The Signal Box | Lazlo Thorn
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Lex Valentine
Genre/s: Gay Romance / Erotica with some BDSM themes
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 34,000 words / 75 pages
Release Date: April 5, 2018
It is a standalone book.
“When you tie me like that, when I’m sure I can’t get free,
well it’s like everything becomes still.
I’m still. Everything is calm.”
Autumn, 1913. Wiltshire, England. Davy Buckland, a boiler cleaner in the engine shed at the local railway station, was nineteen when he took a shine to the signalman at nearby Oakwood Junction.
He didn’t know much about Nathaniel, but he recognised a man who could show him the ropes and how the isolated signal box in the Edwardian countryside where he worked, could provide the perfect hideaway for their clandestine games.
By the time the Great War had started and these two ordinary men had become lovers, it wasn’t only the trains that were greased up and running on a good head of steam.
But just how long could they keep this affair a secret? And what would the consequences be, if their unusual sexual liaison was ever discovered?
He bounded up the steps enthusiastically and entered the signal box still dressed in the dirty overalls he’d worn while working on the engine that morning. By contrast Nathaniel Bixby, the signalman, looked clean and very smart in his dark black railway uniform, white shirt and company cap with the copper SWR badge.
He was a tall, clean-shaven man with hair the colour of a rusty firebox, handsome in an ordinary way. His uniform suggested broad shoulders and enhanced his capable bearing. His military background made him used to wearing a uniform well and his only concession to civilian life was a loosened tie.
As Davy entered, he stood proudly by the rack of eight tall metal levers, some red, some yellow and some black, each the height of his chest, that dominated the area in front of the big window. He had a dirty rag draped over his shoulder. He looked at Davy then checked the time using the big pocket watch he kept in his waistcoat.
“You’re early,” he said.
“Sorry, Mr Bixby. I thought I’d come straight here,” Davy replied.
“So I can see,” Nathaniel said, studying the dirt all over Davy’s face and overalls. “Throw a log on the fire. The pot’s hot. Make yourself a cup of tea. Let me get the thirteen-twenty out of the way and then we’ll get started.”
Nathaniel dutifully returned to his job and using the old rag to improve his grip began pulling some of the levers to switch the points and set the signals, taking particular care to set the stop signal on the branch line to ensure a clear passage for the impending express that would shortly reach the junction.
Davy opened the small, black stove in the corner of the signal box, poked the embers and put another log in it from the nearby basket. Then he brewed a cup of tea in a stained tin mug. He observed as the older man deftly made light work of the heavy-duty engineering in his office. A couple of bells rang a rhythmic beat in code with a message from a neighbouring signal box along the line. Nathaniel responded in kind. With the rack set, he waited, leaning casually on one of the levers while looking up the line for signs of the express.
Then right on cue and with a piercing whistle the train he had been preparing for came thundering round the bend, past the box and into the cutting. The windows rattled and the surrounding trees vanished in volcanic clouds of steam as the fire-breathing monster made off into the distance and once again the little clearing in the woods was quiet. Nathaniel returned the levers to their original settings and, as was his custom, hung the old rag over the one on the end. He turned to Davy.
“It’ll be quiet now for a bit,” he said with a grin.
Nathaniel took off his waistcoat and company cap, put them on a nearby chair next to the desk in the corner of the room and locked the door. Next, he rolled up his sleeves revealing the strong, hairy forearms that gave him the strength to make such light work of the heavy, clunky levers in the box.
Davy gulped down the rest of his tea while Nathaniel retrieved an old canvas rucksack from under the desk. He unfastened the bag and took out a short length of rope. Davy lay face down on the hard, wooden floor and—in a by now well-rehearsed routine—placed his hands behind his back where Nathaniel bound them.
First his wrists and then his ankles. Then more rope, longer this time, firmly around his upper body and shoulders and finally that cruel ligature that drew his ankles right up to his wrists rendering Davy immobile and blissfully helpless. Davy watched as Nathaniel stood up and studied his handiwork for a moment. Then he replaced his waistcoat and cap before he silently returned to his post at the lever rack.
Lying motionless on the floor, Davy could feel the rough floorboard against his cheek. He glanced over to where Nathaniel was standing with his back to him, watching out of the window and vigilantly minding his station. From this angle, Davy could see the scratches in the heels of his well-worn black leather boots and the backs of his tall, strong legs.
After a moment, Davy tested the ropes, but as usual Nathaniel had been very thorough, careful to put the knots out of the reach of his nimble fingers and to place the coils around his body where the contours of his own muscles blocked any prospect of easy slippage. He rolled. Now, he was facing the back of the box.
Once again, he tried flexing his arms and legs, pushing against the ropes but if anything, the struggling only seemed to make everything feel even tighter, even more of a tangle. So, he wrestled with the restraints some more, relishing the sensation.
He knew from experience that being tied up like this it would take him hours to get free. He was a prisoner, just the way he liked it.
About the Author
Lazlo Thorn published his first novel (The Signal Box) in 2018. In his work he explores themes about life, death, love and sexuality, set against the social mores and prevailing attitudes to gay sex at different times and in different places.
His forthcoming novel (Pain and Promise), due for release shortly, takes the reader to a small town on the Adriatic coast of Italy where two love stories, separated by almost forty years, become linked in an unexpected way.
He has nursed an ambition to be a writer for a number of years, but has only recently been able to make sufficient space in his life to begin committing some of his ideas to paper. The author has lived and worked in various countries and travelled widely in Europe and beyond.
Today, he lives in England with his husband, in a quiet seaside town on the south coast.
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