*Spoiler warning for my book and potentially other books I may write, don’t read any further if you don’t want to know about my post-book love life. Main spoiler:This story is not set in America.*
Of all the tales of my sexual misadventures, the time when I tied up a girl I’d just met in the back of my car, drove her to my flat, and then kept her captive overnight for the purposes of torture and sexual violation, is probably the story that causes the greatest raising of eyebrows.
Before the police are dispatched to commit me to a similar fate I should hurriedly point out that this kidnapping was entirely consensual, and in fact probably more her idea than mine. The kidnapping also did not take place in some darkened alley, isolated moorland, or other quiet spot chosen so that no one could hear my victim scream. Instead it took place in a Waitrose car park near Cirencester in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. Any screams of resistance would have quickly garnered the attention of a wide selection of shopping housewives, elderly persons, and the unemployed.
Alice (my ‘victim’) had instructed me on the best place to park; an isolated corner of the parking lot near the recycling bins. Well at least it had looked isolated on google street view, but those pictures had been taken in summer when the trees were all leafy, but it was March when I reversed my car between those white lines, and as I looked out through my windscreen the spot seemed desperately exposed.
‘Oh well’ I thought, as I switched off the engine, ‘Here goes nothing!’
I locked my car behind me and wandered out towards the hulking glass lego brick of Waitrose. The plan was to have a pre-kidnapping chat over coffee first, just so we could assess each other for any dangerous levels of insanity. Alice and I had been talking for a couple of weeks now, mostly via Whatsapp, but also on the phone a little bit as well, and so we had reassured each other that we at least had voices that sounded sane. From the slightly philosophical slant to Alice’s okcupid profile I was initially worried that she might turn out to be a little bit of a hippy with her head lost in the clouds. However, our chats had reassured me that she was intelligent and switched on, as well as prepared to ask deeper questions about life, even if they didn't have answers.
‘I’m on my way’ messaged Alice as I crossed the car park. I sat myself on a bench near the entrance, watching the automatic glass doors slide back and forth as empty shopping trolleys rattled inwards... They were passed by their loaded brethren heading outwards, weighted with cornucopiae of luxuries and essentials drawn from across the earth. One was pushed by a dead-eyed woman in her late thirties and also contained her sproglet, who writhed in his cage like trolley seat and wailed. This woman’s expression did not suggest amazement at the wondrous achievements of globalisation expressed in her overflowing shopping bags, but rather a quiet wish that the end times would come sooner rather than later.
A man sat down next to me, hunching between too large shopping bags, and he began staring at his phone. I adjusted my overcoat and tried not to look conspicuous given that I was potentially overdressed for afternoon shopping and not holding any shopping bags or other shopping related paraphernalia...
Then Alice appeared. She bounded down the nearby steps towards me, her mouth stretched into a grin and barely a hint of nervousness showing in her sparkling green eyes. I was relieved to see that she looked like she did in her profile pictures and hadn’t turned out to be one of the local geriatrics. Her long mousey hair bobbed gently with each step. Her figure was verging on the petite, and a warm looking cardigan hugged her chest while a short skirt gave way above the knees to black tights encasing a pair of thoroughly graspable legs.
All in all she looked quite kidnappable.
We got a coffee in the Waitrose cafe. I think it was safe to say we were the only couple there on a ‘first date’. It’s possible I am underestimating the sex lives of the various grey haired senior citizens who shared that space with us. Perhaps they were just shielding their tindering behind copies of the Daily Telegraph or were rubbing walking sticks slowly against each other’s legs when no one was looking… thankfully I wasn’t paying close enough attention.
Alice was cheerful and inquisitive and after brief small talk about jobs, science and what it was like to be temporarily living with her parents, the conversation quickly turned to the business at hand...
“So do you know lots about rope stuff?” She asked, a little too loudly.
“Ha, yes I’ve picked up a few things, don’t yet know how to do advanced things like suspension, but I can tie a few harnesses and other fun predicaments…”
Discussion of ropes and BDSM continued at a lowish volume, but as the cafe was pretty quiet I remained concerned that some of our neighbours might have their hearing aids turned up to high...
“Yeah, I think some people are kind of conflicted about the whole being feminist and into submission thing” said Alice “But I guess I am here so I can't be that conflicted…”
“I think be submission can be perfectly feminist so long as you’re making independent choices about what you want to explore.” I proffered
“Yeah?” said Alice in a tone of voice that suggested she wasn’t entirely convinced.
“Sure, I think if what feminism is trying to achieve is genuine equality for women, including freedom of choice, then why shouldn’t a woman feel free to choose what sexual experiences she wants to have?”
“Hmmm, I suppose the choice thing makes sense, just not sure everyone's choosing for the right reasons...”
“Do you really need a reason if it’s what works for you? I mean, I think it’s also fair for someone to find the idea of a man dominating a woman to be offensive, even if it’s consensual, because there’s such an awful history of male violence against women that some people might see BDSM as somehow trivialising it.” I continued to ramble out-loud “I try to be careful who I tell about this stuff, I’m not sure being a man who dominates women is an identity one should wear too openly out of respect for that. But behind closed doors if you want to be tied up and I want to tie you up then, equality wise, isn’t everyone a winner?”
“Yeah, I’d probably be more offended by it if it didn’t also turn me on…. I mean the idea of the man objectifying and using the woman for his pleasure still doesn’t seem particularly feminist...”
“Ha yup, but in some ways the submissive is actually the ‘consumer’ and the person in control. It’s a shared experience but the sub doesn’t really have to take any initiative, it’s mostly the top’s responsibility to make the plans and learn the skills etc. The trick is carefully controlling the submissive’s experience and pleasure while simultaneously making it seem like you’re using them for your pleasure.”`
Alice nodded while sipping her coffee. Supermarket sounds drifted into the cafe: the rattle of trolleys, the sporadic beeps of the checkouts, the hum of chiller cabinets. These sounds combined into kind of low roar, like the background noise at a public swimming pool, but without any added splashes and screams of people having fun.
“Have you finished your tea?” asked Alice
“Yup” I replied
“Good. Well I’m ready to go when you are!” she said
“Cool, let’s make a move then!” I said, caught slightly off guard and wondering to myself if I would ever truly be ready for what we had planned.