“Capture me,” he said. “Make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”
“Please, make me your slave… please.”
She listened, too mean and greedy to resist. Together they built a Stockholm den. He sweated and whimpered, lifting bricks, slipping in his dripping blood, while she became the cream of screamers, the boss of abuse, and he, the castrated, slave.
His bones grew old with her; grew cold beside the witch’s bitter flesh, her skin, thickened by chill trickery, folded into wrinkles. Her manifold control led him to an empty den, where he felt the chill of twenty winters, his distant gaze forever skimming the unreached heat of as many summer seasons.
From his dungeon, he dreamed of plump women primping in flimsy summer silk, stained the colour of dimpled sex – stilettoed angels riding white geldings – and wishes one would save him.
She’d speak soft words of love, and he’d lay roses on a pillow, where golden hair flowed into his eternity. His prison would lie between clean, scented thighs, and he would gleefully serve his time, hearing her whisper:
forever, be mine.”
His bones grew old with the witch; yet still blood heated the extremities each time he dreamed of sheer summer silk.
A minor mission leads you past his prison, maybe a wish for milk, or a brisk stride. You ride no mutilated horse, wear no silk, own no stilettos, but his eyes strip off your crisp linen, remove your blue denim, dress you in red, give you stick-on angel wings, and sit you on a neutered white equine.
And yet: “Capture me,” he begs you, “make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”
Through rusting bars he gives gifts of flowers and sweet promises, seeing your key, and thinking you will use it to set him free.
His education doesn’t run to Stockholm syndrome, and you’re not that bothered anyway. Figuring he should find his own way out, you amuse yourself, running a bunch of keys across the rusting rods, as he reaches, hungrily, for you, on lucky days grabbing your hand, or clumsily caressing a strand of hair, but Stockholm syndrome holds him there, between he who he has shaped into an angel, and the witch. After some months have passed in this way, frustration, desperation, love, or lust leads him to bend the thin bars, and – with a guilty glance at his ugly captor – step out of his den.
You shrug. Even if it mattered, it would be too late, and it doesn’t matter anyway. But you have been dragged into the game of three, so you play in some indifferent way, while the witch grinds her teeth, and retreats into the west to plan her strategy.
He looks to the East, where golden hair flows into his obsolete eternity.
“Capture me,” he cries. “Make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”
The crone’s old-fashioned three-fold plan is drawn; mildly entertained, you fold your false wings and watch the first wet offensive, as raging rhetoric foams and spits from her aging throat, only to be pressed back by his desire for those sweeter meats which have driven Stockholm Syndrome into a deep sleep.
Next, she sets the spoilt daughter on him; wraps her round his neck, but Stockholm Syndrome sleeps on, letting him wriggle free, but she – seeing symptoms of weakening – leaps, feet flying, into her final, foolish strategy.
Crying like a crocodile, she says she’s sorry for the misery she imposed – the daily dose of insults, the criminal damage, the black-and-blue bruising, the theft and the greed. She claims she has seen the light, and promises that from this day on, she will worship at his feet.
Stockholm Syndrome stirs and is woken by pity. He forgets she is a scheming witch, and though he has no wish to be with her, his wilfulness bends to her will.
He finds you on your imposed gelding, and begs to keep your friendship, hints at secret meetings. His body speaks louder than his lips. His tears dampen your wings, loosening them. A weight is lifted from your back as they flutter and fly, to be taken by the wind.
“Capture me,” he murmers. “Make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”
Yet he seems to think the wings still cling, and to believe he needs to be sweetly enfolded in them, though his deepest wish -hidden only from him – is to be squeezed between them, so tight that he can’t breathe. He can’t perceive his own strange, dank deviance.
You think of the many symptoms of his extreme idiocy, and you give him a pitiful smile. He is declaring his unending love even as you turn away, refusing to make him your slave.
The witch approaches, and rubs her skin against his. At his first flinch, she knows that her victory is hollow. She has won his company, but lost most of the control he teasingly forced upon her. He loves you, and it shall ever be so, but you wouldn’t make him your slave, so he returned to the only Stockholm he will ever know.
At last they have a couple of things in common. They watch each other from opposite ends of the room, staring, glaring through icy eyes, and they cry, each for their own, lonely loss. They share a supreme, stupendous, mutual stupidity, of which they had both shown strong symptoms from the beginning. He’s afraid to leave, and she refuses to let go.
And what of you? Fortuously stripped of your silly, misfitting wings, you feel whole. You give a wicked grin, you are happy to be free of the idiosy, but you do not forgive rejection. Walking beneath their window, you raise your voice and sing:
You hear the clear, painful clink of twin sets of chains. A naughty giggle escapes your throat, to grow and become an uncontrollable guffaw, as you picture two puppets pulling each other’s strings, and becoming hopelessly entangled, and you know they are both to blame.
An echo fills the air: “Capture me, make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”
“Please, make me your slave… please.”
Laughing heartlessly, you step up your pace, and walk jauntily away.
Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. Generally speaking, Stockholm syndrome consists of “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” – Wikipedia
©Jane Paterson Basil