Graham could not get enough of Peggy Lee. He wanted to open himself up and drink her into him. She kissed him back passionately. His hands were exploring every curve of her body, breasts, buttocks, thighs. He untucked her blouse to feel the warmth of her flesh. He felt a lifetime of loneliness fueling his longing, his need. He desperately wanted to consummate his new life and simultaneously close the book on the past twenty years of utter solitude.
But then, he heard a shuffle behind him. There was someone else in the room. Desire gave way to alarm. He pulled away. A voice hissed, “Now!”
Before he could turn around, he was being tackled and pinned to the floor. Peggy Lee had adroitly stepped away.
“Now, get the hood and straps. And don’t turn the lights on.”
Graham recognized Ian’s voice.
“I know the protocol,” Peggy Lee hissed back.
Graham could not believe what he was hearing. He thought for a second that it was a terrible joke, but he could feel Ian’s knee grinding down on his spine. This was no joke. Ian’s weight pressed the air out of Graham’s lungs. He could not catch his breath enough to call out for help. He gasped hard with his cheek pressed against the linoleum floor. He struggled against Ian’s grip, but to no avail. Ian had his arms locked behind him. Peggy Lee located a flashlight and was digging through Ian’s camera bag. Quickly she passed some things to Ian. Graham tried again to struggle free.
Ian wrenched Graham’s head back and forced a ball gag into his mouth. He affixed the straps of the gag tightly around the base of Graham’s skull. Then he put a large hood over Graham’s head. He pulled the hood’s drawstrings around Graham’s neck.
“Not so tight,” Peggy Lee said, “he’s claustrophobic.” Graham hated the pity in her voice. He wanted to strike out at them, but he could barely move. “Make sure he can breathe, Ian.”
Ian then bound Graham’s hands behind his back. “Listen,” Ian said menacingly into Graham’s ear, “do what I say and you won’t get hurt. It’s as simple as that, okay?”
Graham nodded his head.
“Get on your feet.”
Ian pulled Graham up from the ground, holding him roughly by the nape of his neck.
“Peggy Lee,” Ian called. “Shine the light over here. I’ve got to find his pass card.”
Ian searched through Graham’s pockets. Graham considered kicking him, thinking maybe he could land a knee to Ian’s face – maybe break his nose – or to his groin. But he quickly decided that would be a bad idea. He could never best Ian in a fair fight. With his hands tied behind his back and his eyes blindfolded, he would be beaten to a bloody pulp. Ian found the pass card in Graham’s shirt pocket. “Got it,” he said.
“Okay,” she replied. “Now get him into the wardrobe and get your bag. Make sure he can breathe. I mean it.”
Ian walked Graham over to the wardrobe and pushed him inside. Graham tried to yell but the gag was too tight. He struggled, but Ian manhandled him back into the wardrobe. “I said cooperate, damn it, or I am going to bash your brains in. You wouldn’t be my first. Now, get in there and sit still.”
Ian shut the wardrobe doors.
“Tie those handles together,” Ian instructed Peggy Lee, “and do a good job so your boyfriend can’t get out. I’ll finish getting the materials ready.”