Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dying Memories excerpt


Before Bill could turn around he was hit hard from behind, the force of the blow sending him tumbling head first into the van. Hands reached out and pulled him deeper inside. Someone stepped into the vehicle after him—the guy who had hit him, then the side door was slammed shut and the van was driving away.

Two sets of hands pulled him off the floor so that he was sitting on a bench between their owners. To his right was the same man who had pushed him from behind. To his left could’ve been the guy’s clone. Both of them were in their late twenties, big and muscle-bound, with thick necks and short buzz cuts. The two of them were even dressed identically; gray suits that stretched tightly across their chests, dark shades to hide their eyes, and steel-tipped shoes that could cause serious damage if needed. The starkest difference between them was that the one on his left had a thin goatee, wore diamond stud earrings, and smiled in a smug fashion as if he were amused by everything that was happening, while the other one was clean-shaven and had a hard, all-business attitude about him. They made him think of the Star Trek episode with the evil Spock, but goatee or clean shaven, he knew these two ox-sized thugs were both cut from the same cloth. In that moment all the rage that had swallowed him up earlier was gone and replaced by an icy cold panic.

Bill tried to rip his arms free from the two goons he was sandwiched between, but he couldn’t budge them. Their fingers dug deep into his flesh, and held him as tightly as if they were steel bands. He looked up then and saw the man sitting across from him. This man, Simon, was older than the other two. Somewhere in his forties. He was also much thinner and smaller, his gray suit tailor cut, the material significantly more expensive. What struck Bill was how pink his face was, how his ears were almost pointy, and his eyes; how they looked no bigger than if a pair of dimes had been pasted onto his face. Bill couldn’t even see any white in those eyes; it was as if they were only big enough to hold his pupils.

“It’s been a long time, Jeffrey,” Simon said, his narrow mouth crooked and twisting into a thin mirthless smile.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bill said, his throat constricted, his voice barely a whisper.

Simon showed an exaggeratedly perplexed look as he put a hand to one of his pointy ears. “You’ll have to speak up,” he said. “I can’t hear you.”

Bill sat still as he struggled to compose himself. Then he repeated how he didn’t know what this man was talking about. “And tell your asshole buddies to let go of me,” he added with a forced bravado.

Simon’s smile shifted subtly to express his disappointment in Bill. He made a tsk-tsk noise over Bill’s choice of vulgar language.

“You’ve got the wrong guy,” Bill insisted.

“Please,” Simon said, using the same sort of weary tone as if he were talking to a troublesome child.

“Just let me out of here,” Bill said, his voice choked. “You do that and I won’t call the police about this misunderstanding.” That got the goateed thug to chuckle. A cold trickle of sweat worked its way down Bill’s back. His voice rose with a newfound panic as he added emphatically, “I’m telling you you’ve got the wrong guy!”

“Lower your voice,” Simon commanded softly. “Shouting won’t do you any good. Quite the opposite actually. This vehicle is soundproof and all you’ll accomplish is annoying my two associates. And no, Jeffrey, we do not have the wrong person. So quit this childish charade.”

“I’m not Jeffrey—”

“Shut up.” He said this as softly as everything else he had said, but it stopped Bill cold.

“I know who you are,” Simon continued. “You’re Jeffrey Vozzmer. And you’ll be let out of the car only after you tell me what I want to know.”

“You’re wrong—” Bill started to say, but the clean-shaven thug on his right let go of his arm long enough to tap him on the ear with his fist, and the blow shut Bill up and left his head ringing. The ring the thug wore on his index finger had cut him and Bill felt a hot stickiness spread around where he was hit. He didn’t look away, though, and kept his focus on Simon who continued to stare at him with his cold, black, dime-sized eyes, his expression empty of emotion. The other two thugs were also staring at him. Time just seemed to stop. Bill could barely stand it.

“Tell me what I want to know,” Simon finally demanded.

“Fuck, I swear, I don’t know what that is.”

“Yes you do, Jeffrey. We’re not idiots here. Tell me what I want to know and this will all be over.”

“Check my wallet,” Bill pleaded. He was nauseous, his left ear throbbing. “My driver’s license will show you that I’m not this Jeffrey Vozzmer.”

“And what would that prove?” Simon asked. “That you took the precautions to be carrying a fake ID? Please, Jeffrey, we’re not amateurs. You should know that.”

“This is all fucked up,” Bill insisted weakly. “I’m not Jeffrey Vozzmer. I never heard that name before.”

Simon ignored Bill, said patiently, “Tell me what I want to know.”

“I don’t know what you want to know.”

The same behemoth who had punched him before raised an eyebrow, asking an unspoken question. Simon, sitting opposite Bill, took his time before shaking his head.

“No, I don’t believe that will be necessary,” he said. “I’m sure we can facilitate Jeffrey to talk without having to resort to any further violence, even if it won’t be of his own volition.” Then to Bill, “One last time, tell me what I want to know.”

Numbly, Bill shook his head. “I swear, I don’t know what that is,” he said.
Simon sighed and picked up a small leather case that was on the seat next to him. He opened the case carefully, almost lovingly, and took from it a hypodermic needle, which he held up for Bill to look at.

“Relax,” Simon said. “It’s only sodium pentothal. More than enough to loosen your lips but not enough to cause any serious damage. At least not usually.”

Simon then leaned forward. Bill tried to struggle, but the two thugs held him steady.

“If there was a chance that you would cooperate and remove your jacket I wouldn’t need to inject this inside your gum,” Simon cooed softly. “But one must do what one must do. Now, please open your mouth or I’ll have my associates force it open.”

Then it was as if a bomb had been detonated.

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