J O H N
“You motherfucking asshole.”
Another smash to his face. The chair was nailed down but even that began to rock. His right eye was so swelled up that he could no longer open it. He was clenching his fists behind his back they were bonded by a mound of rope. He could do nothing. He was completely vulnerable.
There were three men in the basement with him. And Sara was made to watch their treatment of him. He was just glad Mari wasn’t there to see. The guilt would eat her alive, even though it wouldn’t be her fault. No, he deserved this. He said he would do a job and he broke his word. That deserved some sort of punishment and he was to blame.
Sara had finally stopped screaming every time one of their fists pummeled into her brother’s face. John was relieved to see she was not hurt. They had barely touched her. That eased him slightly. But contemplating the various things they were doing to Mari… that was something he couldn’t handle.
A knock came to the door along with a quiet deep voice and the three men marched out the room, attending to whatever business they were called away on. John suspected it was the feds. He hoped it was the feds. He thought it would be a cold day in hell before he trusted the feds with his, Sara’s and Mari’s life. But they were all he had.
“John.” Sara raced to his side and attempted to loosen the rope. But it was too tight. “Are you okay? No, wait, that’s a stupid question.” She was stumbling around when John stopped her.
“Are you okay, Sara? Tell me they didn’t hurt or touch you.”
“They only dragged me out of our house, shoved me into the back on some van and locked me in here. They didn’t do anything else,” Sara said, though John sensed she was lying.
“What did they do?”
“There were just a lot of threats and one of them almost attacked me. But a guy named Alessandro stopped that happening.” John knew Alessandro at least had some values. He still held a modicum of respect for John. But someone still almost attacked his sister. Dante wouldn’t hold back with Mari. She was meant to be his bride soon. “Why are they doing this? They wouldn’t tell me.”
“It’s Ella. I told you that I find people for a living. Well, she was my bounty. Alessandro is a mafia boss, and Ella, well, her name’s Marcella, is his daughter.”
“So, she wasn’t your girlfriend? But you went after her? She’s the daughter of a mafia boss?” Sara questioned frantically, which was understandable given their situation.
“She wasn’t my girlfriend but… then she was. And then I proposed to her.” Sara’s eyes widened and shock spread across her face.
“You’re engaged to her? Seriously? Is that where you’ve been since you left? With her?” John nodded in response, even though it felt like shaking several bricks. The cut on his lip opened up more and he tasted his blood, the taste of his punishment.
“How were things with dad?”
“He was doing better, actually. He was less drunk; he was home more. I guess he didn’t have mom as a bad influence,” Choe said.
“Seriously?” He thought his father ever changing would be impossible.
“Slightly better. It wasn’t that much of an improvement. But I stayed with Lily most of the time. You met her. The girl who kept hitting on you. She works with me as a waitress at a diner now.” She smiled slightly, but it was soon replaced with sadness when she remembered where she was. “Are we going to die?”
“We’re going to be alright, Sara. We’re going to get out of here, all three of us. And you’re going to move to California, apply to community college there. We’ll help pay tuition. We’ll all have a normal life.”
“I’ve never heard you talk so positive,” she stated in disbelief.
“Must be Mari. She’s rubbing off on me too much.” He chuckled a little, which caused in body to heat up in pain.
“You really love her? That’s nice. I’m happy for you,” she said rather flatly.
At that moment, two men stormed in, dragging Sara out, much to both their protests and slammed the door behind them. He had struggled so much against his bonds that his skin felt raw and stung at any slight movement. Not too soon after Sara was taken out, Dante and Alessandro entered.
Both men had smug expressions, Alessandro’s was vicious, and Dante’s was triumphant.
“You brought the feds here?” Alessandro hissed. “I trusted you to bring back my daughter. I suppose you did that. Not before fucking her though.” His fist collided roughly with John’s face. John spat out the swill of blood in his mouth before looking back up to the two men.
“She’s going to be my wife,” Dante stated as both men settled down in chairs in front of John. “You took her innocence. You seduced her.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” John grumbled, wincing as it hurt to move any part of his face.
“I want to know how it happened. I want every detail,” Dante declared, shuffling to the edge of his chair and shoving his face right up in John’s space.
“For every lie,” Alessandro began, “one of your sister’s fingers will be removed.” This had John struggling even harder against his ties, despite the pain shooting through him. He would not let that happen.
Sara was brought back into the room, tears streaming down her face as she was roughly thrown into a chair and her fingers was spread out on the table in the corner. A man held a knife in his grip, the blade hovering against Sara’s little finger.
“How did you trick her into loving you?” Dante asked. It was a strange question and John had no idea why he wanted to know the answer. Did he want Mari to fall in love with him?
“I didn’t trick her.” Alessandro turned his head and nodded to the man with his knife over Sara’s finger. “No! Stop! That’s not a lie!” Alessandro held his hand up to halt the man and raised his eyebrows towards John. “She tricked me. It was her plan. I caught her, we were driving back, and she tried everything to escape. And she did. Again and again. She even shot me once. It was her plan to seduce me.”
“Marcella shot you?” Dante asked, completely amused and perhaps impressed.
“She’s a child,” Alessandro said. “She would never think of a plan like that.”
“Well, she did. And it worked.”
Alessandro gave a single in a snap moment and the sound of Sara’s screech echoed throughout the room. John squeezed his eyes shut, his anger exploding out through his ears and anywhere it could. He tried to leap out of his chair, but the ropes held him down.
“What a weakness family is, huh? You could have lived a life with a girl who belonged to me and we probably would never have found you. But family brought you back. It’s sad,” Alessandro taunted. John wanted to gut the three men in the room. He wanted to tear out their insides, make them watch, then gouge out their eyes so the last thing they see was John. He’d never had such violent thoughts in his life. “You don’t deserve someone like Marcella. I’m going to make sure I destroy you.”
It all happened so fast. Alessandro raised his gun and in a blink of an eye, he pulled the trigger. And Sara collapsed to the concrete floor with a stunted cry.
And then they all left, leaving Sara’s body just lying there, her blood staining the floor.
He couldn’t move. His insides were screaming, and he wanted to heave all over, but he couldn’t move. He was frozen.
He couldn’t stop staring at his sister. His cold, lifeless sister. He just stared.
He couldn’t even blink. He couldn’t tear his eyes away at all. He just stared.
He didn’t know how to grieve. He wasn’t capable of it. Both his parents had died in the last two years and he didn’t mourn them. But his sister, the only person he had ever cared about, before Mari. Sara was lying dead on the ground. And this was all his fault. She was just a kid. She didn’t deserve any of it. She didn’t deserve their good-for-nothing parents. She didn’t deserve the crappy brother she had. She didn’t deserve it. But John had hoped she would finally get the good life she deserved.
He would do what he learned from Mari. Mari had lost two people she really cared about. And then she would bury her feelings.
So, he did that. He buried it all. It was difficult, considering Sara’s body was just lying there, on the floor. But he finally looked away. And he would never look back.
He couldn’t break down and give them what they wanted.