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They Wonder Why I Can't Forget 



     “I am a dangerous man, and trust me when I say that your daughter's life depends on you making a series of smart business decisions.”

     I awoke in darkness, throbbing bruises sending echoes of pain through my body. I shifted around, trying to move. Stinging binds of wire dug into my ankles and kept my feet in place. I was tied to a hard metal chair, my wrists restrained with handcuffs behind its back. The seat of the chair seemed to have a hole cut into it, the edges of which were jagged and cutting into me. I leaned forward in the chair, tried to move it, but felt resistance tug against the back. The chair was chained to the wall.

     My eyes adjusted to a pinhole of light. I was wearing a blindfold, I realized, and a tiny tear in the cloth allowed me to use a fragment of my peripheral vision. The room was small and made with barren concrete.There were no windows that I could see; the light came from a single bare bulb overhead. A table sat a few feet in front of me with a dusty black toolbox on top.

Beyond the table was a plain wooden door. I could hear a man's voice on the other side, passing from left to right and back again as he paced in the next room. When he passed close to the door, I could hear snippets of his words. “--fucking right I'm crazy, and if there's one thing you better respect it's a crazy man's trigger finger. You'd better be prepared to move fast and get the--”. My spine seized in a shiver, and I looked down. I had been stripped completely naked.

     The door burst open and the man came in. My body froze and tried to collapse into itself, but I was secured too tightly to move. He stood by my side and pressed a phone into my ear.

     I heard my own shaking breath in the earpiece. “Sweetheart?” a voice said. “Is that you?”

     “Dad?” I cried.

     An explosion of pain as a fist struck my jaw. Hot blood erupted in my mouth and burst from my lips, running down my chin, a slick foam. A hand grabbed my face and pulled my mouth back. “Smile, sweetpea,” the man said. “Smile for daddy. Tell him how good a time we're having. So much better than your rich-kid summer camps.” He reached his fingers into my mouth, pinched my wobbly front tooth and twisted it out. A bolt of pain arced from my mouth to the back of my skull. I screamed.

     I could hear my dad's voice, frantic and small from the tiny speaker. The man held the phone to his ear. “One-point-five million in the account by noon tomorrow. After that, the price goes up. And you'll get less of your daughter in return. As a businessman, I'm sure you'll appreciate the value of a speedy investment.”

     With my dad still yelling on the other end, he hung up.

     He leaned his face in close to mine, and I could taste the sting of his cologne as I sucked sobs of air. My bladder gave out, and I emptied through the hole in the seat, splattering my ankles with droplets of waste. He snickered. “You're going to make me a lot of money, sweetpea,” he said. “I'm so happy we came into each other's lives like this.”

     He left and shut the door behind him.

3 of 6


H. K. Reyes


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