The Farm Ch. 01bySumacandIvy©
Down a small side street where the glow of the street lamps did not reach, behind a tulip-yellow door, Mrs. Featherwink's doorman, brothel keeper, and sometime procurer, Halden, waited for the bell and admitted gentlemen late from the theaters, music halls, private clubs, drawing room entertainments, and dinners with wives to Mrs. Featherwink's establishment. Mrs. Featherwink specialized in the special orders and needs of the rich and influential and provided first-rate entertainment for the less adventurous and more conventional.
"Stop just here," George Ryman, Lord Downcliff the fourth Earl of Leeshore, Gordy to his friends, tapped the roof of the handsome with his silver-handled stick. At thirty he prided himself in keeping fit. No paunch like his married school chums, legs well muscled and buttocks firm from riding to the hounds, a strong upper torso. Gordy pressed his silk top hat firmly on his full head of hair and stepped into the cold drizzle. The fog, rolling in from the Thames, swirled on the cobble stones and licked at his ankles. A soft breeze caught his cape.
"Beware the footpads. I'll gladly deliver ye to your door." The driver leaned down to accept the coins Gordy pressed into his hand.
Flashing an easy smile, good teeth were the Ryman hallmark; Gordy turned and strode down the lane to the tulip-yellow door near the end of the blind lane. He slowed his gait and forced himself to take a calming deep breath. To his right a pair of doxies, heavily powdered, brightly roughed and dressed beckoned to the Lord from the mouth of an ally. The one with the orange hair twitched her hips suggestively and her yellow-haired companion leaned forward allowing her large tits to fall from her bodice. Gordy graciously declined their invitation and hid his disgust at the sight of the large areolas and distended nipples. One of his punchy club friends might risk stepping into the ally for a quick sucking, but Gordy's goal was more urgent. He bowed slightly, touching his breast pocket where in lay the note from Mrs. Featherwink. I have filled your request. F, written in an awkward hand, the F heavily embellished with swirls and curlicues.
One last calming breath before pulling the bell chain and he was ready. His face remained impassive as Halden ushered him into the small entrance way. Hat, gloves, cane and cape passed to the doorman. Quickly adjusted the black grosgrain ribbon securing his queue and inclined his head to the big man. Broken nose, wandering brown left eye, heavy muscles and scared knuckles. Most importantly discreet as his mistress.
Mrs. Featherwink bustled forward cotton-lace gloved hands extended. "My Lord, we are so pleased to see you. Come in, do come in. " Her fat fingers circled his upper arm giving the firm bicep an appraising squeeze as she guided him into her private parlor. From a larger room deeper in the row house the mixed sound of women and men's laughter emerged. "I know you won't be disappointed." Mrs. Featherwink settled her broad bottom on a spindly chair behind a small writing desk and inclined her head toward an armchair, inviting Gordy to sit. "A small sherry?" She reached for a cut-glass decanter. Behind her the flocked wallpaper showed signs of fading. A large water mark on the ceiling spread its stain toward a curling corner of the red paper.
Gordy accepted the stemmed glass and took a sip, leaned back, and crossed his legs. "I've put my faith in you for the last time, Mrs. Featherwink." He leveled his gaze at her over the lip of the glass. "I will not tolerate another . . . "
"My dear sir, I've met your every request. An impressive list." She licked her long lower lip.
"You've claimed success before."
"I've absorbed all the costs of the merchandise that did not meet your discerning eye." Mrs. Featherwink sighed, "I'm a poor woman; I only have a few years left to secure my retirement. The lower lip trembled.
Gordy felt his anger rising. He'd heard this song before. "I'm sure you've made back your investment time and again." He cast his eyes at the water stain above which the long hallway with a few Extraspecialty rooms lay. Extraspecialty is what Mrs. Featherwink called them. Young girls, boys, men with tits, women with dicks and cunts, a dwarf, tattoos, piercings and splitting, amputees, a third breast, and for one summer a pink pig with a yellow bow tied around its curly tail worked behind locked doors to secure Featherwink's retirement and Halden's too, Gordy suspected. There too were rooms for Mrs. Featherwink's failures to find Gordy what he wanted. He knew each served the house completely; maybe not as completely as the pink pig who fed the residents behind the yellow door a good part of one winter. He had it from a club friend who had it from his favorite at Featherwink's the good Mrs. F cried every time she ate the bacon. His friend claimed his doxie could squirt water from her quim with such accuracy she hit a target twenty paces away. Or, more likely she squirted wine into his open mouth. Still not special enough to be a Featherwink extraspecialty.
"If you've finished your sherry, I'll show you what we found." She rose with effort from the chair, bumping a vase of dusty ostrich feathers near her elbow. "Halden, call March to stand at the door. Miss Liz will take the ledger." She steadied the vase, extended her hand to Gordy, and walked to a worn and dirty spot on the red-papered wall. Halden entered the room and lifted a lamp from the skirted mantle. A low door in the wall swung inward. "Halden will light our way."
The steps to the basement were narrow and well worn. The shadows danced behind them on the damp wall. Gordy thought he caught the odor of pig as he followed the big man. Keys clanked at Mrs. Featherwink's waist. The steps took a sharp turn to the left the balustrade moved under his hand. His heart beat in double time. This time. This time. He'd made this trip three times before. Three trips that ended in frustration for him and crocodile tears for Mrs. F. Below water dripped slowly.
"Mind the puddle just there. Don't slip on the floor. Halden, don't rush."
Beyond a row of barrels, none bought with a duty stamp Gordy reckoned, waited two doors. The first stood open and Gordy viewed a thin straw pallet and bucket. The second door with its barred window was firmly closed. A large iron lock rested against the wood. Gordy felt the hair rise on his arms. His ears buzzed. He fought to hide his excitement. Mrs. F patted his arm and inserted the large key in the lock and turned it and pushed the door open.
Straw on the floor, a thin mattress of straw and a thinner blanket. The light from Halden's lamp moved across the floor touching a pair of bare feet, torn pants worn and torn at the knees. The legs pulled back from the light. There was the soft clink of thick iron. Halden lifted the lamp higher. And there he was. Shirt dirty dress shirt, sleeves rolled to the elbows, wrists manacled, a heavy chain held by a large staple to the damp wall kept his arms above his head. His head was turned to the side, eyes closed against the light, a purple bruise showed on his left cheek. Dark hair fell to the quick pulse in his neck. His lips were parted. His bare chest heaved and shuddered.
"Get up ye fool. Halden make him take to his feet. Give the lord a view. What can he see with him curled up like a bug?"
Gordy saw what he liked and liked what he saw. Halden kicked at a dirty leg. This produced a gasp and legs retracted further.
"Pull him up. The damp is getting into my shoes. My lord, just give us a moment."
Halden hung the lamp on hook jutting from the ceiling and wrapped his big hand into the dark hair. He pulled the young man, gasping to his feet. With his other hand he grabbed his jaw and forced the face around for Gordy to examine. A fine nose, full lips, high cheek bones, eyes squeezed shut, dark lashes long enough to cast a soft shadow. Halden released the dark hair and pulled the shirt open. A firm chest with flat nipples. The stomach flat, hard, muscled. The light danced.
"Open your damn eyes. Hit him if he doesn't open those damn eyes." Halden punched the midsection.
A gasp emitted from the dry lips. Bruises showed along the ribcage. Not his first encounter with those big knuckles. The young man tried to escape by pushing farther against the wall and turning on his chain to present his ribcage to Halden and protect his stomach.
"Hold, Mrs. Featherwink," Gordy stepped closer. "Will you and Halden give me a minute? Let me see what he will do. Please leave the light and move outside."
"As you wish, my lord. Care not to stand to near." Mrs. Featherwink bowed slightly and backed toward the heavy door. She motioned to Halden to follow. "We'll stay close lest you need some help."
"I'm sure I'll be more than fine." Gordy kept his eyes on the dirty figure in chains. He wanted to reach out and stroke the hairless chest, but not yet. Slowly, move slowly. "Get me some fresh water." The two retreated from the cell.
Gordy waited while the water was fetched. He spoke slowly and softly as he moved closer to the young man. Carefully he held the cup to his lips. "Please, you must drink." The lashes fluttered and the lids rose. The bluest eyes. Gordy paused cup suspended. The eyes focused on the cup not Gordy. He lifted it to the cracked lips and gently, most gently let some water trickle into the mouth. Yes. Yes, drinking out of my hand. Gordy dipped a corner of his handkerchief in the water and slowly moved it to the bruised cheek. The head turned and the eyes clamped shut. Gently, slowly Gordy dabbed at the bruise. Gently and slowly. The head turned. The eyes opened. Gordy returned the cup to the full lips. This time the man drank deeply. Water spilled down his chin and onto his chest as he drank. Don't lick it. Not yet. Gordy moved his handkerchief down and dabbed and the water. The eyes snapped shut. "Please, don't be afraid. I'm here to help you." The eyes opened.
Hope. Suspicion. Hope again. The lips parted. "Help?" The eyes swam with tears. One escaped and left a streak on the dirty face. The body relaxed and inclined slightly toward Gordy. "Please." The manacled wrists dropped a bit. The head fell forward and the tears flowed. The chest heaved. He sobbed. "Please, for the love of God, help me."
"Drink more." He dried the tears. "I have to go now. I'll be back. Don't cry. Don't weep. Please, trust me. I'll form a plan. It won't be long." He pressed his fine handkerchief into a dirty hand. "Do all it takes to stay alive. Don't fight them. Remember to stay alive."
Gordy turned to hide his smile. The hook was set. The chain rattled as the figure sagged to the floor. As the lock snicked true, Gordy heard the wracking sobs. He lifted a long index finger to his lips as he smiled fully at Mrs. Featherwink. The three moved to the foot of the steps and began their assent.
Once back in the red room with Halden, March, and Miss Liz back at their posts, George Ryman, Lord Downcliff, the fourth Earl of Leeshore leaned forward in his chair. He steepled his fingers and smiled. "Mrs. Featherwink, let me see more of him.