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This is my second story for Nifty, so I guess I should be getting better. This is the fifth chapter of six.

My first story on Nifty is fty//gay/adult-youth/inkerman-street/

I welcome feedback, please send ail

Thanks

Arapiles

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CHAPTER 5 � THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE

 

 

 

I swiped the second card that I had picked up from reception, entering unit 24 and closing the door. It was identical to mine, just a mirror image, same industrial furniture, same industrial carpet, same industrial artwork. Someone must be making a nice little earner churning out bland inoffensive crap for these places.

My phone buzzed insistently, and I knew I had to take this call.

“Hello.”

“Brian, are you high? Using your own credit card? Might as well use a fucking beacon.” I recognised the voice, though it wasn”t necessary. I had recognised the number just as well. Max”s offsider and right-hand man. Warwick; an inoffensive name for one of the coldest men I had ever met. An ex-green beret, and the toughest asshole I knew.

“No Warwick, just flushing the game.”

“Mind explaining?”

“There was a slight problem Warwick. Let”s just say I”m working an alternative method, where Woz comes to me. I have something he wants.”

“What…not the boy?”

My hand tightened on the phone at that. So, the fuckers knew.

“Yeah…thanks for the heads up Warwick.”

“We only just found out too. Well, if you have him, you have Woz by the nuts. Max wants them both, I was just about to ring you anyway when you went and freaked us out. I think the kid is in for some time with Mr Zappy, Max thinks it”s the best way to get Woz to cough, watching the kid cop it if he clams up. Always was a sap that guy… Max wants to be sure we don”t have competitors involved. I think it”s unlikely, but Max got where he is by being paranoid.”

“Great, glad you could bring me up to speed eventually, you asshole. Well, he should be here soon, what do you want me to do?”

“Keep em there. We are heading over, be in the city in a few hours. The company has a warehouse on the outskirts, perfect for what we need. I”ll be coming. Max too.”

Now my heart was racing. Max was coming out. I thought I might have to take Woz back to him, and feared he might not see me, but it looked like he was going to be here. Finally, I would get to see him for the second time. The first seemed a long time ago…

“Your record looks impressive Brian. And everything I”ve heard stands you in good stead. Yet here you are, living out of a car. Don”t worry, I can fix that for you…if you join us.”

The lean man smoked a cigar, the scent overwhelming in the cramped room. I sensed the heavies around him, one tall, one shorter and stockier and built like a prizefighter, but I focussed only on the leader. Elegant clothes, selected with taste and an eye to detail. Eyes missing any emotion…any sign of humanity at all really. The only sign of something going on was a twitch at his left cheek, around a puckered scar that ran down to his neck. It was the only visual sign that this was not your average smart useless type in a Saville Row suit.

His voice though; pure Bronx, and rough as a longshoreman.

“So Brian, what do you think?”

“What is the job?”

“Let”s just say my company is a contract outfit. We are paid well, fucking well, and you will be too. In return, we ask no questions, and we do what we are told. I don”t care a fuck who our clients are as long as they pay. They don”t care a fuck who we are as long as we do what is required and keep our mouths shut. The penalties for talking are severe, in business and in life. Can you do that Brian?”

“I know how to keep secrets if that”s what you”re asking.”

“I know. How long were you in the closet I wonder? Fucking like a porn star I”m told, no one asked, no one told. No…don”t misunderstand, I don”t give a shit. And I think it”s fucked what the military did to you, and those like you. But as a businessman, I don”t give a shit, except that it means I get the services of a highly trained Ranger who should be defending us against the terrorists and instead is living out of the trunk of a car. Efficient recycling…the fucking greenies should write bad poetry in my honour. I want to use your talents Brian. And make you wealthy. I don”t give a flying fuck who you screw, hell fuck the entire 82nd Airborne for all I give a shit. As long as you are loyal to us, don”t care that nothing you do is within the law, dont get squeamish when your hands get bloody, and stay fucking quiet. Do we have a deal?”

To buy myself time I watched his cigar end, glowing and darkening as he puffed. It made me physically ill just watching it, but I needed the time.

“How…how did you get my name?”

“Does it matter Brian? Come on…are you in or out?”

The anger came back then. Anger at the army, the world, Woz…I screwed up my mouth and nodded.

Maximilian leaned back on his chair and visibly relaxed.

“Excellent choice Brian. I can tell you will be one of our best, once we get you cleaned up and rehabilitated.”

“So, are you able zonguldak escort to tell me exactly what we do yet?”

In my moments of self-loathing and remorse, I had blamed the man who was coming towards me for it all, or at least a fair portion of it. One thing I had determined, in those long dark watches of the night since the appointment a month ago, was that Woz would be on the list of people who paid, somehow, somewhere. Not necessarily at the top, but somewhere near there. When he disappeared, I assumed he had been killed, and though I mourned, a part of me was disappointed at the lost opportunity. Then the call had come from Max, and my prayers were answered.

Life was funny that way sometimes.

A hint of movement on the small screen in front of me drew my attention, and I tensed a little while adjusting the contrast. A hint of something…then a head, then hair…a tall broad-shouldered man, dressed in denim, carrying a box and moving stealthily. My Woz had come.

Moving slowly to the door, I watched carefully. He knocked, loudly, waiting for a response. I had gagged Mikey, though I hated it, but it needed to be done. He would be struggling on the other side of the door, trying to cry out.

Then Woz reached into his pocket. He still had the electronics kit we all had, and he used it fast and efficiently, bypassing the lock. I heard it beep and click, and the door opened slowly.

Woz placed the box of booze on the floor of the stairwell, and opened it, pulling out a pistol. The fucker must have had an arsenal in his car, I assumed the shotgun would be his only weapon. Pushing the door open, he took in the sight before him, his son trussed up on the bed, eyes wide.

“Hello again Woz. This time, try not to be such a pain ok?”

As he pressed his hand on the door, I had opened mine, stepping from number 24 and right behind my Woz. The Beretta was pressed against his skull. It would make a nice mess of the industrial carpet if he even flinched.

“Put your hands on your head and step forward three paces Woz.”

He obeyed, his body sort of sagging. He had probably existed on adrenaline since I had left with Mike, now it was all over, and his body was taking over, his shoulders working with emotion as he stared at his son tied up and struggling on the bed.

“I should have realised you scummy shit. You hated gin.”

“Still do Woz. Put the gun on the floor…slowly…and stand up again.”

He moved like a puppet on a string, jerkily, and I followed him the whole way.

“Hands behind your back.”

The cuffs were in my hands, I had taken them off Mikey once I had him tied to the bed, ready for their next recipient. They closed with a metallic click, and I pushed Woz towards the seat, roughly moving him until he sat untidily, his arms behind the seat back.

It took only a few moments to use the cords, still attached to the seat after I first restrained Mikey, to bind his Dad. I had them both now, where I needed them, the man and the boy. I could see them both and study them at leisure, the similarities and the differences. I could pick out more differences in Mike now, his eyes a different colour, his build leaner and hips and shoulders more pronounced. The similarities still outweighed them though; you would never be in any doubt who his father was.

“Game”s up Woz. I”m sorry.”

“Not as much as I am Brian. Let him go. If there is anything you still feel for me, let him go.”

“I can”t do that Woz. I”m sorry; Max wants him too.”

“You fucking bastard! I thought you would help him! Instead all you did was fuck him and now…and now…”

He was close to tears. I never saw my Woz cry before. In some ways it was the worst thing of all.

“Yes, I fucked him Woz. And he loved it…heard him begging for a good pounding didn”t you? Pity you couldn”t like it the way he did.”

Woz struggled now, trying to tear himself free. I was grateful once again for the screws holding the chair into the floor…he might have broken free otherwise. Instead, he just hurt himself as I casually walked over to the boy, removing his gag and checking on his bindings. The boy was helpless; just like his Dad.

“Dad!”

“Mikey…Mikey I”m sorry…”

“So…while we wait, I guess it”s time for a long overdue chat Woz. May as well come clean, on everything, you too Mikey. Won”t get this chance with Max. Think of it as a cleansing of the soul. God knows you need it Woz, if you are anything like me.”

The two struggled a little longer, before both relaxed defeated, looking at each other with long meaningful stares full of pain. Eventually it was Mike who spoke first.

“Dad…I”m gay. I was suspended for sucking off a guy at school…I”ve been doing stuff with guys for a couple of years now, but I kept it secret. I should have told you when we met…but now you know all of me, I guess.”

“It”s ok son. I sort of suspected…some of the looks you gave…you aren”t all that subtle boy. You will learn though.”

“That”s just it Dad. I don”t want to learn. I just want to be me. I don”t want to hide it, it”s who I am.”

Woz looked surprised then, his eyes widening, but he nodded his head, his expression thoughtful.

“I”m sorry I didn”t get too long with you son. I wanted to teach you a few things; and maybe you could have taught me some things too.”

“Dad…you and Brian…what do you do? What happened in the Army? What…what”s going to happen to us?”

Woz looked at me meaningfully, his expression pleading. I would take pity on him, partially, though mostly because there were things I wanted to know. With his guard down, and everything lost, he might finally talk.

“It”s a long story Mike. I said your Dad should tell you, but maybe he needs some help. It starts…it starts with a grave, in Fallujah…”

“You never could get past that tunalı escort line, could you Brian.”

“No Woz, not for a long time. I have now…but maybe you would like to try?”

Hs head shook, but not in negative, more in resignation, and then he raised his head, looking at me now, tears running down his cheeks. I returned the look, though inside I was as broken as Woz. My voice was harsh, to cover up the uncertainty.

“We aren”t people you should want to be like Mike. There is still time for you, a chance to be a better man. But you can learn from our mistakes.”

My man nodded now, his own voice deep.

“We were sent to Fallujah Mikey, and it was not what I expected. I only felt safe because my Sergeant here made me feel like that, and helped me carry on. That and my unit. But the fear grew, and it grew fast, when we got a new Lieutenant.”

It was my turn now, and I realised I needed to say it. I had needed to say it for many years. It wouldn”t be the first, but it would be the last. Or at least the last but one.

“He was a nervous one Mike, almost straight out of West Point and green as grass. I can”t explain…how much that makes you frightened, even as an experienced soldier, when you can”t trust your officer. His Dad was a retired General though, and connected up the ass. He should never have graduated, let alone be posted, but there he was, in the middle of the worst combat since Hue in Vietnam.”

“The battalion commander tried to keep him out of trouble, but he had enough coverage above him to get what he wanted. Then one day, we were told we were going on a special sweep. A group of contractors from a security firm had gone missing, and Lieutenant Rawlings had volunteered to find them.”

Woz piped up suddenly, his voice bitter. “I should have known something was up Brian…the coward never fucking volunteered for anything with his skin on the line…”

“I was the sergeant, Woz. That was my job…and I failed you…”

I was standing next to Woz now, my hand running through his hair. My Woz; yes, saying the words, I realised they were true. I had failed him, and we had both paid. My anger was dissipating like dust from an IED, and like an IED, what was left behind was the damage, and the damage was in me, damage I had covered with anger and revenge because I knew nothing else. I coughed, wanting to speak, but he continued anyway, his eyes pointing to the floor.

“The section we went to was strangely quiet. We couldn”t find the local leaders we were after, let alone any sign of the contractors and we were going to finish the sweep, when the Lieutenant started acting funny. He kept mumbling about his Dad, how he knew he had to do what his Dad wanted, and he knew what to do.”

“He led us to a garage, and straight to a loose floor paver. I should have known…something was wrong. Under the garage, there was a set of stairs leading to a big dug out area. In the darkness there is where we found them…”

The boy was wide eyed now.

“Who…?”

Lieutenant…we aren”t going down there!

“What”s wrong Sarge…lost your nerve?”

I ground my teeth, willing calm despite the need to smack the insolent little shit around the head.

“Fine…night scopes on guys…and stay alert…you lead off Lieutenant…”

I had the satisfaction of watching him squirm a little, but down we went.

Around a corner…movement…

“Over there! Fire…”

“Wait…”

I played my light on the figures in the distance…small, lean, and several of them.

Then one reached for something in the darkness.

“Fire! That”s an order!”

Gunfire sounded loud in the basement, the echoes continuing long after the firing stopped. They didn”t move any more. The lieutenant fired first, and we followed….enough of us anyway.

“Secure dammit…corporal, come with me!”

Woz was beside me, his lips pursed in concern. The sense of dread grew with each new step.

They were all dead, five kids. One small boy was still holding the pack of cigarettes he had reached for, and a lighter, American made. Down here, alone in the darkness, their parents had hidden them to keep them safe from us. They had smoked, like kids back home, to calm their nerves and relieve the boredom, and probably to defy their parents. I reached for the pack of cigarettes, turning it over in my hands, hoping to God something would make sense.

“No!”

I realised I had been talking while my mind was back there, back then. The boy couldn”t believe it though, his eyes wide and staring.

“Yes Mike. I would have done anything to take it back, but we did it.”

“Dad?”

Woz just hung his head, but he finally found his voice again.

“The lieutenant wasn”t worried, but he was concerned for his skin. He ordered us to take the bodies back to our hummvee, and we headed for the hills, and buried them in an unmarked grave in the scrub. We called in a false report of an insurgent sighting, explaining our expended ammo on returning fire on snipers we could never close on, and stayed quiet. But Brian….

“… I couldn”t do it. I couldn”t stomach it. And I owed it to my men, and to the parents of the kids. My men shouldn”t have to bear the guilt, and the parents deserved to know what happened to their kids. I argued with your Dad, and we didn”t speak for weeks, before I got drunk once too many, and I told the Lieutenant I would go to the JAG corps and confess. Next thing I know, I”m drunk as a skunk, trying to forget everything with a top sergeant from the 1st Marine plowing my ass, and in comes your Dad, and then in come the MP”s, and I”m fucked. Tell me Woz…why?”

“Because I love you Brian. I always loved you. Don”t you get it?”

I couldn”t believe it, so I walked in front of my man, making him look at me. I had to know…and his eyes told me he was telling tunceli escort the truth.

“I always loved you you stupid asshole. You were my hero, and my soul mate, and it kills me to admit it even now. I”m straight…I knew I was straight…and yet I”m in love with a guy. How…how could I do that? I was just figuring it out when it happened and we didn”t talk, no matter how much I wanted to. All I knew though, was I thought I was going to lose you. That”s why I argued…that”s why I wanted you to stay quiet.”

“Then Lieutenant Rawlings saw me0 and told me what you were going to do. Then he told me what would happen to you…he had connections, and you wouldn”t be alive long enough to testify. That much was certain. Unless I did what he asked…so I did. It hurt so much; seeing you with that marine made it easier to hate, but it killed me inside. I didn”t think I had a choice though…I wanted you safe, and this was the only way.”

I had wondered. Now I knew. The truth would set me free; now I could forgive. Kneeling, I kissed my tied up stud, and he kissed back, and for a long time that was all we knew. Then I stepped back and gave him a look. I hoped he remembered what it meant, for all our sakes.

Looking over, I saw that Mike was crying too, the boy lost amongst the reality. I hoped he would find it in his heart to understand.

“What made you stop Woz? What made you run?”

He turned to the boy on the bed, his blue eyes deep pools of hurt. “Mike”

“I know, but why?”

“I remembered those kids. I blocked it from my mind for so long, trying not to think of their parents, what it must feel like. What if…what if one of the guys…with what we do…what if someone came after Mike because of me? What if I left him an orphan? Suddenly, I was afraid, because I had someone else to be afraid for. Finally…I knew what those parents would have felt…I knew what we did, why you wanted to confess…how did you know it then Brian?”

“The way you feel for Mike…I felt for you.”

Woz nodded, his hair bobbing sadly.

“I knew I had to stop, for him…and for me…and for you…”

“Stop what? What the hell are you two mixed up in Dad? I think I have a right to know!”

We both looked over at the boy now, his sadness mixed with anger and fear. He had a different picture of his Dad now, and of me. Now for the final lap. I gestured to Woz, who sighed.

“Mikey, Brian and me…we work for some people who employ ex-military types.”

“Mercenaries then?”

“Not quite.”

“Security?”

“Sort of…”

“I”m sick of guessing games Dad, what the fuck…”

I found the voice to tell him.

“We”re killers for hire Mike, your Dad and me…sometimes extortion, sometimes kidnapping, sometimes yes security…but often killing. That”s who I work for, that”s who your Dad worked for and tried to run from, for your sake. And that”s who wants him back…a lot, and they are coming to get you both before morning. Maximilian…our employer. And others like me.”

Maximilian leaned back on his chair and visibly relaxed.

“Excellent choice Brian. I can tell you will be one of our best, once we get you cleaned up and rehabilitated.”

“So, are you able to tell me exactly what we do yet?”

It was the man”s turn to pause now, looking into my eyes with a piercing gaze. There was life in them now, or at least activity, though it was not so much life as its opposite; the essence of malice. The Devil inside looked out at the man he had bought, and approved. Drawing a breath, my new owner began what seemed like a rehearsed speech, one he had made many times, but I could tell he liked giving it still.

“This country is broken, Brian. You of all people should know it. Politically, economically, socially broken. The lunatics are running the asylum, screaming about abortion and gays and immigrants while the whole thing sinks into the ocean. The things that made us great are dying; cars, electronics, steel, we barely make anything ourselves any more. But there is one thing we still excel at Brian.”

“Death. Fear. Pain. And the myth that we can be protected against the same…”security” for want of a better term. Those are our legacy now. They are immune to any downturn; in fact, bad times for everyone else are a boom for them. The market is always strong, and it always exists. It doesn”t matter whether it”s the Mafia, the Military-Industrial-Security Complex, or the Prison-Industrial Complex, the principal is the same; they thrived where everyone else died out. They make money selling the drugs, they make money equipping the police, they make money building the prisons. They make money on the war, they make money making everyone afraid and then they make them feel safe; for a price. It”s a perfect fucking beautiful system, and it works.”

“Many of them need people like us though, because of the world they work in. Even with political connections, they need help outside the law. It”s the nature of the beast. That”s where we come in. It isn”t clean…it isn”t nice…but no one in this world is nice, Brian. It”s nature, red in tooth and claw, and we help the meanest motherfuckers in the jungle stay that way and feed on the weak…we didn”t make the system, but we work it to our advantage. They feed on the sheep, we feed on them.”

“That”s what we want you for Brian. No one is as useful to us as someone with nothing left to lose…and you look about tapped out mate. How about taking something this time, instead of being the one fucked in the ass?”

I had been good at it. Very good, all the while keeping my soul hidden away, or what was left of it. I rationalised it all sorts of ways, I deserved the second chance, the people we dealt with were ruthless themselves. Plenty deserved to die or worse. It took the appointment a month ago to snap me out of the daze. Now I had nowhere to run from what was inside. And the look on Mikey”s face told me how far I had fallen.

As I watched his horror turn to anger and fear, I welcomed it. I needed it, for a little while longer. It would help what I had to do; and in the end it would help him heal.

 

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