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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2234020
A decision to save your daughter, or not. . .
Silo Pol was taller than Reuben had expected, and handsome too, which he never would have guessed. The son-of-a-bitch stood before him now, holding a cell phone on speaker so everybody in the little island jailhouse could hear a girl speaking: “What is this? What do you want?” The voice was scared, and angry, and to Reuben Rule, all too easily recognized, even after ten years. Reuben closed his eyes and held them shut. He knew what was coming, and he knew now without doubt what perhaps he had always known—he was no hero, though he had wanted to be, and had tried very hard to be the last three days and nights.

They heard a garbled male voice then, speaking briefly. Then JoAnne again, “My father? What about my father—”

The phone was clicked off. Silo Pol set it lightly on the scarred bare table in front of him and looked hard at Reuben.

“So, now you know we have your daughter,” he said, boredom in his voice. His face expressed total victory, pure and simple. It had been a long few days for both men. A three-day chase. “It’s over,” Silo Pol said. He didn’t smile.

Reuben nodded his head. His hands were cuffed behind his back. He was sitting in a cheap plastic chair, his eyes staring down at his flip-flops. He noticed his toes were sandy. This surprised him. It seemed so long ago he’d been walking on the beach with all the little girls, bringing them to what he thought would be safety.

“Tell us where Silencio is, we don’t touch a hair on JoAnne’s head.”

Reuben nodded his head again.

“Good,” Silo Pol said. “We know he isn’t far. He’s on your boat?”

Reuben nodded his head. His eyes were still on his flip-flops.

“Do you need to draw a map?” Silo Pol asked. Then, without waiting for an answer, “Greco, I think we can untie Mr. Rule’s hands now.”

The wiry man with tattoos up and down his arms came behind Reuben and pushed his head forward so that Reuben leaned forward. The handcuffs came off.

“It too?” Greco asked, referring to Donna sitting next to Reuben.

“Don’t be rude, Greco. We are here to gather information. Then we can all go on with our lives. And yes, Miz Donna’s hand cuffs, too.”

Greco stepped over to Donna.

Silo Pol said, “Okay, Reuben, tell me, where is Silencio?”

Reuben nodded his head again. He knew he was going to answer the question. He rubbed his wrists as he looked over at Donna sitting in the plastic chair next to him. Her hands were still cuffed behind her back. His eyes shifted to the man called Greco standing close beside her, supposedly about to take her handcuffs off, but Reuben knew that he was going to do something else first. Reuben could see it in his face. He could sense it in the way the man held himself as he stood there so close to her with his eyes staring down. Reuben shouted, “Hey!” to stop whatever it was Greco was about to do, but Greco didn’t flinch. He reached in one handed and cupped Donna’s right breast, squeezing it through her yellow tee-shirt.

“Fuck you!” Donna said, drawing the words out quietly. Reuben recognized her anger. His first thought was, Go ahead. Let’s see you take her hand cuffs off now, you shithead!

Greco smiled as he went on, feeling her with his hand. “Are these real?” he asked. He squeezed the other breast, harder this time, then back to the first, squeezing harder still.

“They feel real,” Greco said. “They feel good!” He took quick glances to Silo Pol as he reported the details of what he was discovering. “They ain’t big. Why’d ya get such small ones for?”

Silo Pol sat watching it all, no expression on his face. Greco then ripped her tee-shirt straight down the middle. Now Silo Pol looked amused.

Reuben was up, standing. The plastic chair went clattering off in the other direction. His lunge toward Greco was immediate, and a bad idea. His right fist was coming forward as he tried to take the first of several steps needed to reach Greco. He remembered only then that his feet were still shackled together. He fell forward, all his weight and his swinging fist coming down with him to the floor.

Reuben’s awareness at that point, of what was happening and what had just happened, came in stages, bit by bit. First, he realized he was lying on the floor. Then, that Donna was somehow sideways in her chair directly on top of him. She was swearing, saying, “What the fuck! What the fuck!” over and over again. And Reuben knew instinctively she was swearing at him.

He heard Greco laughing, and heard him saying, “Jesus Christ, old man. That was pathetic!” Reuben now realizing his nose was bleeding, and then how much it hurt. It took only a moment more to come to the conclusion that he had hit it on something. The armrest of Donn’s chair? Greco’s laughter rose higher, filling the tiny office with an ugly, high-pitched chortle. Only then did Reuben realize Donna’s nose was also bleeding, maybe bleeding harder than his was. The blood was flowing freely onto Reuben’s neck and shoulder. “What the fuck was that, Reuben?” she demanded.

Reuben stayed where he was, unmoving. His thoughts coming faster now. Clearer. He had been stunned briefly when he hit his face against the armrest of Donna’s chair, and in the process had somehow managed to punch Donna as he went down. He couldn’t see Greco, but the man's laughter went on and on, coming from somewhere above and behind him.

Silo Pol was still in his line of vision. He was standing now, looking like he too could burst into merriment at the spectacle of what he had just seen.

“In about two-minutes your daughter is going to be raped, Mr. Rule. You must know that. I ask you again. Where is Silencio and the boat?”

“I’m sorry, Donna!” Reuben said.

“Reuben! Don’t!” Donna screamed. She rolled off him and was struggling with the chair to sit up. Then he heard her being lifted and placed upright again.

“She’s my daughter. . .”

“She won’t have anything to do with you, Reuben! You haven’t spoken to her in ten years. Think about the girls, Reuben. Think about Abi!”

The image of Abi in her faded red sneakers came to him.

“I’m sorry, Donna!” he said again. He had made up his mind to tell Silo Pol exactly where he could find Silencio. Any chance of saving the girls was passed now. All their efforts for the last days were for nothing. The one thing they could still do was get the papers and all the proof against Silo Pol, all the documents proving him as a human trafficker, to the proper authorities. All of that was on the boat with Silencio. If Silo Pol gets Silencio, he gets the proof back, and he wins.

“Where is he?” Silo Pol asked again. “You need to tell me now.” His voice was still calm, almost sympathetic.

Reuben saw him nod to Greco, and then he was being pulled off the floor to his feet. He stood still in the middle of the small office as Greco retrieved the chair from across the floor. He was then pushed down into it. He looked over at Donna and saw her nose was clearly broken. Her breasts were exposed and her chest too was covered in blood.

“I am sorry, Donna. I am so sorry,” Reuben said. Then proved to everyone and God he was no hero, and never would be.

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