Sixty One

 A week passes with no new mysteries to contemplate, I should think we have enough mystery without looking for more. The four kids went to Daphne’s, Susan collected the two female Burmese, one for her and the other for Daphne’s tribe. Mickey took Burma over to help settle the kittens.
Daphne’s on the phone with Zoe C, “I told Mickey much thanks for the loan of Burma. She’s the new mommy for the kitty sisters, they follow her around and play, Burma takes it in stride.”
Zoe C, “She ought to, she jumps on Zelda’s back and rides around the property, launches surprise attacks from the cat tree and bonks every new thing on the nose.”
“She taught them the cat tree, there’s an identical one at Susan’s. They climb in and find their spots. When play is over the kittens curl up against Morshchiny for a nap, she’s big, fuzzy and warm.”
“Not bothering her I hope, Zelda is used to Burma’s goofiness.”
“No, the kittens have her trained, they circle Morshchiny and tap her paws until she lays down. Don’t know who’s smarter, the dog or the cats.”
“Collective consciousness.”
“Must be it. What are you guys up to?”
“Chef and I are going to visit a sexual predator in the San Diego area. McKenzie could come but we’ve thought it over and decided against. She can come when we Shadow hunt. It’s a dichotomy, but we don’t mind of she kills Shadows, but the kind of torture we use on abusers and predators is…I don’t, seems worse, do you understand?”
“Of course, Shadows are rabid dogs, abusers are nasty people, but we decided long ago that killing abusers is potentially endless, there’s always many more out there than we know about. Our method is to make them examples, family, friends, even coworkers know or strongly suspect the guy is an asshole up to bad crap. When he shows up permanently disabled, he’s a walking billboard of consequences. Want me to go with?”
“Sure, we’re pretty confident we can isolate the guy, but the message we got referred to him and his pack of shits. There may be more than one bad attitude to adjust.”
“Janah will come, or Dasha, yeah, maybe Dasha, Janah is going to do a bit of Qi work with McKenzie and Akiko, with Natalie’s permission of course.”
“Good, we leave in the morning, that work for you?”
“Yep.”
“One last thing, we want the injections.”
“Okay, when we return, our stuff comes from New York, David Li will overnight it. It has to be kept refrigerated. I’ll tell Daria, she knows what to do.”
This morning Daphne and Dasha show up, we have coffee ready for the trip, Daphne asks, “Think we need two cars?”
“Good question, what do you think Zoe C?”
“I think the drive will be more interesting in one car, your Tahoe can hold an army in comfort. If we need a second something, we can get a sedan from a rental place. We have a hundred fifty miles to enjoy each other’s company.”
Daphne, “Sounds good, ready?”
We are, and we are on the road, 405 to 5 to San Diego. 
Zoe C asks Dasha, “How does it feel, not aging? What’s it like?”
“I thought about it for a week maybe, off and on, then don’t think about it anymore. Days go by, plenty of projects, cooking, children, travel, it seems natural. We don’t age, we mature, they are different…except Dahfoney, she ees not anyway mature.”
Zoe C laughs, “I haven’t noticed.”
“We like her ridiculous, to keep things light. Ees only talk, when she ees to be serious, she ees serious. Dahfoney ees best peerson ever, always give, no take. Janah says we will haf een our fahmahley three things only, consideration, generosity and cooperation. We don’t even haf to remind anymore, everyone just does it.”
“I’ve stolen that for our family. I find myself asking, is this considerate, generous, am I being cooperative? Doesn’t mean we don’t have differences of opinion, but never arguments. It isn’t worth it, the world is hostile enough.”
“Janah says our job is to be sure we make changes in ourselves, not change the world. Or rather, changing oneself changes the world. She does not include fixing assholes or killing Shadow peerson, she says we are a public service.”
I grin, “Well, we could say that fixing bad attitudes is considerate, for the people being abused, stalked or otherwise intimidated, we do it free, which is generosity, and we do it together, which is cooperation.”
Dasha, “Da, you are understanding.”
I settle back, mysteriously relaxed given what we’re getting into. Dasha uses her accent to charm, it has nothing to do with intellect, she’s razor sharp.
Our target is a sexual predator, most of it stalking young girls on the internet according to the messages.
Zoe C, “Target is thirty seven, his pals, three other men of no repute. They live in a mobile home park full of men on the sex offender registry. Target was arrested twice, the DA couldn’t make a case either time because his buddies swore they were at his house playing poker the first time, watching football the second. Two of the others are registered, the third failed to register but nobody from the probation office or any social service agency has ever contacted him. The contact thinks they pay them off, but it may be simple bureaucratic incompetence.”
Daphne, “We’ll get one to turn. If we take our time, we can elicit confessions from all of them, pain is a marvelous lie detector and a lovely truth serum.”
We find the mobile home park, do a slow drive through to scope the area. 
“Might be hard to break in, the homes are relatively close together, in SoCal you have to maximize land use, get all the revenue from the parcel possible." 
Zoe C, “Let’s find a way to listen in.”
Daphne, “I brought a drone but we can’t fly it now, too visible.”
“Is anyone even there?”
“Not likely, I have a description of his car, truck, a twenty year old Ford something with a fair number of dents and other age spots.”
Dasha, “He haf job?”
“Port of San Diego, maintenance of some sort, could be anything from swabbing toilets to major repairs. The port employs some sixty eight thousand people and it covers thirty miles of coastline. It’s a monster operation.”
“Do tell, okay, we wait, but where? We’re wide open here.”
Daphne, “Nearest hotel, either something with a private balcony or quiet enough for me to launch the drone out of sight.”
Zoe C, “Pacific Terrace Hotel, we can get a two queen bed suite, private balcony, Jacuzzi and separate shower. Same floor standard room, also with balcony, for Chef. It isn’t clear if there’s a restaurant, but the site mentions breakfast and there are a ton of food options nearby. Tonight we can pick up whatever from a supermarket and get busy with the drone.”
Daphne drives us to a Whole Foods, collect dinner, to the hotel. Zoe C checks us in, we park the Tahoe and haul the drone in its case, and our bit of luggage up to the rooms. Have to hand it to the girls, they travel light.
After a quick unpack and wash up, Zoe C opens wine, we have a glass with boiled shrimp then take apart a roast chicken the size of a turkey. A side of Italian salad completes the meal. 
Dasha has the drone out and up, ten minutes later we’re looking at the top of the trailer where Larry Faris and one of the three others, name unknown, lives. The two add-ons live next trailer over. Dasha lowers the drone to window level, a small high window over what must be the kitchen sink. Two men sit at a small dining table, each with a beer. She clicks on the audio.
Larry is as described, balding, stocky but not fat, the second guy, Not Larry is tall, must go six five, and if he weighs two hundred I’d be surprised, he’s whip thin. Larry has a caterpillar moustache resting over his upper lip, Not Larry is facial hair free.
Larry, “Lucky bastard, never registered and nobody cares.”
Not Larry, “I was busy, the matter of a twelve year old with long legs and a tight round ass.”
“I remember her, fine young thing, where’d she get off to?”
“Don’t know, don’t care. She hit puberty and lost her appeal. I had to move and get another phone, she kept calling, texting, showing up, can’t have that. I suppose I could have just offed her, but it’s messy and dangerous, and she was sweet, just annoyingly possessive.”
“I only had to kill one, not for being jealous, because she told her ‘bestie’, stupid word but that’s what kids say, about her new older boyfriend. She swore she never described me or gave anyone my name, which wouldn’t have mattered, I used a fake name. But I had the feeling she wanted to be seen with me, more than a feeling, she said her friend wanted to meet me, which I doubt, like I said, she wanted to show off her grown up boyfriend.”
“Not a good idea.”
“She got whiney about it, I hit her, which was a mistake. Had to fix that mistake by making her disappear.”
“Don’t give me details, I don’t want to know, can’t testify to things I’m ignorant of, so keep me ignorant.”
He gets up and grabs two beers from the refrigerator, hands one to Larry.
“Any fresh meat?”
Larry, “Working on, I don’t mind them as adolescents, the young side of adolescent, before hips and thighs expand. Met her face to face in an ice cream shop where she works. I’m going super slow, find out just a little more every time I show up, and I show up irregularly, not even once a week.”
“Making any progress?”
“Almost too much, she gets moony eyed like a cow. I told her about restaurants I like, made up most of it, her idea of dining out is McDonald’s. Last time she wanted me to take her to a nice restaurant, I joked that I could get arrested.”
“Ah, which is no fucking joke. String her out, be nice, tell her she’s special, she’ll be dick diving in no time.”
Laughter.
Dasha, “Ees funnyman, maybe he will be funny when we meet, then he will look funny, funny ugly.”
Daphne, “Want to go over now?”
‘I’d like a handle on the two others, Dasha, take the drone to the second trailer.”

Sixty Two

Dasha, “Only one at home, no car in parking spot.”
“Maybe he talks to himself.”
Daphne, “Phone’s ringing.”
We can see him pick up a cell phone, “Yeah it’s Phil, who do you think would answer my phone?”
“Okay, you done with the girl?”
We can’t hear the other end.
“How much did you get?”
He listens, “Three thousand, not bad, not as much as a blonde ten year old, but not bad. Same guy?”
Listens again, “Understood, he’s reliable, and he’s not going to turn on us, we’re a source for his very lucrative business and we can hand off the girls when we’re done rather than deal with them. She a virgin?”
We see him grin, then laugh, “I know she wasn’t a virgin when you were done, was she a virgin before you got your dick in her?”
More laughter, “Pick up fried chicken on the way, I’ve got beer and the ball game is starting. Just bring it to Larry’s.”
He clicks off.
Zoe C, “Looks like we’re working tonight.”
Daphne, “Yep, Dasha, bring in the drone, we know where to go and what to do.”
We drive to the trailer, wait until Chicken Man shows. He gets out of the sedan, two buckets of KFC and another box, hip bumps the car door closed, up the steps to the trailer porch, taps on the door with his foot. It opens. 
He doesn’t hear Daphne coming, although she’s never mentioned it, McKenzie said she’s a Shaolin priest. He couldn’t hear her coming if it was dead silent, much less with a TV blaring a football game.
Daphne kicks him inside, he stumbles forward, lands on his knees, chicken flies across the small room. Dasha is behind her.
“Didn’t think chickens could fly.”
“They have to be fried first.”
Phil answered the phone earlier, this one is Not Phil.
I spot Phil over Dasha’s shoulder, he’s the one saying, “What the fucking fuck? Are you crazy bitch?”
Daphne, “Absolutely insane, which is your problem.”
“I got no…,” Daphne launches herself, from a standing start, how in hell…?
She sails feet first into Phil, his beer joins the chicken on the floor, Phil joins the chicken and beer on the floor.
Not Larry, the tall one, moves to grab Daphne. Dasha hits him hard on the temple with the heel of her palm, so hard he’s face first unconscious.
Larry stands, hesitant, Phil is dealing with cracked ribs, Not Larry is kissing the linoleum, still as a tombstone, Not Phil finds his feet and turns. He and Larry stare, there’s three young women, one who can apparently fly, one who has a right like Tyson, a stone fox who hasn’t injured anyone yet, and a big guy…me.
Larry holds up his hands, “What do you want? We aren’t rich…see, it’s a mobile home, tin and tires. You aren’t cops, cops introduce themselves and wave badges around.”
Daphne, “Sit down, shut up and listen.”
Not Phil gets the stupids, charges. It’s unclear who he’s charging, Dasha and Daphne are side by side. He passes me, I side kick him clean over the ratty couch, his butt hits the top, couch rolls over, lands on him.  Zoe C walks around to take a look.
“You may have cracked his pelvis, he appears to be in pain, he isn’t trying to stand.”
A loud groan of agony says he not only appears to be, he is in pain, a fair amount of it too.
Daphne, “Nice shot man.”
“Well, we came here to adjust attitudes, and we’ve bought ourselves more work.”
Zoe C, “Yep, now we have to get a name and location of the man buying children.”
Daphne tells Larry, “Take off your shoes and socks.”
Larry, “Take off…what…why?”
She breaks his nose with a front kick I barely register, damn she’s quick.
He shrieks, grabs his nose, bad idea, that hurts too. He’s got blood running over his lips, Dasha hands him a dish towel, “Take off shoes and socks.”
This time he bends over and follows orders.
“Now, who is the buyer?”
“Buyer? What do you mean?”
Dasha pokes his nose, another yowl, “Buyer of children, who is buying the children?”
Larry, “I can’t…I mean those guys are fucking dangerous, they’ll kill me.”
Daphne pulls a blade that must go six inches plus the handle. I’m watching but all I see is Larry’s big toe disconnected from his foot, blood pools, Larry starts to scream but I have my hand over his mouth, I have a big hand, all we hear is muffled pain.
When he settles, Dasha, who I notice has lost her accent, tries again, “Last time, who is it?”
Larry, “Phil and Hank deal with him, not me.”
Dasha steps on his good foot, “Nine left, what’s his name?”
“Art, Arthur something, we don’t do a lot of socializing…fuck my foot is killing me.”
“You said those guys will kill you, now it’s your foot, give up the name or I will kill you. Who are the others, how many?”
“I don’t know, I hear Phil talk about Arthur, I don’t go with them, I don’t know where they are, I’ve never even met Arthur.”
“Then you are useless,” she puts her fingers on his throat, not on, just near to. Larry chokes, twists his head, doesn’t matter, his throat collapses, Larry is dead. She kicks over his chair.
Daphne turns to Hank, who was Not Phil until we learned his name, “Want to join Larry?”
Hank is staring at Dead Larry, Daphne puts her blade just under his chin, flicks her wrist, the cut isn’t deep or long, but he gets the idea.
“Arthur is all we know, for everybody’s protection, I doubt his real name is Arthur, it isn’t like he writes us checks, we don’t want to know him or his associates any better than we do now.”
“One time only, how many associates and where are they?”
“We make the transfer in an abandoned warehouse, I’ve seen two guys besides Arthur, we’ve never spoken. If you have to kill me, kill me, I don’t know where they come from.”
“How do you contact him?”
“Burner phone. After we hand over the girl, he gives me a new number to call.”
“You always meet at the same spot?”
“Yeah, it’s secluded, big fence around it, no homeless hangout, the place is empty, no lights, no water, a brick warehouse most of the windows gone. We’re only there five minutes.”
“What car do you take?”
“Phil’s van.”
Dasha turns to me, “Find the keys, we’ll need the van.”
Daphne, “Okay boys, we came here to do a bit of attitude adjustment, force you twerps to quit raping children. Normally, we do a bit of cut and bruise, a broken bone, leave you to contemplate your future. But, as will happen, it turns out you’re into even nastier business. Now, who wants to live?”
After I find the keys, I drag Phil to the edge of the overturned couch, Not Larry is still face down dreaming of better days.
Phil, “You gonna kill us anyway, no point to the question.”
“No, not true, whoever calls Art and tells him there’s fresh meat, gets to ride with us, they’ll want to see your smiling face for reassurance.”
“Hank and I usually go together, one of us has to keep an eye on the girl.”
Dasha, “Well Phil, you have a broken hip, so Hank can explain that you slipped off the toilet in a freak masturbation mishap, it will be just him.” 
Daphne slits his throat.
I get the van, pull up close to the porch, slide open the side door, drag Hank out and toss him in. Sit on the edge of the floorboard and wait for the girls to finish, I watch through Zoe C’s eyes.
I see Not Larry, never did get his name, then a hand I recognize as Zoe C’s, a hand with a silenced Glock…Pop! The back of his head has a perfect circle in it.

Sixty Three

Hank takes us across town, past the burbs, past an industrial area to a dead zone. Places where rail lines went elsewhere, the warehouse didn’t keep up with modernization, businesses folded. San Diego is healthy and prosperous, in part because the old stuff got relocated to newer stuff more in line with today’s technology. Zoe C follows in our car, we aren’t going back to the mobile home park.
Hank, “That’s it.”
“How long does it take for your contact to show?”
“One of us calls, says we have product. They want it immediately, if they leave the girl with us too long, well, you can figure the rest.”
“Out of curiosity, how did you get to selling children?”
“We’re tattooed as sex offenders, we can’t get jobs, not any decent jobs. I can because I never registered, but it’s dicey, I have a hole in my resume when I was in prison. Somebody investigates and finds out why I was in prison, I’ve outed myself. People hate us, I’d spend my working days getting the shit kicked out of me. Phil hooked up with a guy in prison who knew the buyers, the money was too good, simple as that. Thing is, none of us can help who we are, no, not an excuse. We like young girls, in Spain a girl is of age at thirteen, other countries it’s thirteen to fifteen. I know this is America, not Spain.”
“Some of the girls were eight or nine.”
“Inexcusable, but we did it.” 
“Call the guy.”
“It’s ten thirty.”
“Call him, and make it good.”
He calls, explains that they stumbled on a total treasure, a big bucks kid a little older, fifteen, but primo, not a mark on her, white and tight, best of all, a virgin.”
Whoever answered must have asked how much.
“Twenty five, take a look, if you don’t think she’s worth it, I’ll go elsewhere.”
He listens, then, “Arthur, we’ve been over this, you get first chance, we like doing business with you, but there are other buyers, we never promised you exclusivity.”
More conversation from the other side, then, “Yeah, same as usual, and Phil fell and busted his hip, it’s just me tonight but I’ve got the girl under wraps, no problem,” more talk, “okay, see you at the site,” he clicks off.
“Good boy Hank, you may come out of this in better shape than your pals.”
He nods, don’t know if he believes me, don’t care either.
Half hour rocks by, another SUV, black of course, bad guys always have black SUVs, this one is an Escalade, clean, not pimped out. Their car is facing ours, all they can see is Hank, satisfied, three men get out of the Escalade. Jackets bulge on one side, they’re armed.
Zoe C and Daphne worked their way to the far side of the fence, we aren’t going inside the warehouse apparently, nobody moves to break the chain on the gate. It doesn’t matter, it’s dark, I can see a highway in the distance but zip nearby.
Dasha has slipped off her jeans, leaving her in a t-shirt that comes to mid thigh. Hank gets out, slides open the side door and pulls Dasha out holding her by the hair. He pushes her along, then she’s in front of the lead dog who must be Arthur. I can see, even in the bad light that Arthur is more like Alexi. There must be a Russian thug dress code, black leather jackets over black shirts tucked into black pants.
Zoe C, “Fuckers have seen way too many movies.”
I have to stifle a laugh, “So it seems, where’s the cigarette? They can’t be authentic thugs without a cigarette.” 
Arthur pulls a pack, taps one out and lights it, “You were right my friend, this one is the best quality we’ve seen for fifteen. Let me take a closer look, off with the shirt young one, let’s take a look at the tits and ass.”
Dasha, “Chert tebya, russkiy mudak.” (fuck you Russian asshole)
Arthur smiles, “A fucking Russian, typical, mouth like a Tartar.”
He tells Dasha, “Ty budesh' moyey shlyukhoy.”
Dasha, “No, you will be my whore.”
Arthur turns to his buddies, “A true Russian beauty, and a mouth to match.”
He reaches for her, “You will need training, learn to be obedient whore.”
Dasha grabs his wrist, steps to the side while stretching his arm out, then she breaks his elbow over her knee. The two behind him reach for weapons, Zoe C puts her Glock in one’s ear, cocks the hammer. Never saw Daphne take the other’s weapon but she’s holding it. Zoe C relieves her guy of his.
Arthur is on his knees, right arm bent in a direction no arm was meant to bend. Dasha puts her hand behind his neck, blood pours from his ears, then his mouth. She releases and Arthur is face down on asphalt and he’s never getting up.
Hank, “Fuckin’ fuck me.”
I grab the sides of his head and twist, a satisfying crank, think of an overzealous chiropractor. Hank’s head points left, it will always point left.
Daphne, “Take a seat boys, we want a little information.”
A burst of Russian, Daphne taps his head with the butt of the gun she took, “Cut the crap Ivan, you speak English, or shall I have my associate translate?”
“What do you want to know?”
“Where are the kids?”
“What kids?”
Daphne clocks him harder, his cheek splits open, she raises the gun again.
“Fuck, hold on, okay? They are with Pavlov, only two, the rest are gone and we don’t know where, we buy, don’t sell, Pavlov sells. He has rich buyer connections, not us.”
“Where is Pavlov?”
“I tell you more, he cuts me up with a chain saw, I’ve seen him do it.”
“You don’t tell, I cut you up with a K-Bar,” magically there’s the military grade knife in her hand, a quick swipe and his ear falls to the asphalt. He screams. Daphne hits him on the temple with the hilt of the knife, lights out.
She turns to the second, “Where is Pavlov?”
He’s angry, but wary, and for good reason, he’s watched the girls take apart his pals.
“Not know address, I can take you, I am not so good English as Mikhail.”
Daphne, “Fair enough, let’s go.”
“Now? He is maybe in bed asleep.”
“Even better.”

Sixty Four

We’re outside Pavlov’s, his place is gated and the rail fence runs completely around the property. The good news is, his is the only house, the next place is a half mile away.
Lights are on in the rear, Daphne launches the drone.
Cossack Two, the only one left alive, blinks, “Drone? What is on top, like a gun maybe?”
“Dart gun, right now loaded with tranquilizer, but we also have a poison that takes less than a couple of breaths before you’re dead.”
“I know people who would buy for much money.”
“Yeah, me too, but it isn’t happening.”
He shrugs, he’ll have to think up a new scheme to convince us to let him go. What he doesn’t know is no scheme will save his child raping ass, he’s the walking dead. 
“Get us inside.”
Cossack Two, “Do not know code.”
I bend his middle finger back, hard, “The fucking code, you’ve been here, seen it punched in, do it or I take the finger.”
Dasha and I are in Phil’s van, Daphne and Zoe C are in ours, but parked on the side under trees. There’s a cam at the gate, but nothing covering the whole fence line.
Zoe C, ‘In position in the rear, three men sitting at a patio table, bottle of Russian Standard, one cigar, two with cigarettes. If we wait a few years, they’ll kill themselves.’
‘No fun in that, and we need to know if they have girls inside.’
‘Then let’s find out.’

Dasha has us connected to the drone cam, video and audio, I hear three ‘twips!’ and watch the men sink into unconsciousness.
‘Damn, that stuff is good, real good, amazing.’
‘Our new friends totally have their shit together.’

Meanwhile, Cossack Two has opened the gate, which is nice, although I could have rammed it with Phil’s van, more exciting but noisy.
The drive is a quarter mile, it curves in front of the house. By the time we get there, Daphne is at the front door.
“Haul them in from outside while I check the house.”
Dasha and I go through, the place is not as big as our house, not even close to Daphne’s, still, it must go eight thousand square feet. Zoe C is standing over the three, two dropped in their chairs, Cigar fell forward and is resting on the concrete.
Dasha grabs the back of his belt, I ask, “Need a hand?”
“Nyet,” she lifts him, he folds like a hanging bag and she drags him in the house.
I blink at Zoe C, they guy must go two fifty, Dasha lifted him like he was a bag of laundry.
I take one slug over my shoulder and plop him down next to Cigar. Dasha has the third, now they’re lined up, three Russians in a row.
“How long they out for?”
Dasha, “Fifteen or twenty, depending, the big one will take less time, the little prick will wake up first. I think we get them tied, put in different rooms. We can interrogate without them knowing who said what.”
We get busy with nylon ties and duct tape, don’t trust ties to hold, although these are big ones. Plain ties can be broken if you spread your elbows and snap your wrists down onto, say, your knee. Naturally there’s a video on YouTube demonstrating it. Duct tape will prevent them from breaking the ties because they can’t pull their arms apart enough. To be ultra-sure, we also have their bound hands behind their backs. Ties and tape around ankles, these dopes aren’t going anywhere. Two in bedrooms, one in what serves as an office. If Daphne finds kids, they won’t have to see their captors.
Dasha stays with the smallest since he should stir first, Zoe C alternates keeping an eye on the other two. Easy enough, the bedrooms are side by side, then the office on one end of the hall.
I hear whispered voices, Daphne comes down the stairs with two young girls on each side, she’s reassuring them. 
Zoe C, “How adorable, how are they?”
Daphne, “Still finding out,” she tells the girls, “Take a seat on the…wait, are you hungry? It’s late, do you just want to go back to sleep?”
One of the girls looks to be eight, the other is ten or eleven. They don’t appear to have any injuries, Daphne can ask about abuse later, right now they just seem sluggish.
The older one nods a yes to more sleep, the little one is already stretched on the couch and nodding off. I fetch pillows and a blanket, Daphne gets them arranged and lowers the lights.
We gather on the far side of the room to decide what happens next.
Daphne, “Didn’t get to talk with the girls much, I don’t know if they are local or even their names. There was a bottle of Benadryl on the bathroom counter, I figure they were dosed to keep them quiet and sleepy.”
Zoe C, “Then time to interrogate Pavlov and his dogs. Suppose I stay here and make sure the girls don’t wake up and start wandering around, you guys take one each, where’s Hank?”
I can answer that one, “Dead in the van.”
Nobody asks how, they’ve seen me snap a neck already.
Daphne, “Doesn’t matter who takes who, pick a partner and find out what they know. First bit is where they got the two girls, or maybe they don’t know or don’t want to know.”
“Then I made a mistake, killing Hank.”
Dasha, “No big deal, the girls will know.”
Zoe C, “Did either of them ask about their parents?”
Daphne, “No, I thought it would be the first question, but they’re mostly out of it due to the antihistamine. The older girl told me they were made to take two. It was a stupid thing to do, their blood pressure could have dropped to scary levels. Zoe C, you might want to monitor their pulse, if it gets below sixty we may need to get them to a hospital.”
“On it.”
Daphne, Dasha and I take a bedroom each, I get Pavlov.
I go in, he’s parked on the bed, trussed up like the proverbial Christmas goose.
Pavlov isn’t happy, “Who are you, you break into my home, shoot us up, what do you want, money?”
“I have money. You’re buying children, don’t annoy me with denials, not in the mood.”
He stares, I guess he’s trying for intimidation, not used to being on the receiving end, “Where do the girls come from, by that, I don’t mean what city, who is the supplier?”
He smirks, “Several, and you are correct, I have no clue where they come from.”
“Fair enough, let’s go downstream, who do you sell them to?”
“Fuck off.”
“We don’t have to do this the hard way, but I not only don’t mind, I’m glad. Phil, Hank, Larry and some puke who’s name I don’t know are dead. I killed two, my associates took out the others. Ever been to a chiropractor, they do this neck twist, allegedly to align the vertebrae in the neck. It’s a safe technique for a trained professional. I tend to go overboard, sharp twist until I hear a satisfying snap. Here, let me show you.
I take his head, one hand on his jaw from underneath, the other on the back of his head, I twist it a few times, then I twist it until he yells.
“Okay, okay, point taken. But I tell you, then you kill me, what’s the point of telling you?”
“There are many ways to die Pavlov, ever heard of the Death of a Thousand Cuts? I think you can figure out how that works. My associate has a K-Bar, I watched her work earlier, she is good, amazingly so. She starts with your feet, when those are ribbons, she goes to knees, fingers, tits, lips, you know how much it hurts to have a lip sliced open? Her finale has to do with your groin. When she’s done, you’ll be a girl, maybe you could sell yourself…but you’ll be too dead to have much value. Another associate does interesting things with electricity, did you ever want to be a light bulb? I can arrange it.”
“You are insane.”
“I miss the point,” I slip on brass knuckles, not only are they efficient, I don’t get a bruised fist. I break his nose, I break it with attitude, now his nose looks like an inkblot.
“Goddamn…Fuck! You better kill me, or I will hunt you down and repay you a hundred times over, you, your family, your pets, your fucking mother.”
“Pavlov, you aren’t leaving this room alive and I don’t believe in ghosts. In fact, the last thing I’m going to do is light this place up like a Taliban enclave, your body will essentially evaporate, you won’t care, you’ll be dead. You can go quickly and painlessly if you cough up names and locations, or I can turn you over to my friend,” there’s an earsplitting scream from down the hall, I smile, “hear that? She’s interviewing one of your pals as we speak.”
Now I have his undivided attention.

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