They dragged the skinny, dirty man through the hallway. Their white uniforms were crisp, but the third officer, leading the way, looked a bit disheveled. He knocked sharply at an office door.
The officer opened the door, stepped back to allow his men to enter first, then followed. The room was long and narrow. A large desk filled the office and a single chair faced it.
“Bring him here.”
The officers deposited the man in the empty chair and stood near the door. The third officer stood next to the cowering man who sniffled loudly and wiped his hand across his nose. The standing officer grimaced. Finally, the man in the chair turned to face them. The prisoner stiffened, swallowing hard. The standing officer saluted.
“At ease, Sergeant. Any trouble?”
“I expected his elusiveness, sir. We didn’t have much trouble bringing him in.”
The man turned his attention to the thin, dark man who slid lower into the chair at his perusal.
“Well, what do you have to say for yourself?”
“I didn’t do nothing.” The man’s voice cracked. “You don’t have any right to keep me here. I’ll be out again before you know it, and you can’t stop me.”
“Not this time, I think.”
An officer opened the door to admit a single woman. She entered when the man beckoned gently, stopping near the desk. He came to meet her.
“As you see, we have him just as we promised. You won’t have to worry about him any more.” He smiled at her kindly, and she nodded, relaxing at his gaze.
A sudden movement drew her attention toward the chair, and at her glance, the little man became instantly talkative.
“Ann! Ann, I am so glad to see you. I will be so glad to get home and just relax tonight.”
Ann stiffened at his chatter, and seemed unable to take her eyes off the little man who nearly danced in his chair, utterly aware of his power over her. He began to move gaily toward the door.
“I can’t believe you fellas actually thought you’d keep me in here. Come on, Ann! Let’s blow this joint…all this stuffy whiteness gives me the creeps.” He reached the door, taunting the guards who stood on either side. “Are you coming?”
As if hypnotized by his gyrating, Ann had turned to watch the little man, but her face did not mirror his sudden joy; instead, she stared at him, concern etched across her forehead.
“Ann? Come on!” He skipped towards her, then scooted back towards the door. Her eyes followed his every move.
The man behind the desk spoke but did not move.
“Ann, you can go with him, but you can also stay. Remember that he doesn’t control you, and I won’t force you. It’s your choice alone.”
Ann’s forehead dimpled tightly. The prisoner kept up his constant activity, trying to maintain her gaze. A moment passed. Then another. Suddenly shaking herself out of her reverie, Ann turned to the man beside her.
“Take him.” Her command was almost whispered, but the response was immediate. The prisoner stopped dead, stunned at her words. The three men in white uniforms pounced on the man and soon had him again under control. Ann turned her back to the dirty man who had suddenly returned to whining.
“Ann?” The prisoner choked the words. “What are you doing? How could you do this? After…after everything!”
Without turning around, Ann glanced up at the man in white. She spoke over her shoulder.
“You said you were my friend. But you’ve done nothing but hurt me. And it never stops with you. I don’t want you and your friends to control my thoughts any more. I want you out of my life. And this is the only way.”
She turned to the man in white.
“You said I could bring captive any thought that wasn’t right. Here he is.”
“I’m so proud of you, Ann. And so very glad you chose as you did.”
He nodded to the officers who moved toward the door, towing the silent prisoner with them.
“Ann, you know he’ll try to come back, but do you know what to do now?”
“I think so, Jesus. Just bring him to you. Every time he shows up, just bring him to you.”
“Exactly right, Ann. With my help, you can beat him. I promise.”
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