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Always Read the Contract (1)

Some of my “real” life has been spent in contract negotiations with clients, so once I got the idea for this story, it was particularly amusing for me. And I’d been re-reading Richard Davies’ superb “A Special Agreement”, and I modelled Gary on his Pete Wance, which added an extra “charge” for me to both stories.

I’d just finished “Bill And Joe”, my most accomplished worK and the most emotionally draining, when I wrote this. Instead of taKing a breaK, I was on a creative high, and got started immediately on it. This story is not up to the standard I set there as it’s simply a light tale of a man discovering proper sex and there’s no deep emotions – but I needed a little light relief. As ever in my stories, though, “Steve” is on a voyage of self discovery. And, through his efforts, he triumphs: the naive, ill-educated labourer in chapter l discovers…. well, read it, and see.

There’s a strange fascination for me in the concept of brothels and rent boys, and although they feature in other of my stories, this is the one where I explore them in more detail – it’s a pity my limited real-life experience has never turned up a “Steve”!


I’m pretty proud of myself, actually. For a guy who dropped out of High School and who never had a penny from his folKs (I didn’t have any, really, as mom died when I was a young Kid and dad and I don’t get on and I walKed out), I’m doing all right. At 26 I’m doing better than most people ever thought I would – I rent a neat little one-bed apartment, I’ve got a great biKe for the weeKends, and I don’t owe anything on my trucK and tools I use in my business. Yes, my business.  My own business.

I spotted a “niche in the marKet” as they say, and I do Kind of heavy yard worK for the rich householders in the town – cutting down overgrown trees, digging trenches for irrigation systems, building barbecue areas, all that Kind of stuff:  the Kind of small project where you need a really strong guy to worK away for a couple of days and do all the “grunt” worK, so you can finish it off yourself at the weeKend. It’s really expensive to get big contractors in, as they want to do the whole project.  So folKs liKe to hire me by the day, and I maKe sure they’re happy by really worKing my guts out for them. I get all my worK by personal recommendation now – don’t have to spend a penny on advertising. And as I mostly asK for cash, the IRS doesn’t get to see the half of it.

When I occasionally see one of the guys I was at school with, especially when I’m in my worKing clothes, covered in sweat, filthy dirty, usually, they tend to almost sneer as I’m not driving some late-model SUV liKe them. But I liKe the outdoor life, I liKe worKing really hard as I’m quite proud of my body and the worK Keeps me in great shape. And I Know that, unliKe them, I haven’t got a huge mortgage, or a loan for that SUV, or anything. And I’ll probably live a lot longer than they will, as I’m not stressed and I lead a really healthy life, not sitting all day cooped up in some rabbit-hutch of an office.  When I go to the pool I get envious glances from everyone – the guys looK at my lean, hard muscles, and the gals, well, they imagine what it would be liKe having my six- foot- something two hundred and forty pounds all over them.  It’s a bit of a problem actually – I suppose you’d call me handsome, and with my darK blond hair and deep grey eyes the women just can’t Keep themselves away from me. I’m not sure that I don’t lose a few jobs as husbands don’t liKe the idea of me being in their yards when they’re away at the office and their wives are at home. Well, I’m not liKe that – I wouldn’t touch their wives.

No, that’s the wrong way of putting it. You’ll thinK I’m gay or something. What I mean is I wouldn’t even thinK of coming on to a client – I liKe to Keep it nice and professional. And, anyway, there are enough ladies about my age who have just got their first divorce and who are looKing for a bit of fun to Keep me amused.

One day I’m just finishing off digging out this new barbecue area, and it’s been a real pig as there’s only an inch or two of topsoil over shale. I’m sweating away, and even though I’ve tossed my shirt to one side its pretty uncomfortable as my Jeans are soaKed in sweat. The lady of the house comes out to watch, and there’s another woman with her, and they’re talKing and discussing the project, and ogling me. When I stop for a minute, the owner calls out and asKs me if I’d liKe a drinK, and, ever so politely, as I’m Keen to protect my reputation as a sober and conscientious worKed, I say “Ma’am, thanK you. That would be great.         If you have iced tea, or a soda? ThanK you.”

As she goes off to get it the second lady starts to asK me a lot of questions about how much a day I earn, and whether I’m looKing for new business. “Oh yes, ma’am”, I assure her. “I can never have too much worK to do.” So she asKs me to call on her husband that weeKend to discuss it, and hands me a card with their name and address on it and tells me to come early Saturday morning. Well, that’s not the most convenient time as I usually do a long session in the Town pool then as I really enjoy swimming, but I fix to do it later on in the morning.

That night as I strip off my stuff to shower and wash away the grime, I looK at the card and see it’s in the best part of town – the houses are all really big there, three or four million. I’m so tired that night as I worKed late to finish off the barbecue area that I just shovel down a salad, and go straight to bed.  But of course I don’t go to sleep – liKe most fit, healthy guys in their mid twenties I’ve got a hard on, so I lie there and jerK myself off. LooK, I liKe women, I ’ve told you that, and I don’t have a problem in finding them, and most of them are panting to get their hands on my dicK, but most nights of the weeK I’m just too tired to go out to bars and restaurants and do all the chat-up stuff you have to do as the preliminary to a good fucK. JerKing off’s not really a substitute for sex, it’s just different – liKe the difference between sKiing and going to a dry sKi slope. You use all the same equipment and everything, but it’s just not the same.           But I need to jerK off every night if I’m going to sleep, and every morning to get rid of my morning hard on. I suffer from erections enough as it is – the front of my Jeans is always tenting out – and if I didn’t jerK off I thinK I’d die from the pain in my dicK and balls.

After a marathon swimming session on Saturday morning I almost don’t bother to go to the house – I’m pretty shagged out after flogging up and down the pool in the “fast lane” for so long. All the folKs in that area of town maKe so much money they can afford to hire the big contractors and get he whole job done – I can’t believe the fancy lawyer or whatever he must be will really want to worK away on his own yard projects, hiring me just to do the grunt worK.

But I’ve said I’ll go, and so I suppose I ought to – I do care about my reputation, and it only taKes some bitch to start saying around Town that I’m unreliable and don’t turn up, and I might lose business.

I’m on my Fireblade, and I love to feel it warm and hard between my legs. Sure, I exceed the limit – but only when it’s safe, never in the suburbs, where there are Kids playing. I’m a really nice, good guy, you Know. I just enjoy having all that power there if I needed it, and I love riding the biKe, feeling the hot wind on my body and the sun on my face.

The house is fucKing enormous – huge white pillars along the front, acres of lawns, a separate garage blocK for eight cars.  I’m not intimidated by all this stuff, though – I’m proud to be my own boss, so I don’t slinK around the bacK or anything but parK the ‘blade right at the bottom of the front steps, taKe off my helmet, and ring the doorbell – it’s one of those enormously wide, double doors, double height, in solid oaK or something. I’m expecting to see a maid open it, but instead there’s a guy in his early forties, big, powerful looKing guy, dressed in those expensive play clothes favoured by the rich – three hundred dollar Jeans, two hundred dollar T-shirt.

He immediately sticKs out his hand and says “Hi, you must be Steve. My wife said you’d be coming by. I’m George Wilson.  ThanKs for coming.”

His handshaKe is firm and hard, and he seems to be utterly assured and self confident.  He looKs as if he worKs out as he’s quite trim, and I thinK I detect the sort of ridges on your hands you get from the handles on the gear at the gym if you really worK hard at it.

He seems a really nice guy – offers me a beer, which I refuse, as I thinK it’s unprofessional, then taKes me through the house and out the bacK to looK at what he wants done – there’s an area behind the fancy pool house that he wants cleared as he’s planning a rocK garden or something, and currently it’s an untidy mess, overgrown with brambles and small shrubs and saplings. I tell him it will taKe me a couple of days, he asKs my price, and he says that’s fine. I mention I liKe paying in cash, and we shaKe on it, and I thinK that’s it.

“No, I’ll just confirm it for both of us – so much easier afterwards, in the unliKely event of a ny dispute, don’t you thinK?” I’m going to tell him not to bother, as it’s only a couple of days and if there is any dispute, it will be easier for me just to walK away and not charge him. But he’s striding off to the house, and so I follow him.

He offers me a beer again now as he says he’s going to be a few minutes just typing a letter of understanding, and as it’s hot, and we’ve done our business, I accept and sit on the bacK porch to drinK it, in one of the huge comfortable sofas, enjoying the view over the garden.

I don’t really Know what to expect – I can hear a laser printer whirring away, and he’s soon bacK with just a couple of sheets of paper. I scan through it and it all looKs pretty straight forward – I agree to clear an area of ground and dispose of the material at such and such an address, and he agrees to pay, in cash, for each day’s worK. I taKe my ball point from my clipboard (it looKs professional to taKe notes as a client is telling you what he wants doing – but it’s pretty pointless as they always change their minds and I usually end up by doing something totally different), and go to sign.

“Are you sure, Steve?”

“Yes, that’s fine.  Just what we agreed.”

“Well, always read the contract”, he says, a smile playing over his face. “That’s what I always tell my clients at the banK.”

We chat on a bit as I finish my beer, and I tell him I can do the worK the next weeK. He seems a really nice guy, and I can tell he must go down well with his clients as he’s so easy to talK to and not at all stucK up. As I drive home I’m pretty pleased, as I’ve quoted him a higher than normal price per day as he’s in such a classy neighbourhood, and, who Knows, if he’s pleased I might picK up a whole lot of new worK around there on his recommendation.

My good lucK continued all weeKend – I picKed up an air hostess that night who was in To wn visiting her folKs and who was missing her usual wild life, and fucKed her till my cocK was sore, as they say. She was a great girl, totally uninhibited with a real liKing for sex, liKe me, and as she’d taKen a room at the motel I didn’t even have to change my sheets afterwards.

The weather turned warmer on Monday, and by Tuesday when I was due to start George’s job I’d taKen to wearing my cut-offs and a Kind of muscle T, my usual summer gear. I worKed away at his place all day Tuesday, and his wife seemed just as nice as he was – she Kept bringing me iced tea, and even offered me a sandwich at lunch time.

I always liKe to finish one phase of a job if I can before I stop worK for the day, and I was still clearing the last of the shrubs when George got home that night, around seven thirty. I must have looKed a sight – sweat was pouring off me, the brambles had scratched me in places (especially on my bacK as I’d long since discarded the T), and my cut-offs were covered in dust and soil.

“Hey, Steve… Great job. You must be whacKed, in this heat.” “ThanKs, sir…”

“No, call me George…”

“ThanKs, George… I wanted to finish the clearing – I’ll start getting rid of it tomorrow.” “You want a beer before you go, to cool off?”

“Hey, that’s nice, thanKs, but no. I don’t usually drinK during the weeK as I’ve got to watch my weight.” I Kind of rubbed my hard, flat belly as I said this. Well, with all the physical labou r I do weight’s not a particular problem, but I do liKe to Keep in shape.

I noticed his eyes watching my hand, and suddenly felt a bit self conscious. Guys don’t usual ly looK at other guys’ bodies liKe that.

“Well, a dip in the pool then?” Now that was an offer I wasn’t going to refuse. I could do with cooling down, and I love to swim.

“Hey, thanKs! I’d love that. But I don’t have my stuff….” “Swim in those cut-offs then…”

“No, George. They’re all covered in soil and stuff, and I don’t want to maKe the water dirty – I must say, the pool’s in great condition…”

“Yes, since I had the new filters and pumps and stuff installed last month it’s positively sparKled. But if you go in the Pool House you’ll find some spare Kit – my sons are away at school and they usually leave a lot lying around as their friends are always dropping by. Don’t worry – we have it all laundered!”

Well I really wasn’t going to turn down this opportunity to swim in an empty pool – the public one’s OK, but even with the “express” lanes roped off on Saturday mornings, it isn’t all that great.

George’s sons must have been younger, or smaller, than me as after I’d showered away all the dirt off my body I found the Speedos in the pool house were all a bit small – but there wasn’t anyone around to see, and feeling just a bit self conscious about the rather large bulge in the front as the elastic fabric strained almost to its limit, I ran out and executed a perfect dive into the crystal clear water. I swam up and down, up and down, and really gave myself a good worKout.  When I finally hauled myself out to sit on the edge, I was a it surprised to see George sitting watching me, and I felt his eyes follow me as I walKed bacK into the pool house to shower and dress. It was a pretty neat pool house, actually – a huge living room to ent ertain in and a Kitchen, as well as a couple of changing rooms, showers, and a very impressive array of filters and pumps and stuff in their own machine room.

George shooK my hand as we said goodnight, and I couldn’t help feeling that he was looKing at my body again as the T strained to cover my torso, and I felt sure he was looKing at my ass as I swung my leg over the ‘blade and roared off.

I’d said I’d clear away all the stuff from the site, and as it was all brambles and shrubs, the easiest way was to burn it as I didn’t want to spend money hiring a chipper and a trailer to cart it all away in. The next morning I made a big heap of it in the centre of the cleared area, well away from anything else so there was no risK, and set fire to it.  I watched it carefully, my shovel ready t beat out any flying sparKs, when suddenly there was a huge “whoosh” and a jet of flame shot in the air! Before I could do anything, it had sent some of the material I was burning flying, and some of it landed on the pool house and its roof caught fire.

The Fire Department came with amazing swiftness, but, even so, the pool house burned down. It seems that my bonfire was right on top of the gas pipe feeding the pool heating system, and as the fire was so hot with all the brambles and stuff, it melted the gas pipe.

Well, George, when he got home, was not exactly pleased, but he didn’t scream or shout or anything. He just Kind of shrugged, and said something liKe “Well, these things do happen from time to time on construction sites, I suppose. It’s annoying that the pool will be out of action for the summer, but we’ll just have to rebuild.” I thought he tooK it rather well.

It didn’t seem to affect my business, though, and I did get some enquiries from the neighbourhood – the fire story in the local paper got my name mentioned, and, as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity!

It was a real shocK when, about four weeKs later, I got a letter from George enclosing estimates for rebuilding the pool house of about two hundred and fifty thousand!  I called him at once, and he was happy to see me, and I raced over there on my ‘blade (and this time I thinK I did exceed the limit, even in the suburbs!).

He was charming and affable as he had been before.  “A beer… No, iced tea, isn’t it Steve?”

“Yes… No, thanKs… I’d rather get this over with. LooK, you can’t possibly expect me to pay for the pool house.  It was an accident.”

“Well I’m afraid that the insurance company doesn’t see it that way. They say it was caused by ‘contractor negligence’.”

“But I was really careful….”

“But did you research the lines of the services on the site, get the plans. Call th e gas and electric companies?”

“No… All I was doing was clearing a bit of ground for you.”

“Well I’m afraid your actions were indeed negligent, then. LooK…”

He got out his copy of the one page letter we’d both signed, and there, in blacK and white, it said something liKe “The contractor agrees to taKe all reasonable precautions to execute the worK in a professional way, and to leave the site clean and tidy at the end of the contract, with no disturbance to the client’s normal enjoyment of his property. The contractor agrees to pay liquidated damages up to the value of the necessary reinstatement costs if these conditions are met, but shall not be liable for consequential loss of whatever nature.”

“I told you to always read the contract, Steve. Here you clearly agree to taKe ‘all reasonable precautions’. And if you’re planning a major fire, any court would construe those precautions as enquiring about things liKe gas lines and the liKe.”

“Yes, but it says I’m not liable to pay consequential loss… I’m not responsible for the consequences of the fire, the loss of the pool house.”

“Sorry, Steve! Always read the contract! ‘Consequential loss’ is loss that follows on from the direct consequences of your action. I can’t asK you to pay for the loss of my enjoyment of the pool this summer, for example. But the ‘liquidated damages up to the value of the necessary reinstatement…’ means that you have agreed to leave me in the same position as I was before you started. That includes reinstating the pool house bacK to its former state.”

“But I haven’t got two fifty K!” “Then your liability insurance…”

“LooK, George, I’m a one-man show. I don’t have liability insurance…”

“Then, Steve, I’m afraid the outlooK is bleaK for you. Have you heard of this State’s ‘Indentured Service’ laws?”

“Yes, Kind of. It’s when criminals get out of jail early, and agree to worK on social projects, or something.. .but what’s that got to do with me?”

“Well it’s a bit more complicated than that. Certainly criminals can use the ISL – as we call the indentured Service Laws – but their applicability is wider than that. It was decided that there were too many instances of people simply walKing away from their responsibilities, too many instances of unfair burdens falling on the tax payers, and insurers, and the liKe. In the old days, you could just have declared yourself insolvent as you can’t pay the two fifty K, and after a couple of years could apply to have your insolvency lifted, and walKed away with a clean slate. My insurers would then have had to picK up the bill for the pool house.”

“But now the insolvency laws worK differently – as you can’t pay, you have to go to an agency empowered to offer finance under the ISL. They pay your debtors, and then, in turn you worK for that ISL Agency until you have cleared the debt. That’s why you hear of so many criminals doing it – rather than locK them up, for all non-violent crimes they now have to pay their victims damages, then worK for an ISL Agency who has paid over the money until they have repaid it. Everyone gains – the taxpayer doesn’t have to picK up bills that are properly someone else’s problem, victims and creditors get paid, the ISL Agency maKes a small, state-approved profit, and it’s generally good for the debtor, who learns to shoulder his responsibilities properly.”

“But what happens to me….”

“It’s up to you. If you do nothing, I will sue you for the two fifty K, and ultimately the court will declare you insolvent, and allocate you to an ISL Agency. They will pay me, and you will worK for the Agency until you have repaid them.  But I wouldn’t recommend it.”

“Why not?”

“LooK, I shouldn’t really be advising you. I’m your creditor, a party to all of this. Go and talK to a good lawyer, if you want to avoid trouble.”

“No, George, please… Can you tell me at least what I ought to asK him?”

“Hmmm… You could perhaps asK about the Kind of worK that court-appointed ISL Agencies find for their people. You might not liKe what you hear!”

“What Kind of things?”

“Oh, for young, strong, healthy looKing men liKe you, the mines pay best and the Agency wants paying bacK as quicKly as possible. But most worKers don’t liKe worKing, and living, underground.”

“You’re Kidding…”

“No. ISL worKers can get treated pretty badly, and if they live underground in the mine, its closer to where they worK at the face, so they can worK longer hours. And they can’t walK off the job, either, as they’re not allowed in the lifts up the mine shaft.”

“So is that my only option?”

“No, you could go to one of the private Agencies.” “Private Agencies?”

“Yes. They’re liKe sophisticated loan companies, really. You borrow however much you need to pay your debts, then you worK for the Agency until you’ve repaid them.”

“It sounds just the same as the court-appointed ones…”

“Well they all operate under the same laws. The difference is that when you negotiate a loan from a voluntary ISL Agency, you can specify things liKe the Kind of worK you want to do, the areas of the country you’re prepared to worK in, and so on.”

“So no mines…”

“Not unless you want to. Some men do, of course – they do pay well. And they liKe the comradeship, so I’m told – all those sweaty bodies, always together…”

“You seem to Know a great deal about all this, George.”

“Yes, I’m the BanK’s VP in charge of lending operations, and one of my responsibilities is overseeing our Agency business – we’re one of the largest voluntary Agencies in the State.”

“So what should I do?”

“Steve, I can’t advise you. It would be unethical, given my position as principal debtor – I assume you don’t owe any other large sums of money? And, anyway, I’m not sure you’d taKe my advice – I advised you before, remember, to always read the contract!”

Well, I left after that, rather shaKen! I rode straight around to my friend Rob’s house – he’s one of the only guys I’ve Kept up with since school. He went to college, an he’s got a smal l house in the ‘burbs where he lives with his wife, Sue, and their new baby. He worKs really hard, though, very long hours, as he’s a trainee at a local firm of accountants.                                                                                  He’d only just got home when I arrived, and was eating dinner, and wasn’t all that pleased to see me – Sue thinKs I’m a bad influence on him as I try and lure him away for hunting trips and such liKe.  So he doesn’t liKe me calling there as he gets grief afterwards, and we usually meet at my place, or at a bar.

It told him the whole story, and all the time I could see Sue giving him looKs that said “See, I always told you he was trouble! Now, get him out of here!” Fortunately the Kid woKe up and started screaming, and that left Rob and me alone as Sue went off to deal with it.

“Is this all true, Rob?”

“Well, basically, yes. It’s a lot more complex, actually, as if you’re worKing for a state-approved agency you’re allowed certain tax exemptions, and in turn…”

“No, I mean do you thinK I’ll have to pay? And should I go to one of these voluntary places?”

“LooK, Steve, I told you to get a proper contract put together when you started your business, and to taKe out insurance… But you said you wanted to Keep costs down, and didn’t believe in all that professional crap. How did you thinK that made me feel, worKing in a profession?”

“Hey, Rob, I’m sorry…”

“But, yes, I thinK you are liable and do have to pay. I assume you don’t have two fifty K?”

“No! You Know that! I rent. And most of my stuff’s not worth more than about twenty, in total. Manual labour, even when you’re worKing for yourself, doesn’t pay all that well you Know.”

“Well, from what  I’ve heard, I’d Keep out of the courts.  If you’re declared insolvent and have to go to one of the court-appointed agencies, you will end up worKing at whatever they choose, wherever they choose. So I thinK I agree with that George – your best bet is to go to a voluntary place and negotiate.”

“Will you come with me, Rob?”

“Hell, no, Steve… I’m up to my eyeballs at the office….”

“Please, Rob – we’ll be talKing numbers, and everything…”

“You’ll owe me big time, then. Sue won’t liKe it. And when you get out, or whatever it’s called,  I’ll expect you to do the yard for me!”.

Rob called one of his colleagues and I heard them discussing on the phone who were the best agencies, and we agreed to meet at one of them the next morning, at l0:00.  I’d wanted to delay, as I had another job on, but Rob said it would be best if we got it over with. So the next morning I showered and dressed in my best Jeans and a sports shirt, and tooK the ‘blade down in to the city centre. I must have been very worried, secretly – although I woKe up with a

hard-on as usual I didn’t need to jerK off to get rid of it… It Kind of went away of its own accord.

We met in the lobby of one of those huge corporate banK buildings – all glass and marble, and the receptionist told us that ISL loans were on the fifteenth floor. Another receptionist there tooK my name, and Rob and I only had to wait for a few minutes before we were shown into an office with a young guy, about our age, behind the desK.

“Mr Travis, Mr Jones… Do have a seat. I’m Darren Taylor, Loans Officer, now, what can I do for you gentlemen?”

Rob said “My friend Steve’s here in trouble, Darren. Faced with insolvency for two fifty K. We thinK it’s better he negotiates a voluntary deal with an agency liKe yours, rather than be sentenced by the court when he’s made formally insolvent – his total assets are only around twenty.”

“Quite so, Mr Jones. Very wise, if I may so. You hear terrible things about some of those contracts that the worKers have to go to when the court orders it.”. Then he looKed at me and said “However, Steve, there are some important differences in the way that a voluntary agency and a court-appointed one worKs. Do you fully understand?”

“Hell, no, Darren….”

“Hey, boy! Proper respect…”  He stopped in mind sentence, looKed at Rob, and said. “Sorry for that, but a lot of men who come in here don’t realise that as indentured worKers they’ll be expected to worK in service industries and so on, and will need to show proper respect. I’d suggest your friend starts now to get the right attitude.” Then he looKed at me, and said, in a cold tone, “Mr Taylor to you, boy!”

Well I didn’t liKe the way he was calling me “boy”, but there didn’t seem to be much point in arguing with him.  So I went on “No, Mr Taylor, I don’t understand…”

“Well, Steve, the primary differences are that with a court-appointed contract there’s always a fixed limit: you owe two fifty, the court decides the worK you are going to do, that pays a fixed rate, and so they worK out your sentence, exactly. With a voluntary agreement you have a choice of worK, and you usually only contract to do it for a year at a time for an agreed payment. The money you owe the agency is a commercial loan and that payment is deducted from it, and so on for the next year, when you have a different job.”

Well, it sounded much the same to me, but the detail didn’t sound all that important, so I just nodded.

“So does your friend want to go ahead, Mr Jones?”

I didn’t Know why he didn’t asK me, but Rob just replied “Yes, we talKed it all through last night. It’s the only way out for him.”

“Right then, let’s just get out a standard contract…”

The two men then started to fill it in together, almost ignoring me. Rob Knew my name, age, address, and that I needed to borrow two fifty K (he’d advised me to ignore the value of my own stuff – he’d Keep it for me in his garage). Then it got interesting.

“Now, does he want to accept clause l7, relating to non-performance?” “Oh yes.”

“Hey, what’s that?”  I cut in.

Both men looKed at me – they’d been having this Kind of “professional” talK, and didn’t seem to liKe me interfering.

“Boy, it’s about what happens if you fail to do what you’ve agreed in all the earlier parts. It gives your employer the right to impose punishments. If you don’t agree to that, you’ll find the range of contracts on offer is severely restricted.”


“Now, the worK…. I assume he has no qualifications, no degree….”

“Oh no! He’s not stupid, just dropped out of High School. So it will just be labouring…” Well, I was glad Rob thought that of me, at least.

“Right… Now, labourers typically get sixty to seventy K. So he’s looKing at about four years. Unless, that is, he’s prepared to taKe on some of the jobs with higher rates…”

“Yes!”, I cut in.

“Mr Jones, I do earnestly recommend to your friend that he learns to be more respectful. Many employers won’t liKe the way he cuts in liKe that… It’s not the way of indentured employees, and he’s agreed to the punishment clause….”

“Steady, Steve”, Rob said.  “Now, Darren, perhaps you could explain….”

“Well the better paying jobs in the labourer category typically tend to involve worK a lot of men find less palatable. WorK in the sex-related industries, primarily – looKing at your friend, he’d be a candidate as bar tender in a women-only bar, worKing stripped to the waist. Or as a male stripper. Or, of course, if he’s eager to Keep his sentence as short as possible, he could always go big time and sign up as a registered sex worKer – he could maKe enough then to pay off within a year.”

“Hey, Steve….” Rob turned to me.  “How about it?  We always call you ‘Steve The Stud’… How about signing up as a registered sex worKer, and getting this whole thing over in a year?”

“No way, Rob! And I’m not showing off my body to a load of women, either.  You can forget all that…. “  I saw Darren, Mr Taylor, flinch a bit when I called Rob “Rob”, but let it pass.  I don’t Know why I was so angry, as I’ve got a nice body and I liKe women, but, well, somewhere inside me, it as Kind of masculine pride.”

The two men talKed some more, then Darren and Rob sat bacK in their chairs. “So, that’s it then. All your friend as to do is put his marK in the contract…”

Darren, Mr Taylor as I tried to thinK of him, pushed it towards me over the desK. I reached for a pen, but he stopped me. “Read it, boy. Always read the contract. And you do n’t sign it – indentured servants put their thump prints on contracts, so there can be no mistaKe about whether it was indeed them who signed if there’s ever a dispute.”

I looKed and saw there was a Kind of pre-inKed space at the bottom, and, pretty pissed off with both of them and the way they’d mostly ignored me, I just pushed my thumb down into it.

“That’s it, then, Mr Jones. ThanK you… Just have your friend bacK here one weeK from today- there’s a mandatory cooling off period – then we’ll all go over to the court and get it registered, and then the banK will release the money.”

He shooK hands with Rob, but just ignored me. “One last thing, though… Boy, undress.”

I thought I’d heard wrong, so I just sat there.

“Boy, I’ve warned you before. You’ve got to act liKe a proper indentured servant, or you’ll be in big trouble.  When your employer gives you an order, you do it.”

“But I thought you said ‘undress’….”

“I won’t tell you again! Respect! That’s what the marKet expects in indentured servants. Now, try that again, with a ‘Please, sir…” at the front.”

“Please, sir, did you say ‘undress’?”

“Yes, boy. And be quicK about it. The banK is maKing a considerable investment in you and your only asset is your body. I need to inspect it, to maKe sure there are no major problems that would harm the possibility of us being able to sell your labour and get a return on our loan.”

I was in shocK.

To be continued …

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