“I’m losing my mind here,” Steven murmured. “No matter what I do, there always seems to be someone in my way. Someone who just doesn’t know any better and needs to be removed. Of course, when they need to be removed, they love to struggle and-”
“Please, don’t do this,” the stranger begged.
“Now, you see, you’re just not getting. I don’t want to do this, but you just keep going. You keep talking, you keep crying and you just won’t stop.”
Steven watched the stranger crawl towards the door and sighed. There was no peace of him and unfortunately, there would be no peace for the stranger as well.
“Listen, if you stop right now I will let you live a little longer,” Steven told the victim. To his surprise, the stranger did. “See? Now we are getting somewhere.”
Steven approached the tired form. The shirt stained with the sweat of fear, only to be upstaged by the splashes of blood. The stranger was breathing, but when Steven hunkered down next to the body he saw that the victim was in fact unconscious.
“Well, that makes things a little more difficult,” Steven muttered. “How am I supposed to ask you questions if you can’t respond?”
“How is it going in there?” a gruff voice asked outside the door.
“Well, I got him to admit his name is Martinez, yet I have yet to find out if he is the Martinez we are looking for,” Steven replied. “Say, Olav, do you think that we can get him to talk if we tried using the car battery and some jump cables?”
“It usually works for the bigger guys, but this one has a weak heart.”
“You’re telling me. By the time I pulled the pliers out of the bag he seemed dead on his feet. I’m surprised he was able to escape the chair.”
“Didn’t do him much good without kneecaps, huh?”
Steven eyed the unconscious form and his smirk slowly drifted downwards towards a grimace. There was no way this man could be the Martinez in the file. It was a dreadfully common name in these parts, so the chances of two Martinez’s working in the same club were likely. However, that meant asking a different question.
Two hours later, the victim was woken up in a new, far more solid chair. He noticed the water dripping from his face and realize that water had been splashed over him. He was surprised that worked in waking him up, he didn’t even feel a chill with skin so hot.
“There he is,” Steven murmured, leaning back in the chair that sat across from Martinez. “Listen, I’m willing to cut you a deal right now.”
Martinez shook his head, expecting the offer to simply be a quick death.
“Now, now, listen,” Steven told him enthusiastically. “I’m offering you a some basic first aid and a trip to the hospital where they will patch you right up. Get you feeling like a new man before you know it. Mainly because the drugs will keep you unconscious while they work on your legs a lot more delicately than I did.”
Martinez looked up at Steven, although it was a bit of a struggle. His hands were tied behind the chair, forcing him to lean forward for more comfortable positioning. Not that it made much difference, everything hurt.
“What do you want from me?” Martinez replied. “I told you I’m not your guy, please, just let me go.”
“Answer my questions and you will wake up two weeks from now in intensive care, pampered by the best doctors this dust bowl has to offer,” Steven grunted, his face taking a more serious tone. “First question, who is your boss?”
“I told you, it’s Gabriel,” Martinez groaned.
“Not your manager, the big boss. The big one, the one owns Gabriel and by extension, owns you.”
“I don’t know. He is no more than a man in a suit to me. The others don’t even talk about him.”
“Alright, I think that deserves a little bandaging. Those cuts aren’t looking so good.”
Martinez felt a prick in his neck, but soon he faded.
Once more, Martinez woke up, face dripping sweat more than water.
“Are you awake?” Steven asked, his hands a little bloody.
However, Martinez could feel the bandaging around him. He had kept his promise, ensuring he lived a little longer.
“Yes, what do you want to know?” Martinez asked, his words slurring. The drugs still had a hold on him and his head was pounding.
“I need to meet the big boss, the sooner the better,” Steven told Martinez. “You tell me what his schedule is and I will load you into the van and take you to the hospital.”
Martinez’s eyes widened. He had all the reasons in the world to doubt Steven, but the bandages covered his wounds were done with too much care for him to deny the man. Martinez was hopeful for that week long rest followed by a month or two of recovery.
“He visits the club on the first Monday of every month in a blue car to collect money,” Martinez told Steven. “I don’t know who drives him, but he is good. The moment he is done, he drives off so fast you can hear the tires screech.”
Martinez felt another prick in his neck and Steven nodded with a smile.
Martinez’s eyes fluttered open. He was tied to a table, straps over his arms and legs. His only sight was that of the van roof and Steven’s cold eyes. He felt the cold barrel of a gun pressing against his forehead.
“You can’t go back to work, Martinez,” Steven told the quivering man. “You can’t stay in this country too long, but you’re sure as hell not getting out. I suggest you find someplace quiet and off-the-grid the moment you can walk.”
Martinez nodded, although it was short thanks to strap over his forehead.
“One more thing,” Steven murmured, removing the gun. “You can hide from the people you used to work for, but you can never hide from us. You are no more than a loose end that I can tie off anytime I want, but I expect you to not give me reason to. You will say nothing of the past week, comprende?”
Another nod and soon Martinez woke up with a sigh of relief in a hospital bed. He would work at forgetting everything before he worked at learning how to walk again.
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