Here is Part II (click here to read Part I) – Enjoy!
Tanaka woke slowly and with difficulty. His neck felt painfully stretched from supporting his slumped head for so long. How long had he been out? He had no idea. As he came to full consciousness, he sensed a motion in his surroundings.
They were moving. He was in the back of a van with darkened windows. The road was bumpy, causing no little discomfort to his legs, his ribs, his left shoulder–he couldn’t think of a body part untouched. The air was thick with cigarette smoke.
“Ah, Kazuo. Glad you could join us. Your name has the character for ‘peace’ in it, doesn’t it? You are not a very peaceful man. I expect to be compensated for the loss of my three men.”
It was an unfamiliar voice, but he had called him by his real first name. Tanaka’s mind began to race, searching for who might know this information. This man knew his real name and how it was written. Kazuo could be written with several different characters in Japanese. Perhaps the people behind this were from his time in Japan? He left that life twenty years ago. But the past had ways of catching up and influencing the present.
A single dome light lit the entire back of the van. It was enough to see around but details were scant. There was an occasional small, red glow when the man took a drag from his cigarette.
“Where’s my daughter?”
“Oh, she is perfectly safe. If you wish there to be no change in her condition, however, you will be wise to do exactly as we tell you,” he said with a face that seemed to be void of emotions.
The man blew smoke in Tanaka’s direction and then tossed the cigarette on the van floor. He used his shoes to stamp it out. His expensive looking Italian cap-toe oxfords shook back and forth until he was satisfied that the small, red light was extinguished.
Tanaka silently appraised the situation. The van only had one window from which to see out. The other windows were blackened. That one window faced the front, the only link to the outside world. Looking out from there, he could see a portion of the road; it was raining and dark, and there didn’t seem to be any other vehicles on the road.
Entering the warehouse shortly after three, he had left a bright, cloudless sky. Judging from the darkness, he figured he had been out at least five hours. They could be anywhere; he couldn’t even be sure which state he was in.
His hands were chained behind his back and fastened to a bar on the wall of the van. His legs were likewise bound. His range of motion was virtually nil.
The normal van seats had been removed. In their place were two benches running the length of the van. Tanaka was on one bench facing his captors, who were sitting on the other side.
“You have no idea who we are–do you Kazuo?”
Tanaka’s eyes lifted up to get a look at the man sitting down in front of him. His mouth, he kept closed. The man was playing with a Walther P38 double-action 9mm Parabellum pistol. “Parabellum,” Tanaka knew was from the Latin saying “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” meaning, “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.”
He watched as the man ejected and reinserted the cartridge casually and repeatedly. The man seemed to want to draw attention to it. Tanaka figured the gun must have been made sometime in the early forties. Standard Nazi issue.
“Ah, I thought you might be interested in this toy,” he said noticing the object Tanaka had focused on. “I happened upon it at an estate auction in Berndorf, Austria a few years ago.” The man flipped the gun around and held out the handle as if to give it to Tanaka to examine. “It was expensive, but well worth it, no?” Tanaka rejected the offer with his eyes.
“No?” The man pulled the gun back to his chest with a mock hurt look. “Well, the estate was owned by a member of the Krupp family. I was told the gun itself belonged to Karl August Hanke who was the last Reichsführer of the SS in the final days of the war.” The man held the pistol up high and close to his eyes as if to examine its sights. While doing this, he occasionally pointed it casually at Tanaka. “Hanke also had the nickname of the Hangman of Breslau. I do love my history. Don’t you?” The man paused to allow Tanaka a chance to add to the conversation. He didn’t and so the man continued. “I cannot say, however, with certitude that the history of this particular pistol is accurate. But one likes to think such things are true.”
Tanaka spat out some saliva mixed with blood. They must have had some fun with him while he was out, he thought.
“Not a topic that interests you, I see.” The man set the gun down beside him. Tanaka turned his head away. “Then let’s get down to business, shall we? It seems you had a run in with my boss some time ago. You caused a great stink. Now, except for the matter of you killing my men, I personally have nothing against you. In fact, I took great trouble and risked losing respect from my employees by restraining them. They wanted to cut your throat.”
Adjusting his footing for stability in a moving vehicle, the man stood and with a thin, pale hand hoisted Tanaka’s chin so their eyes would meet.
“You should thank me,” the man spat out with mild anger. He was less careful with his speech; “thank” came out as “dank.”
Tanaka remained silent and met his captor’s cold, steel eyes with his, burning with hate. The man pumped his shoulders back and regained his cool. He had blond hair and an accent that became sharper as his emotions flared. With each sentence his pitch began high and fell, fell, fell from there only to shoot back up at the start of the next thought. Tanaka was a master at accents for foreigners speaking Japanese, but being a non-native English speaker himself, it was a challenge listening to another foreigner speak English. From some Scandinavian country perhaps?
“Interesting. I’ve read your record. I’ve talked to people who worked with you. Sadly, they had to be disposed of–we wouldn’t want you to be tipped off now would we?” He spoke with a lopsided grin that gave Tanaka the creeps.
There was one other guard with him and presumably someone driving. The guard held a black automatic weapon of some kind and his clothes were black from head to toe. The black mask completed the look–like a Muslim terrorist as seen on CNN readying his weapon to fire a celebratory burst above an increasingly stoked up crowd.
The man with the accent, in contrast, was well dressed and groomed. He could play the part of a European gentleman, save for a large scar down his right cheek and an even deeper scar in his heart. He seemed to be enjoying himself.
Letting Tanaka’s head drop, the man turned to sink back into his seat.
“They all spoke of your fortitude in extraordinary situations. Even the Baathists failed to get you to talk, I hear. But now I have the poison dart and your heel is exposed.”
Tanaka spoke up. “Where are we going?”
“Oh, we will be there momentarily. But I wouldn’t be in a rush if I were you. Just know that we have all night,” he said giving out a chuckle. “This will be a night to remember. A night my boss has been planning for many years.”
Tanaka spent the rest of the ride in silence. The man with the Scandinavian accent seemed content to do the same.
He noticed that they had torn his shirt where the bullet wound was and had half patched him up. Was he to be made comfortable for his death? Or were they merely hoping to prolong his torture?
They had also removed his bullet-proof vest and the Gerber LHR combat knife that was hidden under his right pant leg. He couldn’t see his leg well or use his hands to feel down to make sure it was missing, but he noticed the knife on the bench next to his captor’s Parabellum looked just like it. He still felt a slight pressure on the bottom of his right leg, however. It appeared they were kind enough to leave the empty leg sheath.
The chains on his feet and hands were tight and secured to the van. He didn’t have many options now, but it appeared that they would have to remove the chains to get him out of the van. It was the only glimmer of hope he could see.
Presently, the van made a turn onto an even bumpier road. After about five minutes of more turns and bumps the van made a sudden stop.
“Alright, Kazuo-san. Time to get out and meet the boss.”
The man reached in his pocket, toying with his keys acting as if he planned to unlock Tanaka then and there.
“Silly me. I really can’t allow you to leave at liberty,” he chuckled as he dangled his keys in front of Tanaka before dropping them back in his pocket.
The Scandinavian snapped his fingers at the guard who brought over a bottle and a large piece of cheesecloth.
“I do apologize,” he said as he doused the cheesecloth with some liquid from the bottle, “but I simply do not trust you.”
Tanaka struggled as the man placed the cloth over his mouth and nose.
“Don’t struggle. Just say good night, Gracie.”
Everything went black.