We were sitting in our favorite bar – actually in the basement of a friend’s house – jawin’ about a special on Harry Houdini, you know, the great escape artist. Boy! What a build, and what a slick performer. Now George, the resident loudmouth, said he wasn’t impressed with the man. He was about Houdini’s size and had twenty more pounds of muscle. George can talk a blue streak, but he generally doesn’t have much worth saying, and tonight was no exception. The guy is incredibly built, incredibly defined, and though he is on the short size, about 5′ 9″, he is beautifully proportioned. He is the son of the owner of the best exercise gym in town and works for his dad as a personal trainer. Well anyway, he was on some tack that he could fight his way loose from anything Houdini could have gotten out of. He had had a couple of beers and, short hitter that he was, he was hell bent on making a damn fool of himself. We couldn’t get him off the topic.
Finally the guy who was hosting us in his basement spoke up. He’d had enough of George’s talk. He was a great admirer of Houdini, and owned an extraordinary collection of chains and irons like what the great man used in his performances all over the world. Most were replicas, though he had a couple from the period. But none of us knew about this collection at the time, and he suddenly spoke to George: “Well, George, we’ve listened to a lot of hot air from you, but I suspect it could be proved beyond the shadow of doubt that you can’t possibly repeat any of Houdini’s stunts.” Says George: “I’ve got a hundred dollars that says I can get loose from anything you can produce!” Our host is one of the wealthiest businessmen in town, a self-made man, and he feels at home with us wage earners. The son of a shop foreman and a high school teacher, he worked his way through college, was drafted and refused officers’ training, ending up a NCO in the army. “George,” says the host, “I can tie you up so’s you’ll never get loose. I don’t want your money; however, I’ve got a thousand dollars that say that you can’t get out of what I put you into. But if you aren’t loose from your predicament in a half-hour [which is longer than Houdini ever needed to escape his restraints], we get to work you over for another hour or so.” The rest of us burst into laughter and applauded, grinning from ear to ear.
Now George set great store by his macho image and cut quite a figure with the women – atop that extraordinarily ripped body was a heartbreakingly beautiful, very expressive face, broad and square like his body, with gentle brown eyes and a sensuous mouth. Given the almost feminine sensitivity of his mouth and eyes, he was very touchy about his heterosexual orientation. You can figure fags in some of the local bars we frequented occasionally propositioned him, and we had to stop a few fights, as George has a pretty short fuse about some things. Now, George could have backed down from his dare, but he was too stubborn – maybe he was even dumb enough to think he could have escaped from serious restraints. However, anyone who saw his squared-off, massive build, with broad hands whose palms were far larger than his wrists and the big, broad feet under massive legs, just knew there was no chance of his escaping even a loosely fitted collar, cuffs or ankle bands. But ol’ George probably thought our host would use laundry rope or a belt or some other household stuff to hold him.
It was comical to read George’s expressive face as he tried to sort out the whole offer. He knew the consequences of losing the bet were shameful and frightening, but he was also conscious of what backing down would do to his macho reputation. After a long minute, George stood up and faced his challenger: “I’ll take your bet. You don’t have anything I can’t get loose from, and I’ll spend the thousand on the biggest party we’ve ever had! He grabbed the guy’s hand and shook it. “OK, do your worst! And loosen up that checkbook of yours!” The host looked silently at him for a moment and said, “You know that you will stay bound for at least an hour, maybe two, and that could mean a lot of discomfort; furthermore, I’m going to videotape the whole thing.” George stared at him, shocked, his lips moved as if to speak, but then he nodded his head: “Just so I get a copy.”
Our host walked over to a door in the corner, unlocked it and led us all through it. When he flipped on the lights, we found ourselves in a large room. Two of the poured concrete walls were hung with an amazing variety of restraints, mainly of metal, though there were some curious harnesses that appeared to be made of leather, with chains and rings attached to them. Additional, heavier chains and their attachments were lying on a smooth, painted concrete floor. There were many thick steel rings that appeared to have been put into wall and floor alike when the original concrete was poured. Clearly, prisoners could be restrained in various standing, kneeling, squatting, prone and semi-prone positions, some patterns of rings suggesting rather uncomfortable ones. I noticed the floor had a downward pitch from the walls to a drain in the center of the room, and there was a spigot in one wall with a coil of hose underneath. Two of the adjoining walls were completely covered by mirrors to allow prisoners and their captors a better view of struggles to escape. “You know I am a great admirer of Harry Houdini, and this is my little museum and memorial to the great man. I have always hoped to find someone who could do Houdini’s tricks. Many have tried, but none has won the 1,000-dollar reward I offer to anyone who can free himself from one of these restraints without outside help. But I’ve gotten a lot of jollies watching ’em try! Generally I give ’em the thousand dollars for their trouble if they really put out. To see that the subjects are completely honest, the entire room is equipped with hidden cameras and all efforts are taped.
Without wasting further words, he reached to the wall behind him and clasped a steel collar around George’s neck, with equal suddenness a padlock appeared and the collar was locked securely in place. Holy shit! That was quick! Whoa! This mother is heavy! “Strip down to your socks! Houdini worked naked, but I want you to have a little protection if you lose it when you’re trying to get loose.” Whoa! That’s a little wild! Oh, well, I asked for it, I guess. Here we go! George shucked shirt, shorts and underwear, then he removed his shoes and looked expectantly at the host. We all stared at George’s fabulous body – and then at the host, who picked up a curious contrivance from where it was lying on the floor: “This is a set of Spanish combination irons. The Spanish are masters of blacksmithing. Anybody who knows old paintings of the Inquisition have seen saints and martyrs as prisoners secured with such pieces.
As you can see, these four horseshoe shapes with the square holes at each end are designed to slide onto this three-quarter inch square bar, then to be filled by George’s wrists and ankles. Beautiful work, isn’t it? The wider, pyramid-shaped of the two ends of the bar keeps the horseshoe pieces from sliding off. Sit down and bring your hands forward between your legs, George!” Swiftly the host put first the left ankle, then the left wrist, then the right wrist, then the right ankle into the horseshoe shaped restraints, sliding each in turn carefully onto the bar. He then produced a large modern high-security padlock and passed its heavy shackle through a hole at the other end of the bar. He also passed the end link of a short, massive chain attached to a ring let into the concrete through the padlock’s shackle before pushing it shut with a most impressive snap. George’s ankles and wrists were encircled by the horseshoe shaped pieces on three sides and kept in by the massive square bar on the fourth. The chain left him a scant three-foot radius of movement. The shackles fit pretty snugly on George’s outsized limbs, but there was a little bit of clearance, enough to allow for circulation. “SHIT! These are MEAN mothas – Christ, it sure didn’t take him long to get ’em on me! Unh! They’re pretty snug! Christ! This whole setup must weigh a good thirty pounds!
George was quite a sight in the combination irons. The legs were locked snugly in the two outer openings and his wrists were locked tightly in the middle ones. His wide hands were a good inch and a half broader than his wrists, and the horseshoe pieces fit the wrists beautifully. As I looked at him, he tugged experimentally on the bar and iron cuffs, his sculptured pecs and the arm muscles connecting neck to shoulders swelling a bit. There were beads of sweat on his forehead. The lad looked a little nervous, but his face was resolutely set. “The rules are simple, you have a half-hour to get free of these combination irons and the steel collar. You have your wits, your strength and your creativity to work with, but nothing else. Good luck.” We all filed out of the room, leaving our loudmouthed friend to his work and his thoughts.
As the door went to, one of our number exclaimed, “Whoa, I’d like to see his face now!” “Rest assured, you’ll see it all from all angles, I expect quite an impressive show. There are camouflaged cameras set in the wall aimed at his face, and various parts of his body, the lens tubes can be moved from one vantage point to another, and all that’s photographed for the next hour or two will be digitally recorded. I’ll edit it and send you all copies – my treat. You will get others if you choose to subscribe to my service.” The slick bastard obviously had set the whole thing up! He sat down at a console, flipped a switch and the lights were dimmed. He pushed another button and seven screens on the wall lit up. A central screen showed George staring right at a hidden lens, clearly unaware he was in full view of his host and all his friends. Other screens showed his trapped wrists and ankles, his neck and back, his butt and thighs, and his crotch. Two cameras covered his sides. One camera lens pointed straight down from the ceiling.
Shock and amazement on his face changed to intense concentration as George began to work his irons in earnest. He turned his wrists toward his chest and pulled upward. The various screens let us see the play of his biceps and the inward flexion curve of his abs as the pecs, biceps, corded forearms and back muscles pulled, tugged, and finally yanked on the irons. The back muscles and triceps showed their awesome definition. His face was a study in discomfort and annoyance. The massive combination shackles held him tight and there wasn’t the slightest hint of looseness or play in the beautifully executed ironwork.
He struggled to slide his right hand toward the padlock on the end of the bar. But all he did was to bump into his massive, hairy calf. He pushed down on the leg but the highly developed calf muscle couldn’t go down farther into the close-fitting horseshoe piece. He tried to use his legs to move around a bit. The sense of discomfort was growing, along with the feeling of claustrophobia. George’s pecs swelled again as he bent to his work, the massive thighs rippled in muscular curves, the fists doubled, the forearms corded, and the beautifully rounded biceps swelled as he swayed back and forth in the heavy steel. The face was a joy to behold as determination fought with anger and frustration. The boy was clearly getting well pumped up, as was appropriate to the heavy workout he was giving himself. Our host put the ceiling camera on the central screen and we could see the rhythmic swaying as he hauled and swung back and forth on his irons, his back and upper-arm muscles swelling and flowing under the smooth skin.
But finally he paused, and on the various screns we could see the sweat dripping from nose and cheekbones, and from his chest, where the luxuriant growth of hair was stuck together by sweat. Amazingly, the flattop crewcut was as crisp and smooth as at the start. He twisted his head in his collar as he looked around the room. Yeah, yeah, I’m not through yet. Wit and creativity, huh? Let’s see if he’s left any tools around. There’s got to be some sort of trick to this, and maybe it’s stored here in the room somewhere. He was facing the mirrored walls, and he started maneuvering his massive, immobilized feet, legs and ass cheeks so he could see the other walls. His frustration mounted as he tried to move his legs, and gain purchase with his slippery, sweaty feet on the smooth concrete.
He managed a few degrees so he could see one of the walls. Suddenly his whole body tensed up, we waited impatiently to see what had grabbed his attention so suddenly. We tried to follow his line of sight on the screen. Suddenly, one of us shouted, having spotted a ring of keys lying on the floor next to the wall.
The host grinned: “They’re the right keys all right, but isn’t ol’ George forgetting something? This will be interesting to watch.” The young man had discovered that by tightening his abdominals in a kind of situp motion, he could lift his feet up a bit, and by twisting his torso he could move himself a bit. His face showed the intensity of his concentration as he started inching toward the keys. But eventually there was a loud ringing sound as the heavy tempered steel chain attached to the bar snubbed on its padlock and the ring in the floor, bringing George’s foreward motion to a sudden halt. Damn! The goddamned chain! It’s not fuckin’ fair! No way can I reach those keys! A roar of pent-up fury came from his gaping mouth. He twisted back and forth, yanking again and again on the heavy, clanging chain in his frantic despair. He finally lay on his side, exhausted, his legs and hands fixed at an uncomfortable angle to the bar, whose pyramidal end was standing on the cement floor, the taut chain padlocked to the bar hanging down to where it was immovably joined to the massive ringbolt in the concrete. The face was set, the eyes closed, the teeth were showing as his lips curled in rage. There may have been a hint of angry tears amid the sweat drops on his smooth face. And yet he was silent, stoically panting as he regained his strength for another try at getting loose. The host said, “Well, his time’ll be up soon. I give him high marks for his stamina, and he hasn’t whined or called for help. He should be fun to play with, feisty as he is!”
When the thirty minutes were up we got up from in front of the screens, went through the door and stood around the shackled figure lying on his side on the concrete floor, his eyes glaring up at us, his flushed face betraying his anger and shame. “Well, boy, you’re not through yet, we still have an hour with you, and maybe you can still beat the irons, though you’re going to have a lot of distractions,” the host said said with a grin. He squatted down behind George’s back, reaching over his shoulders, running his fingers from his collarbone to his nipples, squeezing them hard between his thumb and forefinger. The prisoner hauled and grunted his discomfort, still on his side. The host took a set of mean-looking little clamps joined by a light chain and set them on George’s nipples. There was a cry of helpless rage; George looked furiously at his chest and jerked on his irons. His position lying on his side left his iron erection clearly visible to us all.
“Well, my lad, you’re tougher than I gave you credit for, no whining, no crying. Your responses are typical, but still most impressive. It’s time for a rest before we finish with you.” He walked over to the wall and took down a four-way set of heavy handcuffs and leg irons joined by short chains. These were snapped on to George’s wrists and ankles before the heavy padlock was opened and the Spanish irons were slid gently one by one from the bar. George sighed with relief and sat there quietly on the concrete floor, pulling only gently on the new shackles as he adjusted to a more comfortable posture.
“You’ll have ten minutes’ rest, then we’ll bring you to the old hitching post , a setup which will allow all of us to join in a fun finale to your first hour.” He motioned his other guests to follow him to a pair of heavy cast iron posts set in the concrete, about as high as a man’s waist and with heavy rings affixed near their tops. Each ring had an iron manacle and a leg shackle hanging on a chain. The shackles themselves were one-eighth-inch thick steel straps two inches in width with screw closures which could be tightened or loosened only with a hexagonal wrench. There were a few massive, squat benches with legs of different length, clearly for giving minimal support to prisoners with differing leg and arm lengths to be ‘hitched up’ to the posts while perched somewhat precariously on the benches. We admired the setup, and smiled over at George’s expression of amazed dismay as he tugged a bit more diligently, but futilely, at his chains.
A couple of us lifted George up off the floor, holding him at his armpits and at the bend in his knees and bringing him directly between the posts and under the shackles attached to them. One handcuff was unlocked, and two of us brought an arm up to the manacle, which was locked tightly around the wrist. Another kicked the appropriate bench under him, and we set George’s butt on it. Then the other hand was secured to the other post and the transport irons were removed. We watched Georg try in vain to get comfortable, but the best he could do is grasp the short manacle chain on each side and take some weight off his wrists in their shackles. His legs were then also released from their shackles, then first the one, then the other was pulled up to the vertical and locked in the massive leg irons. He tugged frantically on the new chains: “C’mon, guys, cut me a little slack. These fuckers hurt like shit, haven’t you had enough fun?” Our host grinned at him and said: “A deal is a deal”.
It was a good two hours before we hosed ol’ George down and let him out of his restraints. The story has a kind of happy ending, actually. George’s video was a real rip-snorter and made our host a pot of money. George got a bank check for ten thousand dollars for signing a release on the video, and he learned to keep his big mouth shut. We got him shitfaced drunk a few nights later and showed him the video – he was actually quite proud of it, and accepted a complimentary copy of his own. We’ve never asked who he shows it to!