Unnumbered Chapter (Hunted by big dog)
The constant knocking at the door broke through his misty dreams causing Rico to jerk awake. The sudden movement brought shocking pain to his broken ribs and reality to his consciousness. The knocking stopped, but he could hear muffled voices outside the door. Rico slowly started to climb out of the bed when the door came flying inward with the sound of cracking wood.
The first two men through the door pointed their guns at Rico. He recognized one of them as the man Sheyla called “Big Dog”. Behind the two armed men were two younger men.
The barrel of Big Dog‟s semi-automatic came to rest against Rico‟s forehead and
he heard a dog growl, “Jus gimme an „cuse mudder fucker.”
“Eat shit,” Rico growled back.
“Not me gringo. Looks like you be eatin‟ shit today. Hey Deon, gimme them cuffs.”
While Big Dog and Deon lifted Rico to his feet, the two younger men began going through Rico‟s luggage.
“Dillon, want me to bring his stuff?” one of them asked.
“Yeah, bring it all and we‟ll bring the gringo.” Then to Rico he said, “Put your hands behind your back.”
“Put them on in front, I have a couple broken ribs. I can hard…” The pistol barrel hit Rico in the temple and fireworks danced before his eyes and the pain went through his head.
“Put your hands behind your fuckin‟ back or I‟ll break all your ribs,” Dillon ordered.
They put him in the back seat of the SUV between the two younger men while Deon sat in front keeping one of the guns pointed at Rico‟s chest. Rico watched the gun as Dillon drove, waiting for a chance to launch himself into the front seat on one of the many dangerous curves. Despite the odds against him, he was ready to try to take them out in a wreck, but the opportunity didn‟t present itself.
They drove trough town and out toward West End. By the light of the coming day, Rico could see it was only about five thirty in the morning. He never thought to look at his watch, but he must‟ve slept longer than the two hours he intended. In hindsight, he wished he would have followed his instincts and left the area. As they turned into the driveway of the Hideaway Resort, he knew his future, if any, was going to be very bleak.
Dillon parked and told Deon, “Keep your gun on him. This one‟s slick as a fish. I‟ll check with the Colonel, see what he wants to do with him.” He disappeared into the restaurant and came out five minutes later with Colonel Arnold.
“I said you had one chance and one chance only,” Arnold said. “You‟re probably lucky they caught you and not me.”
“Colonel, you‟re making a mistake,” Rico proclaimed. “This was a set-up!”
“Knock the paranoid shit off!” he exclaimed, as he turned, and walked away.
A few minutes later Dillon was back holding a check in his hand. When he sat down, he passed the check to his brother with a smile. To Rico he said, “Lookie there,
you‟re worth five thousand. And the cute girl who gave it to me asked me not to hurt you. But guess what? I wanna hurt you. Yes, I sure do.”
Dillon turned the big SUV back towards West End, but passed it, taking the back way to Flower‟s Bay. He pulled up at the Big Dog grocery and ordered everyone out when he stopped. Soon, many of the area‟s residents gathered around while Big Dog ran his mouth about collecting the reward for Rico‟s capture, which brought more people
to see what the gathering was all about.
After a few minutes, Earl came driving up in Arnold‟s truck, braking quickly and climbing out before the truck settled. As Rico‟s attention was focused on Earl, Dillon unexpectedly smashed Rico across his damaged ribs with his forearm, landing exactly where the two-by-four hit him only two days before. The air left his chest in a rush of pain as Rico fell to his knees. He was unable to draw in any air and beginning to turn blue when he thought he heard the sound of a woman crying.
Earl was ordering him to get up, but he was still paralyzed with pain. Earls foot drew back to kick, but was stopped by a scream from the spectators.
“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it,” Sheyla yelled, struggling against the holds of her neighbors as she tried to get to where Rico knelt.
“You can‟t do him like that,” Daisy added, coming to his rescue.
Earl eyed the large crowd, noticing most of the facial expressions looked none to friendly and decided it was probably time to get away from there. He grabbed Rico by the arm to pull him to his feet, but needed Dillon to help him. Together they led Rico, who was just getting his breath back, to the bed of Arnold‟s truck, where they literally threw him inside, causing Rico to loose his breath once again. Earl went to the truck‟s
cab and returned with a handful of plastic package twine. He jumped into the back and wrapped the twine around Rico‟s feet, his still handcuffed hands and then his neck several times before tying it around the truck‟s roll bar and pulling Rico up to his knees
by the pressure around his neck.
“What the fuck?” Rico exclaimed! “You can‟t tie a man up like this.”
“You ain‟t a man,” Earl shot back. “You‟re not even a dog.”
“Payback will be hell Earl!”
“I‟ll worry about it if you live out the day, you sonofabitch!”
Earl took off quickly, spinning tires on the dirt road, sending Rico back to be restrained by the twine pulling on and constricting his throat. As the truck pulled away, Rico caught a fleeting glimpse of Sheyla, in Daisy‟s arms, crying hysterically.
Rico felt sorry for her.
The Flower‟s Bay road dried up considerably and while it probably made most of the residents there quite happy, it was bad news for Rico at the moment. The deep ruts were no longer soft and slippery vehicle tracks, but turned into hard dirt canyons and ravines causing the truck to fly in the air and smash down at various angles as Earl sped down the road hitting as many ruts as he could. Earl‟s laughter rang in Rico‟s ears as he struggled against his bonds, fighting for every breath and hoping not to loose consciousness.
Rico slid and bounced around trying to hold his head near the roll bar until they finally reached the paved road to West End. Earl again used the geographical topology against Rico by speeding through the many S-curves and hairpins, flinging Rico from one side to another in an effort to exert as much punishment as he could along the way. The string around Rico‟s neck pulled tighter and tighter, threatening to separate his head from his body.
The truck flew by West End and then the hotel‟s driveway. Only half aware of their location, Rico began to wonder if Earl intended to go around again when, just before re-entering town, he pulled onto the uphill driveway leading up to the Policia
National and came to a sliding stop in front of the building.
A soldier, dressed in the standard camouflage uniform, came running outside, talking rapidly in Spanish, but stopped abruptly when he saw the man trussed up in the back of the truck. The soldier looked at Rico and came running over while reaching into his pocket for his knife. He then jumped into the back of the truck and began cutting at the string binding Rico to the roll bar. In a matter of seconds, Rico was free from the strangulation, but when he tried to talk, he found his voice came only as a horse whisper.
By then, Earl was out of the truck‟s cab and standing near the rear. The soldier whirled on him with a burst of fluent Spanish. Neither Rico nor Earl understood what the soldier said, but the tone gave away the topic. He was obviously upset about seeing someone held in an obviously torturous situation, which definitely wasn‟t sanctioned by an authorized arresting official.
“I work for Colonel Arnold,” Earl said to the soldier.
“Que?” The soldier asked. What?
“Colonel Arnold,” Earl tried again. “He‟s a prisoner of Colonel Arnold,” he added pointing at Rico.
“No intiendo. Hablas El Commandante,” The soldier replied, pointing at the door
of the building.
Stepping back to the cab of the truck, Earl used a cell phone to call the hotel. He was going to need Arnold‟s help getting the jail to understand what he was doing there with Rico. During the call, another soldier came out of the building, spoke briefly to the other soldier waiting beside Rico, and together they escorted Rico into the building.
Once inside, another man wearing jeans and a sport shirt came over to Rico with a handcuff key. He motioned to Rico to turn around and then removed the handcuffs belonging to Big Dog, handing them to one of the soldiers. The man then took Rico by the arm and led him into an office where he was signaled to sit in front of one of the two
desks. Rico could hear Earl outside the office trying to talk English to the soldiers who only spoke Spanish, but he gave up within minutes and left the building again.
Rico sat in silence while the plain clothes man worked at a typewriter for better than twenty minutes. Rico heard the door to the office open and close several times, but did not turn around to look at who might be coming and going. Eventually, the man pulled a sheet from the typewriter and placed it in front of Rico. Handing Rico a pen, the man indicated with a gesture he wanted Rico to sign the paper.
Rico scanned the document and while his understanding of Spanish was very poor, he saw references to Colonel Arnold, the Hideaway Resort, and robo de la
propiedad, which he knew was theft of property.
“I‟m sorry,” Rico explained, pointing at the paper, “but I can‟t sign this.” Rico put the pen down on the paper and put his hands in his lap.
The man picked up the pen and held it out for Rico, but Rico didn‟t make any move to accept it. The slap to the side of Rico‟s head came from behind and was totally unexpected. He turned painfully in his seat to see the assailant and was rewarded by another slap to the back of his head.
“I‟m not signing anything until I talk to the American Embassy,” Rico blurted out.
It earned him another slap to the side of his head.
“You can beat me all day and I won‟t sign that,” Rico said calmly and quietly to
the man wearing plain clothes.
From behind Rico he heard Colonel Arnold say, “I don‟t think the embassy cares to talk to you. And I‟d bet by the end of the day, you‟ll sign the confession.”
“Confession? No I won‟t be signing any confessions today or any other day.”
“Boy, be lucky I woke up in a good mood,” Arnold said with a smile. “But, it could easily change.”
“Your mood is irrelevant. I‟m not signing a damn thing and I‟m demanding to call the embassy.”
“You can demand anything you want, but it don‟t mean shit around here. You‟re
on my turf now boy, and you won‟t see a phone until I say so.” Arnold looked to the plain-clothes cop and told him something in Spanish. The Spanish man laughed.
“I told him to put you in back with the other animals for a little while and we see
how you feel about cooperating later.”
“You could send me to the gates of hell and I wouldn‟t sign anything.”
“You fucked with the wrong one, boy. You‟re right about one thing. I can send you to the gates of hell and beyond…”
“Sorry to interrupt, but I didn‟t do squat. I was set-up by your boy Earl…”
“SHUT THE HELL UP! Just quit the crap right now. Earl‟s the best man I‟ve got, with far more integrity than you…”
“OH BULLSHIT! Listen, we‟re not going to agree, so how about I go sit in my
cage until you can open your eyes?”
Arnold stood staring at Rico for a full minute, in both anger and astonishment. He wasn‟t accustomed to back talk from anybody. As his mind processed the situation, a seed of doubt existed in his accusation, based only on Rico rebellious attitude. Any other man, especially if guilty, would be scared shitless, but this one seems to have plenty of shit to deal out.
The Colonel looked to the plain-clothes detective and made a hand motion towards the rear of the building. Detective Sergeant Gonzales took Rico by the elbow and led him back to a chair by the intake desk.
When Arnold came out of the office he walked over to where Rico was sitting an asked, “Why would Earl go through the trouble of setting you up?”
“Because he was trying to manipulate Danny and I screwed it up for him and he vowed revenge against me for taking his job.” Rico added, “But mostly because I told him he was the idiot who ran Danny‟s boat across the reef.”
“And you think it made him come up with an elaborate plan to set you up?” His tone was suggesting he didn‟t agree with Rico‟s theory.
“He‟s tried to kill me at least twice, so yeah, I don‟t have a problem thinking it.”
“You‟re mentally deranged,” Angered all over again, he waved toward the back
and walked away.
The soldier got out of his chair and said to Rico, “Venga.”
Rico got up and followed the soldier down the hall to where he supposed the cells were. Down the hall and on the left were three, barred cell doors set in concrete.
The first, five feet in width and ten feet deep held a solitary prisoner. She slept at the door and barely stirred as Rico was escorted past. The second cell appeared to be ten feet by ten feet and was temporary home for three men, two youthful inhabitants and another in his twenties wearing a full-length leg cast.
The soldier stopped in front of the third cell door where Rico couldn‟t see through the cell door for the twenty-odd people packed up against it, trying to get a first look at the gringo on his way in. Rico suspected it was the same size as the second cell and the prisoners were pre-informed of his pending arrival.
The guard ordered the prisoners back, but it only stopped them from touching the door. As the soldier opened the door he addressed the prisoners by saying, “No quiero
“No hay problema jefe’, the gringo‟s welcome here,” someone said, adding the
English for Rico‟s benefit.
Rico squeezed through the crowd into the ten by ten cell, taking in the environment in less than a second. Along the wall and to the left of the door began a six bunk corner group; three bunks along each wall attached to the corner. In the far left corner was a four-foot high wall six feet long, blocking the doorway view from the bathing and the toilet. Other than the graffiti on the walls and a single bare sixty-watt light bulb, there was nothing more to see. Except the twenty-three other prisoners whom at the moment were all staring at Rico.