Cooler than expected night air hit him as he stepped out of the warm, crowded bar he'd sat in for almost an hour. This bar a drive from the bars Ned frequented in his own neighborhood. Wasn't a bad one by any means; it'd be the one he'd see himself coming to often if he lived closer. The attraction to this bar wasn't the bar itself, but a woman who'd occupied it a little longer than he had that night, one somewhere in the parking lot as he finished and stubbed out his cigarette on the pavement.
"Shit," he heard several feet away.
Adjusting his glasses, Ned went over to see what happened, to find the woman he'd seen in the bar bent over on her knees, looking and reaching for keys that seemed less likely to be there, the longer she searched for them.
"Hey," Ned said gently, trying to get her attention, but not completely startle her. She looked back up, surprise and a hint of fear in her face, due to her compromised position.
"Lost your keys?"
Her beautiful face huffed and sighed a breath of relief.
"Uh..yeah. I think they're down here somewhere."
"I can try to help you find them, if you like."
"Could you?" He smiled in how it almost sounded like she was pleading.
Parked next to the sports car she searched under, he unlocked his truck and got a flashlight from the glove compartment. The light shined under the car, revealing no keys around. The grassy downward slope near the parking lot meant it the keys could be further away; Ned was reluctant to look that far for them, but rose to do so anyway.
"Nice car, by the way."
"Good thing it's a nice neighborhood, otherwise something like this would get boosted easily."
"Can't argue with that."
The woman stopped moving on the ground and looked up at Ned to see his flashlight pointing at the rear license plate. '4Dave' it read pretentiously to Ned.
"Oh, heh. Friend of mine."
"A guy from the bar?"
"Yep. He'd be the one drinking wine; he's always been interesting like that."
"I would've guessed boyfriend from how close you two got."
A thin eyebrow rose up at whatever implication Ned was making. Looking at him as he was half looking at her and down in the grass for any sign of metal, she noticed his interest and how he sounded too cool to be jealous.
"I'm sure there's some grey area between boyfriend and friend. We're close either way."
"Yeah, the benefits must be nice," Ned said as he bent down and rose with a set of keys.
Her smile of relief was brief as he almost handed over the keys, yet didn't. A disbelieving, sardonic laugh escaped her mouth.
"What is this, a robbery?"
"Actually, the reverse, Ms. Kennedy."
Dan reached into his jacket with his free hand to produce a badge.
"Funny, the badge or knowing my name doesn't make me think I'm still not getting robbed, officer..."
"Officer Ryburn. And if we go back into the bar and question Dave, I wonder if he'll have a similar statement to make about being robbed, in this case by a pretty girl named Kelli."
Both of them knew Dave was still at the bar like the rest of the patrons, deep into their city's major league game on TV. The last time Ned saw him, he seemed really at ease with Kelli at the bar. She seemed to talk with her hands, which surprisingly kept him from not stealing glances at her endowed figure. Whatever she was saying or doing, he seemed all ears. A lot of people got in-between them so Ned didn't see everything, but he swore her hands got within reach of him, enough to lift whatever she wanted off him, something no one else would notice as they were watching pre-game highlights or tending bar.
Kelli Kennedy smirked and leaned against Dave's car like she owned it, while Ned leaned against his.
"What do you think his exact words would be, Officer Ryburn?"
"Something along the lines of 'yeah, that woman made off with my car and my wallet. Of course I'm substituting 'woman' for 'bitch,' but I'd thought I'd be respectful."
Kelli snorted, acting taken aback. "But what makes you so sure those things weren't freely given to me?"
"Good as you look Ms. Kennedy, convincing me, other cops, and courts that you look good enough to give up a wallet AND car well over $50,000 after just talking, it does sound a bit dubious. But then again, it does sound familiar."
Ned pulled out a small notepad from his back pocket. Kelli took a few steps in his direction to peek curiously at his notes.
"Kelli Kennedy. A.K.A., Misplacement. Street performer, looker, velcro-like fingers. Often spotted in the vicinity of recent, strange claims of theft. Pretty expensive theft ranging from diamonds to briefcases. In summation, you get around, and things that get stolen get around you. That being said, 'Misplacement' kind of a cute name."
"MissPlacement," Kelli corrected him.
"MissPlacement," she emphasized the extra s in her title, surprising the officer in how she made herself sound like some kind of debutante.
"What's the difference?"
"Pronunciation, for one thing; a single letter can make a world of difference in how you perceive things. You think things just get purposefully misplaced around me, but maybe I'm just a Miss with a penchant for proper placements, making sure things get where they belong."
"And how exactly do things belong in your hands?"
She didn't vocalize the thieving adage, "if you don't get caught, you deserve everything you steal." She didn't have to as they shared an understanding a cop and robber would know.
"At the risk of being an ass by assuming things really are as you say, your little bookworm investigative gloating leads me to believe this is some kind of warning, to the tune of 'stop doing this in my city,' 'get out of my city,' something contrived like that."
"Yeah, that would be a little contrived, so no, it's not a warning." Ned kept his eye on Kelli's face as he took a step forward. She felt cold steel wrap around her wrist, and looked down to see her left hand wrapped in handcuffs.
"It is a collar, though. We'll see what Mr. Dave h-"
At cobra-striking speed, MissPlacement's right hand snatched Ned's glasses from his face. The speed at which her hand moved and the fact that she wasn't even looking at him when she took them made him realize it happened several seconds slower than he would've expected to react. Whatever reaction he could muster was taken up by a set of hands waving in circles at his face, confusing him even more than the sudden absence of his glasses. Dan Ryburn's eyesight was often marred without them, but the worry lessened as most of his vision was the clarity of her graceful, deliberate hand motions of varying speeds, framed by a blur that would've been with or without the need for glasses.
"What is happening" was all his mind managed to ask in the assumed seconds, but literal minutes MissPlacement held his attention, echoing and being indirectly answered by fingers with predictable and unpredictable gestures, the shimmering of sparkly clear nail polish and a steel bracelet off of street lights, and words that sounded like whispers coming from somewhere. Some of that shine disappeared, but the whispers and the fingers grew more insistent.
A few blinks and the louder sound of metallic clinking brought him back from her hands. He felt like there was a vacancy in his head that was being refilled. In that vacancy, he first noticed his glasses were back on his face, but one side was missing a temple as it shifted oddly against his face. He tried to reach up to fix it, and make sure the temple was still attached to the hinge, but one hand had trouble moving beyond the chain cuffed to his car door.
"Ta-daa," MissPlacement's ridiculing cheer uttered.
The bewildered officer struggled vainly against the door, trying to free himself, even at the cost of damaging his car. The speedy reminder of him being a cop and having a key flashed in his head as he reached for it in his front pocket.
"Stop!" Her order was loud and imposing enough to make him cease moving. Out of his vision, her fingers snapped, making him look to the left.
"Up!" Ned looked up before he could question why. His ears picked up a finger snap attracting his attention from below.
He didn't know which way to turn or react until a hand behind his head gave him a direction to settle on. "Sleep!"
Forceful commands of 'sleep,' 'deeper asleep,' and finger snaps corkscrewed their way into his limp mind and body, his head leaning more and more for support against her shoulder. Breathing deeply and slowly against her, he felt the disorientating confusion he was assaulted with extinguishing in MissPlacement's embrace, no longer cognizant of the fact that she'd caused it. He was just happy to finally find something that made sense. Sleep he understood; his reward for a good day's work as a cop, or his refuge for a bad one. The thought of him being a cop tried rising to the surface, but some blanketing force prevented his buoyancy from rising. It seemed irrelevant compared to the effects of sleep, how he could simply take a nap and feel things restart for him in significant ways...
Officer Ryburn slowly came to. He felt like he was waking from a dream of standing somewhere, but felt grateful that he was sitting, inside his own car somehow.
"Hey you," a happy voice regarded next to him. Kelli, he remembered was her name, beautiful girl, a disarming smile that tugged at the corners of his own mouth. She was so helpful to him earlier; he'd lost his keys somewhere at a bar, and she didn't have to help him, but was nice enough to. She'd spotted them in a grassy patch somewhere, almost jumping for joy when they were finally found. Searching for the keys must've been more taxing than he knew, because he got very drowsy all of a sudden, and woke up to his current position.
The more they just smiled at each other, the more captivating Kelli became in his eyes, the more a singular emotion painted his thoughts - gratefulness. "You should be grateful," every other thought told him, and he was. The bizarreness of Kelli sitting in the driver's seat, or his hands being handcuffed together on the passenger's side couldn't deter that gratefulness, and he was in no mood to let it.
"Must've been a long day, huh?"
"Yeah," he would've ran his hand through his hair, but remembering the chains, he simply shrugged instead. "I guess it was."
"Well, things are winding down now, and you get to relax a bit. That's good, isn't it?"
"Won't argue with you there."
"Splendid," she said, something in her voice made it sounded like she won something.
"So..." Ned began. It felt like introductions were in order, even though he knew her first name, and there was a good chance she knew his.
"Don't tell me you don't remember me?" she searched his face as if probing how tired and forgetful he might've become.
"No no, Kelli. I know your name. Your first name at least. Just...."
"Feels like there's more to know?"
"Yeah?" Ned unsurely replied.
"Full introductions can be fun." Her words alleviated is worry; that's exactly what his mind said he wanted.
"Officer Ned Ryburn, meet Kelli Kennedy," she reached over to cordially shake the nearest restrained hand. "Though I wonder if you've heard the name, 'MissPlacement,'" she told him face close to his, brandishing a look he could mistake for seductive, waving her hands in his face.
"That's....an interesting name." He downplayed how interesting it was. Hearing it spoken, with the extra s added sounded really cute, like he wanted to know more.
"It's my street hypnosis title. I demonstrate the powers of the mind to random people on the street, teaching them about their minds, and everything that can be done with them. The placement thing is my little twist. You know those hypnosis shows where people forget things, like their name, numbers, stuff like that?"
"Yeah, I've heard of...stuff like that."
"I absolutely love that kind of stuff, and that became my angle in hypnosis studies. Something gets misplaced? I help you find it, or Miss will show you its Placement."
"Or MissPlacement helps you lose things only to find where Miss wants their Placement." Ned was obviously trying to match her humor, and join in on the fun, but something about what he said, or all of what he said, gave her a moment of pause before her smile turned positively wicked. "Was there something I'm not supposed to know," his mind asked as her hands started waving in his face.
"You'd be surprised," MissPlacement began. From the second her fingertips got close to his, he could easily deduce she was a very successful hypnotist. A multitude of imaginary faces flashed in his face, each carefully following every move she made, each losing themselves like he was. Part of him was so certain that no one, including him, could resist.
"The important things in our lives, they are ours for the taking and ours for the keeping, just as easily as they are ours for the losing. No matter the steel trap people think they are, objects, information, anything can be as flowing as liquid, something will seep away, and maybe have to be retrieved."
Like all of her subjects that heard that induction, Ned's mind ran to the last or most important thing he lost. Something seemed more lost to him than usual, as with those who met Kelli and had something rather significant to lose, but they all were grateful that she could help them through their loss.
"Earlier you lost your keys, and without them, you would've had a frustrating long-walk back to your house, having to pay to get your car unlocked or even towed, and yet I helped you find them. MissPlacement helps you with both things worth remembering and forgetting, so hopefully you can trust me with the things I tell you, like how fun remembering and forgetting can be."
Trust wasn't easy to come by in his line of work, but that wasn't an issue for her. Trust became another positive word to coincide with every other fascinating movement, every other sparkly flash off her nails into his eyes, every last moment of rapture he was growing accustomed to around her.
"So just for fun, let's take something you're quite familiar with. Like 'police officer;' would you believe the simplest parts of that title can get misplaced, like whole words or letters?"
Ned unknowingly nodded to subconsciously tell her he did believe.
"Imagine if a whole word gets lost, just poof,"
The fingers of one of her hands joined together and symbolically blew away a word, and his mind waited to see which word was left.
"And all that remained was 'officer.' Being left with that curious title would make a girl ask, "What kind of officer are you? A meter maid? A military officer? A post officer perhaps?" she chuckled to herself. MissPlacement smiled as she noticed his head follow the smaller circles she produced, shifting from rotating her entire arm to rolling her hands at the wrists. He seemed even more lost with the increased rotating he had to keep up with.
"What happened to that discerning piece of information a scant few seconds ago? Maybe the word isn't so important if it's so easy to forget. What do you think? Can you think? And it might be a shame if it dwindled down to 'office,' but with that we could at least deduce that you are employed, that you do work somewhere, that you do belong somewhere, somewhere possibly close by."
Kelli set her right hand down to rest and her more practiced left kept him in a hypnotic whirlpool.
"And I think we should hold on to that fact before the letters could do something like get cut in-half, where you feel something is just...'off.' Off your game, off your wits, off that steady train of thought, confused as to how you got off, unsure of much but once your off, you're just certain of your body being like 'ice,' frozen, but not really cold. Just still like ice, muscles comfortably unmoving, enjoying your condition."
All but his eyes came to halt, brought to rest while his every turn threatened to roll is eyes back for good.
"But it's so unlike ice in your mind because ice feels cold, but your thoughts are warm from my words, so they just melt. Warm breath, warm words that makes you feels cozy and safe, and that ice melts just a little, a letter gets missplaced, and 'ic' is left. As in, I see your having more fun than you ever expected to, I see that what I'm telling you is all you know. I see what you see - things going my way, which just makes sense the more you think about it until it's the prevailing thought in that head. Meanwhile, other thoughts get missplaced as if on schedule, and ic may just becomes 'I.'"
The remaining hand slimmed down to a remaining finger, specifically pattered with a black and white spiral, and a line running through it, appropriately alternating the colors on each side. In many of her street performances, that single nail mesmerized her puppets more than anything she flashed before them. And eventually the number of things to focus on would shrink to her left index finger with that special nail, their mind full of that image, making it spin in their minds, every word she spoke bypassing any defenses keeping them safe from MissPlacement's will.
"One simple letter left, so open-ended that it can have multiple meanings. Maybe it's the eye that tracks every move made in-front of you. The eye doesn't miss a beat, no matter how tired it gets, no matter how much the lids want to close, the eye is vigilant in following that one special nail, following me, cause I am more than meets the eye, aren't I? On second thought, maybe 'I' just boils down to you, identifying yourself as a singular 'I,' the simple basis for a mind while your world is undergoing some simple reconstruction. So, for the sake of dictating your place in your world, you can say 'I'..."
Ned's mouth remained still. Nerves tingled slightly in his jaw and lips to say something, but the comfort of being still felt better. Kelli smiled at the little push she knew would bring him over.
"So, for the sake of dictating your place in your new world, you can say 'I,' that word you want to say, that word you need to say, that word weighing on your lips like a diver, waiting to leap off the diving board so you can feel lighter, stiller, and even better. Saying 'I' for me is a weight off you, helping to plunge you down into to something even more fun."
"There you go. You can say 'I' and then follow up with whatever I say for extra yummy feelings, like 'obey'."
Silence hung between them again. Kelli couldn't tell if he was resistant or just stuck in want that stillness. "Admirable, yet pointless if it is resistance," the street hypnotist though.
"Follow up," she ordered, sternness sprinkled in her light tone.
"There you go. Now try a complete sentence."
"Yes. You. Do." Kelli punctuated her taunt with tapping his nose with a wily middle finger, before bringing the spiraled nail back.
"And you can say 'I' every 10 seconds, waiting for me to give you a sentence to complete, and you will complete that sentence, and let that sentence become a thought. A thought so unlike all your missplaced ones; seeded, growing roots, constructed within your new world. So when you say...."
"I'll say 'obey,' and your thought becomes..."
"I obey Kelli."
"can't resist Kelli."
"I can't resist Kelli."
For the next 20 minutes, Ned Ryburn's world took on a new shape, based on words that were not his until he felt the mental urge to say them, to believe them without hesitation, to question anything contradicting them.
"I obey Kelli."
"I am so susceptible to hypnosis."
"I find Kelli irresistible."
"I find resisting thoughts automatically missplaced."
"I am placed properly in my miss's hands."
"I am an officer of the law."
"I know Kelli makes the law."
"I know MissPlacement makes the law."
"I am always overruled by Kelli's will."
"I always succumb to MissPlacement."
"I listen as She commands."
"I do as She commands."
"I become as She commands."
"I forever serve and obey Kelli Kennedy."
"I forever serve and obey MissPlacement."
On and on his droning went, the construction turning into a tower shining and singing the praises of MissPlacement. At some point his eyes opened again, giving that tower an identifiable visage and owner. She loved the dumb smiles plastered across people's faces when she took them that deep.
Had Officer Ryburn been just a concerned citizen who found her about to steal a car, they would've been given MissPlacement's half or quarter-strength treatment, amounting to amnesia, and maybe an inclination to be submissive around Kelli if they ever crossed paths again. But for a cop who'd obviously been tracking her movements, the overkill she put him through was necessary, not just to keep him silent, but to cultivate an assistant for herself. She kicked herself for being predictably tracked in the first place; she had to carefully pick where MissPlacement would take her next mark. All the more reason Ned would be utilized, possibly as her walking 'get-out-of-jail-free-card,' and more if necessary.
The career detour from highly-talented street hypnotist to burgeoning master con-woman was a strange one, even to her. The appeal was nothing more than the thrill of it all, of what she could get away with. Successfully keeping Ned under her control magnified what she could, if things got too complicated for her. She treated it more like a hobby, and only planned to do this as long as it was fun. She had no intention of making friends or enemies in the criminal or law enforcement world at the start. But she certainly didn't mind a former authority figure she could manipulate and gloat to.
"So, Ned, what's your girlfriend's name?"
Her question woke him from her rather silly demonstration. Didn't seem to work on him that time, but the concept seemed fun enough. He'd certainly be willing to let her try again whenever she wanted.
"Yeah, what's her name?"
Her interest struck him as strange; he didn't expect a beauty like her to be interested in a normal guy like him, but she was so sure that he had one, and her question left him wondering if he did and just forgot about her.
"Isn't her name Kelli?"
Four words later, Ned's wonder turned to imagining fictitious time spent with Kelli Kennedy, and how they met in a bar parking lot somewhere.
"Yeah," dreaming about the woman sitting next to him.
"You really like her, don't you?"
"I really do."
"You want to be the perfect boyfriend and do anything she asks of you, don't you?"
"I..don't think I want anything more in the world than that."
MissPlacement's grin gradually grew more evil.
"You know one thing you love between you that's even better than sex?"
Ned's mouth was stuck open. The non-existent answer had weight to it, invisibly weighing on his tongue, but held back.
"You love her hypnotizing you. Her street performing act as MissPlacement arouses you like nothing else. It's the hottest thing you never knew you wanted. You could think of everything else that made you hard, that got you off..."
She let him consider every girl and every pornographic thought or video he's ever seen pass through his mind before showing him that circling spiraled nail again.
"And know how all of that means next to nothing as she takes control of your mind. You don't want to get in her pants nearly as much as you want her to be in your brain, thoughts of any position other than the ones she wants you in misplaced. I bet you miss her placement of you when she's not around, don't you?"
She answered for him, making his head bob up and down with her nail.
"'This is a collar,' eh?" She quoted the once authoritative policeman. "Consider this your leash." She rose that finger high in the air until his eyes really did roll in the back of his head, and snapped her fingers in his face. He leaned against the fingers holding his face, moving it in circles as she continued.
"Tonight, you're going to dream of MissPlacement hypnotizing you over and over until you cum a few times, and look forward to the next time she'll do you for real. But you need to get home in order to do that, so when you hear your car door slam shut, you're going to come back to full awareness. Looking around to see your girlfriend saying good bye to you. Then you will drive home safely, subconsciously accepting every suggestion I've given you along the way. Are you ready to go home?"
She waited for him to speak of his own obedient volition.
She slid out of the driver's seat, and slammed the door hard enough to wake him. Ned shook his head several times, wondering where the time had gone. His world righted as he saw Kelli. They smiled at each other, and his girlfriend blew him a kiss before driving off in her new sports car. He scooched over to the driver's side of his truck. Reaching for the keys in his pocket, he wondered how his wallet and keys switched the pockets he usually kept them in. He couldn't wait to get home and think about how he felt like the luckiest man in the world.
Eventually emerging from the bar, a seemingly drunk patron named Dave stumbled to the cab called for him. Thoughts of a car he dreamt he had, or several hundred he'd lost somewhere along the line upset him, but he felt grateful that there was enough in his wallet for a cab ride home. He'd worry about any troubles he had for the next day, unaware they'd be permanently left misplaced.