Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

Hat Trick
Book 2 of the Bradford Exiles series
Wes Boyd
©2004, ©2010

Chapter 9

May – June 1989

As towns go, Bradford is nothing special. It’s just a country town of about 3,000 people, like hundreds or thousands of others. It’s far enough away from bigger towns with more shopping opportunities like Argentine or Providence or Hawthorne that there are several stores of various natures that serve a lot of routine needs, including a fairly large grocery store. In general, prices are a little higher than you’d find in the Wal-Mart in say, Hawthorne, but when the time and gas to run to one of the bigger towns is figured in the numbers often make it worthwhile to shop locally.

The big thing that Bradford has going for it is its location – it’s right in the fuzzy area where TV sets tuned to baseball games will be about equally split between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs. In fact, the range is a little wider than that; geographers have noted that it’s just a few miles away from the center of the western half of what they call the "Chi-Pitts megalopolis," so in a sense of the word it’s located in the middle of everywhere without being anywhere in particular.

Bradford can be seen from the overpass on I-67 – which, as Dayna had noted, is the highest point for miles around in a nearly flat countryside. I-67 crosses I-94 to the north, or it can be taken south toward Indianapolis. In only a few miles the traveler comes to the Indiana Turnpike, with Chicago to the west and Cleveland not a lot farther to the east. There is a good connection to Dayton and Cincinnati on I-75, also not far away, and to smaller population centers like Kalamazoo, Lansing, Toledo, South Bend, and Fort Wayne, so it’s very centrally located to a fairly large percentage of the country’s population, at least as the truck drivers see it.

A good rail connection completed the deal for General Hardware Stores twenty years earlier. The nationwide chain decided that the central location and rail connection made Bradford an ideal site for a regional distribution center. Just outside town, on the other side of the overpass, lies a huge warehouse with nearly two hundred truck bays and two dozen rail platforms. Surrounding the warehouse is an even larger parking lot, usually filled with literally hundreds of semi trailers, with trucks coming and going steadily at all hours of the day or night. It’s a busy place, and several hundred Bradfordites are among those from surrounding towns who make up the work force that moves, sorts, stores, and ships an unimaginable array of merchandise in considerable confusion, but surprisingly with only rare mistakes.

That same central location among cities large and small makes Bradford an ideal location for dairy farms – there are several large ones, totaling thousands of cows, mostly to the west of town, which means that Bradfordites are used to the occasional odor and if they can’t hack it, move out of town.

Sandy was from Warren, which is not a small city, and it’s located in the greater Detroit area – which is to say that she had little more than a vague idea of what a cow looked like and had not ever had reason to give much thought to the smell. The one other time she’d visited Bradford had been on the way back from the Christmas break in Florida, when it was cold and the manure smell was at a minimum. However, when she and Dayna drove in from Central in late April, the weather was warmer, the wind was up, and the smell was more intense, to the point where even hard-core Bradfordites considered it on the objectionable side.

"Shit!" she said to Dayna. "What the hell is that stench?"

"Shit, although a more precise term is cow manure, otherwise known around here as liquid gold," Dayna grinned. "You get a few days in the spring when it’s pretty bad, but it’s only bad when the wind is out of the west. Which is most of the time."

"My God, I don’t know how you stand it!"

"It’s like having the ball gag stuffed in your mouth," Dayna grinned. "After a few hours you get used to it. We’re not going to be here long today anyway, just long enough to get some of the shit out of the car and then head for Indiana-no-place. We get back Monday, the wind may have shifted. We can hope, anyway."

"Thank God for small favors. Do you think your mom and dad are going to be home?"

"Hard to say," Dayna said. "They both work at General. That goes 24/7, and they work a goofy schedule with split shifts and half days to equalize things out, so it’s never the same thing two weeks running. And then they swap shifts around with people who want to have regular weekends off, so it gets even goofier. Dad drives a fork truck; he’s pretty much on days after God knows how long on second. Mom’s a shipping clerk, but she’s on a different roster and doesn’t always work the same times as Dad. Maybe I can get you on a tour out there this summer; it’s a fucking nuthouse, but they’re pretty cheesy about letting outsiders in there since they don’t want them to get in the way."

"It was sure nice of them to let me spend the summer here with you. When we’re here, that is."

"I figured they’d be OK with it," Dayna replied as she turned off Main at the light, onto Elm. "Like I told you, they’re not sure what to make of me, and probably of us, but they figure we’re college kids, we’re supposed to be goofy, and maybe it’ll burn out of both of us sooner or later."

"Well, my mom hopes so too, but she’s pretty pissed that I’m not going to be home this summer so she can shove Robbie Buehler down my throat."

"I heard, clear across the room," Dayna sighed as she turned off Elm onto Lincoln. "You knew it was going to happen, that’s why you’re here. And here we are."

Dayna’s house was in an older neighborhood – which was most of the town – and was a medium-sized house, in pretty good repair if nothing special. "And, guess what, both of them are here, judging by the cars, anyway. That means we get some help hauling this shit, since Kyle will be in school."

Sandy had met Dayna’s parents back in January, although briefly; she’d missed her brother Kyle, who was in school, ending his junior year at Bradford High. Bruce Berkshire, her father, was about Dayna’s height, but heavy-set, thickening up and going bald. Dayna’s mother Angie was a slightly shorter and older version of her daughter; there was a lot of family resemblance. She was a few pounds heavier than Dayna, but not many. "Good to see you kids," Angie said. "This is just a quick pass-through, right?"

"Most likely, Mom," Dayna replied. "Although we’ll be back either late Sunday night or early Monday morning. We’ll probably hang around for a few days next week."

"It’s been strange having you gone," Angie grinned. "And then to have Sandy here with you, that’ll make it a little different having you home."

"Look, Mrs. Berkshire," Sandy said. "I really appreciate your offering to let me stay here, but I really don’t want to put you out."

"Oh, no problem at all; it ought to be fun. And you can call me Angie. I expect the two of you will add some life to the household, at least when you’re here."

"Yeah, we intend to be gone a fair amount, and probably not real predictably," Dayna told her mother. "We probably won’t be here on the weekends at all, unless the weather turns lousy. Weekdays, it’s harder to say. We’ll probably be gone most of the time after Memorial Day."

"It’ll be good to have you around, at least when you’re here," Bruce smiled. "I’ll bet you want to get right on the road again today, though."

"Oh, we’ve got a few hours," Dayna told him. "We’ve got stuff in the car we need to haul upstairs, and there’s that camping gear in the garage I brought down from school a couple weeks ago that needs to go back in the car."

"You’ve got her loaded down pretty good," Bruce said, eyeing how the Chevette was packed to the rafters.

"Yeah, I’m glad I thought to make that run down here when Sandy had that seminar," Dayna nodded. "We’d never have gotten everything in otherwise. Anyway, with the exception of the camping gear in the garage, the stuff we need for the weekend is pretty well organized and in the car already, so it’s mostly a case of getting the rest upstairs. We’ll sort it out and do some laundry next week after we get back."

"Well, let’s get hauling," Dayna’s father said. "The sooner we’re done, the sooner we’re done."

"Fine, but I better stay down here and do the unloading," Dayna told him, "I know what has to stay and what can go upstairs. I’ll just make a pile on this side of the car of the stuff to go upstairs. If anything has to come out and go back in the car, I’ll put it on the far side."

"That ought to work," Angie said. "After we get the unloading done, I’ll put together some lunch."

"That’ll be great, Mom," Dayna said, cracking open the back of the Chevette.

With the four of them working at it, the work went quickly; soon they had the gear from the garage loaded in the car, and they headed in to the kitchen, where Angie put together some soup and sandwiches. "I suppose you have a costume about like Dayna’s," Angie said to Sandy. "She showed it off to us a couple times, but we could never quite work it out to go see her at the Maple Leaf."

"Sort of like hers," Sandy nodded. "It’s a little different since it got thrown together in a hurry last fall. And that’s something I wanted to talk to you about. One of the things we want to do this summer is work on some costumes, since there’s some things we want to do a little differently. Is it going to be any problem using your sewing machine?"

"Oh, no problem," Angie said. "Dayna knows how to use it a little. Are you any good at sewing?"

"Not real good, but good enough for this," Sandy said. "We’re not totally sure what we want to do, and we may buy some parts of the costumes rather than build them, especially the more complicated stuff."

"Like I told you, Mom, a renfaire is really a jubilee for clothes horses."

"We’re just going to have to get up and check out your show this summer," Bruce said. "I take it we don’t have to be in costume?"

"No, but it’s more fun if you are, M’Lord," Dayna grinned. "By the time Maple Leaf rolls around we should have some more costumes put together, so Mom can probably wear something of Sandy’s or mine. We’ll throw something simple together for you while we’re in the process. If you get hooked, we’ll have to come up with something more complicated."

"I can’t imagine it being quite like that."

"Oh, I think once you see it you’ll get hooked," Dayna grinned. "You’ll want to come up and see more than just one show, anyway. We’ve got two worked up, and we may do another one, just to keep us from getting stale on the stage. It’s going to be pretty different than when I was working with Tim last summer, anyway."

They sat around the table talking for a while after lunch, partly catching up on the school year – mostly B’s with one C, along with an A in marketing for Dayna, so she was on the dean’s list, something to be proud of, although she hadn’t cared much for most of the classes. But both Dayna’s and Sandy’s minds were more on the weekend ahead than the college behind, and they were itching to be on the road, so soon they were.

"Your folks are neat," Sandy said as they drove out to the interchange.

"Yeah, not too bad," Dayna grinned. "I think they’re kind of amused by the goofy stuff from the renfaires they’ve heard about, and they’ll have even more fun when they see it. Like I told you once, Dad’s an auctioneer on the side; he likes to work a crowd; he’s halfway to being a busker, anyway. And I get some of my wildness from Mom. I guess they were quite a pair when they were kids."

"What’s your brother like?"

"Remember some of the jocks in the frat houses? Kinda like that, but younger, and more of an asshole. He’ll be all right, but he needs to grow out of it a bit. While I’m thinking about it, we need to watch our step around him or he’ll run his mouth. We’ll have to keep some of the wilder stuff in the closet around both him and the folks. We should have some free time at home with no one around for the next month, but after school breaks, I don’t know. If he doesn’t have a job, he’ll be underfoot all the goddamn time he isn’t hanging out with his buddies, and we’ll never know when he’ll pop up."

"You’re saying no practicing Eskimo Nell?"

"Yeah, and no workouts with the handcuffs and strap-on. But hell, we’ll have time for those out on the road."

*   *   *

Into each life some rain must fall. The first weekend of the Indianapolis Renfaire went great, about as nice a spring weather as could be imagined. But the second weekend was different – Saturday was under gray skies, with a damp cold, and rain obviously on the way. Rain it did, starting that night. Sunday was a washout; there was no other word for it. It rained hard all day and was predicted to continue for days. The tent they’d bought on special wasn’t as waterproof as it should have been, and they learned the hard way that a waterproof tarp thrown over the top of it would be a good idea in the future if rain was in the forecast. There were only a handful of customers, and vendors and performers started packing up early. Dayna and Sandy stuck it out part-way through Sunday until they got the official word of the cancellation, then packed up the Chevette the best they could in a driving rain, getting thoroughly soaked in the process and deciding that some kind of rain gear might not be a bad idea in the future. The car heater was working hard on the way back up I-67 to Bradford, and they were carrying the lousiest hat they’d ever had for a renfaire weekend.

Their general mood was not helped by listening to the AM radio in the Chevette. In among all the country music and the ads, there was a brief weather forecast – three and possibly four more days of fairly steady rain.

"Shit, this keeps up and we’re going to need an ark," Sandy snorted.

"Piss," Dayna agreed. "Bound to happen sometime though. I’m just as glad that if it has to happen, it happens in May, before the tourist season starts in some of those places we want to try busking."

"There’s a bright side, I guess," Sandy agreed. "What do you say if maybe tomorrow we find a fabric store? I think we’re going to have to buy the tops and jackets for the belly-dancer outfits, but I’d like to find some cheap fabric and take a shot at making the pants. If they come out all right, I can do it again with the good stuff."

"It’s something," Dayna conceded. "Beats getting hooked on soap operas, I guess."

The next day, they took a run through light rain into Hawthorne. Sandy found some cheap lightweight nylon that wouldn’t work for real, but there were a couple of issues with the baggy pants that she wanted to deal with on a mock-up, then use the mock-up for a pattern for the real ones. While they were in town, they took a swing by K-Mart for a tarp for the tent, and a couple of sets of plastic raingear, which they should have put on in the store as another cloudburst opened up just as they headed for the car.

There was still a pretty good part of the day left when they got back to Bradford. They got into dry clothes, again, and Sandy headed for the sewing machine while Dayna headed for the garage to hang up the soaked tent in hopes it would dry out some. While she was messing around in the garage and her father’s adjoining wood shop, Dayna’s mind was running. Back when she’d been in middle school and high school, her father had taught her a lot of the simpler things about carpentry and how to use most of the tools out there. There were two or three props that she wanted to build over the course of the summer for various routines that they’d contemplated. A couple of them were fairly innocuous, but there was one that she’d just as soon get done while the folks were out of the house and before Kyle was out of school for the summer. There might not be a better time than now to do it; she could get the carpentry done easily, and the finish could wait until they were out on the road someplace. With that thought in mind, she hunted around the shop for a few minutes and found all the pieces she would need. There were several hours left before Kyle was due home, and the folks were going to be gone all day. Plenty of time.

The piece of wood she selected was a two-by-six, about three feet long. It was a good board, clear white pine, not cheap crap. She took some measurements – some were easy, but some she had to hop up and sit on the work table to figure out – and worked out what she’d have to do, carefully marking the centerline of the board, and cross points at four places. With a fly cutter in the drill press, she cut two three-inch holes in the centerline of the board, both at four inches in from each end. Eight inches in from those holes, she cut two slightly smaller ones. With a router bit in the drill press, she rounded off the edges of the holes a little, and then a drum sander in the same machine smoothed out the insides of the holes. Satisfied, she went over to the table saw, and carefully cut the board in half lengthwise down the centerline. A few minutes work with a belt sander removed the saw marks, leaving smooth pieces of wood.

As she worked, an evil idea crossed her mind, one that would brighten up the gloomy last couple of days. Why not? She took a hinge, marked the screw holes across one end, opened them up with a drill bit and screwed the hinge into place; on the other end of the separated boards, she fixed a hasp for a padlock. The whole process couldn’t have taken an hour. Just to make sure, she fastened the bottom part of her work into a wood bench vise on the work table, then hopped up on the table to check her design. Perfect for jackleg engineering she thought, as she got back down and headed into the house.

"Hey, Sandy, how’s it going?" she asked.

"Pretty good," she replied. "It’s a ways away from trying on, though."

"Take a break and come out to the shop," Dayna smiled. "I got something you want to check out."

Sandy followed Dayna out to the garage, and her eyes lit up when she saw the device in the vise. "Dayna! You built those stocks we were talking about that time!"

"No big deal," Dayna grinned. "I tried them on, they’re not bad. Hop up on the table there, let’s see how they fit you."

"Sure," Sandy laughed, sliding up on the table as Dayna opened the stocks for her. She put her feet into the outer holes, and wrists into the inner holes; then Dayna closed the top board down on them and closed the hasp.

"How’s that fit?" Dayna asked.

"Real snug, but not too tight," Sandy grinned, like a kid with a new toy. "I’m sure not going to be able to pull out of this."

"Yeah," Dayna frowned. "It’s kind of a goofy position, though, leaning forward like that. I mean, it’s all right for a few minutes, but I think it’d get uncomfortable after a while."

"It’s supposed to be a little uncomfortable," Sandy smiled. "I mean, they’re stocks, after all. I could stay in them a while. You’d have to, with a couple of those stunts we talked about."

"You think you could stand it for an hour?"

"Yeah, no problem."

"OK," Dayna smiled, taking a padlock from the workbench and snapping it through the hasp loop. "Let’s find out."

Sandy let out a sigh and shook her head. "All right, you did it to me again. I guess you owed me that from your birthday."

"Yeah, I guess I did," Dayna laughed, taking the key from the padlock and tossing it on the table next to her friend. "Hey, I gotta go to the bathroom and get something. Why don’t you just sit there? Don’t go away!"

"Good grief, the things I get into with you."

Dayna headed on into the house and upstairs. She really did need to go to the bathroom, and did that first, but what she was looking for was the ball gag and it wasn’t where she thought it was, so she had to go digging. Her plan was to gag Sandy, take off her shoes and do a little freelance tickling. It probably wouldn’t go an hour, just enough to underline her helplessness, and then she’d have to have her turn.

Meanwhile, Sandy sat on the table in the shop, legs spread wide and fastened in the holes in the stocks, leaning forward with her wrists in the smaller holes. Really, it wasn’t all that uncomfortable – worse than being buried in the sand that time, but certainly not as bad as being chained to the bed the month before. That time her legs had been spread uncomfortably wide and awkwardly bent with the leg irons keeping them that way, and it would have been very uncomfortable if she had been able to pay attention to it, but the strap-on vibrator had been sending her so high she barely noticed the position. But now, there really wasn’t a hell of a lot to do but sit there and look at the workbench across the way, and the key to the padlock laying on the table, within reach if her arms had been free – which they most certainly weren’t. By now, she’d figured out that Dayna probably had some foot tickling in mind and was letting her stew a while. She was trying to figure out some twist to surprise Dayna on the rematch when the garage door opened.

Oh shit! she thought. Now what the fuck do I do?

Desperately she glanced at the key again – far out of reach, no hope at all.

"Sandy!" she heard Angie say. "What in the hell is that all about?"

With a sigh, Sandy decided that honesty – at least partial honesty – was the best policy. "It’s a prop for a routine we’ve talked about for renfaires," she said casually. "One way we’ve talked about doing it would involve sitting like this for a while, so we thought we’d better find out if we could do it."

"That has got to be some routine," Angie said, shaking her head.

"It wouldn’t be one we’d use for our regular show, but we’ve run across a couple times in the past year where it would have been dynamite."

"God, that looks uncomfortable," Angie said, a strange look on her face.

"I’ve been more comfortable," Sandy said as casually as she could. "But really, it’s not too bad."

"You can’t get out by yourself, can you?"

"No, no way in hell. That’s the point, after all. The person in here is supposed to be helpless."

"Would you like me to unlock that?"

"No, that’s OK," Sandy smiled. "Like I said, the idea is to find out how bad it’s going to be."

"It must feel pretty strange to be helplessly locked in that thing," Angie said in a faraway voice.

Angie’s voice gave Sandy a tentative hint of what was going on in her mind. Let’s just see, she thought. "Really, it’s pretty neat," she replied. "Kind of exciting, in a way. You don’t have any control of what happens, you just have to take it and enjoy it."

"Yes, you would," Angie replied, almost breathlessly.

Gotcha! Sandy thought. It must run in the family! Let’s push the envelope . . . "Imagine what it would be like to be locked in here," she said. "Helpless, and you can hardly move. You can’t get out. You can’t stop what someone else does to you. Like, say, if someone were to tickle my feet, the only thing I could do would be to scream and beg for mercy."

"Oh, my God . . . " Angie said softly.

"Angie," Sandy said gently. "Do you think you’d like to try it out?"

"Could I?"

"Okay, I can finish my test later. Unlock me so we can change places."

When Dayna came back into the garage carrying the gag, she was met by a strange sight: Sandy had been replaced in the stocks by her mother, and Sandy was busy removing Angie’s tennis shoes. Something strange was going on there, she thought. Very strange . . . just stand back and watch, she thought. Sandy’s got this tip turned, don’t ruin it now . . .

"I’m very ticklish," Angie protested . . . it wasn’t much of a protest, though.

"Then think of how much you’ll laugh," Sandy grinned. "There won’t be anything you can do but just take it. You won’t be able to stop me. You’re totally helpless." She glanced up, and saw Dayna standing silently in the doorway behind her mother, the gag in her hand. "It can be worse. Imagine how it would be if you had a gag on. You can’t even laugh out loud, you can’t even beg for mercy. All you can do is take it. There’s no escaping so there’s nothing you can do but enjoy it."

"Yesssss . . . " Angie breathed.

"Dayna could come walking in here, and there’s nothing you can do to stop her. With a gag on, there’s nothing you could do. Would you like me to gag you so you could see how much more helpless you could be?"

"Could you?"

"Sure thing," Sandy smiled, getting up and walking behind Dayna’s mother to take the gag from Dayna, who stood there with an expression of shock and awe on her face. In but seconds, Sandy was back over to Angie. "This is a very good gag," she said. "You’ll barely be able to make a sound. There’s nothing you can do to keep Dayna and I from tickling your feet as much as we want to, or anything else." She held the gag up in front of Angie’s mouth; she opened wide, and Sandy popped it between her teeth and fastened it. She stepped back, and took a fingernail and slid it lightly up Angie’s bare sole.

It would have been a pretty good scream, if it hadn’t been for the gag. Sandy did it again, and she could just about see Angie cringe. My God, Sandy thought, she’s so hot I can smell it! Un-be-fucking-leivable! She raised her eyes to Dayna, and motioned her over with her head.

Wordlessly, Dayna joined them and took a foot, while Sandy took the other one. Between them, they started in with gentle tickling – and got a huge response. Angie twisted, she bucked, she moaned through the gag, but they continued gently but mercilessly. Sandy glanced over at Dayna once, and just saw her wordlessly shaking her head and smiling. The after-action on this one was going to be interesting . . .

It was several minutes, not real long, before the two of them saw Angie tense, and then buck uncontrollably, giving several short cries that worked their way out through the gag. Wordlessly, Sandy nodded at Dayna, who nodded back. Enough, already. Dayna stood back as Sandy stood up, unfastened the ball gag, and took it from Angie’s mouth. She was heaving for breath the instant it was out, moaning "My God . . . my God . . . my God . . . "

"Pretty exciting, wasn’t it?" Sandy smiled.

"Oh, my God . . . I never . . . oh, my God . . . "

"Can you imagine how it would be if it went on like that for an hour?" Sandy said gently. "Maybe even two hours? Nothing you could do to stop it, but just enjoy it?"

"I always wondered . . . my God . . . but I never . . . thought it would be . . . like that."

"Imagine yourself out on a beach," Sandy said, still in a gentle voice. "Buried in the sand, only your head and feet sticking out of the sand. You can’t move a muscle. All you can do is sit there helplessly, and anyone who comes by can tickle your feet. You can’t stop them. Maybe you don’t have a gag. All you can do is scream and laugh and beg for mercy . . . that never comes. Not for hours and hours."

"Hours and hours . . . oh, my God . . . have you done that?"

"We both have," Sandy grinned.

"Oh, my God . . . I can’t imagine . . . how incredible. Thank you, Sandy. Dayna. I’ve had dreams . . . but I never imagined . . . "

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