Support Groups of GorbyHaroldx©
This story is a sequel to “Hitchhikers of Gor” and will probably make a little more sense if you read that story first, although I have tried to write it to function as a stand alone story. It is a satire of John Norman’s Gor novels, so it might be somewhat more accessible if you've read one of them, but I would hope the story could be enjoyed without this prerequisite. Read the foreword to "Hitchhikers of Gor" for the basics of what Gor is all about.
This was more like it. I had a job. I was the bartender at the Earth Weenie Social Club. It was sort of a private paga tavern--members only. The membership consisted exclusively of immigrants from Earth. I was both member and employee. I didn’t get paid all that much, but the job came with room and board. I still didn’t have a slave girl of my own at the moment, but I didn’t really need one. One of the perks of the job was that I was in charge of the club’s slave girls. There were about a dozen of them and maybe two thirds were Earth immigrants, although their immigration had not been voluntary. The club’s name, by the way, was always pronounced in English, never in Gorean.
I had been surprised when they offered me the job. A few weeks before, I had tracked Lysol down and told him I was in need of help finding a job. He’d invited me to the next meeting of the support group. The group met weekly at the club. There were about fifteen or twenty guys at the first meeting I attended. They seemed like a pretty average bunch, but were suspicious of me. They asked tons of questions. They wanted to know how I’d gotten here, all about my life on Earth, what skills I had, had I ever been in the military, and how did I feel about Gor and Goreans.
Finally, I got sick of the grilling. “What’s with the inquisition? I thought this was a support group.”
“Sorry,” said Bardol (he seemed to be in charge). “We just need to know who we’re dealing with. We can’t have the wrong sort of people in here. Besides, the more we know about you, the better we can help.”
I wondered who the wrong sort of people might be. “I need a job. You don’t need to know too much about me to figure that out.”
“Don’t take it personally,” Lysol said. “We’re always willing to help a fellow Earthman, but we have to do it in our own way. This is your first meeting, so go with the flow until you know the ropes.”
“Hey, I’m not trying to be a pain, but this isn’t like any support group I ever heard of.”
“Well, hang onto your hat,” said Bardol. “We aren’t done. Did you bring a gun?”
“Yeah, I’ve got a .45.”
“So if you came with Octavius, you’ve probably got fifty rounds. He always pulls that shit.”
“Forty-nine. I had a run in with a sleen.” I described my encounter with the sleen.
“If you hit that thing in the head while it was charging, you’ve got a cooler head and a sharper eye than average.”
“That’ll come in handy. How many rounds did Octavius keep?”
“A hundred and fifty.”
“A bit skimpy, but it’ll have to do. I’ll set things in motion to get them back.”
“What do you mean?”
“Octavius, and most of the other pilots, usually confiscate ammo when they can get away with it, then sell it back to us at a premium. A little business they run on the side. As to your current problem, we’ll get to work on finding some sort of employment for you. In the meantime, you can borrow what you need to keep afloat from the group. We keep interest rates reasonable among ourselves, but it would be a bad idea to get carried away. Only borrow what you really need.”
The discussion turned toward general problems and complaints. As an immigrant community, we faced a number of problems. Ar was the most cosmopolitan city on Gor, but was nonetheless quite provincial. Our accents, which marked us as outsiders, and our lack of marketable skills in this economy meant that making a living was more of an adventure than any of us really appreciated. It was apparent from listening that the group was headed toward building it’s own economy.
The meeting was being held in English, a fact which I appreciated. My Gorean was still a bit shaky. “Are these meetings always in English, or are you just doing it for my benefit?”
“We always do it in English,” Lysol said. “We want to maintain fluency; also, it’s more secure.” Bardol gave Lysol a look that suggested security had just been breached.
They loaned me enough money to get me through the week until the next meeting. I thanked them and left. They said that in the meantime they’d beat the bushes for some kind of job for me. I was confused as to the exact nature of this support group. I had expected a social gathering where everyone would commiserate about how mean and nasty the world was treating them. This was run more like a business meeting. The members seemed prosperous--well dressed and confident, albeit cliquish to the point of paranoia. I went back each week for several weeks. Each week they would probe a little deeper into my past and present activities, then loan me some more money and tell me they were still looking for a job for me. The overall atmosphere reminded me vaguely of the Teamsters--paternal rather than fraternal and benevolent as long as you were part of the group and didn’t break the rules. I wasn’t entirely sure what the rules were, so I tried not to make any waves. They were obviously checking me out, getting to know me and evaluating.
Finally, on my fifth visit, I was told they had something for me. Prego, the current bartender at the club, was being promoted and the position was available if I wanted it. I accepted and moved out of my rundown insula and into the club. My duties were less than onerous. In the morning, I’d get the slave girls up, feed them, then set them at their tasks. They did all the work except make the drinks. I took pride in doing that myself. That was one of the differences between us and the average paga tavern. We had real drinks. Most paga taverns served paga (something like a strong ale) or various wines, but nothing stronger. The Goreans seemed to have discovered fermentation, but not distillation. We had a couple of stills out back where we made bourbon and a pretty good brandy from the local kalana wine. The club was generating some income by supplying these to other taverns around Ar and there were plans to enlarge the distillery.
I hung out at the club all day. I wore a white apron over my tunic and when things were slow I would wipe the bar down and philosophize to whomever would listen. As the days went by and I got to know the various members better, I began to get a picture of what was going on. The club had it’s fingers in a number of pies, and liquor sales was one of the more legitimate ones.
Apparently, the Goreans had also neglected to invent organized crime and the club was hard at work repairing this lack (organized crime being defined as crime carried out on a businesslike basis by organizations other than governments). I still wasn’t sure what all the club was into, but it appeared to be prospering. I realized that my job was a way for me to start at the bottom and work my way up. In the meantime, I was where everybody could keep an eye on me. I didn’t mind. I knew that cohesion was extremely important to make it all work and it would take time for everyone to know me well enough to feel secure about me.
I set about reorganizing the staff and their routines. The slave girls were required to line up in front of the bar and stand at attention when they had no other duties. When a member came in, the girl assigned to the area in which he sat would leave the bar and attend to him unless he was known to have a favorite girl. The minute he left, she would clean his table, wash the glasses and dishes, and return to the line. When the number of occupied tables exceeded the number of girls, they were required to circulate constantly in their assigned areas. If a girl’s area should be empty, she was to help at the most populous adjacent area. This seems like a small change, but service had previously been random, with some girls overloaded at peak periods while others had little to do. The members commented to me on the improvement in service.
At closing, I would lock all the girls who weren’t occupied in their quarters. There were rooms available for members who wanted to spend the night with a girl (the girls weren’t allowed out of the club), but this was uncommon, since most members had their own slaves. Like all Gorean taverns, there was no extra charge for the girls. They came with the price of a drink. Most commonly, members would stop by of an afternoon for a beer and a blow job.
The slave quarters consisted of several large well appointed rooms in the basement. They were accessible through one heavy door which I locked behind them every night. They were equipped with sleeping rooms, toilet facilities, their own kitchen and a stock of food, and whatever else we felt they might need. Unlike the Goreans, whom we considered to be a bunch of wackos, we made no effort to impress the girls with their servitude every waking moment. The tables were not equipped with slave rings (in fact, there were none in the club--we didn’t feel the need of them) and the girls were encouraged to address the members by name. We preferred that to the generic and impersonal ‘master’ the Goreans were so adamant about. Despite all this, there was no question as to their status. They were slaves. We didn’t put a lot of effort into impressing them with this fact. They would either get it or they wouldn’t. If they didn’t, they were punished or disposed of.
One afternoon, after I’d been on the job about a month, a couple of Goreans wandered in. I could tell from their red tunics they were warriors (‘rarius’ in Gorean--also translated as ‘asshole’). Trouble was guaranteed. The girls, as per policy, ignored non-members. The intruders began shouting for service, but were still ignored. A girl waiting on a nearby table passed, ignoring their demands. Being ignored by a slave was too much. Enraged, one stood, grabbed her and drew his sword. It was obvious he was going to kill her. I had a cocked crossbow behind the bar. Even if there had been time to pull it out, set it against my shoulder, aim, and fire, there was a distinct possibility of hitting the girl. I’d never practiced much with that weapon. I whipped out my .45.
Shooting a gun indoors is not recommended. My ears rang for hours. The slug took the warrior in the side of the head and he pitched backwards, a chunk of his skull missing. His cohort, who by now was also standing with sword drawn, dropped his weapon and started backing toward the door, waving his arms as if to ward off evil spirits.
“Not another step, fart orifice.” This was about as close as I could come to “Freeze, asshole!” in Gorean. He halted as I trained the gun on him. I shot him right between the eyes. There were to be no witnesses.
I am a man of only one talent. I have no skill at literature or science or diplomacy. I often do not understand the ramblings of learned men. What I am is a marksman. I have often thought it would be more honorable to be an excellent baker or potter or such, but I am what I am: the best shot on planet Gor. I had been kind to the second warrior. I could easily have shot his balls off--one at a time.
I had a mess on my hands. Use of firearms is frowned on by the club. We didn’t want the Goreans or the priest kings to know we had them. Had I been more experienced in the ways of Goreans, I would have known what was coming and had the crossbow ready. The girl that the warrior had grabbed was hysterical. She was a Gorean and had no experience of guns. I assigned a couple of the Earth girls to take her in hand and calm her down. I got two of the members to help me and we stripped the bodies and carried them out. The other slaves were assigned to clean up the blood and bits of skull. I wanted the place spotless by the time I came back in. We fed the warriors’ remains to the sleen, meanwhile throwing their clothing and other combustible accouterments into the furnace which heated the stills. I wrapped their swords and non-combustible possessions in a parcel with a couple of stones and dispatched a member to drop them in the river. Then we retrieved the remains unconsumed by sleen and buried them in the lime pit. The warriors were gone without a trace, just like Jimmy Hoffa.
A couple of days later, a warrior came by looking for the missing men, but we played dumb and he went away.
We discussed the incident at the next weekly gathering. I was criticized for using the gun, although allowance was made for my inexperience. A couple of guys thought I should have let the warrior kill the girl, but I told them point blank that nobody was killing any of our girls on my watch. Members who had been present at the time defended my actions. Although feelings were mixed over my shooting the first warrior, I garnered universal approval for my actions from that point on. Bardol in particular was impressed by the way I had kept my head, eliminated the only outside witness and then cleaned things up efficiently and methodically. What could have been a terrible black eye actually ended up being a feather in my cap.
Shortly thereafter, the membership voted a raise for me. I had been living on half salary, since I’d devoted the other half to retiring my debt to the club as fast as possible. My debt was now paid and the members had rewarded my diligence in the matter with a pay increase. With my debt paid, this more than doubled my take home. I could now afford my own slave girl again, but didn’t feel the need as long as I lived at the club. I slept with a different girl every night. I had a couple of favorites, but didn’t play favorites. I wanted to know as much as possible about my staff, so I chose a different girl every night in rotation.
One night, as I was locking the girls in their quarters, I heard one of the Gorean girls say something to another girl in halting English. She was quickly shushed. I pretended not to hear and went away, returning stealthily a few minutes later. I listened at the door, curious as to what was going on. The door was too thick and I could hear nothing.
Three nights later, it was my night with Marika, the Gorean girl who had spoken English. After the other girls were locked up, I hung her by her wrists and whipped her soundly.
“Now, Marika, we’re going to have a conversation. What language shall we have it in?”
“What do you mean, Master?” I lashed her savagely. “Please, Master. Please. Why do you punish me so?”
“You know what I want to know. Why are you learning English? What’s going on?”
She told me the whole story. It seemed Susan had gotten curious about what went on at our meetings. The slaves who served the meetings were always the Gorean girls, since they couldn’t understand us. This was obvious to the girls, and Susan had decided to investigate. She talked Marika into cooperating and started teaching her English. Marika would also memorize snatches of conversation from the meetings and repeat them to Susan for translation. The other girls were getting interested in the project and I was about to have a major conspiracy on my hands.
I gagged Marika, bound her, slung her over my shoulder, and returned to the slave quarters. The girls were startled when I barged in. I dumped Marika on the floor.
“OK, girls,” I yelled. “Line up.” The girls did as I bid. I walked down the line behind them binding each one’s hands behind her then gagging her. They were trying not to look at Marika whimpering on the floor, but couldn’t help themselves. I stood next to Marika and addressed them.
“It seems we have a small conspiracy in progress, so we’re going to nip this thing in the bud. As you can see, Marika has been punished and I’m sure you all know why. I still have one more miscreant to punish before I deal with you as a group. Susan, come over here.” Susan turned pale and stood rooted. I stepped toward her and she turned to run. I caught her easily.
“Now you’re in really big trouble, slave girl.” I slung her over my shoulder as I had Marika. “The rest of you, don’t move a muscle until I get back.”
I carried Susan back to my quarters and hung her by her wrists as I had Marika. Then I gave her an even more severe whipping than Marika had received. I carried her back and dumped her on the floor next to Marika. Both girls were hogtied and helpless. The other slaves were standing where I had left them. Marika and Susan would remain in the center of the floor all night as a lesson to the others. The others would spend the night gagged with their hands tied. I told them to go to bed and contemplate their folly.
The next day I released all the girls and set them about their duties. The weekly club meeting was scheduled for the afternoon and I locked all the girls back in their quarters before it began. The members noticed the lack of servants and I told them what had happened and what I had done about it.
One of the guys thought it was my fault, but Bardol disagreed. “Vitalis had nothing to do with this. It’s obvious the girls cooked this up on their own and it probably started before Vitalis even got here. If anything, we owe him our thanks for catching it, although he was perhaps a bit lenient in his reaction.”
This seemed to be the general sentiment. The guys were a lot more pissed off about this than I had thought they would be and after discussion, we voted to make an example of Susan and Marika. Security was a top priority and we didn’t want the girls knowing of our plans or activities. On Gor, slaves could legally be questioned under torture, so this whole thing was a bigger security risk than I had first realized. Bardol said he would take care of it and assigned Lysol, Prego, and myself to assist.
Lysol hung out at the club with me and early in the evening Bardol and Prego showed up. Each bore a withe cage and a heavy backpack. Upon their arrival, Lysol and I brought the girls up. They had been locked in their quarters most of the day. We tied their wrists behind them and gagged them again, then lined them up and joined their collars together with lengths of chain, except for Susan and Marika. These two each had a cage strapped to her back. The cages were square and a bit wider than their shoulders. They extended from their necks to just below their knees. We led them outside. Susan and Marika were led on individual leashes, while the others followed along behind in coffle. Lysol and I carried the packs.
We wended our way through the city and down to the river. The chain of slave girls caused no comment except for the occasional admiring glance. We marched them out onto an unused pier. We lined the coffle up along the side and chained the outside ankle of the girl at each end to a convenient slave ring (and they were convenient--you couldn’t go ten paces in any direction in this town without encountering one of the ubiquitous slave rings). Then we unburdened Susan and Marika of the cages which we laid down on the dock. I held their leashes while Bardol and Prego placed a heavy stone in each corner of each cage. Lysol took Marika’s leash and led her toward the cages. I tightened my grip on Susan’s leash. Marika was hogtied and placed face up in a cage, then her gag was removed, but she was too frightened to speak. The top of the cage was closed over her face and locked. Bardol and Prego lowered it over the side. The water was high, only about eighteen inches below the dock. Our captive audience had a fine view of her. As the water touched Marika’s back, she found her voice and began crying and pleading. She was lowered ever so slowly, the water rising about her until her pleas changed to splutters and gurgles as she lay on her back desperately pressing her face against the bars. Once her head was completely under, the ropes were loosed and she sank into the murk.