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The Strange Misfortune Of Harry Lashing

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He Is A Very Naughty Boy

Cornelius Volteroy was nothing if not true to his word. He left a message on my voicemail saying he would very much like to meet me again to discuss future plans. This worried me. It seemed odd that someone owning a business like his, was taking such an interest in a looser like me. Of course, when I mentioned my fears to Charlie, I got a dose of his bombastic blather. The usual stuff about being a steady eddy, too scared to go for the big adventure. Maybe Charlie was right. It has to be said I am a little too scared of my own shadow. If life hadn’t been made so uncomfortable at my last job I would probably still be there, accepting the cheap insults and begging for pay rises. Besides, what had I got to lose? It wasn’t as though I stood to get anywhere behind the bar at The Three Drumsticks. The only other hope was a fairy tale dream of winning the Lottery.

That is how I found myself, once again, in the head office of Volteroys Kitchen Emporium. This time the receptionist seemed pleased to see me. I even got a warm grin. I felt sure I had seen her with Cornelius outside the pub. What on earth was she doing with an older man like that?

Oh, it’s Hamlet.” She purred. I gave her a nonchalant leer in return. Wouldn’t do to look overly enthusiastic with the prospective boss’s mistress. “Do you need to freshen up before you meet Cornelius?” she asked. I gave her a little look of indecision. “To pee or not to pee.” She added following this remark with a little wink. It was better than my cigar joke I had to admit.

“No thanks I’m fine.” I replied trying to sound confident.

“OK, well go on through, he’s expecting you.” I walked down the little corridor and knocked.

“Come.” Came a muffled boom from behind the door. I duly did as bid and there he sat. Big, beardy old Cornelius Volteroy, sitting behind his giant oak desk. Jenkins was nowhere to be seen. “Take a seat Harry,” he bellowed then, as if sensing my thoughts, added; “No need for Jenkins to attend a little one on one.” I gave a little gawp. Was this how things worked? Had I got the job just on the basis of an A4 sheet of crappy lyrics for a heavy metal band. Cornelius heaved himself from his stuffed leather chair, opened a little cabinet behind him, and pulled out a decanter together with two glasses. He began to pour without asking me whether I wanted anything. It was eleven o clock in the morning. Perhaps he was just a lonely old rich fart that needed a drinking buddy. He plonked himself back down, took a sip, and sighed.

“You are an interesting chap Harry Lashing.” He mused. “I loved the words you wrote so I looked up some more of your creations on the internet. Soil Me Satan, Hades Titties and Take Me From Behind Dark Lord.” All from your pen I believe. I sat there squirming. What the hell was this? “Plus, there is a very interesting article about you and your ex-wife in the Wotley Weekly Herald.” He continued. Brilliant, I had been asked here just to be humiliated. It must have been Sally’s work. She had put him up to this. I started to stand. “Sit down Harry.” He boomed. I did as I was told. This bloody maniac was unstoppable.

“Look, I’m sorry about all the confusion Mr Volteroy, I was interested in the business analyst job and….” I tried to continue but he started to make tutting noises as he waggled his finger.

“Oh yes, business analyst. A Nice Arsed Lady Young Sexy Tits. That’s what an analyst means to me Harry. Of course, she needs to do the business too”. An interesting acronym. No wonder Jenkins wasn’t here, he would have a fit. This was sexism gone mad. Where was “MeToo” when you needed them. “As far as I can see, you don’t fit my criteria of an analyst Mr Lashings.” He’d got that much right.

“I’m very sorry to have wasted your time then.” I whined. Ever the wimp.

“You haven’t wasted my time Harry. Far from it. I had a sense about you from the moment we first met. I discussed it at length after a particularly rough session with Ophelia.” He looked at me expectantly. The penny dropped. She was the receptionist outside. He was bonking her then. “I read you words, saw the way you looked at my goat paperweight, looked you up and I have a role for you. Interested?” It was very hard for me to imagine what kind of role these qualifications might lend themselves to. The job had asked for a business analyst. I don’t think it was totally unreasonable to think that my experience in number crunching and ridiculous business blag would be relevant. Instead, it seemed, he was more interested in my lyrics. That and a petty conviction I really don’t want to mention; even if it did mean I ended up on the sex registers list for a while. Volteroy it seemed was serious. He fixed on me with an inscrutable stare.

“How does sixty thousand plus expenses sound?” He murmured. It sounded like a way out of the bloody mess I was in at the moment. It could, however, mean getting into a bigger mess. Maybe I would become his drug mule or worse.

“What exactly is the job Mr Volteroy? I mean the money part sounds interesting but, well you know, I don’t want to get involved in anything illegal.” Good response I thought. Interested with an authoritative moral high approach. Immediately I could tell I’d made a mistake.

“When the bounty is on the table, and the scores are on the door, do you honestly want to ask about the legitimacy of the match Harry? I’m disappointed. Oh well no matter. Give me a call if you change your mind.” He made a little shooing gesture. This was outrageous, teasing and testing on the one hand, only to pull away with the other. Actually, it sounded like most of my recent Saturday evenings. I was in a kind of, prick tease, version of “The Apprentice.” How dare he? My heart was pounding.

“I didn’t say I didn’t want to work with you it’s just that…” I tried to finish but Cornelius Volteroy was nothing, if not forceful, in his interruption technique.

“Yes, yes whatever. Listen this business, like all businesses, doesn’t just run on candy floss and good intentions. The Dark Master plays his part in everything. From your credentials I thought you understood this.” He picked up the goat paperweight and began to rub it seductively. “Marlowe, Bill Gates, Branson, Lady Gaga. All members of what you may have heard called; the Illuminati. In reality there is so much more. Anyway, I may be mistaken about you so off you trot.”

“Lady Gaga?” I stammered.

“Well, I may be wrong about her. I don’t know all of them.” He steamed. Maybe he was right. I had seen her once, dressed head to toe in bacon, waffling on about Judas. Could it be I had just lost the opportunity of a lifetime through morality? He returned the goat paperweight, to its place on the desk, then looked up. “I can’t say I’m not disappointed. Give me a call if you change your mind.” With that he made another shooing motion. I’d been dismissed; again.

Ophelia the receptionist gave me a curious look on my way out.

“Well?” she asked. I just shrugged.

“I don’t know what to make of all that. I think I may have blown the job through indecision.” I answered. She seemed so sweet, and yet, so different from the woman I had seen the other evening. She nodded her head slightly making her long, black hair ripple.

“The way I see it Harry, you have to decide whether it is nobler in the mind to huff the cigars of outrageous fortune. Or vape up farts against a sea of troubles.” She whispered. Was that a Shakespeare quote? Had she done a Bard on me? It took the Hamlet thing to a whole different level. What the hell was happening?

There was only one thing I could do. Leave the satanic lair that was Volteroy’s Kitchen Emporium and make my way back home. I was furious. What had just happened? I had been used. Teased like a silly stray Prince 2 waif then kicked up the arse when I least needed it. Cornelius, blood sucking, Volteroy. I had a good mind to report him to the Board of British Kitchen Standards. They wouldn’t be so impressed when I told them one of the UK’s finest suppliers of crappy kitchen cupboards was, in fact, a Satanic member of the Illuminati.

My fury had abated a little after I had got back home and infused a couple of cans of Stella, but I was still pretty angry, a fact that wasn’t lost on Charlie.

“What’s up now?” He asked, using his actually I couldn’t give a toss voice. I told him everything that had happened. The little prick tease of a job offer paying sixty grand and then having it pulled away from my grubby little clutches. Charlie listened in amazement first, I think, with envy, then with amusement. “Wanna know what I reckon?” He asked. My disinterested nod was obviously not indifferent enough for Charlie. “He’s toying with you. He wants to see what you are made of. Dangles the carrot and then offers the stick.”

“Yes, he offered me the stick alright. Shame I didn’t take it so I could have rammed it up his arse.” I replied.

“Have you got his number then?” Charlie asked.

“Of course, I have. Why would I want to use it?”

“This is a test mate. Give the number a call and tell him you’ve had a think. Tell him you can think of many opportunities where you could offer value to his business.” I wasn’t convinced with Charlies logic.

“I don’t know what the job is for.” I snarled. “I might have to do anything, and I mean anything.”

“Look mate, do you think any of these top executives know what they are doing? They just sack a load of staff, make everyone scared of them, then take the golden handshake after a few years. That’s the name of the game. Nobody actually knows what they do anymore. The old days, when people formed pots, whittled wood, or made things, like horseshoes and all that shit, have gone. China does it all now.” Charlie grinned after his little state of the job market speech. He did have a point though. Hadn’t I been on the rough tail end of things enough times. Some gormless gronker would come in, tell everyone how clever he was, make your life a misery, while living off your work and get paid double for the privilege. Maybe this time I could be the mindless, middle management, loon. Maybe Volteroy was giving me the chance. In which case, for once Charlie was right. I had done Volteroy a great disservice by insisting on understanding what exactly I would need to do. I reached for the phone.

“Are you going to ring him then?” Charlie asked. I nodded and tapped out the number. It went straight through.

Charlie watched on enthusiastically, as I sputtered out my greeting. I didn’t need to say much though. Volteroy barked out a load of instructions that I dutifully scribbled onto the back of my hand. The call can only have lasted a couple of minutes.

“Oh bollocks.” I murmured when it had finished.

“What?” Charlie asked. He was really interested now.

“He wants to discuss the opportunity over dinner with him and his lady-friend.”

“That’s brilliant mate.”

“One problem though. He wants me to bring my partner.” I whined. That was a problem because I didn’t have a partner. Did he know that? Was this another little test?

“No problem Harry, I’m sure Jeanette will go. Of course, you may need to make it worth her while.” Charlie answered, as if this were a feasible option. Jeanette Du Sade, although I’m not sure that was her real name, had been the cause of many of my problems. Charlie could see my reticence. “Come on Harry, she is a laugh, she still works at the pub and I’m sure she wouldn’t say no to an extra bit of work.”

“But Jeanette. You know she’s sort of…”

“Tarty?” Charlie finished my sentence. “Exactly my friend. That is why you should take her. It will be kill or cure. She’s a qualified dominatrix you know?”

“I’m not sure that is an actual qualification.” I answered. I certainly hadn’t seen it listed on the Open University curriculum. “Do I really need to remind you, of all people, that she was the final straw in my marriage.”

“True Harry. But what a magnificent straw. Made the local rag if you remember.” Charlie smirked. How could I forget. Volteroy obviously knew about it too. He had mentioned it in the interview. “Go on, tell me what really happened.” Charlie urged.

“You know what happened.” I groaned.

“Not all the details. Go on.” Charlie was nothing if not persistent. He loved hearing me tell the sordid little tale over and over. I didn’t want to keep regurgitating this little vulgar episode. But Charlie was insistent, I was a bit smashed, and the story did have its funny side. Before I get into any detail I have to state clearly, for the record, that I do not enjoy being spanked, smothered, probed with leather whips or have any of my protrusions clamped. Bare this in mind if you decide to continue.

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Sally and I had been on the rocks for a while. She was getting fed up with me because, apparently, I wasn’t adventurous enough. I tried to do something about it. I bought this terrific film about a group of sexy, young, mountaineers that got stuck in a chalet. They had to burn all of their clothes and keep warm in other ways. I thought it was great, but Sally wasn’t impressed. I was talking this over with a few mates at the Three Drumsticks. I didn’t work there at the time but there was a blond bombshell, working behind the bar, called Jeanette. Jeanette was an enigma to us all. She worked in a pub but drove around in a sporty little Mercedes. I struck up quite a friendship with Jeanette, she was young, blond, sexy and seemed well informed about football.

One evening, before closing time, she beckoned me over and whispered something to the effect that she could help me become a little more adventurous. I thought about what she had said a fair amount in the weeks that followed. When Sally announced she would be taking Little Harry junior to spend the week, in Frinton On Sea with her parents, I thought about it even more. In retrospect I should have thought about things a bit less but, as with all men, I had a frenzy to walk on the wild side so, I invited Jeanette over one Saturday afternoon. She looked terrific when she arrived. Dressed in a long black leather coat, carrying a rather large bag. I made her a cup of tea and she said that she would only charge me half rate as I was a friend. That’s when the penny dropped. That was how Jeanette managed to afford the Mercedes. The thing is I was intrigued, and horny, so just nodded and did what I was told. This involved going to the bedroom to take off all my clothes. After a couple of minutes Jeanette walked in. She was still carrying the case but was wearing a tight rubber suit. There was this wild look in her eyes. She mumbled something about a safe word but, to be honest, my attention was consumed by the big roll of cling film she produced from her bag. I just stood there, naked, totally out of my depth, as she wrapped me up from toe to top. My poor trembling body was paralysed. She purred something about me being a bad boy and mummy was going to sort me out. Then she put this black hood, with only two little eyeholes, over my face.

“Naughty, naughty, boy. You like this don’t you?” She rasped. I didn’t, I bloody well did not! Especially when she cut a little hole in the cling film for my manhood to poke through. It was humiliating and yet her soft, but firm, discipline made Mr Tomlinson stand to attention. I didn’t think things could get any worse. Then she found my nipples and applied a little clamp on each one. It was unbearable. The worst thing about it was I couldn’t remember the safe word. Each time I grunted out something she just laughed and told me how much I was enjoying it. My whole body, other than the dangly bits, was covered in cling film. It was beyond humiliation; especially as she pushed me backward into the wardrobe.

“Mummy is going to treat you to something special.” She purred, gave my dick a little slap, then closed the door. It was the weirdest feeling. In spite of being in this state I was actually looking forward to the something special, except, it never came. I heard the door click shut and waited. And waited. Surely Jeanette wouldn’t leave me like this, there had to be some reward.

After a while, I heard the muffled sound of a familiar voice from downstairs. It was Sally. She must have come back early, and she didn’t sound happy. She kept on calling out my name as if I was going to answer in this state. I was desperately trying to think of an excuse as to why I might be wrapped up like a chicken, in the wardrobe, with my gonads hanging out. I suppose it was adventurous in a way. I knew things were going to get very difficult when I heard her calling the police. I listened in dismay as she told them she suspected a break in, and the culprit might still be in the house hiding in the bedroom wardrobe. I really wanted to come clean, but it seemed too late. I considered it might be safer for the police to find me like this than Sally. She was going to be furious. So, I waited in my little cupboard of shame and heard the sirens as they approached. Then the muffled voices downstairs, then the footsteps in the bedroom, and then inevitably, the opening of the cupboard door. Two policemen tasers at the ready standing with Sally. They all stared at the trussed-up, man chicken, resplendent with nipple clamps and dangly bits hanging out. I heard Sally groan and someone chuckle. As the hood was removed, I suddenly remembered the safe word.

“Pickled Gherkin.” I spluttered. The police thought we were wasting their time, although they got a good laugh out of it. Somehow the story got out and made the Wotly Village gazette. Sally had been humiliated beyond all measure. Her dreams of being married to a respectable, God fearing, member of society gone. The marriage was over from that point.

I did have a discussion with Jeanette about all this later on. She told me that she had to scarper because she saw Sally arriving back. She also told me she wouldn’t charge me on this occasion. As if that were recompense for the humiliation I had suffered. It was shame payment. In spite of everything I couldn’t dislike Jeanette. In fact, I quite admired her; she was an entrepreneurial stalwart. It was this sort of private enterprise that kept the country going. You can make what you want of this story but the one thing I want to make plain is; I am not attracted to kinky, dominating and humiliating sex. Definitely not.

As expected, Charlie was falling about laughing. Perhaps Sally was right; he was a bad influence.

“That is such a great story mate, and you know what? I reckon Jeanette is just the person you need to take on your business opportunity date with Volteroy.” Charlie managed to say through his sniggers.

“Really? Why would that be?” I sneered.

“She’s a woman of the world Harry. If Cornelius Volteroy is all he’s cracked up to be he will love a bit of the old juicy, femme fatale, sauce on his proposal. What have you got to lose?” Volteroy had been insistent that I take a partner, and I was intrigued by the idea of a sixty grand mystery job, but Jeanette wasn’t the kind of woman you took home to meet the, ever critical parents. I decided to sleep on it.

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Turns out that Jeanette was actually happy to accompany me to my third interview, at a price of course. She helpfully explained that she didn’t do overnights usually, but wouldn’t be charging me agency rates, because I was a mate. I’m not really sure what that meant or how grateful I should be. She kept on referring to our upcoming appointment as our little, Ménage A Spank, in spite of my insistence that it wasn’t that kind of meeting.

As we stood outside the ‘Scrummy Flaccid Carrot’ restaurant I could tell, from her outfit, that she hadn’t believed me. She was wearing the kind of outfit that possibly could be considered tarty. Lovely little top emblazoned with the caption ‘Ouch’ on it. An overly large leather belt, leather skirt, fishnet stockings and see-through platform stilettos. She was also carrying the same little holdall type bag she had brought to my place on our previous, fateful meeting.

The moment Volteroy and partner arrived though I began to feel Charlie’s suggestion had been a good one, bringing Jeanette was the right thing to do. I had also been right. Volteroy’s partner was the lovely receptionist. She looked totally different this evening. Her lovely Indian features and long black hair complemented her black evening dress. Volteroy gave a wicked leer as he turned to his partner.

“I told you Ophelia. Mr Lashings has impeccable taste.” He sneered. Jeanette seemed buoyed up by the compliment in more ways than one. The heaving ‘Ouch’ logo gave an impressive wobble. “Let’s go in and talk about the future.” Volteroy boomed. The waiter almost saluted as we walked in. Volteroy was clearly a respected regular.

We took a seat in a more secluded area and I scanned the menu. The choice was different. The starters were things like ‘Crispy Piggy Nips’ and ‘Prawny Fingers.’ The choice of mains wasn’t much better. Volteroy presumed we all wanted large glasses of wine. There was certainly no argument from Jeanette, who chugged away as though she had spent the last week in a desert. I realised, perhaps a little too late, that she may be a little more complicated as a partner than I had originally thought. I did find though, as the conversation between the four of us twisted and turned, that Jeanette had a particularly impressive knowledge surrounding the various pitfalls of, Vaseline based, lubricant misuse. Volteroy was impressed, that was the main thing I supposed. He belted out various stories of business daring do. We were left in no doubt as to how loaded and clever he was. Every now and then Ophelia would join in. She seemed to be enjoying herself but there was an inscrutable quality to her. Jeanette on the other hand was in full flow. In fact, the flow was a little too full. It began to dawn on me that Jeanette may have a bit of a problem when it came to alcohol.

“Right then. Let’s get down to business,” Volteroy announced. So, this was it I thought. The big reveal.

“What? on the table? You naughty boy.” Jeanette enthused but then began to look a little pale.

“The ladies’ room is over there.” Volteroy pointed toward the rear of the restaurant. “Help her out will you Ophelia. You can powder your nose while you’re at it.” Ophelia smiled, took Jeanette by the arm, and they both disappeared. Volteroy leaned over the table. “Let me tell you what I think Harry.” I gave him a frightened smile. My stomach gave an, even more frightened, lurch.

“I frighten you don’t I Harry?”

“Oh no Cornelius.” I lied.

“I know I do. I scare everyone. But, if the truth were told, I should be in awe of you.” Volteroy continued. “What if I told you that you held some secret powers that, up till now nobody, not even your parents, knew about you?” I gave my head a little scratch. I always did that when I was worried. “Are you worried Harry?”

“Not at all.” I lied again, as I tried to laugh off my worry with another head scratch.

“You’ll go bald with a nervous habit like that.” He sneered. So, that was it, blackmail. My secret plan to stop premature balding, by rubbing my head with very expensive badger droppings I bought on the dark web, had been rumbled. The potion was sourced, and secretly stolen, from Brian May’s garden. Even Brian May didn’t know about this, although I always suspected his hair wasn’t totally natural. For whatever reason I’d been brought here as a set up. Then Volteroy shocked me again.

“I know what you are thinking. Why am I here?”

“With all respect Mr Volteroy I don’t think you can know what I’m thinking.” This was ridiculous. Good job this daft old fossil couldn’t read my thoughts, as they involved his lovely girlfriend and the leftover breadsticks.

“You’re right Harry. But I think your special power, if you try hard enough, is that you will be able to read my mind.” He gave me an intense stare and then started grinning at me like a Cheshire cat.

“Oh God Mr Volteroy you are pulling my leg.” I tried to sound casual.

“God has got nothing to do with it Harry. Focus your mind on me and let yourself go. I’m going to think of something and you’re going to tell me what it is.” This was madness. if I could read minds, I would have scooped out all kinds of secrets. Volteroy was insistent. “Go On.” So, I did. I just let my mind relax. I began to feel a bit giddy and then, clear as day I had the image of Ophelia being spanked by Jeanette in the loo.

“Get anything?” He purred. I snapped back into the moment. “Relax Harry. That was just my dirty little mind. They’re probably just getting a nose dusting and letting out a few mutual secrets.”

I had been sitting in front of him not saying a word out loud, and yet, we’d had a conversation of sorts.

“Why haven’t I been able to do this before then?” I asked.

“Well, like all things, the powers have to be taught and then controlled. Also, not everyone is susceptible to having their innermost thoughts read. Shame. Anyway, that’s why I want you to help me out in the business.” Volteroy leered at me. “Interested?” I tried to stop my mind from doing little cartwheels of euphoria. My expression must have given me away. “Excellent.” He sneered as he raised his glass. “Here’s to infinite adventures.” Just at that moment Ophelia and Jeanette appeared from the ladies. Ophelia looked gorgeous. Shame she was the girlfriend of my new boss. It wouldn’t be good form to make a play for the master’s female apprentice. Ophelia sat down and took a slurp of wine.

“Life is a game Harry, and everything is to play for.” She said cryptically. Could she read minds too? Were my thoughts on broadcast? I turned away from the breadsticks and jelly dip. Meanwhile Jeanette began to snigger. Wined and dined on half agency rates. What wasn’t there to laugh about.

We managed to finish our meal and almost got home before Jeanette launched her posh meal over the little bench on Wotley station. Poor old Jeanette wobbled her way down the stairs, that led to the exit, but the final step was one too far. She teetered around for a moment before doing an ungraceful pirouette and falling over. The contents of her bag went everywhere.

“Oh, sheesh. My tools Harry.” She slurred. Then I heard a familiar voice from behind.

“You poor thing, Dave help her.” It was Sally and her new boyfriend. They must have been on the same train as us. On the way back from some cultural event no doubt. Typical Sally making her new man do her bidding. Gallant Dave went to the rescue, but his enthusiastic, Sir Galahad routine, faltered as he began to see the contents of Jeanette’s bag strewn around. One whip, a large tub of Vaseline, some nipple clamps and a huge rubber dildo which, on closer inspection, was double ended. Sally caught up and took in the scene for herself. She gave me a withering look of disdain. I almost felt at home again.

“You’re pathetic.” She growled. “Leave them Dave.” Dave did seem a bit reluctant to pull his eyes away, but Sally’s good Samaritan act was over.

“Look Sally this isn’t what it looks like. I don’t like that kind of thing.” I parped.

“He most certainly does you know. He ish a very, very naughty, bad boy,” Jeanette, unhelpfully, slurred. Sally flounced away with her new man. You didn’t need to be a mind reader to know what she was thinking.

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