“Strip,” was the command. It came from a small, compact and very fit looking young woman who stood in front of both Americans. She was dressed in heavy black mountaineering boots, black stretch tights that fit like a second skin, and a short black leather motorcycle jacket that reached just below the waist. Under the jacket was a white ribbed turtleneck jersey, equally as tight as the leggings. Her waist was belted with a wide black and studded black belt, giving her an excellent hour-glass figure complimented by high, well separated and pointed breasts that thrust the jersey and jacket towards the two men with typical Swiss arrogance. She had dark brown eyes, a patrician nose with a slight upturn at the end, and a tight, thin-lipped mouth that did not smile very often. Bill thought she was probably in her mid thirties but found her attractive in a dominant sort of way. Her dark brown hair was cut short in the type haircut that Bill often called a ‘butch buzz’: clipped close in the back and cropped off the same length all around just below the ear. She wore no makeup except for heavy black eye liner; but both men, if asked, would have said she was very attractive. On the broad, silver-studded black leather belt were three pouches, two on the right and one on the left.
Five people stood in the windowless white room illuminated by dozens of the bright, cool, green florescent lamps typically found in many European institutions. The overhead lights gave the room a slightly sinister glow because they were not as bright or as close to sunlight as florescent lights were in the U.S. The only furniture was a tall, stainless steel floor-to-ceiling cabinet against one wall and two white enamel gurneys covered with white hospital sheets on the opposite wall.
Noting the polished steel rings mounted on the floor and walls, Gus and Bill looked at each other in astonishment. Gus began to protest, “You can’t do this. We have some rights. We didn’t rob the bank, and we want to contact the American Embassy at once. We were pass...uhg, uh...” He stumbled and fell to the white tile floor as a stun baton, pressed into his ribs from behind, sent a strong electrical charge through his body. One of the guards had reached forward and stuck the baton into his ribs. The force of the charge sent him to his knees.
“Strip. Now,” barked the woman in black, as her left hand moved to open the longest of her belt packs and remove a similar short baton which she extended towards Bill, pressing a button on the base. The four-inch stub of a handle sprung to life and became a tapered silver wand nearly two feet long and capped with a small silver stud. She waved the baton slightly in the air, and it made a swishing sound, and the tip passed within inches of Bill’s groin. Both men hastened to remove their winter clothing. The parkas and boots were first, and then socks, sweaters, L.L. Bean chamois shirts and jeans followed.
“Amazing,” hissed Bill, glancing over his bare shoulder at his partner as he hurried to get off his plaid cotton shirt. “They never searched us at the arrest or at the farmhouse. These people aren’t police!” The guards ignored him. Gus, struggling to recover himself and remaining on the floor, moved more slowly, and the guard stepped forward again, ready for another shot with the baton. “Don’t,” Gus blurted. “I’ll do it.”
Bill was undressed even as his friend was gathering himself together on the shiny white flooring, not wanting to experience the same electric motivator. In a few seconds, they were both down to their jockey shorts.
“OK?” Bill stammered hesitantly, looking at the woman in the leather jacket out of the corner of his eye while keeping his gaze on the guard with the electronic baton. Guard number three stood against the left wall, in an “at ease” position, hands clasped behind her back. She wore the same uniform, but her hair was longer and light blond, almost white. She watched the men carefully, somewhat appraisingly, but said nothing. If she was armed, it was not apparent to the men.
“No. Everything,” was the response from the leader. The shorts came off.
Bill was the bigger man, standing about five foot ten in his bare feet and weighing close to 190 pounds, his dark hair in the fashionable long style worn by New York professionals of the time. At 32, he carried the usual beginnings of a spare tire in the middle and didn’t do much about it except swim occasionally at the midtown health club he was paying $14,000 a year to belong to.
Gus was smaller and more compact. He weighed 165; and, while he didn’t work out, he did enough work around his house and with his girlfriend’s horses to keep in good shape. Sherry had gone “veggie” three years ago, and Gus had tried to get into the habit but was still into his steaks and French fries whenever he could talk Sherry into letting him eat them, in their apartment or at a restaurant. Both men had been engaging in ‘illegal’ meals while on this trip, and they knew that, as soon as the girls hooked up with them, the good food would end, and it would be back to fruit, fiber, and ‘fairy food’, as Bill called it.
“Good. That’s better,” said their hostess, waking both men from the momentary shock of being naked in front of total strangers and, worse yet, in a foreign country and being charged with a major felony.
“Hands behind you,” the woman commanded. Both men slowly complied. It was apparently too slow a response for their guard, and each received a sudden and painful shot from the baton. Again Gus went down, and Bill staggered under the impact. Handcuffs were quickly and efficiently double locked behind both men. The guards arranged the men’s hands so that they were palm out, back to back and then checked the fit.
“This is inhumane torture. You can’t do this.... It, it’s against the Geneva Convention...or something like that,” Bill babbled excitedly as he tried to recover his balance and struggled with his hands chained behind him. The guard, who was standing over Gus, reached down and pulled him to his feet by his hair, holding the stun baton close to his face. “You vant zis again?” she hissed.
“No. No, I’ll do what you say,” Gus whimpered, tears coming from his eyes, his hands twisting behind his back. The second guard moved forward and, bending over, attached leg shackles to their ankles. She went to the cabinet and opened the top doors, taking out a cardboard box which she passed to the leader.
Cover Image © Adam Wasilewski