There is so much pain here
There is so much pain here, too much in fact. It’s in the streets, in the person that passes you by. It’s in the highest buildings that goes up into flames and men jump down because it’s the only way. The politicians and preachers promise a cure. There is non, but we have to pretend there is. There’s music about the pain, it gives it meaning. People are broken, yet they live on. We die inside and move on.
Oh Harry, you should have jumped…
Harry was still wandering the streets when suddenly a car parked in front of him, blocking his path. Harry stood there passively, too tired to curse or protest. Two humongous men, bodybuilders in black suits stepped out the car, one from the driver’s side, the other from the passenger side.
”Are you Harry?” said the driver without a trace of emotion.
The night was coming, the light will be gone.
”We work for Miguel Stone,” said the one from the passenger side, ”he requests your presence.”
”You don’t know the place. You’re not supposed to know the place. You will not know the place. We will blindfold you.”
”I’m going nowhere.”
”That’s the idea.”
Harry looked the car over. It was a nondescript Honda. Not Stone’s style. Not fancy enough. Harry realized then that this car was not supposed to be seen by anyone.
”There’s no choice in the matter is there?
”It’s a front-row seat,” said the passenger, ”you don’t want to miss it.”
Harry’s stomach churned. He knew that getting into this car and going wherever these men will take him is a bad idea. There’s something there. Something that will change everything. He thought about running but he had no energy. Before he could make up his mind what to do the Driver had walked up to him, gentle grabbed his shoulder leading him to the back door of the car which the Driver opened and, gently putting his head down- even telling him to ”watch his head’- and then Harry found himself in the backseat. The two big men followed after.
”The blindfold is next to you,” said the driver and Harry saw a kamikaze bandana next to him, ”we suspect that you can tie it around your head yourself. The more you see the worse it gets for you.”
”We were told you to treat you like an important person,” said the driver, ”you can choose to listen to whatever radio channel.”
”How long will the ride be?” asked Harry, the bandana covering his eyes in darkness.
”It gonna take a few hours.”
”Choose something peaceful, I might want to catch some sleep.”
They turned to the classical channel, the car started moving. The music was beautiful but ominous at the same time. It was Richard Wagner: Parsifal, his last opera. It was a slow ride. The bodybuilders did not want to attract any attention.
Harry would find sleep but only briefly.
There was a dream where he was stuck in a dark well. He screamed for help, his screams came back in a deafening echo. Above, there was a light so bright, it would blind you.
The voice of a boy, a voice so familiar:
”You have to get out of there! You have to get out of there now!”
He recognized that voice then: ”Crispin! Crispin is that you!”
”You have to get out of there! He’s coming!”
”Who? Who is coming?”
”Get out of there!”
”It’s too far.”
”You can reach me, you just have to try.”
Harry stuck his hand out but it seemed impossible, faintly above, he could see Crispin through the blinding light above.
”I can’t! It’s too far!”
The sound of a wild animal, it came from the well. Harry looked around and in that darkness, he could make out the shape of a white face. It became clearer, it came closer. Before could scream for help he woke up to a voice saying: ”we are here.”
It was night by now. Harry followed the two bodybuilders toward an abandoned and dilapidated factory. The bodybuilders looked around, stopped him for a moment, stood still, as if they heard something. They moved further then to a large door.
One of them knocked three times. The door was opened.
”Ah you made it! I’m so thrilled!”
Stone was wearing an old fashioned butcher overall with a hairnet covering his hair. The three of them went inside. It was too dark inside to see anything.
”Why am I here?”
”Cos I promised you a solution to your problem…”
He heard a switch being lowered, the ceiling lights went on one by one, flickering as they did, electricity struggling to light the room.
In the middle stood a Webcam facing a tied naked man sitting on a chair wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. Harry stood there petrified. He should have jumped out the car. It was too late now.
”What the fuck is this?”
Stone gently grabbed his shoulder and moved him to the middle of the room, ”I’ve done some digging Harry,” said Stone and Harry noticed he was holding a large and noticeably dirty machete, ”this Mr. Anonymous is a hard guy to find. He’s linked to several disappearances. The persons seem to have finished from the earth. So whatever he’s got in store for you, it is not good. Fortunately for you, your Uncle Stone’s got some intimate connections and knows how to deal with people like that. But to tell you the truth, these hacker fucks are hard to find, I mean, you will find them eventually but takes time. The best thing to do then is to make sure they back off…”
They were in the middle of the room now. The naked man’s head was down, he was mumbling something. There was blood pouring from within his mask.
”Who is he?”
”He’s a kid, barely twenty-five, linked to the Oblivion network. He was blackmailing some senator when we caught him. He was supposed to do life, but he was valuable, so he worked for the government for a few years. But now he’s not so valuable anymore…”
The poor kid yelped a desperate moan of pain.
”…So when I called about your little problem, they gave them to me as a little present. And we are going to use him as a warning.”
”But what if he isn’t even linked to the guy that’s after me?”
”Doesn’t matter, it’s all about the message.”
”I don’t want any part in this.”
Harry turned around but the two big bodybuilders were already there, blocking his way.
”I’m afraid I can’t exclude you from this. This is a show you’ve gotta see.”
”I don’t need to see it.”
”So you just want to turn a blind eye and thank me for helping you, pretending you don’t know what I’ve done?”
”I don’t want this. I never wanted this!”
”I’m not doing your dirty for nothing. My demand is that you see it. It’s only fair. You must be complicit to this fully. I’m not a charity case. I might provide you for free drugs just cos it’s so much fun for me, but in this case I want something in return. All you need to do is watch.”
”Then don’t do it. I don’t care about what happens with me. Let him go.”
Stone laughed, ”You don’t want me saving your life?” Stone was circling him, playing around with the machete, throwing it to one hand and then other, ”those people vanished, poof! You think they went to so magical place where everything is hunky-dorry? No you are part of some sick game from some sick fuck that gets his kicks from fucking with your head. The problem is that most of the guys he targeted weren’t that important. You know how it works, you are only getting the help in America of how much you are worth. To tell you the truth, without me, you aren’t much worth. I’m your most valuable asset…”
Stone stopped now, walking up to Harry, pinching one of his cheeks, ”without me you would have gone missing in a few days too. Nobody would have fucking cared. But I do. You’re my friend. Even if you don’t like me. Even if you won’t piss on my head if my head was on fucking fire…”
”Why are you doing this for me?”
”Cos you amuse Harry. You are old America and I’m new America…” Stone pointed to the bodybuilders and then to the webcam, ”you think the American experiment is still ongoing but I’m the end result.”
”Please let him go. Don’t do this please. You can take me instead!”
The bodybuilders clicked on the webcam, the red dot in the center seemed so menacing now. ”Ha! I’m not going to trade you for this piece of shit! I like to have you around cos you remind of why we people like me win constantly, because you just don’t get it. You just don’t get it. And it’s sad but, you can’t help but love the little guy…”
Stone fidgeted around in his pockets, retrieved a pink sky mask and put it over his head, ”you see if the message isn’t strong enough, the people won’t listen. You speak from the truth but you gotta speak from the heart. That’s what the people really want to hear…”
Stone touched the neck of the boy, he shivered. He mumbled something again.
”You talk about a study to prove something, well that means you’re right but people won’t listen to it. But if you speak from the heart, even if its bullshit, people will follow you. But the message needs to be strong, it needs to stick to people’s heads….”
Stone then looked at the bodybuilders behind the webcam, ”make sure he watches. He has to see everything.”
”Please stop! I beg you!”
”Shush, this has to go right in one take. If it doesn’t we have to find someone else. You want that?”
Tears streamed down Harry’s face, he knew there was no other way. Stone raised the machete. The boy mumbled something again. Harry turned to run but one bodybuilder stopped him, lifted him up from the back. Another bodybuilder pasted two tapes above his eyelids so that he would keep watching. The boy kept mumbling and howling in desperation.
”And here we go…”
Harry could hear then what the boy was crying about, he was crying about his mother…
The boy didn’t suffer long. The first slice hit the artery, blood pooled everywhere. The second slice made his head hang loose, it took Stone three more times before the head fell on the floor. Stone would pick up the head and stare at the camera.
”You leave my friend Harry alone. If you don’t, it might take a while but we will find you eventually. This is just business, but when we find you, we will do it out of pleasure…”
There’s so much pain out there. We have to close our eyes and pretend we never saw anything. If the truth won’t leave us alone, we must trivialize it, act like its normal. This is the way world works. It’s a tragedy but this doesn’t happen to just anybody. Somehow this person must have instigated these forces of nature against him. The claim is not that he did this to himself, you’re not insensitive. But perhaps, he knew, instinctively, they must know somehow, that their lifestyle could end this way. It must happen to the people who should have known better. There’s not an innocent men alive and if there was, we must pretend there isn’t. To acknowledge we are like the subject of tragedy, is to acknowledge that none of us are safe.
This is what went through Harry’s mind at the end of the night. When he thought about the young man, his final cries. They were driving back, heading home in another unknown car with Stone driving while the two big men were out there getting rid of the boy’s body.
He didn’t need to wear the blindfolds anymore, it was just for show Stone.
”Trust me Harry, this boy had it coming,” Stone said behind the wheels, smoking a joint, ”we all look like children when we face death. When he asked for his mother, it was helplessness, not because there was any innocence inside him. It’s what the mind does. It just wants to survive.”
Stone passes the joint but Harry shakes his head. Stone sighs.
”You should have read this file. The stuff he did to other people. The sick things he’s into. He’s hurt a lot of good people Harry. Not just people with low moral scruples like me, but real people. People you might even respect.”
Harry didn’t say anything, adrenaline was still rushing through him. He felt like was shaking from the inside. The sight of the boy’s murder and all its gory splendor would not leave his mind. The blood soaked to his every memory. He did not know the world anymore. This was hell and it was going to get much worse.
Harry looked the passenger window. They were driving past a club with the name-written above the entrance in Pink-neon letters-: NO TOMORROW. There were many young people outside, anxiously waiting in line, waiting to lose themselves. A young girl in line said: ”I heard it’s beautiful there. I heard that even stars go there. They say that when you go in, you never want to leave.”