British Police Inspector Dan Drummond has been ‘snatched’, trussed into a canvas strait-jacket and been left alone for an hour, gagged with a foam ball and his lower face wrapped with tape.
He hears his opponent, ex-school friend Harry Ansell returning ….
It immediately struck me that Harry had changed out of his casual clothes. He was now wearing a skin-tight dark tee shirt, black combat pants and boots. This was no style affectation, his pants and boots looked as if they’d seen serious action. The boots immediately struck me as being foreign: Spanish Army or French Legion; high lace-up, but with built-in wrap-around leather gaiters and buckles. Thick dark socks padded their insides. These were neatly rolled above the gaiters.
Later, Dan, still painfully hog-tied in the strait-jacket is lying face-down on the carpet when Harry sits on the end of the bed …
Reaching forward he dragged me on my crossed arms until my head was face-down between those boots, and they closed in on either side of my head, clamping my ears painfully. All I could see in my eye-line were the heels of his well-worn, scuffed boots, traces of dried mud still in the cleats of their thick soles.
The boots then shifted out of sight, and I felt his leather ankles tighten in against the sides of my neck and felt his toes under the front of my shoulders. The leather legs were now clamping my entire body, and I heard a mocking jaunty voice from somewhere above me say:
“Get out of that, as the commedians used to say. Go on, make a break for it. You’re heavier than me ... than I,” he corrected himself. “Remember old Adkin at The Grammar school? Give it a shot Big Feller. Let’s see you struggle.”
Just like in the old days he was provoking, taunting, daring. He knew I could never resist a challenge. I gave it a shot. Using my whole bodyweight I bucked back away from him, but the boot legs held me firm. I rolled experimentally, twisted more vigorously – attempted to turn onto my side to get more leverage. It was painful and getting me nowhere – until he suddenly allowed me to turn. My body rolled unexpectedly, and I was suddenly on my back – my legs still bent, roped tight up underneath me – and his fucking boots were back again to lock against the sides of my neck like a leather vice.
They were now completely in my eye-line, towering up away from me, the tough hide calves looked a mile high, topped off by his thick neatly turned-down socks. I could not see the tight rows of neat laces, but imagined them at the front of each boot, disappearing up and under the gaiters. I could see the under-edge of each gaiter but not the buckles ... my mind rambled. Why did these boots occupy my attention to such an extent? Almost as an abstracted thought, I realised that boots with attached leather gaiters had been something I’d often noticed in equipment catalogues ... and on people in action movies on TV. I’d always thought they looked better than the British and American combat boot. Like the old-fashioned motorcycle ‘despatch rider’ boots from World War Two films seen as a kid. As a youngster I’d always wanted a pair – so had Harry, I suddenly remembered. Well, I thought – he got a pair – and they’re pinning me to the fucking floor.