Read Edward Lee Online

Authors: Room 415

Edward Lee (8 page)

Oscar slammed Flood belly to wall and began to pat him down.

“Right and left jacket pockets, Osc...”

Oscar’s face gaped like a kissing fish when he extracted five bands of $100 bills. “Holy fuck, Leon. There’s a lot of fuckin’ money here...”

“Fifty grand, Oscar,” Flood told him. “I just got it out of the bank. It’s for you guys.”

Silence brewed like broth while Leon counted the money. His eyes seemed alight against the dark, shiny face. “Mr. Flood? To what do we own this excess of generosity?”

Without asking, Flood lit a cigarette while he tried to tame the nervous tremor in his hands. “I’m buying the girl,” came his blunt reply. “Ann.”

Leon was shaking his head. “Mr. Flood? This is quite unusual.”

“Yeah,” Oscar agreed.

“And I sense that you’re a smart man...”

I’m a fucked up man,
Flood almost chuckled.
Not
necessarily a smart one.
“So are you, I hope. I think that handing fifty grand in cash over to you guys is proof of my good faith—”

Leon opened his mouth to talk but Flood cut him off.

“Let me have my say first, Leon, because you and I both know I could be dead a minute from now. You can keep the fifty grand and let the girl go, or...” Flood looked to Oscar. “Care to finish the sentence, Osc?”

Oscar smirked. “Or we can keep the fifty grand, kill the girl and kill you.”

“Bingo,” Flood said. “And you’re thinking if you let her go, she’ll go to the cops but, really guys, there’s no evidence that any crimes have been committed here. She’s a junkie and a prostitute. If you let her walk out that door, the only place she’s gonna go is straight to the bus station. She’d be too afraid of you guys coming after her later.” Flood turned his gaze. “Right, Leon?”

Leon looked back at him deadpan.

“And if you kill her
and
me,” Flood continued, “you guys will never get the
other
fifty grand.”

More silence stretched over the room. “What
other
fifty grand might this be?” Leon asked, tapping his Gucci’d foot.

Flood dragged his cigarette deep. “The other fifty grand I give you after the girl is out of here.”

Oscar stepped forward. “It’s on you?”

“Of course not, Einstein.”

Oscar seemed duped by the remark. “Who’s Ein—”

“Shut up, Oscar,” Leon cut in. “Mr. Flood’s got this thought out pretty well.”

Flood chuckled out loud. “At least I hope so. Let the girl go, Leon. You’ve got nothing to lose.”

Leon stroked his chin. “And fifty grand to gain, you say...”

“Right. How can I be bullshitting when I just handed you the first fifty?”

Leon sat down. The silk slacks hissed when he crossed his legs.

“I don’t know about this, Leon,” Oscar said.

Leon looked straight ahead when he said, “Oscar. Let her go.”

Oscar’s brow accordioned when he broke from his stance and cast a glance at Flood. He went to the bed then, and begrudgingly untied Carol aka Ann.

“You just won the lottery, cunt,” he informed her.

The girl was vibrating when she faltered off the bed and pulled on her clothes. She’d obviously urinated, and all her skin looked pasty with fear-sweat. She stepped forward, then looked at Leon.

“Leave town,” Leon said to her. “Mr. Flood here is correct. One way or another, one of my people will find you...”

The girl’s hands shook so fiercely she could barely get her dress back on. Her lower lip trembled. For an irreducible moment, she glanced to Flood...

Flood saw noting but a wasteland in her eyes.

She grabbed her wrist-purse and scampered out of the room.

“Ain’t that just like a bitch?” Oscar cracked a laugh, then slapped Flood hard on the back. “Didn’t even say thank you!”

“It’s my karma,” Flood said through a thin smile.

But Leon wasn’t smiling. He pressed his hands together and rested his chin on his fingertips, looking at Flood.

“Well, Mr. Flood? When will you enlighten us about this
other
fifty thousand?”

Flood lit another cigarette. “As soon as you guys finish packing...”

***

Flood sat in the seedy bathroom, the lights off. He’d left the door open a crack, which afforded him a perfect view of the bed. He arranged an ash tray on the rim of the filmy bathtub, and was actually sitting on the toilet seat lid.

Classy,
he joked to himself.

The five-hour flight had passed like a barely recalled dream. The only reason Flood knew about the A-Top motel on Aurora Avenue was due to the time he’d had to stay there overnight when a mudslide had blocked the highway from the Seattle airport. There were no better rooms to book unless he wanted to drive all the way back to Sea-Tac. It was the kind of place that had cockroaches but at least the cockroaches were dead. $59.99 per night and very remote. The parking lot was near empty, and Flood had deliberately booked the farthest room in the complex, so they could park in back.

He watched through the door crack, smoking. Leon sat cross-legged on a rickety chair; he was counting the second cash payment. The TV was turned on, the sound turned down: a baseball game.

At the airport, Flood had rented an SUV for Oscar. Then he drove Leon and himself to the motel in his Cadillac Seville.

Risk,
he thought baldly. Now that he’d given them the rest of the money...
They could still kill me.
Certainly. But Flood didn’t think they would.

The sand-mitts lay on the dresser, along with a cord and tourniquet, a manual drill, and a soldering iron, plus pliers, a fileting knife, and some razor blades...

Maybe I’m just like them,
Flood suspected.
Or maybe
I’m far worse...

That’s when Oscar entered, with a very unconscious Felicity slung over his shoulder.

“No one saw a thing,” the bald man bragged. “I had her snatched two seconds after she came out of the house...”

“Good work,” Leon said.

Flood couldn’t hear anything save for the drone in his head, when he stood up in the dark and lowered his trousers. His penis was so hard it hurt.

“Let’s get her tied down to the bed, and make sure the gag’s tight,” Leon advised. “Then wake her up and get to work.”

Oscar chuckled, eyeing the implements on the night-stand. He plugged in the soldering gun.

Flood broke out in a sweat when he watched them strip the clothes off his ex-wife and lash her spread-eagled on the bed. His ecstacy made his blood seem scalding.

Flood had a feeling his cure was at hand.

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