The sound of wheels rolling on the marble hallway outside the library interrupts my reverie. George swings the doors open and Saul pushes an upright gurney rigged with multiple straps to keep the young male prisoner immobile. A mask restraint covers most of the man’s face, brown eyes darting about the library in fear as Saul halts a few feet from me, standing the prisoner and tightening a loose strap.
Placing the book on my desk, I examine the man in front of me. Short brown hair sticks out from holes in the restraint mask. I observe pale skin and a general thinness of body, effects of his months of confinement.
“Have you been fed?” I ask.
No answer from the young man.
“He can’t speak, the mask prevents his mouth from moving. As to your question, he’s been fed and cleaned. The doctor gave him a clean bill of health even if he looks a bit worse for wear.”
George loosens the buckles at the man’s neck and pulls the mask free.
“How have you been treated? Are you well?”
The poet’s eyes shift to the side, spotting Saul. “I have not been mistreated in any way.”
Saul fights a grin and I shake my head. “Would you like some coffee? I have a matter to discuss with you.”
“I…” he begins, but again looks to Saul.
“Speak, boy. Pretend you have a fucking spine.”
The man takes a few deep breaths and turns his eyes to me. “I’d love coffee.”
I nod to George who exits the library. Saul begins unlatching the young man from the gurney and removing the straight jacket binding his upper body. The man grunts with discomfort and fingers rub at the welts on his arms. Saul helps him into the chair opposite me and takes a spot several feet away, giving us space.
"You will be released from confinement as of today.”
George enters with coffee service and pours a cup for the young man. I wait for him to add milk and a spoon of sugar before I continue.
“I have a job of sorts for you.”
He sips the coffee, eyes pinned to mine. “A job? I’m not qualified for much, I’m just a poet.”
"Not anymore. You're going to be my boyfriend and get a job. A paying one. George will find you something suitable.”
His eyes squint with concentration and I know he doesn’t understand anything I’ve said.
"Your new name will be Paul because I like that name.”
"But my name is…”
"Quiet.” I walk around the desk and sit on the arm of his chair, dangling a bare leg over his lap. “You will do what you’re told, without questions. George will set up interviews and help you secure employment. Do exactly as he instructs you. Deviate in the slightest and I’ll return you to Saul.”
Paul gives a slight nod in answer. “Am I to sign a contract like in the movies?”
"No contract, Paul. All you need to do is what I say. Tell me you understand.”
He doesn’t answer and I grab my phone off the desk. Tapping the screen, I find a music selection. “Saul, you can leave us. Telling him will not do it, I must show him what it means to be my boyfriend.”
The color in Paul’s face becomes a shade paler and I slide off the chair into his lap.
"Lesson number one…”