Sunlight danced across the waters of the Pacific, the smoothness of the water broken only by the passage of the ships coming and going from the Port of Los Angeles.
Abandoning his view of the perfect California weather, Frank Castle turned away from the window.
A naked man sat in an old but sturdy wooden chair, nearly mummified by the duct tape restraining him.
Three thousand miles, six firefights, two gunshot wounds, twenty-seven stitches from a knife slash and eight bodies led here, to this day and to this piece of trash currently taped to the chair.
Eight weeks ago, Frank had made a routine raid based on a tip that a group of lowlifes were picking up a shipment of illicit cargo at a dock in New York City.
The cargo had turned out be a dozen young girls, mainly Thai and Vietnamese.
Interrogation of the lone surviving lowlife revealed the next link in the supply chain, and started Frank on his current hunt.
Shaking himself out of his reverie, Frank reached for a five gallon bucket of water. Time to get started.
The five gallons of icy cold water woke the man taped to the chair and based on the wriggling motions under the thick layer of duct tape covering the man’s mouth and eyes,
it probably made him want to scream too. Frank obliged him and ripped the duct tape off of the man’s face, taking most of his eyebrows and eyelashes with it.
Frank let the screaming go on for about fifteen seconds, then delivered a carefully calculated strike to the man’s larynx.
While the man gagged and tried to catch his breath, Frank sat down on a chair and stared into the man’s bulging eyes.
“My name’s Frank. What’s yours?” he asked the man. With a final gulp, the man looked suspiciously at him for a moment and then replied.
“Well Alec, here’s the deal. I know you and your three buddies hold girls as part of a trafficking chain. I want to know where you get them.”
Alec snorted. “Up yours.”
Frank reached for the meat cleaver he had positioned on the counter. Alec’s eyes widened.
“I’m going to ask you where you got the girls. You are going to tell me.
Notice how your legs are spread apart by the duct tape?” Alec jerked his head in a spastic nod, nearly panting with terror. “You are going to tell me or I’m going to chop your left nut off.
Do I make myself clear” Alec just stared at him, frozen, his mind unable to process what he’d just heard.
Frank slammed the cleaver down into the seat of the chair, the tip of the blade resting a quarter of an inch from the crotch of Alec’s crotch.
Alec’s entire body jerked, his eyes bulged nearly out of their sockets, and he screeched in a register significantly higher than his larynx was used to.
Frank removed the cleaver and rested it on his shoulder as though nothing had happened.
“Do I make myself clear?” Alec’s head flew up and down as words fought each other to be the first out of his mouth.
“Yesyesyesshitshitshitshitshityesshityesyesshitshityesokayokayokayokay!” Frank raised the cleaver off his shoulder roughly an inch.
“Seattle, the girls come from Seattle, a truck, a guy, a truck, month, truck we just watch them, oh shit shit shit.” Frank set the cleaver down on the counter and raised his hands.
“Easy Alec, you’re doing great. Look at me. Look at me. Take a deep breath.” Alec spasmodically gulped a tiny bit of air into his constricted lungs.
“No, no, no, Alec, take a nice, deep, slow breath. If you tell me everything I want to know, I’ll let you go. You’re just a little fish, and I want the big fish."
Alec’s breathing slowed and deepened as his panicked mind seized on the ray of hope. “Now, the girls arrive on a truck from Seattle?”
“Yeah man, a truck from Seattle, two guys drive it, I don’t know their names.”
“Once a month, usually a Monday, sometimes Tuesday. We get a text message a couple days before.”
“Always two guys in the truck?”
“Never seen different. Same two guys every month.”
“One has a pistol tucked into his pants. I never seen, no wait, wait, wait. One time I did see the other guy, he had a shotgun in the cab of the truck.”
“Tell me more about the pistol and the shotgun.”
“What more you want to know, one has a pistol and one has a shotgun?”
“How does guy number one carry his pistol?”
“Stuck in the back of his pants. Saw it one time when he opened the back doors of the truck.”
“He use a holster, or just stick it in his waistband?”
“Waistband, I didn’t see no holster.”
Idiot, Frank thought “Tell me about the shotgun. Did it have a stock?”
“The part you put against your shoulder to aim it.”
“Nah, man, just a little grip, like a pistol.”
“Yeah, yeah, maybe as long as a guy’s forearm.”
“Where do you meet these guys?”
“At a cheap motel, uh, it’s on Santa Fe.”
“Where on Santa Fe?”
“Oh man, oh man, uh, I’m pretty sure it’s 7301 Santa Fe Avenue. I just know where it is, man, I don’t need the address to find it.”
“What do you have to do on your end when the truck gets in?”
“One of us goes in, gets a hotel room. We trade keys with the drivers when they get in. We take the truck and unload the, uh, cargo, and the drivers spend the night.
In the morning, we switch keys again, and they drive back.”
“What security measures do you have in place? Do you have to text or call to confirm delivery?”
“Yeah, yeah, we text the same number that texted us to give us the head’s up.”
“Anything special you have to say?”
Alec’s eyes darted low and to the left. Frank’s hand snatched up the cleaver and buried it in the seat of the chair. Alec’s mouth gaped and his eyes bulged as his bladder let go.
“Don’t lie to me Alec. I saw you cooking up a lie to tell me, and I’d hate to have to spoil our little arrangement.” Alec’s head started bobbing frantically.
“Yeahyeahyeah, we have to text and say Evergreen after we pick up the truck and offload at the house.”
Frank picked up the bag containing all the electronic devices and papers he had collected from the house. He dug around and laid five cell phones on the counter. “Which cell phone do you use?”
“The cheap looking one man, the smart phones are just our own phones, ya know?”
“You have to text back after you get the head’s up?”
“No, just after delivery.”
“How long has it been since the last shipment?”
“Should be another one this weekend, probably get the text this Saturday.”
Frank stood. This was as much useful information as this scumbag was going to give him. He reached behind his back with his left hand and drew the commander sized 1911 from its holster.
Alec’s eyes began to show signs of panic.
“Hey man, I told you everything you asked me, you said you’d let me go?”
Frank turned to look down at Alec, all traces of his good cop act gone from his face. His eyes blazed as he leveled the 1911 at Alec’s head and thumbed off the safety.
“You sack of shit, you traffic girls into sex slavery. You don’t deserve mercy. You deserve punishment.”