In the 21st Century?

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I’d never seen him like this before. He was a good traveler and liked new places and adventure. But this third week in Africa was bringing the worst out in him. Maybe it was the bout of fever he’d had for two days. Or the nagging insects and constant heat. Or the flat, featureless landscape of this last country we’d been visiting.

“I’m bored! How much further?” Steven complained.

“About 20 minutes. You’re the one who wanted to hike into the city.”

“Because I thought I’d see something,” he said, “instead of whizzing past it in the jeep.”

I didn’t say anything. He’d made his bed, he could lie on it. My own temper was feeling a bit frayed too.

“Really, Marina. We came here to see exotic things and it’s been bugs and grass and now I’m spending the day tramping along this ugly dirt road.”

I sighed. My husband is wonderful to travel with when he is happy, and miserable to travel with when he is bored. Today, he was bored. Other days he’d been unusually complaining and out of sorts. Sometimes I’d wanted to smack him.

I’d been to Africa several times before and loved its varieties and extremes, but this was Steven’s first trip. It hadn’t been much fun. For all the traveling he’d done, he’d never been outside of high civilization, and it showed. He’d been behaving like a pampered and spoiled … well … brat.

“There’s a river,” he said. “Aren’t there supposed to animals? Hippos or elephants or something?”

“This isn’t a tour-guided hike, Steven,” I said, exasperated at his attitude. “The animals don’t line up to perform for your amusement.”

“Well, is the town’s famous marketplace another long trip to nowhere?” he huffed.

“I don’t know.” This particular city would be a new experience for me. “We’ll find out when we get there. Probably fruits and nuts, pots and beads for sale. Maybe you can buy an animal if you want.” A weak attempt at humor on my part.

Steven thought for a moment. “I wonder if they sell slaves there too,” he said.

I shook my head in irritation, for again he was raising the subject of slaves.

We had seen our first and only slave market during our first morning in Africa. We had landed at port after a week-long cruise and were having breakfast in the luxury hotel catering to rich Westerners. The hotel had a covered verandah overlooking the huge marketplace. Breakfast was a leisurely affair, made more leisurely by Steven. We’d only been in the country a few hours, but he’d already run into people he knew from New York and Los Angeles and made the acquaintance of several people staying at the hotel. Somehow, he has a charisma that lets him make new friends easily.

When Steven spotted the naked men being marched through the bustling marketplace, he was so shocked he nearly dropped his coffee cup.

“Those men!” he cried. “They’re chained together. And they’re NAKED.”

Indeed they were. There were about 30 of them, naked except for the bindings that held their hands behind their backs and the ankle shackles that bound their feet. It was a hot day, and their bare feet were dusty and moving wearily from whatever long journey had brought them here, but the four slave wranglers in charge of them used their crops frequently to make sure their inventory kept pace.

Steven, shocked, peered down off the balcony for a better look. “They’re slaves being taken to market,” I explained as I sipped my latte.

I confess that I’d known there was a slave market in this bustling port city. I’d been here before, though then I’d only seen the market for the women. But it made sense that there would also be one for men, as some buyers had tastes that ran in that direction. The idea of slavery had shocked me the first time too, even though I knew it still flourished, mostly underground, in some parts of the world. Somehow in Africa, with all of its extremes, it seemed natural to encounter it.

And I had even found myself wondering … What if I had unlimited money to spend? Wouldn’t I like to have a slave to indulge my every whim? A fantasy I indulged once in a while. I could understand why other, less civilized people would take the opportunity if they could.

Steven was still speechless.

I looked over the parade of chained men, now mostly past us. “Pleasure slaves, I’d say, since they’re all quite good-looking. Nice muscles and firm, rounded bottoms–and their nakedness, of course. It’s important to let the buyers see the merchandise.”

“Merchandise?” Steven gasped. “But some of those men are white!”

I laughed. Some of the men were indeed white. And Asian. And brown and black in varying degrees. Some were quite slim and some more muscle-toned. Something for everyone.

“Being a rich Westerner wouldn’t save you in the slave market, Steven dear. Although with your fair skin and hazel eyes you’d fetch a high price.”

Steven’s expression couldn’t have been more shocked. The son of a prosperous business family in Chicago, graduate of private schools and private universities–a naked slave? The very idea!

Steven pointed Eryaman Escort to the men at the rear of the parade. “Look how the wranglers are hitting them with their crops. Shameful.” His voice sounded more wondering than indignant, and I couldn’t tell what he thought was shameful–the men’s nakedness on public display or that they were chained and could be cropped.

A crowd of our hotel acquaintances had joined us at the edge of the verandah, some denouncing the display of male flesh and the brutality.

I was more focused on Steven’s reaction, which had a strange edge to it. He was nervously fingering the collar of his silk shirt as he watched the pleasure-slaves being paraded, almost as if he was assuring himself that in his fine clothes he was different from the naked men.

His eyes widened. “Some of the men they’re passing on the street are… touching them!”

“Disgusting!” “Shameful!” Several of the men and women were leaning over the edge of the veranda for a better view.

One of the women said, “Which one do you think will get the best price?

A man’s voice: “The tall one with the muscles?”

“Maybe,” said a woman. “But likely the slim blond will get more.”

“Do you think he’s Swedish, or something?”

“The one with the biggest penis!” A woman’s voice shouted out merrily.

“Ha ha, maybe. But some of the buyers really like Asians, so you can’t be sure.”

“Yes, taste is so subjective.” Several of the men and women laughed at that.

Not everyone on the verandah was outraged at the sight of slaves, some seemed to think it amusing.

One of the women had a pair of binoculars and exclaimed, “I think they all have a marking on their bottoms. Look. It’s easier to see with the lighter-skinned men.”

She passed the binoculars to her husband, who took a few seconds to look closely. “Oh my, yes. I can’t tell, though, if it’s some sort of temporary ink marking to identify them–or a tattoo.”

“Maybe they’ve been branded!” Another man’s voice piped up.

Steven had taken a quick picture with his camera app and was zooming in on each of the men’s buttocks. “Yes, that’s a brand!” he said quietly, almost to himself. “A kind of star on that one’s left buttock. That one has the letter T. I don’t know what that one’s symbol is, but it’s quite exotic.”

After a pause, he said very quietly. “I like it.”

“So you think slave men should be marked by their owners?” I asked him, as he passed his camera over for me to see.

Steven thought for a moment. “Definitely,” he said, “right on their asses.”

The women laughed.

One of the women said to the group at large: “Do you think I can post these pictures on social media?” Everyone chuckled at that.

“Maybe there’s a sort of National Geographic exemption for male nudity in this case,” a man speculated, causing several more laughs.

Steven meanwhile had withdrawn himself to the side and was contemplating the parade of men as it receded into the distance. I followed him to the side.

“Where are they going?” he wondered, half to me and half to himself.

“The slave market inside that building at the end of the street,” I replied. They’ll be put in the holding pens for a day for open inspection, then put on the auction block.”

“The auction block?” he said, surprised. “Like Sotheby’s or Christie’s?”

I wondered at his naiveté. “Yes, that’s the basic idea. Though not so elegant, obviously. Each man is brought out, put on the block, and the men and women bid for them. The highest bidder wins, pays, and then owns.”

“Men and women?” Steven was lost in thought for a moment. “Of course. I’d assumed women would be the buyers but there are men who would too.”

Steven leaned over the balcony’s edge as he strained to see the last of the slaves entering the building. “Can we see the display pens?” he asked, a strange note of needy curiosity entering his voice.

“Hardly, darling. It’s not a place for a man like you. Not Western men wearing clothes, anyway,” I teased.

He didn’t respond to my teasing but stared at the market building.

“And,” I added, “with your looks we wouldn’t want to tempt them, would we?” I said that flattery mostly to humor him, as he seemed to be getting oddly fascinated.

Steven doesn’t take No for an answer, and for the rest of the day he was out of sorts. A few hours later our guide drove us deep into the interior for our first safari, but I could tell Steven was too distracted by what he had seen to enjoy it.

* *

The past few days of our journey had been lovely, apart from my husband’s bad attitude. He’d been annoyed that none of his friends had sent him any pictures, although he still hoped something would be posted on social media.

No matter how many questions I tried to answer about the slaves, Steven was never satisfied. As we took our long hike down the river to this next town’s marketplace, the subject arose again.

“Tell me, Marina, are there any slave men at this market Sincan Escort or not?” he pressed. “The port city can’t be the only one in this country, can it?”

“I suppose not. I’ve heard there’s a slave market there, but it’s not the sort of thing advertised in the guidebooks. And this town’s not as big as the port city, so I don’t know for sure.”

I let the uncertainty hang in the air between us as we walked.

“But the male slaves we saw passing by our hotel–they had to come from somewhere.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Probably there’s a network of buyers and sellers, even as remote from civilization as we are now. It makes sense that there would be some sort of market in this town.”

He seemed encouraged by that, and I had a sense for where his thoughts were headed, so I added:

“And no, you can’t go.”

There was another long pause as we walked for a few minutes.

There was an odd look on his face as we walked along. Steven, like many people born to comfort, was never exactly bursting with sympathy for those less fortunate. So while I didn’t know exactly what he was thinking a couple of possibilities were formulating themselves in my mind.

Mostly, though, I was enjoying his silence.

“I don’t know why we shouldn’t go,” he said after a few more minutes, breaking the silence.

I didn’t reply.

He seemed to be working himself up to something, and my silence wore on him.

“Do you think I’d make a good slave?” he finally asked.

The question struck me like a bolt out of the blue. Despite his masculinity, my husband a kinky, submissive side that comes out sometimes. I instantly sensed where this was going.

“Perhaps,” I hedged. “In the right market.”

“I’m serious, Marina. Do you think I’d fetch a good price?”

“I was being serious, dear. I really don’t know.”

My mind was racing. Why did he want to know how much he’d sell for as a pleasure-slave? And my body was starting to race too, as I imagined seeing him in that circumstance.

“You know Africa better than I do,” he insisted. “And you studied economics.”

That was true. “Well,” I said letting my mind consider the factors. “This is a smaller market in a smaller town, and I’d guess that the higher-quality goods are usually shipped out for resale. However, I’d wager you’d fetch a goodly sum. With your looks, you know.”

That brought a half-smile to his serious face.

“And,” I carried on, “there’s another obvious factor. In this more remote place, you’d be a rarer specimen with your white skin. You’d stand out. And that would raise your price.”

He looked at me intently, listening to every word.

I was starting to enjoy playing with his mind this way, pushing forward this strange obsession he was in the grip of.

“Of course,” I said, changing tone, “pleasure-slaves are not inter-changeable goods. It always comes down to how an individual buyer with particular desires reacts to a particular man. There’s only one way to know for sure.”


“Put the man on the auction block and see.”

Steven looked shocked. “Auction block?” he stammered. I smiled at his discomfort, and he saw my pleasure at his embarrassment. That jerked him back to reality.

“Yes, quite right. Impossible to know how something will sell until you actually sell it, I suppose.”

I let him dangle in his own needs and imaginings. If this game was going where I thought it could be going, he would have to make the first confession.

“I simply must see this market.”

Again that strange note of obsession in his voice. Maybe it wasn’t simply a game we were playing.

But I wouldn’t make it easy for him. “Sorry, dear. It’s not a suitable place for white male tourists wearing designer sandals and silk shirts.”

We walked along in silence for several more minutes. Steven was quiet as he mulled things over, and I was quite enjoying my own imaginings of the possibilities before us.

“What if I wasn’t wearing the sandals?” he said.

“What do you mean?”

“What if I were a male slave? Just for today. You could bring me in to the market then, couldn’t you?”

“You don’t have the guts,” I said, laughing. But I felt a moistening beginning between my legs.

“Would you like to bet on that?”

We stopped walking and faced each other. I could see Steven’s confidence suddenly coming on strong.

Then he began stripping. Sunglasses off and tucked into his pocket. Gold-twist bracelet off. Then his shirt off. Linen pants off. He looked quite enticing, standing before me in his sexy silk underwear in the African sun.

I looked up and down the dusty road. We hadn’t seen anyone for over half an hour, and we were all alone.

I turned back to face Steven, considering my options.

“Slaves don’t wear $60 designer silk underwear,” I noted dryly.

Steven hesitated, then accepted my challenge by stripping his underwear off.

I smiled as the pale skin of his buttocks and groin emerged in the hot Etlik Escort sunlight. And clearly this situation had charged him erotically–the talk of being a pleasure slave and the open exhibitionism–for his penis was aroused and swaying in the warm African breeze.

“Yes,” I said appraisingly, “you’d definitely fetch a high price.” He really was a delicious-looking man, despite his annoying behavior recently.

“Will it be a busy market?” he asked, covering his crotch as he suddenly realized that he was standing naked on a dirt road. “Crowded, I mean?”

I smiled, enjoying my overbearing husband’s sudden insecurity. “Busy enough,” I added enigmatically. Part of me was relishing his discomfort as I remembered the hell he’d put me through during this “boring” trip.

Time for some payback.

At the same time, Steven looked quite enticing standing naked in the road, unsuccessfully trying to hide his crotch with his hands. I half-wanted to have him for myself right then and there.

But modesty was not permitted for a pleasure-slave and I would get my satisfactions in a different way.

Reaching into my backpack I pulled out a long reel of coarse rope. It was manufactured locally, and was rough and scratchy, but had been strong enough to pull our jeep out of the mud, with Steven cursing me and especially our driver each time we got stuck. Cutting off a short section, I walked behind Steven and tied his hands behind his back using a simple handcuff knot.

“That’s too tight!” Steven protested.

I pinched his luscious bottom and leaned forward to whisper in his ear, “That’s not for you to decide, slave boy.”

I thought he was going to protest again, but his response surprised me. “As you wish,” he said.

I didn’t bother to cut the remainder of the long rope and quickly fashioned a slip tie with 3 or 4 twists around the knot. Steven looked puzzled, at least until I threw the loop around his head and let it settle on his shoulders.

He glared at me as I pulled the loose end of the rope through a metal buckle on my backpack and tied it there, tucking the remaining rope into the pack. He looked even less sure as I put his sandals, sunglasses, his silk underwear and the rest of his clothes into the backpack.

I was going to walk my male slave to the marketplace stripped of everything but the rope leash around his neck.

“Want to call it off?” I said, smiling, though the smile didn’t quite reach my eyes.

He mouthed an obscenity. I responded with a toothy grin.

Stark naked with a rope around his neck and his hands lashed behind his back, Steven suddenly became aware of every sound, twig snap, and motion along the “bloody boring” dirt road.

“What if someone sees me?” he asked, his voice cracking. I smiled. Steven’s voice breaks when he’s nervous. Sometimes he gets nervous laryngitis, and now he was very nervous indeed.

“So what if they do?” I chuckled, relishing his unease. “Nothing to see really. Just another naked male slave.”

A quick tug of the rope and we were off.

* *

It was a challenge for Steven to keep up with my brisk pace walking barefoot on the unpaved road, but the knot tightening around his lovely neck provided incentive for him to keep up.

As we got closer to the town, a few passing jeeps honked their horns at us, much to Steven’s distress. “If your friends at the hotel could see you now!” I teased. Steven shuddered at the thought.

One man in a jeep offered me a ride. “If you don’t want him in the jeep, I can tie his leash to the bumper,” he joked. At least I think it was a joke. I turned him down. Walking my pampered and annoying husband to market was simply too much fun, and I wanted the pleasure to last.

Steven had nothing to say, for after his first few minutes of complaining his vocal cords gave way to his nervous laryngitis and I was treated to a blessed silence I had not enjoyed since we had landed in Africa.

As we walked I checked my tourist guidebook for the town, noting the exact location of the market and the time it opened. It looked like we would be arriving early, so I took the long way along several busy streets.

We both got lots of looks but Steven especially got additional leers and suggestions. We didn’t speak the local language but the tone of voice communicated clearly. And several of the people we passed had enough English to make their crude remarks quite understandable.

The strange thing was that Steven’s penis was aroused the entire time.

Or maybe that wasn’t so strange, given the side of him that was becoming apparent. This erotic submissiveness–had it been there all along? Had the extremes of Africa changed him? Or had the sight of those chained males awakened in him some deep and ancient need?

And why was I reacting this way? This game put power in my hands, and that was a pleasure indeed–but my body and my rushing imagination were telling me that it was also something more.

* *

We still arrived at the main marketplace about thirty minutes before the slave-market building was to open. Steven’s skin was starting to become pinkish-red from the sun, so I looked for some shade. One must deliver the merchandise in good condition.

I wasn’t sure if Steven was panting because of my brisk pace, the rope around his throat, or his nervousness when he saw how bustling the market was.

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