An observer looking in on the sight would have taken the naked white man for either one of the mentally unhinged or a pervert so dyed-in-the-wool it made no difference.
Why else would a man remain in such a position in the light and airy hallway of a family home as sunlight filled its interior to reveal him alone, eyes fixed upon the double-doorway leading to the secure and gated gravel drive beyond and the sea in the near distance?
After all, there were no chains or other tangible signs of restraint keeping him in such an abject position.
Surely, it could only be a mental imbalance of some kind, medical or sexual, that kept him in place?
So would the ignorance of a chance observer lead them to think.
They would have been wrong.
For what kept the man once known as Michael Renton in place, was not visible.
Even if it was equally binding.
Thankfully, the physical pain had left him now and would not, said the surgeon responsible for it in the first place, be returning.
Which did not mean that other, fresher, pains would not take its place.
Pains inflicted upon him by the human hand he was unable to prevent and proved a nice counterpoint to the mental anguish that was always with him.
A nice counterpoint for his sadistic owners, that is.
For despite his knowledge that he had once been a free man in civilised Western society, he could now do more than concede that he was as much a piece of family property to the hateful Arab couple and their two female retainers as the Jack Russel he had once owned himself at that time when he headed up the family also containing his wife and three girls.
A concession that ensured the paltry palliation provided by memories of better times was no longer anywhere near the consolation it had first been since his life had been torn from him in the most barbaric and unimaginable of ways.
Ways far removed from the loving way his own family had cared for their own pet-dog.
The mental pain of his transformation was as fresh and constant to his thoughts as its physical counterpart had been until the wounds confirming his transformation had healed.
Mental pain that he knew would never leave him – no matter how much his memories of his former life… dulled.
Beaten eyes watered as the memory of what he had once been and was no longer stabbed him to the heart of where his manhood once resided yet again.
Just the same, as he waited in subdued silence, knees tender against the cool ceramic patio floor tiles and all but useless hands held out before him with fingers stretched and lowered towards the tiles in the way expected of him, it was to this ever-diminishing consolation of “what had once been” that he returned in order to take his mind from the living nightmare to which he had been consigned.
And from which deliverance was no longer an option.
He was a forty-year-old Englishman who should have been at the peak of his physical and mental powers and enjoying the family life for which he and his slightly younger wife had worked so hard to make a reality.
Yet here he was, on his knees and naked, apart from a collar and the accursed contraption securing his genitals, in the hallway of an expensive home resting slightly back from the Bay of Hormuz and just outside the harbour city of Bandar-e Lengeh in an affluent enclave of Iran.
And not in such a position through choice.
For Michael Renton, as he had once been known, was no longer capable of standing upon his two legs and moving in the normal way of the human biped.
Even if such an eventuality, and one that billions of men the world over took for granted, now numbered amongst his fondest fantasies.
And even if he knew he would never be a real man again.
The surgery his inhuman owners had insisted be carried out on him had assured that.
Together with… other …equally unpleasing new realities.
His thoughts again raced back to his wife and family back home in Corfe, the idyllic Dorset village beneath the famous ruined castle that overlooked the waters of the English Channel, and again his eyes began to leak; despite knowing such evidence of his internal misery would serve only to delight his owners.
Thoughts of the female half of that equation filled his thoughts, and he felt the usual mix of white-hot anger and debilitating fear that always accompanied such thoughts of the young and decidedly unlovely Arab girl.
The same girl who, amazingly for a country such as Iran, had taken over the running of the Iran construction-company left by her late father to her younger brother and made it even more lucrative. Her teenaged brother being less than the sharpest tool in the desert tool-shed and having neither the intellectual nor the social skills to manage such an undertaking. As well as having more… proscribed …tastes when it came to sex than was acceptable to the rulers of the Muslim country in which they lived.
For, in Iran, same-sex sexual activity remained illegal. Be the same sex in question male or female. Since the 1930s homosexuality is a crime punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment, or by execution – though gay men have faced stricter enforcement actions under the law than lesbians. In fact, any type of sexual activity outside a heterosexual marriage is forbidden; transsexuality in Iran, however, was considered legal, if accompanied by a gender confirmation surgery – with Iran, again surprisingly, carrying out more gender realignment operations than any other country in the world after Thailand.
Just the same, the penalties for those engaging in homosexual acts remained draconian and ensured they were practiced only under the most secure and secretive of circumstances.
And how much more secure and secretive could those circumstances be than when they took place behind the closed-doors of a private residence?
Witnessed only by indulgent and receptive likeminds.
And performed on an animal without any of the rights accorded a human.
Even if he was an animal of the male variety and had once been a vibrant and independent human-being.
An animal still recognisable as the free-standing man he had once been.
Even if he was on all-fours in the way of a canine.
It was just as his thoughts returned to a picture of himself and his family in happier times, that Rashida – the younger and slightly more physically appealing of the two maids who ran the home for “Ms Zaynab” and “Master Qusay”, the other being the older Bushra – entered from the kitchen door at the side and opened the door to her two employers as they returned from whatever business that had required their leaving.
By the look of the bags in the hands of Bushra as she trailed in behind them in the role of porter as well as chauffeur and housekeeper, it had been for pleasure rather than business.
Michael Renton’s muscles tensed and he felt the familiar nausea at the sight of them both as he knew what would soon be expected of him.
“There is our good boy, Qusay!” the hateful tones of the woman in her early-thirties he had once known as Zaynab Al-Ghazzawi pointed out, her English thick with the influence of her own mother tongue and, consequently, giving the white-man’s humiliation an even sharper edge. “See how obediently he waits for his Arab masters?”
“Yes, Zaynab,” the less than cerebrally advanced teenager agreed, his thought processes less than those of the usual eighteen-year-old; something, along with his shortness and somewhat frail stature, that brought the older man’s service to him into even starker relief. “He is a most pleasing dog and I am looking forward to us agreeing on a name for his new collar.”
Both insisted upon speaking English around him that his humiliation might have a keener, and more verbal edge – as if it could get any edgier! The sister’s, though heavily inflected with her own native-tongue, was better than her younger brother’s. Not, surprisingly, that the more cerebrally-challenged one’s English was bad – just a little more… childlike.
His sister had flicked back the hair then, having worn it free to take advantage of the recent ruling that would no longer be arrested for appearing in public with their heads uncovered – this almost 39 years after the strict dress code was introduced, the thick black spectacles she wore doing nothing to alleviate either the prosaic configuration of her facial features or the severity imparted by a curving nose with thin and flared nostrils and cheekbones more readily associated with the equine than a female in her early thirties – of Arab origin or otherwise.
It was – her hair, Renton had assured himself grudgingly, that was the most attractive part of her. Stygian black and lustrous as it fell to her shoulders. At times, even managing to detract from the features below it he found so repulsive and… hateful.
But only at times.
And few and between were they at that.
She was dressed this day in Western fashion, with a loose white blouse above tight-fitting lycra-leggings that clung tenaciously to legs Renton, again grudgingly, described to himself as shapely – even if they were more of that librarian-cum-schoolteacher shapeliness so many men of a submissive outlook enjoyed.
An outlook that had never played any part in his own sexual make-up.
The worse for him!
His life, when it came down to it, would be so much more bearable if he took pleasure in the humiliations heaped upon him on a daily basis.
“I think ‘Dog’ is a perfectly good name for him and see no reason to change it,” she told her brother with some force, placing her hands on her knees and allowing her equally matronly breasts to sway inside the top as she stared into Renton’s eyes, aware he would not disrespect her by averting his gaze. “I will have Bushra take his collar into town and have it engraved in the English tomorrow.”
Renton noticed the boy’s sulky look but noted also that he did not press the point.
He was the man of the family after the passing of the father and the construction company had been left to him. But it was only Zaynab who was capable of running it. She ran both it and him, and their household would remain female-led for as long as they both shared a roof. In fact, so incapable of looking after his own affairs was he, even Bushra and Rashida had supervisory responsibilities in regard of him.
It was this female-led reality, Renton told himself, that had prompted the girl to assure him and Shauna, his wife, that she had no intention of ever entwining her fate with that of a man.
Given the strict code of her religion such a union would necessarily mean a demotion for her.
“But why is our doggy not wagging his tail and rushing to greet his masters?”
Nausea threatened to burst out of his throat at her words and Renton knew he would never get used to being treated in such a fashion.
He watched with a familiar horror as the bitch who had decimated his life crouched lower and slapper her meaty thighs:
Even as he dropped to all-fours, waggled his arse as if he truly did have a tail, and scampered across to plant welcoming kisses on the heels and pointed toe-caps of his owner’s black-leather Fendi’s.
“Good dog!” she said, turning to her smiling brother, whose features were made no less effeminate by the shaved brown head disguising prematurely thinning hair. “You see how our white-pet is coming to revere his superior Arab owners? Did I not tell you he would adapt quickly to his new life?”
“You did, my sister,” said the boy. “But why is he not showing my feet the same respect? Am I not his owner also?”
“Silly boy,” said Zaynab, rising up to ruffle his hair as Renton continued to slather at her heels. “He will do just that the moment he is finished showing his respect to his Ms Zaynab.”
“He had better,” said the boy sulkily, “or I will take a sandal to his disobedient backside.”
“Then we had better let him get on with it,” she said sarcastically. “For his own well-being.”
She stepped backwards and left Renton almost prostrate upon the tiles.
“Quickly now, Dog,” she ordered. “Show Master Qusay how pleased you are to have him home again, before he becomes annoyed with you.”
As Renton slithered across the floor to where the unmoving boy and his, almost shockingly, feminine feet in their sandals awaited him, he again questioned his own sanity and wondered if the whole nightmare were just some figment dreamt up by a mental malaise that held him in its grip; that he would soon awake and be told by a doctor that he was… cured!
He also knew that would not happen.
This was very real.
As his lips made contact with the boy’s toes, and what was left of his manly spirit died yet another death, Michael Renton again wondered to himself how he could possibly have been led into such a fate.
Where… and how …had it all begun…?