by Nick Palmisciano We need to step up. All of us....
The Machida Trail – Part 6
Jacob threw up again. Head pounding, Jacob grabbed a towel off the bathroom wall and wiped his mouth. He had spent the last three hours struggling out of his bonds and limping back to his quarters. No one, neither friend nor foe, had seen him limp his way to his temporary home, and as he struggled back he was angrily astonished that the Army has seen fit to lodge him so far from anyone else, in such a remote location. As he washed blood and rope fibers from his wrists and forearms, another wave of nausea overcame him and he threw up again. He gingerly wiped his swollen lips with the towel again and proceeded to wash his face. Dried blood clung to his eyelids and cheeks like glue, and Jacob winced as he pulled scabs off of cuts and abrasions. A large cut over his right eye reopened as he washed it, blood quickly stemmed by a strip of 100 mile an hour tape. He observed his medical work in the mirror and frowned. You look like an idiot. Jacob finished cleansing his face and washed some of the blood from his hair, wincing again as his hands discovered several more small cuts on his scalp. Jacob dried his face and hair and headed into the living room, changing his clothes before grabbing his running shoes and a clean pair of socks.
Without a cell phone, which had been taken from him while in captivity, he would have to make the two mile walk to main post to report to the Provost Marshall’s office. A winding road past dense trees and an abandoned school stood between him and medical help. Jacob painfully laced his shoes up and stepped onto the front porch, squinting in the light of the fading day.
Has it really been almost 24 hours already?
Jacob wasn’t sure what had happened to Matt, but first he needed to get to a doc and report what had happened to his chain of command and MPI. A sound from the back of the house caught Jacob’s ear and before he let the front screen door slam, he looked past the living room to the back sliding door. Shadows of two men crept into view and Jacob slowly closed the door, preventing it from slamming, and quietly crept around the outside of the house, behind the two who were casting the shadows. Jacob heard low murmurs as he rounded the right side of the house, using the cherry blossom trees to shield him from sight. As he approached the back of the house, he crouched and peeked around the corner. Two men, one short and thin and one tall and thick, in overalls were standing under the back awning, peering into his living room through the glass door. At their feet, a water jug with dirty water, a toolbox, and a wheelbarrow with a tarp over it. Jacob recognized the shorter of the two.
Sorry spun around, a look of concern turning to relief as a big grin broke out on his face.
“What are you doing here?”
Sorry strode up to Jacob, extending his hand and shielding his eyes from the sun with the other.
“I’m marking the houses back here for teardown, turning off the water, electricity, getting ready for them to level this whole area. I thought I would stop by and say hello, but I saw…”
Sorry gestured back to the glass door, the look of concern returning to his face.
“…blood all over the living room floor. Are you okay?” Sorry pointed to the tape on Jacob’s face and grimaced.
“Long story. Let’s just leave it at… you were right with your advice.” Jacob looked at Sorry’s companion, a larger man with a dull expression on his face. Vacant eyes stared back at Jacob, as the large man fidgeted back and forth on his feet. “Who’s this?”
“Oh, this is my nephew Samuel.”
Sorry laughed, “Hah, yes, he is only half Japanese. He had an American father who also was named Samuel.” Sorry’s eyes darkened slightly, “He left my sister shortly after Samuel was born. Left for the States, straight back to Cleveland, and he has never been back. But, hey, that is not your issue, eh?” Sorry smiled again and put his arm on Jacob’s shoulder, “Though he is not the most intelligent young man, he is very handy to have around.”
Samuel smiled and waved at Jacob. “Hello.”
Jacob walked toward Samuel, “Hello Samuel, nice to meet you.”
Samuel bowed slightly, “And you as well Sir.”
A sudden through occurred to Jacob, “Sorry, how did you get here? I need a ride to main post. I’ve got to get my cut stitched up and I need to get to the Post PMO.”
Sorry shrugged his shoulders, “We walked. Just like every day.”
The wind shifted slightly and blew into Jacob’s face from the direction of the house. The pungent and invasive smell of gasoline stung his nose. Sorry noticed it too, and glanced quickly at Samuel. Jacob saw the glance, saw Samuel’s hand slide into his pocket.
“Sorry…what’s in the jug?”
Sorry shrugged again and smiled. “I thought you were still asleep Jacob.”
“What’s in the jug!”
Samuel stepped forward, vacant look replaced by something darker, as Sorry quickly stepped behind Jacob. “I thought you were still asleep Jacob, that was so much the easier way.” Samuel darted forward, his speed astonishing for such a big man, as his fist flew into Jacob’s solar plexus before he could react, knocking him to his knees as the big man pushed him down and pinned him to the ground.
Sorry stepped around in front of Jacob, his hands behind his back, looking down with a mixture of pity, anger, and sorrow. “I told you Jacob, I told you very seriously what not to do. And you did it anyway. This one…” Sorry gestured to the wheelbarrow, and only then did Jacob realize it was a body under the tarp, “…he didn’t have that conversation with me, and so he did not have good counsel. You? You did! I gave you very good counsel, but you still chose to ignore me.”
Sorry took Samuel’s spot, placing his knee firmly in Jacob’s back, allowing Samuel to get up and remove the tarp. Matt was there, dead or alive Jacob didn’t know. Blood covered Matt’s face, his hands tied behind his back as well. Samuel lifted Matt and took him into the living room, cut his binds, and left him there.
“What the hell Sorry! What the hell is going on?!?”
“You went to the wrong place, did the wrong thing. You are still guests in the country Jacob, this is not your world. You made a very big mistake with the wrong people.”
“I didn’t know Sorry! I didn’t know any of that was going to happen.”
“Of course you didn’t know Jacob, they never know. That’s why I warned you.”
“What are you going to do to me?” Jacob was frantic, as much as he tried he couldn’t break free from Sorry’s grasp.
“You have to die Jacob.”
“Why did you let me go then? If you’re just going to kill me, then why did you let me go?”
Samuel hauled Jacob to his feet, pushing him roughly toward the back door.
Sorry held the door open as Samuel pushed Jacob through. “I didn’t let you go Jacob, and I didn’t have you killed. You died in the fire you set by using gasoline to light your grill. You and your friend both died when the house caught fire. You were passed out from being too drunk.”
Sorry grabbed the jug with the gasoline and followed Samuel and Jacob into the living room. “Don’t worry, you will asphyxiate before you burn.”
Samuel smiled at that, the once dull expression replaced by a cold fury that Jacob had never seen before. “Yes, before you buuuuurrrrnnnnnnn.”
Sorry put down the jug of gas, an odd smile on his face as he rolled up the sleeves to his denim shirt. Tattoos covered his arms, no actual skin visible through the dark ink that decorated his forearms. “Samuel will likely cry with joy when you burn, but not me.” Sorry picked the jug back up. “I truly liked you Jacob. I truly like the U.S. Army. You are very good for my business.”
“What business is that you backstabbing piece of shit?!!!”
“Anything that makes money my friend. Anything at all.”
“Like prostituting little girls?”
Sorry’s smile vanished. “Yes, as much as you cannot understand that, yes. But you scold me in this little palaver, what is truly your death palaver, and you project moral outrage on me as if you are blameless. Where, Jacob, did you go last night? Why did you go there? WHY DID YOU GO THERE! You are not stupid! You knew where you were going! You knew what you would find there. So do not play the witless fool now, the innocent man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You went there to find a whore and you did, and the world you entered was too strong and too real for you and your friend, a friend who now lays dead at your feet! So please do not pass your moral judgment on me my friend, for it is your kind that keep me alive and in profit.”
Sorry gestured to Samuel, who threw Jacob on the ground next to Matt. With another nod of his head Samuel produced a book of matches from his pocket as Sorry uncapped the gas. Sorry lifted the jug to Jacob in mock salute, “Cheers,” and began to pour.