcloth. Their old man was a champion at the dishcloth and especially liked to use it on Steve, often leaving him with painful bleeding wounds on his bare legs when he’d gone a bit over the top.
Kev dampens the cloth under the kitchen tap and throws it to Steve, who catches it easily in one hand, despite the near darkness. Kev shines the torch into the bound man’s face and watches his eyes light up with fear as he realises what they’re about to do. He can hear rather than see what Steve is doing; he’s spinning the dishcloth into a tight rope.
‘Mnnaaaggh!’ the bound man squeals. It’s muffled, coming through the rolled up sock they’ve stuffed into his mouth.
Kev shines the torch into the man’s eyes and watches as tears roll down his face, soaking into the makeshift gag. He directs the torch down to the man’s thighs, now sporting angry red welts, and he remembers their dad; he doesn’t want to catch Steve’s eye. ‘That’s enough now, Steve,’ he says.
‘You’re right,’ Steve says. ‘I’m getting bored with this… What’s next? Teaspoon?’
Kev says nothing, just goes through to the kitchen and switches on the kettle.
‘Pleeessh,’ the man says, through the sock.
‘What was that?’ Steve says, poking the man in the ribs. ‘You want another flick, do ya?’
‘Nnnngg!’ the man says, and Steve just cackles.
‘Kettle’s boiled,’ Kev shouts through from the kitchen.
‘Your turn,’ Steve shouts back. ‘Hurry up!’
Kev appears, brandishing a teaspoon he’s just dipped in the water from the boiled kettle, and while Steve shines the torch in the man’s face, Kev presses the back of the spoon into the soft skin just below the man’s ear.
‘Nggggaaahh!’ the man says. Kev laughs now, getting into it.
‘Heat it up again,’ Steve says.
They do it another couple of times with the teaspoon, before Steve complains he’s getting bored again. He asks Kev what they should do next.
‘Well,’ Kev says, ‘I read this thing about pouring ice cold water right into an ear… Apparently it hurts like fuck and leaves no trace…’
‘Brilliant,’ Steve says. He goes through to the kitchen, and Kev hears him rustling about in the freezer, looking for ice.
The man starts rocking the chair from side to side, making more noise through the sock. ‘Oi!’ Kev says. ‘Shut it! Stop wriggling, you’ll only make it worse!’
Steve appears back in the room just as the man crashes to the floor on his side, whimpering. He holds his torch towards the jug of water and ice that he’s carrying, showing Kev what’s he’s got. ‘Perfect,’ he says. ‘Idiot’s just made it easier for us to pour this in… stupid bas−’
He stops mid-sentence at the sound of a key in the lock. The front door opens wide, bathing them all in a bright ray of outside light. Julia, Kev’s wife, is standing in the doorway, her arms filled with shopping bags and her mouth hanging open in shock.
‘Kev? Steve? Jesus Christ, what the hell are you two doing?’
‘It’s not what you think, babe….’ Kev says.
‘Yes it is!’ Steve butts in. ‘He fucking deserves it, giving you that third ticket… for parking outside your own house, for fuck’s sake…’
Julia’s expression changes. She walks fully into the house and kicks the door shut behind her. Her initial shock at seeing the naked Traffic Warden taped to one of her new dining room chairs had thrown her at first, but she recovers quickly, dropping the bags of shopping on the floor.
‘Ok then,’ she says, grinning at them. ‘Have you done the dishcloth?’
The man in the chair groans.
Kev and Steve hold their torches up under their chins and grin back.
* * *
First posted at The Black Flag