By John Strickland
Although Keagan felt like running, felt like screaming, felt like dissolving into a heap on the floor, he did in fact look quite dignified. The jacket, strapped tightly to right down under his butt, made him walk very upright, the high collar held his head up high.
He couldn’t believe he was there in the mall, left all alone, his arms bound tightly around his body, in a jacket that was usually never seen outside of a maximum security prison. Keagan wished Stefan and Zac were there with him. When they were around, things like this were normal. He felt like turning around, going to find the two hot dudes and telling them he would stay in the jacket forever, – anything, – but to get him out of that damned mall!
Keagan walked on.
Although he wished he were anywhere else in the world other than where he was, there was something very hot about his situation. His heart was pounding, his prick was hard. He hoped his erection wasn’t visible through the layers of thick PVC and canvas.
He had reached the center of the mall, which opened out into a huge space full of plants, seats and escalators. You could see down to the first floor and you could see up to the third floor. Two trees grew the whole height. The mall had three levels, – pretty big for the sparsely populated area, – but people came from far and wide to shop there.
Keagan stopped dead. There was a bunch of older teenagers standing leaning against the rails and sitting around on a bench. Keagan knew them! They were his friends. He knew them from the high school or the swim team, or from both.
Keagan didn’t hesitate this time. He turned quickly to head back the other way. The young teenager following him, stopped and pretended to be fascinated by the women’s shoes displayed in a store window.
“Keagan!” shouted someone behind him. Keagan’s heart stopped and fell a few inches into his stomach. He carried on in the other direction.
“Keagan!” someone shouted again, now much nearer.
Jason caught up with him.
“Keagan! Where’re ya ………..?”
Jason stopped in mid-sentence.
“What the hell are you wearing, dude?” he asked, astonished.
Two of the others caught up with them.
“Oh FUCK!” exclaimed Brandon, “You’re in a straitjacket!”
Keagan put on a little smile and just shrugged his shoulders as if to say “That’s life! Shit happens!”
“Gotta go down here………” Keagan said, but Brandon had stepped in front of him, blocking his way.
“You gotta come and join us, Keagan!” said Alex.
“YES!” he said, thumping the air. “This is AWESOME!”
Keagan had no choice. Alex had hold of his right elbow and Jason was on his left, holding on to the vertical side loop of Keagan’s jacket. Like two asylum orderlies, they led him to where his other three friends were waiting, staring, mouths open.
Keagan felt like dying. His heart missed a beat and his legs went weak as he noticed one of the gang was Logan. Logan from the swim team. Oh no! Logan shouldn’t see him like this! Why did he have to be there?
“Keagan!” Paul said. “What’re you wearing?”
Was everyone going to ask that question?
“I’m in a straitjacket!” said Keagan softly.
“Yeah! We can see that!” said Paul.
“Then why’d ya ask the fucking question?” thought Keagan.
“Great pants!” said Brandon, assessing Keagan’s shiny orange PVC pants.
“Says Northfield on the back. What’s Northfield?” asked Jeff.
“That’s where they keep all the dangerous maniacs!” said Alex. “That where you been, Keag’?” he asked. “They locked you up in there?”
“Yeah!” said Paul. “He’s escaped! Maniac!” he shouted.
“It says Max. Security on here!” said Jason, reading the stenciled letters on Keagan’s chest. “That your new name, Keag’? Do we call you “Max” from now on?”
The mall security guard was watching at a distance as was the young teenager, too. He was far too fascinated to keep up the pretence of disinterest any longer.
“Do you like wearing that, MAX?” asked Jeff.
“It’s AWESOME!” thought Keagan.
“Don’t have much choice;” he said “I can’t get out of it.”
“Can’t you just take it off?” asked Jeff stupidly.
“Yeah, – like he could take that off!” said Brandon. “He’s strapped up real good! Look at all those buckles!” said Brandon. “Awesome!”
“Your sleeves are strapped together at the back!” said Alex.
“Tell me something I don’t know!” thought Keagan.
“You guys gonna let me out?” he said.
“No CHANCE!” said Brandon. “That is so NEAT!”
“Keagan in a straitjacket!” said Paul. “Oh yeah! Gotta film this!” He pulled his cell phone out of his pants’ pocket. “Sweet!”
“He’s been in a straitjacket before!” said Jason. “Saw it on Facebook last year!”
“YouTube,” whispered Keagan unnecessarily.
“How come you keep getting stuck in straitjackets, Keag’, – er – Max?”asked Jeff.
“It’s because he’s INSANE!” said Paul. “He has to wear one because he’s a LOONY!” he said.
“Just let me out, guys, will ya?” Keagan asked again, already knowing the answer.
“You’re far too dangerous to be free, Max!” said Jason. “I think we oughta strap you up even tighter!” he said.
“Yeah!” said Alex. “And call the authorities. Don’t they have padded rooms or somethin’ for guys like you?” he laughed.
Keagan smiled, trying to bear their shit with dignity.
Only Logan said nothing. He stood there with his hands shoved deeply in the pockets of his leather jacket.
“Love those pants, Max!” said Jeff, turning his attention to Keagan’s orange PVC pants. “Love the stripes! Love the shine!” he said.
He did actually. Jeff wasn’t averse to wearing shiny raingear.
“Why are they made of that plastic-stuff?” asked Jason.
“PVC,” said Jeff knowingly. “They’re thick PVC.”
“Bet it’s so he can piss and shit in them!” said Paul, hitting on the truth.
“You’re so gross!” said Brandon, a look of disgust on his face.
“Yeah?” said Paul. “Well just tell me how he’s gonna take a leak tied up in that thing?”
“Shut up, guys!” shouted Keagan. “Just shut UP, will ya?” He looked up at Paul. “Stop filming me, you asshole!” he almost shouted. He stepped aggressively in Paul’s direction.
“Or what’re you gonna do, Max?” asked Brandon equally aggressively. “Beat us all up? Tear us from limb to limb?”
“Good thing he is in a straitjacket!” said Alex, shoving Keagan on his shoulder with the ball of his hand. “That’s where he belongs!”
“Leave him alone!” said Logan, speaking for the first time.
“What’s going on here?” the security officer asked authoritatively.
“Nuthin’” said Brandon.
“He’s in a straitjacket,” said Jeff as if that explained everything.
“It’s for his college fund!” said the mall guy.
“What are you talking about?” asked Keagan, thoroughly frustrated.
“It’s ‘cause he’s insane!” said Jason. “He’s real dangerous!”
“Piss off!” said Keagan, loudly. He pulled in his jacket. “Get this thing off me!”
If his arms hadn’t been tied-up, Keagan would have landed the guy one.
“Just you guys calm down, you hear?” said the security officer. People going by were looking really concerned.
“You want me to have you all thrown out?” he said, addressing the whole group. “You! – get him away from here,” he said, pointing to Logan who was standing a step away from the others.
Logan grabbed Keagan by the webbing chest loop encircling his crossed arms, and tugged him out from between the other boys. Paul started follow them, still filming.
“You stay here!” said the mall employee. “Just get him away from here, will ya?” he said to Logan.
The young guy in the leather jacket left the security man to calm the four young dudes down and led Keagan away from the group.
People stood and looked. The young teenager followed at a distance.
“Let’s go down here,” said Logan. “It’s quieter.”
They turned down a branch of the mall that wasn’t as busy. There was not much down there, – a bank and a shoe repair place that weren’t open on a Sunday. There was an Orange Julius stand down there, too, but they considered opening on Sundays a waste of time, too.
“You OK, Keagan?” Logan asked.
“Yeah!” said Keagan.
He was so worked up he looked as though he might cry out of exasperation.
He stopped still for a moment, breathing hard.
“No I’m not OK!” he said. “I’m strapped up in a straitjacket in the middle of the fucking mall!” he said. “I’m definitely not OK!”
“Come here, Keagan!” said Logan pulling the frustrated guy towards him. He put his arm around the heavily restrained guy who immediately snuggled his face into Logan’s shoulder. Logan’s black leather jacket smelled new, – smelled awesome.
“You gonna let me out?” Keagan said, a bit muffled.
“No,” said Logan simply.
“What?” said Keagan pulling back in surprise.
“You look totally awesome in that jacket, Keagan,” Logan said.
“What?” said Keagan again.
“You always look darned hot, Keagan,” Logan continued, “but you look totally sweet in that!” He was breathing heavily. “And in those pants,” he added.
Keagan was taken aback. Words failed him for a moment.
“What’s it like to be in a straitjacket, Keagan?” Logan said. “I’ve always wondered.”
Keagan got over his surprise.
“Take it off me, Logan, and I’ll strap you into it,” he said. “Then you’ll know!” he said.
The thought was tempting. Logan suddenly zipped his leather jacket shut to the top as though he was straitjacketing himself.
“Here!” said Keagan, turning around. He presented the eight buckles to Logan for him to open.
“Shit!” Logan said. “That sure is an awesome jacket!”
“Even more so when you’re in it,” said Keagan temptingly. “Take it off me!”
But Logan made no attempt to free the prisoner.
This is an excerpt from Keagan Goes Shopping, a new novel by John Strickland, part of his RAINY DAYS series. It is available in digital or bound printed form at boundeditions.com.