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CH. 13

The Changed Life by Gerry Taylor

Chapter 13 – Gustav

Sunday in the Arab world is actually the first day of the week.

And it was a busy first day. Almost half a billion had come into accounts over the weekend and had to be farmed out. The following day would be the July board meeting in London, but I had let it be known that I would video in, my excuse being as the new boy in Dahra, I did not want to be flitting away so soon.

When the morning had finally settled down and Gustav Ahlson had a spare moment, we had the local sweet coffee served to us in my office, as we had made the habit of doing. It was towards midday.

I first filled him in on my purchase of the Aloe Palace. Then on my new ownership of the seven slaves. If he was surprised he did not show it. I also mentioned that his name was spoken of by one of the al-Akhri brothers and that he had been described as in ‘interesting man’.

I let the phrase float in the air and just sipped my coffee.

After a minute or so, as if finally having made up his mind, he said ‘You’ll find out sooner or later, so I suppose it is best to tell you myself. I never did tell Tommy Elford, your predecessor – he wasn’t here long enough. It is a slightly complicated story and perhaps, a little long for telling over coffee, so let me invited you upstairs for lunch at, say, twelve thirty.’

The private dining room was occupied by only two other executives on the far side of the room.

We both chose the cold gazpacho soup to start.

Gustav began to tell his story.

‘I was only here in Dahra some six months when I bought my first slave. I did not go seeking him, I was approached to do so. The Swedish Government has always known that slavery has been alive and kicking as you say in the Middle East. So when, a Swedish person, particularly a male disappears, our Foreign Office puts all embassies in the region on alert, and believe it or believe it not, in over half the cases, one or other of the Embassies will have something to report.’

‘As I say, I was here six months, when the first secretary of the Embassy asked me to meet him. It was then a very small Embassy staff-wise. He told me that they had been informed of a Swedish student who was going to be auctioned in the slave market of al-Qatim. I was looking at him as if he was mad. I said to him ‘What is the Ministry for, but to get him free and out of there?’

‘He patiently explained to me the system. The respective government, the Dahran in this case, would deny official knowledge of slavery, the auction, the Swede having ever arrived in the country, the whole nine yards as they say. It is not that ‘lifters’ as they are called actually target Swedes, unless there is a specific order in, it just happens in about one in a two thousand instances it just is a Swede.’

‘The first secretary passed me over a file. It was the student, with a number of colour photos, face, profile, naked side view, full frontal, penis and anus. There was also some physical and medical comments or details.’

I knew the type of file. I had seven of them at the Villa.

‘I was totally confused on seeing his, and my heart went out to that student. I said I could not do it, that I did not know how. And I asked why they were asking me to do it, apart from the fact that I was Swedish.’

‘The reason was simple enough. I had purchased, with some money my uncle had left me, a very large property which had been let run down with some land around it just three miles outside the city. That’s where I live to this day. I have always been good with my hands, and I had done it up and apart from me in there was no one else there. It was also surrounded by a high wall which gave it privacy.’

‘I had not realised that the Embassy was keeping tabs on me, I told the man. Not at all quite the contrary, I was told, the Embassy was simply making sure that I was safe where I had gone to live, knowing the country and its background.’

‘To cut a long story, I was given three times the normal price of a European slave, one of our Foundations was helping out at that stage, and I presented myself to the dealer enquiring about the auction that week and was invited to it. The information was correct. The student was there. I had to go round and look at some 30 slaves, inspecting them and touching them, including the student, as if a bona fide buyer. To my dying day, as I said to my King afterwards, I will remember that afternoon for the rest of my life.’

‘The auction went through without a hitch and I was the owner of one slave. Keeping up the pretence, I had to see him tattooed with the SIN number and I had him put naked in the trunk of the Volvo so as to bring him home.’

‘When we got home, I had brought him into the house. You must remember that as far as the dealer was concerned, I was a private citizen buying a slave. Various Europeans do it here. As far as the new slave was concerned, I was his purchaser. I had not spoken other than in English as the auction rooms, so my Björn, did not know I was Swedish. But in my home, I have a picture of one of the famous Swedish islands and a flag of Sweden in the corner, which he saw. He thought he had been rescued and was safe in the Embassy. He rushed across and embraced me and was crying and trying to speak but could not.’

‘The long and short of it, he was the first of twenty three Swedes whom I have purchased over the past ten years here. Twenty one of whom, still live here with me, including Björn who is now my lover.’

‘I don’t believe you,’ I said, not meaning it to come out the way it did.

Gustav looked at me and said ‘Wait here.’

I saw him go out and head towards the vault of the Bank. Five minutes later, he was back with a small black box with the unusual crown of Sweden on the back of it. He opened it and attached to a ribbon of the cornflower blue and canary yellow of Sweden, was a medal. There was a further larger medallion of about 8 centimetres or 3 inches in diameter lying on top of a doubly folded sheet of very stiff paper, which Gustav unfolded and read something off it in Swedish. He immediately read it again in English with a choking voice, ‘For services above and beyond the call of duty, Gustav Ahlson is hereby created a Count of the Royal Court of Sweden.’

He passed the paper over to me, it was dated eight years previously and signed by the King.

Gustav continued with his story.

‘I have not left Dahra in the past twenty years except for that occasion. The King was visiting Kuwait so I flew up and back the same day. The ceremony was in the Embassy. Apart from the Swedish Foreign Ministry and the Dahran Foreign Ministry, and now you, no one else knows.’

‘Why would you have not told the Dahran Foreign Ministry that you are now a Count? Indeed, would it have not been better to have told them?’ I said.

‘It was not our intention to do so, until an incident arose about four years ago with Rashid al-Akhri, whom I think you said you have met. By this time I had a very good relationship with the dealers at the auction rooms at both al-Mera and al-Qatim. They were to advise me immediately that any Swede came on the market either newly arrived or being put up for re-sale.’

‘I was advised of one such auction coming up and went well prepared with over €125,000 for the purchase, more than three times the necessary. I always remember him. He was a young architect. Rashid al-Akhri was there and for some unknown reason took an interest in my man. Within minutes, we were the only two bidders at $60,000. There was absolute silence in the place. I remember the sound of the air-conditioning still. It went up by fives, until it hit $140,000. I had been outbid. Such a price had not been paid in years at public auction. I could not say that I would come back the next day with more money. It is cash or draft on the nail.’

‘Three months later, I heard that the young man was dead. He had tried to escape by walking naked over the desert. He was found and according to what I learned, and it cost me a lot to learn it, he was suspended between two poles in the yard at Rashid al-Akhri’s Palace, given no food or water. He was otherwise untouched, and a slave sat at his feet with two jugs, simply pouring water from one to the other, from the time the sun came up until it went down. His name was Eric and he died of thirst after two and a half days.’

‘I told our Embassy what had happened, our King having to be informed of each purchase I make, or try to make. That had been my first failed purchase. There was an unholy diplomatic row and finally the Sheik stepped in and told Rashid al-Akhri privately that he was not to purchase Swedes any longer. Until last week, Rashid had never done business with us here at Deckams, that is why I was more than surprised to see him lodging €250 million to his new account.’

I could only repeat what I had heard said of my executive ‘Gustav Ahlson, you are an interesting man.’

I was back home by four and while Yuriy seemed happy enough to see me, his smile was returning to normal after his dentistry of the day before when the dentist has been there on the dot of nine. I had led Yuriy in to the dental surgery lorry. He was very trusting and just kept looking at me. I had indicated that the dentist was going to work on his teeth.

Three drops of chloroform, Yuriy was out for the count. The dentist slipped a catheter into him as it would be all of seven or more hours work, and to the sounds of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, he had started his work.

The following day, parts of his jaw and mouth were still sensitive, but he bravely opened wide and I saw that the Russian fillings were gone and that the most magnificent set of capped teeth were shining out. However, I was not going to use his mouth that night and merely concentrated on his ball-sack and perineum.

When he had come for a third time after a decisive assault on his frennulum and on the rough skin behind his deliciously acorned cockhead, he wanted to do the same to me. I touched his jaw with my fingers and shook my head.

Cuddling up to me, he put my hand over his hairless chest and held it there. Within two minutes, his breathing changed and he was asleep. We stayed spooned for the rest of the night, ...

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