“A friend should always underestimate your virtues and an enemy overestimate your faults.”
The rain pounded the tin roof as if a marching band was rehearsing. His nostrils flared and the smell of rotting paper and diesel hit his nose. His ears detected the downpour outside as it made its assault on the roof. The hairs on his neck stood up, and not just because of the light gust of wind; he heard voices. They seemed to come from a different room. Jonathan opened his eyes.
He had only seconds to look around the warehouse before a door opened and seven men came walking out. They all looked too well dressed. Only now Jonathan felt the thin plastic bonds tied around his writs and ankles. He squirmed around in the chair as the men advanced. Jonathan recognized some of them and sighed. It wasn’t a sigh of relief.
A man stopped a few feet from him and spoke: “Little Johnny, how nice of you to drop in.” Jonathan hesitated, looked at him with a polite smile and answered: “Vasili, a warehouse? Could you be any more of a fucking cliché?” The man rushed forward and punched Jonathan’s face. The thump reverberated through the room and before the echo died, Jonathan had already looked back up. The large man straightened himself before muttering to the others: “All that university seems to have taught him is to be even more of a smarmy bastard.” Some chuckled but some seemed shocked by the sudden outburst of violence. Jonathan flexed his muscles, making the little plastic bonds creak. “The single light bulb is a nice touch,” he said with a smile. “Maybe it should be swaying.” Then he spat blood. “Continue?” the older men asked. “You think we are here to torture you?” He seemed genuinely offended. “Oh no, off course not, Don Ricardo,” Jonathan smiled at him. “I forgot: the rules of etiquette clearly state that one must tie one’s guests to a chair and beat them.” All the men turned towards the large man called Vasili. He smiled at Jonathan’s remark. “They do in my country.” He murmured. Then he walked around Jonathan’s chair and pulled it around.
Just out of the light sat five young people. The big man smiled. “We just thought it would be a good idea for your little friends to find out what you are,” he took a deep breath before he put his knuckles to Jonathans jaw again while screaming: “A rat!”
The other men walked towards the hostages and took the gags out of their mouth. They looked battered. One of the girls had her hair covering her face. The boy next to her had a black eye and bruises. The other two looked even worse. “Do you kids even know what your friend is?” Vasili asked them. The friendly boy looked at Jonathan before looking at the other four. Then all of them cringed as a blood-curdling scream split the dusty silence. Vasili had plunged a knife into the boy’s knee. The blade sunk in deep and all that remained visible was the grip. Vasili laughed out loud as Jonathan lurched so far forward that his chair toppled over. He rolled onto his back and yelled: “Go ahead Vasili, tell them how my dad was the gangster that brought you all together, how I’m running the family now and suppressing you for years! They already know. And you, Don Ricardo, how can you stand for this?” The older man shifted his walking stick and walked over to Jonathan. “Untie me now, and I will let you walk away with your life.” Jonathan growled under his breath. The old man did not look down at him but just stared at Vasili before he snapped his fingers. In a flurry of movement two men pulled Jonathans chair up and cut his bonds. The old man’s voice cracked as he spoke: “We never agreed on the torture of kids.” Vasili’s face lost the little color it had left before his eyes bulged in horror as the old man helped Jonathan to his feet and handed him something. Vasili scrambled back as he yanked the knife out of the boys knee and pressed it against the kind face. “One more step and this boy loses an eye!” he yelled in horror. Jonathan gave him a piercing look and raised the gun. Vasili looked frightened now, dropping the knife and backing away from the boy, into the shadows, where he sunk to his knees and started pleading. “Please Johnny, I just longed for the old days. I wanted a bit more money, you know how it is.”
Jonathan advanced on the fat Russian, who was now sobbing. “Go now, and take Tom to hospital,” he barked at his friends. “You guys don’t have to see this.” They left but none of them failed to hear the loud bang.
They all gasped as Jonathan joined them, out in the rain. He removed his suit jacket, now splattered with blood and handed it to the old man. “What’s done is done,” he said without any emotion. Jonathan lit a cigarette, smiled at his classmates and apologized before saying: “See you in class on Monday.”