Monday: December 9, 2024
12:14 AM; CLINSTONE, NORTH ESTEY STREET
Jamal tackled the man to the ground in the middle of the paved road. “You know what your problem is?” he asked, tugging the man’s hands behind his back. “You thought you could outrun me because I’m old. What a tragic mistake, hmm?”
“Hi, Pitman,” the man said.
Jamal chuckled, snapping a handcuff around the man’s right wrist. “Is that supposed to scare me? That you know who I am?” he asked, cuffing the man’s other wrist. He threaded his fingers through the man’s hair, jerking his head up. “Everybody knows who I am. And everybody knows that you don’t fuck with my family.”
“I didn’t think he’d be brave enough to tell you.”
Jamal released the man’s hair, raising an eyebrow as he managed to stop himself from hitting the road. “My boy is a lot braver than you,” Jamal said through his teeth.” He stood up, wrapping a hand around the man’s arm. “You cower in the shadows, watching and listening where no one can see you. That’s not bravery. That’s cowardice.” He pulled the man to his feet, shoving him forward.
“Okay,” the man protested as Jamal shoved him again. “You win. I get it. Take me to the goddamn station and get it over with.”
Jamal laughed darkly, wrapping an arm around the shorter man’s shoulders as they walked down the street. “Do you really think that I would take you to the station?” he asked.
“You threatened my boy, his family. Nobody threatens my family.”
“You’re going to kill me.”
“No.” The man let out a short sigh of relief. “No, see, I’m going to torture the shit out of you until you tell me who the fuck you are first. Then I’ll kill you,” Jamal said. “And then I’ll send you to your watery grave and all will be right with the world.”
“I–I’m not anyone important. Y–you don’t have to kill me,” the man stuttered.
“It’s adorable that you think that’s true,” Jamal said. He squeezed the man’s shoulder. “Take a good ol’ look at the outside world, my dear friend. The next time you see it, you’ll be on your knees with a gun to the back of your head, staring out over the water your body will be disposed of in.”
1:10 AM; CLINSTONE, UNKNOWN LOCATION
Jamal squatted down in front of the man, clearing his throat. He reached up, harshly patting a hand against the man’s cheek. The man grunted, forcing his eyes open as he lifted his head. “Aww, good morning, sweetheart.”
“Where are we?”
“Government base,” Jamal said, offering a shrug. “See, normally I have to tell you I’d have to kill you if I told you, but you already knew that.” He patted the man’s cheek again before crossing his arms over the man’s knees. “So, let’s talk. Can we have a little chat?”
“I’m not going to tell you anything.”
“You’re scared of being tortured and killed, but you’re not going to talk?” Jamal asked. The man nodded. “Mmhmm. Right. I find myself doubting that.” He reached down, laying a hand on a rolled piece of black fabric. “What do you think is in here?”
“Don’t know, don’t care.”
“Mm.” Jamal fanned out the roll of fabric. Wrapping a hand around the man’s chin, he forced him to turn toward it. “Knives. Twenty of them. Which one shall we start with, hmm?”
The man cleared his throat. “Don’t know, don’t care,” he repeated slowly.
One corner of Jamal’s mouth lifted. “Right. I forgot.” He reached out and grabbed a small dagger, holding it up in front of the man’s face. “You know what I like most about the push dagger?”
“You hold it between two of your fingers. And then, when you ram it into a person’s flesh, your fingers make contact with it, too. See, it’s… very personal,” Jamal said.
Jamal rolled his eyes, barely glancing down as he stabbed the blade into the man’s thigh. He let out a heavy grunt, his teeth sinking into his bottom lip to stop himself from screaming. “Strong resolve for a man scared of dying,” Jamal said. He twisted the blade ever so slightly before pulling it out of the man’s thigh. “Did that… feel personal enough for you?”
“That’s one word for it,” the man said through his teeth.
“Oh, I’m glad you felt the same connection I did.” Jamal cocked his head to the side. “What’s your name?” He held up the bloody dagger. “I shit you not, if you tell me you don’t know and don’t care, I’ll fillet you.”
The man opened his mouth, unable to come up with an immediate response. “I want to see Bo.”
Jamal chuckled before his expression changed to something much more serious and dark. “I’m not going to do that.”
“I’m not telling you who I am until I see him. Then I’ll tell you whatever you want.”
“I’m not going to do that,” Jamal repeated.
“Then fillet all you want. And then you can bring him to my corpse and let him test my blood. I’ll show up in the system,” the man said.
4:32 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
“I’m going out for a bit,” Bo said quietly.
Jensen’s green eyes fluttered open, his gaze slowly shifting up to Bo’s face. “To where?” he asked, his voice rough.
“I…” Bo cleared his throat. “Jamal caught him.”
“And… and he wants you to see the guy?” Jensen questioned.
“I asked to see him. Jamal put up quite a fight,” Bo said honestly. He reached out, gently combing his fingers through Jensen’s dark hair. “I just need to know who the hell he is, Jens.”
“Mm.” Jensen closed his eyes, his brow furrowed. “Want me to come with?”
Bo smiled. “You have to stay with the kids, love.”
Jensen nodded. “Mmhmm.” He cleared his throat. “Be careful? And call me?”
“Don’t let him mess with your head,” Jensen said. “That’s what he’s gonna try to do. Don’t let him.”
“I won’t,” Bo promised.
“Mm.” Jensen forced his eyes open, laying a hand on Bo’s cheek. “I love you.”
Bo leaned forward and kissed him softly. “I love you, too, Jens. I’ll be home soon, okay?” he asked.
Jensen nodded, dropping his hand back to the bed. “I’ll be waiting for you to call. I wanna know who he is.”
“I’ll fill you in on everything. Promise.” Bo squeezed Jensen’s hand as he pushed himself to his feet. “Go back to sleep. You’ll hear your phone.”
4:45 AM; CLINSTONE, UNKNOWN LOCATION
“You can open your eyes now,” Jamal said. Bo opened his eyes, quickly adjusting to the intrusion of light. Jamal leaned back against the wall, patting at his knuckles with a towel. “He’s not looking so hot. I’ll warn you of that now.”
Bo nodded before crossing the room. “Hi,” he greeted, squatting down in front of the man.
He offered a bloody smile, his left eye swollen shut. “Hi.”
“You’re a coward.”
“I’ve been told.”
Bo shook his head, looking down at the tester in his hand. He set it on his thigh, pulling open the small box in his other hand. He pulled out a tester strip and, holding the man’s chin in one hand, swiped the end of the strip through the blood at the corner of his mouth. He pushed the strip into the tester and pushed himself back to his feet. He stared down at the tester. As a series of numbers and letters crossed the screen, his blood ran cold and his heart skipped a beat. Seconds later, the code turned into a name. “J–Jamal?”
“What? Did the fucker say something to you?” Jamal asked, crossing the room quickly. Wordlessly, Bo turned the tester toward the older man. “You have got to be shitting me.”
The man turned his head back toward the pair, smiling. “Hello, big brother.”
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