The Swamp (Part Three)
Hendricks slept soundly even here, outdoors in the jungle, with only wet leaves for cover. He was used to the pelting rain, the insufferable heat and the voracious insects that he had been forced to endure all those months at the prison. He felt stronger mentally, his will honed and hardened, his weaknesses pushed to the back of his mind.
He focused on the pain, fed off it. Rage was not a festering thing to him, not something to be extracted, cured or exorcised. It was nurturing. He welcomed the pain because the pain gave him something concrete to hang on to, something that would distract him from his emotions, which he had learned to keep in check since he was a kid.
Hendricks had a first name, Nathanial, but he never used it.
Na-tha-ni-al. Sounded funny to him now, he couldn't quite wrap it around his tongue. He had not heard that name spoken out loud since childhood, growing up dirt poor on an Oklahoma reservation that had all the creature comforts of a crowded refugee camp. And his father, an alcoholic, drug-addicted, brutally abusive full blood Chocktaw, had taught him to be quiet at an early age.
Hendricks grew up angry and could not wait to get off the res. When he finally left the Marine Corp after two extended tours in Afghanistan, he moved to Costa Rica for a few years, then on to neighboring Panama, where he worked as a tour guide at Bocas del Toro, a resort community surrounded by beautiful beaches and jungles. That's where he met Celia.
Celia was beautiful, young, and exotically dark skinned She was sassy and fun and they immediately fell in love, marrying after going steady for only a few short months. A few years later they had two kids and one more on the way. That was when the trouble started.
Celia was working for one of the developers on the island, a rich Panamanian named Federico Blandon, who promptly fell for her in a hard way. He was a man who was used to getting everything he wanted, and he decided that he wanted her, even though he knew she was happily married. In reality this only heightened the thrill of the hunt for the twisted developer.
After warding off several after hours unwanted advances by Blandon, a confused Celia had become depressed and morose. Hendricks noticed the change in her demeanor and demanded that she tell him what was going on. At first she refused stubbornly, but after a while she blurted it all out, sobbing hysterically. Hendricks comforted his weeping wife, and was relieved that she had acted honorably, but also crazy mad at Blandon for terrorizing his poor, sweet, innocent wife in such a despicable way.
His mind raced with the ways he would batter the cretin. The guy would never even know what hit him. After being in Special Forces for a few years, Hendricks knew a little about inflicting pain and even more about doing it in a stealthy manner.
Celia knew her husband and knew the calculations that were forming in his mind. She cried and yelled and beat him on the chest, and begged him not to confront the man.
This was her boss, the Patron, and she wanted desperately not to lose her job. In a country with unemployment rates over 50%, she knew she was lucky to have any job, much less such a high paying job like this one. She was in charge of maintenance for the entire development and she took her job very seriously. Besides the money, she loved her co-workers and the condo owners themselves, who were mostly Americans and Canadian, all of whom praised her to no end. She was very well liked and very popular.
Hendricks lied to her, telling her what she wanted to hear, that he was not going to do anything, not even talk to the man. She passed out on the couch after taking a valium for her nerves. Hendricks quietly picked her up and gently tucked her into bed, then opened the top drawer of his bureau cabinet.
The weight of the black carbon blade Becker Bowie knife was familiar and comforting in his hand. He grasped the handle tightly and then headed out the door. He knew what he had to do. He also knew that the man had it coming to him.
A snake slithered into the water just feet from where he was sitting, snapping Hendricks out of his reverie. He had to push all of those memories out of his mind. He needed to focus all of his waning strength on the task at hand: getting out of this swamp alive. And that would be no easy task. For all of his bravado and skill and focused intentions, there was still only a slim possibility that he would survive for more than five or six days at most. The first thing he needed was some fresh water and the second thing was food.
Water would prove to be the hardest to get. It was not rainy season and there was little chance of rainfall, which would have made it relatively easy for him to fashion some sort of water scoop out of the large plantain leaves. Although he was surrounded by water from the swamps, there was no way he was going to let any of that gunk pass his lips. To do so would be tantamount to suicide, and not a quick one either. He had heard stories in prison of escapees that had been found days later, their bodies contorted in pain from having sampled from the brackish pools.
Food was a different story and it would not be too difficult to kill a lizard or two, maybe some large beetles or a scorpion. If he was lucky, maybe even a snake, though that would not be as easy without a knife. He would have to eat whatever he caught raw since there was only green wood that would not burn easily out here.
Hendricks knew, deep down, that his only real chance at survival was to get out of the swamp and get out quickly. This was already his second day in the wild and already he had a splitting headache from thirst. One or two more days like this and he would not be able to move.
He got up and trudged his way through the jungle, heading, he hoped, due North, and God willing, to the Costa Rican border.
to be continued
Read Part Four of "The Swamp" by bludstream
- The Swamp (Part Four)
Hendricks felt like he had been going for twenty hours straight now. It was difficult at times to tell where the sun was in the sky because of the denseness of the forest canopy. He knew that he needed to...
Read "The Thing in the Corner" by bludstream
- The Thing in the Corner (Part One)
Sam Hayes shuffled along Clay Street near Union Square in San Francisco. It was an unusually warm Indian Summer day and he was sweating as he trudged up the steep hills. Sam stopped at the top of the...
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