Saturday, August 6, 2011

Indivisible Chapter 22

Chapter 22

“Calm down a second,” Jimmy begged.

Vaughn had been scurrying around the house in a mania, not exactly sure what he was going to do but desperately wanting to get on with doing it.

Jimmy grabbed him by the shoulder.

“Vaughn, you need to think about this for a second.”

Vaughn stopped.

“Are you sure this gangbanger is telling the truth? He may just want someone to do his dirty work for him.”

“Yes, I’m sure. It all makes sense. If he wanted me to cap the Sheriff he’d just say that Jess was dead.”

“What if you’re wrong? Just think about it for a minute.”

“I’m not wrong.” Vaughn answered, shrugging off Jimmy’s grasp. “I gotta go get Jess back.”

“Just wait a second! Just one second,” Marzan pleaded. “Now think...what is your plan? What are you gonna do? How are you gonna do it?”

“I’m gonna go over there and hold that bastard at gunpoint and get her back...”

“Oh...just like that, huh? It’s that simple? Think for a second, Vaughn. What if you go over there, guns-a-blazin’, and it turns out she’s not there. Then they might hurt her, Vaughn. You might never get her back, then.”

Vaughn sighed.

“You need a plan. Write it all down. Map it out. You need to find out where she is, first. You need to figure out how you’re gonna get that information. Then you need to figure out how you’re gonna get her back safely. And, on top of that, you need to figure out how to do it without getting yourself or her killed. This Garrity guy is a sheriff. He’s a professional.”

Vaughn sighed.

“What do you suggest then?”

Marzan walked over to the sink scratching his head along the way. He took a glass from the cupboard and filled it with water and took a long drink. As he swallowed, an idea came to him.

“What is it?” Vaughn asked.

Marzan labored deep in thought for a few seconds while rubbing his head and looking at the half empty (or was it half full) glass. It was indeed a complicated situation for the civilian Vaughn Clayton but not so complicated for a professional soldier. Marzan knew there was nothing quantifiable in it for him to help Vaughn but that was only because redemption was so difficult to quantify.

“Before we do anything, you need to make sure you know what you’re getting in to, Vaughn. You need to know that there is no turning back from this. You need to be fully committed.”

“I understand.”

“You need to know need to understand that it might be…that it might actually be too late to do anything.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not saying that it IS too late. I’m just saying that you haven’t heard anything from the kidnappers for a while, now, and you have to be prepared for all possibilities. And if the worst case scenario has happened, then how will you respond. You won’t be able to think about it rationally when you’re in the midst of it. You won’t have time to sort through the emotions at that point. You have to decide now.”

“I’ll kill him, then.”

“Don’t take this lightly, Vaughn. You really have to think this all the way through. It’s easy to say that here and now but out there it’s different. I’m not saying you’ll freeze up or anything, hell, you might go on a fucking rampage and take everyone out including yourself. It’s hard to know in advance. I’m just saying you need to decide what you will do before you get out there in the middle of it.

Do you know what this will bring down on you, Vaughn? Do you intend to get away with it or do you even care? What about your daughter? Your daughter will need a father, Vaughn. These are really tough times. If the worst case scenario has happened and you go for payback and you end up getting caught or killed, who will raise your daughter? Are you asking yourself these questions? Are you thinking this all the way through?”

“If Jessica’s dead, I want them dead. My life won’t matter, anymore.”

Marzan was in tune with the devil speaking with Vaughn’s tongue. It was in Vaughn’s eyes as well. Jimmy had been there before, himself, but that was in a warzone 10,000 miles away which somehow legitimized everything. This was America and about a law enforcement officer.

“Are you sure you don’t want to go to the police?”

“C’mon, Jimmy.”

“I just want to make sure.”

“This Garrity guy IS the police.”

“Maybe you could go to the FBI or something...”

“It’s chaos out there, Jimmy. No one’s gonna help me.”

“Okay. I just had to ask one more time. But I want you to let me help you,” Marzan offered.

“No. This isn’t your problem, Jimmy.”

“It is my problem, Vaughn. Fate put me here. You helped me and now I’ve gotta help you. I’ve done things like this before. You have to do things my way, do you understand? First, we need to find out what this Garrity-fuck knows.”

“How do we do that?”

“We need to ask him.”

“And if he refuses to answer?”

“Then I need to use my expertise in the arts of persuasion.”


Vaughn parked the truck and he and Marzan started a half mile hike through the crusty snow and pine trees to Garrity’s house. It was 3:01 AM and it was a crystal clear, moonless January night— bitter and frigid and still. They walked as quietly as they could and didn’t speak except in faint whispers.

Marzan used his generation 5 night vision binoculars which amplified the faint starlight enabling him to scan for anyone that might be a sentry or a potential witness.

The insurgents back in Talibanistan quickly figured out how to evade the American invader’s night-eyes. Warfare is a sort of rapid, violent Darwinism. The most adaptable, clever and ruthless survive to pass their knowledge on. The rest are killed off in short order.

Jimmy assumed that Americans resisters would figure out how to survive the occupiers as well. It would be a brutal process of adapting to technological disadvantage. But there is a window of opportunity early on when the occupier’s hubris makes him especially vulnerable. The synapses were firing in Marzan’s mind ever since he’d heard that Captain Rick had “left the building.”

The only motion in the frozen night was the ghostlike plumes of chimney smoke floating silently upwards and dissolving into the stars. It was too damn cold for sentries.

Vaughn stopped.

“That’s gotta be it,” he whispered, pointing to the over-sized cabin fifty yards off through the trees. There was only one exterior light on above the garage. Marzan scanned the windows with his night vision. They were all cold and black. The curtains were drawn to conserve heat.

“I wonder if he has dogs,” Marzan asked.

“Good question,” Vaughn answered.

“Then let’s assume he does.”

“What do we do, then?”

“We use ‘em.”

Marzan quickly explained tactics to Vaughn and the two split up with Vaughn making a wide arc to the south of the house where he waited, hidden in the brambles at the base of an ancient ponderosa tree. After exactly fifteen minutes, he hurled a snowball at the house. Nothing happened. He threw another, this time aiming for a window and ducking back into the brush after the throw. Again, nothing. Another. Nothing. Garrity must not have any dogs, he thought. Better try a couple more times just to be sure. He probed through the snow for a stone or something but came up with nothing more substantial than a handful of frozen pine needles. He looked around and then up into the great pine...there! He grabbed hold of a dead branch and snapped it off. One more try, he thought. He took a deep breath and with two hands he hurled the branch into the house and dove back into the bushes. That did the trick. Two big dogs began barking rabidly. They made their way out of a doggy door and darted into the yard where they continued barking blindly into whatever evil lurked in the night.

Marzan, by that time, had already stealthily made his way into the house through a garage window and was waiting patiently in the darkness when he finally heard the dogs. He followed their barking to a doggy door which he blocked off by pushing an arm chair up against it. He prayed there wasn’t another door that would let them back in as they were big enough dogs to take him down.

“C’mon...get up, Garrity”, Marzan pleaded silently to himself. He scanned the house with his night vision switching on the infrared beam as there was not enough ambient light to illuminate anything. He was in a lower level recreation room of some sort as indicated by the pool table. He stayed in a corner listening for footfalls. The dogs continued barking outside. “C’mon, wake up”, he pleaded.

“God damn it!” Came a shout from the upstairs. “Daisy! Stasi! Shut the fuck up!”


Heavy, lumbering footfalls stumbled across the ceiling above Jimmy and then downstairs. They paused at the south end of the house where Marzan surmised that Garrity was looking out a window.

It was the perfect moment.

Marzan drew his 9mm with silencer, took a glance through his infra red to get his bearings, and moved slowly, stealthily up the staircase. Once at the top, he gazed across a living room area seeing nothing for a moment. Then, as his eyes adjusted, he spotted the silhouette of a large-framed man at a window gazing out into the darkness towards his dogs that were winding down their alarm.

The moment was running out. Marzan had to move.

Quickly, silently, decisively, he darted into the living room right up behind the unaware and half asleep silhouette and placed the barrel of his pistol into the base of the man’s skull.

“Do not move. Do not speak,” he whispered calmly “...or I will kill you. Not one sound. Put your hands up.”

Garrity complied.

“Come with me quietly if you want to live.”

The two backed slowly through the living room and down the stairs. “You got any clothes down here?” Marzan asked him.

“No. What do you want?”

“I’ll be asking the questions this evening. Do not speak unless spoken too. If you speak without being spoken to you will be made to feel pain.”

Marzan marched Garrity into the garage where he switched on a dangling incandescent bulb.

“Fold that chair out over there. Good. Now take a seat.”

Garrity, who was clad only in his boxer briefs, sat down in the frozen chair.

“Do you know who I am?” Garrity asked.

“Why don’t you tell me.”

“I’m a cop. My name is Bob Garrity. And you’re making a big mistake coming here. What are you? MS-13?”

“That’s enough. Shut up or you’ll feel pain.”

Marzan called Vaughn on his cell. “I’ve got him in the garage. Yeah, it’s him. Hurry up. Come in through the window on the north side.”

The two stared at each other: Marzan dressed in all black with a bank-robber style stocking cap pulled over his face, 9mm in hand and M4 rifle slung over his shoulder, Garrity, now sitting, flabby white skin folding over the waistband of his boxers. Garrity noticed how Marzan properly held the pistol without the slightest flinch or shake. This gave him pause. Gangbangers liked to turn it sideways because it looked cooler that way.

“Are you sure you know who I am?” Garrity asked again, trying to muster a sternness that was difficult for a nearly naked, freezing fat man sitting in a lawn chair with a gun pointed at his chest. “Do you know I’m the Under-Sheriff?”

“Shut up.”

Vaughn appeared through the window with a rustle, clumsily carrying his shotgun. He knocked the snow off his sleeves once inside.

“Here, you take my pistol and keep it pointed at his chest. If he makes any rapid movements shoot him two times. Then put another one in his head at point blank.” Marzan handed Vaughn the 9mm and reached into his pocket producing a spool of kite string which he used to tie up Garrity’s wrists.

“Where’s my wife?” Vaughn asked, shakily pointing the gun.

“I’ll ask the questions. Just hold the gun.” Marzan interrupted as he tied off and lashed Garrity’s joints to the flimsy chair.

The string cut into Garrity’s skin as Marzan pulled Garrity’s ankles and elbows into painful angles. Both of his elbows were cinched inwards towards the chest. His knees were drawn together as well but his ankles were spread apart with his feet lifted off the floor. His left wrist and most of his hand was lashed to the armrest with his palm down. Garrity grimaced in pain.

“I’m a Sheriff! I...”

Marzan nonchalantly smothered Garrity’s face with his hand and pressed his thumb into Garrity’s left eye socket. He pushed it in deeply, pushing Garrity’s eyeball back into his skull so far that it seemed as if it might burst.

Garrity screamed.

“I told you twice already that if you spoke without being spoken too that you would be made to feel pain. Keep it up and you’ll be made to feel blindness, too. Do you understand me?”

“Yes. Yes. Okay.”

Marzan finished the lashing and knotting and tying. When complete, Garrity was completely immobilized and resembled a sort of corpulent insect wound up in a black widow’s cocoon.

Marzan turned to Vaughn, “I want you to take those two buckets there and fill them up with water. Check the house, too. If anyone else is up there, bring them down so we can keep an eye on them. Tell them they won’t be harmed if they cooperate. If they resist, shoot ‘em below the knee and tie them up.”

Vaughn left with the buckets.

“Now for you...” Marzan continued, redirecting his attention to the cocoon of Bob Garrity. “I have some questions for you, Sheriff. Hmmm. But before we get started...let’s have a look at what we have here.”

Marzan stepped over to a tool box on a workbench and fumbled around. He intentionally jingled the tools about making as much clanging noise as possible. A screwdriver fell out onto the floor. Marzan picked it up and slammed its head into the bench so that it stood upright. He continued digging.

“Hmmm. What might this be good for?” he asked as he revealed a vice grips. He squeezed the squeaky handle a few times in front of Garrity’s face. “Looks like something I could use to extract someone’s teeth with. Do you like your teeth, Bob? You can answer.”

Garrity mumbled affirmatively.

“What else do we have...” Marzan produced a hard rubber mallet. “Now what could I do with this I wonder? Hmmm.” He slammed the hammer down on the bench. Garrity winced with the boom. “I imagine I could pretty much hammer someone’s balls flat with one of these. What do you think?”

“Yes. Yes you could.”

“What else...”

Clang. Thud. Ping.

Marzan produced a needle-nose pliers. “Interesting. I bet I could rip out someone’s finger nails with this.”

“I’m sure...” Garrity answered. “Please. I don’t know what you want but I can get you...”

“Shut up!”

Marzan used the pliers to take hold of Garrity’s ear lobe, squeezing it as tight as he could without breaking the skin. Garrity howled.

“You have some information for us,” Marzan declared, calmly, “and you’re gonna give it up tonight.”

“What...what do you want?”

Marzan released the pliers. He found an ice cooler under the bench and slid it along the floor stopping it just before Garrity’s feet. He grabbed a handful of instruments from the toolbox and set them on the lid of the cooler, aligning them as if he were about to perform surgery.

Garrity knew what they wanted. He started to shiver as Marzan fumbled around through the tool box settling on the vice grips. He slowly turned the thumb crank back and forth before Garrity’s eyes, widening and constricting the gage.

Vaughn returned with the buckets.

“You weren’t gone very long,” Marzan asked. “Find anyone else inside?”

“Nobody else here. Just the dogs outside.”

“Good. Now, for you...”

Marzan found a rag on a nearby shelf and soaked it the water of one of the buckets. Then he stuffed it into Garrity’s mouth. Garrity’s eyes widened. Marzan covered them with a blindfold.

“Give me a hand,” he barked to Vaughn and they tipped Garrity’s chair backwards so that his hairy, bare-skinned back was resting on the cold concrete floor. Marzan picked up the bucket of water and poured a stream onto the rag that was stuffed in Garrity’s mouth. The water splashed over Garrity’s face and travelled up his nostrils. He reflexively tried to hold his breath but the droplets of water trickled into his sinuses triggering his exhale and cough reflexes. Bob tried to breathe in between coughs but the sensation of taking water into his lungs stifled it. Marzan stopped after about ten seconds. He took the rag out.

“Now,” Marzan explained softly, “you are going to tell us: where is Jessica Clayton?”

“I don’t...”

Before Garrity could even complete the denial, Marzan shoved the rag back in his mouth and proceeded to pour another stream up into his nostrils. This time he did it for about thirty seconds before stopping.

“Okay,” Marzan said calmly, “I’m going to ask you again, where is Jessica Clayton? But before you answer, I’m going to ask Jessica’s husband over there to go get that hammer ready. Vaughn, please grab that mallet right there and prepare to flatten Bob’s testicles. Oh, and don’t hold anything back. On my”

“Please, I...” Garrity pleaded.

Marzan stuffed the rag back in and began pouring the water again. Vaughn stood by with the mallet, swinging it into his palm. Crack. Crack. Crack. He wanted to bash Garrity’s skull into shards but he knew that he had to control his rage or he would never find out where Jessica was.

Marzan poured and Garrity coughed and squealed and choked. Marzan kept pouring until the bucket was out of water. Then he calmly set the empty pail down. The frigid air of the garage combined with the cold water and drew most of the heat out of Garrity’s core. He started shivering violently. Marzan took the rag out of his mouth, again.

“Okay,” Marzan continued. “Are you ready to cooperate or do I need to turn Jeesica’s husband there loose with that mallet? Do you want to have any children, Bob?”

“I don’t know...”

Marzan shoved the rag back in and began to pour the second bucket. Vaughn stepped forward with the hammer but Marzan stayed him for the moment. He poured for over half a minute as Garrity coughed and choked. Marzan set the bucket down and took the rag out of Garrity’s mouth once again.

“You better wisen up, Bob. ‘Cuz when this bucket runs out of water, I’ll have no choice but to turn Jessica’s husband loose. Do you understand?”

“Y...y...yes. I do. I’ll t...t...tell you.”

Marzan looked surprised. He didn’t expect Bob to give up so easily. The Hajis were much tougher than this.

“Excellent,” he answered. “So tell us...where is Jessica Clayton?”

“Are you going to kill me?” Garrity asked.

Marzan shoved the rag back into Bob’s mouth and started pouring the water again. But only a short pour was necessary this time.

“My water is running low, Bob. Do you need me to reiterate? When it runs out, we will begin the process of literally busting your balls,” he added with emphasis. “I really, really mean it this time.”

Garrity shook his head and coughed, spraying droplets of ice cold water everywhere.

“Now tell me, Bob, where is Jessica Clayton?”

“Okay! Okay! I’ll tell you,” Garrity pleaded between sobs and coughs.

“Excellent. Now just wait a second...” Marzan interrupted, turning to Vaughn. “Help me tilt him up.”

Vaughn reluctantly set the hammer down and helped Marzan lift Garrity’s chair and shivering body upright.

“Get the camera out,” Marzan ordered.

Vaughn took his video camera out of his backpack and turned it on Garrity. The first image he captured was of Marzan pulling Bob’s blindfold off.

“Okay,” Marzan narrated, “Here we are in Sheriff or is it Under Sheriff Bob Garrity’s house. We have some questions that Bob here is preparing to answer for us. Okay, Bob. So tell us, what did you do with Jessica Clayton?”

Bob stammered and coughed. Marzan held the wet rag up to remind him which made Garrity weep. The Under Sheriff averted his eyes from the camera and Vaughn captured his steaming head bobbing with each pathetic sob. He was shivering uncontrollably as well and the skin of his torso was beginning to turn bluish white.

“Bob!” Marzan shouted. “Bob! Answer the question, Bob. Where is Jessica Clayton?”

Garrity cried out in a pathetic moan. The twine knots were drawing tight around his joints and cutting off his circulation.

“Bob, this is your last chance...Your friend over there can’t wait to turn that hammer loose...”

“She’s...” Garrity stuttered, “she’s at a campground. She’s at a campground.”

“Where!” Vaughn screamed, nearly dropping the camera.

“She’s at the campground on the road from Wellington Lake back to Buffalo Creek.”

“You’ll see it off the road on the north side. It’s the only site with an outhouse.”

“It’s freezing cold out there!” Vaughn shouted.

“She’s underground.”

“Is she dead?” Vaughn asked. “Is she dead? If she’s dead so help me I’ll beat you to death with this hammer right here! Is she dead? Answer me!” Vaughn screamed.

“No! Sh...she’s underground. She has water. She’s got blankets and a propane heater. Please don’t kill me. I did it for the money, that’s all. I didn’t hurt her. They don’t pay us nothin’ anymore so we got to do things to survive. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please. I just want to get out of here. I just want to get out of the country. I’m so sorry. Please don’t kill me.”

“Shut up,” Marzan barked. He stayed Vaughn’s hand which was gripping the hammer so tightly that his knuckles whitened. “Calm down, Vaughn. We’ll go get her.”

“What do we do with him? Bring him along?”

“No way. If we get stopped with him we’re finished and I imagine Jessica would be finished too. The cops’ll just make Jessica disappear to protect their own.”

“We can’t just leave him. He’ll go for help. Can you stay here and watch him?”

“We should stay together. It might take two of us to get her free.” Marzan answered.

“Then what do we do? Kill him?”

“Put that camera away. Hand me your shotgun.”

“No!” Garrity pleaded. “No! No! Don’t kill me. No! I didn’t mean to hurt her. I just...”

Vaughn stashed his camera and handed his shotgun to Marzan who set it into the swivel vice on the workbench, gripping the stock tightly in the clasps. He tied a slipknot into the end of his twine and looped it tight over the trigger. Then he ran the line back under the crank on the vice, up over three rafters and back down to the floor. They moved Garrity so his chest was facing directly into the barrel of the shotgun with the string dangling down from the ceiling at his wrist. Marzan took the hammer from Vaughn’s white-knuckle grip and tied the end of the string to it, making sure that all the slack was pulled out. He placed the hammer in Garrity’s left hand. He could barely hold it in his frozen fingers.

“Go find Bob some blankets or something.”

Vaughn left and quickly returned with two coats which he placed over Garrity’s shivering body. Marzan gagged him with one of the dog’s tennis balls and duct tape. Then Marzan went to the shotgun and chambered a shell.

“There,” he said as he plucked the taut line. “Hang on to that hammer, my friend. If you let it go, the tension in that line will pull the trigger and you’ll be dead. Oh, and if we get out there and we can’t find her, we’ll be coming back for you. Do you understand? We’ll be coming back and the misery and pain you will suffer in the few remaining moments of your life will be beyond the realm of human comprehension. So if you have anything else you want to tell us, do it now.”

“She’s there. You’ll find her.”

Marzan took his 9mm back from Vaughn

“What are you doing with that?”

“I’ve gotta go take care of his dogs.”

Only 3 chapters remaining!

Chapter 21           Chapter 23 available Sunday