“I’m not sure what you want me to do?” The Man questioned after the woman had laid out her story to him. Mr. R had already heard it sometime before but stayed in the room for the retelling. “The man has already struck. There is nothing to be salvaged here.”
“I want revenge,” Valerie Coombs responded intently. The Man knew of her vaguely; she’d been a fashion model and spokeswomen for a variety of products when she was younger, but that had been years ago.
Now she was thirty and burned up. That was apparently before she had become an internet porn sensation for a series of violent rape videos.
According to Ms. Coombs she had not been a totally willing participant, at least in the beginning. Once she had been lured into the life, she found she couldn’t get out. Exactly what the Man was supposed to do about that wasn’t very clear to him.
“I’m not in the vengeance business. This isn’t a problem I can solve. I can’t turn back time and undue the things he’s done and it sounds like the two of you aren’t in business anymore.”
“He destroyed me,” Valerie insisted. “He left me nowhere else to go but being a slam-queen; a slut who gets beaten up and slapped around.”
“You get paid for this. It is your job. Can’t you quit?” the Man persisted.
“And do what?” Valerie countered. The Man took a deep breath.
“Is me finding a way to deal with this man going to make your life easier?” The Man persisted.
“Yes; knowing this man has gotten what is coming to him,” she stated.
“And what would that be?” The Man asked. Valerie looked confused.
“I don’t know. That is why I came here,” Valerie admitted. Mr. R. cleared his voice.
“I’ve crossed paths with Tony Johnson on two separate occasions. Your predecessor was able to convince him to resolve the situation in my favor, but we let him off with warnings. I want an end to this situation,” Mr. R. told him.
“I don’t do wet work,” The Man stated firmly.
“My friend, I am not telling you to do this; I am asking you to do this for me as a favor,” Mr. R. said. The Man didn’t know what to say. He feared this would end badly, but he owed Mr. R not only his livelihood, but his life. The man known as The Man would be some drunk in a bar if it wasn’t for Mr.R.
“I’ll do it Sir,” The Man nodded. “I believe Ms. Coombs and I will need to work out the details.”
“Call me Valerie,” she requested.
“Well Valerie, let’s go out for lunch and we can talk about Tony Johnson. Anything and everything you can tell me will help.”
(Four days later)
“Oh, you’re awake Mr. Johnson. That’s good. You are probably feeling nauseous and dry mouthed. Here let me give you some water.” The Man proceeded to do just that.
“Who the fuck are you?” he rasped. Johnson could feel the leg and his handcuffed behind his back. All he had on were his boxers. He had no recollection of how he got here.
“That’s not important. One thing that is relevant to you is that you’ve pissed off one very important person.”
“Who?” he growled. The man had little fear, noted The Man.
“You will know that soon enough,” The Man continued. “The thing that is important to you right now is that you know where you are, what has been tattooed to your chest, and the realization that you don’t read or speak Spanish.”
“What the fuck … where am I?” Johnson sounded concerned.
“Guatemala, Mr. Johnson. To be more precise, you are outside the Lacenica Correctional facility in the remote jungles of this country. Only people associated with this prison ever comes out here. I am pretty sure the US Embassy hardly knows this place exists. There are no phone calls to the outside world. You are totally alone.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll get out,” Johnson promised.
“Not likely; see not even the warden speaks English. Likewise your money has been frozen … you’ve been linked to a child pornography ring back in the States. Some very skilled forensic accounts are working pro bono on sniffing out all your hidden accounts.” The Man continued.
“Fine; you’ve got me. How do I get out of this?” He grumbled.
“You don’t. Every month I’m going to get an update on your condition, plus a time-date stamped video of the inmates having fun with you,” The Man explained.
“Screw that. I’m not afraid of this place,” he responded by flexing his mighty physique. “I’ll end up running this prison.”
“Not likely; see a serious Latino street gang in the US has tattooed you with their ‘traitor’s’ mark, plus I’ve added the nice little script in Spanish on your chest that says ‘I like raping little boys and little girls’, so I doubt very much you will be popular with the inmates. You are going to be their Yankee bitch,” The Man shrugged. Johnson surged against his restraints, but larger and stronger men had tried the same thing and failed. The Man wasn’t taking any chances.
Johnson began looking more concerned.
“What do you want?” he seethed.
“Oh, I’m only waiting for my employer to arrive. They wanted to see you before you go inside. They are not allowed in there for reasons that will be obvious,” The Man told him.
Joe, his mercenary buddy came and gave The Man a nod.
“Who is that?” Johnson asked indicating Joe.
“She’s not important to you; who is coming is,” The Man said in a voice devoid of compassion. Valerie walked through the door Joe was holding open.
“Valerie? What the hell is going on here? Tell this asshole to let me go,” Joe demanded.
“Tony,” Valerie addressed Johnson, “you took my life away. I lost things I can never get back. You took my dignity, my respect, and my reputation. You turned me into a whore.”
“Don’t give me that,” Tony spat, “I made you a ton of money too.”
“And I’ve used that money to put you in this place. You used my body and my face to make a lot more money and you handed me crumbs and expected me to be grateful, you arrogant pig,” Valerie nearly screamed. It suddenly dawned on Johnson he really might not be getting out of this place in one piece.
“Come on Val, they weren’t all bad times,” he coaxed her along. “We can still work this out.”
“Oh, I’ll be ‘working it out’ in my nice home, with the nice business you left me no choice but to be part of while I get your monthly updates,” Valerie smiled sweetly.
“Oh, I’ll make a killing in the European markets with the videos of you. Did you tell me to never miss a business opportunity? Make sure you moan for the camera, isn’t that how you coached me?” Valerie taunted. Johnson turned to The Man.
“Whatever she’s paying you, I’ll double it,” he pleaded.
“First off, unlike you, I have ethics. I also don’t do bad things to good people and I always try to make the punishment fit the crime. In your case I’m making an exception. If I had my way, I would simply put a bullet in your head, but Valerie was pretty adamant that you take a long time in dying.”
“Secondly, as I already explained, you have no money to bargain with. It is all gone,” The Man repeated patiently.
“Listen, I can do …”
“You can do nothing,” Valerie gloated. “Now you know how I felt when you had me raped for the world to see. I said no, but you wouldn’t take no for an answer. Do you regret that decision yet?”
“Sure Valerie. I’m sorry,” Tony Johnson promised. “Let me make it up to you, please.” Valerie looked to The Man and suddenly Tony had hope.
“That is all I wanted to hear,” Valerie told The Man, “you can take him away now.”
“No!” bellowed Johnson. The Man pulled out his knife and walked up to him.
“Come along now,” The Man said calmly, “or I’ll stab you in radial collateral ligament. That will make fighting off the other inmate much more difficult.”
“You bastards,” he snarled. “I’ll make you pay.”
“You are welcome to think that way, but for right now, you are coming with me,” The Man directed. Valerie stepped up and kissed Johnson on the cheek. Momentarily misdirected, he lashed out at her with his head, but Valerie backed away in time.
“My suggestion to you is that you remember the encouragements you’ve given every teenage hopefully you’ve ever put before the camera knowing you were ruining their lives; ‘grin for the camera baby and take it. It will all be over soon’,” Valerie taunted.
“You cocksucker,” Johnson spat. He wasn’t so angry he challenged The Man’s blade though. He had little doubt the smaller man would follow through on his threat. Johnson knew he would need every advantage he could get to survive and eventually get even.
The Man and another mercenary walked Tony into the all-male prison. That had been the reason Valerie couldn’t come inside, he realized. The place would have rioted upon seeing Valerie’s gorgeous face and curves. Three guards took hold of Johnson while The Man’s companion took off the leg restraints. Johnson waited for the handcuffs to be removed next, but instead he was taken inside with them still on. The Man followed along.
“What the fuck? Un-cuff my hands damn it,” Johnson roared. He could see a sturdy table in the yard and several large inmates standing around it.
“Those cuffs will follow you to your grave Johnson,” The Man said evenly.
“How in the hell am I supposed to fight off the inmates?” Johnson growled.
“Did I give you the impression I wanted you to fight off the other inmates? I apologize if I did. I told you that if I cut your ligaments fighting them off would be more difficult and it would be; blood loss is like that,” The Man explained.
“What the hell am I supposed to do?” Johnson groaned as he saw The Man give an expensive video/audio recorder to one of the guards along with a large role of bills.
“Well, an inmate will feed you three times a day, but only if you suck his cock. Beyond that I suggest you learn Spanish and lecture the inmates on what a bad idea it is to rape women and sell their humiliation on the internet,” The Man delivered in a deadpan tone.
The two guards slammed Johnson into the table and several inmates rushed him and pinned him down. Johnson struggled to look around. He saw a queue of inmates lining up for their turn. His boxers were pushed down and something slick and oily was rubbed down his ass.
“Help me!” he pleaded.
“Sorry, I’ve saved one life today and that’s my quota,” The Man said. “Goodbye, I doubt we will see each other again. If I do, I’ll make an ethical exception in your case; I’ll take personal joy in killing you. You killed the woman inside before I could save her. I don’t take that kind of loss lightly. Someone should have been there then, not now when everything is empty.” Everything The Man told him had a purpose. That purpose was hope and it would be important at the end.
Valerie looked around the plane at the mercenaries she’d hired. They were flying back to the United States and she felt a strange weight lifting from her chest. She got up and walked over to him. Valerie reached out and touched The Man on the arm.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?” she asked.
He looked up from his magazine and motioned her to sit beside him.
“What can I do for you?” he said with deep soulful eyes.
“Thank you,” she told him softly. He looked like he was about to say something else, but he reconsidered it.
“You are welcome,” he responded. “Was it worth it?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know. As you told me, it doesn’t really help me get back anything I lost,” Valerie admitted. “I guess Tony did give me one thing.”
“What was that?” The Man asked.
“The ability to act without conscience; I’m going to sleep like a baby tonight knowing that I never have to see him again,” she smiled sadly.
“Want a piece of advice?” The Man said.
“From you; sure,” Valerie responded.
“Never believe you are not worth loving. The World is not such a fucked up pit that we can’t dig our way out of it. Trust me; I know,” he intensely urged her. Valerie thought that over then got back up and went to her seat.
The Man wasn’t worried about this one. Eight different angles, eight different groups of inmates, and eight different sections of the prison, and eight different time stamps; Tony Johnson was dead before they touched down in Miami. The ninth tape was proof of death, but Valerie would never get that one. The Man decided that she should get on with her life.
Tony Johnson had felt that somehow he would get out of it right up until that last time. He had felt his hope drain away pretty much the way Valerie’s had when she realized she had no way out — the first time she’d been raped. The Man knew that Valerie didn’t need to make the same mistake he’d made by leaving her tormentor alive. She’d have months to come to the comfortable realization Tony wouldn’t be coming around anymore. The Man could give her that much.