UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION - 02/2012
NOT DEAD YET
In the beginning it’s all about you, believing from birth we are the centre of it all. This is not true, of course, for many of us anyway, but still we find it hard to fight this pre-conceived notion; to not believe the universe revolves around us and only us.
In time most of us realize this, that we are only a character in a drama which only continues; better yet, a supporting player in someone else’s show. We learn to accept this, to adapt, thus realizing our place among the pack. Some of us learn this quickly, more of us late. My sister, in her teens, was one of the lucky ones---accepting her potential early. It was always someone else she put before her well-being; this, the way she lived. It didn’t last long, however, the reason I keep this journal---this, my daily reminder. Most of them have paid for what they did to April. Now all of them will pay for what they choose to continue.
I’d made my way to Mexico, the people I trailed in Tijuana. They were big shit here, top of the food chain. If you ate scum, that is. A family affair, the name that played was Sanchez. The father was a big man with a bigger gut which had become soft from years of preying on the weak; it hung over his belt buckle awkwardly, as if a segmented tube. His excess would be the death of him---of this I would make sure. Hard-worn, pock-marked and red, his face resembled angry brick. All told, it was his moustache he seemed to take pride in most, touching it almost as often as he breathed. I couldn’t decide who was worse, his son, a shit-heel in his own right, or Big Sanchez himself. In time I would come to believe it was neither, instead deciding on the mother, the bitch who ran it all.
Murder is what led me here: my sister’s and mother’s. They had been in the wrong place at the right time---a story with as many different names. I’d been home a year from the Gulf when they went missing, just as I re-settled into my job upon the force. Years later, a dirt-bag named Richie started a ball rolling and long story short, I now do what I do to make things right---as right as I can get them to be, anyway.
The son, Ramón, was a shit-heel, just as I said. Fuck-stick 101, if there ever was. Not as big as his father, he still looked formidable. I would need to take care and ensure I was prepared. The gym is where I usually tailed him to, or the place they kept the girls. He was the kind of douche who wore a wife-beater every day of his life and thought the shit was right; ink down both his arms, a hair net up about his head---this for effect, I believe, in proving the stereotype. Ramón would learn though, and the time it took would bleed. I would make him shit that toothpick as well, the one between his lips.
A man named Abrum was the American contact to these two; the guy before the guy, so to speak. It took some doing, but Abrum gave them up in the end, along with quite a few others. Some of them have seen my face, others awaiting their turn. They will, however, every last one---the promise I have made. I believe the wicked must be punished; the heathens to be served. I am not a religious man, no, as there is no place for God in the things that I have seen. These men are stripped of decency, are decay and want and greed. They believe they are above the law and mock such things as sin. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on black---they're worth the very shade.
“State of the art, Bish; you need an exit window, this will more than do.” Axel. We did a tour together, back in ’98. His job was trinkets, code for what we called the stuff that would save your ass. His tech had always been sound, which is why I stayed in touch. We didn’t talk about what I did, not much, but he knew of April and my mother. In turn I knew he believed in what I was doing; the reason, I’m sure, he never hung up whenever I called for tech.
He is the only one I trust; he and no other.
I asked: “And once you install, I only have to bite down?”
“Correct; more or less.” I cocked my head. “It’s going to be a precise bite you put on it, one that taps the core.”
“Show me.” I said.
He gave me a couple of automatics as well, just before I made my way towards Mexico and the rest of the men who held a part in the destruction of my life. They were accessories, these men, the ones who still remained. I had already taken care of the primaries; the actors that had repeatedly raped and beat my sister---the production crew too, scum that had believed there was nothing they could lose. By the time I had ended the last of them, I couldn’t ask the question anymore, couldn’t believe I ever actually wanted to know why.
They do what they do because they are evil. There is no why; can’t be.
Done, I headed south, towards Tijuana and Sanchez. If they had been tipped off, they never showed it. With the trail of bodies which followed me, you would think they would have been able to put the two’s together. Criminals though---not the smartest stick in the tree.
I was under for weeks, learning the routines. It was during this time that Marta caught my eye; the way she held herself and spoke, especially to the men around her. Didn’t take long for me to figure she was the one who wore the pants. Also, that it wasn’t very often a woman found herself in the position that she did. She had to be special, I surmised, some kind of very fucking mean. It was the only thing that made sense, as history proved that Mexicans and equal rights had never been on level ground. I reminded myself that this was the belly of the beast I was in, a cartel, and place where rules need not apply.
At one time she might have been a looker, back when her breasts had yet to sag and ass had yet to bloat. Dark and lined, her face suffered from the excesses she and her husband shared; the drink and the smoke; drugs too, more than like. She had dark hair streamed with thick bars of grey---weird; whatever. It was her lipstick which announced her though, layer upon layer, glossy and wet. If I had my choice, I would strangle her slow, just to watch the life drain from her eyes. In my opinion she represented something far worse than her husband or her son, and only because of her gender; that she would profit from trafficking her own. Because of this, I wanted the bitch to scream before I ended her.
It was every few weeks a new shipment came in. Not drugs, but girls; weak and dirty, always by the van load, the routine never changed. I wasn’t interested in the labs where they cooked and packaged their drugs, only as collateral damage---if I happened to take out a house in the process, more’s the better. If not, so be it---my main goal unchanged: save as many as I could, punish the scum. Sanchez had been getting away with this for years, his fortune built on the backs of women forced against their will. And even though it shouldn’t have, their clientele surprised me, being larger than I would have thought possible; the rape houses, night after night, filled not only with men who passed as pillars of the community, but Americans as well, big shots who liked Stetsons and oil. However, the more I dug, the more I found the rape houses paled in comparison to the digital empire the Sanchez’s had created. What I discovered made me want to puke first and stick them in the eye with a knife second.
The videos they made were the stuff of monsters, of men in the absence of God. Upon realizing this I knew what Abrum had been trying to accomplish with my sister; what he had begun to create: torture porn. Where the girls are…where April was.
Who could take pleasure in such things?
It angered me, hollowed me---the reason it must end.
To get them all I would need a through line, a way in. One at time would do, but this would also give them the opportunity to close ranks as soon as I took the first one out. I could work with this, the time it would take the only thing. It was as I watched a man I thought I left for dead enter the rape house I had under surveillance that I knew my plans had changed.
Best case scenario: four birds, same stone.
Marcel Abrum was the man I saw entering the house. He did it in a wheelchair, but not of his own accord; he had a body to push him, his driver most like. Two others were with him as well, big guys dressed in black, each looking ready to roll.
He was a wise guy, was Abrum, from the States where I had left him a year ago. I left him with fewer appendages than he had been born with. I did this because of what he did to my family. I also did it so he could never again do what he enjoyed doing most. He being here now could only mean one thing: the jig was up; the Sanchez’s knew or would know of me shortly. If I was a smart man, this would be the time to get out of Dodge. It’s not that I’m not smart, just that the rage I have, it burns in me like a flame---their memory, my torch.
“It will take you out as well---there’s no way around it.” Axel again, as he explained the changes to the device I’d requested.
“So if I’m present, there’s no advantage I can give myself?”
“Not in this life, Rider, not a chance.”
“You’re sure,” he looked at me, exasperated, like I could’ve been from Mars.
“If you were deaf maybe---perhaps; yes. Bishop, I didn’t create this thing so you could commit suicide. This was supposed to help you out of the most impossible jam if such a jam were to occur. Having me install it into your mouth was not part of the deal.”
I hardly heard. My mind locked in on deaf.
I wanted to be prepared, that’s why I wanted it. I figured a time would come where I eventually lost the upper hand and would need a way out. Having Axel install the device into a back molar ensured I would have access to it even if my hands became useless to me; which they would at some point, as the law of averages suggested; soon, if I knew Abrum. He would want a little payback, what a fuck like him called fair. He couldn’t know this would be just what I was counting on.
Taking a deep breath, I placed my glock inches from my ear. Done, I did the other ear; the reports doing what they were supposed to, effectively robbing me of sound. After this I woke up tied to a chair in a basement which was far from being well lit. The first memory which arose was my knocking on the door at the front of the rape house. After that there were eyes from out of a slot that slid open upon the door. I’m assuming a voice came next, but one I could not hear. This is when it began.
I let them beat me, so sure I was they’d want me alive.
It mattered and it didn’t that I couldn’t still hear. It mattered because of the sonics in my tooth; it didn’t because I’d been taught to read lips. The son, Ramón, was furious and on me like a pike; my face a bloody pulp; my jaw a broken wreck. Jacked and getting off on it by the second, he continued to call me loco every third punch or so. Near the back of the room I saw something I didn’t like; Marta into Big Sanchez’s ear, the woman talking up a storm. With her face turned in like that, I couldn’t make out what she was saying---not that it mattered. It would be ending soon, as soon as I saw one other.
Beyond a couple of goons stood Abrum’s driver; behind him, Abrum. As the son continued to rearrange my face, he wheeled himself forward. “Bishop Rider,” he said. “At last.”
They had tried to save his face---had sewn him up as best they could. Their best was far from good, however, as his face dipped in considerably where they had pulled his cheeks together in an effort to close the wound. It was now only the face a mother could love and only if she were blind.
I looked at him, spat blood onto the floor. “You will never learn, will you Marcel? I let you live and this is what you do? I’m pretty sure I said I’d be taking something from you, didn’t I; if I ever saw you again? Oh, right, my bad---does it hurt when you try to piss?”
“Get me a table!” He roared. “I want this motherfucker strapped down!” Of course it didn’t sound quite like that, as I would come to know later on. His voice was muffled now, as if constantly caked with phlegm, even though he no longer possessed the equipment to expel such things.
“Not yet, Ese.” Said Ramón. “When I’s done you’s may have your turn---not before. This is our territory; you no more than guest.” “I don’t give fuck one about you and your territory: look at me! Look what this cocksucker did to me! You want to fucking talk about turns? I’LL SHOW YOU FUCKING TURNS!”
This was when it almost turned; when the shit and fan were meant to meet. Abrum’s driver pulled his gun, the kid in turn pulling his. After that, they all had guns---Marta included. It was a stand-off, the irony of the situation not lost on me.
I coughed, thought of my sister, my mother, and bit down hard and activated what Axel called my get out of jail free card; sent myself and them to la-la land---them to the ground like a sack of hammers and me upon my bleeding chest.
My hearing must have been returning; the only reason what Axel had set in my tooth would have affected me. The device held a high pitched frequency which could temporarily incapacitate for up to ten minutes, give or take. I could see by the number of people on the ground in front me that it worked. It was that I didn’t know how long I was out that gave me pause. If I was the first to awake, how much time did that leave before they woke too? I stood. Fucking morons---they had only tied my hands. I ran backwards into the wall; fifth time the charm. Free, I grabbed a gun, began giving them more than they deserved. I took out the guards first, then the kid; two to the back of the head for each. It was as I popped Marta that I heard Abrum from his wheel-chair. He was rousing, not yet awake. I took care of Big Sanchez next, putting two into his face and parting what was his skull; the fat of his gut reacting to this, rolling like a wave. Moving towards Abrum, I took the men he brought, his security no more. This left me and him. If we’d been friends, I’d say it was just like old times.
Sooner than I anticipated, it was returning: my hearing.
Securing Abrum to his wheelchair,---arms and legs---I went upstairs to investigate where they had taken me. On the floor above, unconscious bodies greeted me. Axel: the man and his tech never ceased to amaze; had said the device would work up to a radius of two hundred feet. It ensured that I took out eleven more of Sanchez’s men, two of them detail, the other nine workers in the meth lab I now found myself in. All around me stood long work tables and utensils needed in a high end operation like this. It wasn’t dirty, this place; it was bright and white and clinical. They knew what they were doing at this end of their business. On the end I was now part of---not so much.
Rooms swept, I returned to the basement and Marcel. As I took my first step down I noticed the blowtorch in the corner. I grabbed it, thinking back to when I took his fingers---how I had taken the time to cauterize. I did this so he would live; that he would suffer for as long as possible for what he had done to my sister and mother. You would think it would have taken. Some people, though---they learn hard.
“If you don’t kill me this time, I won’t stop coming. I want you to know that.”
“Big words.” I said.
“I mean it, Rider. I’ve got nothing to lose. I will track you down and find you. You know I have the money. I will buy the fucking resources.” He was right at that…but it was something in his eyes though, something that wasn’t ringing true.
“What are you going to do with that?”
“Thought we might take a trip down memory lane.” I said and began to set up shop.
He scoffed, “Make sure it ends, Rider; that’s all I say.” It was then I realized what I saw in his eyes: hope. He wanted me to do it---to finish him. It brought a smile to my face to know that the suffering he had endured had been mental as well as physical.
“What’s so funny?” He spat.
“Just realized what you’re on about.”
“You don’t know shit.”
“I know I’m not going to kill you.” You could see a little of the light go out in his eyes at this. It was beautiful, really.
“You know what I think, Marcel? I think you took my advice, back after it happened. But I think it was only for a while. I think that’s why you’re here---probably hoping you’d find me here, or that I might be coming soon. You did give me the names, after all. Am I near the mark?”
He said nothing, only looked---glared. “I think you want it to end, but I think you’re too chicken shit to do anything about it. I also know you’re Catholic, meaning you probably believe you will go to hell if you take the ride yourself. This is the reason you’re here. What I believe, anyway. And really, before I do this, I have a question: with all the other things you’ve done in your life, don’t you think for a minute your ticket’s not already made?”
“I told them no encore,” he said, his voice all venom now, gloating and clenched. “To fuck her until she died. Big money in breaking small cunts, you know. Did you know that, Rider?”
It took everything I had not to kill him right there; that and then some.
He didn’t say much after that---not anything coherent, anyway. Where I started the year before, I continued on; took my knife and dug right in; cut and tore until pieces began to pile. In the end he became a trunk and little more; part of a shoulder left here, his right thigh now somewhat longer than its mate. It was a messy job and the shock of it forced Abrum to pass out more than a couple times. Cauterized and bandaged, I hauled him up the stairs; quite easy now, now that he was less. Out front I put him back in his wheelchair and placed the sign I had made around his neck. Behind us the meth house burned, and as it did I read what I had made. It said: Those who can read and understand this: fear me. Those who can’t---know that you are safer than you were. That I am here to stay. Continuing my way, I will take it to the next level. I know that there are monsters out there different from what I’ve seen. Men who would go beyond an Abrum or a Sanchez; men who would choose the unthinkable. Know that these will hold a special place with me---one that ends in lead.
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