I arrive in Colombia with the reliquary. I don’t know if it’s being bought for its holiness, its beauty, or as an investment, or because there is just nothing else for the cartels left to buy. It isn’t really important. I’m being paid very well for it, whereas I had got it without paying anything at all.

“He has changed his mind. He wants to meet in the jungle.” I laugh and end the call. I’m in a suite in the Miraflores with a whole wall of glass to look down on Cali. I think about how much I could enjoy a few days there if that’s how long it takes for them to call me back, agree to a proper exchange. They’ll probably call me back in ten minutes. Probably for the best.

There is a knock on my door, and I realize I won’t be enjoying anything for a while.

I pull my passport from my pocket, open it, made sure I have the information properly in mind. I pull out my phone and hit the quick-release on the SIM card, exchange it for a fresh one – phone history full of legitimate calls, browser history full of bland porn and eBay. I lift the couch and put the old SIM under a wooden foot.

I call out in bad Spanish, “Yes?”

“A package for you, sir?”

“Come in.”

“I don’t have the key.”

I get up, grunting for show, and go to open the door. I think about having a quick drink on the way. It won’t help.

I put my hand on the doorknob, then think better of it and slip on my shoes first. I open up and a large policeman slams me into the wall. Another grabs my head and holds it there, facing into the room, a last view of freedom. A third man, tall but slim, walks past me. He doesn’t even look at me. Then they start hitting me.

I’m going to jail.

*** *** ***

They don’t take me to the police station. They take me to a house outside the city. The car goes into a garage, the door shuts behind. I’m taken to a basement. The walls are soundproofed. The floor has a drain.

I am in the place that I do not want to be.

The two policemen start to beat me. Beat me up, maybe. They leave my clothing on, which softens the blows. They spread the blows out, I barely start to bleed. They circle around me, driving me away from the walls. I fall to my knees and they pull me back up, but after that I manage to keep on my feet.

It’s just beginning.

They stop for a moment, look at each other. I look up and one of them lands a solid blow to the side of my head. I stagger. I let myself fall down. They leave me on the ground for a minute. Either they went away or I did, because the next thing I know one of them is placing a bright lamp on the ground, and the other is placing a chair above the drain.

They put me in the chair. They cuff my hands, one cuff for each. They tie my feet.

The chair is bolted to the ground.

The door opens, and I scream.

The thin man walks in. I recognize that he’s wearing a major’s badge. I think that’s fairly high up in the police. Or in the military. I’m not sure what the difference is in Colombia – especially if they know I’ve been dealing with the cartels.

The thin man stands in front of me. He’s carrying a chair just like mine. He places it casually, sits easily. Leans forward, clasps his hands. Asks me my name.

I give him my name. He doesn’t move. One of the policemen comes over and puts a cigarette out in my arm.

I didn’t even smell the smoke of it. Now I smell skin cooking.

They torture me about my name for a while. I don’t break. They don’t really want me to. They are testing my defenses. Or they just want to torture me.

The thin man leans forward. “What is your business with El Trovador.”

I let my eyes go wide and scared and I stare them at him. It’s what an innocent man would do. I hope he reads it as the fear of a man who realizes how badly fucked he is, not as the surprise of a man who realizes he’s been found out. Which, I suppose, is also true.

I start to deny it. I look around, wild-eyed. One of the police hits me with the full weight of his fist. My mind goes around inside my head. It looks like it’s started to snow inside. Then someone takes off one of my shoes, and things get very clear, because I know what’s coming, and then they break my big toe with a hammer.

They ask me about El Trovador. Over and over. I try to distract myself by wondering what they know and how they know it. It doesn’t work. They’re too good at what they’re doing. They unshackle my right hand and bring in a small table. They break every finger, left to right.

Cold water is thrown on me a few times. I think I blacked out. I’m not sure. They shock my inner thighs with a cattle prod but it doesn’t do very much. They make little cuts up my entire arm with a knife.

*** *** ***

The spotlight goes off.

The room lights come on.

I think I scream.

The thin man turns, then jumps to attention. I throw up a little more. Nobody pays me any mind.

An older voice says something in Spanish. It takes me a moment to remember the language.

“Unlock his chains,” the older voice says.

“Sir, I don’t-”

Colonel,” it says.

The thin man stiffens. “Colonel, sir. May we please speak outside-”

“Unlock his chains,” the colonel says. “Now.”

The thin man stiffens, forces himself to move and obey. My arms and legs are unlocked. My head lolls – I think they’d put me in a neck brace at some point. The room is distant. It takes everything in me to keep my eyes open or I’ll black out and hit the floor.

I see a pair of well-pressed army pants in front of me. My eyes don’t get above his belt.

“With everything in my heart, senor, I apologize for this mistake,” he says. “There is nothing here that should have happened. I take full responsibility. It is our shame.”

I cough. Pain shoots from my neck, ripples down my spine. I throw up a little and spit it at the floor. Hands catch me to keep me from falling over.

“We will get you immediate attention,” the colonel says. “Your pain will go away in minutes. You won’t feel any until you are healed. We will have a doctor come to you in your hotel suite.”

I get my head around to look at the thin man. He looks horrified. I enjoy his face with something deeper and more animalian than I have ever felt. I want to bite his neck with my teeth, with my open mouth, to tear out his throat with my teeth. I can barely move, so I don’t.

“Major Rosado,” he says. The thin man looks like he has just stepped on a nail. “First, you will apologize to this man.”

The thin man gapes.

At length he says “I am sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

His eyes stutter. “For… torturing you. Señor.”

The colonel bends at the waist, until I can see his eyes.

“And now,” he says, “I would like to know how we can make this up to you.”

I stare at him.

He looks back with an open mouth. “I wonder if you would like to do the same.”

The thin man steps forward. “Sir, I-”

The colonel points, snaps. The two policemen grab the thin man and hold him down. He struggles for a moment, looking at one and then the other. They lift him and put his back to the wall. He’s far enough away that my eyes can’t focus on him. I still try.

“We know enough of El Trovador,” the colonel says. “We know to avenge insults quickly and as fully as he would himself. And there is no more full vengeance than that. We follow the lead of his creativity.”

I can hear the thin man moving. Kicking. Then screaming.

“No,” I say.

“No!” I shout, although it’s more of a gurgle. I still regret it. I start coughing. The colonel has to hold me up, and step aside when blood runs out of my mouth.

“Are you sure,” the colonel asks. “I mean it, señor. It would be… easier… for us, if we-”

“No,” I say. I struggle to find words I can say. “Not. Needed.”

“Señor,” the colonel says, “I have to ask you – because if El Trovador does not think that we have-”

“No,” I whisper. “No. No. No. No.”

I manage to get my head up, and look into his eyes.

I won’t give him more assurances. Fuck him.

“Get me out,” I say.

The colonel nods. Snaps his fingers. The thin man sinks to the floor. Then so do I.

The policemen leave and come back with a stretcher. I expect I was going to leave on it anyway, I just wouldn’t have still been alive. They carry me up the stairs. I let myself black out and mostly do. They put me in the car I came in. They drive towards the hospital. Every bump makes saliva pour out of my mouth. I feel sounds come from my mouth that I can’t hear. I cannot understand that there is sunlight.

They will patch me up, I know. I’ll be on morphine in minutes. I’ll be back in my hotel in hours. I’ll be healed in days.

El Trovador’s men will hear of this. They will do what they will do. Hopefully they will give me the extra days.

I wonder if the SIM card is still where I left it.


~ by davekov on 2 October 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: