Captive Audience

One lesson Dorian had learned in this life was that waking up to the sight of one’s own penis rarely bade well.

Cool air spiked gooseflesh. He could feel the floor, uneven, dusty stone, beneath his feet. The bindings…tape, most like, had him lashed to the chair by the ankles and wrists. He was slumped forward, chin resting upon his chest. As he pulled himself upright, he swiped at the cobwebs of whatever drug they’d given him. The uncovered eye was sluggish as it took in what could be seen.

He was seated in the center of a smallish pool of light from a single overhead fixture. The rest of the room was hidden in shadow. A persistent must hung in the air, and the echoes of footfalls from the joists above would indicate that he was in a basement. Given their penchant to set the mood, naturally his captors had seen fit to strip him naked. “Hmmph,” he chose a derisive tone, “Ah think y’all been watchin’ too many shows.”

From the surrounding blackness, a voice spoke. “Let’s watch this one.”

A grainy capture image blossomed in the air before him. Dorian soon recognized the scene. He stood in the foreground, back toward the camera as he pressed a shotgun into the nape of that Ezra cop…Lara’s…neck. She was spread eagled on the dusty ground, watching as Vas performed a remarkable display of violence upon her partner. The kid was fast…almost too fast for the capture’s lens. Anyone who might view this record for the first time would quickly draw the right conclusion. The yokel cop didn’t stand a chance.

The blur halted. The cop was on his knees, head held up by Vas’ fingers twined in his hair. The punk glanced toward Dorian, his question unvoiced, yet obvious.

“Remembah when Ah said Ah’d kill yah both?” Dorian asked.

“Yes,” the grounded woman cop could be heard to respond.

“Change of plans. Mistah Vas?”

What proved remarkable to Dorian was the polish of the boy’s technique. Decapitations were a particularly messy business, even when conducted with a weapon that might do the job with a single strike. But Vas, armed with only a machete, accomplished a homicidal miracle in a single, fluid blow. As the image paused, the cop’s head had just begun to tilt sideways as it fell. The blade, stilled in mid arc, trailed a thin sheen of liberated blood.

“I seen me some kills,” the disembodied voice said. “But that? Just about the purtiest piece ‘o’ wet work I ever did see.” A match flared behind the floating image, giving light to a cigarette whose tip glowed a red orange. “Yup,” the voice offered, “that was a mighty fine job, any way you slice it.”

Dorian cocked an eyebrow. “Yah practiced that one, didn’t yah?”

“The missus hates my jokes,” the unseen voice chuckled. “Had to wait til’ I had a 'captive' audience.”

“Kill me now.”

“Mayhaps,” the voice replied in good natured tone. “Mayhaps.” A tall figure stepped through the frozen video, which seemed to melt around him as he came. The man was lean, with a mop of grey hair, and a thick moustache above which dark eyes narrowed. “How you doin’, Dorian?”

“Well, Ah’m nekkid and strapped to a chair. How’s tha family, Jack?”

Jack Cudahy smiled. “Better’n I deserve,” he said. “Kids’re both in college. Gettin’ great marks. Me an’ Ida gotta eat Ramen four times a week to keep our money right, but we couldn’t be prouder. Reminds me, what’s this Marisol tells me ‘bout you tyin’ the knot?”

“That’s the rumor,” the captive replied. “Ah’ve been ensnared in an arranged marriage, among othah things,” he concluded with a glance toward his current entrapment.

Jack laughed. “Just wait til I tell Ida. Gonna have to help her pick her jaw up off the floor. Oh, and she says ‘hi.’

“Please give her mah love.”

“Thank you kindly,” the captor smiled as he ground the butt under his bootheel. “Well, let’s get ‘er done.” Jack strode into the shadow. “Know what really gets me about that capture?” he asked over the sounds of metal rattling and pinging in the dark. “Take a gander at their faces.” Jack emerged, pushing a heavy cart. Dorian recognized the battery, the voltage regulator, and a number of the crude tools which gleamed in a tray on the cart’s top. Tools of the trade…for interrogating hostiles.

“Now, ‘Headless Bob’ there? Complete surprise. Hell, I bet if my gourd got lopped off so quick I’d look a might surprised, myself. But your compadre there…now he’s something else,” Jack parked the cart beside Dorian’s chair, before disappearing once more into the shadow. “Cool as a cucumber. Hell, lookit them eyes. I seen more life in a china doll. That boy,” he continued as he placed a stool at Dorian’s side. “He’s got talent…and he don’t stop to ruminate on it none, either. We seen that kind of talent before.”

Of all the directions he thought this “meeting” might take, an interrogation about Vas’ particular skill set hadn’t ranked high on his list…if at all. Yet now, as the gist began to dawn upon Dorian, he realized that this little tete’ a tete’ might not be ending any time too soon.

Cudahy produced a pair of gator clamps whose wires trailed back to the voltage regulator. “So,” he turned toward Dorian, “Where ya wanna start, old pard? Nipples or nuts?”

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