The man blinks five times. Twice slowly with effort. Three times fast. His eyes are adjusting to the light of the room. There is no sunlight here. The sun has gone a long, long way from here. There is the smell of damp from the aged and tired wooden table to the side of me. The natural whiff of decay.
I have removed his blind fold. Hit him hard across the head with the damp rag. An old tea towel. Perspiration stains the flower print. And again. Just for luck. Now he can see us through his watery eyes that are stinging with tears. He can see us and he does not so much exhale as blow his breath out of his body. As if he has received a body shot. Hard. A fist to the solar plexus. He blows all the air out of his lungs. Every last molecule. When he sees us.
People need to learn how to breathe properly.
Really. They do.
How else could a Buddhist monk have the calm to pour paraffin over himself?
To set himself on fire in self-immolation.
It is all in the breathing, my friend.
Just imagine what you could do.
I imagine that I am inhaling soft and deep. I am grabbing the petrol can from the corner of the room. I am opening the cap. I am dowsing the man in front of me with petrol. The petrol runs down his face, blinding him. I am pulling the yellow cigarette lighter from my pocket. He is screaming. Click. Scratch. Whoosh.
I do not do this. That would not be just. I imagine it only. I am not a mad man. I can disassociate my thoughts and desires from my actions.
One can dream, can’t one?
Is that still allowed these days?
The man looks around the room. He is naked and tied to chair. His head twitches and his eyes dart from door to person. A blubbery stressed chicken that farts. He sees us all dressed in our black overalls and military attire and combat boots with our balaclavas and goggles and hammers and sticks and tyre irons and a tattoo gun. He sees the car battery and plugs. He sees the florescent green walls of the hut. He sees the pictures on the wall. The pictures of burning Buddhist monks. The torture photos from the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp. Of naked men with shit on their bodies tied to beds. Of men dragged across the floor by their necks like animals. Of the gulags in Stalin’s Soviet Utopia. They are there just for the atmosphere. To give the place a certain ambiance. For the theatre of it all. Even torture needs a little theatre in its ritual.
You know that his fight-or-flight mechanism has kicked in. You can see by the way he is struggling. If he stopped and took a deep breath, he would see that the ropes are tied too tight to the chair. He would see that the more he struggled, the more he would hurt himself. Twine chafing broken skin. Jaundice yellow becoming pink flesh. Ankles. Wrists. I do not want to see any animal unnecessarily hurt. We are doing only what is necessary. I am a merciful man. Really, I am. I take no joy in this. Only sorrow. The man in front of me is one big disappointment.
I know that the blood is draining from his penis. I know that his sphincter is palpatating. I know that he will probably piss himself. You can actually smell his fear. It is not a cliché. The sweat is pouring out of him. The guy stinks. He stinks physically, mentally and spiritually. He is a stinker. Poo Poo.
He begins to shout and wail. The noises that come out from his dry mouth are words. Indiscriminate words. Together they make no sense. He is reacting in words and not sentences. Lots of plosive sounds. Lots of Ks and Ts. Spitting his words. Some people say having to use naughty words, like that, shows a lack of vocabulary. I tend to fucking disagree. You just need to choose your situation well. He, I think, is perfectly justified in using colourful language in the context. Anyway no one can hear him. He will offend nobody. Not here. Not in this hut. He does not know that there is nobody here for miles around. That there is only trees and fields and rabbits.
We stand there.
Nobody takes their eyes off him.
Psychological torture is so much more effective in the long run than its physical counterpart. Combined in the correct way and they can thoroughly scar a person for the rest of their life. They can reduce monsters to scared bunnies. He is panicking, just as he has made others panic. The flood of words has become a flow of mere guttural dry-throated syllables. He can see his bunny hopping towards him. No one has moved. We just stand there looking at him through the eye holes in our balaclavas. It is this lack of action that is slowly destroying him. He is a brute. A man of violent action. He has never written a poem or song in ink or on paper. His sonnets have been written in other’s blood. On their fragile psychologies. His creations have accumulated in the death of parts of people’s psyches. People who had done nothing to him personally. People who had made a stupid decision and got themselves in debt with the wrong person. His boss. These parts were their strength, their warmth, their hope. Memories and feelings pulled out. Laid bare. Naked. Now we are going to take whatever his base equivalent is. We are going to pull it out of his mind. Kicking and screaming.
His bunny is twitching its little pink nose.
Licking its tiny paws.
Its cotton tail wiggles.
A lot of people say that so-and-so deserves to die. Maybe they do and maybe they do not. It is such a subjective thing. With this individual I would say, no. He deserves to live. To live and to remember. To be a sign. A communiqué to his boss and to others. He was once called a shark but when we have finished with him even a dolphin will make him defecate in his diapers.
Even a rabbit.
We can wait for hours while he swears and pleads and begs for mercy. Patience is a virtue, as my father used to say. But then again, he used to talk a lot of horseshit too. Patience is only a virtue if, like any other virtue, it serves you well.
Don’t you agree?
The man’s name is Ronald James Davis. He is known as Davo to his friends, his enemies and his victims alike. He spent his early life stumbling from one petty crime to another. Nothing unusual in that, I know. I did a little myself when I was a lad. Pinched the odd thing here. Damaged the odd thing there. The difference is, he never stopped. He choose his way through life. A way enforced through more and more violence. As the violence became more and more vicious, so did his reputation.
He got himself a job as a bouncer the local snooker hall. Smoky coloured balls hit. Orbs shattered in a lighted green firmament. Perfect work for a man like Davo. Perfect to meet the wrong type of people. All those shady corner drug deals. Provoked arguments ending in broken glass. Those small time crooks. Talking about their exaggerated escapades. Watching him headbutt innocent punters for no reason. Reinforcing his small town reputation for fearsome belligerence.Those cheap little uneducated council estate girls hanging around. Waiting for a quick fuck in the bathrooms. To get their claws into some dangerous man. To finally be someone in their rotten corner of the world. To spend the rest of their lives regretting it.
A king bastard in a florescent lit kingdom.
After some minor brushes with the law, some community service, he finally ended up spending a year and a half in the nick for GBH. It was after that he began to make his name as a thug for hire. Any lowlife could buy his services. Any shitbag with a handful of pound notes and a job that he was too scared or intelligent to do himself. To get his hands dirty. That was when Davo came in.
Extortion. Repayment. Need to teach someone “a lesson”. Scare someone. Davo was your man. That was when he came to the attention of his current boss.
The man who we are sending this little living love letter to.
We are still waiting.
You may ask how I know all this about dear old Davo. Well, it is all in his prison records, his psychologist report and his arrest sheet. Experts have scribbled notes and made them truth.
He is starting to threaten us. He begins with the usual. That he will find us. That we will suffer. That our families will suffer as their houses are burnt to the ground. That our children will be cut with broken glass. That we have nowhere safe to hide. Bless him. Imagine that. Imagine thinking that he is in any position at all to threaten us. What blatant animal stupidity. It almost makes you feel sorry for him. A little rabbit caught in a snare. He has no idea what he is going to have confront the first time any of us move. He really should not threaten us.
Now he sees us as ridiculous as we are. He begins to laugh as he insults us through his spit and his saliva. He makes jokes. He sees the humour behind it all. Many do. They still think that we are working within the boundaries of the law. They still think that nothing we can do will truly affect them. They are wrong. They cannot see the facts. The facts are that they are powerless. They have spent their whole lives trying to accumulate power. They have always been the dominant ones. Dominating through might. Might is Right. That is how the world works. So they think. So they laugh as that is all they can do. It happens to a lot of them. It is their version of the Kübler-Ross model. The Five Stages of Grief. Denial. Anger etc. I start to smile with him. I like to call it the Hoodlum Acceptance of Torture Model. Or the HAT model for short.
Shock. Fight or Flight. Menace. Ridicule.
One day, maybe I shall write a book.
Then it happens.
His bunny is knocking on the door.
Let me in, it whispers.
Someone moves to my right.
We move as one.
I press the button on the stereo that plays Magical Mystery Tour on repeat very loudly. We put our industrial headphones on. We decided on this album as our collective hatred for The Beatles would spice things up a bit.
The person next to me tests the car battery. He produces sparks. The plugs will be attached to parts of Davo’s anatomy. Just enough.You get the picture.
Roll Up for The Mystery Tour.
Another is looking at his hammer. He is wondering which end to use first. Decisions. Decisions.
Another is greasing a huge black dildo. The kind you could kill a man with. In numerous ways.
The Magical Mystery tour is waiting to take you away.
It is only Friday and none of us starts work until Monday morning. We have the whole weekend to get acquainted. To get personal and downright intimate. He will never understand why we are doing this to him. As we do not want any information. We do not want to hand him over to the police. He will never understand that it is because we have all failed. All of us.
Dying to take you away.
We are failures.
Take you today.
The bunny hops around the chair.
She circles with daisies in her paws.
She wants to place a flower in his hair.
I can no longer see Davo.
He is surrounded by blackness.
I hear my dead wife’s voice in my head.
She is singing to me.
Give me your answer do.
And I wonder, How did it ever get to this?
Jason Michel is The Dictator at PULP METAL MAGAZINE. Bite me.