The Man In The Tub
By Jeff Baker
“O Solo Mio! Hey, a little higher! Yeah! Scrub right there! That’s it!” the man in the tub said.
“Hey,” Chris said. “Is this all you bought me for? Scrubbing your back?”
“Rented, not bought,” the man replied.
“Oh yeah, there’s a big difference,” Chris muttered to himself as he scrubbed the man’s back.
“The ears get the ears,” the man said.
“Yessir!” Chris said, lathering up the washrag. He had to admit, this was a lot better than what most of the guys who rented him put him through, Washing a guy’s back and ears probably ranked as a three on the demeaning servitude scale. Forced sex with somebody who didn’t wash was probably down around ten. At least this guy bathed.
“So, how long have you been in this, anyway?” the man in the tub asked.
“You mean working out of Resources?” Chris asked. “About three years.”
“No, not that,” the man asked. “I mean, how long have you been…”
“In Involuntary Servitude?” Chris asked. That was the polite 23rd Century term for it. “Eight-and-a-half years, since I was nineteen. Got picked up for burglary. Tribunal said since I had no respect for other people’s property, I should become property myself.”
Stupid personal questions were right around nine or ten too, Chris thought.
“That’s got to suck,” the man said. “Hey, wash my butt crack while you’re at it, okay?”
“Yessir,” Chris said as the man in the tub leaned forward. Chris realized the guy had no sense of irony as he rinsed and lathered the washrag again.
“So, what are your plans for the future?” the man in the tub asked as Chris scrubbed.
Chris hadn’t thought of himself as having anything like a future.
“I’m just gonna take it as it…gets here,” he said.
The man laughed. “Good one,” he said.
“I mean, let’s face it, this isn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.”
“Scrubbing complete strangers, you mean?” the man asked.
“Yeah,” Chris said.
As the conversation went on as Chris kept scrubbing, he realized it had been a long time since he’d really talked to somebody like this without fear of consequences. Then the man in the tub reached up and kissed Chris.
“And don’t forget to wash between my toes,” the man said.
When Chris walked back to the Resources compound that night, the office had a message for him.
“That guy who rented you today? He just bought you. Paid with his card. You’re his now, kid.”
Chris sighed. Oh, well. There were worse places. He’d been in a few of them. They handed Chris a receipt and a note.
“Make sure he gets the receipt. Oh, and the note is a message. Came for you.”
As Chris walked out of the office, he unfolded the note which read:
When you get back, I can scrub you down.
Chris was grinning as he headed back to the man in the tub.