“Shit, it’s cold,” I mumbled as I parked my truck behind the construction site. March in Montreal is never warm, but this year was particularly cold and it was getting us behind schedule.
Four o’clock in the morning was brutal, but in this weather it was insane. I had to take my glove off to turn the key in the padlock, and my fingers froze numb in two seconds.
I had to check those traps before the other guys came into work at six. I could’ve asked one of the younger guys but, as foreman, I thought it’d be pretty lame to get them to do the shitty job of exterminating our little friends— if there were any— before we closed the walls, so here I was, freezing my balls off. There was no one to warm my bed or wait for me anyway.
Closing the door behind me as quickly as possible, I stopped for a second to get my bearings and turn my flashlight on. I couldn’t see a thing, but I could hear something. Grunting? Mice didn’t grunt, did they? Rats or raccoons, on the other hand, who knew…? Sweeping the beam of light around, my boot caught on a wire or something, and I stumbled right into a piece of drywall that had been put there temporarily. I just remembered its presence as I fell with it and landed in what would be the next room. My flashlight flew out of my hand and switched off. The racket it created echoed in the skeleton construction. Dust and crud flew up my nose and made me sneeze.
“Fucking fuck!” Yeah, I know, my vocabulary is remarkable.
As I lay there catching my breath, the grunting seemed much closer. Since meeting grunting rodents was not on my bucket list, I fumbled until I found my flashlight and clicked it back on.
The grunting got louder as I turned around to the most unexpected vision on a construction site at four in the morning.
I heard a gasp and knew it was mine, because the guy tied up on the ground had a gag in his mouth and was wearing a blindfold.
“Guess I found the source for the grunting noises.” All thoughts of killing rodents vanished. I bent down and removed his blindfold.
The most beautiful pale brown, almost golden eyes I had ever seen were throwing daggers at me. If looks could kill…
I admit I was completely frozen in place. It’s not just that the guy was tied up. It was the intricate rope work holding him immobile that was worth a closer look. Thick rope was keeping him on his stomach, wrapped four times over, starting from his neck then tied in complicated knots, reaching both his arms, maintaining them tightly behind his back, going under him at the hips and coming up to wrap around his legs, bent at the knees, all the way to his ankles stretched over his back and ass. The rope was coiled around his limbs many times before continuing on its journey all over his body, which was just muscle and more muscle.
Oh yeah, did I mention he was stark-naked? What the hell was I interrupting?
His grunting and angry stare got me to refocus on the situation. I removed the gag.
The man spat out: “Get me the fuck outta here!” Then, like an afterthought, he added, “Who sent you?”
“No one sent me! What about you? Are you hurt? Should I call the cops?” I asked, as I took my gloves off and reached for my knife. There weren’t any visible injuries.
“No cops. Absolutely no cops. Just untie me,” he grumbled. He stopped moving suddenly. It almost looked like he was sniffing my hand… I was suddenly overly conscious of the strawberry-scented soap I used. Not very manly, but too late for a second first impression. His eyes closed slowly, in pleasure or in pain, it was hard to tell.
“What the hell are you doing here? Who did this to you? Should I call someone?” I was working on cutting the rope but it was really thick, the kind used for mooring small boats. His body should’ve been cold, but his skin was hot, like the blood coursing underneath was boiling. His skin was burning me. He couldn’t have been there long.
“Never mind, just get me free so I can get the hell outta here. You never saw me, you understand?” he said, his voice rasping and his eyes hard.
“What are you doing here?” I asked one more time. The rope across his back was finally cut enough that he could free his arms. He immediately put his hands on the floor near his shoulders and yanked himself up and twisted so he was sitting. He grabbed my knife from my hands— “Hey!”— and cut his feet free. “You never saw me, got it? I was already gone when you got here,” he said through gritted teeth.
In a second he was standing up, throwing the knife down, his package right in my face— fuck me— before he spun around and ran for the door. “I wish I could stay, but…” he called over this shoulder.
“Wait! You’ll freeze!” I yelled as I got up and started after him. The door slammed behind him before I reached the entrance. When I opened the door, he was gone. Vanished. I stepped out and looked around. The street was empty. It was dark but the streetlamps were still on at this hour. I walked behind the building to the alley, but all I saw was a big dog running at the other end. The guy was really gone.
I stood there, wondering what the hell had just happened.
The bitter cold got me back into the building. I went to the small room and wondered what to do with the rope. Should I get rid of it? Show it to my boss when he came in?
Should I call the police? And tell them what? This gorgeous guy was tied up on the floor and when I cut him free, he ran outside naked at minus twenty-two degrees and vanished into thin air? Yeah, right.
There was no way the guy could survive in this weather more than a few minutes without suffering at least major frostbite. My gut churned as I went back out to my truck. I drove around the neighborhood for fifteen minutes, slowing down at cramped spaces in alleyways in case hypothermia had set in and he had taken refuge somewhere against the wind. Nothing.
Maybe he lived somewhere nearby. Maybe this was a stupid prank. But the guy wasn’t college-age. He was close to my age, early thirties at least. You don’t play stupid pranks on your friends at that age, not if you’re smart or experienced enough to know he could have seriously suffered in this cold. The heating appliances we kept in the building were turned off during the night. And why was I even worried about a perfect stranger?
I went back to work; there wasn’t anything I could do for the guy now. Although getting his number would have been nice. The man was simply beautiful and there was a chance his eyes were even more breathtaking when they weren’t spewing pure rage. I would’ve liked the opportunity to see for myself.
At least I got fodder for the next few whacking off sessions.
Once back in the building, I went in search of the rodent traps I had set the night before. A couple of mice had bit the dust, pun intended. We’d be able to close the walls later today.
I was in the back of the building when I heard someone come in. It wasn’t even five yet. Who was here this early?
I stopped in my tracks when I heard what sounded like my boss George whisper: “Where the fuck is he?”
Someone answered: “He’s gone, the rope’s cut.”
“Ssshhh, Tom’s truck’s outside, moron,” George whispered. Then much louder: “Tom? You in here?”
Well, I couldn’t very well hide, now could I?
“George? Is that you?” I yelled as I walked toward them. I heard the front door close. When I got to the entrance, George was alone.
“Starting pretty early this morning?” he asked with a tight smile.
I held up the two traps. “Thought I’d clear these away before the other guys came in. What are you doing here?”
“I was gonna do the same thing,” he answered flatly. We both knew that was a lie. No way the contractor was gonna get up at four-thirty in the morning to come clean up vermin. That was my job. Plus, as far as I knew, George hadn’t even known I’d set traps the night before. He could have guessed, it had had to be done, but I doubted it.
“Say, do you know what happened to this wall here?” he asked, pointing to the fallen drywall.
“No, it was like that when I came in.” The lie just flowed from my lips. The image of those amber eyes telling me I’d never seen them was still at the forefront of my mind. I walked over to the broken drywall when George took a step toward it, blocking me. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it. In fact, I’ll get whoever’s responsible for leaving it there to clean it up. Why don’t you go get us some coffees while I turn on the heat?”
“Sure, let me just get rid of these,” I said, holding up the traps with the dead mice splattered on them. I threw the traps in the container in the alley.
I got in my truck feeling odd, scared even. George obviously had something to do with the tied-up guy and his accomplice had taken off before I had gotten to the entrance. I drove to the Second Cup a couple of blocks over.
As I washed my hands in the coffee shop washroom, I went through the events.
Someone had tied up a guy, taking great care in the knots so it would have been impossible for him to get free or even to move around. The guy had disappeared in minus twenty-degree weather without clothes or shoes. And he specifically told me not to tell anyone I had seen him or to call the cops. Hence my lie to George after he and someone whose voice I didn’t hear enough to recognize came in looking for him. Maybe George was part of some weird BDSM sex club that dealt with ropes and stuff. Not my thing, but who am I to judge? Then again, why bring a member to the construction site? Didn’t they have private, secure places for that? And there was that question: who sent you; not who are you.
I could just bet the rope cuttings would be gone by the time I returned to the site with the coffees.
I was right. When I handed George his double espresso latte, the room next to the entrance had been cleaned of any evidence that there ever was a man tied up like a pretzel in there.
The guys started trickling in around six and we were very busy the whole day. I didn’t think of Mr. Mystery again until I left around four that afternoon. I was exhausted, but I had promised my grandmother I’d visit her after work that day.