With each perfect, slicing swing of the Louisville Slugger, Lou Constanza found his mood increasingly more joyful. The almost 7 foot brute loved nothing more than the errands his boss, Stanley Wicke would give him. Currently Lou and his equally large associate were beating a former employee beyond recognition with two finely crafted oak baseball bats, these were purchased at a baseball card shop-Tony’s Baseball Collectibles–in route to the job, Lou’s signed by the Bambino, and Henry Johns’ signed by Mickey Mantle. Blood splattering on the upswing of each of the one hundred and fifty blows–that Stanley had calmly suggested they deliver–was covering the faces of each giant alternately. Lou was smiling devilishly through the delight, sweat and blood that filled and covered his hard, chiseled visage.
Beating a man to death was as common in Lou’s line of work as a butcher selling meat. He often taught a lesson, or gave a shop owner a reason to pay his protection dues, on behalf of Mr. Wicke. Lou enjoyed his work immensely and immersed his entire being in it, he considered it soul food, and he was an overeater. Henry Johns was just as deviant and almost more excited about the prospects of killing for work or even pleasure, as he had done on many occasions. Henry was 6 foot 5 inches, 245 lbs, lean muscled and much more attractive than the average man in his field. Some of the women he’d murdered even told him he could easily pass for a leading man in a movie. A Denzel Washington, or a Wesley Snipes, they’d say. Of course, this would have always been before his sweet, tender smile turned to a vicious snarl and his enormous, manicured hands had crushed their windpipes mercilessly. Nothing could have forced Henry Johns from his chosen career, not even undomesticated equines on methamphetamines and angel dust. Lou was not as good looking as Henry, he wasn’t an ugly, repulsive beast by any means, in fact the two of them together often caught their clients off guard, as no sane person would think such a handsome, charming pair would come-a-calling with murder in mind.
The blood soaked berserkers, furniture, ceiling and carpet in the tiny apartment of Hector Rodriguez were shiny crimson, and moist. The plaster overhead dripped blood from the crumpled man below it. Hectors bones had been cracked, crushed and splintered, muscles bruised and tenderized like filet mignon, splintered bone piercing through. Hectors blood pooling, dripping, drying, seeping, and oozing in every nook and cranny it could find within the small space, a bloody English muffin. Overturned furniture from the initial struggle, Hector had done his best to escape the rampaging duo, which had caught him right in the middle of the very thing Stanley had sent them to talk about. Hector had a penchant for drugs, and young boys. He was naked under his bathrobe, high on coke, ecstasy and alcohol in the company of a 12 year old Latino boy. Lou had Henry remove the boy from the apartment before the beating had begun; Henry had given the boy to Jack Powers, driver and lookout for the muscle. Jack took the boy downstairs to the solid black Mercedes S-Class at the curb, buckling him in the back seat with Killer his beloved Rottweiler who loved children, and hated everyone else, besides Jack.
Once the boy had been cleared from the apartment, and Lou had retrieved the fleeing junkie rapist, he and Henry had begun the intimate task of teaching him a lesson. The beating was over officially within minutes, perhaps seconds as Hector had died instantly on the fiftieth of one hundred and seventy-give or take–crushing blows, the death strike had severed his spinal cord. Hector had not been what anyone would have called a decent human being–not even his own mother–but he’d found himself praying for absolution in the dwindling moments of his life. Later, he would discover his sins were left unforgiven.
Out of breath and blood soaked, Lou opened his cell phone and spoke clearly “Stanley” into the receiver, it automatically dialed Stanley Wickes’ office, and Stan’s secretary answered on the third ring “Wicke, Johnson, and McDonald Legal Consultants, how can I help you?”
“He’s in a meeting Mr. Constanza. Shall I have him return your call later?”
Frustrated, Lou snapped back “No bitch, get him on the phone now!”
“One moment, sir.” Click-click, brief silence, and then “What’s the problem Lou?”
“We discussed your position with the client as requested, and he has had a change of heart and decided to move on.” Lou spoke in a calm and professional manner, as if he too were a lawyer. “Good, excellent.” Stanley hissed, apparent delight in his voice. “And, the boy?”
“He’s with Jack in the SUV, and we will be returning him home this evening.” “I don’t think he was harmed and he didn’t see anything.” Lou continued.
“No. I want you to make sure the boy understands, the way Hector does.” Stanley had changed the game. Then again, he couldn’t remember Stanley mentioning the boy to begin with. Perhaps this boy was dangerous to Stanley, and he needed him eliminated. Lou was never comfortable with killing a child, but if this is what the boss wanted who was he to defy him? No one that could succeed in his defiance, Stanley was not to be crossed. “Alright, I’ll have Henry talk with the boy, and I am sure he will see it our way.”
“Good, I trust you to see it through.” Stanley hung up. Lou turned to Henry, who was still smiling and covered from sternum to hairline in the pedophiles blood. “Go clean up, then go downstairs and kill the boy.” Henry did not hesitate, not a glimmer of doubt flashed in his deep brown eyes; he went directly to the bathroom, scrubbed the blood from his face, afro, neck and arms. Took his shirt off, and replaced it with one from Hectors meager closet, it barely fit, but it would do for now. Henry gave his bat to Lou, and left the apartment with a singular mission. Turned at the doorway and said “Hey, keep that bat for me, a souvenir.” Lou nodded and stayed behind to clean up the mess they’d made, as evil as they were, and as much fun as it was to do their jobs, they had a problem with prison and spending any time there. Lou always made sure to cover their tracks, seventy-five contracts in his time with Stanley Wicke and not once had any detective come close to booking him or any of his associates, on anything more than littering or jay walking.
Downstairs, Henry walked across the courtyard, spinning a disposable silencer onto his glock 9mm, climbed into the back of the S-Class pushing Killer into the third row seats, and without warning shot the boy in the temple, there was a low thump and a hiss of air as the bullet traveled through the silencer, sending blood and brain tissue against the interior one way windows followed by the bullet that hit the door panel, from the outside all you could see was your own reflection. Killer was barking, growling and baring his canines. Outside the SUV Jack didn’t start from the sudden thump of the silencer, or the splatter of the blood. He turned, however, when Killer began to bark, cracked the rear passenger door, and sternly relayed an Instruction to the dog in German, Killer immediately laid down and fell silent.
Lou came out from the apartment complex and settled into the front passenger seat of the S-Class, passing the Mickey Mantle back to Henry and instructing Jack to take them back to the office, then to dispose of the boy’s body in a way that would lead the cops to Hector. Lou had not questioned Stanley’s order to kill the boy, as the boy is not why they had been sent to teach Hector a lesson, he was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hectors Cocaine habit and his even worse tendency of skimming money and coke from the Columbian mules, is what Stanley had concerned himself with. Stanley wanted to teach Hector that only death would come to those who stole from him. Hector had been a good student, and Lou had enjoyed teaching him.
Eating, but mostly pushing his food around, Tomas was sitting up in bed, which was the first time he’d sat up since his ordeal 7 days ago. Molly of course was with him, and had been from the moment he had collapsed bleeding on their morning run. Being a freelance Photographer for magazines and newspapers, Molly had the luxury of staying bedside while Tomas recovered from his injuries, which were healing, but in a abnormally slow fashion.
Tomas had always been fast with recovery, but these wounds seemed to be stubborn to close, he had sustained wide, ragged holes to both feet and both hands, a large, deep gash to his ribcage and several small, deep punctures to his forehead. All told he had lost about a pint of blood, however Molly and the stranger–that had stopped with his cell phone–would have collaborated that it was much more. The doctors were baffled at the cause of the wounds, and more so at why they were reluctant to heal. More questions, with less answers.
Molly and Tomas each had a theory, but neither had any solid evidence to back them. In the end they decided to leave it to the doctors to explain. Nurses came and went. Nameless doctors would stop by to see how he was doing, all the while watching the large faced clock above his bed and staring dreamily into the ether.
Having finished less than half of his meal he pushed his tray aside, and glanced at Molly who was sitting at the window, immersed in thought, gazing at the bright, spring green courtyard right outside the room. “Molly, are you alright?” She looked at Tomas blankly for a second then responded
“Oh yeah, I’m sorry Tomas, I was just thinking.”
Molly looked confused “Well, this whole situation, I mean…”
Tomas cut her off “Oh, ha!”
“Yeah, I know it’s very strange.”
“But at the same time almost natural and comfortable” He continued “I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel like this has happened to me before or maybe that I was meant for this to happen.”
“But, Tomas, how could this have happened and you not remember?”
“And how could being literally ripped apart feel ’Comfortable’ to you?”
Tomas paused, and then thoughtfully said “I don’t know.” And shrugged weakly.
The door to the room began to open, and Molly looked up to see who was coming in. A tall slim man, with dark hair, gray at the sides, and tapering to the back, he reminded Tomas of Dr. Reed Richards, from the Fantastic Four comics of his youth. The man had a strong, determined, aged face; he had a faint smile on his lips when he looked at Tomas. He felt familiar to Tomas, like a childhood friend. He looked at Molly and gave a large toothy smile, that was at once warm and inviting, she was immediately set at ease. When he spoke his voice was mellow and smooth like a Jazz singer “Hello, I’m Father McCooner.”
“I’m a Catholic priest and the great grandson of Ian McCooner, for whom The Park is named.”
“Hello, Father.” Molly and Tomas said in unison, and then looked at each other with that jinx you owe me a coke kind of innocence that is most commonly shared by twins, and close friends.
“What can we do for you?” Tomas continued. Father McCooner looked at Tomas, with the love and admiration of a life long friend, and said as he began to tear up “I’ve come to tell you what happened to you in the park and why, there is just so much to tell.”