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            Disclaimer:  Johnny and Sonya aren’t mine. (SOB!)  But all the other characters are.  Doesn’t that make me special?

 

 

“NO!”  Johnny’s scream went unknown to him as he raced into the room, slipping in the ever-growing pool of crimson, and he fell onto his knees next to the tub.  “Sonya,” he whispered brokenly as his hand, shaking with fear and despair, reached tentatively out to the blood-covered crown of hair.  Carefully, he stroked the top as he pushed the head to face him.  But the soft hair slipped beneath the water, making some overflow onto his jeans.  Johnny gasped as he gripped the hair tightly and yanked it up. 

The wig dripped beads of stained water across the floor.  Johnny nearly collapsed with relief and frustration.  She wasn’t here.  She wasn’t here.  And that scared him as he glanced again at the writing on the mirror.  Dropping the wig, he stood wearily, swaying slightly as the rushing adrenaline left his aching heart.  It was at that moment he noticed an envelope sitting on the neatly folded towels.  His name was written across the top in ragged handwriting.  Tearing the letter open, one word crossed his mind.  Jack.

 

Dear Johnny Boy,

Sleep well?  You looked tired.  I guess learning I was out of jail got you so excited you wore yourself out. 

I hope the little surprise in your bathtub hasn’t interrupted your vacation here to the old Big Apple.  We all know how tiring it is to be an actor, living in the spotlight day by day.  I can understand why you needed a break.  And from what I’ve been hearing, it sounds like you could use extended time. 

Yes, your beautiful call girl has been entertaining me for hours with stories, and some hours without.  You’ve got good taste, JC, that’s something I’ll always admit to.  And she has good taste, too.  I could lick her for hours and never get tired of that sweet, tangy honeysuckle spice she has.  Is it the body wash, or her natural scent, do you suppose?

Ooh.  I just get shivers writing about her.  That full mouth, just dying to be sucked upon. Beautiful, soft blond hair, up north and down under.  Quite a seductress.  And the gang has no objection either.

But, business first.  And we do have some business to take care of, don’t we?  So let’s get on with it.  Go to the little rock shore under the Manhattan Bridge at 11 tonight.  There will be a small boat waiting for you.  A tall redhead will meet you.  She’ll be your escort.  Come alone, and without any scent of the police on you, or your sexy slut gets done over and dumped into the canal. 

The longer it takes you to get here, the more playtime the guys get with my new toy.  Got it?

See you tonight, JC.  Can’t wait for us to start catching up on lost time.

Jack.

 

Johnny shivered as he read the last line.  He had no doubt in his mind that catching up would involve handcuffs and a lot of blunt instruments.  But he couldn’t be concerned with that.  Sonya was with them, God only knowing what she had already gone through, and Johnny had to set aside his own fears to get her out.  Unintentionally, the letter in his hand was crushed in a quaking grip as Johnny thought of Jack’s description of her.  He could be messing with his mind… but there was no doubt that Jack could have been touching her, doing things Johnny knew he had no right doing…

The mirror shattered around his fist, but the pain went unheeded, and the whispers mingled with the few rebellious tears. 

“I’m sorry, Sonya, I’m so sorry.”

 

 

11:02.  His arm fell back down to his side, a hand slipping into the pocket of his casual black pants, a heavy sigh leaving his body.  The metal of the bridge was cool against his black tee shirt and long black coat, and he focused his breathing in an attempt to soothe his nerves.  Guilt and fear had been agitating him all day, while he cleaned the bathroom as not to arouse suspicion with the hotel and bring in the cops.  ‘How had they found him?  How did they get into his room?’  Then he found the broken glass from his free drink the night before.  While cleaning the pieces, he found a powder at the bottom of the glass.  He had been drugged.  The hallucinations, the paranoia, the sudden exhaustion, how they had staged his bathroom without him knowing it; everything fell into place as he realized that someone in the hotel must be a part of the gang.  That was how they got Sonya.

He attempted to stretch his shoulders, shifting his back against the railing he leaned upon as to relieve some of the tension from his body.  His shoulder stung in protest, and his leg wasn’t too thrilled either, so he quit moving.  Silently, the actor waited for his escort to take him to Jack.  And to his death, no doubt.  But like before, he couldn’t be concerned with such petty things.  Not while-

“Mr. Cage?”

Johnny turned to the voice, and went pale.  She appeared next to him in a soft emerald dress that sparkled as it moved; a red orange hue livened her hair and large brown eyes accented her porcelain features.   She was exquisite to say the least, and if not for the fact that she was dead, Johnny would have easily likened her to Christine.  Another mind game for Jack to enjoy, no doubt.  So the actor steeled himself as she placed both hands on his shoulder to give a kiss upon each cheek.  Confidence regained and posture wary, he gestured for his companion to lead the way.

“Come.”  She took his hand, as much as he didn’t like it, and pulled him toward a small boat he hadn’t heard arrive.  She greeted the man inside with a warm smile.  He offered his hand to pull her down, which she graciously accepted, and Johnny followed soon after.  Water slapped against the sides of the watercraft as it zoomed over the dark surface.

“He looks forward to seeing you again.”

Johnny turned to his escort, again shivering at the striking similarities between herself and Christine.  Again, he acted casual.  “If he was that eager, he should have just come for me in the first place.”

She laughed suddenly, deep and sensually.  “Now where would be the fun in that?”

He gave her a sharp glance.  She smiled back.  Wickedness reflected from her eyes.  Before he could say anything in return, the boat pulled into a small docking area.  All around, building with black windows held neon signs that flashed ‘Girls’, ‘Bar’, ‘Tattoos’, ‘Adults Only.’  Prostitutes walked back and forth along the streets, calling over to the men that stared with wanton eyes.  It was a horny man’s wet dream come true. 

The woman pulled Johnny out of the small boat and led him past a group of druggies sitting on trash cans and passing a joint, into a booming club called ‘Domination.’  Johnny’s bones pulsed with the heavy tempo.  Around the room danced strung out crackheads and intoxicated whores in hopes of getting laid and making a buck.  The actor was disgusted to remember that he used to love places like these.  The loud music, the swaying bodies, the drugs and the booze.

Reality came back to him when he was pulled to the bar and offered a whiskey by his escort.  He declined.

“Just a sip?” she teased with a pout as she lifted the drink and pressed it to his lips.

His hand shot up and the glass knocked from her hand shattered against the bar.  For a moment, they just gazed at each other, her face trapped in angry shock, his expression flat.  A small amount of satisfaction filled him as he watched her slowly become unnerved under his unflinching stare. 

“All right,” she finally hissed through stunning white teeth.  “Let’s go.”  A toss of her hair and she was walking through the crowds to a dark hallway.  Two bouncers stood in front of a barred door; neither of them were recognizable to the actor as he passed by.  The room he entered was small and completely black, with only a white light overhead and a stairwell leading below.

“Everyone’s waiting for you down stairs,” she murmured into his ear.  “But first…”  Her hands pulled his coat off and she removed the two guns and the extra clips he had in his belt.  “Lift your arms.”  A pat down followed his movement.  “Hmm,” she muttered.  “Only two guns?  Really, Mr. Cage, I would have thought you’d want more defense on you than just that.” 

“I don’t always need weapons to defend myself.”

“Really?”  She laughed into his ear, causing him to flinch away.  “Then prove it.”  She shoved him, and he tumbled down the stairs.  Pain buzzed up his arm when he landed on his shoulder, and as the world around him stopped spinning, he could see four hands reach down and drag him up under the arms.  He could make out a short hallway with various doors on either side, and he was pushed through one on the right.  In that room, Johnny could see a pool table and a liquor cabinet.  Two men were in the middle of a game, and after a moment of contemplation, Johnny recognized them as Hank and Sean.  They were looking good for being on the street for fifteen years.  Fixing himself a drink at the cabinet was Jack.

He was built.  Muscles bulged under his white button down shirt that was open to show his toned stomach.  He wore simple khakis with a brown leather belt, and a thin gold chain hung off his neck.  When he walked over to Johnny, he stood about three inches shorter, giving Johnny a silent satisfaction at having a height advantage.  For a few moments, Jack just stared, sizing up his old pal and new prey.  He smiled, and drove a right hook across Johnny’s jaw.

The actor teetered back but was held tightly by the hands of the two men he couldn’t see it.   A fast uppercut went into his stomach, making Johnny breathless, and then a third blow hit him across the cheek.  A kick to his stomach, and he was doubled over, moaning softly.  Blood dripped from his split lip onto the cement floor.  After a moment and a deep breath, Johnny lifted himself up.   “So much for small talk,” Johnny coughed.

“27.3 million.”

Johnny frowned.

Jack smiled back.  “That’s how much money you have in your home account, right?”  He began walking in a small circle around the actor.  “Sixteen years locked away, JC.  Do you know how hard that is on my day planner?”  A few chuckles went around the room.  “I’ve missed a lot of fucking appointments, all with very important people who could have gotten me very rich.”

“Or very dead,” Johnny muttered and then groaned when he was hit on the back of the neck with something hard.

“You know how much I love Brooklyn,” Jack continued.  “Brooklyn is my home, and you know what’s been going on?  Gangs have been moving into my turf.  They are fucking with my property!”  Jack stepped up into Johnny’s face.  “And you know how much I hate it when people fuck with my property,” he hissed, the double meaning not going undetected by the actor. 

“Well, that’s a shame, Jack.  I’m really sorry you’re losing your fucking property, but I’m not your fucking realtor, so why the hell are you telling me about it?” Johnny asked, nonplussed.

“Because you’re the one who made me lose it,” growled Jack in return.  “Had you not put me in jail, you stupid shit, I wouldn’t have lost control of my territory, and I would have been expanding.”

Johnny couldn’t help the arch of his eyebrow.  “Well, perhaps if you hadn’t of been running around the streets intoxicated, with a loaded gun, in broad daylight, we wouldn’t be in this situation.  Then again, subtlety never was a strong point with you.”  He gasped when the switchblade cut across his face, from one cheek to the bridge of his nose. 

“How’s that for subtle?  Wouldn’t you say I’m graciously hinting at the fact that I’m going to beat the shit out of you, kill you, take your money, and get my rocks off with that sweet piece of American woman in the other room?” Jack mocked.

Johnny went at him but was restrained by his captors.  He took a breath and hid his bared fangs to show a calm expression.  “Is that what the twenty seven million is about?  You want my money to expand your…” his eyes roamed around the room, “whatever?”

“Money was never on my mind when I thought of you.  I just wanted you dead.”  Jack grinned.  “But now, with you having made it so successfully in show business—you always were a good liar, I might add—I get a bonus.  And twenty seven million ain’t nothing to sneeze at.”  He walked back over to the cabinet and lifted his drink to his lips.  After a swallow, he continued.  “But you are correct, my good and soon to be dead friend.  I do have an eye for expansion.  The only way I can do that is by wiping away the dirt that has the nerve to call itself gangs out of my town.  And to do that, I need weapons.  A lot of them.”  He finished off the drink and set it down on the cabinet.

“Jack, what the hell makes you think I’ll be so willing to help you out after all these years apart?  I mean, you never even sent me a Christmas card,” Johnny feigned hurt with a sarcastic undertone.

Jack stepped into Johnny’s personal space, his face an inch from the actor’s.  “Because you don’t have a choice.  Either you get me the money, or I kill her.”

Johnny’s eyes became slits, and for a moment, his face was so hard that he looked just like the temperamental boy of 14.  Through his body was taut with tension, his voice was calm and almost friendly as he spoke.  “I know how you work, Jack.  You double cross at every chance you get.  And if you honestly think that I will believe you won’t kill her after I give you what you want, then you are seriously deluded.”

“So where does that leave us?”

“If you escort her to the airport, and give her money to get on a flight, then I will give you the account number and I will sign my name on the transfer slip.  But I have to be there with you when you let her go.”  He stared at Jack intently.  “Those are the conditions.”

Jack laughed.  “The conditions?  My, my, don’t we sound all professional now.”

“Jack.”

The gang leader shook his head.  “No, Johnny, I don’t think I like those conditions.  And you’re right, you do know me too well.  Why, once she gets into the airport and we pull away, I’d already have my shadow tracking her down again.  There’s no point in lying, JC, because it only wastes time.  And that’s something I’m short on right now.”  Jack turned away toward the pool table, pulled something out from underneath.  When he turned back, an object glinted around his hand.  Slowly it unraveled and swung as he walked, each link of the chain tapping against each other with a quiet slink.  “No, I think we’ll just have to use the conventional method.  You remember this right?  Beat him till he breaks?”  Jack laughed softly.  The chain went up into the air and began spinning around faster and faster, and then Jack’s arm was falling toward the movie star.