The Ryanair plane landed in Lisbon, Portugal. Robert Teeling disembarked into the pleasant air of a midsummer’s night. It was 22:15 on a Thursday and Rob had traveled solo from his hometown of Dublin, Ireland.
Having recently split from a long-term relationship he decided to try out traveling by himself because a lot of his friends were living busy lives and he had been told that solo-traveling can be a portal for meeting new people from all over the world. He was 26 years old and his ex-girlfriend of whom he was in a relationship with for 8 years was the only partner he’d ever had. Rob’s trip to Lisbon was his first solo adventure. He journeyed into this voyage with a positive outlook and embraced the possibility of discovering new experiences. He had three days to relax, enjoy the sunshine, explore some culture and hang out at bars. Rob was ready for all the pleasantries that he had hoped for, however, he was not to be so lucky as to have a nice holiday. Instead, he was about to devour the holiday from hell.
From the airport Rob travelled via taxi to his airbnb in the city centre. He was greeted by his host – a nice lady named Eva – and he settled into the homely little dwelling which was situated in the Pombaline downtown district. Rob put himself at ease and fixed himself up with a good night’s sleep before rising on Friday to uncover what Lisbon had on offer.
On Friday at noon or thereabouts Rob sauntered out of his airbnb and into the heart of the city centre. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was good, the aesthetics of Lisbon were captivating. All was well except for one thing; Rob was being accosted by drug dealers every two minutes and it became inexorably irritating. “Hashish, marijuana, cocaine. Hey, hey. Hasish, marijuana, cocaine.” Every two minutes the street traders were blurting out the products that they had in stock, they were also openly flashing their bags of cocaine and lumps of hash. Rob eventually got so vexed by the incessant street traders and whilst strolling around Praça do Comércio he provided an angry retort to a sales pitch proffered by a drug dealer. “Fuck off man! Fuck off and leave me alone. Stop fucking asking me if I want drugs. I don’t take drugs. Now fuck off.” Rob roared aloud startling members of the public and he drew attention towards the shamed drug dealer. “Hey man, fuck you ok! Fuck you man. Fuck you.” This is what the now publicized salesman said in response to Rob before briskly walking away and disappearing out of sight.
After calming down Rob continued to go about his day and he vowed to enjoy the rest of Lisbon without letting those bothersome hawks pooh-pooh the rest of his adventure. Rob went on an awesome boat ride before enjoying a delicious dinner at a restaurant beside the Tagus river. Then he climbed the beautiful hills of Alfama where he fell in love with Portugal. He felt peaceful and proud of himself for being brave enough to come here alone. The sun went down and Rob tucked into a few beers to polish off the day. He got chatting to a few friendly people from England and they had a good time. The lovely English folk told Rob about a place called Pink Street. They informed him that Pink Street is known for it’s nightlife and busy bars and so off he went to Pink Street. He was buzzing now – feeling tipsy – and eager to chat away with friendly strangers. If Lady Luck was on his side he might even hit it off with a girl and bag a nice romp, or so he thought. How and ever Rob would soon find out that Lady Luck was not on his side.
The clock had struck the midnight hour by the time that Rob arrived in the Pink Street district. The bars and clubs were hopping with life. Revelers and tourists relished in fun and Rob interspersed himself between hoards of people whilst striking up chatter amongst strangers who spoke English. The booze kept flowing and the night grew late. The last thing that Rob remembered before waking up was the spectacle of a powdery substance swirling at the bottom of his beer bottle before a dizzying sensation sent him to sleep.
Rob opened his eyes to find himself at the foot of a staircase. An intense state of fear and anxiety overpowered his drowsy hangover. He sat up and looked at his surroundings with panic and confusion. His trouser pockets confessed the truth that he had been relieved of his cash and ATM card yet somehow he still wielded his mobile phone, albeit the screen of it appeared to be damaged. It wasn’t long before Rob realized he was in the apartment block which housed his airbnb. With no concept of what time it was he climbed the stairs to the third floor and on reaching the front door of his dwelling he discovered that he was also in possession of the key to his airbnb. With trembling hands he unlocked the door and scampered into the apartment and then into his bedroom without alerting his airbnb host. Rob looked in the mirror to gauge the condition of his appearance. He looked fine apart from a minor swelling on his cheek. This sighting alleviated the intensity of dismay. Still though; he was shocked by the frightening blackout, the fact that he had been robbed of his cash and bank card, and, the certainty that he had been spiked. Rob charged the battery of his phone while he intently thought about what he’d do to access money for the rest of his term in Lisbon. It was now (probably) Saturday and he was not due to fly home until Sunday night. He quickly figured that it would be wise of him to request a lend of money from a friend, but how? He would ask his friend to wire money over to his airbnb host and in turn she could then provide him with cash.
When his phone had charged he switched it on. His phone informed him that it was now 2:30pm on Saturday. He wasted no time in calling the customer care department of his bank and he invalidated his missing ATM card. Then he checked his bank balance online to see if his missing ATM card had been used. He almost burst into hysterics when his bank statement notified him that there had been €750 withdrawn from an ATM machine at some stage during the night. €750 was the maximum sum of money that one could withdraw from an ATM machine in a 24 hour period. Rob didn’t know what to say to himself. He didn’t know how to feel; he was numb, sick, upset, shocked, hysterical. This was the worst experience of his life.
Rob contacted a friend in Dublin and also explained his abject situation to his airbnb host. His airbnb host expressed an abundance of sympathy towards him. She was actually upset herself upon hearing of his nightmarish situation. Rob’s friend – Liam – wired money to Eva (the airbnb host) and she urgently compensated him with the wherewithal. Rob desperately tried to jog his memory and piece together deleted scenes from the night before but it was hopeless, he simply couldn’t recall anything that had happened after imbibing the contaminated bottle of beer. He became imbued with mistrust for Lisbon so he decided to stay inside the airbnb until it was time to go home. He did not want to see any more of Lisbon.
Eva cooked for him, she consoled him, she kept him company and as the hours on Saturday passed by he began to feel less despondent much thanks to Eva’s enveloping benevolence. When the time came to go to bed Eva wished Rob a peaceful night and they both retreated to their separate bedrooms. All sorts of thoughts whizzed around Rob’s head when he got into bed and turned off the lights. He was still distressed over what had happened but he was glad to be going home on the morrow and he was able to assure himself that the end of the world was not nigh. He also comforted himself by suggesting that time would heal and that he would be able to leave this scary experience behind him and get on with his life.
Just as Rob was drifting off to sleep his phone bleated the sound of an incoming text message. This jolted Rob into wakefulness. He sat up in the bed and reached for his phone, wondering who could be texting him at this hour of the night. He viewed the text message that he had just received. The message was sent from an anonymous phone number. The content of the message contained some text and a video. Rob felt as if his soul had left his body when he digested the ingredients of the emetic text message.
The video within the text message was a gay sex tape in which Rob had been cast as the leading star. The video showed footage of a heavily intoxicated Rob on the receiving end of an anal gangbang. Three masked men in the nude co-starred in the disturbing video and each of these three men formed an orderly queue and took it in turns to bugger Rob. Each of the men then ejaculated onto Rob’s semi-conscious face. The non-consensual sex tape drew to a close with a close-up shot of seminal fluid dribbling down Rob’s chin. It was impossible to conjecture precisely where the video had been recorded but it appeared to have taken place in a small room that had no furniture. The written content in the text message was as follows: “Rob you will go to the airport with our friend. He will fly to Dublin with you and you will give him money. We have your ATM card. We want €50,000 in cash. If you do not give us €50,000 everybody will see this video. Your family will see this video. Your boss will see this video. Everybody you work with will see this video. Our friend will meet you outside McDonald’s in Rossio Square at 5pm.” The shock of such a hellish ordeal obtunded Rob and he spent the night frozen stiff with a ringing in his ears while feeling as if his bedroom was spinning around him on an axis. By the time his alarm clock buzzed at 11am on Sunday morning he had not slept a wink although he was under the illusion that he had undergone a night of bad dreams.
Rob rose from bed. He packed his bag, showered, ate breakfast, brushed his teeth and prepared to leave. Eva noted his shell-shocked embodiment and she reassured him that everything would be fine and that he would probably be able to forget about this bad holiday as soon as he arrived home. Of course she didn’t know about the rape video and the €50,000 extortion demands that had visited him in the night, and, he actually decided not to tell her about it. He was not prepared to tell anybody about that – not yet anyway. It was all too much; too surreal, too horrible. Rob lingered around Eva’s apartment until 2pm. At 2pm he had to leave because she was expecting the arrival of guests in the afternoon. Rob and Eva said their goodbye’s and Rob departed from the apartment. He decided that he would burn a few hours by playing with his phone whilst sitting in a cafe. He was aware that he was meant to meet somebody in Rossio Square at 5pm but he wasn’t sure if that was really scheduled or if it was all part of his imagination. The power of shock had convinced him that the disturbing text message might be nothing more than a bad dream. “That couldn’t be real. That didn’t happen. This is all some sort of a bad dream.” That was what Rob kept telling himself. However, curiosity killed the cat and he wanted to be sure that he was in fact imagining strange things so he presented himself outside McDonald’s in Rossio Square at 5pm. “Who am I even meant to meet here? See, I don’t even know who I’m meant to meet so I must be imagining things.” Rob’s internal monologue was questioning itself until it was interrupted by the voice of a man standing right by his side. “Hey you, gay boy. Faggot. We are going to Dublin ok. I won’t be sitting beside you but I will follow you the whole time and if you try anything funny everyone will know what happened to you when you were here in Lisbon. You understand?” Rob nodded his head in assent. The man of the hour was the drug dealer that had been in a minor spat with Rob at Praça do Comércio on the Friday afternoon.
Rob took a taxi to the airport alongside his new accomplice. The malicious character introduced himself as Val. Val explained to Rob that he was part of an Eastern European gang and that his gang lived in Lisbon. He told Rob that his gang operated in drug dealing, pickpocketing, selling knock-off merchandise and occasionally spiking vulnerable tourists. Val said that when him and his gang spike somebody they usually just do so to rob them of ATM cards and other personal belongings. Val also said they had raped people before (mostly girls) but that rape was a less frequent hobby of theirs. Val said the reason he targeted Rob was because of the ignominy that was inflicted upon him when he was berated by Rob for attempting to hard sell some drugs. The duo split-up at the airport but not before Val insisted “if you do any funny shit everybody will know you came here to take it up the ass.” At 21:15 a flight for Dublin was boarded.
Rob sat between two strangers at the front of the aircraft and he knew that Val was seated somewhere behind him. The flight took off and Rob’s mind was racing. He wanted to tell somebody about his awful predicament but he was too ashamed and embarrassed. He didn’t know how he would conjure up €50,000 and at the same time he didn’t want anyone in the world to see the gruesome footage of his sun-kissed misfortunes. He figured that the only way of obtaining a windfall of money would involve the commission of a criminal offense and he felt extremely apprehensive about that prospect. Then, he started thinking about raising the alarm with the police. This thought excited him whilst at the same time it made him feel nauseous and nervous because in order to inform the police he would have to disclose all of the horrendous details encompassing this dilemma. “Fuck it. Fuck it. I’m telling the guards. I have to tell the guards.” Rob’s conscience kept speaking to him and after much deliberation he decided that the best recourse was to tell the police and to hope that the perpetrators could be brought to justice without anybody catching wind of the satanic events that took place in Lisbon. Shortly after midnight the Ryanair flight touched down in Dublin. The passengers disembarked and Rob made his way to the taxi rank outside terminal-2 of Dublin airport. He waited for Val to meet him at the taxi rank as he had arranged to do this before they boarded the flight. Val appeared and gave him one last briefing before vanishing into a taxi. Rob agreed to meet Val with €50,000 within a fortnight. Rob got into a taxi and immediately burst into a frenzied state of mania.
“Get me to the nearest Garda Station get me to the nearest Garda Station please please please!” Rob was howling at the top of his voice – howling! He was totally freaking out. It was as if the whole world had just collapsed on top of him. He had a full on panic attack. The taxi driver – an Indian man – iterated; “it’s ok it’s ok. It’s just here it’s just here. It’s ok.” The taxi driver knew right away that there was something wrong. He did his best to remain calm and he made an effort to pacify Rob’s violent disturbance. With no delay the taxi driver presented Rob at the entrance to Dublin Airport Garda Station. “It’s ok my friend. It’s ok. It’s just there my friend. It’s just there.” He pointed at the Garda Station. Rob burst out of the taxi and in his uncontrollable state he told the cops at the desk that he needed to report a crime. A friendly policeman led him into a small room and asked Rob to make a statement. Rob exploded into a paroxysm of hysterics and told the policeman about his whole ordeal. He writhed in tears of the deepest anguish as he purged every ounce of putrefying detail. Even the policeman was overwhelmed at what he was seeing and hearing. There was moments throughout Rob’s confession wherein it felt as if the walls of the Garda Station were going to close-in and crush him to death. It was an ineffable scenario. After telling his story Rob collapsed with exhaustion and emptiness. He felt like a man that was dead inside yet nevertheless with the assistance of the friendly policeman he picked himself up and trudged outside to the car park of the Garda Station. The policeman was so moved by the traumatic episode so he did the compassionate deed of driving Rob home.
Rob arrived home and stumbled through his front door and into his house. It was 02:30 on a Monday morning (Sunday night). Rob’s mother heard his arrival and so she got out of her bed and entered the hallway to ask her son if he enjoyed Lisbon. She switched on the lights in the hallway. She saw her shattered son and with a countenance of confusion she asked him; “well, how was Lisbon?.” He groaned and murmured a reply, “awwwwww it was, eventful, Mam. I’m going to bed.” “Rob, are you sure you’re ok? You don’t seem right.” Before he could mutter a reply he heard a pinging noise coming from a mobile phone upstairs. His mother’s phone had just received a text message from an anonymous entity.