Relentless

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He made a mistake in not finishing the job when he tried to kill me.

It was a tactical error assuming the bomb in the living room of my house permanently put my lights out. He should have checked closer. Gone through the rubble after the fire died down. But he didn’t, and a police dog discovered me (barely breathing) as the authorities were going over the crime scene.

I spent the next two years going through painful plastic surgeries designed to make my face look halfway human. In addition, I suffered through countless skin grafts for my chest, arms, and legs that were also severely burned. The end result, when they released me, was that I looked like something out of a horror show. But I was alive. Motivated by all-consuming hate, and the opportunity for revenge.

I’m going to back up here for a moment, and give you some background.

My brothers Will and Steve, and I, started a computer software company ten years ago. Against all odds our little start-up was successful and we were barely able to keep up with all the business that came in. We all worked endless hours to make the company a success for three years. By the fourth year we decided to add a partner to the company. He promised to take us to the next level in marketing. The fast-talking computer whiz’s name was Dan Bob Binion. He was already a successful businessman when he met my brothers and I. By that time, Steve and Will were married and homes of their own. I owned a house and had a live-in girlfriend. We sold the house that we were living in and put the money into the business.

Binion was a greedy little weasel that often struck me as a modern-day Ponzi. If it wasn’t for his marketing expertise we never would have brought him aboard. He did have a lot of industry connections and the Midas touch when it came to making good deals. In his first year with us, our profits soared over the year before. The following year my brother Will died in an auto accident. Steve and I mourned him, and set his wife Sally up for life. I remember what a tough year it was to celebrate our profit with Will gone. Binion, who always kept to himself, continued to open up new markets for our latest digital products, a line we started the year before.

In the eighth year of our partnership, Steve was the victim of a hit-and-run in the parking lot of our business building. Despite cameras, the police couldn’t find the gray sedan that struck him. When I found out what happened, I fell into a deep depression and stopped coming to work. Binion kept things going for months as I grieved for my last sibling.

One day I felt good enough to go back to the office and see how things were going. As soon as I opened the door, my office manager (Sally’s sister Trish) got up from her desk and led me over to my office. Closing the door behind her she asked me to sit down. She came right to the point; “Binion ran Steve over!” she hissed.

I was shocked but quickly recovered and asked her if that were true why didn’t she tell the police? She candidly admitted she was afraid of what Binion might do.

“How do you know it was Binion?” I asked.

“Because he owned a gray BMW just like the one in the video. He didn’t drive it into work everyday though, preferring his Corvette. I saw it once before, about six months ago. He pulled it up by the red curb outside and took a box out of the trunk and set it down on the sidewalk. I remember wondering what was in the box.

“You didn’t tell the police this?”

“I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m afraid of him. He’s always given me the creeps. Especially when he first started hitting on me. I asked Sally what to do? She said she’d speak to Will and not to worry about my name coming up in the conversation.

“What happened?

“I’m not sure. Will never mentioned it to me.

As Trish spoke, a thought formed in my mind and I asked her when the incident happened? Her reply made my blood run cold. It was just weeks before Will died in an auto accident. Once that connection was made the ramifications hit me squarely between the eyes. Binion was taking over the company by murdering all of us. It was a simple but scary conclusion that made sense. It also made sense that I was going to be the next victim.

I stayed on high alert for weeks, waiting for him to make a move. Our paths crossed twice, during meetings with our department heads. That he could look me in the eye and smile, told me he was a sociopath (at the very least.) I changed my routines, sometimes canceling appointments at the last minutes. It was a deadly game of cat and mouse and I should have gotten the police involved. I thought I could handle the little weasel now that I knew his intentions. I’d stay a step ahead of him. That was my mistake. It was nearly my last one in this world. When that bomb went off I thought it was. But the gods of revenge didn’t desert me, they only disfigured me.

As I went through my surgeries I imagined that little monster was concerned that I could somehow pin the bomb on him. He tried to visit me twice, but was turned away by the doctor and the guard posted outside my door. When I was finally healthy enough to be released, I rented a room in a luxury hotel near my office and business.

That brings us up to right now.

I think he suspects that I know he tried to murder me, but is puzzled why I haven’t done anything about it yet. That’s good. I want him to worry. To have sleepless nights wondering when I’ll strike. Wondering if I even suspect him of trying to murder me? I want him to suffer. I’ve got a special location set up for him. It’s in a warehouse that I bought. It was once a slaughterhouse. It still has the hooks hanging from the ceiling where the sides of beef hung and rows of butcher block tables stained with years of blood.

I’ve made arrangements for Binion to be kidnapped today. A couple of friends of Will volunteered to deliver him to me at the warehouse. No questions asked. I’m in no shape to overpower anyone, or I would have done the job myself. It’s a challenge for me to even walk. I can’t wait for them to bring him here, and to see his fear when the blindfold comes off. I’ve got all the time in the world and a set of butcher knives Trish gave me.

What’s that?

Oh! It’s my guest! They’re bringing him in right now! You’ll have to excuse me because I’m going to be busy chatting with Binion as I butcher him!

As It Stands, revenge is best served…slowly.

The Double Cross

Listen to this story narrated by master storyteller Otis Jiry 

Joe Dobleu took a bite out of his cold ham and cheddar cheese sandwich while managing to keep his eyes on the house across the street. It was all a game.

Nothing happened all night, and now the sun was slowly crawling into its place in the sky, while Joe was chomping down on his sandwich. As he chewed the front door opened and a man walked out.

He swallowed the remainder quickly and straightened up in his seat. Joe was in a new white Nissan Rogue with windows tinted black all the way around. The man across the street was checking his mail box. Joe picked up his camera, rolled down the window, and took a few quick snapshots. For the record.

He watched the man walk back into the house while sorting through a pile of mail. Taking out a notepad from the glove department, Joe jotted down some observations. It had been a week now.

Each day he waited in another type of car. Parked in a different spot. Starting down the end of the street, his daily progress forward eventually aligned him directly across from the house and it’s inhabitant on the seventh day.

Joe picked up his cell phone and called the person who hired him.

“Hello…Ms Bradley?”

“Yes,” the woman on the other end answered impatiently.

“It’s me. I’ll drop off my final report and notes to you today.”

The tone of the voice on the other end softened, “So…can you give me a brief summary?

“Your son leads a very quiet life. As far as I can tell he doesn’t have any friends. Male, or female. He goes to his office every day and is quite punctual. He stopped at the grocery store twice this week and bought food and drink. No alcohol.”

“That’s all? He didn’t go anywhere at night during the week, or this weekend? I know the little bastard is plotting to put me in a retirement home and take my money,” she groused.

“No. I’m a night owl. Between my partner during the day, and myself at night, we’ve had eyes on his place around the clock as requested.”

“Thank you. The money will be transferred to your account this afternoon – as per our usual arrangement.”

Joe smiled and rolled the window down. Derrick Bradley, the object of his wealthy widowed mothers constant scrutiny, came out the front door and walked up to the car.

“Hey Joe!” he said in a jocular voice, without a worry in the world.

“Always nice to see you Derrick.”

“Here’s a cashier’s check. I’ll continue to pay you twice as much as my mother in order to gain my privacy. I gotta hand it to you,  going through the motions for her…just in case.”

“You can never be too sure. Like I told your mother, ‘Your son leads a quiet life,'” Joe chuckled.

He watched Derrick get in his new Cadillac ATS-V Sedan and pull out of the driveway, wondering how long his lucrative business arrangement could last. The private eye business was slow lately. Real slow.

If it wasn’t for his connection to Ms. Bradley, and her son, he’d have to tell his partner it was time to close up shop. At least once a month she paid them to spy on her son. He was never really sure why, but didn’t question her about it.

The son, Derrick, was a pretty clever fellow himself. He figured out Joe was watching him the first time he staked out his house. Rather than get upset however, Derrick made a counter offer to protect his privacy.

The arrangement was a year-old when things started to go bad.

Derrick, who was in fact a drunk, was starting to become ugly and accused Joe of being a parasite, and a lot worse things. The writing was on the wall. The arrangement was shaky and likely falling apart.

Joe would have to tell his partner, John, their cash cow was gone, and it was time to retire. Once he made the decision he felt better. Ms. Bradley seemed miffed that he was no longer going to continue with the job, but thanked him for his services and promised a good recommendation should he need one.

Feeling relieved, he went to Derrick’s house a few days later to inform him of his decision to move on. He knocked on the front door. No answer. Without thinking he tried the door knob and it opened.

Derrick! It’s me, Joe!

Beyond the open entryway he could see the living room and Derrick’s body sprawled out on the carpeted floor. His head was twisted at a funny angle. His open eyes seemed to accuse Joe of the crime. He turned and ran out of the house!

The police came while Joe was waiting for his car to be serviced the next day. They were reading him his rights as they escorted him to the police cruiser. On the way to the jail Joe badgered the officers, “What did I do?”

“Like I said when I read you your rights, you’re being charged with the murder of Derrick Bradley who resides at…

Joe didn’t hear the rest. His mind was racing. What was going on?

When they got to the station house he was escorted into a little room with a table and two chairs. When the detectives came into the room, Joe was still trying to figure out what they knew that incriminated him.

He knew he was innocent. How could this have happened?

One of the detectives sat down across from him and laid out a folder with photos and notes in it. It was Derricks house.

“Have you ever been to this house?

“Yes…but…

“Did you kill Derrick Bradley?”

“No! wait! You don’t understand! I’m a private eye. I was on a case for a client.” 

“Did the client hire you to kill Mr. Bradley?”

“No! Of course not…”

“What then? Did you have a grudge against him?

“No! Damn it! His mother hired me to watch him. That’s all it was. She just wanted to know what he was doing with his life!”

The two detectives looked at one another.

“Mr. Dobleu, would you like a cup of coffee? We’re going to verify your story. It shouldn’t take too long.”

When they returned four hours later they both looked grim.

“I want to read something to you Mr. Dobleu. According to this statement Ms Bradley has been concerned for sometime that someone was stalking her son. When these photos were given to her it was proof that someone knew where he lived and could hurt him at anytime.

“In the statement she testified you threatened to kill him if she didn’t give you a monthly allowance!”

“No! You have it all wrong! I want a lawyer!”

A mansion in North Hollywood

Ms Bradley sat back and sipped her tea as she watched the television. Joe’s partner walked into the room and sat down next to her.

“Dear John…” she said, whatever would I do without you?”

As It Stands, sadly, money means more to some mothers than their own children.