The Swamp (Part 20)

The bucket of cold water sucked Hendricks violently out of the blissful wonderland of a very deep sleep into the shocking, blinding, white-hot glare of reality.

Hendricks could see that he was in a small concrete room with no windows. He tried to move but realized right away that he was bound to a chair with what he guessed was electrical wire. A greasy bandanna that stank of sweat and vomit was stuffed in his mouth and he fought to keep from retching.

Blandon sat across from him in a wooden chair, turned around so that the back faced forward. The dapper fat man crossed his arms casually over the back of the chair. He wore a very smart black Armani suit, Hendricks noticed, a fat Cuban cigar with a fiery-red cherry in one fat, gold ringed hand.

Hendricks tried to take in the wonderful scent of the stogie, anything to block the smell of the rancid bandanna.

“You are a very stupid, man, Mr. Hendricks. Very brave but also very, very stupid.”

Blandon took another long drag from the cigar and then stood up, pacing around Hendricks, who tried to move his head and watch him, but he realized that there was wire around his throat too, flattening his head to the back of the chair he sat in. He could not move his neck more than an inch or so to either side. Blandon slipped behind the American, still talking.

“You’re probably wondering where you are. I am happy to tell you that you are in a little used interrogation room at the local police department. It just so happens that I pay the police chief a little extra bonus on a regular basis and every once in a while he lets me, how do you say, perform some delicate operations.

It keeps things simple. I am sure that, as an American, you can appreciate simplicity and a well run organization. One of the things that I have always admired is the way that Americans, and I mean, of course, rich Americans, run their businesses. They are the masters. No one can touch them, not even the Japanese, and everyone knows how good they are.”

Hendricks tried to lunge at Blandon, straining against the wires, a growl of muted curses rising from his throat.

“Shhh. You don’t have to say anything. Words are superfluous. In fact, you can’t say anything, can you?” Blandon cracked himself up with that one.

Hendricks could feel Blandon’s face next to his off to the right and behind. Smoke blew past his eyes.

“You probably want to know what you are doing here.”

Blandon snatched some papers from off a nearby desk and pulled reading glasses out of the top pocket of his coat.

“Let me see. You are under arrest for the murder of Katerina Blandon, Mr. Hendricks. You were found with the murder weapon,” Blandon raised a plastic baggie with the carbon blade in it and waved it in front of Hendrick’s face, “and the victim’s blood all over your clothes and shoes. Your attempt at robbery was amateurish at best. Too bad that my lovely, uh, late wife heard you and screamed. But you probably would have killed her anyway, isn’t that right? After all, you are a trained killer. Yes, we checked your military career. Quite impressive. It is a shame that you suffered so much post-traumatic stress. Very common among the returning troops I understand.”

Hendricks was fuming, realizing that he had been framed. He searched the room, looking for a way out.

“I have consulted certain high-placed individuals in the Panamanian government and we have decided not to inflame the situation. To avoid an international incident, I have convinced my friends to have you sent straight to prison. And not just any prison. This is a very special prison, for very special criminals. I think you will not like it there very much. No, I do not think that would be possible.” He chuckled again.

Hendricks strained against the restraints, the electrical wires digging into his skin, drawing blood in spots. He tried to shout but it came out muffled, stuck in his throat, making him gag.

“You have something to say?” Blandon chuckled, “I am sure that you do. Oh, and one more thing,” he rose and walked towards the door to the hallway, “Now that my wife is no longer in the way, so to speak, well, this is a great opportunity to get to know your lovely wife much better. We can improve our employee-employer relationship, if you will. And do not worry. I will be taking very good care of your wife for you. She is, eh, how would you say it, a very valuable and loyal asset.”

Hendricks roared and using every last ounce of his straining muscles he lifted the chair off the floor, then cracked it against the wall, breaking it into pieces. The wires loosened and he freed one hand, taking the disgusting rag out of his mouth, spitting and gasping for air. He turned at once on Blandon, who was still frozen in shock.

Hendricks and Blandon both lunged for the knife in the plastic bag. They both came up short and rolled on the ground, fighting. The enraged Hendricks got on top of Blandon, pinning him to the ground. He cocked his hand back and cracked Blandon on the nose, shattering it and spraying blood all over his new suit.

“You cocksucker! You killed your own wife and then framed me and now I’m going to fucking kill you, you son of a bitch!” the threat came out hoarse and ragged, burning in his throat. Hendricks reached up and grabbed the bag with the carbon hunting knife.

Blandon’s eyes went wide. “Rosella! Rosella!” he screamed.

The bodyguard shot through the door, took in quickly what was happening and smashed Hendricks in the face with a powerful, controlled swing of his black baton. Hendricks’ cheek bone cracked and blood sprayed out of both nostrils. He fell back on the concrete, moaning in pain, black shapes swimming before his eyes. Rosella kicked him hard in the stomach, and the air went shooting out of his chest. Hendricks rolled around, gasping in pain, trying in vain to take in some air. Rosella forced Hendrick’s hands behind his back and tied him up again with some twist-tie cuffs. Taking no chances, Rosella manacled his ankles together as well then stepped away.

Rosella went to pick up his boss, but Blandon waved him away. He dusted himself off and ran his fingers through his thinning hair. The fat man was angry and he stepped closer to Hendricks, then kicked him hard in the face.

“Do not worry Mr. Hendricks, I will take very good care of your wife. And your kids, too.” He walked to the door, turned at the last minute to Rosella. “It’s your turn.” Rosella smiled.

The last thing Hendricks heard before he passed out was Rosella, El Mecanico, slapping the hammer over and over again in his gloved palm as he walked slowly towards him.

to be continued

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