Crossdressing Charlie Vol. 1: Episode 15 - Crime and Punishment

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SUMMARY: Dave's comeuppance has arrived...

Dave’s long, golden hair hung gloriously down over his bosom, and down his back like an unrolled curtain of soft velvet. Covered with an explosive overdose of fake tan, his skin looked radiantly false yet hotly sensual. His face was painted like a dolls and his makeup was over the top and trampy. Like two fluttery butterfly wings, his lashes were thick, dark, and long. His lips appeared plumper as they were coated with neon-pink lipstick, the girliest kind. Hanging from the soft, blonde hair were two large golden hoops, pierced into his earlobes.

His feet were uncomfortably squished into a pair of leather-baby blue pumps, with a lofty four-inch heel. Not only that, but his legs were completely waxed, smooth and soft. His girdle-enhanced hips were clad with a blue and navy plaid skirt, short in length and high in waist, which made his legs look ever so lengthier. Hugging his rather buxom breasts, corseted waist, and beefy arms was a blue boat-necked school sweater, with the large blouse collar folded over the neckline, buttoned down to reveal his frilly bra-encased cleavage.

Feminized and sluttified, his body sat bound to a wooden chair by the wrists and ankles. He was unconscious and had not yet come through after being attacked by his mysterious captor’s taser. He was trapped in a well-decorated room, draped with soft velvety fabrics and deep, sultry colours. Two lampshades on each bedside locker dimly lit the room and a large four-poster bed stood pushed up against the wall. The carpeted floor was scattered with random bearskins and soft fluffy rugs. It called back to the private rooms of the nineteenth century burlesque house.

His eyelids twitched as he exhaled a deep, tired breath. His neck cracked as he lifted his heavy head, joints creaking like rusty hinges as he attempted to move within his confined state. Taken aback by his lack of movement, his eyes gaped open as he desperately attempted to move with more effort. Looking over his shoulder, his luscious blonde wig covered his vision. Hot flushes of panic arose within him as he tried to brush the hair away from his eyes. He swung his head over his other shoulder and could just about see that his hands were bound together and to the chair, tight and firm. He looked down at his body, horror-struck at what he saw before him, a slutty schoolgirl uniform, donned upon his artificially shaped body, similar yet more sexual than the one he forced Charlie to wear.

Dave tried to move again by leaning forward but, like elastic, he flung back into the seat. The rope that bound him with the chair was uncomfortably tight as was the painful corset, which compressed his muscled abdomen into an hourglass shape. Grasping for air, he gritted his teeth to cope with the constrictive clinch, grimacing with agony. He attempted to stretch but moving forced him into a fit of violent coughing. He barely caught his breath, letting his head fall back as he stared up at the ceiling. Inflating and deflating like wheezing bagpipe, his bosomy chest moved in and out to his raspy breath.

As soon as he caught his breath, his licked his quivering lips and listened. He could feel the presence of another in the room. Lifting his head, he held his breath, and looked over each shoulder as terror flickered in his shining eyes. He could feel a cold wave of goosebumps fall upon him as the hairs stood erect on the back of his neck. ‘’H-Hello -,’’

THWACK!

He jumped, feeling a harsh pain shoot through his legs as he turned to the figure standing before him. ‘’What the -,’’ he yelled.

Dressed as a sexy schoolteacher from head to toe, a young woman stood before him with a long wooden cane in her right hand. A black pinup pencil skirt, streamlined, high-waisted, and cut down to above the knee clasped her hips firmly with a polka dotted bow and bustle on the back. Tucked into the figure-hugging skirt was a white puffed sleeve chiffon blouse with a pussy bow hanging from the slightly revealing neckline collar. Wavy jet-black hair hung down over her shoulders and back. Her complexion was milky, flawless, with vibrant red lipstick to match the dark half-mooned spectacles that lay perched upon the tip of her nose.

Dave rocked about in his chair as he desperately attempted to move his wrists and ankles but all his efforts led to no avail. His mysterious captor certainly made sure that he would not be able to escape. In the midst of his panicked state, he quickly noticed that his knees were trembling and his lower lip quivering. He breathed in, trying his best not to show any signs of weakness or inadequacy. ‘’Who are you and where am I?’’ he asked, trying his best to appear relaxed.

Wearing a contented smirk, the woman looked upon him deviously as if a thousand punishment methods were running through her mind. Sighing happily, she began to circle the chair, batting the cane against her hand in a military fashion. ‘’I am Ms. Svahnstrom,’’ said the woman, tongued with a slight European accent. ‘’I’ll be your tutor for the day.’’

Dave’s eyes lit up as if a light bulb flicked on inside his muddled head. He suddenly realised who the woman was, the motorcyclist who chased his car and ran him off the road. All the muscles in his face tensed up as a cold sweat started to moisten his joints like oil. He tried his best to keep his eyes on Prue as she rounded his chair, his heart pulsating when she entered his blind spot. She eventually stopped, facing him as she circled her long, pointed nail around the tip her cane. He looked at her up and down with a frightened yet animalistic look in his eyes, ‘’Lady, if you intend on r-raping me or something, you’re not exactly making it very miserable for me,’’ he said, staring into her cleavage like a hungry beast.

‘’Oh I’m no lady,’’ Prue scoffed, gently clubbing the cane against the palm of her left hand. She did not take her eye off him as she slowly circled the chair again, forcing her prisoner to feel the rising tension before the storm. ‘’Hmm, I’m a little proud of my work for once,’’ she said, referring to Dave’s appearance. ‘’I managed to make you look quite feminine despite your — masculine — physique.’’

‘’Is that supposed to be a compliment?’’ said Dave, trying to maintain his nonchalant bravery.

‘’Not really,’’ Prue chuckled, rolling her eyes. Remaining silent for a moment, she stroked the cane softly against his cheek. ‘’I suppose you think yourself smart?’’

Laughing, Dave broke eye contact as he found confidence. ‘’I’m locked in a strange room, dressed up as a school tart, being threatened by a lunatic pretending to a school teacher so no, I do not think myself very smart!’’

‘’Who said I’m threatening you?’’ chortled Prue. ‘’I’m merely here to teach you a valuable lesson.’’

‘’Enlighten me…’’

Prue did not answer and continued to circle the chair like a lioness readying to attack her prey. She was basking in the pool of intense pressure, trying her best to raise her threatening presence to alarming and feverish heights.

‘’Look, I don’t have time to play games,’’ said Dave, starting appear anxious. ‘’Just tell me where I am?’’

‘’You’ll find out where you are soon enough,’’ she said, finally stopping in front of the chair as she placed her cane neatly inside her arm.

Dave waited for his captor to speak further; however, she just stood in front of him, staring as she waited for him to say something. Words caught in his dry throat, he could not break from the piercing gaze she cast upon him. He refused to express fear, despite it broiling inside him like an oncoming storm. He could feel himself beginning to sweat as the intensity of looming torment rested heavily upon his shoulders like a ton of bricks. He licked his lips and swallowed the little saliva remaining in his mouth. ‘’S-So how long have you and Charlie been conspiring behind my back?’’ he asked hoarsely.

Scoffing, Prue looked away for a moment, smiling as she gently shook her head. ‘’What if I told you that Charlie was just as oblivious as you were to my — what shall I call it - rescue mission if you will…’’

‘’I wouldn’t believe you,’’ said Dave. ‘’No random person would — would go to such extreme measures to stalk someone they only met once!’’

‘’Ah so you remember who I am! You deserve a gold star for that!’’ said Prue, deriding Dave’s intelligence. ‘’Actually, I think I may have some gold stars in my handbag.’’

‘’Of course I remember! You’re the weird girl who works at the costume shop,’’ Dave sneered. ‘’I had my suspicions that somebody was following me for weeks. I hope you don’t think I had no misgivings about a plot to ruin our getaway but I never thought it would be you!’’

‘’Well, if you were truly suspicious, then you would have done something about it,’’ taunted Prue.

‘’Fuck you,’’ Dave spat. ‘’You do realise - ,’’

THWACK!

Prue walloped him across the bare laps with an almighty swing of her cane. Followed by the harsh smack was a loud, frightful scream that could have rattled the room to its very foundations.

‘’Gaaaaaargh!’’ Dave screamed. ‘’What the fu -,’’

‘’ — don’t you DARE use crude language again, young lady!’’ Prue yelled, trying to contain her delight and laughter.

Squirming around in his bound state, Dave attempted to break free of his restraints but he could do no more than scream and struggle. ‘’You’re fucking insane, you know that?!’’ he roared. ‘’INSANE!’’

Loving Dave’s daring stupidity, Prue beamed ear-to-ear as she brought her cane crashing down upon his laps several times with remarkably brute force. ‘’Oh god, the irony is palpable!’’ she bellowed to the ceiling. She trotted teasingly to the side of the chair, chuckling under her breath. ‘’You think that I’m insane?’’. She gently brushed her cane across his cheek again as she playfully indulged in the terror her prisoner felt. ‘’Huh, some people think so but I can’t help it! I simply adore dressing up in costumes!’’ she whispered into his ear.

Growling like an untamed beast, Dave writhed and snarled with frustration and sheer rage. ‘’You know, stalking me is one thing, but chasing me off the road and forcing me to take part in some creepy role-playing game is just screwed up! I won’t give in to being like you sissy freaks!’’ he scowled, frowning under the constrictive corset once again.

Prue’s brow arose, astounded by Dave’s bloated narcissism. ‘’Oh come now, do you honestly believe that is the reason why you’re in this situation?’’ she said patronisingly.

His theory crushed before him, Dave lowered his head as his knees began to shake uncontrollably, ‘’Yes!’’ he snapped, refusing eye contact. ‘’W-Why else would you have brought me here d-dressed up like a — like a slutty tart while you play the sexy teacher?’’

‘’Wow, you really think that I’m sexy?’’ said Prue, her eyes agape with sarcasm. ‘’I’ve gone all scarlet! Thanks dude!’’

‘’Then tell me!’’ Dave yelled, angry tears spewing from his eyes. ‘’Tell me why I’m here!’’

Frustrated with Dave’s oblivious nature, Prue sighed, feeling annoyed and irritated as she strutted over to the other end of the room. She opened the closet door, took out a fold-up chair, walked back, and placed it in front of Dave. ‘’These heels are a nightmare,’’ she mumbled, kicking them off as she sat down. Pulling her chair in closer, Dave gulped fearfully as his captor sat unnervingly closer to him with her cane resting firmly on his lap. Smirking, she reached out, touched Dave’s blouse collar, and rubbed it gently between her fingers.

‘’What are you doing?’’ Dave asked, looking down at her hand nervously.

Remaining silent, Prue slowly pulled the collar out and peered into his bra-encased breasts, realistically glued onto his chest. ‘’Oh yes,’’ she said, leering into his eyes with malicious intent. ‘’Yes, he will be very pleased with those puppies, very pleased indeed!’’

‘’Wh — who?’’ asked Dave, startled, and suddenly feeling something gently chafe the inside of his thigh. He looked down to see the wooden cane slowly sliding up towards his crotch. ‘’W-What are you doing -,’’

‘’Shh,’’ hushed Prue. ‘’Just look at me…’’

Refusing to lift his head, Dave squirmed uneasily, accidently letting out a frightened whimper as the cane gently lifted up his skirt. He shook his head in protest.

‘’LOOK AT ME!’’ Prue snarled.

Trembling, Dave slowly looked up, chin shuddering with fear as he locked eyes with his defeaters piercing gaze. She no longer appeared playful or mischievous. She suddenly transformed herself into an unsmiling judge of punishment. ‘’You live within a delusion, Dave,’’ said Prue, her tone sharp and icy as she slowly ran her cane up his skirt. ‘’You’re ill. I cannot possibly talk you into realising what you have done. However, I can help you understand by imposing the very same feelings people like Charlie and I have felt. I will force constant fear, torment, fault, and shame upon you. I will make you experience everything we have felt until you beg forgiveness. You. Will. Suffer.’’

Anxiously panting like a dog, Dave could not form a proper sentence because of the cane shoved up his skirt and the tight, figure altering corset that clinched his waist. He tired to speak but the terror of his privates being crushed got the better of his nerves. He swallowed down again and cleared his throat. ‘’Y-You think you know him-,’’ Dave gasped, stopping mid-speech to catch his breath, ‘’ — b-but you — you don’t know h-him like I do. I c-can see who he is supposed to be…and — and I love h -,’’

‘’Unbelievable,’’ scoffed Prue, looking away as she pushed her cane unto his crotch, painfully squashing his manhood with excruciating energy. Shrieking, Dave viciously rocked back and forth in the chair, roaring at the top of his lungs as thrashed about helplessly.

Jumping to her feet, Prue unleashed hellfire as she struck Dave across each side of his face with enormous vigour, yelling at the top of her voice, ‘’You are not in love with Charlie! You’re in love with the power you hold over him and you took advantage of his secret! He was just a confused person and you exploited that for your own perverted fantasies!’’ she roared, again striking him twice, flaying his head from side-to-side to his brief yelps. ‘’He had done nothing wrong!’’. She clouted him thrice more on the laps before withdrawing, dropping the cane to the floor as she stumbled a few steps back.

Dave’s head hung low, covered by the long blonde hair of his wig. Trembling, his legs shook within the very restraints that bound them to the chair. ‘’H-How can you assume so much of a p-person you only met once?’’ said Dave, his voice cleared and breathy.

Straightening herself after her manic outburst, Prue caught her breath, cleared the hair hanging over her eyes, and straightened out her skirt. ‘’You don’t know what we discussed while you sat outside in your car that day,’’ she sneered. ‘’I know what it’s like to be in Charlie’s position. I recognised his state from the moment I seen him enter the shop and more so when he told me cross-dressing was an escape from himself, something ignorant vermin like you will never understand.’’

Dave looked up, scornfully leering at Prue with pure and utter hatred. His face was red with lashings and his callous eyes were filled with fury. He was monstrous. ‘’Is strapping me to a chair in girls clothes really for Charlie or is all of this part of your own personal vendetta?’’

Prue laughed but not in an over-the-top false manner but a genuine laugh. She began to circle the chair once again, swaying her hips devilishly, however, this time she was without the cane.

Mustering up the remainder of his courage, Dave straightened up in his seat, trying to look resilient in spite of his ridiculous appearance. ‘’You — you can beat me senseless if that satisfies your so-called vengeance on ‘people-like-me’ but you’re gonna have to let me go eventually. My dad is home in a -,’’

Prue quickly pulled the chair and watched it slowly lean back before crashing to the floor like a collapsing tree. Before Dave could yell every curse word under the sun, she bent down and shoved a cloth in his roaring mouth. All that could be heard was his muffled cries and unintelligible insults. She bent over, belittling him, as she looked upon him as if he were a toddler. ‘’You’re right,’’ she said soothingly. ‘’This isn’t just for Charlie, but for me, and all the unfortunates who have encountered scum like you, so tonight — tonight the tables shall be turned!’’

Dave’s eyes filled with terror as he stared up at his captor. ‘’’Hmmmmufblellehmmenhbghh,’’ was the closet he could get to form a sentence.

‘’You want to really know where you are, Dave?’’ said Prue, her tone razor sharp and her eyes alight with zeal. ‘’You see, I work in the costume shop by day but at night I’m a different person all together…Lolita Lascivious, the chick with the dick who can’t get enough fun! Only 100 for the night!’’ she quoted, voice trembling and eyes simmering with impassioned tears. She moved in closer to his face, leering into his eyes so she could gaze upon into his terrified soul. ‘’Clearly I cannot hurt you, so tonight — tonight I’m breaking the rules. You will take my place and spend the night with one of the clubs most prolific customers. A certain person who enjoys emasculated boys in skirts.’’

‘’Nyyymmhhhaaabmmmmh!’’ cried Dave.

‘’You will know the shame, torment, fear, and pain you caused Charlie…,’’ Prue said, her tone cold and icy, ‘’…and when I come back tomorrow, you will do as I say. If you do not —comply — then I will be forced to keep you here until you meet my demands.’’

Dave cried something that sounded like, ‘’PLEASE NO! I’M SORRY!’’

Prue stood upright, looking down over her spectacles with revulsion and distaste. ‘’Don’t be sorry,’’ she said, smiling sardonically, compassionless and unyielding. ‘’You know deep down that you deserve this.’’ Completely ignoring the desperate cries, she turned and walked towards the door with a stony expression upon her face but her eyes festered with a fulfilled sparkle. She unlocked the door, stepped out onto the hallway where a massively tall, dark man stood, awaiting anxiously with a vicious hunger on his face.

‘’Is — is s-she ready?’’ asked the man, nervously fumbling his fingers like a dubious child.

‘’She’s all yours. Just don’t forget to lock the door when you’re in there,’’ said Prue, refusing to make eye contact as she held up the key. ‘’I don’t want him to escape.’’

The man’s eyes lit up like that of a wild jungle cats, seething bodily as an inhuman smile spread across his wrinkled face. ‘’Thanks, Lolita!’’ said the man, grabbing the key. ‘’I owe you one big time!’’

Staring into a trance, Prue removed the black-haired wig from her head and listened carefully as the man locked the door behind him. She could faintly hear the man coyly saying hello to his busty bound beauty before the muffled screams of Dace echoed down the hallway.

Shrewdly, she smiled to herself with satisfaction before walking down the corridor to her dressing room.

***

‘’The brakes won’t work!’’
‘’Jump, Charlie! Jump out NOW!’’

Beneath the layers of warm blankets, the mattress springs creaked as Charlie moaned and rolled over in the bed. His soft, newly hairless legs rubbed together like silk atop the smooth bed sheets. He breathed deeply into his pillow and wondered how long he had been sleeping. He blinked and shut his eyes again, yawned and managed to open both eyes. From his horizontal view, he could only see brown and cream striped wallpaper, slightly peeled, and just inches from the bed.

Suddenly, his ears tuned in to the sound of an approaching menace. The room began to increasingly rattle and shake by the second. Confused, he started to feel claustrophobic beneath the blankets, which then caused him to feel a great deal of panic. Breathless, he quickly slid the blankets off his body, sat upright, and gasped for breath as if he had just pulled himself out of a deep lake. He felt as if something terrible was squeezing on his lungs. The sound of water gurgled and spluttered in his ears as a subway train screeched by the thin bedroom window.

Amongst his complete bewilderment, a voice called his name, hushed, and calmed him. ‘’Hey, it’s okay, Charlie. You’re safe now. You’re safe,’’ said the cool soothing voice of a woman.

Blood rushing to his head, Charlie looked around, utterly confused before his eyes met with the mysterious woman. His vision focusing, he saw Prue, squatting by his bedside, looking up at him with the care and compassion of a mother. ‘’Where am I?’’ he asked worriedly.

‘’My apartment,’’ said Prue. ‘’After I pulled you out of the lake, I called my colleague to pick us up…’’

‘’Where — where’s Dave?’’ Charlie asked, looking around the room for his blackmailer.

Prue’s face flinched by the mention of his name. ‘’He’s — um — not here. I’m keeping him somewhere else,’’ she said, clearly uncomfortable with the question. ‘’Anyway, we’ll deal with that later,’’ she added, brushing it off as if was no big deal. ‘’The important thing is that you’re safe and away from that monster. Nobody is going to hurt you here.’’. She placed her hand on his forearm, slightly squeezing to help him feel trusting.

Defensively, Charlie withdrew, not taking his unblinking eyes off her as he moved away like a frightened creature to the other end of the bed. ‘’Don’t touch me!’’ he snapped, feeling a boiling remembrance churn in his stomach. ‘’Don’t you dare fucking touch me!’

Prue’s mouth fell open, undoubtedly wounded, and shocked. ‘’Charlie, it’s me! Don’t you remember?’’ she said, rising to her feet. ‘’It’s Prue from the costume shop a couple of weeks ago?’’

‘’I remember exactly who you are!’’ said Charlie, beginning to feel disorientated.

Perplexed, Prue frowned and said, ‘’Then you have nothing to be afraid of…’’

‘’Why?’’ asked Charlie, snide and unkind. ‘’Why do I have nothing to be afraid of?’’

‘’Because I just saved your life!’’ bellowed Prue. ‘’I think you can trust me on that basis alone!’’

His head swimming, Charlie looked into himself to find reason. Everything came flooding back to him like a tidal wave of memory, the kidnap, the road, the breakdown, the chase, and the lake. He looked like he had just awoken from coma. He gulped; throat sore and muscles aching as he kicked the blankets off the foot of the bed. He slid down, seating himself on the far edge so he would not have to face Prue. ‘’I’m so sorry,’’ he said, turning his head slightly. ‘’I — I’m just confused, I — uh — dunno what’s wrong with me -,’’

There was a slight hesitation in the air as the room became still.

‘’Don’t worry about it,’’ said Prue, seating herself on the mattress, behind Charlie. ‘’There’s nothing wrong with being distrusting after everything you’ve been through.’’

Charlie bowed his head, feeling a longing sensation rising from within his heart. ‘’I want to go home,’’ he said, words escaping his mouth. ‘’I want to go home to my family…’’

Prue looked deeply concerned and affected by what Charlie had said. ‘’You will, we’ve just got to -,’’

They both jumped as a mobile phone began to vibrate and ring loudly. Whipping her cell out from her trouser pocket, Prue looked at the screen and frowned. ‘’Excuse me for a moment but I’ve got to take this one!’’ she said, leaping to her feet and running to the door. She quickly left the apartment to take the call.

Left alone within a cringe-worthy state of mind, Charlie nodded as he mentally kicked himself for sounding so incredibly childish. ‘’I want to go home,’’ he said, repeating his embarrassing words. He turned around, folding his legs up onto the bed in a meditative manner. Hunched over, he buried his face in the heels of his hands until he could see nothing but sparkles. He wanted to scream at the top of his lungs until he could no longer speak.

He got off the bed and stood up, feeling a little dazed and heavy on his feet. He could feel the fabric of his clothes sticking to his sweaty body. Looking down, he saw that he wore an oversized grey t-shirt that lengthened halfway down his thigh. He lifted it up and discovered he was wearing blue-striped football shorts underneath. Feeling as if he were drunk, he stumbled forward a few steps, stopped, gazed around the cavernous apartment, swaying back and forth like a tower of plates. Modest was not the word to describe the size and style of Prue’s flat. A word more appropriate would be a sprawl. There was barely enough room to swing a cat.

It was essentially one, right-angled room with a carpeted bedroom area and a small kitchen en-suite that was squashed inside the entrance door. There were stacks of cardboard boxes everywhere, clothes strewn all over the deep red carpet, an old television set in front of a single armchair by the window, a large wooden wardrobe, dresser, and chest of drawers. An electric oil heater was plugged into an extension lead, placed in the middle of the room with a bikini drying on it. Despite the dated wallpaper, carpet, and furnishing, the place was tidy yet cluttered to a certain extent.

Stifled music pulsated from upstairs; the rush of the city outside penetrated the walls, and the old refrigerator in the kitchen buzzed annoyingly. The room began to tremor once again. The plates in the kitchen sink rattled and the wooden furniture creaked as another train rapidly approached. He ran to the window and parted the old ratty curtains to see that it was late at night. The view was not very pretty for an elevated track, massive, iron, and rusty ran right past the window and over the street beneath it. Louder and louder, the metallic subway train screeched as it thundered by the window before fading into the distance.

Shutting the curtains, he turned and listened to Prue’s muffled voice yammering over the phone outside. He could not make out what she was saying but she did not sound very happy. He stood by the window, leaning against the broken and rusty radiator. He sighed, feeling a slight ache in his abdomen where the corset once shaped his body. Noticing that his fingers felt rather strange, he lifted his right hand to see that he was still wearing the false nails. He clenched his right fist, scraping the pointed nails against his palms, and leering at them as if they were monstrous claws. Something Dave had said once popped up in his mind, though he could not remember where and when he heard it.

You are so beautiful you know that? I’d say that you are the prettiest girl in the world!

The door swung open, making him jump as everything flushed out of his mind. Heart racing, he quickly looked up to see Prue, closing the door behind her. She took a deep sea-like breath before exhaling like waves crashing against a shore. ‘’That was someone from work,’’ she said, throwing her phone onto the bed as she grabbed a hair tie.

‘’The costume shop?’’ said Charlie, realising the late hour.

Prue froze, mid-tying, and looked at him through the corner of her eye with a clip firmly placed between her lips. ‘’My other place of work,’’ she said, muttering through clasped lips.

‘’Oh right, I didn’t know you had another job,’’ said Charlie.

Prue did respond even though it was obvious she was listening. She stared ahead at the wall, concentrating as she tied her hair back into a ponytail.

Charlie could not help but feel that he had just hit a nerve within his rescuer. He neither talked nor asked further as he stood awkwardly by the window, fumbling his fingers between each other. He felt jumpy and anxious despite his supposedly safe sanctuary. Knowing the mere fact of standing there was incredible; he felt a strong sensation of gratefulness as he looked at the woman who truly saved his life. She was the miracle he desperately sought when there was seemingly no hope left. Yet, he did not understand how the miracle came to be. He had so many questions.

Finished tying her hair, Prue let her arms fall to her hips as she turned and asked Charlie if he was hungry. He had not thought about it but he realised that he had not eaten since the previous day. Immediately drawn to his stomach, it began to gurgle and moan as if it had been waiting to be noticed all day. Nodding, he did not want to put his host out by taking her food but this time he made an exception. He was starving.

A few minutes later, he was sitting at the small kitchen table, stooped over a large bowl tomato soup, and freshly buttered bread as he gobbled the food down. The sensation of taste returned to his dry and cracked mouth as the warm liquid slid down his throat and warmed his belly like soothing gold. A warm sensation spread throughout his cold body from the ends of his fingers to his toes. Gulping down the last of the soup, he picked up the glass of orange juice left before him and hurriedly downed the juice within seconds. Manners and politeness did not escape him as he carefully silenced his burp under his breath.

Sitting on the worktop with her legs dangling free, Prue watched in amazement at how fast Charlie could eat when hungry. When he was finished the bread, she asked if he wanted more but he shook his head and said, ‘’No thanks but I definitely needed that!’’, gesturing to the empty bowl. ‘’Thanks.’’

Slouching slightly, Charlie gave his body a few minutes to adjust and digest. He looked at everything in the kitchen except Prue to avoid awkward eye contact. Despite everything she had done, he still sat in a stranger’s apartment, eating her food whilst he waited for god knows what. His eyes trailed around the room from the old fifties style fridge, the overfull sink, wooden cupboards to the brown/white chequered lino floor. He started to feel slightly uncomfortable, not only because of the silence but also of the many questions he needed answering.

‘’How did you find me?’’ he asked, completely off the top of his head.

Prue smiled, looking up at the fly buzzing around the light bulb, which hung right above the kitchen table. She looked quiet relaxed as she looked back upon everything that had led up to that very moment. Sliding off the countertop, she pulled a chair across the floor and sat at the other end of the table. ‘’A tracking device I put under the car,’’ she said, rather thrilled with herself.

Charlie’s eyes truly opened with a mixture of wonder and disbelief. He knew the next question he should have asked was why but instead, he opted for curiosity. ‘’A — A tracking device?’’ he said, feeling rather suspicious. ‘’Where in the world did you get one of those?’’

Prue’s relaxed state cracked, ever so slightly, as her thin smile turned to puckered brow. ‘’From people I know at the club,’’ she said, sounding as if she was in a witness stand.

Charlie could sense another self of Prue, emerging from deep within and it made him feel uneasy. He felt it was certainly not the appropriate time to get to know one another. Making himself appear oblivious to her behaviour, he tried to speak but could not find the apt thing to say. A part of him told his mind told him that Prue wanted to say something important about herself, which also related to the situation with Dave but he did not wish to pry into her personal business. ‘’What — are you like — like a secret spy or something?’’ he said, mentally slapping himself.

‘’You’re not making this easy for me, are you?’’ said Prue, looking down at her fumbling fingers. She did not say anything for a moment as she bowed her head, refusing to make contact as her eyes bubbled with shame. ‘’I’m a — I’m a —,’’ She stopped, taking quick breaths to calm herself, ‘’ — get a grip, Prue! You’re gonna have to tell him anyway!’’

His full attention on what she was about to say, Charlie had a slight idea of what she may be hiding but he did not want to imply in case he was horribly wrong. ‘’Prue, you don’t have to tell me anything,’’ he said, offhandedly. ‘’There’s no reason to -,’’

‘’I’m an escort, Charlie, a prostitute, a WHORE!’’ she said, making brief eye contact before looking away, quivering slightly. ‘’I sell - I sell my “unique” body to men who are into that sort of thing!’’

Feeling slightly shocked, Charlie felt he had already guessed after she referred to a ‘’club’’. Pondering the relevance of Prue’s sudden divulgement, he did not want to appear selfish or uncaring so he shakily touched her arm as she had done for him when he woke up. ‘’It’s okay,’’ he said, feeling as if the roles had been reversed.

Lifting her weary head, Prue’s eyes simmered with pain but her face remained stony and pale white. ‘’This is not about me so I don’t want to talk about it,’’ she said, unreceptively pulling away her arm. ‘’I have never told anyone that before and I never to intend to again but there are two reasons why it had to be you!’’. Her head hung oblique. She opened her mouth to continue talking but no words passed her lips. Hesitant, she looked as if she had noticed something vital.

Taken aback by Prue’s hostility, Charlie unexpectedly felt himself becoming lost in her saddened stare. Like Prue, he tried to speak but he was prevented by the hurt he choked back in his throat. The sheer pain swimming around her deep blue eyes reminded him of his own. He felt an odd sense of connection and understanding, something he did not empathize during the time he first met her. He recalled seeing anger, confusion, fear, and pain in her as she applied his makeup that day. He now comprehended her feelings. They resonated with his own and it hurt so terribly.

Gently nodding as if she could read Charlie’s thoughts, she leaned in close to his face, eyes locking directly across from his. ‘’I told you once you reminded me of myself. This is true because from the moment I first saw you, I felt myself reliving many experiences from my past. Such feelings I hope never to experience again,’’ she said, frailty entering unto her dry tone. ‘’I could see so much anger, pain, confusion, loneliness that it — that it made me feel vaguely responsible for you. When I sought after your blackmailer, you can rest assure that it was purely out of empathy and not for vengeance.’’

Lost for words, Charlie felt an overpowering sense of connection, spirit, and resonance. Prue had gone through much of the same, if not worse, experiences than he had. She knew how it felt and because her honesty was so truthful, so pure, it made the hot grief stored up in his heart spill from his eyes and trail down his cold cheeks. He did not physically feel like he was not crying, rather, hidden deep down was a truer part of his self that wept. A part of himself repressed.

He could not understand why Prue would put herself through such hardship despite the fact that she obviously hated herself for it. He could not help but feel that she was being forced by someone else to sell her body. He dared not ask for she had already voiced her wish to not speak of it.

The apartment began to vibrate and tremor yet again as another train rapidly thundered by the window, wheels shrieking against the track before fading off into the distance, and leaving the kitchen still and relatively quiet. The sound of water dripping into the sink, the fridge buzzing, and the thumping music made them both feel isolated and lonely.

Charlie felt as if the train had awoken him from the deep, hypnotic trance cast by Prue’s vibrant blue eyes. He wiped away the tears with the corner of his hand and sniffed. He was sick to death of crying. ‘’Sorry,’’ he said, clearing his throat and breathing out. He leaned back in the seat and stretched slightly. Gazing back unto Prue, she looked as if she was waiting for him to say something back. Confused, he brushed it off and kept to the point. ‘’I understand,’’ he said, somewhat smiling. ‘’I really do and you’re right but what is the second reason for telling me of your — of your night job?’’

Prue was shifting about restlessly in her seat as she was asked the uncomfortable question. She looked like a child who had done something terrible. ‘’Um, well, you see — uh — I sort of forced Dave into taking my place for the night at the club…’’

‘’Okay,’’ Charlie nodded, feeling lightheaded as he grabbed onto the table to stop himself from falling to the ground. An icy wave of dread fell upon him, freezing his brain, which felt like it needed rebooting. He felt sick in the stomach as boiling blood rushed to his head. He had just remembered something he had realised and promised to himself that morning in the car.

‘’He deserves it, Charlie!’’ insisted Prue, grasping his hands to bring him back to her. ‘’He’s completely delusional and this is the only way to make him realise what he has done to you!’’

Charlie shut his eyes and shook his head with disagreement. ‘’No — no you don’t understand, I just remembered that I have to tell my family everything. Forcing Dave to — to sleep with men or whatever isn’t going to solve anything! My - My family, friends, and everyone undoubtedly knows that he and I are missing! Nobody ever knew of a connection between us before so I cannot escape it!’’

‘’You can tell everyone what really happened if that is what you want to do but it won’t make your life any easier by getting the law and everyone else involved,’’ said Prue, her face filled with passionate colour. ‘’I know what it’s like to be taken advantage of, to be humiliated and degraded beyond all meaning. You can force your mother and sister to stay quiet about the blackmail BUT they will constantly feel the cold stab of injustice as the problem remains right outside your door and that problem is Dave!’’

‘’What other choice to I have!’’ Charlie yelled, slamming his fist furiously down on the table.

Startled by his vicious outburst, Prue held her breath, eyes agape, with a frightened expression on her solemn face. She exhaled deeply as her heart slowed down. ‘’You’re not thinking clearly. You have more than one choice,’’ she said, calmly looking at her clenched fist. ‘’Your blackmailers comeuppance has arrived and you can make him do or say whatever you please. You’re forgetting that the tables have turned for you, Charlie. It is time you stand up and make the decisions for yourself.’’

***

Staring through a smeared and scratched window, Charlie gaped at the passing rooftops flying by in a blur as the train rumbled along the elevated track. Sunlight flickered and streamed in between the buildings and alleyways, occasionally forcing him squint or look away. The sky was clear blue and promised a warm healthy summer’s day. The metallic sound of the vandalized carriages thrashing, banging, and screeching filled the ears of the passengers along with the frequent intercom announcements between stations.

’’The next stop is Lower Marshall Street,’’ said the distorted, voice over the intercom.

Charlie looked at Prue to ask if it was their stop but she immediately shook her head before he could utter a single syllable. Feeling nervous, he returned to staring out of the window. His view soon shrouded in complete darkness as the train descended into the underground tunnels. He barely noticed that his forefinger was anxiously tapping his juddering leg as he delved into his conscience. Feeling a boiling sense of trepidation, he quarrelled with the promise he made to himself the previous morning. The time when he felt all hope was lost. He swore to himself that if he ever got the chance to go home, he would tell his mother and sister the truth about everything he had been hiding.

Now, he felt he was going against his word by covering up everything with a lie. Appreciating that the tables had certainly turned, he now understood that the one who had been viciously blackmailing him rested firmly beneath his thumb. He could force him to comply with a cover-up story, a lie, an alibi. Yet despite knowing that the opportunity was available, he still questioned whether it was the right thing to do after making such a significant promise. He also wondered if it was right to let Dave away with everything he had done but then he reminded himself that he just wanted it all to end rather than wrest vengeance.

The train slowed down and the doors slid open. ‘’This is Lower Marshall Street Station. The next stop is East Branson,’’ announced the intercom. The few passengers that were on board got off before a mob of rush hour workers and citizens flooded into the carriages. Within twenty seconds, the train took off down the subway, wheels spreading sparks, clasped to the iron railings.

Charlie started to bite his nails to cope with the nerves he felt deep down, rattling his bones, and prodding his mind. He felt uncertain of the plan. He did not feel confident in its ability to succeed. Creating an alibi was risky and dangerous. He knew how Dave could be wilfully unpredictable and deceptive. He felt that the blackmailer was disorderly therefore could not be ordered. The only self-assurance he felt was Prue’s confidence in herself and of the plan, even if she did appear to disagree with the resolution to be untruthful to family, regardless of her coming up with the idea in the first place!

He wondered what Prue had done to Dave that made her appear so self-assured. He did not have a chance to ask her because she slept shortly after they discussed the alibi. He was not sure if he wanted to know. He stayed awake through the night because he had already slumbered all day long. When Prue awoke that morning, she gave him her phone number and lent him some of her clothes (which were actually boys), a pair of navy sweatpants, the grey t-shirt tucked in, and a green bomber jacket. He also showered and had the false nails removed from his fingers. However, he could not reverse the waxed legs or the thinned eyebrows. He had no idea how he was going to explain them if someone noticed. He knew he would have to wear his fringe down and always wear trousers for a while until the hair grew back.

A thousand uncertainties sat upon his mind as the train continued to rush through the underground. Carriages swayed, pushing into one another, noisily knocking, and smashing as some passengers coughed under their breaths, crinkled newspapers, and chattered too loud over the phone. Prue remained silent and looked serious yet oddly satisfied. Sitting with her legs crossed, she wore a tight pair of blue jeans, extremely high-waisted with the legs rolled a few inches above her ankles. Tucked into them, was a deep green shirt, buttoned down a few notches, with the sleeves rolled all the way up her arms. On her feet was a pair of black and white converse, ankle-less, and slightly tatty. Aviator sunglasses covered her eyes with a silver nose piercing, and her short blue hair was done in a ponytail.

The number of passengers decreased by each station until there were no more than a few scattered in each car. The train ascended up from and the tunnels and crossed the east district bridge that led to the The Ampthills, which was the north-eastern quarter of the city. After the thirty-five minute transit, they eventually arrived at their stop which was declared as, ‘’East Brook Station’’.

Giving a slight nod to signify their stop, Prue stood up, and held her handbag firmly to her side. ‘’We’re getting off here,’’ she said, as she dug into her handbag.

Feeling a complete sense of dread, Charlie had hoped they would never arrive at the stop. He dolefully followed her onto the platform, tiredly dragging his feet after him as the hot sun pelted down upon the rear of his neck. ‘’Is the place far from here?’’ he asked, looking around the relatively empty station.

Prue fished out a box of cigarettes, withdrew one, and placed it between her lips as she looked ahead through her dark shades. ‘’Not too far,’’ she said, scratching a match against flint and raising the flame to the head. ‘’It’s just down the end of this street,’’ she said through clasped lips, giving a nodding gesture forward before taking a long drag.

They moved forward and down the steps onto the street below. As they walked with each other, it was clear that they were both beginning to feel tense and anxious as they approached the club. They barely said a word to each other. Prue stared ahead, military-like, and staid as she stressfully smoked her cigarette. Charlie tried to walk slowly in an attempt delay the oncoming confrontation but Prue’s swift pace kept him on due course.

The Ampthills was a moderately small district but it was completely separate to the rest of the city. Not exactly known for its narrow, steep, and hilly streets; rather, the borough was more famous for its rampant crime culture of all classes and nature. From bootlegged products to class A drugs and prostitutes, it was not exactly a place Charlie ever felt inclined to visit. The quarter’s eclectic number of foreign nationals gave it a truly international atmosphere, from the compacted street markets, multicultural bars, shops, and fish ports to the occasional argument shared down steam-rising alleyways.

Swiftly sauntering down the sidewalk, Charlie and Prue steered clear of pedestrians, and casually overtook slow walkers. They were in a rush to get to their destination and spared now time to other expenses.

Charlie could not avoid the obvious tension he shared with Prue. She had barely talked throughout the entire trip and she appeared to be hiding herself behind the dark sunglasses. Swallowing down his fears, he rallied up the nerve to confront the divergence he felt. ‘’Correct me if I’m mistaken, but you’ve been very quiet since I made the decision to go through with this,’’ he said, wedging through a group of people as they crossed the road.

Deeply inhaling her cigarette, Prue exhaled through her nose, refusing to look at him. ‘’The decision to continue lying to your family?’’ she said, turning onto a deserted and narrow street. ‘’Nope. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest bit!’’

Charlie could not tell if she was being sarcastic but her stubbornness was beginning to aggravate him. ‘’Look, I don’t need you — a — a complete stranger judging the decisions I make with my life!’’ he said, feeling his blood boiling. ‘’You came up with the bloody idea!’’

Prue immediately stopped, threw the cigarette to the ground, and quickly took her shades off, unleashing the vibrancy of her deep blue eyes. ‘’It’s not the lie that worries me!’’ she said abruptly. ‘’If anything, I agree with how much it can help you but It’s what it could possibly lead to that makes me feel like a — like an enabler when I know I shouldn’t!’’

‘’What do you mean?’’ asked Charlie, feeling astray and sickly.

Prue grasped Charlie’s arm, attempting to make him understand and connect. ‘’Look, if I was in your position right now, I wouldn’t like telling my family these personal secrets under such severe circumstances but I need to know that this isn’t going to be a permanent get-out-of-jail card for you,’’ she said, looking into him with sincerity and gravity. ‘’I need to know if you can disallow these horrible experiences and secrets to burden you for the rest of your life. You can’t hide these things forever. I understand you can’t reveal yourself yet but you need to tell someone close to you when you feel it is right.’’

Charlie could not believe what he was hearing. He was unable to fathom how a person who barely knew him could assume so much. ‘’Prue, this whole cross-dressing thing was just a phase, a brief desire to —,’’ laughing, he looked away for a moment. ‘’It just started out as curiosity and I never meant to be caught and — well - it just blew up into this one big thing! Once this is over, you can rest assure that there will be no burdens to bear! No more cross-dressing!’’

‘’You’re not thinking about his clearly, Charlie!’’ said Prue, urgently placing both hands on his arms. ‘’You know I can understand your feelings and a part of that I can plainly see is denial. Once this is over, I beg you to look within, find yourself, and then, only then, you will understand yourself enough to let loved ones know of your true self. Don’t shut yourself away from family. I could be right or completely wrong but -,’’

‘’ - you’re completely wrong!’’ Charlie interjected, angrily throwing her arms away. ‘’I appreciate all of your help; I really do, but don’t just think of yourself as some all-knowing guru who can solve my problems! Even if you can see things then it’s none of your god damn business!’’ he yelled, taking a few steps back from her. ‘’You sound just like Dave,’’ he added, shaking his head before turning away. He had no idea where he was going but he walked away nevertheless, feeling incredibly angry and misled.

Utterly crushed by Charlie’s hurtful stab, Prue frowned, strutted after him in another attempt to be incentive. ‘’Wait up!’’ she said, running forward a few steps. ‘’I know it’s not my place but I implore you to think about what I have said when all of this is over. Don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made by allowing secrecy to destroy you and everything you hold closest to your heart. I’m not asking you to make a promise for me but please, please promise yourself. Find trust to tell somebody what you feel is necessary and righteous because in the end -,’’ She stopped for a moment as if she realised something, ‘’ — because in the end, family is all you have…’’

Charlie did not want to listen to what he felt was another lecture. He turned around to Prue who looked hopeful of a resolution. ‘’The sooner we get to this club, the sooner I can go home,’’ he said, gesturing her to lead the way.

Within minutes, they had arrived at their destination, which was down a short cobbled alleyway. They entered through a large metal door with a sign hanging above that read, ‘’Foxes Gentlemen’s Club’’ written in neat golden italics. Stepping into darkness, Prue flicked the light switch, revealing a narrow hallway, which was carpeted with deep red on the walls and floors. Inside the door, there was a small box office, protected by iron bars. It was empty.

‘’It’s just down here,’’ said Prue, nodding forward as she dropped the keys into her bag.

They moved down the narrow hallway, stifled music growing louder, before entering the club through another set of thick double doors. The club was rather huge, lit with pinks, purples, and blues. A dozen circular stages with poles in the middle were scattered amongst an array of carefully placed armchairs and coffee tables for punters to carelessly throw their money away. Two glass-topped bars ran around the perimeter of the room, wine, and beer glasses hanging down from above, with the shelves stocked with usual and exotic beverages from around the world. Absorbed by the old-fashioned carpet, easy-going jazz flowed through the air, relaxing the senses, and easing the tension.

Charlie had never been to a ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ before because he was too young, but he could tell it obviously a place for the wealthy. He expected to see Dave somewhere but he was nowhere in sight. Instead, he spotted a man sitting at the bar, hunched over, with a cloud of smoke hanging above in the purple light. Looking to Prue for guidance, she failed to acknowledge him as she simply walked ahead. ‘’Sit for a moment,’’ she said, not requiring his company. ‘’I have to talk alone with someone.’’

Feeling rather snubbed and a little marred, Charlie waited behind, watching Prue walk towards the bar. He sat down on the nearest armchair and looked around the club with a strange mixture of wonder and slight anxiety. He never thought he would find himself in such a place. ‘’I have to get home soon,’’ he muttered.

Prue approached the man sitting at the bar. He was dark, rather lumpy, and dressed completely in black. Ignoring her presence, he took a deep drag of his cigar before taking a swig of vodka. He looked like he was drinking all night for his eyes were bloodshot and sagged, much to the uneasiness of Prue. ‘’Thanks for everything yesterday,’’ she said, her voice slightly higher in pitch. ‘’I appreciate the help — I mean — we both did.’’

His chair creaking, the man looked over his shoulder, leering at Charlie before returning his attention to the bar. ‘’Does he even realise what kind of people he’s dealing with here?’’ he said, scoffing as he raised the bottle to his lips. ‘’I bet his balls haven’t even dropped yet.’’

‘’He doesn’t have to know,’’ said Prue. ‘’You can go now.’’

Laughing raucously, the man heaved himself off the bar stool, grabbed Prue’s arm and reeled her into to his face. ‘’I can come and go as I please, tranny!’’ he said, eyes bulging and broiling monstrously. ‘’The only reason I stayed here all night is because I expect to be rewarded very, very handsomely.’’ Letting go, he grabbed his jacket, threw it over his shoulder, and drunkenly stood rooted to the spot. ‘’The boss is back in a couple of days,’’ he said, his coordination jumbled and surly. ‘’He’s not going to be happy when he finds out that his special girl hasn’t been doing her job lately!’’

‘’I know he’s coming back. He called me last night,’’ sneered Prue.

Ignoring her, the lumpy man raised his arms and wiggled his fingers. ‘’The boss is all knowing,’’ he said, mimicking a magician, hiccupping, before swaying around towards the exit door. ‘’He is ALL KNOWING!’’ he repeated, his voice booming throughout the club. He left through the side door, villainously chortling.

Suddenly appearing beside Prue, Charlie asked what had just happened, breaking her out of a bewildered trance. She brushed it off as nothing and walked away, signalling him to follow. They climbed up two flights of stairs, which led to a hotel-like corridor, carpeted and painted luxuriously.

Charlie could feel his heart thumping like a horses hoofs on a dirt road, continuously gaining momentum as he glided down the hallway. His mind flipped into overdrive as his entire body over boiled with simmering heat, his skin moistening with anxious sweat. They stopped outside a door, to which, a muffled voice could be heard on the other side. He looked at Prue and received a single nod in return. She knocked on the door and the voice from the other side stopped talking.

Seconds later, the dark, towering man peered out from the door. ‘’Oh hi, Lolita! Please don’t tell me my times up already?’’ he said, sounding disenchanted.

‘’I’m afraid so. Get dressed and be out of here in thirty seconds, pronto!’’ ordered Prue.

Looking slightly aroused by Prue’s strict demeanour, the creepy man slipped back inside the room, and shut the door. There was silence for a moment until a subdued scream infiltrated the walls.

It was Dave.

Charlie was scared. He looked to Prue for resonance but she just stood impatiently, wearing a cold and unsmiling face as she carelessly withdrew another cigarette and lit it. ‘’Why did he call you Lolita?’’ he asked, trying to mute his nerves.

‘’It’s the name I use when I work here,’’ said Prue, taking a deep drag of smoke into her lungs and exhaling. ‘’That’s not relevant right now.’’

It kind of is!

The tall, creepy man opened the door, mumbling thanks as he clumsily buckled up his belt, and waddled down the hallway. ‘’I’ll see you again soon, Lolita!’’.

Charlie hesitated, swallowed down his fears, and entered the room with Prue, his guardian, by his side. In front of him, was the four-poster bed, standing gloriously as the centrepiece of the burlesque-style furnishings. He could hear nothing but the heavy breathing of someone hiding beneath the blankets. He looked at Prue and she gestured towards the bed. Feeling as if he was nearing a cliff edge, he nervously moved to the bed, his hand trembling as he raised it towards the blankets.

Pulling them over, he instantly turned away, eyes shut, as if he had just opened a body bag. There beneath the blankets was Dave, rolled over on his side, arms wrapped around his hairless and semi-naked body as he whimpered and shook like a wounded animal. His blonde wig remained intact, hanging over his face as his arms covered and pressed into his chest-bound breasts. His corset undone, the skirt, blouse, and top absent, he wore only a pair of white panties with a slight lace trim.

There was blood stained on the satin sheets.

Unable to see who had entered the room, Dave slowly rolled over, grimacing in pain as he revealed his face from behind the wig. Smudged and blotched in patches, the makeup, which he wore, looked monstrous and deformed by an excessive amount of burning tears. He looked like a distorted jester with his pink lipstick smeared over his chin and cheeks, his eye shadow darkly drooping and tearful, with his charred, and cracked foundation that looked ever so uncomfortable. As he looked up at Charlie, he immediately began to sob and blubber like a child, mouthing the words, ‘’I’m sorry.’’

As he looked upon the pathetic creature before him, Charlie could not help but feel a strong sense of pity welling up inside him, in spite of everything the horrible creature had done to him. If anything, he felt more repulsed than sympathetic.

Prue strutted over and violently pulled Dave off the bed. ‘’Put your clothes on!’’ she snapped, aggressively throwing him to the floor.

Yelping like a dog, Dave scurried across the floor in search of his uniform. Grabbing the skirt, he immediately rose to his feet and pulled it up his legs before grabbing the blouse and buttoning it up a few notches. He backed into the corner, cowering as his eyes darted from Charlie to Prue like a defenceless baby deer. ‘’Please,’’ he said hoarsely. ‘’…please don’t hurt me!’’

Prue took out a small digital camera from her bag and immediately began snapping shots of Dave dressed in his degrading attire. ‘’Gorgeous, baby! You’re a tiger! You’re a beast! I want to hear you growl!’’ she tittered, impersonating an archetype photographer, as the flash continuously snapped pictures.

However, Charlie was not laughing nor was he amused by the the look of ruin and vulnerability on Dave’s face as he helplessly recoiled into the corner. He watched in disbelieve as the blackmailer who once had complete control over him, retreat and flinch into absolute exposure. Once again, Charlie felt himself fall in between his morals as he contemplated the right thing to do. Hidden deep down, memories of his time with Dave began to pop up in his memory.

Put the uniform on immediately or I’ll send this picture of you to everyone in school, right here, right now on my phone.
In time you’ll learn that so put on that pretty little outfit unless you prefer to have your dignity destroyed forever.
When I look at you, I am looking at a beautiful girl, when I touch you, I am touching a girl, and when I kiss you, I am kissing a girl.

‘’Would you leave me alone for a moment, please?’’ Charlie asked, politely gesturing Prue towards the door. He knew he would not be able to speak with Dave properly until the one he feared most had left the room. ‘’I just need to chat with him in private.’’

Prue looked at Dave and then at Charlie. ‘’Okay,’’ she said disappointedly, turning and leaving for the door. ‘’I’ll be waiting outside if anything goes haywire.’’

Charlie relaxed himself, breathing out calmly as he slowly moved around the bed, pitifully looking at the squirming creature eying him from the corner. ‘’I’m sorry that it had to come to this,’’ he said, honest and true as he stopped at the end of the bed and placed his hands on the footboard. ‘’I had been thinking of countless ways to beat you for months that I — that I never expected it to be like this.’’

Dave slowly moved out of the corner, clearly appearing more at ease since Prue was no longer present. Silent, no words passed his lips as he looked away from Charlie, at his body, and then shamefully towards the door. There was no escape from his humiliation. He opened his mouth to speak. ‘’Charlie I -,’’

‘’Don’t, just don’t,’’ said Charlie, apathetically shaking his head. ‘’You’ve done enough talking. It’s my turn now.’’

Rooted to the floor, Dave turned quiet and did not move a muscle. He was staring down at his feet, squashed into the heels, flinching at the sight of them.

‘’How does it make you feel?’’ Charlie asked.

Dave did not respond or move from his spot. He began muttering something very quietly under his breath.

Straining to hear what Dave was saying, Charlie moved in closer, startling his captive in the process. ‘’What are you saying?’’ Charlie asked, standing directly in front of him. His ears caught two words uttered through Dave’s lips that were, ‘’Don’t answer.’’ Backing away, Charlie did not feel too comfortable standing so close to his blackmailer, ‘’You will answer me,’’ he said with courage and authority.

Lifting his head, Dave muttered, ‘’You know how I feel!’’, before letting himself fall against the wall. His back slid down until his rear hit the floor, hot grief spilling from his eyes and melting his face. ‘’You know,’’ he said repeatedly through the steamy blur of tears before trailing off into frantic sobbing. ‘’You know how I feel…’’

‘’Good,’’ said Charlie, approaching Dave with caution before kneeling down next to him. ‘’Now you understand what it’s like, but tell me — I want to hear you say it.’’

Lying against the wall, Dave’s chest heaved as inhuman sobs rose from deep within. Shaking his head, he burst into tears in a disturbingly girlish fashion as he buried his face into his hands. ‘’What do you want me to say?’’ he said, throwing his hands up before shielding his distorted face from view.

‘’I want to hear you voice your feelings to me,’’ said Charlie, trembling because he was both scared and angry. ‘’I need to know if it’s gotten through to you.’’

Hesitantly turning his head, Dave closed his eyes, streams flowing, before opening them, wide and simmering. ‘’I feel worthless,’’ he said shakily. ‘’Degraded. Afraid. Lonely.’’

Charlie felt something click inside him as he listened to Dave pour out his heart. He moved away, feeling uncomfortable with the strange feelings welling up inside him, a sensation of resonance and reverberation. As he looked into Dave’s soaked and bloodshot eyes, he could see a human side for the first time ever. Looking completely different in this light, he appeared fragile yet pure and real. He felt he was supposed to be angry rather than sympathetic.

Clearly distressed by Charlie’s stunned silence, Dave began to blurt out nonsensical explanations and apologies. ‘’I’m sorry — I — I cannot help it, I — I get ill — I’m not well — I mean I have b-been very sick and it has b-become worse recently and I — P-Please don’t send that man back!’’

Rising to his feet, Charlie felt an extremely powerful urge to leave at that very moment, for the sight of Dave was making him think and feel disturbing connections to his blackmailer’s woe. ‘’You won’t be seeing that man again unless you don’t do as I tell you. Do you understand what I’m saying here?’’ said Charlie, shrinking his pity to revert to authority.

Dave nodded miserably. ‘’I just w-want to get out of here,’’ he stammered.

‘’Well, when we do allow you to go home, you will tell your father everything you’ve been up to and I mean everything. Prue will be there with you so you won’t try anything funny like altering the truth,’’ said Charlie, grim-faced and cold, as he paced back and forth. ‘’You will then —‘’ He swallowed and licked his lips, struggling to list the next order, as it was quiet a huge one. ‘’ — you will then leave town and never return.’’

Dave immediately jumped to his feet, startling Charlie in the process. ‘’You can’t expect me to -,’’

‘’It’s either that or you go to jail for blackmail so take your pick!’’ shot Charlie. ‘’The only people who will know what truly happened will be you, your father, Prue, and myself. I consider that a much better deal than you deserve! If I was actually a girl, your ass would belong to the police right now but I’m not a girl, I’m a boy! Something you struggled to comprehend over the past few months. So you see, I’m not going to tell my secrets just because you put me in a position where I felt forced to do so. It’s not time.’’

Dave opened his mouth to protest but Charlie warned him not to by flashing a threatening look. ‘’Finally, if you manage to find yourself in a tight position where you must answer to the connection between you and I, you will tell them you were selling me green leafs and tablets because that was the reason you were outside my house. You understand that I’m referring to my family here?’’

‘’Yes,’’ Dave gibbered, eyeing the door fearfully.

‘’If you don’t comply then those pictures of you in that outfit will be posted all over Facebook,’’ said Charlie, refusing eye contact. ‘’You should also know that if you don’t play along, Prue would be very pleased to see you back here to spend more time with customers. Understand?’’

Dave did not say a word. He gave a stiff nod. Not a single articulate sound passed his lips as blood ran down his leg and tears from his eyes.

Charlie felt he had made himself clear and wanted to leave immediately before he felt any differently. He took one last look at Dave for the very last time, feeling strangely hollow, as he turned his back and walked towards the door. He did not say goodbye; rather, he stopped and thought for a moment. Two images suddenly came to him, the photograph of Dave happily and humanly embracing Julie as they shared a tender kiss, the other being Dave as a child celebrating his birthday as his mother proudly looked upon him. He felt sad as he thought about Dave’s possible humanity.

He turned around to see Dave sitting miserably on the bedside, his face buried in his hands, as he hunched over his knees. He felt unsure of what he was about to say but a massive part of him made him feel as if it was the right thing to do. ‘’Dave,’’ said Charlie, his voice quivering. ‘’I cannot possibly forgive you but I understand. You don’t want to be here. Bad things happen. But you can still change.’’

At that, Charlie turned his back on Dave and left the room feeling as if a massive weight had been lifted. He looked at Prue, who had waited outside the door. ‘’You were right about everything,’’ he said compassionately, ‘’but now it’s time for me to go home.’’

Prue smiled, just a little bit at first, but it grew, beaming from ear-to-ear as colour returned to her pale face. ‘’Thank you,’’ she said delightedly, appearing completely over the moon. She brought Charlie into a warm hug and wrapped her arms snugly around him. Charlie was immediately brought back to the comfort of the costume shop as his nose filled with the scent of blueberries and smoke. He had no worries and felt as if he had just fallen into a perfect dream. ‘’Go and be happy,’’ Prue whispered into his ear before breaking away.

Grinning blissfully, Charlie nodded and broke into a brisk stride down the hallway, through the club, and up onto the dark alleyway. He sauntered towards the light, his pace growing faster and faster, before progressing into a run. Bursting into the light, he vigorously ran as the the sunlight warmed his shoulders and the wind blew through his hair. He wanted to be home at that very second. He needed to be with his family and he felt public transport was too boring and restrictive. So he ran!

He did not stop as he pounded across the south district bridge in the direction of home. He felt unchained and free of worries as the breeze caressed his skin. This was what he dreamed of for so long. He did not care about the puzzled stares of passersby or the bewildered criticisms of other pedestrians as he rushed through the streets of the city. He felt as if he had clocked up so much energy over the past few months that it was now practically unlimited. He was invincible.

He did not stop for one second as he legged it across an entire borough until he was in the suburbs. He chuckled to himself uncontrollably every few minutes as light seeped back into his life. He had never felt happier. Feeling overheated, he threw off the bomber jacket and picked up the pace forward. Sweat covering his entire body; his long shaggy hair flowed back, taking refuge amongst the streams of wind blowing through it.

Charlie eventually reached his cul-de-sac, huffing and puffing as he slowed down into a steady walk. Feeling his muscles ache and his lungs bereft of oxygen, he started to feel nerves creeping up on him as he approached his house. Peering out from behind the hedge as he neared the driveway, he felt a weight fall into the pit of his stomach as he spotted a police squad car parked in the drive beside his mother’s minivan. He gulped, feeling an oncoming storm as the joy of freedom quickly drained away.

He stood and stared at the house for a moment, taking it all in. Just the previous day, he thought he would never see it again but there he was. He wiped his forehead and took the first brave step towards the door. He opened the front gate, which creaked as always. Before he could take another step, the front door swung open. Looking up, he saw his mother standing there at the doorway with a look of sheer disbelief and shock on her face.

‘’Hi, Mom,’’ he said, kicking himself for sounding stupidly causal.

Mary stared at Charlie for what seemed like eternity as she stepped down the patio and looked at him as if he were a figment of her imagination. She slowly approached before running right up to him, grabbing him by the shoulders, and shaking him erratically. ‘’Where were you?!’’ she screamed. Her face was blotchy and her eyes were red raw from crying. ‘’What happened?!’’

Charlie had no idea what to say as his mother shook the living daylights out of him.

‘’Don’t do that to me again, Charlie!’’ Mary screamed, taking her son into an extremely tight hug. ‘’Don’t do that again,’’ she whispered, quieter and more softly into his ear.

Feeling himself beginning to tear up too, Charlie opened his eyes to see Rachel, Kayla, and her father Richard standing in the doorway amongst his hazy blur. He smiled at them.

‘’I thought I’d lost you,’’ cried Mary. ‘’I thought I’d lost you forever.’’

‘’It’s okay, Mom. I’m home,’’ said Charlie. ‘’I’m home…’’

TO BE CONTINUED
Written by Lily Florette  ©
I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments!
NEXT EPISODE: VOLUME ONE FINALE!


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