Max Galbraith was prepared to hold on to his position as one of the most powerful men in the city by any means necessary but could his methods hold the key to his own undoing?
Chapter Description: Max Galbraith was prepared to hold on to his position as one of the most powerful men in the city by any means necessary but could his methods hold the key to his own undoing?
“Yes, I was sorry to hear that you were unwell. It was all so sudden. As soon as my secretary informed me you were down here, I rushed straight over.”
Max Galbraith paced the small room, staring sadly at the man on the bed. His expensive shoes clattered across the tiled floor and squeaked as he spun around at each end. He shook his head and tutted to himself.
“I mean, if it could happen to you, a fit, healthy man at the height of his powers, a real power broker in this city, well, it could happen to any of us.”
Max turned his gaze and looked up at the window. He reached up and grabbed on of the bars in front of the glass.
“Not that you can see from there, Adam, but it really is a beautiful evening out there in the city. It feels almost criminal to be stuck in here. But that’s mental illness for you. You don’t get to pick and choose when it arrives. And yes, I know, I know, you don’t think there’s anything wrong with you. Well, Adam, I’ve had a word with your doctors and they assure me that you are quite, quite unwell.”
Max stepped back over to the bed and crouched down beside Adam, who returned a glassy-eyed stare.
“Yes, that’s right, Adam. You’ve got a nasty illness called having information that I need. I do hope you make a quick recovery. From here, the treatment looks even worse than the illness.”
He looked the man up and down. Adam was strapped to the bed. His hands and feet were held in place by leather cuffs and straps ran across his chest and forehead, preventing him from sitting up. He wore a loose fitting scrub top but his legs were exposed, revealing to anyone who saw him that he was taped into a nappy.
“I know what you’re thinking, Adam. This isn’t a very modern approach to psychiatric treatment. Well, no. But, when you’re this hospital’s major donor and it’s your family’s name above the door, you get a little influence on how things are done. For example, I used my influence to have this little ward built into the basement. The methods we use down here are a little outdated but I find they tend to get the results I want. What do you say?”
Max patted the stricken man’s chest strap. Adam struggled weakly against his restraints.
“No, I suppose you don’t. Not after the doctors gagged you anyway. I gather you were having a go at defiance earlier. Well, we’ll take it out when the doctors next do their rounds. We’ll see if you’re a little more cooperative by then.”
He stood up and straightened his tailored suit before pacing the room again.
“It’s extraordinary what you’re allowed to do when you have a little money.” He paused. “Actually, no, a lot of money. But the point is, I have a surprising amount of sway over what goes on down here. For example, when my doctors find a new patient strapped into a bed, they know to give them the treatment, no questions asked. No one gets out of here without express instruction from my office. I mean, it’s not something we talk about the fundraisers but it’s turned out to be a crucial part of my business.”
While Max was speaking, Adam’s eyes had started bulging in fear. He began to thrash wildly at his restraints.
“Oh, stop being so silly Adam. I’m not going to keep you down here forever. People would notice. My secretary has instruction to fax over the order for your release late tomorrow night. That way, you can be back in the office bright and early Monday morning. Of course, if you haven’t given me the information I need by then, you might just find that my doctors decide you need to return next weekend for further treatment. I’m sure that a week with that on your mind should help you clarify your position. Same thing goes if you try to tell anyone about my little setup down here, by the way. Think of it as an informal non-disclosure agreement.”
At that moment, an attendant entered the corridor pushing a trolley. He put his head round the door into the cell where Max strode towards him, running a hand through his slicked hair.
“Are you finished, Mr. Galbraith?”
“For now, yes.”
“Good. Only I need to feed the patient his evening meal and, uh, give him a change of undergarment.”
Max looked down at Adam’s nappy, which was yellowed and sagging. Adam squirmed uncomfortably.
“Well indeed, I don’t need to see any of that. I will, however, be coming back later. I know it’s not my usual practice but I need a resolution to this sooner rather than later. I’ll head up to the donors’ lounge on the top floor and have an old fashioned or two while you do what you need to do. I’ll pop back down later for another little chat with the patient.”
“Um, no can do, Mr. Galbraith.”
Max, who was not used to be told he couldn’t do something, glared darkly at the attendant.
“What do mean, no?”
“Well, uh, you see, after the final visiting period is over, the hospital is locked off. There’s strictly no access to anywhere else in the building to any member of the public. Even your family’s lounge is off-limits.”
“Public?” Max seethed, “How dare you? I’ll have you know-”
“I’m sorry, sir,
those are the rules. Even for you. It’s for the safety of the
patients. I can have someone accompany you out of the building but,
once you’ve left, I’m afraid you won’t get back in here until
“Well, that’s just not good enough,” Max’s face was turning red with rage. “I’m going to need access to this man throughout tonight. We’ve put so much work into this project and I won’t have anything get in my way. It is vital that I get what I deserve.”
“And that’s fine,” The attendant sighed, “you can stay down here as long as you need but you are not allowed to be anywhere in this hospital outside of this ward.”
“Look, I need to give this man time to think about his decisions. Where am I supposed to go in the meantime?” He looked at his unglamorous surroundings, at the narrow, harshly-lit corridors with a couple of cells on each side behind thick metal doors. The walls were tiled until halfway up for easy cleaning. It was all so cramped and depressing.
“Well, sir, the cell… uh, the room next door is currently unoccupied. You could have a quick kip in there until you’re ready to speak to the patient again.”
“Do you realise who I am? I can’t stay in some squalid...” He trailed off, aware of the man in the bed. He didn’t want Adam to see him in anything other than a position of strength. He ushered the attendant back out into the corridor and looked through the open door of the adjacent cell. “Fine. I’ll bed down in here for a bit. I suppose it can’t hurt to stay close to Adam for a bit."
“Very well, sir. You make yourself comfortable in there and I’ll see to the patient next door.”. Max stepped into the small room as the attendant pushed his trolley out of sight into Adam’s cell.
“Comfortable?” Max spluttered to himself. “What a nerve! How could I make myself comfortable in here?”
All the was in the room was a bed. The mattress was thin and covered with vinyl. At various points on the lightweight metal bedframe, restraints identical to those keeping Adam captive hung loose. Max shivered at the thought of having to occupy that bed, even without the restraints and even for just one night.
The cell smelt dank. The basement location of the ward had meant they regularly had trouble with damp. Max wasn’t normally too bothered about that; anything that made life more unpleasant for his enemies was fine by him. Night had fallen and the cell felt even more oppressive without any natural light coming in from the pavement level window.
Max took off his suit jacket and tie and sat down on the edge of the bed. The mattress was hard and squeaked whenever his shifted his weight. There was no way he was getting comfortable here tonight.
Instead, Max sat thinking about his plan of attack. How he was going to approach his question when he went back next door. It was a delicate operation and crucial that he get his tone right.
After a time, the attendant came back out from the room next door and swung the door closed. It shut with a hard clang that made Max jump. The attendant stopped his trolley outside of Max’s room.
“Alright in there, Mr. Galbraith? Anything I can do for you?”
“Ah, actually, yes. I’m getting a bit hungry. There’s a little sushi place just around the corner from here. Could you give them a ring and get them to drop off a selection here."
“Uh, I can’t, I’m afraid. Y’know, like I said, there’s no access to the building for any member of the public at this time. No non-medical deliveries allowed.”
“Oh, this is ridiculous. And just what am I supposed to eat, then?”
The attendant paused before speaking, like he didn’t want to have to say the words out loud.
“Well, I can always get you one of the meals from the fridge that’s down here. It’s not great food but it’s got all the nutrients the patients need.”
“You have got to be joking!” Max huffed, throwing his hands up in the air.
“Sorry, sir, it’s all I can get my hands on for you right now.”
“Fine. What are my options?”
“Options? Oh, no, there’s only one choice in there. Apparently, it all tastes the same anyway.”
“Ugh, whatever. Just get me something to eat, yeah?”
“Right away, sir. It just needs a few minutes in the oven.”
The attendant dashed out and came back a short time later with a plastic tub with steam rising out of it.
“Show it to me."
The attendant put the tub under Max’s nose. All that was in there was a brown puree. Max wrinkled his nose in disgust.
“It’s chicken stew.”
“Is it? That’s grim. It looks like baby food.”
“Well, yes. All the food served to patients in this ward is mashed. I believe those were part of your instructions, Mr. Galbraith?”
“Hmm.” He sighed, “Yes, I remember. Just give me the tub and let’s get this over with.”
The attendant produced a spoon from the trolley and, to Max’s surprise, crouched down beside him. He scooped up a large dollop of the mashed chicken stew and jabbed the spoon at Max’s lips.
“Just what the hell do you think you are doing?” Max recoiled in shock, causing the brown mush to spill all down his front. “Give me the damn spoon!”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, sir. It’s just that patients aren’t normally allowed to feed themselves down here. That was, y’know, force of habit.”
“I am not a patient here! Give me those. Gah, and just look at my shirt. I look a mess.” Max was almost screaming, his rage barely concealed.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Galbraith, I really am. Look, we’ve got a washing machine and a dryer down here. On the quickest settings, I can get your shirt back to you, nice and clean within an hour. Nobody would be any the wiser by the next time you go next door.”
“Yes. Just do it.” Max said, unbuttoning his shirt and handing it over. The attendant left Max to his meal, which he could barely swallow without gagging. He couldn’t believe that the people he sent here actually managed to eat this stuff.
As Max was forcing the last mouthfuls down, the attendant returned, carrying some white fabric.
“Right, that’s the washing on. Won’t be too long but I thought you might want something to put on to stop you getting cold.” He said, handing the item over.
“What’s this?” Max asked, unfolding the fabric, then realising it was one of the scrub tops the patients were forced to wear down here. “Err, no, I don’t think so.”
Max screwed the top up and threw it onto the floor. The attendant just shrugged and removed the empty food tub from the end of the bed where Max had left it.
“It was just a thought. Anyway, I’ve got some paperwork to be getting on with. I’ll be at my desk just here. If you need anything, just shout.”
“I will. Off you go.”
A few minutes later, Max glanced down at the top. He was getting pretty cold, after all. He reasoned that he may as well put it on. It was only going to be until his shirt was ready. Max put the fabric over his head and pulled it down into place. It hung shapelessly over his torso. It didn’t take long for the material to start itching his skin. Another one of his stipulations.
Max turned made eye contact with the attendant, who was sat at his desk just outside the door. The attendant gave a knowing smile. Max’s cheeks burned red, hating that a man far down on his payroll had got one over him.
He paced around, feeling like a caged animal. His frustration at not yet having concluded his business with the man next door was growing and consuming him. It was almost as irritating to him as the rough fabric he reluctantly wore.
More minutes passed and Max became increasingly aware that he need to pee. He stopped and realised that there were no toilets on the ward, something he’d taken for granted given the conditions he’d placed on the patients’ confinement. He stepped to the door.
“You there, where’s the nearest toilet to here?” The attendant looked up from his work, irked by both the intrusion and Max’s curt tone.
“Next floor up, in the public the waiting area. Oh, but you can’t go up there.”
“Don’t get smart with me. Tell me where I can go.”
“I already told you. Nowhere.”
“Yes, OK, but…” Max took a deep breath in an attempt to keep his composure. “...where do you go?”
“Well, there’s a staff area through that door at the end of the corridor. We’ve got toilets in there.”
“There you go, was that so hard?” Max said, nostrils flaring. “I’ll just go through th-”
“Uh, no, I’m sorry, I can’t let you through that door. That area is for authorised personnel only. And, outside of this corridor, you are not an authorised person. I’m sorry.”
“Are you joking? Like, are you actually joking? Just what the hell am I supposed to do? Piss all over your floor?”
“No, no. look, I’ll sort something for you, OK?”
“That’s better.” Max allowed himself a smug look of condescension, finally having got what he wanted.
The attendant walked to the end of the corridor and unlocked a cupboard by the door. Max left him to get on with it and turned his attention to the hatch in the next door. He was hoping for a glimpse of Adam thrashing wildly against his restraints, hoping that the desperation to escape would make him easy prey for the next interrogation. Instead, Adam lay there perfectly still. Just his chest moved, gently rising and falling.
“The bastard’s asleep!” Max whispered to himself before being startled by the presence of the attendant, who had reapproved by his side. The attendant shoved something into Max’s chest, forcing him to take it.
“There you go. Problem solved.”
Max looked down at the solution that he held in his hands. It was a nappy, taken from the patient supply cupboard. It was plain white and clinical looking.
“No, absolutely not. I can’t wear this.” He tried to sound firm but was almost pleading. This was an indignity too far.
“Well, like you say, it’s either this or you piss on the floor. Just remember that you are the one insisting on staying here beyond the time at which public areas are accessible. It’s your call. I can get someone to see you out of the building if you like and, beyond that, what you do is your problem. You can piss on the street for all I care.”
Max was inwardly apoplectic at this insolence but he knew the attendant was right. He was backed into a corner. He desperately need to work on Adam again before morning. There was only one thing for it.
“Fine, I’ll put the damn nappy on. But, if you tell a single soul about this, I’ll have you strapped to one of these beds for a decade.”
Max stormed back into the cell and threw the nappy down onto the plastic mattress. He took a few deep breaths as he steeled himself for the coming humiliation. As he was unbuckling his belt, he looked up and found the attendant at his desk, right in his eyeline.
“Do you need any help putting your nappy on?” The attendant asked with calculated emphasis.
“Piss off. And would you give me some privacy here? Seriously.” It was the attendant’s turn to sigh.
“Look, I really have got to get some of my work done.”
“And I really have got to get some privacy. So, if you’ll excuse me…”
The attendant got up from his desk but, instead of getting out of Max’s way, walked toward the cell. Before Max had a chance to ask him what he thought he was doing, the attendant grabbed the door and slammed it shut, trapping Max inside with a thunderous echo. Max stood there for a moment, dumbfounded.
“Let me know when you’re done.” The attendant called through the thick, metal door. “And try not to take too long. I want to get off my shift in a bit.”
Max shook his head in disbelief. He made a mental note to find out this guy’s name, maybe even give him his marching orders. For now, though, he just had to get this over with.
He slipped off his Italian leather shoes and placed them under the bed. Next, he slid down his trousers and boxer briefs, folded them neatly and placed them next to his shoes. He picked the nappy up off the bed and looked at it sorrowfully for a moment before unfolding it and placing it down, open, on the bed.
Max lowered himself onto the bed, flinching as the cold vinyl touched his skin. He came to rest on the soft inner lining of the nappy, adjusted his position until it was comfortable, then pulled the front up and over his crotch. Finally, he pulled the tabs, one by one from the side and fixed them to the front panel, sealing himself in.
Max got back up to his feet, legs slightly apart and took a few awkward steps. He tried not to think about the fact that he was a grown man in a nappy but the thick bulk between his legs was insistent. He blushed deep red at the thought of himself willingly donning the mortifying outfit he had previously forced his enemies into; a uniform precisely designed for maximum humiliation.
He had to push these thoughts out of his mind and get on with his business. The quicker he wet himself, the quicker he could change back into his clothes and conclude his affairs next door. Unfortunately for Max, as desperate as he was before, he found himself struggling to pee in this unnatural situation.
He paced back and forth in the cell, willing himself to go but it was no good. Eventually, tired and frustrated, he crouched by the side of the bed, placed his forehead on the mattress and tried to put all thoughts out of his mind.
After a couple of false starts, Max was finally able to get a stream going. It built as the wave of relief washed over him. Max felt the warmth grow around his crotch as the pee ran around the inside of his nappy before being absorbed. The nappy expanded between his legs, forcing them a little further apart.
The last few drops fell into the squishy mass strapped around Max’s waist. At last, it was over. Max felt ashamed at what he had done but, at the same time, a little euphoric. A heavy relaxation came down on him and he closed his eyes while he caught his breath. Gently, Max dozed off.
Max awoke with a start. He couldn’t tell how long he’d been out. For all he knew, it could be nearly morning. He needed to get into the next room before the chance was gone. Still a little groggy and without thinking to change out of his nappy, he waddled to the door and pounded on it with his fist.
“Oi! Open this door right now. I need to get out of here. Let me out.”
The door suddenly swung open and Max jumped back, startled. In
front of him stood one of the ward’s attendants but it wasn’t the
man he had been dealing with all evening. In fact, it wasn’t
someone Max had seen down here before. A powerfully built man towered
over him with a concerned look on his face.
“What on Earth is going on in here? How did you…?”
“How did I what?” Max replied drowsily.
“Ugh, all it takes it one loose wrist strap and they can work on the rest, maybe wriggle free.” The new attendant said to himself, ignoring the question. “The lazy sods on the evening shift have got to take more care or we’re all going to be in trouble. Right, let’s get you back.”
“Back? Back where?” Max instinctively edged back as the attendant came towards him.
“Back to bed. Come on, Mr. Galbraith wouldn't like if he knew there were patients free to wander around down here.”
“But I am Mr. Galbraith! I fund this hospital. I own this ward.” cried out to the man looming over him. The attendant paused momentarily, puzzled.
“Wow. This one might actually have gone mad. Delusions of grandeur.” The attendant lurched forward and grabbed Max by the wrist. He turned Max around, pulling his arm behind his back and pushing up on it. Max cried out in agony.
The attendant manhandled Max through the cell and pushed him down onto the bed. Max tried to struggle as the attendant turned him onto his back and, still holding Max’s wrist, slipped his hand through the leather cuff about halfway down the bedframe but the attendant just placed his elbow down on Max’s chest, pinning him to the bed.
Panic rose up through Max as the cuff was tightened and buckled. Unless he could convince the attendant that he really was Max Galbraith, he was going to be put through the humiliating ordeal he had designed for his enemies and rivals. But he looked to all the world, in his scrubs and wet, sagging nappy, like just another one of the ward’s captive victims.
The attendant moved around to the other side of the bed, making sure to keep his weight on Max, and forced Max’s remaining free hand into the other cuff and fixing it into place. Next, he pulled a large strap across Max’s chest and pulled it taught, almost completely restricting the movement in his upper body.
Max still had a little freedom to move his shoulders. Usually, he liked that arrangement as he felt it looked better if his victims could struggle a bit. Now, it felt like torment; a taste of freedom he couldn’t quite access. The attendant pushed his head down onto the mattress and secured another strap, this time across Max’s forehead.
Now, Max couldn’t see what was happening but he knew what was coming next. He felt the attendant grab his ankles, one at a time, and put them through the cuffs at the end of the bed. He was completely anchored to the bed and there nothing he could do about it.
“There we go, all tucked into bed. Doesn’t that feel better.” The attendant said mockingly. “Thank you for your cooperation. You clearly know what’s good for you.”
“Please, you’ve got to let me go. This is a huge mistake. Please!”
“OK, look, I only want a quiet shift,” The attendant sighed. “So I’m just gonna make a quick adjustment.”
Max could hear footsteps fading and coming back as the attendant left for just a moment. When he came back, Max was caught off guard by a rubber ball being forced into his mouth. The attendant pulled the gag’s straps round the back of Max’s head and fiddled with them until they were fixed in place.
“Excellent, we’ll not have another word out of you until the morning. Before I leave you to get comfy, let’s just sort one last thing out.”
The attendant suddenly grabbed Max’s crotch firmly. Max yelped in shock into his gag"
“Oops, looks like someone’s had a little accident, haven’t they? Eh?” The attendant was cooing as though talking to a baby. “Better give you a quick change.”
The attendant quickly ripped open the tapes on Max’s nappy and whipped it out from under him. Max winced as the attendant wiped around his groin roughly with a cold wipe. Then, almost as quickly as he had removed the last nappy, the attendant lifted Max’s bottom slightly, slipped a fresh nappy under him and taped him in.
“All done!” The attendant said brightly, patting the front of Max’s nappy. Max’s cheeks glowed in shame. “That’ll see you through to morning. Sleep tight!”.
There were more footsteps and, then, the door was closed with a resounding slam. Max couldn’t believe he was stuck like this. He was trapped as a patient until an attendant who knew and came on shift to recognise him. He was almost in tears as he thrashed wildly against his restraints but it was no good. Eventually, Max exhausted himself trying to escape his bonds and he fell into a fitful sleep.
The next morning, Max’s eyes flickered as he woke. Pale light came down into the cell from the window high above him. He felt more tired now that he had when he fell asleep. Max could hear two voices talking through the hatch in his door but he couldn’t lift his head to see who they belonged to.
“Are you sure? It does look a lot like Mr. Galbraith in there. I dunno, I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
“You know the rules. If a new patient appears in a bed, we give them the treatment, no questions asked. Yes? So stop asking questions, OK?”
“But nothing. Besides, if that really is Mr. Galbraith, then he has chosen to be put into that bed. No-one gets admitted to this ward without his say-so. And, what Mr. Galbraith wants, Mr. Galbraith gets. Who are we to judge?”
“So he gets his instructions carried out to the letter on himself?”
“Exactly. Until we get a fax come through from his office authorising his release, he’s not going anywhere. Now, come along, it’s feeding time. Grab a tray out of the oven and make sure the patient eats his mush. No special treatment because he’s the boss.”
Max groaned to himself. He could be here for a very long time.