© Copyright 2018 - Alex Makin - Used by permission
Storycodes: Solo-F; shop; theft; caught; FF/f; punish; strip; lingerie; bond; rope; gag; mask; window; display; hogtie; stuck; object; mannequin; public; arousal; reluct; X
Author’s Note: This originally written piece re-creates a story whose title and author I unfortunately cannot remember. To my knowledge, it’s no longer available online, as it was part of Mason’s Tied and True Tales, a site which unfortunately was taken down before being revived with only some of its original content. I remained true to the plot and Mason’s tendency to combine fetish and rainwear themes as best I could remember, while adding my own flavor to fill in any gaps. Being denied the chance to thank the original author personally for their fine work, I hope they will settle for this homage.
* * *
Where was Ben? It was nearly ten and the morning’s light drizzle had worked itself up into quite a lather. Fat raindrops pelted the ground like bullets. Of course Amy, their mutual friend, would pick an outdoor shopping center for them to meet. Tracy, one hand holding her umbrella steady, danced lightly around puddles and finally sought refuge under the awning of a pottery shop.
The young woman checked the fastenings of her slick yellow raincoat and drew its belt tighter around her waist. Even under the awning the din washed away all other sound. Tracy scanned the ravaged shopping center once more. There wasn’t anyone to be seen. Most of the shops opened around ten though. Maybe the shopkeepers were inside waiting to unlock their doors, but there were no gaggles of customers bustling to get inside. The rain drove them off.
Most importantly, there was no Ben. She needed Ben. Rather, she needed to sell an old ring from an ex and he needed impress his girlfriend. More important than helping some guy from the local university get laid, though, Tracy needed to pay her rent this month.
Her phone buzzed. She hadn’t bothered programming Ben’s number into it. The sequence of digits just said, “can’t make it, sry. Don’t need ring n e more. goodluck.”
Fuck! Tracy had taken two busses to get here. With the rain and a shortened weekend schedule they wouldn’t be around again in a hurry. Tracy stared at the rain grumpily. When had the world collectively decided she was so expendable?
Tracy walked slowly down the row of shops, somewhat quicker wherever there weren’t awnings. Finally she happened upon a dark jewelry store. The sign on the door said it wouldn’t open until eleven. They would probably buy the ring from her but they wouldn’t pay as much as Ben. Tracy sighed—stick around for an hour or be late on her rent. She couldn’t see any other choice.
She heard a soft click that indicated the shop next door kept better hours. Tracy strolled over to look in the window and a pair of paper-white legs met her eyes. She gasped.
Alright, so seeing a mannequin in a store window isn’t exactly shocking. What was shocking were the fishnet stockings and black leather bustier this particular mannequin had been stuffed into. A leather bullwhip dangled from her hand, but the outstretched plastic fingers didn’t grasp it very well. Looking past the statuesque fake dominatrix and the glass backing to the display, Tracy spied shelves and shelves full of sex toys. But there was other stuff too… kinky stuff. This was no ordinary sex shop.
Intrigued and with nowhere to be, Tracy wandered inside the shop to try and distract herself from the continuing disappointment that was her life. A shrill bell rang as she opened the door.
“Welcome, can I help you find anything today?” came a pleasant voice from her left. It took Tracy a moment to fully take in the sight before her. Behind the counter was a young and beautiful brunette wearing a powder blue waistcoat with black trim… made of shiny latex. Tracy stared at the smiling spectacle. The halter top left little to the imagination. Suffice it to say her blowout curls were given a soft landing. Her hands were encased in short black latex gloves as well, which she rested on her hips presentably. Just over the counter Tracy observed the beginnings and quick end of the woman’s black miniskirt. Also latex.
“I—I’m just looking around, thanks,” Tracy mumbled as she walked past. The shop had the air of ordered chaos that you might find in an old bookstore. Items crammed into every corner yet Tracy found herself navigating it easily—past the circular stand of cats o’ ninetails, along the wall filled with spools of rope in every imaginable color. A sign next to the spools read: Cut to any length – We’ll whip the ends and anything else you like!
After the ropes came dildos by the dozen. They came in all shapes and sizes and colors, arranged on dustless shelves so that the whole display comprised a salacious rainbow. Of course, none of that caught Tracy’s attention like the next aisle over, which was apparently the leather aisle.
The leather came in many vibrant colors too, interrupted by chrome studs and buckles weaving straps into stunning shapes. Sometimes Tracy needed to look at the accompanying photos just to see how the hell these harnesses worked. Some were just fashion, like the cupless leather bra or any number of body harnesses. Some had restraints attached for hands or arms, and a few looked excruciatingly stringent. Tracy was out of her depth—she never really been tied up before. People did this willingly… and paid these prices?!
The goddamn rent. When she’d been an idiot teenager, Tracy had sometimes stolen things here and there from the big chain stores and returned them for easy cash. That probably wouldn’t work at a small store like this, but maybe she could sell it online. And why not? Whoever owned this place would probably just write it off, stick a little minus sign on some Excel spreadsheet, and grumble. In return she’d get to eat a meal or two that didn’t come from a can. That sounded fair enough for Tracy.
Tracy gazed nonchalantly at the ceiling. No cameras, no mirrors for spying down the aisles. The latex-clad vixen was nowhere to be seen. Tracy steeled herself and looked around. Next to all the harnesses was a display of gags. Tracy nearly blanched at the sight of them. They were leather straps with big red balls connected in the middle. She couldn’t help but imagine them between her teeth, like a small apple.
Fifty bucks and up for a silicone ball and some leather. Tracy eyed them hungrily now, figuring she could get forty online easy, maybe even full price. Some of them were huge and looked like a tangled mess of straps. Tracy focused on a smaller one that would fit easily into her purse without bulging. She looked around again.
The coast was clear. She picked it up.
Swiftly, the gag disappeared into her purse. Flush with excitement, Tracy headed for the door. She looked at the smiling woman behind the counter. She was past the counter and nearly out. But then…
“Excuse me, miss,” came a slightly accented voice.
Another woman appeared and blocked Tracy’s path. She was not wearing a powder blue waistcoat.
* * *
Tracy, at 5’ 3”, was used to meeting people taller than her, but this woman towered. She looked almost like the mannequin in the window, wearing a black leather corset with matching opera gloves and thigh-high boots. Her bikini cut leather briefs made a farce of modesty itself. She glared at Tracy through dark makeup.
“Katya!” the woman behind the counter gasped and walked over, revealing shiny pumps.
“May I see your bag please, miss?” Katya asked bluntly. Her stare never relented.
“Is something wrong?” Tracy replied. Her innocent tone wasn’t very convincing.
“What’s going on?” the other woman was now beside Katya.
“She’s trying to steal from the store, Val,” Katya said coldly.
“What?! No!” Tracy cried. When caught: deny, deny, deny.
“The purse,” Katya motioned for it. Val yanked it out of Tracy’s hands.
“Hey!” Tracy protested as Val reached inside and produced the gag.
“I see,” Val’s eyes narrowed. Her expression turned wooden.
“Oh my God!” Tracy lied, “I’m so sorry. I forgot I had that. Just let me pay for it.”
The store clerks weren’t buying it. Tracy made a step for the door but Katya grabbed her and pinned her arms at her sides.
Katya didn’t let go. “So… a liar and a thief. We have a real winner here. Should I call the police?”
Val snorted. “Like last month when those kids broke our window and stole the other mannequin? The police are useless… ”
“But we have this one red-handed.”
“I suppose we do… ”
“No! You can’t call the police,” Tracy whined, “Look, I’m sorry. I just really needed some cash… ”
“Yeah, I bet you’re a regular Olivia Twist. A model citizen caught in the… wait a minute,” Val’s eyes lit up and she turned to Katya. “What if she worked off this little debt instead?”
“What do you mean?” Katya asked.
“Don’t we need some help in the advertising department?”
Katya took Val’s meaning and perked up in a disconcerting way, and though Tracy had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, options were a little limited right now.
“Whoa, yeah! Whatever you need, just you know, leave this between us, ok?” Tracy stammered.
“Absolutely, dear.” Tracy wasn’t stupid, and Val’s smile was setting off about a million red flags in Tracy’s head, but they had her over a barrel. If she had to guess, they wanted her to do some work around here. That was fine as long as it got Tracy out of police reports and court dates and fees and, for all she knew, jail.
“She’ll need some dressing up,” Katya advised.
“Of course, this way please,” Val ushered, and Tracy found herself being steered toward the back of the store. There wasn’t much she could do about it. Katya had a pretty good grip on her.
Would they just call the cops anyway? Were they just luring her into staying put until they arrived? Passing row after row of kinky gear, Tracy considered making a break for it. No cameras in this store, once she was gone they’d never be able to prove anything. Val probably wasn’t very swift in her heels and miniskirt, but she wasn’t the problem. In all that leather, Katya was one mask away from passing as a pro-wrestler. And look—they sell masks here, too!
Tracy’s mind raced wildly so that she wound up doing absolutely nothing. Katya led her into a room at the back of the store. Standing in the center, Tracy felt a sudden tug as Val yanked off her raincoat.
“What are you doing?” Tracy asked out of shock.
“You won’t draw any crowds dressed like that, honey,” Val said simply. “Now, the shirt.”
Tracy instinctively felt smoothed her button down blouse. “Excuse me? What do you even want me to do for you two?”
Val gave her a nasty smile. “We have some empty window space and think a little live modelling might draw a little business.”
Tracy stared at her. “What? You mean me and, like, that stuff out there, and the window?”
Val raised an eyebrow.
“Uh, no. No way.” Katya’s grip on her instantly tightened.
Val looked cross. “Look, you can do as we say or we can let the police deal with you.”
“You said they were useless.”
“They’ll come quicker when I tell them you assaulted me while trying to run. The shirt.” Val meant business. Slowly, Tracy unbuttoned her shirt to reveal a simple white bra. It looked very unwelcome in such a flamboyant and erotic place.
“This is insane. It’s wrong,” Tracy said defiantly.
“Isn’t that cute, Katya?” Val smirked.
“An ethics lesson from a thief,” Katya grunted as she held Tracy in place.
Clearly Tracy was getting nowhere with these two. Gritting her teeth, she slowly removed her shoes, socks, and jeans as well. But Val and Katya weren’t satisfied until her bra and panties disappeared as well. Val made a petty comment about her unkempt pubic hair as she neatly folded Tracy’s things off to the side.
Tracy stood there awkwardly as Val went rummaging through various boxes of inventory. She briefly considered just running, but being naked took just about all the appeal out of that idea, plus Katya stood strategically between her and the door.
Once Val returned with a pile of clothing (if it could be called that), Tracy felt surrounded again. They didn’t hand her the clothes but rather set to work dressing her. Like a mannequin.
Val slipped a red satin thong under Tracy’s feet and slid it up her tense legs. Tracy could only gasp in surprise as she felt the delicate material slip between her cheeks snugly. Next, a lacy garter belt was clipped around Tracy’s waist while Katya approached with stockings. Made to balance precariously on one leg, Tracy groaned as Val gingerly slid the black silk up each leg. The two worked together until both stockings adorned her, clipped to the belt.
Feeling no less naked, Tracy watched helplessly as Val unfurled a longer, flowing garment which turned out to be a red satin chemise with black lacing. It stretched to hug her every curve and was so short that Tracy’s round backside peeked out from beneath it. Katya released her grip and Tracy felt an underwire pressing beneath her breasts. Combined with the halter, the chemise lifted her chest quite provocatively.
“Well, she can definitely pull off the look,” Katya admitted as Tracy grudgingly showed off her new outfit. She caught a glimpse in a nearby mirror. At least Katya wasn’t lying.
“Absolutely! I think this might actually work,” Val agreed as she slipped shoes onto Tracy’s stocking feet. They had impossibly high heels and strapped to her ankle.
“So how do you want to do this?” Val asked. Tracy listened intently to their whispers, hoping to glean her fate from them. But all she heard were the words “rope” and “window.” Neither were encouraging.
“So… what are you making me do, exactly?” Tracy asked nervously.
Katya moved behind her. Val saw Tracy’s expression and assured her, “relax, honey. You’re doing us a big favor. Plus you might even have some fun!”
Tracy suddenly felt Katya grab her wrists from behind.
“Hey!” Tracy gasped in surprise. “What are you doing, hey!”
Katya fed a loop of cream-colored rope around Tracy’s wrists. Wishing she’d listened to all those warning bells in her head, Tracy instantly struggled and tried to free herself. Val stepped forward and grabbed her shoulders.
“You can’t do this,” Tracy cried out, still not entirely sure what they were actually planning to do.
“Oh, I think we can,” Val said with chilling calm, “You fucked yourself by trying to steal and you’re going to make up for it. You can do it our way or we can call the cops. Hope you have a good lawyer.”
Tracy’s lip curled in anger, but she couldn’t hide the fear in her eyes. In the end she dropped her gaze and let Katya finish tying her wrists behind her. The ropes were quite restricting but didn’t bite into her skin.
“I wasn’t kidding before,” Val instantly resumed her sweet politeness, “You might actually have some fun, if you’re good and you play along. You don’t even have to do much of anything. Just model a bit of our merchandise for us.”
Val held up another piece of the “merchandise:” the big red ball gag that Tracy had stuffed into her purse. She probably thought it was poetic.
“I hate you,” Tracy mumbled before Val shoved the ample ball deftly between her lips.
“Fine,” she said, “just hate me quietly.” Val worked the straps behind her head until the ball was held firmly between her teeth, muffling Tracy’s every sound. She’d gone from raincoat to bound and gagged in lingerie. What a difference twenty minutes can make.
Katya disappeared and returned with an armful of more cream-colored rope. Tracy moaned indignantly but being in this state left little fight in her. Her freedom had been slipping away since she entered the shop. Why would it stop now?
Val held her legs as Katya, clearly the rope master between them, knelt before Tracy. First, her ankles were tied together. Katya’s ropes neatly coiled around the trembling limbs several times before they snaked between them and cinched the ropes tightly. Katya then knotted them and fed the free ends down through the high heels and over Tracy’s feet so they, too, were bound together.
Val now let go of her confidently, and Tracy was indeed helpless as Katya continued. Similar coils of rope found their way onto Tracy’s thighs, as well as above and below her knees. It was unlike anything Tracy had ever felt before. Her legs were held together so tightly yet the rope didn’t bite or hurt like she could have expected. If she hadn’t been so preoccupied with delusions of escape, she could have admired Katya’s work.
Of course, she felt a little differently when Katya turned her attention to Tracy’s elbows. Tracy felt a doubled rope loop them together, pulling her arms irresistibly behind her until they were only a couple inches apart. Katya wrapped more coils until satisfied that Tracy wouldn’t be budging her elbows even a little, then she turned the rope sideways and began wrapping it around the coils between Tracy’s limbs until securely cinched. But the rope was long and Katya had plenty left over. The doubled rope was fed beneath Tracy’s arms, around and over her left shoulder, behind her neck, down over her right shoulder and back around to her elbow tie. Katya then repeated the move so that plenty of rope snaked around Tracy’s shoulders, and then fed the free ends up from her elbows to her neck. She brought the ends of the rope to their final destination back between Tracy’s elbows where they were knotted very tightly. Tracy’s shoulders were forced back, thrusting her chest out in the process. Tracy pulled with all her might against her new bindings, finding she her arms and legs totally trapped. Her moans now pled with her captors.
“Comfortable?” Val asked with an acid grin. Tracy struggled, feeling more anxious by the minute, but knew it would get her nowhere. To be honest, the ropes didn’t really hurt. Katya was good.
“Good,” Val went on, “because you work for us today, and we have a very special job for you. Val wheeled over an office chair and plopped Tracy down awkwardly in her bindings. Katya grasped the back of the chair and off they went, rolling through the store with the lingerie-clad Tracy trussed up and helpless.
At first Tracy was quite relieved that the store was still empty. The rain kept pouring outside, driving shoppers away from their lonely plaza. Of course it was a two-way street. Even if Tracy escaped, whether free or hopping through the gale in ropes and dangerously heeled feet, she’d be soaked in chilly water. She’d have to go back for her raincoat…
But these thoughts were quickly wiped from Tracy’s mind when she realized that Val and Katya were taking her to the display window at the front of the store. Through the glass, the dominatrix mannequin kept her back turned to them impolitely.
“You see, Miss… we never really got your name, did we? Oh well—we’re running a sale today and we need help spreading the word. So your job today will be to show off our merchandise to help draw people into the store.” Katya’s eyes were gleaming.
Tracy’s eyes went wide and she shook her head again violently. Put on display for anyone to see? That was going too far. She’d figured that at the very least, people would have to enter the kinky bondage store to see the tied up woman.
“Relax, you look great!” Val assured her as the two heaved Tracy to her feet. While Val steadied her, Katya slid open the display case and moved the mannequin aside. Beside it she placed a large round block which she then covered with a large black satin sheet. Now it was Tracy’s turn.
She twisted and turned as Val and Katya gripped her, but she could do so little in those ropes. Invariably Tracy was heaved into the open window. Katya climbed in with her and placed Tracy on her stomach in the center of the block. She then produced another cream rope and looped it around the cinch between Tracy’s elbows. Tracy writhed as the rope fed through her ankle tie and then pulled taut, forcing her knees to bend and making the ropes on her legs tighten dramatically.
Looping the hogtie rope through those on Tracy’s shoulders, Katya didn’t stop tightening until Tracy was held rigidly in place, her shoulders and legs pulled toward each other. Tracy quickly found that whatever mobility she retained accomplished her nothing. She could writhe and squirm in place but couldn’t shift position. She seriously doubted she could even roll onto her side, whatever that would do. Her clawing fingers found ropes but no knots. She didn’t even have any idea where to look for them.
Either as an act of mercy toward Tracy, or just to showcase more merchandise, one of the clerks lowered something over Tracy’s eyes and tied it behind her head. It wasn’t a blindfold or anything, but a decorative mask which covered her forehead to her nose. Tracy could only presume it complemented the mannequin’s. Through its eyeholes she started nervously into the rainy parking lot.
Tracy looked to her side as Val repositioned the mannequin. It now towered over her ominously, as though Tracy were its captive. Its expressionless face gave no encouragement. She squealed unhappily but the clerks didn’t even seem to want to speak with her anymore. A sign was placed next to Tracy’s helpless form that read: Storewide SALE: take 10% off now, 100% off later!
The glass door slid closed. She wrenched her head but found she couldn’t turn enough to see behind her. With a metallic click the lock closed and Tracy was alone. She could barely make out the fading footsteps.
* * *
How could they do this? Tracy wriggled ineffectually on her block, looking out through the glass window in terror. She had no illusions. She’d tried to steal and gotten caught. But to be punished by being a human display? Had the stockade in the town square been rebuilt?
It wasn’t just the bizarre situation. Tracy had never been helpless like this before. Tied up for sex? Tied up for sales? It all seemed so strange to her. She’d never in a million years have dreamed up something like this. Val and Katya were absolutely certifiable. Insane. Bonkers.
… And gone. Tracy tested her bindings. Her body twisted, her hands clawed, but there was no release to be found. She was stuck in this unworldly hogtied mess, presented behind plate glass for her audience of raindrops. Tracy dreaded the probable, inevitable moment when those raindrops would fall upon a person… or many. Tracy imagined what she must look like. Her glass case was an exhibit and a tomb. She might as well be at the goddamn British Museum. A descriptive sign would look right at home in front of her.
“Tracy” – circa 2016. Of local origin, or a fake? Captured by staff after a failed theft, this specimen is now on display as a representation of common period bondage styles, sales advertisements, and comeuppance.
Her shoulders ached. Well, kind of. They had a definite twinge in them as they stretched back behind her, but it wasn’t painful. Tracy felt taut, even trapped, but it wasn’t the horror movie she might imagine. Tugging at her wrists and legs, Tracy simply… was. The window box was her universe.
The minutes ticked by, and Tracy shifted uncomfortably, ignoring the warm feeling growing beneath her. She’d never get free by herself. Someone needed to untie her and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be either of those witches. If she could get someone to realize she was a helpless captive…
The pack of teenage boys who came by first were not what she had in mind. Who knows why they weren’t in school, but Tracy could guess why they happened to wander this way. The internet was full of sex but nothing is quite seeing it in person.
It took about three seconds for Tracy to become their only concern in the world. She tried struggling and moaning at them but it didn’t quite garner the reaction she wanted. Grinning stupidly, the boys were soon pointing and gaping at poor Tracy, and one of them pulled out a smartphone. Tracy thrashed against her ropes and gave a whine the boys couldn’t hear. At least the mask hid her.
“Son of a bitch,” Val’s voice sounded from afar, and a moment later Tracy saw her emerge from the store, wearing a long trench coat. The boys immediately scattered as Val yelled something at them. The she turned and gave her captive a wink.
Tracy was beat red, finally appreciating that people could, in fact, see her. The rain was slowing now, and flecks of sunlight were appearing on the horizon.
Val returned to the store. Tracy whined loudly, hoping her involuntary exhibitionism would earn enough sympathy to be let go, but nothing. The boys regrouped across the wet parking lot but Tracy watched them head in the opposite direction.
A few cars trickled into the parking lot. Tracy heard a customer enter the store, presumably from the other direction since no one passed her window. Tracy whined and struggled until she was exhausted, but the mysterious patron never came near enough to hear her through the glass. They left a short while later.
Then someone passed the window, so suddenly that Tracy jumped in surprise. It was a grown man. At first he glanced benignly, trying and failing as men do to look nonchalant in front of a sex shop, but Tracy’s bound form made him double take. He looked for a moment and then turned, a tiny grin creeping across his lips. Tracy stared back through her mask. He assumed she really was some kind of willing model. That’s probably what Val and Katya intended, but in the split second that their eyes locked, Tracy forgot herself.
This unknown man was fixated. Was it her tits? The chemise certainly didn’t hide them, but Tracy didn’t think that was it. She’d followed his eyes and they’d barely ventured south. He looked at the ropes, at her joined arms and her legs pulled up behind her. He’d looked into her helpless, wanting eyes and the ball beneath them. And she looked into his and saw his heart skip a beat.
No one had looked at Tracy that way since high school. It was brief. He wouldn’t stop or stare in such a setting. But he wanted to, and Tracy knew it. She had stunned him. This man would get on with his errands, go home, and go to sleep, and he’d still be in that moment. She had defined his day.
It wasn’t love or even affection. They didn’t need names or conversation, or even sex. It was a pure, single moment of tribute. Tracy was beautiful and sexy, tied up in her window, advertising some kink shop, and he was paying homage to her little shrine. By the time Tracy remembered that she wasn’t supposed to be flattered, that her flash of excitement was taboo, and that she needed to be signaling such passersby for help, he was gone. All that was left was the thrill, lingering in her chest.
Tracy couldn’t chase the image from her head. It stuck in her mind until some while later, when a couple appeared. They looked young, probably students from the university. He was handsome, about a head taller than his pretty blonde girlfriend. Any other day they’d have passed a townie like Tracy in a hurry.
Today they didn’t. The boyfriend, ever chivalrous, tried to hurry past the shop like his predecessor had, but the girl stopped him. She saw Tracy and giggled. First taking it as a slight, Tracy quickly realized that the girl was absolutely enraptured by her. She watched the girl’s eyes trace every curve and line of her body, occasionally mouthing a silent comment through the glass.
Then Tracy surprised herself by writhingly playfully in her bonds. She looked at the couple as she contorted her body, demonstrating how tightly the ropes held her. She had no idea why she did it, but she did. And once she saw how it made the girl’s eyes light up, how it drew an excited smile from her face, Tracy couldn’t help but smile back. Her eyes crinkled and the corners of her mouth widened around the gag.
The boyfriend, perhaps looking for a neutral way to contribute, pointed out the sale sign. The blonde girl grabbed his arm encouragingly. They looked back at Tracy, who flicked her eyes in the direction of the shop’s door. It was all the convincing they needed and the shrill bell rang again. Of course, Tracy couldn’t discern where they went from there. She had a feeling that they might be at the glass backing behind her case, but she couldn’t turn around enough to see.
She eventually found closure when she saw the couple leaving the store again, carrying two large bags. The girl walked with a skip, and waved merrily to Tracy as they passed. Tracy couldn’t help but feel, in this wordless and unorthodox way, that she’d made a friend through the glass.
A moment later she heard the door of her case slide open for a moment. Val’s voice appeared. “Hey… great job in there, really.”
Great job? What could Tracy even do, let alone do well? Tracy struggled with the notion until it hit her. She was the fantasy. Onlookers didn’t know her plight, or how she’d got there. They merely saw the spectacle. Her helplessness, her raw sexuality, and her attitude.
She looked happy. She looked content. She looked risqué and beautiful. She was supposed to be scared. Embarrassed. Calling for help. Why didn’t she look that way?
* * *
Tracy’s day was far from over. Cars filled the lot, shoppers filled the walks and stores, and word of the amazing tied up sex-shop lady spread like wildfire. The occasional passerby was replaced with a gaggle, then a crowd of slick raincoats and galoshes.
At first it was terrifying. This awkward kinky display was exactly what Tracy had dreaded. But after the stranger, and the couple, and ample time to get over her initial shock, it wasn’t so horrible. It was a little like a roller coaster. Tracy had slowly clanked up the hill, obsessing about the scary drop ahead until she got there and felt an indescribable thrill.
Her heart raced. She spied parents shooing their children past and more teenagers (thankfully) being shamed away by the crowd. She saw a few puritans stare daggers at her, and the ever-gracious mask saved her identity from the barrage of photos being tweeted and posted to Instagram.
But those were the clanks and bugs that could never fully disarm the thrill of the ride. Her audience, young and old, male and female, flamboyant and reserved, loved the bound woman on display. They loved her twitches and her occasional gagged smile. They loved how her muscles strained against taut ropes, and swore they could see a twinkle in her masked blue eye. And the bell at the shop’s door couldn’t stop singing her praises.
Being tied up actually helped. If Tracy were free, with all these people watching, she’d feel like she had to perform somehow. Dance or strut or pose or something, like the professional model she wasn’t. But what was there to do when she was tightly tied? Tracy could struggle a bit, shift and shake around, but that’s it. It was liberating in a way. Tracy was on display, anonymous and safe in her case, rather than putting on some show. It’s all anyone could expect, and it was all her crowd really wanted to see. They kept her moving, kept the ropes from aching, and kept the time from lagging.
Val and Katya were nowhere to be found. After Val’s brief compliment they didn’t even check on her. Tracy’s full attention was beyond the glass, fixed on her ever-changing choir on onlookers, gawkers, gossipers, and apparently a few fans. Perhaps it was better this way. It made it easier for Tracy to focus on the fantasy.
Even if they would understand her, and not think it was part of some act, she didn’t think to call for help. Tracy before the window display would have in an instant, but not in here. She was someone else in here.
Time slipped by until Tracy spotted a new face in the crowd. He seemed neither amused nor repulsed by her playful writhing. Dressed smartly in a tailored black suit, he seemed at first to be more interested in the crowd itself. But once he saw Tracy his eyes went wide and he dashed for the door. Tracy might have just figured him for the impressionable type until she heard the glass sliding open behind her. Venetian blinds suddenly dropped before Tracy’s eyes, and the muffled groan of the crowd could be heard outside.
“Alright, that’s enough for one day,” came a gentle unknown voice as she felt hands releasing her hogtie. Tracy grunted nervously, but that quickly melted into a relaxed moan as her legs were allowed to extend at long last. She wasn’t prepared for just how sore being tied like that would make her.
“Katya!” the man called as he worked, “Katya, who the hell is this?”
Heavy footsteps sounded Katya’s arrival. “That is… um… well, I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know? I didn’t sign off on hiring any more staff. Let alone sticking them in the goddamn window. Whose idea was this anyway?”
“Look, it’s closing time, just get the store cleared and locked up. And send Val over here!” Tracy smiled as he continued untying her. Her shoulders burned as her elbows parted for the first time in hours. This man was swift, yet gentle. He seemed aware of Tracy’s fatigue and was releasing her in comfortable stages.
“Yeah, Don?” Val sounded uneasy.
“Who is this?” Don asked sternly.
“Oh! That’s, uh… well, we never really got her name. Look, we caught her trying to steal!” Val said defensively.
“What?” Don shouted. Tracy got a little nervous now. Did he have the same attitude toward thieves as Val and Katya? Her hands and feet were still tied…
Tracy felt her gag coming free, and realized just how much her jaw ached. She turned her head to see him looking her over with concern.
“Are you ok? What’s your name?” he asked.
“Ah… jeez, my name’s Tracy,” she managed despite the discomfort,
“I’m Don. You’re in my shop’s window.”
“C-can you let me go, please?” Tracy choked. Might as well try.
“Yeah, yeah of course!” Don had her free of the remaining ropes in seconds. She sat up gingerly inside the window box, head brushing the hand of the mannequin. “Someone please tell me what the hell is going on!”
Val, to her credit, didn’t lie as she explained the morning’s events. But she was quick to emphasize Tracy’s attempted theft.
“So, instead of calling the police, you tie her up and stick her in the window? What the hell were you two thinking?!” Don shouted some more.
“Look, she’s great!” Val exclaimed. “Sales today tripled—“
“Sales? You kidnap a person for sales?” Val looked very different in her tiny waistcoat now. The color had drained from her face. Katya seemed to be avoiding the front of the store.
Don turned back to Tracy. “Look, uh, Tracy,” he said kindly, “I am so sorry about this. I have no idea what possessed them to do this. I understand if you want to press charges.”
“No,” Tracy said after some hesitation. “This whole thing was stupid. I’m not, you know, happy with what they did but, honestly… I did try to steal, after all.”
“That doesn’t make this ok… ” Don began.
“I know, it doesn’t,” Tracy agreed, “but you know, it’s weird. I was in there all day and… and I actually had some fun. I haven’t had any fun since… I don’t know when. A while.”
Tracy looked at the ground. Something about the situation had her feeling pensive.
“… a long fucking while,” she finished. It wasn’t really about her anger or fear anymore. They had long passed. “I would never have expected it, but I think I needed that.”
Don looked skeptical, but offered no comment. Instead he said, “well, I’m glad you’re ok, but I think we need to make this up to you in some way.”
“Well, I think I’d like my clothes back,” Tracy said pithily. Don smiled while Katya, who’d overheard, came bolting from the back room with Tracy’s things in hand. Tracy stared at the blinds instead of her.
“So, I really helped out today?” Tracy asked. She hadn’t been privy to anything but her little window all day.
“Uh, yeah. A lot. Don, I’ve never seen the store this busy. Katya and I have been running ourselves ragged all day,” Val said breathlessly. She hurried off to grab a tablet from the main counter. Tracy thought that making her run in those heels all day was probably punishment enough.
“Many people came in asking us about her especially,” Katya added, “They told us they wanted to look like the lady in the window. A few bought everything she had on her.”
Val showed Don the day’s sales figures on the tablet. Don was clearly trying not to make light of what Val and Katya had done, but Tracy caught his eyebrows trying to rise. She realized she couldn’t go after him over something he’d no knowledge of. And Tracy wasn’t exactly a pure and innocent soul.
“Is it a lot?” Tracy asked politely.
“It’s one of the best days we’ve ever had, except maybe around Valentine’s Day,” Don admitted. But his expression turned wooden again. “Look, that doesn’t matter, though. Val, Katya—“
“Can I have a job?” Tracy interrupted. She knew where he was going with that, and if anyone had a right to be mad at those two, it was Tracy. But she wasn’t.
“What?” Don stared at her.
“A job,” Tracy smiled nervously, “Seems like I helped business today. Couldn’t one of you maybe… put me back in the window tomorrow, let me do it again?”
All three of them stared at her until Don said, “Are you sure, Tracy?”
“Well, as long as you guys do a good job. I need to look convincing,” Tracy’s smile widened.
“And if I said yes… how much do you want?”
Tracy thought for a moment.
“I want what they make,” she gestured to Val and Katya, “plus five percent.”
Don looked confused. “Five percent?”
“Of sales. Gross, not net,” Tracy’s eyes twinkled. She was intimately familiar with the concept of leverage. Just usually not from this end.
So was Don. There was no way he could refuse, and took Tracy’s deal before she pushed for even more. Ring or no ring, she just might make this month’s rent after all.