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(“Let’s please get some order into these orgies” – the Marquis de Sade, December 1774).
The Marquis de Sade woke up in his cell, fresh from the place of his dreams, the Chateau Silling in the Black Forest, which sounded real but fortunately only existed in his imagination. It was with an intense amount of frustration and dismay that he realised he was really still incarcerated in France’s most notorious prison. Today I will insist they tell me how long I am to be here, he said (he had been saying this for some considerable time now). Even if they mention a time years into the future, at least I will know. It’s the not knowing that kills me. They cannot keep me here forever. It’s not as if I’ve murdered anyone. They are the ones who have broken all the rules by putting me here. All this fuss over a few whores!
He heard voices on the narrow staircase outside, and hastily shoved the oversized wooden dildo that had shared his bed under his pillow. He swung round so that he was sitting on the edge of the mattress, and dragged his shirt awkwardly around his plump body. And I’m putting on weight, he thought miserably. Well, what do they expect when they deprive me of any reasonable exercise? One hour a day of pacing about the same bit of ground on my own, with abuse hurled at me from the other windows in this building of torment and pain.
A key turned in the lock and the warder entered, followed by a young maid bearing Sade’s breakfast tray. Sade gaped at the vision in disbelief, feasting his eyes upon her young peach-like skin, the soft brown hair escaping from her cap, and the little round hillocks under her bodice. She almost distracted him from the food on the tray. In all the time he’d been locked away he’d never been waited on by a woman before, let alone one as young and virginal as this. He stared at her like a lion noticing a doe-eyed gazelle in the far distance, and with the same thoughts of violence in his mind.
The warder was quick to notice this silent piece of theatre going on, and hustled the young girl into setting the tray down on the table under the barred window. The girl did so, and rushed out of the room, her eyes startled and not daring to look directly at the infamous Marquis, as though by doing so she would be instantly corrupted. Sade listened to the sound of her wooden sandals retreating down the stone steps outside, and then turned on the warder.
“When am I going to be given a release date?” Sade barked “You cannot mean to keep me here forever”.
“That’s not up to me, that’s up to the authorities”, said the warder, tirelessly.
“The authorities!” Sade spat, contemptuously “Hypocrites! Hypocrites! I haven’t done anything that they haven’t done time and again! All of them are hypocrites! I should know, I shared the same whores as most of them!”
The warder gave an inward smile at the thought of all those debauched aristocrats lining up like a row of tom-cats, waiting patiently to be serviced by one voluptuous tart.
“I could tell you of one Comte who likes to be whipped until he is a bloody pulp”, Sade went on “Now how come I am locked up in here whilst he, who you would call as depraved as me, is still out there?”
“I suppose whilst he’s the on being whipped, he’s not the one doing the actual whipping”, said the warder, in a leisurely fashion.
“So suddenly everyone is so concerned about a few whores?” said Sade “Hypocrites again! If they don’t like it why do they go into the profession? You tell me that”.
“You also poisoned them with Spanish Fly”, said the warder “It made them very ill. Gastric trouble”.
“I did not mean to make them ill”, Sade retaliated “I have no desire to create sick whores. All I wanted to do was to make them fart more!”
“The whole of France is against you, Monsieur, not just the authorities”, said the warder “At Avignon the people burnt you in effigy”.
“Peasants, and middle-class fucking saints”, said Sade.
“And there was a lot of anger over your abduction of Rose Keller”.
“I didn’t abduct her! She was a tart, and I was a trick she propositioned”.
“She denied being a tart”, said the warder “She said she was a woman living on the streets and she thought you were offering her work, respectable work. You beat her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone”.
“I have never murdered anyone in my life”, said Sade “I was playacting with her. The whole thing was pure theatre from start to finish. And tell me this, if I beat her as badly as she claimed, how did she manage to escape by running through the garden and scaling the wall? Huh?”
“I have things to do”, the warder turned to leave “I suggest you make some effort to clean your room today, Monsieur. We’re not asking much, just that you make your bed and sweep the floor”.
“Pssh”, Sade snorted “I will make my bed because it quite amuses me to do so, but I do not know how to sweep the floor”.
“Oh it’s quite easy to do once you get the hang of it”, said the warder, dryly.
“Strange, but my parents left that out of my education!” said Sade, the brat “How very remiss and lacking in foresight of them! If I am not given a release date soon, I swear I will bash my brains out against the wall!”
The warder, who heard this threat on a regular basis, closed the door and turned the key in the lock. Sade was on his own once more.
“Midnight. And the whole universe is at a party. And I am here”.
Sade paced his cell, as he had done every night for far too long. He could hear shouts of laughter from out in the street. He removed a brick from the wall and dragged out some scrolls of paper from the hidden niche. But for once he knew he wouldn’t be able to throw himself into the dark activities at the Chateau Silling. This evening he wanted to be living, not writing. There was also a small cache of books that he had been given by Caln the vampire, one of his night-time visitors. Caln had no idea what these books were, he had never read one in his life. But he had found them in the library of the castle in the rainforest, and had given them to Sade in the hope that he might be able to get ideas from which he could use to torment Kieran and his followers.
All the books had been published after Sade’s lifetime, and he found them fascinating for that reason alone. Sade was a voracious reader anyway, and he liked to read anything he could get his hands on. He felt the Russian, Dostoevsky, had some interesting things to say about religion and morality, and he had enjoyed the highly-charged scenes between the trollop Grushenka and the young priest Alyosha. In “Hangover Square”, he had found Netta to be the kind of soulless, evil woman that he himself enjoyed writing about. Although it he’d written it he would have had her triumphing over poor old George Harvey Bone. The E M Forster story he had little patience with. Pah! The idea of love making anyone happy and fulfilled! It wouldn’t have worked that way, he thought. They would have got bored with each other once the novelty had worn off. “A Clockwork Orange” would have been the book most to his liking, but he was hampered by Anthony Burgess’s droog-speak which ran throughout it. Surprisingly, his favourite of the books had been Richard Marsh’s Victorian thriller “The Beetle”. Sade had relished this bizarre little adventure story, and had been completely fascinated by the central character, the pagan sexually-ambiguous half-woman creature of the title. A hermaphrodite. Oh yes … if only …
“What’s your favourite fantasy scenario, M. de Sade?” Caln asked, sitting on Sade’s bed “It wouldn’t by chance be this one would it? Totally virtuous and incorruptible person is completely brutalised and made to hate the person he or she most loves”.
“Isn’t that every man’s dream?” said Sade “To take a young and innocent creature, and enslave it, turn it against its own mother”.
“Like you did to your own wife?” said Caln.
“My wife is still virtuous”, said Sade, bitterly “She is too cold, too devout”.
“But you’ve turned her against her own mother”, said Caln.
“Who got her revenge by having me put in here!” Sade exclaimed, throwing the books onto the table.
Caln got off the bed and slipped silently across the room.
“You had your most fulfilling time at Lacoste during the winter of 1774”, he said, snakily “How would you like to live those six weeks again?”
“Go back to Lacoste?” Sade gasped, unable to believe his ears “My chateau? See my cherry trees again?”
“Those too”, said Caln, indifferently, not remotely interested in cherry trees “You could do all that again”.
“You could do that for me?” said Sade “You will find me women … girls?”
“Not quite girls”, said Caln, awkwardly.
“Surely not this damn Kieran and his followers?” said Sade.
“I’ve got six of them in mind”, said Caln “you can have whatever you want in that six weeks, your chateau, all the food you can eat, any perversion you care to name. What you have to do is corrupt those six people completely and turn them against Kieran. By the time I send him to you at the end of that six weeks, I want them to not just hate him, but to be prepared to torture him, to do all the things to him you want to do to your own mother-in-law”.
“These six people …” Sade began.
“Five young men, not at all unattractive if you like that sort of thing. Fit and juicy and young”, Caln ran his pointed tongue over his lips “Nice arses. Two of them have a taste for spanking, And they all have a taste for sodomy. The other is a hermaphrodite. Believe me, you’ll have fun with that one!” “I would have agreed to this at any time!” Sade exclaimed “Why did you keep me waiting so long?”
“I thought the dreamscapes might be enough to torment them”, said Caln “But it’s not working. Probably find fucking Angel’s interfering. He keeps fussing about Hell, as if anyone cares what’s going on down there!”
“When this Kieran comes, I want to deal with him too”, said Sade “In the meantime, to get him out of the way, I want to put him in the hands of the beetle”.
“No sooner the word”, said Caln, huskily “Than the blow”.
Kieran ran through the quiet streets on the outskirts of the City. It was pouring down with rain and he was drenched to the skin. His only thought was to get under shelter as soon as possible. His clothes stuck to his body, his hair was plastered to his head, and his shoes squelched.
He knew full well what was going on. He was aware. This was a dreamscape, although not one he had taken part in personally before. He would play along with it for the time being. The house with the open window by the side of the road didn’t surprise him at all. Of course he was meant to go in it. All part of the game. He pushed his way through the overgrown front garden and climbed up over the windowsill, dropping with relief onto the bare floorboards on the other side. Out of that blinding rain at last. He scooped his sodden hair out of his eyes.
The candlelight pierced his eyes and made him blink rapidly. The only other items in the room were a heap of bedding in the corner. Suddenly the covers heaved and a bare arm groped its way out like a reanimated corpse fumbling its way out of its own grave. Mieps appeared, looking predatory. Kieran gave a sigh of relief, but it was decidedly muted. He might know who Mieps was, but there was no indication Mieps knew who he was.
“Nice of you to call in”, Mieps growled, and flicked his tongue “You’re soaking wet. Why don’t you take off your clothes, ALL your clothes”.
“Yes I will”, said Kieran, fumbling at all the buttons that he’d never used before “This might take some time! I’m not used to wearing this much stuff, not these days. Coo, Joby was right about the underwear!”
Mieps eyed up Kieran’s naked body, as though he wanted to take a knife and fork to it. “Your skin is so white and unlined”, he said “You will get cold out there. Join me”.
“I don’t mind if I do”, said Kieran, determined that he was damn well going to treat Mieps as Mieps, whatever happened.
He slid under the thick weight of the covers and nuzzled up close to him. Mieps looked rather put out by this eager behaviour.
“Why aren’t you afraid?” he snapped.
“Because you’re not half as scary as you think you are”, said Kieran “Just to prove it, I’m gonna suck your nipples!”
“Stick close to me at all times”, Julian ordered “If we get separated in this melee, we’ll never find each other again”.
Adam instinctively reached for Julian’s hand.
“And you’d better not do that either”, said Julian “Or you’ll get us arrested. Hang onto the back of my jacket instead”.
“I hope we’re not caught up in this one too long”, said Adam, as Julian used his walking-stick to beat a path through the tumultuous crowd in the bazaar “I don’t want Lo-Lo to worry”.
“Will you stop whining, I’ve got enough to worry about without you carrying on like a bloody old woman”, said Julian “One more whine out of you and I’ll give you a good slap!”
“Well really, there’s no need to get like that!” said Adam, and then stopped to apologise to a young child begging that he had no change.
“Don’t talk to them”, Julian snapped “Or God knows what’ll happen”.
They reached a bar and Julian dragged him in there. Apart from the man behind the counter, there didn’t seem to be an Egyptian in sight. It was mostly full of middle-aged Englishmen with suspiciously red noses. There were Union Jacks on the wall, and a portrait of an elderly Queen Victoria. Julian pulled a wad of Egyptian currency out of his pocket. He ordered two absinthes.
“Jules no, we must keep a clear head”, said Adam.
“If this stuff doesn’t make it clear, nothing will!” said Julian, as the barman poured out the toxic green liquid “Anyway, I want you as my patner-in-crime to relax a bit. No doubt you wish you were playing Maurice and Alec instead”.
“At least that’s not unnerving”, said Adam “The atmosphere here is so downright sinister I keep expecting Boris Karloff to appear in a fez! What are we doing here?”
“Looking for Mieps”, said Julian “The old bitch has run off with Tinkerbell”.
“How do you know?” said Adam.
“I just do”, said Julian “I suppose one of us on this trip should know what’s going on!”
A man got up from nearby table and gave them a very disgruntled look before walking out.
“What on earth’s he getting so worked up about?” said Adam.
“Probably something to do with the fact that you’ve had your hand on my knee for the past few minutes”, said Julian.
“There’s still no need for that reaction”, said Adam, the absinthe getting to him.
“Adam, darling boy, this is 1897”, said Julian “Dear old Victoria was still on the throne. He’ll probably report us to the British consulate for ‘not setting a good enough example to the fuzzy-wuzzies what?’ We have to get out of here anyway, go and find Mieps”.
“That won’t be easy”, said Adam “Not in a town like this. He could be anywhere. And it’s so noisy and crowded out there. I’m not used to crowds anymore”.
“Except in bed!” Julian laughed “It won’t be as difficult as you think. Getting things done is always easier in dreams”.
“Or maddeningly more difficult”, said Adam. They had only gone a little way along the street when someone stepped out of a narrow doorway in front of them wearing an ankle-length black yashmak.
“There he goes”, said Julian, as the figure marched off down the street at a brisk trot.
“How can you tell?” said Adam “It could be Dame Edith Sitwell in that get-up for all we know!”
“Here’s a good test”, said Julian, and then bellowed in a parade-ground roar “MIEPS!”
Mieps broke into a run, hampered by his longer garments.
“Right, after him”, said Julian, and he and Adam set off in pursuit. “He still doesn’t know who we are”, said Adam, as they manhandled Mieps up a claustrophobic stairway between them.
“Oh no?” said Julian “Then why did he set off like an electric hare when I yelled at him?”
“So why is he playing dumb with us then?” said Adam.
“Obviously got a guilty secret”, said Julian.
“Well really Mieps I do think it’s a little hurtful of you”, said Adam “Refusing to acknowledge who we are”.
Mieps gave a pained whimper, extricated himself from their grip and dashed through a nearby door, slamming it shut behind him. Julian immediately kicked it open again, sending Mieps flying.
“You keep him pinned there”, said Julian, as Adam rugby-tackled Mieps onto the bed “I’ll have a look round. He must have Kieran stowed away here somewhere”.
“I hope he’s alright”, said Adam, sitting on Mieps’s stomach.
Mieps was now well-entangled in his garments and couldn’t get his arms and legs free.
Julian located Kieran in a small room through a beaded curtain. Kieran was strapped very securely to a chair, his wrists and ankles bound with thick material, and the same rammed into his mouth.
“You can stop worrying”, Julian shouted “He’s in here. A bit tied-up at the moment”.
Kieran rolled his eyes and gave a muffled groan.
“What’s he done to you?” said Julian, taking a penknife from his pocket and releasing Kieran from his snares.
“Nothing yet”, Kieran said, hoarse from where the gag had been stuffed into his mouth “He just came out with some heathen wailing about sacrificing me to the great goddess Isis”.
“I can’t imagine she’d be too impressed with a little tadpole like you”, said Julian “Probably chuck you back for being too small!”
“He’s got a bottle of sulphuric acid somewhere”, said Kieran “I think you should find it. I’m not sure if he was going to make me drink it or swallow it himself”.
“These religious nutters are all the same”, said Julian, wearily.
“As you’ve just rescued me I’ll let you have that one”, said Kieran, rubbing his sore wrists “I always knew you had a bellyful of guts”.
“No it’s absinthe actually”, said Julian “Anyway, it’s only Mieps”.
“I had to keep telling meself that”, said Kieran “Which wasn’t easy to do when he started waving bottles of sulphuric acid around!”
They went back into the main room where Mieps, half-in half-out of his yashmak, was sobbing in Adam’s eyes.
“He said it was a madness that came over him”, Adam whispered, patting Mieps’s shoulder.
“Well if it comes over him again he’ll feel my walking-stick across his shoulders!” said Julian.
“Is it just you two then?” said Kieran, looking around him “No Joby?”
“I’m afraid not”, said Adam.
“The dynamic duo strike again!” said Julian “Bloody hellfire!”
He had found the small glass bottle Kieran had referred to, unstopped it and recoiled as a waft of smoke came out.
“What do we do now?” Mieps mumbled.
“All that we can do”, said Julian “Wait for the scene to change”.
“So what are we doing here then?” said Rumble.
“We must have been hired”, said Bardin “That’s why we’ve got our kitbags with us”.
“You mean like the theatre in Hell?” Bengo panicked “We’ll get killed if we don’t perform well enough?”
“Bengo”, said Bardin, in a warning voice “Don’t speak at all. Not unless you can think of something to say that’s reassuring!”
Bengo continued to look around him in anxious silence. They were all standing on a rough path at the foot of the Chateau de Sade. Behind them were the narrow alleyways and steep steps of the poverty-stricken Provencal village of Lacoste. The Chateau sat on top of a rocky crag, perched like a menacing giant black crow overlooking its domain. The four clowns, plus Tamaz and Toppy, were gathered outside it in the nocturnal gloom, clutching their canvas holdalls to them.
“I don’t know what you’re all getting so het up about”, said Tamaz “You’re got me here. I can destroy anyone who gives us trouble”.
“And don’t you dare go letting on about that”, said Bardin “We need at least one Ace up our sleeve, considering we don’t know where we are”.
“It’s not Hell”, said Rumble “It hasn’t got that feel to it”.
“I wonder who our hosts are”, said Farnol, looking up at the forbidding building “Must be weird bastards to live in a place like this”.
“Could be vampires”, Bengo blurted out, and then cast a look of apology at Bardin.
“Very strange though isn’t it?” said Farnol “Having a place like this so close to the village”.
“Are we going in or not?” said Tamaz, impatiently “It’s getting cold out here”.
They went in single-file up the long flight of rough stone steps which led up to the massive wooden front door. At a nod from Bardin, Rumble pounded their arrival. The door was opened almost immediately by a woman carrying an oil-lamp. She was plump and middle-aged. Her face was soft and friendly, although there was a somewhat haunted look about her eyes, and she appeared to be extremely tired. A soft white lace cap sat on her thick pile of greying hair, and she also wore a fichu crossed over her ample bosom. To the dismay of everyone she immediately launched into a language they’d never heard before.
“Entre-nous, vite! Vite!” she said, like a school-teacher hurrying along a band of laggardly pupils.
Getting her drift, they walked past her into the house. She took them into a main hallway-cum-sitting area, but as she didn’t offer them a chair they remained standing. The room was surprisingly well-lit, and the furnishings were exquisite, with silk wallpaper, and delicate chairs and tables. The woman put down the lamp and with a swish of her long skirts hurried to a door in the far wall. She knocked on it and called out “Donatien!”
Their host appeared. A short, good-looking man, although it was obvious his handsome looks would soon be a thing of the past. He was beginning to get fat, but there was still considerable evidence of the “fine figure” he had presented at his first court hearing. He had very blonde hair drawn back into a pony-tail tied with a velvet ribbon, a round face, a long straight nose, and disturbing rather fish-like eyes. He was opulently dressed in plenty of velvet, lace and silk, and he even wore a sword strapped to his side, as though he was determined to impress them with his aristocratic lineage, no matter what.
“Parlez-vous Francais?” he said, and when they just looked at him blankly he gave a very heartfelt “tch” of annoyance. It would have been far easier to have discoursed with his new harem in his native tongue, but Sade was an educated man, and he had honed his English well in recent months, especially from his clandestine midnight chats with Caln and the books he had been given by him to read.
He didn’t say anything else for a few minutes as he inspected them as though they were a new pack of hunting-dogs. Tamaz had caught his eye immediately, even though Tamaz was dressed in men’s clothing. To a man who had been incarcerated alone in a prison cell with no visitors, it was somewhat inevitable that he would notice Tamaz’s small breasts poking at the front of his shirt. But with the love of order and method which he had even applied to his pornography-writing, he worked his way systematically down the line.
Toppy’s clean-cut good looks and general air of fastidious virtue were agreeably noted upon, and filed away in Sade’s mind. He prodded Farnol’s stomach, and appeared to file that information away too. It was apparent that Rumble’s height met with disapproval, possibly because it accentuated his own shortness, and so he didn’t linger in front of him. He put his hands on Bardin’s slim hips, and then spun him round to inspect his hindquarters.
“Your … your … er …” he gestured at Bardin’s mouth.
“I was born this way”, said Bardin, crisply, staring over Sade’s shoulder. He didn’t feel comfortable gazing into those fishy eyes.
“Deformed”, Sade smiled, as though the thought gave him great satisfaction. When he moved onto Bengo, Bardin instantly stepped up his alertness.
“Very pretty”, Sade murmured, picking up a strand of Bengo’s hair and running it through his fingers “Your eyes are so innocent. Are you innocent?”
Bengo looked totally bewildered and shot a look of despair at Bardin.
“Depends what you mean”, Bardin growled.
“We can discuss it more in a short while”, said Sade, moving onto Tamaz “Are you really an hermaphrodite? Strip for me”.
“Get stuffed!” said Tamaz.
The clowns exchanged horrified looks, expecting thunderbolts to come crashing down, but Sade merely looked amused.
“Little girls always love to be chastised”, he said.
Tamaz hissed and spat, whilst Bengo nudged him frantically to be silent.
“Come into my study”, Sade said to Bengo “I want to fully explore your innocence”.
“Bengo stays with me”, said Bardin, hastily “He often needs me to speak for him”.
“Bengo?” Sade reacted with disbelief at this name.
“We are clowns, theatrical clowns”, said Bardin “Haven’t you been told that? That’s why I thought we were here”.
“You will find out why you are here as your story unfolds”, said Sade, with a hint of petulance in his voice “So you are buffoons? Even better. I adore theatricals, the comedies”.
Bengo and Bardin were ordered to follow him into his study, whilst the others were told to sit and wait for their return. The study was filled with books, all of them kept in order and in scrupulous condition. Bengo looked around him in wonderment.
“My name is the Marquis de Sade”, said their host “This is my beautiful home. You are to be my guests here for the next six weeks. The only other person in the house at the moment is my wife. You will obey her in everything and address her as ‘Madame’ at all times. You will be well looked-after here, provided that you do anything and everything that is asked of you. If you refuse, see this?” he picked up a large key that had been sitting on his desk “This is the key to the old village gaol. It lies here in the bowels of my house. This is the only key to it, and it is in my possession”.
“Caln sent us to you didn’t he?” said Bardin “Caln the vampire. Why?”
“To corrupt Kieran’s little chicks”, said Sade “This Kieran. He is your leader, yes?”
“No, Bardy’s our leader”, said Bengo, pointing at his friend.
“Kieran is how we all came to be together”, said Bardin “He’s our driving-force”.
“He’s beautiful, in everything”, said Bengo, who would have given anything to have heard Kieran’s voice at that moment.
“Will you still think so at the end of your stay I wonder?” said Sade “What’s the relationship between the pair of you? You seem like brothers”.
“We’re partners”, said Bardin “We grew up together. We partnered each other on stage. And now we’re married”.
“Married?” Sade gave a roar of laughter “You two are married?”
“I don’t see what’s so funny about that”, Bengo pouted.
“Oh divine!” Sade continued to laugh “Two male clowns! That’s one even I’ve never thought of! A wedding of buffoons!”
“Alright, there’s no need for hysterics”, said Bardin “It’s all perfectly natural”.
“In your time it may be, but not mine”, said Sade “Tell me, which of you is the bride? And which one is the master?”
“Bardy’s the master”, said Bengo.
“Good, that is as I hoped”, said Sade “With eyes like yours you should be the woman”.
Tired, disorientated and hungry, Bengo began to cry. Bardin put his arm round him and scowled at Sade.
“Tease me as much as you like”, he said “But leave off Bengo. He can’t hack people being awful to him”.
“I was flattering him”, said Sade “There are few things more alluring than a doe-eyed boy”.
He gave them all dinner soon after, and he certainly didn’t stint on the food. Sade loved his grub. In prison he had used food as a substitute for sex, and now it seemed as though it was a habit he couldn’t break. Even the characters in the epic pornographic tale he was currently writing ate as passionately as they debauched, in a way that was as unrealistic as everything else he wrote. It was also a very Sadean touch that the only characters who were considered sacred in his work and free from all harm were the cooks! Bardin and his crew were fed steaks, onions, fried potatoes, croissants, butter, honey, cheese and fruit.
After this magnificent repast his wife took them up to their room, an austere chamber directly situated over Sade’s own. With its bare stone walls and bare floor, it was designed primarily to keep out the often insufferable heat of a Provencal summer. But now, in December, it felt even more cheerless than the cell that Sade had vacated at the Bastille. It was furnished like a small school dormitory, with iron bedsteads, a chamberpot, and very little else. When Madame de Sade went out she bolted the door on the outside, sealing them in.
“What do we do if there’s a fire?” said Farnol.
“Knot the sheets together”, said Rumble.
Bardin had decided he should give a pep talk, to keep everyone’s spirits up, but wisely realised that this should wait until the morning. All they wanted to do now was sleep. Tamaz got into bed with Toppy, and began to whimper that he wanted Joby. Bardin managed to calm him down, and then collapsed into the bed he was sharing with Bengo.
Madame de Sade unbolted the door again at 9 o’clock the following morning. She set a tray down on the floor and then went out, leaving the door unbolted this time. Rumble climbed wearily out of bed, took a look out of the window at the magnificent view of the Luberon mountains, and then inspected the tray, on which sat six bowls of black coffee, and a plate of crusty bread.
“Looks like we’re still here”, said Farnol, a few minutes later “So what are we going to do? Try and escape?”
“Where to?” said Bardin “We don’t know where the hell we are, and if everyone round here talks like his missus we’d be well-fucked! Also, if we go wandering off the others might not be able to find us again. I get the impression, reading between the lines, that Sade wants to turn us against Kieran”.
“He’s in league with the vampires”, said Tamaz.
“Yeah, but they just want to see Kieran destroyed”, said Bardin “Whereas I think he’ll get his kicks out of corrupting us”.
“So he thinks”, said Tamaz, disdainfully.
“We play along with him until all this stops?” said Rumble.
“What if he starts getting really weird?” said Farnol.
“It won’t be anything we haven’t done before”, said Bardin.
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that”, said Rumble “He seems like a guy of limitless imagination to me!”
“Why isn’t Hoowie with us?” said Toppy.
“Do me a favour”, said Farnol “Haven’t we got enough bloody problems as it is!”
They finished their breakfasts, dressed, and went in search of a proper bathroom. To their pleasant surprise Sade was ahead of his time in being very particular about proper latrines and baths, there were several situated on the upper floors of the Chateau, all kept in very good condition. After finishing their ablutions they went down to the ground floor, and wandered about in total freedom. Madame de Sade was busy with her housekeeping, and was at this moment taking delivery of a large order of vegetables from local tradesmen. Sade himself was outside in the harsh winter sun, inspecting his orchard.
When the tradesmen had gone, Madame de Sade bustled over to them. Although they still found her incomprehensible, they were getting adept at picking up the gist of what she meant, and occasionally the odd familiar-sounding word dropped out. By gestures and pointing, they ascertained that Bardin was to go out into the orchard to speak to her husband, and Tamaz was to come upstairs with her. Toppy refused to let Tamaz go on his own, but Madame de Sade had no objection to him coming too. She had quickly formed an attachment to this grave young man, whose exquisite manners reminded her of the better kind of young courtier.
Once they got upstairs it became clear what was to happen. Tamaz had to be “girlyfied”. Madame de Sade’s private suite was the last word in late-18th century French elegance. Her strange husband had taken care to have it decorated and furnished in the best way he could imagine. Madame had then added her crucifix and devotional books. She was intensely religious woman, and crosses were everywhere. There was even a large wooden one placed very exactly on her washstand. Toppy took all this in and wondered if he would ever be able to converse with her about Kieran.
In the meantime he and Madame de Sade had a very enjoyable time dressing-up Tamaz. Sade had selected the outfit himself, consisting of a pink taffeta gown liberally trimmed with thick ribbons of lace, with a black velvet bodice slashed to show yet more pink. Underneath were silk stockings held up by lacey garters, a pair of gossamer-like drawers which were able to be opened at the crotch for ease of access without having to be removed, and a pair of pink satin clog-like shoes with green ribbon laces. His face, shoulders and bosom were powdered to hide his suntan and freckles. By the time they had finished with him, Tamaz looked like a striking young courtesan.
“What do you do at this … er … this place of yours, Midnight Castle?” said Sade, who was steadfastly eating his way through some fruit, none of which he offered to his guest.
“We just do what we want”, said Bardin, walking beside him past the cherry trees, which Sade had had planted in a very exact geometrical style.
“Surely you must have some kind of order?” said Sade.
“I guess we do”, said Bardin “Things seem to work out generally. Because we all do the jobs we’re good at, and there are enough of us, everything tends to get covered o.k”.
“But you must have a regime, a hierarchy”, said Sade “You yourself are in charge, so therefore you must be in charge of discipline”.
“Well we sort that out amongst ourselves too”, said Bardin “It’s very democratic really. We each have charges and mentors, I suppose that’s the way to put it. I make the final decisions, but I’m not the sole whip-hand. I only chastise Bengo really, and occasionally Tamaz. All this talk of discipline, you’d get on well with Julian!”
“Why?” said Sade “Who is he?”
“Our eldest”, said Bardin “He was Captain before me. It’s a big joke amongst us that he likes to discipline. He’s done most of us from time to time”.
“Including you?” said Sade, sharply.
“Yes”, said Bardin, blushing a little.
“How does he do it?” said Sade “What does he use?”
“His hand mainly”, said Bardin “Sometimes a paddle, a slipper, or a hairbrush. Very occasionally the strap or the cane, but that’s only for real serious offences”.
“Schoolboy stuff”, Sade snorted.
“That suits us”, said Bardin, defensively “We’re not into the real hard-core stuff. We keep a whip, but it’s mainly just for show”.
“And Kieran?” said Sade “Does he ever thrash you?”
“He’s never done it to me”, said Bardin “To some of the others occasionally”.
“Is he worse than this Julian?” said Sade “And does he take advantage of you?”
“No never!” said Bardin “He’s the gentlest of men. I don’t know why people like you try to hate him so much”.
“Because he peddles lies”, said Sade “His sort have got away with peddling lies for centuries. And really all they want to do is control and suppress”.
“Yes, some are like that, but not Kieran”, said Bardin “He wants everyone to be free. That’s why his own Church hate him so much you see. Because they do want to dictate to people, whereas he encourages people to live the way only they want to”.
Sade looked at him sharply. His mouth dropped open a little as though he’d been taken completely by surprise. He immediately collected himself.
“You speak so completely like someone who has recently discovered Jesus Christ”, said Sade, disparagingly “I strongly suspect this Kieran is a hypocrite just like all the rest. I have an Uncle, a so-called God-fearing man, an Abbe. He is the most prolific libertine I have ever met! No woman is safe from him! And yet he dares to worry about MY lifestyle! Hypocrite, I say, hypocrite!”
“Perhaps it is just that he’s worried about you”, said Bardin, and thought ‘with good cause too!’
Sade tilted back his head and crammed the last of the fruit into his mouth, scrunching on it lustily as though he was never likely to see anymore.
“This Kieran”, he said, swallowing the last of it “What does he look like?”
“Short, very slim”, said Bardin “Long very fair hair, and the most amazing blue eyes”.
Sade closed his eyes and a look of pain crossed his face, as though he was being confronted with some inner demon.
“He is beautiful and fair-haired, and gentle you say?”
“Yes”, said Bardin, simply.
Sade made a haughty gesture with his hand, which indicated that he wanted Bardin to leave him alone. Bardin went in at a side door and was immediately met by Bengo.
“You must come and look at Tamaz”, he said.
“Why? What’s he done?” said Bardin, sharply.
“Nothing, come this way”, Bengo grabbed his hand and pulled him along the corridor and round a corner.
Tamaz was standing there in all his finery, flanked by Toppy and Farnol, who were gazing at him like proud attendants waiting on a queen.
“Well, look at you!” Bardin smiled “Give us a song then!”
“The corset’s a bit too tight”, said Tamaz, jiggling his bosom about like a couple of ferrets caught up in a blanket “I’ll never be able to eat with it on. The little blonde guy would have a fit if he saw it!”
He looked crestfallen at the thought of Kieran not being nearby. Whilst they had been exploring their temporary new home it had been easy to keep up a bright front. After all, it wasn’t unusual to not see Joby or Kieran for several hours at a time. Joby would be locked up in the kitchen, and Kieran would go off on his strolls. But he suddenly remembered that neither they or any of the others were around, and he had no knowledge of where they were either.
“I guess we’ll just have to loosen your laces when dinnertime comes”, said Bardin, feeling as though he was about to cry at any moment as well.
“Hey, come and see what I’ve found”, said Rumble, appearing on the scene “I’ve found our host’s playroom. Not for the fainthearted I can tell you!”
Like a lot of 18th-century aristocrats, Sade was an avid collector of erotic merchandise, and had furnished out a small windowless room behind his study with all his x-rated toys. The six Indigo-ites crammed into the little room, and looked over them, goggle-eyed.
“Fancy a rinse out?” said Rumble, picking up a couple of formidably-large enema syringes.
“Shit, makes my eyes water just to think about it!” said Farnol.
“If we come across a stirrup-pump and a fire-hose I’m outta here!” said Rumble “What did I tell you? There’s probably nothing this fella won’t try!”
“Yeah, but he doesn’t seem very quick to try it”, Bardin pointed out “I mean, we’ve been in his house all night and all morning, and he’s not made much of an effort to get at any of us yet. If he’s really such a bad boy as he makes out …”
“Perhaps he can’t”, said Bengo “Perhaps he’s impotent”.
“We couldn’t be that lucky surely!” said Farnol.
“He might not be fully impotent, but he might have trouble climaxing”, said Bardin “That could be what all these gizmo’s are for. He needs a bit of help getting to an orgasm”.
“He’s coming”, said Tamaz, utilising his extra-sharp hearing.
They all shot out of the other door, which led out into a drawing-room on the south side of the house. The floor in here was highly polished, and Tamaz nearly slid along it in his fancy clogs. Rumble caught him just in time and pulled him like an elaborately-dressed china doll.
“I’m getting sick of all this clobber already”, Tamaz snapped.
The six of them went up the back stairs to their room, where they pushed all the beds together to try and make it seem more homely. Nobody called them for lunch, so they all lay down together, moving Tamaz’s hooped skirts out of the way, and felt very glum as the early winter twilight came on. They were missing the others badly, and the gloom of their situation was increasingly hard to bear as the daylight slowly faded.
At three o’clock Madame de Sade called “mes enfants” down for the main meal of the day. As they met her on the stairs she fussed around Tamaz, straightening his dress like an anxious mother presenting her daughter at court for the first time. As they descended down to the ground floor of the Chateau they noticed that the rooms weren’t as brightly lit as yesterday. Sade had particularly ordered that there should be no lights showing at the front of the house. Unnervingly this was to stress to the outside world that he wouldn’t even countenance receiving any visitors after dark. The main doors were locked and barred. If he’d had a drawbridge he’d have probably pulled that up too! In ‘120 Days Of Sodom’ his characters, on arriving at the Chateau Silling, had destroyed the bridge, their only access to the outside world, behind them. It grieved Sade that he couldn’t make the Chateau of Lacoste as completely inaccessible as that.
Another gargantuan meal was laid on in the dining-room. This time their host joined them, and announced plans for that evening’s “entertainment”. He had been working on it for the past few hours in his study, drawing up detailed lists and diagrams for an orgy.
“Is this how you do things at Midnight Castle?” Sade asked.
“We have orgies”, said Rumble “But we don’t usually plan them!”
“That might be quite fun though”, said Bengo, who quite liked the idea of being given sex instructions, provided it was nothing too complicated.
“Depends what you want us to do”, said Bardin, warily, thinking of the enema syringes.
As it turned out, when they moved to the main hall (Madame de Sade was nowhere in evidence, having retreated to her rooms), Sade said his main suggestion was for a daisy-chain of buggery. Bardin voiced the fear that such a vigorous activity so soon after a huge meal might not be a good idea. This got Sade very excited. He said if anyone felt a bout of flatulence coming on they were to tell him immediately.
“Farnol’s the one most prone to that”, said Rumble.
“I thought as much by the look of you”, said Sade “You have the stomach of a windy man”.
Farnol didn’t quite know what to say to this.
“If he farts you won’t need to be told about it!” said Rumble.
“I will want to know”, said Sade, insistently “I will want to swallow it”.
The Indigo-ites looked thoroughly astounded that anyone should want to kneel at Farnol’s backside and inhale his farts!
“Now I know he’s crazy!” Bardin muttered “That’s the most bonkers thing I’ve ever heard!”
“I knew a bloke once who used to set fire to his farts”, said Rumble, philosophically “Nearly ended up in hospital with burn marks on his arse”.
“Don’t go suggesting that one to him”, said Bardin “I don’t know where the nearest fire brigade is!”
Sade, clad informally in only a linen shirt and breeches, began to marshal his troops. Everyone was made to strip completely, including Tamaz, who was only too pleased to be released from his stays. Sade noted that Rumble had the biggest dick. He measured the length and width of it and filed the statistics away in his mind for future reference. Then he spent an age sorting them into a line that pleased him, eventually settling on the order of Toppy in front, followed by by Bengo, Bardin, Tamaz, Rumble, and Farnol at the end.
“Are you keeping his arse free just in case?” said Rumble, drily.
“You as the longest, it is only fitting that you should be the one to fuck the girl”, said Sade.
“Spear Tamaz”, said Rumble “It wouldn’t be the first time!”
“Behave”, Tamaz hissed.
“I don’t think that’s what he’s got in mind we should do!” said Bardin.
“I’ve got the easy part”, said Toppy “Bengo’ll probably ejaculate before he gets into me”.
“Oh that’s funny is it!” Bengo snarled, shoving him in the shoulder whilst Toppy giggled.
“Aren’t you joining in?” Bardin asked Sade.
“Not yet”, said Sade, which sounded like a threat.
There was then a lot of dithering as they all politely debated how they were best going to do it. Finally they all knelt on the carpet and crouched in front of each other. Sade paced up and down, relishing the pattern of their legs and arms.
“Wait!” he suddenly barked, stopping by Rumble “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like?” said Rumble, in disbelief.
Everyone broke off what they were doing and sat impatiently, waiting for this altercation to finish.
“You think I can’t tell what you are doing?” said Sade “You are going into the slit!”
“Now listen, you’ve noticed I’m a donkey sort of guy”, said Rumble “Tamaz isn’t, and he’s not used to arsehole sex anyway. I don’t want to hurt him”.
“The slit is an abomination”, Sade cried “You go in the back, for sodomy, the greatest practice of all. No slit fucking, none!”
“Then I need something to help me ease in”, said Rumble.
“I’ll get you … er … beeswax”, said Sade, slipping briefly into his study.
“I’d like some too”, said Toppy, causing the others to groan.
“Bardy”, said Bengo “Can we swap places? You’d be much better with him. I’m bound to muck it up”.
“No!” said Sade, returning with a jar of beeswax “You have to go in front of him”, he indicated Bardin “You are the woman, so you should be fucked”.
“He keeps saying that about me, I’m getting real fed up with it”, said Bengo.
“You help Bengo”, Bardin leaned past Bengo and nudged Toppy.
Toppy backed up until he was almost sitting on Bengo’s chest. Tamaz did the same with Rumble, after being gently lubricated with the beeswax, which was then passed down the row to Bengo.
“Choppsy, are you joining in or what?” said Rumble, as Farnol had been sitting on his haunches for the past few minutes doing nothing in particular.
“Oh we’re ready to start again are we?” said Farnol “Hey Mister, perhaps you should bang a gong or something to shout when it’s on again!”
He gave his trademark exuberant laugh, which made the others almost destroy the chain by collapsing into hysterics. Back at Midnight Castle they would have done, but Sade was calling the shots, or so he thought.
“If you interrupt us again I won’t be responsible for my actions. How are we supposed to get into the swing of it if you keep doing that?” said Bardin, as though yelling back at an overly-fussy choreographer.
Tamaz, whose penis was negligible at the best of times, had trouble getting it to go into Bardin. It was hard to concentrate on this when he was being rogered by Rumble at the same time. Instead he aimed it in the general direction and hoped Sade wouldn’t notice. Bardin didn’t mind. He felt he had the best deal of all of them, having Tamaz leaning on his back, breathing close to his ear whilst he, Bardin, buggered Bengo’s delectable bottom.
The most astonishing aspect of the evening though was that Sade didn’t participate at all. He almost seemed like an objective observer, getting most of his kicks out of organising them. He sat on a sofa and watched them inscrutably, not even unbuttoning his breeches to masturbate. Bardin surmised that perhaps his libido had been dampened after several years of almost solitary confinement in prison, and he was still trying to find way to re-ignite the flame.
When they had finished Tamaz got up off the floor and went to sit next to Sade on the couch. Sade gave him a couple of very light smacks on each buttock for his presumptuousness, but Tamaz didn’t react with either the indignation or the fear that Sade had hoped. Tamaz regarded it as small-fry that’s why, he had had far worse from Julian.
“Your eyes are so cold”, he said, gazing at Sade’s face.
“That’s because my soul is dead”, said Sade.
“The soul doesn’t die”, said Bardin “If you think it’s dead it’s because you’ve wilfully buried it. It can be resurrected”.
“Is that what Kieran tells you?” said Sade.
“It’s what I found out for myself”, said Bardin, quietly.
“Why do you hate Kieran so much?” said Rumble.
“His sort helped make me the way I am”, said Sade “And when they had finished with their handiwork they condemned me for it, and set about destroying my life. All I asked was to be left alone with my own pleasures, like a child playing in the mud. I told them repeatedly that I would never change, that they had to accept me as I was, but they hounded me and refused to let me be”.
“But Kieran wouldn’t be like that”, said Tamaz.
“Has this man no bad traits at all?” said Sade, sarcastically.
“Loads”, said Tamaz “He can be really irritating sometimes. Joby’s always saying so!”
“I feel soiled after all that”, said Toppy.
“Oh shut up and get into bed”, said Bardin.
“He’s getting at me isn’t he?” said Bengo.
“Nah”, said Bardin “He’s probably just peeved ‘cos he couldn’t keep his vest on!”
Wearily they all climbed into what was now the communal beds, and sank into sleep together. Tamaz slept in the middle of all of them, which was just as well in view of what was going to happen next.
Sade had gone into the study at the end of the orgy and begun his preparations. He had covered his hair (apart from a few wisps which escaped at the front) with a white linen cap, and then covered his mouth and nose with a white kerchief, like a surgical mask. He picked up a birch cane and went up to the second floor. He was disconcerted when he pushed open the door of the bedroom to find that Tamaz wasn’t as accessible as he had thought. But by now he was too fired up to back out. He was like a man possessed, he couldn’t have stopped himself even if he’d wanted to. Everything was conspiring to excite him, most especially the pure theatre of the whole scene. He, as the masked demon, would abduct the girl and thrash her whilst she begged for her life. That was the plan anyway.
Tamaz yodelled madly on seeing this terrifying person trying to haul him out of bed. The other five wrestled Sade onto the bed, relieving him of his cane and stripping him of his disguise. The children had turned on the chief libertine, no broken fingers and dungeons for them, this was not to be the Chateau Silling after all. Tamaz, when he grabbed the cane and realised what Sade had meant to do with it, brought it down hard on Sade’s hindquarters several times. Sade methodically counted the strokes, much as he had done in Marseilles when he had recorded the tally by carving it into the wooden mantelpiece of the fireplace.
And now he finally orgasmed. The others listened and watched with complete fascination as he let out an earsplitting shriek. He fumbled with the buttons on his breeches, released his penis (surprisingly long for so small a man) from captivity and sent an arc of sperm flying majestically into the air. The others could only watch in awe.
Unwittingly they had given him what he found most hard to achieve, the final climax. The situation had been wrenched from his control, and he had been swept along with it. No order and method here. No Nazi-like cold clinical planning of degradation. Instead pure human impulse and emotion. Sade, for once, and to his great relief, couldn’t stay detached. He was finally involved.
“I know you’re up here, so stop hiding”, said Kieran, wading through the dank ethereal murk that constituted Angel’s bolthole from reality “I’ll find you anyway, so stop wasting my time”.
Angel pushed down a small wall of rocks from where he had hidden himself and beckoned Kieran over.
“Even I’m allowed some peace occasionally”, Angel snapped “How did you get up here?”
“It’s about the only damn trick I can do so don’t knock it”, said Kieran “I want a halt to all this madness Angel, it’s been going on for far too long”.
“None of it’s my fault”, said Angel, sounding as petulant as Sade would in the same circumstances “It’s Caln, it’s all him. Why do I always get the blame for everything that goes wrong?”
“Because the buck stops with you and you know it”, said Kieran “Now tell me, who is it who’s helping Caln? I know damn well he’s not doing all this by himself”.
“Some jerk with the same perverted tastes as him”, said Angel “Caln says he’s one of the most notorious men in history”.
“There are any number who could fit that description!” said Kieran “Which particular one?”
“Oh I dunno, he’s got some poncey title”, said Angel “Sade I think his name is”.
“The Marquis de Sade?” said Kieran.
“That’s it”, said Angel “He was a writer apparently. Got locked up for beating up prostitutes. I said I was staying out of it. Some of his ideas make him sound like Tomce! I’ve had enough of all that”.
“I have to meet him”, said Kieran “Get him to stop playing games with our lives the way he’s been doing the past few months”.
“I don’t think he has”, said Angel “Somehow you’ve got caught up in his mind that’s all”.
“Yes well I want us to get uncaught from it”, said Kieran “For the past few days me, Mieps, Adam and Julian have been stranded in Cairo. We keep waiting for the scene to change and it hasn’t. They’re getting worried we might be stuck there. I want them to be returned to Midnight Castle, and I’ll go alone to see Sade”.
“You won’t be alone there”, said Angel “He’s got some of your lot with him now”.
“Who?” said Kieran, sharply.
“The four clowns, the little freak, and Toppy”, said Angel “Been at his house all the time you’ve been in Cairo. Caln made a deal with Sade you see. Sade would get a few weeks of freedom at his old home, in exchange for corrupting that lot and turning ‘em against you. There, that’s got you worried hasn’t it?”
“Not because he’ll turn them against me I’m not, I know that won’t happen”, said Kieran “But I’m worried what he might do to them whilst he’s trying. You’ve got to get me there. First though, I’d better find out more about his guy”.
“You’d better come and use the library at our place in the rainforest”, said Angel “I hope you don’t need any help from me though. I’m about due for a feed … unless of course you’d be prepared to let me have a little something on account?”
“O.K, as long as you don’t hold me up for too long”, said Kieran.
Sade’s playroom turned out to contain everything you could possibly need for holding someone prisoner in their own home. Manacles were put on his ankles and wrists. Madame de Sade heard them moving about from her room, but she didn’t venture out to investigate. Where her husband’s antics were concerned she tried to stay as innocent as she could. Sade was bound, and then fell into a deep, post-orgasm sleep on the communal bed, whilst Bardin, Rumble and Farnol, armed with a couple of muskets they had found in his study, took turns to keep watch over him. Bengo, Tamaz and Toppy were sent out of the way to sleep in Sade’s bed, in the room directly below.
In his dreams that night Sade had a visitation from his distant ancestor, a beautiful saintly Medieval woman called Laure, who had been immortalised in poetry. Sade had often dreamt about her in prison. He had a quiet obsession for this lady, who seemed to him the embodiment of feminine beauty and maternal gentleness. He often woke up pitifully beseeching her to reach across to him over the centuries that separated them, and to take him with her beyond the grave, away from the unbearable torment of his own existence. He knew with her he could find peace, a release from his urges and longings. His own unceasing passions and hatreds.
He was very subdued on waking from this dream, and Bardin decided that for everyone’s convenience and comfort, Sade should be moved down to the ground floor. There had been a white frost overnight, and the upper rooms of the Chateau felt icy. The six Indigo-ites were also facing the problem of not knowing how much longer this particular dreamscape would last. It had already gone on far longer than any other, and the worst case scenario was the gloomy realisation that they could be stuck here for good.
“I dunno what we’re gonna do about Missus”, said Bardin, referring to Madame de Sade “I don’t fancy the idea of tying her up as well, she’s been kind to us. But we don’t know how she’s going to react when she sees him in manacles”.
“Won’t be the least bit surprised I expect”, said Rumble “I can’t imagine anything he does can surprise her anymore!”
“I have been a perfect husband to my wife”, Sade protested “I have never given her venereal disease”.
“That’s his idea of the perfect husband is it?” said Bardin “He’s never given her the clap!”
He decided to send Toppy down to help Madame de Sade with anything she may need doing in the kitchen, and thus keep her out of the way. In spite of the language barrier Madame de Sade got on well with him, and it was agreed that she would probably appreciate his help. Farnol was also sent down to help chop wood and tend the fires on the ground floor.
The others were then left with the problem of getting Sade down the back stairs. The idea of ordering him down at the point of a gun was dismissed. Sade would know damn well that they weren’t ever likely to fire it at him, and he would be just the sort of man to challenge them and call their bluff. So in the end they roped him to a hardbacked chair and carried him down. This was a slow and precarious enterprise, and many times the air was punctured with cries from Sade of “buffoons!” and “merde!”
He was taken into his study where, surrounded by his books and papers, he became much more amenable. Bardin actually ordered the wrist manacles to be removed, although the ankle ones were left on, which meant he could only move in a hopping movement like a kangaroo.
A short while later Bengo was told to take a tray of coffee into him, and Bardin warned him to be on the alert in case Sade threw it at him. Sade had other plans for Bengo, pulling him onto his lap and holding him like a child.
“You fascinate me”, said Sade, breathing on Bengo’s face “I have watched you so intently. Such innocence. I want to corrupt you”.
“Why?” said Bengo.
“Because I want to turn you against your partner”, said Sade, now nuzzling Bengo’s ear “I hate his sort”.
“You seem to hate everybody”, said Bengo.
“No, not true”, said Sade “Only pious do-gooders, and people like him. Who think they can tell everyone else what to do. He reminds me of my mother-in-law”.
Sade had spat out these words venomously, but Bengo giggled, thinking how much the nickname of “the mother-in-law” would suit Bardin when he was at his most bossy.
“Bengo!” the ‘mother-in-law’ yelled from the doorway.
Bengo gave a gulp of terror and ran out of the room, dodging a kick from Bardin’s foot as he did so.
“Are you determined to thwart me?” Bardin stamped over to Sade.
“Oui, c’est possible”, said Sade, shrugging in a very French fashion.
“You touch him again and it’ll be you who winds up in the dungeon!” said Bardin “I have the keys now, don’t forget”.
Sade didn’t reply. He had no wish to effectively be put back in prison before his promised time was up. He sipped his coffee sulkily, and mentally envisaged what he could do with Bardin in a story.
“Sometimes talking to you is like talking to Tamaz!” Bardin shrieked, and went into the hall, where he found Bengo peering nervously over the back of a sofa like a dog who had been threatened with a beating.
“You daft … “ Bardin’s anger evaporated at the sight of him.
He sat down next to him on the sofa and Bengo crawled over him, rapturous at being forgiven. If he’d had a tail he would have been wagging it frenziedly.
“I was expecting you to start one of your stern ‘now Bengo, listen to me’ speeches”, he said.
“Now Bengo listen to me”, said Bardin “What were you doing on his lap anyway?”
“He pulled me onto him”, said Bengo.
“You didn’t have to stay there!” said Bardin.
In exasperation he picked up a brocade cushion and clouted him with it. Bengo clouted him back with another one and soon they were engaged in an all-out cushion fight. Madame de Sade bustled into the room with Toppy and clucked over them as though they were a pair of scrapping children. Toppy gave a sigh of exasperation and rolled his eyes. Bardin poked his tongue out at him as he followed Madame de Sade towards the wine cellar.
“And that’s another thing”, said Bardin, smoothing out a cushion with exaggerated care “We can’t leave her alone with his nibs at all. And we have to watch out if they start talking to each other in that mysterious language of theirs in front of us. After all, he could start telling her anything and we wouldn’t know what he was saying. He could tell her to put cyanide in our tea or something!”
“She wouldn’t listen to him if he did”, said Bengo “She’s far too kind to do anything like that”.
“Not where he’s concerned she’s not”, said Bardin “She’s got a complete blindspot about him. If he told her to put us in a giant cooking-pot and serve us up for dinner, she’d probably do it! And with his massive appetite it wouldn’t surprise me if they did! Keep her away from him and she’s alright. After all, Julian would have probably got the whip out if he’d found us wrecking the cushions like that”.
“Oh Bardy”, Bengo began to cry again “I’m homesick. I wanna go home!”
Farnol had gone out into the little courtyard outside the kitchen door and chopped some wood for kindling. The air was crisp and crystal-clear. Down in the valleys of the vineyard far below a dog could be heard barking repeatedly. Up in the Chateau de Sade, overlooking everything for miles around, they felt like a race apart from everyone else, as though they were supernatural beings living on a cloud hovering over the Earth.
“Heck, that’s brass monkey weather out there”, said Farnol, carrying the wood into the kitchen, where Rumble was preparing vegetables on the table, and Tamaz was sitting on the edge of it eating bits of raw carrot.
“It’s because we’re so high up on this rocky crag”, said Rumble “It gets a bit fresh”.
“Where’s Missus?” said Farnol, unravelling a grey muffler from his neck.
“Gone down to the wine cellar with Our Kid, to pick something out for dinner”, said Rumble.
“Give this fella credit for something I suppose”, said Farnol, loading wood onto the kitchen fire “He sure knows how to live! Mind you, I suppose it helps if you own everything for miles around”.
“That’s what gets me so pissed off with him”, said Rumble “He could’ve had anything he wanted, but he chucked everything away and ended up in the jug just because he keeps his brain in his trousers!”
“It seems a bit steep though don’t it?” said Farnol “Locking him up just ‘cos he enjoys a bit of birching and sodomy. By that standard, most of us would be behind bars too! Julian’d be serving several life sentences!”
“I keep thinking there must be more to it than that, something we haven’t been told yet”, said Rumble “But I can’t see that. And Missus has stood by him, so he can’t be as sinister as all that”.
“She’ll put up with it as long as he leaves her alone I guess”, Tamaz shrugged “You get that sometimes from women who aren’t very highly-sexed themselves, and I don’t spect she is, not when you look at all those crosses in her room”.
“That theory don’t seem to apply to Kieran though”, said Rumble.
Tamaz felt depressed, being reminded again that they were apart from Kieran. He got off the table and walked out of the room without saying another word. He walked past the entrance to the main hall without being noticed by Bengo and Bardin, who were still sitting curled up together on the sofa. Tamaz was intending to go into the drawing-room at the front of the house, and look at some small china ornaments that had caught his eye the day before. As he was passing the front door though he was disconcerted to hear someone thumping softly on it, so softly it wouldn’t be heard anywhere else in the house. Tamaz undid all the numerous brass bolts and chains, and then wrestled with both hands with the complicated opening mechanism. He pulled the door open a crack.
“K-K-Kieran!” he gasped, pulling the door open as far as it would go “It is you isn’t it?”
“Yes it’s me”, said Kieran, shivering and clutching his bony arms “Angel didn’t tell me he was going to drop me down here in the middle of the focking winter!”
Tamaz pulled him across the threshold and shut the door. They embraced and kissed as though they couldn’t believe this moment was true.
“You look so well”, said Kieran, as they both softly cried “And I wasn’t expecting you to open the door. I didn’t know it was gonna be so easy to get in! I tried to see if I could get through a window somewhere, but this house is sealed up like a drum. It’d be great for seeing off an invading army! So he hasn’t been keeping you chained up in a dungeon then?”
“No, although he threatened us with it”, said Tamaz “We’ve got him chained up instead. Well not too bad. Just foot manacles. He’s in his study. You’ve got marks on your arms”.
Kieran pushed his sleeves back down where Tamaz had pushed them up.
“Angel helped to get me here”, said Kieran “He gave me invaluable help, or I might never have found you again to be honest. And the trouble is, when you get help from the Devil it doesn’t come free”.
“Joby’ll go mad when he sees them”, said Tamaz, looking at the bite-marks “No wonder you look so ill. You’re all pale”.
“Tamaz, I’ll tell you this, when we finally get back to Joby, he can nag me til Kingdom Come if he likes”, said Kieran “I’ll listen in blissful rapture, that I will!”
Bengo and Bardin ran up to them, having heard their voices. Yelping crazily, Bengo jumped on Kieran, pushing him back against the door and covering him in kisses.
“I can’t believe it!” he wept “I can’t believe it! You’re here!”
Bardin finally got his partner off Kieran, who had to get his breath back.
“I needn’t have rushed”, Kieran coughed “You’re all in such good shape. I was expecting, dreading, any number of things after reading some of this fella’s stuff! Where are the others?”
“Round the back in the kitchen”, said Tamaz “Except Toppy. He’s gone down to the cellar with the lady, to choose the wine for dinner”.
“Choose the wine for dinner?” said Kieran, laughing “Jaysus, what a rough captivity you’ve had! Being taken prisoner by the Marquis de Sade sounds a vast improvement on when me and Joby were taken prisoner by Father Gabriel I’ll say that much!”
“Don’t give us all that old fogey speak”, said Tamaz “We’ve been under a lot of strain”.
“Yes, it’s been awful”, said Bengo “We’ve been very homesick. And … and a little while ago Sade grabbed hold of me when I took him his coffee”.
“What did he do?” said Kieran, in concern.
“Pulled me onto his lap and put his arms round me”, said Bengo “Bardy got real mad about it”.
“None of it sounds any different to what you get up to at home!” said Kieran “So how can you have been homesick?!”
“You haven’t heard about the orgy”, said Bardin, gravely “Last night we all had to roger each other in front of him, in a row”.
“Well I expect you all gave a stunning performance”, said Kieran “You’ve all had enough practice at it by now! This Sade fella sounds like Julian’s twin!”
“He’s nowhere near as much fun as Julian”, Bengo pouted “He takes things a lot more seriously. Doesn’t see all the fun and the farce in it”.
“Ach, that’s ‘cos he’s French that’s all”, said Kieran “Talking of which, what’s his English like? I mean, how do you all communicate?”
“Oh we understand him quite well”, said Bengo.
“Not like Missus”, said Bardin “She rattles on in her own tongue. But we still seem to communicate with her o.k”.
“Right, you’d better take me to him then”, said Kieran “I need to talk with him”.
“No you can’t!” said Bengo, his eyes wide with horror “Bardy, stop him!”
“That guy’s got a real downer on you, Kieran”, said Bardin “I don’t like to think what he’ll say to you”.
“Nothing I haven’t heard before, I expect”, said Kieran, ruefully.
He went into the main hall, and the others scuttled after him like novice priests following an archbishop round a cathedral. Kieran warmed his hands over the log fire, and cast an appreciative eye around all the fixtures and fittings.
“It’s a fine place he’s got here”, he said.
“I’ll go and tell Farnol and Rumble you’ve arrived”, said Tamaz.
“What’s keeping Toppy down in the cellar?” said Bengo.
“Dunno, I’ll go and round him up”, said Bardin.
After they had gone Bengo poured Kieran a cup of brandy. Kieran made the mistake of downing it in own swoop and nearly passed out, it was such extraordinarily potent stuff.
“I’d better go and see him now”, he coughed, eyes watering “Whilst I’m still conscious!”
Sade had been writing at his desk, but eventually had laid down his quill and stared glumly into the fire instead. Kieran tapped lightly on the door before entering. Sade watched him approach softly across the room. He thought Kieran would be the sort to radiate pious goodness, to waft around in a perfect aura of self-righteousness. What he hadn’t expected was his fragile gentleness. There was nothing remotely threatening about Kieran, not even in the most mild of Bible-thumping ways.
“Jaysus, I feel like a wrung-out rag”, said Kieran, grabbing the back of a wing chair “Do you mind if I sit down? You wouldn’t believe the things I had to do to get here to see you! I’ll tell you about it later if you like, you could use it in one of your stories!”
“What are those … er … marks on your arms?” said Sade.
“Angel, the Devil, would only help me get here if I gave him some of my blood”, said Kieran “That’s why I’m feeling a bit weak. And now Bengo’s just tried to finish me off by giving me some of your brandy! That stuff should only be approached by a bomb-disposal squad!”
Sade looked totally bemused.
“Sorry, I’m rambling”, said Kieran “I’m feeling better now I’ve sat down”.
“You made a deal with the Devil?” said Sade, in disbelief.
“Needs must”, said Kieran “It was the only way I could get here”.
“You want to take them away don’t you?” said Sade “So soon? I was promised six weeks”.
“If you had them for six years you’d never corrupt them”, said Kieran.
“I know that!” Sade spat “There is no peversion I could teach them! But no, I will have to go back to prison. Doubtless someone as pure yourself thinks that that is what I deserve!”
“No I don’t”, said Kieran “I’ve done my homework on you, Monsieur de Sade. Your crimes don’t signify much in the big scheme of things”.
“I know”, said Sade “All that fuss over just a few spankings!”
“Well I wouldn’t put it quite like that meself”, said Kieran “They were pretty rough games you played. The Spanish Fly incident …”
“I had no intention of making them ill”, said Sade, in exasperation.
“O.K”, said Kieran “But I agree that your sentence was harsh. In my time a sentence of several years with no word of parole would have only been given to the most cold-blooded of killers. You were a victim of your time, Monsieur de Sade. You epitomised all that the people most hated about the aristocracy”.
“It was all my mother-in-law’s fault”, said Sade “She had a vendetta against me”.
“You tried to turn her own daughter against her”, said Kieran “You didn’t turn out to be the son-in-law she had hoped for. She didn’t appreciate having to drag you out of brothels!”
“I am surrounded by hypocrites, and she is the biggest one!” said Sade “Perhaps if she hadn’t brought her daughter up to be so cold and devout in the bedchamber, I wouldn’t have needed to seek out whores! What she also didn’t appreciate was that I have always treated Renee-Pelagie with respect. I have never forced her to do anything she didn’t want to do. How many husbands can you say that about, eh?! It is all part of this lie that I hate women. I love women!”
“Well perhaps the ones of your own class”, said Kieran “Servants and prostitutes you thought of as merely a means to an end. Women to be used for kicks. You scarcely regarded them as having any human rights at all. They were playthings, that’s all”.
Sade looked at him in total bewilderment. As Kieran had said, if ever a man was a victim of his own time, it was Sade. Because he was an 18th-century aristocrat, he had no comprehension of anyone outside his own class as being human, let alone having rights. They were serviceable commodities to be bought for what they could provide. When he had picked up Rose Keller on the streets, he had hired her for the use of her body. That she might turn out to be physically hurt or plain scared by his birch-wielding antics was an idea that completely mystified him. It was like suggesting to a man who had just smashed a chair in a rage that he should give some thought to the chair’s feelings! It was true that Sade had never mistreated any women of his own class, or even asked them to partake in his kinky pursuits. His affairs with such women had all been very straight, even chaste at times. It was mainly with street whores and maidservants that the darker side of him let rip.
“And yet in spite of all that you’re not an evil man”, Kieran sighed “It’s unfair that your name has gone down in history as being synonymous with evil. I’ve heard of men who have done things that wouldn’t have been out of place in your Chateau Silling. You’ve never killed anyone, ordered massacres, nor tortured children, nor dragged women down dark alleys and raped them. In fact, I’ve never heard of you even forcing prostitutes to have sex with you if they didn’t want to. In Marseilles you even let one of them ‘sit out’ the group sodomy session when she objected. Looking at it all in cold-blood, you don’t do anything that we don’t do ourselves, except the toilet stuff. That must be an acquired taste I think! But the fundamental difference between you and us is love”.
“Hah! Now we’re getting down to it, this is where you start preaching to me. I was wondering when it would happen”, said Sade “You are a hypocrite like all the rest. You say, do whatever you like and dress it up as love!”
“No, you misunderstand me”, said Kieran “Love does make all the difference. You separate love from sex, and that’s not how it should be. Look at Bengo and Bardin. They almost have a master and slave relationship, so beloved of you in your books. And yet Bardin isn’t there to deprave Bengo or corrupt him. Instead he wants to care for him. What I’m saying is you can have your pleasures. Loving someone doesn’t stop that. It’s naïve to put such a mental blockage on things”.
“It’s hard to see how I can love anyone when I’m locked up like an animal!” said Sade, bitterly “Will I ever be released?”
“Yes. In time”, said Kieran “You see, France will be plunged into a revolution. The old order will be overthrown completely. The aristocracy, and anyone who is seen to support them, will be executed on the guillotine. For a short time Paris will see scenes even more horrific than anything you could have imagined. It will seem as though the streets will run with blood. Trenches will have to be dug around the scaffold to catch all of it! No one will be safe. The King and Queen will also die in the carnage”.
“The Queen?” said Sade, with great sadness “Not the Queen? She is so beautiful, so full of vitality. How could they cut off her head? The butchers!”
“Many beautiful, charming women will be decapitated, Monsieur de Sade”, said Kieran “Madame du Barry, that vivacious little woman who was so kind to small animals, will be dragged kicking and screaming, literally, to the scaffold. The Queen’s best friend, the radiant Princesse de Lamballe, who only ever wanted to have fun, will be decapitated, and her body abused and mutilated by the mob in a way your libertines at Silling would have enjoyed!”
“It will truly be the end of the civilisation”, said Sade “Hell on Earth. Total anarchy”.
“But isn’t that what you wanted?” said Kieran “Isn’t that what you call for in your books?”
Sade looked so distressed by now that Kieran felt he’d better calm him down.
“The Terror will end”, he said “And a better France will emerge, believe me. The Terror will act like a purging, purifying process. The evil men who instigated the massacre will end up going the same way themselves when the mob turns on them too. France will be reborn eventually”.
“Will I …?” Sade instinctively put his hand on his own neck “Will I be guillotined?”
“No”, said Kieran “Amazing isn’t it! Public enemy no.1, the wicked Marquis, will escape the guillotine! And how? Nobody knows. It will be the greatest mystery of your life. You will be moved from the Bastille just prior to the outbreak of the Revolution. You will be sent to a lunatic asylum elsewhere in Paris. At the peak of the Terror your name will be added to a list of dozens of inmates to be executed on one afternoon. You will see the guillotine right outside your window. All the people ahead of you on the list will perish on the scaffold. But you evade it, and nobody ever discovers why”.
“What happens to me after that?” said Sade “Will I know freedom, ever?” “Yes, you will have a few years of it”, said Kieran “But I can’t tell you in any detail what will happen to you. It’s for you to live it and find out for yourself. But you won’t die a violent death. In fact, you’ll get to be a ripe old age”.
“You are not as I expected”, Sade said to Kieran “I do not know what to make of you at all”.
“The feeling’s mutual”, said Kieran “Somebody once said that all in life is black and white. If someone believes instead that it’s grey it’s because some of the black has rubbed off on their souls. I have no problem with believing in the grey, because I believe it can also work the other way, with a bit of patience and open-mindedness. All in life is a grey area. We are all of us a sum total of every experience we’ve ever had, be it good or bad. To say you are evil would be as ridiculous as saying I’m immaculately virtuous, and you should know enough about me by now to know how absurd that would be!”
“And yet it has no effect on your popularity”, said Sade “The young people go into raptures over you”.
“Perhaps that is the difference between us”, said Kieran “Your wife loves you in spite of your faults. My people love me because of mine. If I was truly saintly then the loving wouldn’t work, because not only would I irritate them, but I wouldn’t have the experience to understand them. The saints are loners for good reason usually!”
“You are not English are you?” said Sade, who had been listening to Kieran’s soft voice with fascination.
“No I’m Irish”, said Kieran.
“Really?” said Sade “But you seem to intelligent”.
“Being Irish doesn’t instantly make me a potato-picking peasant you know!” said Kieran.
Sade moved himself awkwardly in his chair, and Kieran noticed the foot manacles properly for the first time.
“I’ll tell them to take those off you”, he said.
Kieran went out into the hall, where the others were all congregated anxiously, like people in a hospital waiting-room awaiting the outcome of a life-threatening operation. Madame de Sade was sitting erect on a gilt-framed chair, with Toppy and Farnol standing behind her like footmen. She looked at Kieran with astonishment, uncertain what to make of this long-haired scruffy man who had arrived so unexpectedly at her house. Kieran instructed Bardin to go and release Sade from the manacles, which he did.
“And let him speak to his wife”, he said “We’ve got nothing to fear, and he can explain to her properly what I’m doing here”.
Not wishing to appear discourteous to the lady of the house, Kieran went over to Renee-Pelagie and kissed her hand. Renee caught a glimpse of the rosary beads under his shirt, and Kieran showed them to her. Renee relaxed then. She assumed Kieran was some kind of young priest or monk in civvies, although if this was the case she found it little short of miraculous that Donatien had allowed him into the house, let alone sat closeted with him for so long! Donatien was so very cynical where men of the cloth were concerned. He thought they were all like his uncle, the lecherous Abbe. This was truly wonderful if he was allowing one to speak to him for so long without having one of his tantrums.
“You were in there ages”, said Tamaz, truculently “When are we going to get any dinner?”
They all sat down to dinner at five o’clock in the afternoon, and another massive feast was underway. Kieran ate a plate of vegetables, and Madame de Sade noted this approvingly as some kind of clerical abstinence. This didn’t apply to Kieran’s healthy consumption of the wine, but Madame de Sade was French and expected people to enjoy their drink. She also approved of the deferential way the clowns and Toppy spoke to Kieran. Bengo, her favourite of the four and the one she called her little pet, often gazed at Kieran with wide-eyed adoration.
Renee wished that Tamaz had the same respectful manner. He often spoke to Kieran in a way that Renee felt was downright rude. She decided that she had better start taking this feisty little baggage under her wing even more. He was back in his boy’s attire again, and Renee determined that tomorrow she would look out some practical daytime female clothing for him. No doubt she dressed this way to accommodate the others on their travels, but it really wasn’t acceptable in a young girl. No wonder she behaved like a little savage. Madame de Sade firmly believed that Tamaz was a girl who had been born with a deformity, a bit like Bardin with his crooked mouth. It was very sad, thought Renee, who had seen Tamaz completely naked, what with that little blemish and her ratlike teeth, she would find it impossible to get a decent husband. Perhaps the travelling circuses and sideshows were the only place for her? Even so, Madame de Sade vowed she would try and get some semblance of civilised behaviour into Tamaz whilst they were here.
After dinner Sade decided to show them the private theatre he had had built at the Chateau during the blissful early days of his squireship, when he had still been a free man. The clowns were impressed by this room, and said they had seen real theatres with much less space. The stage was a good size, and they offered to perform on it for the entertainment of their hosts. It was too cold in there though, so everyone settled in the hall instead. The four clowns performed some mime routines that didn’t require too many props, and were amazed when Sade actually seemed to enjoy these unsophisticated antics. Although at times he gave the impression that he wanted to jump and start directing it all.
The outside doors were locked and bolted at the end of the evening. Madame de Sade retired to her own quarters, where she prayed on her knees in her nightgown for the ongoing renovation work on her husband’s soul which she believed Kieran had just started. She had allocated Kieran a guest bedroom, and the clowns and Toppy were kicked back upstairs to the “school dorm” as they called it. Tamaz was to join Kieran in his bed, although Renee got the impression this was more to keep him safe from Donatien’s clutches than for any active rutting. Kieran and Tamaz undressed by moonlight, a frosty full moon which threw itself in through the small window deeply-set in the wall.
“Why are we still here?” said Tamaz, sitting on one side of the bed, back to back with Kieran “You came here to get us, you said, so why are we still here? I know why. It’s because we’re stuck here aren’t we! Angel tricked you. He got you here, and now unless he keeps his side of the bargain, which he probably won’t, you’re stuck here with us. We’ll never see Joby again!”
“Yes we will”, said Kieran, quietly.
“How?” said Tamaz, fiercely “There are thousands of years separating us! You’re even further back now than you were in your own time! It’s hopeless – why did you trust him?”
“What choice did I have?” said Kieran “Did you want me to leave you here? This was my only option. I had to rely on Angel, I had no choice”.
“Well you won’t see him again for dust, that’s for sure!” said Tamaz.
“We will”, said Kieran “Even if he has tricked us, he’ll want to drop round to see the results of his handiwork. He won’t be able to resist that. But I don’t believe he has tricked us. There’s nothing in that for him. If we’re here for the time being then it’s because he’s preoccupied elsewhere. Probably having a feed. It’ll take him some time to recover from that. He’s usually sluggish afterwards”.
“That’s just great then isn’t it!” Tamaz spat.
Kieran pulled him gently but firmly backwards onto the bed, and kissed his neck and his shoulder.
“We will see Joby again”, said Kieran “You have to believe that. Trust me”.
Sade had, without Kieran’s knowledge, asked Bengo and Bardin to come to his room once everyone else was in bed. To his pleasant surprise they both showed up. The two clowns had reasoned that his room would be more comfortable to spend the night in than the “school dorm”, and as it had a fireplace, it would be considerably warmer. They knew they would have to pay some forfeits for a night of 18th-century luxury, but they doubted that it would be much different from the games they sometimes played with Julian.
On seeing Sade in his room though they realised once more that he wasn’t Julian. Instead of Julian sitting there in his silk pyjamas, smoking a cigar, they saw Sade with his cold, fishy eyes. They were surprised to see him sitting at a table in his dressing-gown, dealing out a set of Tarot cards.
“In these the Devil is hermaphroditic”, he said “Can you see?”
The clowns merely stared back at him blankly.
“I have to confess I’m surprised you came here”, he said.
“It’s warm in here”, said Bardin.
“And you have silk sheets”, said Bengo.
“Aha, you theatricals!” said Sade, laughing “You are so very practical when it comes to the bottom line. Kieran has been telling me about your … er … master/slave relationship”.
“Kieran said that?” said Bengo, in astonishment.
“He said that”, said Sade “Can you deny that Bardin is your master?”
“Bengo’s not my slave”, said Bardin, indignantly “I don’t keep him chained up. Mind you, it wouldn’t be a bad idea at times. At least I’d always know where he was!”
“You walk me around on the dog-leash sometimes”, said Bengo.
“The dog-leash?” said Sade “Truly, you lot are amazing! There is nothing I can show you!”
“What do you want us to do?” said Bardin.
“You do nothing”, said Sade, who very much wanted Bardin to take the place of his mother-in-law in this particular fantasy “But you”, he pointed at Bengo “Will have the whip hand. The slave will get his revenge. How does that appeal to you? You will beat Bardin”.
“Oh I’ve done that before”, said Bengo “Bardy often finds it quite relaxing don’t you Bardy?”
Sade gave a momentary look of exasperation, but then ordered Bardin to strip completely. By now Bardin’s identity was rapidly diminishing in his eyes, and being replaced by the image of his mother-in-law. In his mind’s eye it was her that he ordered to her knees, to lean against the edge of the bed, her who was to have her flanks birched. Sade didn’t come out of his white heat of concentration for some time. When he did he saw Bardin sitting (on a cushion) on a chair, with Bengo on his lap. They were both kissing each other passionately. Bardin was sliding Bengo’s shirt from his shoulders, and murmuring to his partner how much he loved him.
They had forgotten about Sade. In their view he talked too damn much anyway, always interrupting the proceedings and giving instructions. Julian wouldn’t have done that. Julian would have paddled them both and rogered them, whilst Sade, ever the Frenchman, was still pontificating!
“Bengo”, said Sade, imperiously “Come here”.
Bengo looked at Bardin uncertainly.
“I think he wants me”, said Bengo “Will it turn you on, Bardy?”
“You always turn me on”, said Bardin.
Sade now wanted to beat Bengo, who was well experienced in such exploits, and as such it didn’t bother him. He told himself it was only like the times Julian had spanked him in front of Bardin. But it wasn’t. It was different. Mainly because he loved Julian, whereas for Sade he only felt a mild curiosity. He was glad of Bardin’s presence. Without him there he would have found it an upsetting and clinical experience, even though Sade’s elegant smacks were mild by comparison with Julian’s hearty wallops. He was only pink at the end of it, whereas after Julian’s attentions he had often been crimson.
Nonetheless the two clowns got to spend some of the night between the silk sheets on Sade’s warm bed. Meanwhile, down in the village of Lacoste, there was a murder.
Somewhere in the maze of narrow streets and alleyways of the little Provencal village, Caln tore out the throat and stomach of a woman. He was feasting on her when he was interrupted by a band of local men, all brandishing knives and muskets. “Diablo!” one cried, and fired a shot at Caln in pure terror.
Caln, blood-drenched, scampered up the hill on all fours, looking every inch the Satanic being that he was. He crawled past the huge stone edifice of the Chateau de Sade. The local men hung back, unwilling to get too close to him, but they fired many shots at him, all of which struck him, piercing his body like miniature cannonballs.
Bullets alone weren’t capable of killing Caln, but the sheer onslaught of them destroyed him just as well. Drained of his vital energy he crawled round the side of the Chateau, and went across the rickety wooden plank bridge which crossed the deep moat-like chasm to the side door. There, he collapsed, and expired.
The men from the village stared up at the small, darkened windows of the Chateau, and in their Provencal dialect muttered “Sade – Wolf Man”.
Madame de Sade had heard the shouts and the insults to her husband from the villagers. She ran into her husband’s room screaming “Donatien! Donatien!” and urging him to make haste to the attic and hide, convinced that it was their old adversary, Inspector Marais, who had arrested Sade before.
Sade had no time for her pleadings. If it was Inspector Marais then hiding in the attic would do no good, as that was exactly where the Inspector had caught up with him once before. Sade wasn’t normally known for commonsense where saving his own skin was concerned. Many times in his life he had seemed to deliberately court trouble by walking straight into it. This occasion was no different. If he went into hiding he would have to remove himself from Bengo and Bardin’s naked charms, and he had no intention of doing that. Madame de Sade incidentally had spent the entire heated conversation shielding her eyes from the spectacle of the two nude clowns in her husband’s room.
As it was the situation resolved itself. The villagers went away again. Sade didn’t get a chance to go back to his fun and games though, because Kieran ordered Bengo and Bardin to his own room, where he told them off in no uncertain terms. It was unusual for Kieran, the dreamy, ethereal one, to assume such a role (unless it was to reprimand Joby), but in the absence of Julian, Adam or Ransey he had no choice. They might all look the same age these days, but technically he was still older than them by many years. The two clowns joined Tamaz in his bed for the rest of the night.
First thing in the morning Farnol unbolted one of the side doors, and found it and the plank bridge covered in green slime. He called Rumble out, who fetched a bristle brush to sweep the area free of this peculiar mess.
“It’s vampire remains”, said Tamaz, following them to the door.
“Urggh!” said Rumble, dropping the broom as though it had suddenly become contaminated.
“Don’t you jerks know anything?” said Tamaz, after a shaken Rumble had bolted the door shut again.
“That must have been what the locals were chasing last night”, said Farnol.
“Shouldn’t you get the broom back in?” said Tamaz.
“Sod the broom!” said Rumble “I want to go home!”
Tamaz gave a moan of disdain and wandered off to see what else was going on. He found Bengo leaning glumly against some ornate iron gates which separated the corridor to the back regions from the main hall.
“Don’t tell me you’re sulking because the little blonde guy had a go at you last night”, said Tamaz “You shouldn’t have let Bardin bully you into going into the old bugger’s room”.
“Bardy didn’t bully me into it”, said Bengo “It was a joint decision”.
“A likely story!” said Tamaz “You two don’t have joint decisions. He says, you does, that’s always been the way of it”.
“It was a joint decision this time!” Bengo protested “We thought we could hack it, and we could have done if it’d been anyone else. But it’s him. There’s something cold about him, Sade. It seems to take him a great deal of effort to feel any passion. It doesn’t come naturally to him”.
“Why do you think it practically takes a miracle to get him to orgasm?” said Tamaz “He can’t feel easily. I think that’s what frustrates him”.
At the moment though this wasn’t a problem for Rumble. He was feeling only too easily. Shaken by all the events of the night he had angrily stalked off in pursuit of Bardin in order to have a go at him. He had found Bardin alone in Kieran’s room, trying to inspect the birch-marks on his behind.
“If you didn’t already have them I’d give them to you myself!” said Rumble.
“What?” said Bardin, pulling his trousers back up “What’s eating you?”
He was flabbergasted when Rumble punched him in the face, sending him sprawling backwards onto the bed. Farnol, who had followed Rumble in, pushed his head into his partner’s stomach and pushed him backwards into a corner. Bardin sat up, put his fingers to his nose and realised it was bleeding.
“Oh shite”, said Rumble “I’m sorry. I’m sorry”.
He fumbled in his pockets for a handkerchief, and then passed it to Bardin, who plugged it against his nose to try and stop the flow.
“One good thing, Bardin”, said Farnol “Rumble only loses his temper about once every 20 years, so we’ve got a long wait til the next one!”
“What made you lose it now?” said Bardin, his voice heavily muffled by his injured nose and the handkerchief.
“You going to Sade’s room just because of your kinky side”, said Rumble “And taking the kid with you too”.
“MY kinky side?” said Bardin “You’re a fine one to talk! You like to pretend you’re a baby and suck on Mieps’s tits!”
“Alright fellas”, said Farnol “Let’s not start it up again, please!”
The three of them sat down side-by-side on the bed, which was as they were when Bengo came in.
“Who punched Bardy?” he squawked, on noticing the injury “And why?”
“I got worked up about him taking you to Sade’s room”, said Rumble.
“You pillock!” Bengo shoved him in the shoulder.
“Don’t take him on, he’s about a foot taller than you”, said Bardin.
“Rumble’s taller than most people!” said Farnol, pulling Bengo away from Rumble and making him sit down on the end of the bed.
“You could cause serious injury punching someone on the nose”, said Bengo “You could shove the bones up into their brain and kill them”.
“Where did you hear that?” said Farnol.
“I heard somebody say it once”, said Bengo “It might have been Joby, or Hoowie, I can’t remember which”.
“Either wouldn’t surprise me at all”, said Bardin, pulling the handkerchief away from his nose “I think it’s easing off a bit now”.
“You lot have been fighting haven’t you?” said Toppy, coming in dressed in a very dashing regimental-style velvet jacket.
“Phew, look at the togs!” said Farnol.
“Did Missus give you that?” said Rumble.
“Wants to make you her personal attendant does she?” said Farnol.
“Never mind that”, said Toppy, waspishly “You’ve all been fighting haven’t you?”
“Not all of us, no”, said Bengo.
“It never fails”, said Toppy “You can’t say or do anything without getting aggressive. It’s so humdrum!”
“Humdrum?” said Rumble.
“And whilst you’ve all been fighting, no fires have been lit nor the breakfast made”, said Toppy.
“Alright, alright, don’t wet yourself”, said Rumble, getting up off the bed “C’mon Choppsy, you’d better come and get the kitchen fire going”.
After the other three had gone, Bengo gave a whimper of sympathy and threw himself across the bed at Bardin, who tried to calm him down so that he wouldn’t get injured anymore than he already had.
“Oh it’s not fair, Bardy”, said Bengo “We both decided to go to Sade’s room and yet you’re the one who’s getting all the blame”.
“So what’s new about that!” said Bardin, and then gave a mellow sigh “And that’s how it should be. I can’t say you have to obey me at all times and then not take responsibility for everything. Anyway, I should have called a stop to the whole thing when you weren’t enjoying it much”.
“I was o.k”, said Bengo “I just treated it like a routine, and there were usually bits I didn’t like very much then but I just did them. It could have been a lot worse anyway. The way he keeps calling me a woman I kept thinking he might want me to put a frock on, like Tamaz did! I would never have lived that down with the others!”
“No, I was the bleedin’ woman”, said Bardin “His mother-in-law! A psychiatrist would have a field-day with him and her! I was worried that you might have been upset by it all. That I’d have to go easy on you in future”.
“Don’t do that”, said Bengo, looking worried “I need you to be in control of me, Bardy, I really do”.
He leaned forward and kissed Bardin gently but firmly on the lips.
Kieran went out the back to inspect the vampire remains. Rumble went with him, feeling squeamish, but to his relief Kieran didn’t spend long eyeing-up the green slime. Instead they both took bowls of coffee and chunks of bread and wandered around to Sade’s garden and orchard, enjoying the bright winter sunshine after the Gothic intensity of the night. Kieran didn’t say much for a while. Sometimes the Chateau de Sade reminded him strongly of the Winter Palace, which in turn reminded him that he was here without Adam or Joby. Such a fact made him feel almost robbed of his individuality. Without them he was having to be grave and rather formidable, like an archbishop. There was little scope to show his acute sense of silliness or fun, which he needed as a kind release-valve for his intense, complex personality.
Rumble, walking alone with him like this, got a good sense of Kieran’s strong presence. Kieran only came up to his chest, and yet it was Rumble who felt the weaker one.
“Shame you and Bardin came to blows”, said Kieran, finishing the last of his coffee.
“That was my fault”, said Rumble.
“Bound to get to you”, said Kieran “All of this”.
“I thought he was endangering the little fella”, said Rumble “That’s why I got cross”.
“I know Bengo’s a loveable, daft wee hound”, said Kieran “But he’s very tough on the quiet”.
“Oh I know”, said Rumble “One thing our upbringing taught us was how to survive. As I said, it was just events got to me, and I took it out on Bardin”.
“And he knows what’s best for Bengo, believe me”, said Kieran “Even if it’s not obvious at times”.
“He does a fine job”, said Rumble “There are many times I’ve been glad I had someone as easygoing as Farnol for a partner. I remember once, when we were kids, Bengo was ten, Bardin eleven, me twelve. Those two had a right dust-up over the Christmas show we were doing, and Bengo refused to go to a rehearsal. Hid himself away in a room backstage”.
“Sounds familiar somehow!” said Kieran.
“Bardin was at his wits end what to do, and getting himself in a state”, said Rumble “So I went to sort out Bengo. He got me so mad I gave him a right tanning. He pummelled me all over with his fists, but he still went on at the end of the day. And I remember thinking thank God it’s Bardin who has to cope with him all the time! You must be missing Joby like crazy. I dunno what I’d do if Farnol wasn’t here”.
“Sometimes it comes over me so strong”, said Kieran “Like last night when the villagers were outside. I really thought Joby was on the other side of Tamaz in bed. I kept expecting to hear him cry out ‘what the fock’s going on now?’”
Kieran looked intently at his last remaining chunk of bread before putting it in his mouth. The thought was never far from his mind that Angel might well have played a filthy trick on them, and so he would never see Joby and the others again. He hoped Rumble wouldn’t ask him what he’d do if that turned out to be the case, as he really wouldn’t know what to say. “It’s cold out here”, he said “Let’s go in”.
They found Bardin waiting for them in the back corridor, hovering uncertainly as to whether to call them in from the cold or not.
“How’s your birched behind this morning?” said Kieran, patting Bardin’s backside before going further into the house.
“Is he o.k this morning?” Bardin asked Rumble, once they were alone.
“Bearing up”, said Rumble “Can’t be easy for him. We talked about Bengo, which seemed to take his mind off things. I told him an old anecdote about me having to sort Bengo out when we were kids, when he had had a fit and refused to go on in the Christmas show”.
“I know the one you mean”, said Bardin “You beat the pants off him”.
“He gave me a right pummelling in return!” said Rumble.
“He came running to me afterwards screaming Bardy Bardy Rumble slapped me!” said Bardin “He didn’t get any sympathy from me I can tell you!”
They went to the kitchen where Toppy was fretting about the sorry state of the remaining vegetables. Apparently he had managed to gauge from an anxious Madame de Sade that no further deliveries were forthcoming from the local tradesmen, who seemed to have unanimously put a veto on the Chateau de Sade. Tamaz, also in the room, was looking horrified by all this, but before he had time to say anything Bengo came rushing into the room.
“Bardy! Bardy!” he cried, excitedly “It’s Sade, he’s really weird! He’s told me he wants me to take all my clothes off and crouch on the floor so that he can pee on me!”
“That’s disgusting”, said Toppy.
“Don’t look at me like that”, said Bengo, indignantly “It wasn’t my idea! I got away from him”.
“And you came to see me?” said Bardin “By God, Bengo, you’ve had an infusion of commonsense!”
“Never mind him”, said Tamaz “What are we going to do if we run out of food?”
“I thought that might be your most pressing concern”, said Bardin, wryly.
“We can’t leave here”, said Rumble “Where would we go?”
“We could just sort of travel the countryside, earning our living as a little circus on the road”, said Farnol “If things got really desperate I mean. We could charge people to look at Tamaz in the nude!”
“And the little blonde guy could preach”, said Tamaz “I expect there are loads of people mad enough to want to listen to him. Except if we leave here we might leave our last link with home. I don’t know if I can cope with that”.
“Make or break time”, said Farnol “Whether we like it or not”.
“We don’t know how nasty things could turn here”, said Rumble “Something must have happened in the village last night”.
“Connected with the vampire remains I strongly suspect”, said Bardin.
“And yet Sade’s getting the blame for it”, said Rumble “Even though we know he never left the house last night”.
“Why are you all talking about him?” Tamaz suddenly exclaimed “If you’re not talking about him, you’re pratting about, making jokes about everything!”
“It’s the only way we know”, said Bengo, looking helpless.
Bardin sprinted round the table and caught Tamaz in his arms, holding him firmly.
“We will get home”, said Bardin.
“You can’t promise me that”, Tamaz sniffed “You know you can’t”.
“No, but I can wish it”, said Bardin “With all my heart”.
Kieran opened his eyes and stared up into the treetops at the blue sky. This came as somewhat of a surprise to him. The last thing he was aware of was leaning on the mantelpiece in the hallway of the Chateau de Sade, listening to M. and Mme de Sade having a marital discussion in French. He had at that moment rarely felt more gloomy.
And now …
He sat up, with bits of undergrowth sticking to his clothes. He could scarcely believe this was the forest at the Bay. “Oh please don’t let me be dreaming”, he whispered to himself “Please please let this be real”. He pinched his arm, which in a dream he wouldn’t have been able to do. He could hear the bleating of goats in the near distance, coming from the pen in the grounds of the Castle. He was home, he knew he was home!
But where were the others? He prayed again, more fervently than he’d ever done before in his life. Please let them all be here as well. Don’t say I’ve left them behind, I couldn’t bear it! Nearby came the noise of a medley of voices, sounding as though a group of people were all slowly waking up from a long sleep. Then he heard Tamaz yodelling.
“He gets everything his own bleedin’ way”, Joby was grumbling in the kitchen garden “Even when he’s no fucking good at it!”
“Don’t be so mean or I’ll box your ears!” said Adam, standing outside the goat pen with him “It’ll take his mind off things. Go ahead, Lo-Lo”.
Lonts walked gravely into the pen with the milking-stool.
“He milks ‘em too hard”, Joby protested “Makes their teats go all sore”.
“Let him do it”, said Adam, firmly.
He was trying to keep Lonts occupied as much as he could. Lonts had taken to roaming the Castle in the middle of the night, as though in a dream, looking to see if by chance the others had returned. Often by day he could be found sitting in the library, with Snowy on his lap, staring intently at the carpet. Adam was getting very worried that he was withdrawing into himself so completely.
“Adam, I can hear something”, said Lonts, standing up in the pen.
It sounded at first as though someone was tuning a radio nearby. A mix of voices came and went, and then all of a sudden burst out of the trees and into the clearing. Joby watched Kieran and the others emerge as though he couldn’t believe his eyes. Kieran ran towards him, and they all jumped on each other like football players after a goal has been scored. Suddenly all the other Indigo-ites emerged from the Castle via various doors and windows. Bardin made for the kitchen and stood in the doorway, looking at the large very lived-in room. It was such a vast improvement to be in here than in the one at the Chateau de Sade!
Lunch was brought forward as a celebration, and also so that they could all sit together and discuss everything. First though, Joby took Julian’s hip-bath into the room behind the pantry and bathed Kieran and Tamaz. Kieran confessed that he had started to get worried that Angel had played a trick on him, and intended to keep him there.
“It wouldn’t have been of any interest to him to do that”, said Joby, gently sponging Tamaz’s back “I expect, knowing him, he just wanted to make you sweat for a bit”.
“He did that alright!” said Kieran.
At the dinner-table Julian made Bengo and Bardin sit near him, and tell him off all the events at the Chateau de Sade. Both of them found this embarrassing, particularly when they had to relate the half-a-night spent in Sade’s room. Ransey listened to all this with obvious disapproval.
“It shouldn’t come as any surprise at all”, said Julian “They are such a pair of spoilt little tarts!”
“What did he make you do?” said Hillyard.
“Nothing that we haven’t done here”, said Bengo “We thought it would be just like being with Julian! Except it was a bit different. Bardy had to pretend to be Sade’s mother-in-law”.
Bardin closed his eyes in dismay at the predictable gale of laughter which greeted this statement. Then he made a pretence of throttling Bengo.
“Why did you have to be his mother-in-law?” said Adam “Is there a likeness?”
“If there is, she must be one helluvan ugly dame!” said Bardin.
“So I had to birch Bardy you see”, said Bengo “Which was alright, but then Sade wanted to beat me”.
“Oh Bengo”, said Adam, in sorrow “You poor little thing”.
“W-well it wasn’t too bad”, said Bengo “I’ve had worse”.
“Yeah, from Julian probably!” Hillyard guffawed.
“All of which he thoroughly deserved”, said Julian.
Bengo gave a cry and flung himself onto Julian’s lap. He was home.
“You did a fine job”, said Julian, as he and Kieran walked along beside the river in the twilight “Particularly yelling at the clowns when you caught them in Sade’s room, the irresponsible little rats”.
“No”, said Kieran “They were just trying to get comfort where they could. And it’s all your fault really you see. You’ve made them think they can handle anything! But we should be proud of them, they coped with it all superbly”.
“Hm, good”, said Julian, with typical English embarrassment at hearing something good “In all the excitement we haven’t got round to telling you, but we had a parcel-drop from Glynis yesterday. She’s sent us some newspaper cuttings as well. Remember the body that was found in Aspiriola when we were there last month? Well they’ve nailed the culprit. Some goofball living in one room, hated women, the usual old thing. Anyway, you don’t want to hear all that, but when his room was searched after they had taken him away, they found a rather lurid little collection of books, including ‘Philosophy In The Boudoir’, ‘Juliette’, and ‘120 Days Of Sodom’, by a certain Monsieur de Sade”.
“I had a quick look at those meself when I was swatting up at the castle in the rainforest”, said Kieran “Could’ve done without all the shit-eating I must admit”.
“Yes, it does get a touch monotonous”, said Julian.
“You’ve read them too?” said Kieran “Can’t say I’m surprised mind!”
“Along time ago”, said Julian “I wouldn’t have been much help to you in your homework. I wasn’t very impressed really. They were rather infantile and repetitive. Although he did have a good sense of the absurd in his humour, which is unusual in French erotica, which usually tends to be a humour-free zone. I’m assuming that that’s where the murderer got the idea for stuffing a dead fish up her pussy?”
“More than likely”, Kieran sighed “At least they’ve caught him anyway. There’s no point going over it all now. I feel a wee bit sorry for Sade. He was nowhere near as bad as some of the idiots who’ve been inspired by his writing”.
“Such idiots will find inspiration from any source”, said Julian “I once read that paedophiles could get turned on watching children’s television for God’s sake! How the hell do you ban that?! Has it all ended, these dreamscapes?”
“I don’t know”, said Kieran “Caln’s dead, but Sade’s back in his cell, and who’s to say he won’t want to fool around with us again? We’ll just have to wait and see”.
They returned to the house. As they went in at the front door they heard Tamaz and Mieps running up the staircase by the fireplace. In the library Bengo and Bardin were both lying on the sofa, gazing up at the ceiling in wonderment, as though they were on drugs. Finia was sitting by the fireplace, with his spectacles on his nose. He had been meaning to get his sewing-basket out for several days now, but he hadn’t had the heart whilst the others were all still missing. He was repairing their supply of nightshirts, in case they might be needed during the winter months ahead. Summer was over.
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