Twenty-One

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Lester walked down the street to his apartment making note of the police cruiser parked out front. He climbed the stairs and unlocked his door. He stepped into darkness while trying to turn on the light. The switch didn't seem to work. He heard a distinctive click and felt cold metal press against his temple. He took a risk and reached outhitting another switch illuminating two uniformed police officers in his home.

"I don't know what you think I did, but the guns really aren't necessary guys."

The officer slowly released the hammer on his side arm and Lester breathed a sigh of relief until the officer cracked him upside the head with the weapon. He fell to the ground and, fearing further beating, curled up into a ball. Luckily they merely cuffed his hands behind his back and hauled him back up to his feet. They pushed him through the hall, down the stairs, and into the back of their car.

"You going to tell me what this is about or read me my rights? This isn't my first barbecue and you aren't following protocol here."

"Shut the fuck up." One of them spat back at him.

Lest he incite another pistol whipping Lester chose to obey and keep his mouth shut. He noted soon after that they were driving away from the police station not toward it. Dread gripped him as they drove further and further into the dilapidated East side and further still to an old industrial park. After what seemed an eternity they stopped next to a crumbling and fire scorched factory.

"Get out." One of them ordered.

Lester complied. They ushered him into the building through a rusted outdoor, lashed him to a chair in near complete darkness, then disappeared from sight. Someone outside his field of vision counted to six then Lester heard a series of soft clicks followed my a sharper snap-click. He looked around eyes straining to pierce the darkness.

"Hello Lester. I do hope you're comfortable." A light flickered on over Lester's head illuminating him and little else. And he head more clicking and a six count.

"What's the deal here?" Lester asked.

A man dressed in a flashy red suit walked into the light with a revolver in his hand. He flipped the chamber open, counted to six, spun the chamber, and flipped it closed again. "You messed with my finances mother fucker. You don't mess with a brothers finances." Lester merely watched the man in confusion while he repeated the motions and counting with the revolver. "I'm talking about your friend Lars, son. You cost me five large a month by getting him to confess to the Ares scheme. That's a lot of money I'm no longer pulling in Lester. Money that would have kept your ass out of that chair."

"Even if I did take the fall Lars never would have been able to keep paying you." Lester said. "At the end of it he'd be lucky if he could pay you for three months."

"That's still fifteen grand I'm going to take out of your ass." The man smacked him in the face with the revolver then again went through the clicking and counting motions.

Lester could taste blood in his mouth. "What are you going to do beat me to death?"

"I'm not going to kill you Lester. I'm just going to keep you around for awhile and use you to vent frustration. I'm going to hurt you real bad and when I'm done and cut you lose you're going to make Lars' payments every month. If you don't I'll make you wish with every fiber of your being that I had killed you." Once more ht flicked open the chamber and ticked off the numbers.

"I recognize you." Lester admitted. "You were plastered all over the news a couple weeks ago. You're The Count."

"Then you know there's nothing you can do to stop me. I can do whatever I want and no one, least of all you, can do anything about it." He repeated the tick with the revolver again then stowed it in the holster under his jacket. He slapped Lester with an open hand then cracked his knuckles and really began laying into him with a flurry of blows. Lester's screams of pain grew louder and louder echoing off the walls of the empty warehouse in a neighborhood he knew no one would hear him. Eventually it grew to be too much and he blacked out.

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