Stolen Time – Chapter 18
“I hear this voice in my head.” Bernard broke the silence and finally started to talk. It was barely a murmur; nonetheless, Hendey heard it.
It had been the 15th session with Dr. Hendey. They both knew that, during the last 14 sessions, they hadn’t made any progress. They talked about how Bernard was brought up, his career, relationship with Tony, how he found the marriage life, and that was all. But never had gone down to where actually needed to be through.
“Whose voice is that?”
“It’s not only one.” His voice was so small like a whisper. His two hands were curled into fists clenched something invisible, with a death grip. The knuckles had gotten white.
“Is Jacob’s one of them?” Hendey took a guess. He didn’t want Bernard to stop.
“Sometimes. The things he used to say to me when we were fighting, echoes in my head. ‘You selfish self-centred asshole. You are just another white trash.’” Bernard mimic Jacob’s harsh tone in a low whisper. “When that happens, I know whatever I’m doing at that moment is wrong. I think It’s my subconscious telling me that I’m being that bastard again, who cornered a perfectly happy boy to kill himself.”
“That’s what happened when you had the panic attack?”
“No, it wasn’t him. It was Mrs. Masole’s.”
“What did she say?” Hendey hitched up his glasses. Bernard wasn’t looking at him. He was squinting as if he were to try to look at something through the fog that masked whatever it was behind.
“She said, her voice said that… that I’m a murderer. It’s all my fault, I should have been the one who’s dead.“ He finally drew the words out. He closed his eyes. His heart slowly went cold. He rubbed his chest despite himself, to make sure that there was no hole in there. The flesh under his palm was solid, surprisingly enough. He cleared his throat and carried on.
“And she was right. I ignored Jacob’s pain, tried not to look at his agony of being cut off from his family by choosing to be with me. I couldn’t stand his sorrow. I didn’t understand what was so big deal about it. I went out every night to avoid his resentful eyes, I resented him right back. Because, he was ruining it. We should have been free and happy. Away from that small, bigotfull town, living life, enjoy our time as lovers, friends, and, and, everything. So I hated him. I was angry with him. Why he couldn’t just let it go and enjoy? Sometimes whored myself out in the club just for hurting him and of course, hadn’t been discreet about it to him.” Bernard panted as re-living the worst moments of his life, the foolishest, the childishest moments. “Can you imagine his feeling?” Bernard laughed at himself cynically, disgusted by himself. “I had never understood his longing for his family. Because I didn’t have one like his. My grannies and me, we just co-existed, it was nothing like Jacob and his family. So I was irritated every time he had a mental breakdown. You see? He never ceased to try to get his family back. But he had to give up when we found out he got AIDS. We both knew, there was just no way his family would accept him whom he was, not with the disease even if there was a slight change at it.” Bernard buried his face on his sweaty palms.
“When I had the panic attack, it was her words. The exact words that she threw at me at Jacob’s funeral. Before they kicked me out and banned me from getting into the church. Then I got panicked. I couldn’t help. I couldn’t control myself. I put Tony in Jacob’s place. I imagined Tony in the bathtub, lifeless, cold, stiffened.” His hands started shaking. His face went noticeably pale, pupils dilated.
“You mentioned that you were banned from Jacob’s funeral. So after he died, you were alone.”
“Yes. We didn’t really have any friends in Joburg.” Bernard answered.
“You had to mourn alone.”
“There was no place for me to mourn over his death. ” Bernard’s bottom lip trembled, but he swallowed down hard. No tears had been spilled before, and he was not starting now.
“What do you mean by that?”
“No rights were granted for me to mourn for him.” Bernard clarified it, was a bit irritated, like he didn’t understand what part of it Hendey didn’t understand.
“Bernard, you were his partner. You were the one who held his hand when he was sick and weak. You were the one who sacrificed everything for keeping him alive longer, knowing his illness was terminal. You were the one who was his family at the end while his parents turned their back because their child was not whom they thought he was, didn’t turn out to be who they expected he’d be.”
Bernard stubbornly looked at the floor.
“But I put him in that situation, knowing how important his family is to him. What he wanted was his family, not me.”
“What situation Bernard? His being gay? Do you think you made him gay?”
“He wasn’t sure. I forced him to acknowledge it and come out. He wasn’t ready.”
“I wouldn’t say what you did was right and reasonable. But it’s hard to be reasonable and sensible at the age of eighteen. You were a cheeky and cocky punk, but who wasn’t at that age? What really wrong in this picture is Jacob’s parents. And I’m almost sure that they knew that too, at least deep down in their conscious. They just needed someone to blame. Blaming is one of emotion-focused coping strategies in psychology. Human psychology is much deeper than reason.” Hendey lean forward, the elbows on his knees. “You can’t let it affect your life this severely. You have to accept and let go, Bernard. Letting go doesn’t mean you are Jacob. Doesn’t mean you denying Jacob existed. Doesn’t mean erasing how much you cared for and loved Jacob. It’s okay to live your life. It’s okay feeling guilty sometimes. It’s okay to love someone else and missing Jacob sometimes. It’s not all or nothing, Bernard. In fact, There is no such thing as all or nothing in life.”
“What if my love would destroy the man I loved again? What if I’m not enough for him? What if I never fully get over Jacob? If then, how could I ask Tony to walk that road with me?” Bernard sounded lost, as a child missed mom’s hand.
“I think, Bernard, he already is doing just that.”
“To be honest, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that you and Bernard are married.” Matt shook his head.
“That and me being gay.” Tony pointed out oh-so-matter-of-factly.
Matt had pressed his lips tightly before he answered. “I won’t lie. That too.” He groaned.
“I guess we never had actually talked about it.”
Matt nodded in agree.
“Sexuality is a lot less black and white than you think, my friend.”
“Don’t get me wrong. Cath and I are sincerely happy for you two. Just it seems like I don’t know you as much as I thought I did.”
“I’m the same guy as ever. Bernard too. Don’t feel as you should treat us differently.”
“I try Tony, I try.” Matt let out a big breath and drank his wine. “By the way, How is Bernard?” Asked Matt as a waiter refilled his glass.
“It’s difficult to tell.” Tony took a sip on his wine. It was crisp and cold, perfect for the hot summer day.
Bernard had gotten awfully quiet since the counseling session a week ago with Hendey. He daydreamed a lot, even while Tony was talking to him, suddenly his conscious took off. His crazy craving for sex had vanished ever since. Besides that, Bernard tried really hard to keep up with work, did everything he was told. But He could tell, Bernard’s vibrant self, liveliness that He loved so much, even the bratness, were clouded. It made Tony love Bernard more, not less. He wanted to give his boy everything he needed. The frustration and helplessness came from the fact that there was nothing he could give to help him.
Tony tried to create a busy routine for him so he could concentrate on sorting things out in his head without being distracted. So far, it seemed to be the only thing that kept him functioning.
“He seemed to be quite out of it recently. Cath worry about him a lot, I told her that she should leave him alone, but you know, she wouldn’t listen. Tell Bernard if he is not feeling like it, he should outrightly tell her so. She could be a bit much from time to time. But she means well. She adores Bernard.”
“I know Matt. I do appreciate it. And I don’t think Bernard mind her. It’s good to let him be aware that he has people who care for him. He needs that support more than ever.”
Cath and Matt knew about Bernard’s past, only briefly. Tony told them with Bernard’s consent. Matt and Cath, Liz and Philip, Victor and Randy, even Brendan, they were Tony and Bernard’s family. Not family they were born with, but chose to be with.
Randy and Philip got along very well, Brendan constantly picked on Victor, his cousin in law. Cecil, Randy and Victor’s kid, followed Henry, Cath and Matt’s boy like a puppy. Apparently Randy’d been taking Cecil to Cath’s house often since the engage announcement dinner. Both kids were only child, and they adopted each other like they were long parted brothers.
Amanda, not so much as far as Tony was concerned, but somehow Bernard wouldn’t give up on her. Bernard called her few times since the dinner, they seemed to talk to each other, but as soon as Bernard brought up their marriage, Amanda got upset, and the conversation would not end well. Once he heard Bernard said “Do you want me to get a divorce? Would divorce be better according to the values in the bible?” Tony didn’t know what Amanda’s response to that, but he guessed it wasn’t pretty as the phone call ended not even 10 seconds after that. Why Bernard called and every damn time Amanda answered? Knowing how the conversation would turn out? It was really beyond him.
It had been a one of the most dramatic changes in his life, the last one month or so. He’d been always solitary, and that didn’t bother him at all. The only people he had considered as his family were Leslie and Liz. Because, they were the only people he came to open up himself and trust.
Now he had Bernard. His family in every sense in the world. His heart, his soul. His love for Bernard was the closest thing he ever experienced to religion. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for Bernard.
“Do you want me to go to the DRC on behalf of you?”
“No, It’s only a week. If I have to, I’ll take Bernard with me.”
They didn’t finish the wine. As it was a Saturday, they both wanted to spend time with family.
Tony checked the watch. 3:00 pm, about time Bernard came home from the counseling. He wanted to go with him and wait close by, but Bernard was still discreet about their marriage and he didn’t want Tony to hover around him. Tony didn’t like it at all but respected Bernard’s choice.
Weather was heavenly. Bright blue sky was just above his head, teasing his hair with a lazy afternoon sunray. A feather like breeze delivered some sweet aroma of unidentified flowers from somewhere indulged his nose. The air was crisp as ever, caressing his skin like sun-dried linen.
Johannesburg was definitely growing on him. After all, it was now his home, where Bernard was.
He’s gotten use to drive in Joburg, still parking guys were irritating the shit out of him, he also learnt to ignore them or give them a huge tip for leaving him just alone.
As he drove into his parking lot, he found a blue Mini parked next to it. Bernard was home. Aston Martin DB9 he bought for Bernard was hirbernating next to the Mini as Bernard refused to drive it. Tony gave it one glance and took the elevator.
When the door opened at his floor with the characteristic chime, he found Bernard at the foyer, kneeling on the hard marble floor, laced his fingers on the small of his back, waiting for Tony. Only thing on his flawless skin was the platinum chain Tony specially designed and ordered for Bernard. The tail of the chain dropped down and being laid by Bernard’s flaccid cock that was exposed between the widely opened thighs.
It was such a sight. Tony would never be accustomed to seeing his boy like this. An appreciative smile appeared on Tony’s face. That’s when Bernard pulled his head up stiffly and met Tony’s eyes. The smile didn’t last long.
Bernard’s eyes were pitch dark. The pupils were huge, focused on nothing. If he didn’t know his boy better, he would have suspected Bernard was high on some drug. Though the expression was nearly blank, Tony didn’t miss the faint shadow of desperation.
Tony’s legs ate the distance between them in three steps yet in perfect control, no hurry, nonchalant.
“Sir.” A hoarse voice leaked from his boy’s throat. Bernard swallowed wetting his dry throat and closed his eyes.
I need you. Unspoken, nevertheless, Tony heard, loud and clear.
It was different from any other times. Bernard never had initiated a scene himself before Tony. It’s quite against the principals of their relationship. Though they didn’t pursuit the lifestyle 24/7, still there was no question about who was in charge.
Tony cupped his boy’s face. “Open your eyes and look and me.” As if he pushed the switch, Bernard’s eyes opened immediately. Bernard’s need, with such desperation, could only be one. Tony had been expecting this moment for a long time but at the same time wishing somehow it wouldn’t ever come. “Tell me what you need me for.” Tony couldn’t help but ask. Bernard swallowed hard again.
“I need you…… to be harsh on me.” Bernard looked ashamed, resigned, but devastated.
Tony straightened his posture letting go Bernard’s face.
“If I say no, will you need someone else to do it?”
Bernard shut his eyes closed. He looked like a person standing on the edge of a 1000 feet high cliff. A feather like breeze could have knocked him off. But Tony could give his hand, secure him, pull him to more safe ground even though he might be pulled off the cliff and crash with Bernard.
“Wait for me in the room.”
Bernard opened his eyes and leaned forward until his cheek touched Tony’s knee. He rubbed it on it, breathing deeply. “Thank you, Sir.” he murmured his gratitude, then gracefully stood up. Tony wanted to hug him bad but suppressed the urge. Because that was not what Bernard needed.
He just watched Bernard walking to the room.
Bernard kneeled next to the foot of the bed in the playroom and waited his master to enter. He needed this, needed Tony, his Master so, so badly. The ants crawling in his vain had gotten more and more session after the session with Dr. Hendey. It was now all over his body, eating his mind, eating him alive from the inside. He knew the only one thing that could eradicate them.
He breathed deeply and slowly.
The door opened. His Master didn’t acknowledge him; instead, he stopped in front of the chest of drawers and opened the third drawer. Bernard swallowed hard despite himself.
A hood was thrown onto the bed first, then a ball gag, a set of earplugs that specially designed for sensory deprivation. Master took out a chastity as well. Those, all of them were never had been used before. They never had gone that far. A tremble went through his body. Fear? Excitement? Gratitude? Thrill? Maybe all of the above.
“Do you trust me?” The authoritative voice asked him, nonchalantly.
What a question, he thought. But he was to give an answer no matter how obvious the answer might be.
His Master nodded once. He brought the chastity that looked a cock shape cage, and caged Bernard’s cock in the metal mould. His balls were stuck between the cock ring and the case, squashed hard. He couldn’t help but moan.
“Now lie on your stomach on the bench.” Master ordered.
Bernard moved on his knee almost crawled, got on to the bench. It looked like long steps, cushioned on the knee stool and the body stool. As he climbed up, grabbed the horn shaped handles on the each far corner of the bench, his Master bound his wrist with the cuffs attached the bench. Then the ankle cuffs followed, as well as the waist belt. He was not going anywhere. He wiggled a little to feel the strength, and the tightness of the restraint, he could move only very little only just enough to take shallow breath. That’s for his own safety, it would preventing him hyperventilating. It was comfortable, he knew he could lie there relax for the time being.
His Master took the leather hood on from the bed and covered his face. There are only a few breath holes under the nose, a large slit for the mouth. His vision was denied. A slight instinctual panic roughened his breath. He tried to calm his nerve by focusing on breathing in and out regularly. His Master’s assuring hand landed on his back, petting him up and down. It was warm, big and strong. As he felt the power of his Master over his body, the panic died out. He was grounded.
“If you want me to stop it, let this ball go.” His Master put a small rubber ball into the right hand. “Do you understand?”
“Yes, Sir.” His voice was trembling a bit.
“You are not allowed to talk from this moment.”
Something touched his lips, he soon realised it was the ball gag. He opened his mouth docilely. The gag got fastened around his head. Then his Master’s hand patted him again, this time on the thigh. Each time his sense was deprived, The feeling on the skin, even the air movement got amplified.
He heard his Master moving, and a series of some dull sound from the bed that followed. It must have been some beating tools. Something solid, maybe a cane or a puddle and something else, he failed to guess.
“You won’t hear me, once I put the plug in your ears. But I’ll be here for you. To watch you, to catch you. Just trust me. I will never leave you alone.” The deep and confident voice that was his master’s reassured him. “Nod once if you understood.” He nodded as the response. Then his hearing was gone.
His own breathing was all he could hear. The pitch darkness was all he could see. The leather smell, the heat of stuck air from exhaling dominated his senses. The gag ball was so big it didn’t even leave a room for his tongue. He swallowed the gag reflex repeatedly.
Fear chilled his blood, caused the goose bumps all over the body, he couldn’t help but shiver. He was helpless totally. Bound to the bench, couldn’t move an inch, all his senses were denied, the only thing he could do was trusting his Master. Focusing on breathing, trying as hard as humanly possible to locate his Master. His master could have left the room, left him like that. There was no patting this time, the warmth was not there any longer. He started struggling before he knew it.
The fear was instinctual thing. The rational part of the brain was no longer functioning. Only the emotional, survival side of the instinct voiced that he was in a fetal danger that he was totally helpless, he could die like this. Then he felt the ball in his hand. He could let it go, threw it to stop all this. His master would free him as soon as the ball left his hand. If he was still in the room.
Of course, he is.
It was Tony he was talking about. His master, his husband, his family. One person he could commit his life to the care of. He trust Tony with his life, he realised.
Bernard swallowed the gag reflex again and squeezed the ball harder.
A hot blow landed across his thighs as he got relaxed. He screamed at the unexpected sudden blow but muffled by the gag. It was badly hurt and relieving at the same time. His Master was there. Tony was there with him.
The second one landed just above the first one.
He was right. It was a cane. The pain was bone-deep, rattled his being. He groaned, shaking his head wildly. He never had been a fan of cane. But that was not his to choose, was not? He just had to take what Tony saw fit.
The holes on under the nose was too small, he couldn’t nearly get enough air.
Every time the cane left him the excruciating pain, all he could do was trying to breathe, cry the muffled, animalistic cry.
He lost the count after fifteen. He bit the gag hard, shook his whole body to reduce the pain, but it was no use. He growled like a trapped animal, nothing more. His chest heaved badly, seeking more air. Then the beating stopped.
His Master’s mighty hand covered his searing hot flesh. He touched and caressed every welt he just made as if he was making sure that Bernard was feeling him there.
He was. He knew Tony was there.
The strong hand was gone as suddenly as it came.
Some more of sharper pain had stricken on his ass. It must have been a rod. The pain lingered longer than the cane, merciless as it was. His bum was burning as if his whole body had been seared on a grill.
He concentrated on a mission of making himself smaller in the world, separating the body and taking off to the world that only his Master and him exist. That his Master created for him.
Somewhere between the puddle and the whip, he saw the beam of light from the distance. It came closer and closer gradually. Then he found himself free falling through a tunnel looking at the other end of it. The light, the wind, it was getting bigger.
There was a shadow of a man waiting for him at the end, spreading the arms wide, big and strong, but he wasn’t sure the man was there to catch him or shred him to pieces.
It could be Jacob, not allowing him to go through the tunnel completely, there to snatch his soul and dump him back to hell taking his revenge, much deserved revenge. Panic swept him over. He screamed, puddled his hands uselessly, trying desperately stop the falling, to climb up to where he was. But the gravity was too strong to resist as a mammal. Bernard cried, screaming for Tony before he knew it.
The light was right there as the man, then he saw the man’s face.
It was Jacob, smiling at him as he did when they were a couple of oblivious of the world, know-it-all teenagers. He knew that face. The expression. When he wore that face, he soon would grab Bernard’s hand and pull him to the back of his father’s church, push Bernard’s smaller body to the hard wall and devour his mouth like a hungry bear licking a honey jar.
He wasn’t there to revenge Bernard. He saw yearning in his eyes, love, longing. He missed Bernard. Bernard stopped peddling his arms, stopped resisting falling. He let it go.
This was it. This was the way to the full circle.
I’ll be here for you. To watch you, to catch you. Just trust me. I will never leave you alone.
The deep voice echoed in the tunnel.
Bernard imagined Tony’s face, the beautiful eyes, the strong jaw, the sensual lips, the sharp nose, the thick voice whispering ‘I love you.’ to him every night before he went to sleep.
He had a life with Tony, family, the cottage, home. His home was Tony, his Master.
That realisation, how much he wanted to be with Tony, made him crazy. Because even that didn’t stop him from falling. Jacob was right there to pull him away with him. Bernard didn’t want to go.
Tony’s voice called him again.
I am so sorry Jacob.
He mouthed at Jacob as he couldn’t make any sound for some reason. Then as he thought everything was done and Jacob snatched his arm, he went right through Jacob’s shadow and sank into the light.
The sensation of falling disappeared, he was just floating in the brightness. He was warm and cared, like being in a crib or mother’s worm. His entire being was tightly secured somehow, though he didn’t know what it was.
White blinding light surrounding him started moving, forming some shape. He tried his best to figure it out. The world was getting firmer. He focused on a set of blue clouds. It became a set of eyes. Familiar eyes.
The lips, formed before he knew it, mouthed at him.
He mouthed back.
I love you.
He couldn’t tell whether it was sounded, but was not important.
Bernard smiled looking Tony’s face.
He felt in heaven.
I must confess, this chapter’s already been written when I posted the previous chapter, but somehow I wan’t satisfied with it, felt I’m missing something, not quite done with it, as far as first draft goes anyway. So I’ve been dreading to post it. For quite a long time. But like always, that didn’t make anything any more satisfying.
So here it is. Few of you, still reading this story, thanks so much.