The young man stared at the four walls that had now become his life. A gilded cage was still a cage no matter how much you tried to justify the circumstances.
He once again cursed the name of the shady uncle that encouraged his parents to borrow money the even shadier loan shark. Said uncle then had skipped town leaving his parents to try and service the deliberately impossible debt. They had failed of course, and the result was that he had been sold to the Corsican Mafia to pay off the debt that was owed.
His uncle's body had been found a few days later.
Sergei Varishikov had celebrated his fourteenth birthday under the heaving fat and sweaty body of the local mafia Don before being shipped to America for "services rendered".
They had found the Don much later, eyes gouged out and his dismembered penis stuffed into his own mouth, but by then, the boy was already being put to work on a freight tanker that was sailing towards it's new destination.
America was nothing like the rural Kazakhstan he had grown up in. It was loud and gaudy and full of an excess that made his eyes water and the knowledge that he was now just a part of it made the bile rise hot and bitter in the back of his throat.
The Don's here were also more dangerous.
He was fifteen when they'd injected him with something that made his skin feel like it was fire and insides empty. He had begged, shamelessly, for anything that would ease the ache that was building in the pit of his stomach.
It was the first time he'd cried out in pleasure, and he would never forget the humiliation.
He'd learned to be obedient then, trying to find other ways in which he could serve his Corsican masters so that he wouldn't have to relive the feeling of being desperate and disgusted all at once.
On his sixteenth birthday he was gifted to an old mafia affiliate. The old man had a penchant for young boys, but unlike all the others, he was happy to just have Sergei parade around in a loincloth and serve him his meals and make him tea… and instead of forcing him to submit to him in the bedroom, the old man begged him to let him service him instead.
The old man also discovered that Sergei was a quick study and possessed a sharp and intelligent mind, and the young boy's days were soon spent in learning. He had grown fond of the old man, and was genuinely saddened when he'd passed peacefully in his sleep.
This was now where found himself, in a room that was contained priceless artworks, and comfortable leather chairs - but was locked from the outside. Dressed in nothing but the gilded loincloth that had become his customary attire, he waited.
By outward appearances Dino Golzine was a stout man, balding, but gracefully so. A distinguished looking gentleman by anyone's reckoning. It was also by anyone’s reckoning that he was on track to become the new Don; he was the youngest so far at forty-two.
He’d demonstrated startling business acumen within the Corsican Mafia, turning a profit where others had scoffed at the opportunities presented to them, and had begun amassing a surprising amount of personal wealth. Others blamed the old Don for allowing this young upstart too much freedom, but eventually, grudgingly, offered their respect.
Now seated at one of the many tables in the ballroom, he made small talk with members of the other mafia families. They were all there for the auction of Monsieur Aravena estate; the old man had died with no surviving family, and as per tradition, his estate would be subjected to an auction between the existing mafia families. No money would change hands as such, instead, everyone was given the same number of tokens with which to bid with. You could always trade information and call in favours to obtain more tokens from the other members if there was an item that you truly wanted.
Dino ran his stack of tokens through his fingers, allowing them to chime softly as they landed on the table. He’d bid on Monsieur Aravena’s extensive library collection unchallenged; he knew that the old man had collected rare and esoteric readings, and he also knew that such things held little value to the others in the room. They preferred to bid on things that had obvious monetary value such as the many artworks the old man had collected over the years. The Don scoffed to himself. He knew the worth of some of the books in the old man’s collection and he was getting a much better deal.
It was towards the end of the evening, when the bell sounded, signalling the last item for bidding. An uncomfortable hush came over the room as a young, half naked man was escorted out onto the makeshift stage. A low murmuring began, as the men began to discuss the perceived worth of the boy, who was obviously the old man’s play-thing; Monsieur Aravena’s appetites were hardly unknown.
Tinkling of metal against metal underpinned the conversations as remaining tokens were tallied up. It was no secret either that there were only a handful of men in the room who truly shared the same tastes, and as such the eyes of the room fell onto them.
“Gentlemen?” the auctioneer raised an eyebrow and waited.
“Does he do any tricks?” The question was followed by ribald laughter and Dino resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “You’d be better off asking him how many languages he can speak,” he muttered under his breath.
Dino’s eyes narrowed as he watched the boy scratch his nose, and as his hands returned to their original clasped state, slowly extend four fingers, as if he was stretching out his hand. Dark brown eyes flickered upward slightly to meet his gaze before returning to the floor.
The boy had read his lips, and answered his question.
He felt a fluttering in his stomach. An undeniable thrill coursing through him. This boy definitely had talents beyond bed-warming, and no doubt Monsieur Aravena had fostered them.
“Can you read?” he mouthed, watching the boy carefully. An imperceptible nod answered him.
Another slight nod.
Dino sat back in his chair, his finger tapping on his stack of tokens.
He watched as the boy paled slightly, his hands clenching into fists, and that was all the answer he needed.
Leaning back towards the table, he pitched his voice so that only those who shared his table would hear him. “I want that boy.”