© Copyright 2002 - Kittin - Used by permission
Storycodes: Sbf; cuffs; first-time; photos; M/f; cons; X
I got the handcuffs on my fourteenth birthday. My mom and dad were working out of the country for two years, and I was staying with one of my aunts, my mom's sister. My other aunt, my dad's sister, invited me to her house for a birthday lunch and so at lunchtime I walked over to her house. It had rained that morning, so the air was fresh and cool out without being cold. We had a good time, just talking about things, and she gave me the present my dad had gotten for me, a nice purse. And I got a pretty ski jacket from my aunt, so it was a pretty good birthday. About three in the afternoon I was walking home when my real present came my way.
I saw them there, lying in the street. I've wondered a hundred times how they came to be there, dropped by some cop, or thrown out a car window by somebody's girlfriend not interested in having that kind of fun. Maybe they fell out of a box in a truck while someone was moving. I'll never know for sure, and I like that mystery about them.
They were still shiny, but were scuffed and had mud and rust here and there on them. They were just enough to the side of the street by the sidewalk that not every passing car had run over them, but some had, and asphalt was ground into their chains and other parts. There were no cars coming so I stepped into the street and picked them up not knowing how much they'd change my life.
I took them home. My aunt was working that Saturday, so I was alone, and I ran hot water on them for a while to melt off some of the tar and mud. Even though I didn't know anything about them, I knew they weren't working right because the part that wrapped around a person's wrists just dangled free- I thought maybe it took a key to lock that part, just like it took one to unlock them. After I had dried them off, I used some of my aunt's sewing machine oil and cleaned off as much of the rust as I could, and oiled those swinging arm parts again and again until rusty oil quit coming out of them when I pushed them around.
After I'd got them as clean as I could, using more oil and a Brillo pad, I tried them on to see what they felt like, even though they wouldn't lock shut. I liked how they felt, and I wondered what it'd be like to have them locked on me. I wrapped them in a paper towel to keep the oil soaked around them, then wrapped the paper with aluminum foil to keep the oil from soaking through. My new purse had a pocket for a billfold inside that was just the right size for my new present, and I put them inside, along with some other things from my school bookbag.
A few weeks later, I went to a bicycle shop and got a tube of metal polish for the chrome on my bike. I told the salesman that I had a bike with rust on the fenders and he sold me a little tube of metal polish that he said would clean it up if the rust wasn't too deep. It cleaned them up real well, though you could still see scratches and places from the way they'd been knocked around. I thought about a couple of ways I might try to get a key for them, but I didn't even know if they were working right. But I'd take them out and clean and oil them every now and again, and sometimes I'd try them on and see how they felt, then shine them back up again.
I still had them when I graduated from high school. After I graduated, I joined the Air Force, and put a lot of my things in storage, my purse with the handcuffs among them. I spent four years as a aircraft radio technician, and a couple of times I had thought about dating one of the base security policemen to see if I could find out about getting a handcuff key, but it never worked out. Instead, I went to college, older than the most of the girls just starting school after highschool, and with some college credit from things I had done in the Air Force. Thankfully, I got a roommate who was older than most of them, a grad student named Karen, who became my best friend right away.
She was getting ready for law school, and always into her books. I wasn't too impressed with a lot of the younger students' ideas about partying and having fun since I'd seen a lot of people get in all sorts of different kinds of trouble from things like that, so a lot of the time when everyone else was out partying, we'd be studying or eating popcorn and watching TV and talking about things. One time we got to talking about our first time, and we told each other about that. We talked about home, and our families, and one time she told me about the best birthday present she ever got, her dog. So I told her about mine.
I thought she might laugh at me but she didn't. She thought it was sad that I'd had them all that time and they still didn't work. My birthday was coming up in a few days, and she told me that if I brought them back to school before then the next time I went home, she'd find a way to get them fixed and working as a birthday present. It had been so long since I'd gotten them, but I was just as excited by the idea as when I'd first found them
That weekend she let me use her car to go home and get some things, including that something special. She said she had a special class to go to that weekend anyway, and wouldn't be going anywhere important, so I did. I saw my mom and dad and told them about school and my aunts came by for dinner and we had a nice time, and celebrated my birthday a weekend early. And I took several boxes of things back with me, including my nice purse with its secret inside.
Sunday night she asked me if I'd brought them, and I showed them to her. She gave me a little chrome key, and it fit them, but it didn't do anything. She said it was okay, the guy she'd gotten the key from could fix them, and we'd meet him Monday. My birthday was the following Saturday, so it was getting interesting.
The guy who was going to fix them was named Sandy, who had taught the class Karen had to take to get her concealed weapons permit. He was a gunsmith, and she told him she had a friend with an old pair of cuffs that weren't working right. He said he could probably repair them in a day or two if he had the right parts.
My last class Monday was over at Noon, Karens at 3:00 P.M.
We went over to the shop where Sandy worked, and he was behind the counter and said hi to Karen when she came in. He asked if I was the one she'd gotten the key for and she told him yes. He asked if I'd brought the cuffs and I told him yes. He smiled when he took them from me. He was surprised. He said he wasn't sure who'd made them, since they didn't have a name stamped on them, but he said that someone had taken good care of them in cleaning them up, despite hard use. He said he'd take them apart and see what was wrong inside, and if we'd come in about the same time tomorrow, he could let me know. I told him I'd be there, and Karen said she'd come too.
Tuesday afternoon, we went back, and he told me that the part that was broken was the ratchet that latched onto the teeth of the bows, those swinging arms that held a persons wrists. The teeth on them were broken or burred off, as if someone had pulled them really hard to get out. Besides that, the springs for them that held them against the teeth on the bows were broken too, so they needed to be replaced.
Sandy had all the parts laid out on a flat metal tray on a white cloth, looking like a patient in a hospital operating room. He showed me the same parts from other kinds of handcuffs, close in design but not the same size, and I began to understand how they worked. They were really simple, and you didn't need a key to put them on, just to take them off. Sandy told me there were two things he could do, since they weren't a standard make or size: he could either fix the old parts or he could make new ones, better ones, he said, that would never break. That was just what I wanted and I asked him if he could have them done by Friday. He said he'd try, but couldn't promise and asked me why the deadline. I looked him right in the eye and smiled, and told him it was my birthday, and that they'd been a birthday present from a long time ago that I wanted to have working by this one. He smiled back at me and said that if it was that important, he'd try harder.
We went back Thursday, and though he was busy in the shop with customers, he showed me what he had done. He had taken the ratchets out and mounted them to a steel plate that had been a sawblade that was the same thickness as the ratchets were. They were bolted and clamped to the piece of steel, and he was making perfect copies of the old ratchets, except that these not only had the teeth to lock the cuffs shut, they had two more teeth on either end of the original ones so that they couldn't be pulled apart again. He said to come in Friday and see if he had them done.
Friday at Noon I phoned him and asked him if he was done, and he said not yet, but to come by just before the shop closed at 7:00 P.M. I said I would and found Karen and told her, and she said she'd drive me over there, since she wanted to see me try out my new/old birthday present. After classes we stopped for some cokes and talked about plans for Saturday, and she said she'd have a cake for me sometime Saturday evening. We went to the shop, and I was nervous, hoping he had them done.
Sandy had the parts done, and he had fitted them with springs better than they'd had before, it was just a matter of getting them adjusted and working smoothly. I asked him what I owed him, and he said that if we'd go pick him up a pizza while he finished them up, he'd call that even. We hadn't eaten yet, so it sounded like a great idea; he closed up the shop and turned on the answering machine for the phone, but left the door unlocked for us to get back in when we returned. We could eat upstairs in his apartment, he said.
We ordered his pizza, the way he wanted it, and got a double to go for the two of us. We headed on back there, and he was still waiting for us. He bought us all Cokes from the pop machine, and said that before we ate, he had something for me to check out. He handed me my handcuffs. I swung the bows around the way I had a hundred times before, but this time it was different. They made a snapping, clicking sound when I closed them, and once that latch had caught, they didn't move backwards at all. They worked, for the first time in two dozen years. And my roommate and best friend and the guy who had made my long-awaited dream come true both looked at me, and Sandy asked if I was going to try them on.
It was what I had waited for so long, what I'd always wondered about. I pressed the open half-circle of steel up to my wrist, and swung the bow around until it touched, and then it made the faintest, prettiest little clicking noise, and it wouldn't come back loose. I pressed it harder, and it made that magic snapping sound again, and this time they were holding my left wrist in them. One down, one to go. With my audience watching, I closed the other one on my right wrist. Same story: that clicking noise again, and the absolute certain knowledge that I couldn't pull out of them. I had wondered for so long about what this would feel like, and now I knew.
And then Sandy closed and locked the front door, and led us up the steps to his apartment where we could have our pizza and cokes, and Karen gave a sweet little smile and said that there was one nice thing about pizza: you could eat it even if your hands were in cuffs in front of you, and I knew that I was about to have the most interesting birthday dinner of my life. And then I found out she'd brought a camera along too.
About 9 O'clock that night, Karen said it was time for her to go home, but she wanted to get some photos of my with my hands in back first. Sandy unlocked one of my wrists, and I put my hands in back and locked it back again. Then she got a photo of Sandy giving me a birthday kiss, and I just melted. Karen asked us if we were having fun, and told me she's bring the birthday cake over tomorrow, and to enjoy myself. I thought about it while Sandy took her downstairs and locked up behind her, and I decided I probably would.
I did, and I have ever since. I never imagined what it would be like to eat a chocolate birthday cake with my hands chained behind me, and how much fun it'd be for my friends with me. It was my best birthday ever, except maybe for that one a long time ago when I got the birthday present that changed my life.