by H.A.L. Wagner
It did not take long to kill the first three men. With the door kicked in one caught a forty-five to the head. The next thug took a bash across the bridge of his nose and then a hard placed boot heel down on his neck. The third guy wielded a knife that ended shoved up under his sternum. The stomach holds a lot of blood.
It was the last guy that took longer to die but that was by design.
The stranger took his time with the rising star of the underworld. He would savor every snap and pop of dislocated and broken bones. This last piece of trash, Jarrod Killjoy, would die slow.
The pocket forty-five cracked and caught Jarrod behind the knee blowing it into a crimson mist. Jarrod fell to the ground. He dragged himself towards the door but the stranger stopped him with a vengeful stomp on the blown knee.
The killer grunted as cartilage and tendons crackled under foot. Jarrod could only gasp short catches of air into lungs that would not fill. Then he whaled in a futile attempt for absolution. The stranger was not granting forgiveness of sins, tonight he was dealing out justice.
“Who are you?” Jarrod demanded to know his executioner, a last request from a sentenced man.
The stranger stepped into the light to show a snarled and seething face. The stranger’s insanity hid his face from Jarrod Killjoy’s recollection. A tightly balled fist hammered across Jarrod’s pale face. The man spit blood and a piece of his cheek to the wood floor.
Jarrod whimpered then forced hard breaths in and out of his lungs to keep from passing out. The stranger enjoyed the man’s willingness to suffer through what was about to come.
“Did the Ramos cartel send you? I haven’t done anything wrong, I swear. This is all some kind of mistake.” Jarrod began to plead. “Who sent you and maybe we can resolve this. I have lots of cash.”
The unidentified man gazed upon his heart’s desire. His eyes grew large with excited ideas. A four inch serrated boot knife gleamed off what little light penetrated into the fourth floor walk up. He crouched holding Jarrod’s left hand tugging on the index finger. The blade sliced into the base of the finger cutting the tendon. Jarrod’s screams only fueled the single-minded torturer urging him to cut more digits on the hand.
Despite the pain, Jarrod’s need to know who was to kill him took prominence in his frenzied brain. “If you’re working for the Deluca brothers tell them their trucks will be there and loaded with merchandise.”
The Stranger wiped the blade off on Jarrod’s pleated pant leg. He tucked the knife back in the boot.
“Deluca brothers…” Jarrod mumbled under his breath, presuming too much. His left hand was numb except for the pinky that he could feel twitch. The stranger swiveled his head “no”, then stomped on Jarrod’s pinky. When he lifted his boot what was left looked like a string of pink dough.
Shock set into Jarrod’s body. Shivering he grabbed his left hand at the wrist and cradled it against his chest. With a whimper he said, “I am a very powerful man.”
The strangers grin angered the dying man.
“Listen stranger, I have powerful friends. The mayor and half the city police are on my payroll. You wont get far so go hide back in the hole where you came from you sadistic fuck.” A swift kick in the nuts took the steam out of Jarrod’s building rage.
The stranger thought he might have gone too far too soon, when Jarrod Killjoy slumped over. His pain threshold had exceeded their limits.
Killjoy awoke on the bed. He stared up at a slow turning fan. Lights from the city street flashed below. For less than a second he thought it was a dream until he tried to move. Exposed nerve endings fired pain into his brain brining back the events of the night. The stranger sat in a chair near the door.
“I have money stranger. Lots of it, right here in this apartment. If you just call a doctor I will give you all of it.”
The stranger sat in silence.
“Look there in the top drawer of the dresser. There’s about a grand there and plenty more. What do you say?” Killjoy motioned towards the phone on the dresser.
The stranger rose from the chair and opened the dresser. He took out a stack of wrinkled bills. The screech of a bedside drawer spun the killer on his heels. The mussel flash of a pocket Derringer lit the room and for a frozen second Killjoy had a smile on his face as the stranger dove for the floor.
Jarrod Killjoy began to laugh. He had survived the hands of the torturer and if the stranger was still breathing would inflict some of his own torment. With the hot barrel in his mouth, he grabbed at the sheets with his good hand, dragging him to the edge of the bed. Peering over, Jarrod fanned the barrel searching for a target.
The stranger’s hand shot up clenching Jarrod’s wrist and twisted it back forcing the barrel into the man’s neck. The second shot of the derringer cracked. Flesh and muscle ripped back. Flesh that remained intact singed from the hot powder.
The stranger rose from the floor. His side now brown as blood soaked his shirt.
Jarrod Killjoy leaned back starring up at the slow turning fan, grasping his neck, holding it together in a futile attempt to cling to life.
A raspy gurgle emerged from the dying man, “Who are you stranger?”
The stranger stood over him, looking into wide, ever darkening eyes. He opened his mouth to reveal a mangle piece of meat that was once a tongue.
A half grin wrinkled Jarrod’s face. “It’s you…the snitch.”