Chapter 28

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Two Years Ago – Part 2

Carlos Santos entered the office of his comrade, Werner Gunther, for the first time. The two men shook hands. He introduced Santos to his associate, Roscoe Meade, and invited him to sit. Gunther pointed a finger at him. "Bourbon on the rocks, right?"

Santos smiled. "You remembered."

"A friend never forgets." Gunther glanced at Meade.

"I'm on it, boss." The man left to fix their drinks.

Santos watched the man leave. He was huge, with hands the size of hams.

Gunther sat in the executive chair behind his desk. "The last time I saw you was at Merrill's funeral."

"Yeah, hell of a thing." Both Santos and Gunther attended to pay respects to a man who had served in their unit. Like so many others who fought in that damned war, he had become overwhelmed by the things he endured and decided to eat a bullet rather than go on living.

"The world condemned us for what we did at Abu Ghraib," Gunther said. "Sure, we tortured a bunch of fanatics, but the results we obtained saved who knows how many hundreds of lives, maybe thousands."

Santos grunted his assent. "I have no regrets about it. Goddamn politicians praise you one day and the next day stab you in the back." He sighed. "Anyway, that's water under the bridge. We moved on."

"No doubt you have," Gunther said. "You've done well for yourself, the chief financial officer of an international corporation."

"I understand you're doing lucrative work too." Santos heard rumors about the type of no problem is too large business his friend ran.

"PI work," Gunther said. "It pays the bills."

Roscoe Meade arrived with their drinks. He saw Gunther exchange a discrete glance with his associate before the man walked out, closing the office door behind him.

"I sense your visit is something other than social and the reliving of old times," Gunther said.

Santos glanced at the drink in his hand. He took a sip. "My friend, I need your advice."

Gunther took a sip of his own drink before responding, "Advice is free. Anything else is going to cost you."

"Understood."

"So, what's on your mind."

Santos laid it out for him how he had been embezzling money from LODO and how his contractor, Vince Henson, found him out.

When Santos finished explaining, Gunther whistled in appreciation, "Way to go, amigo. I didn't know you had it in you to take such a risk. Have you agreed to cut in the consultant?"

"I can either run to my safe haven or accept the man's offer."

Gunther rocked forward in his chair and lowered his voice. "Or you could just kill him."

"That is the one thing I cannot do."

"Why not?"

"Henson is an intelligent man. He's set up a poison pill. He has incriminating evidence in the form of computer files attached to an email. It's a scheduled email blast to all LODO corporate officers, the board of directors, the FBI, and the Mexican Federales. He's rigged it so the email will be sent at random intervals, the idea being he needs to remain alive to continue canceling those emails prior to them being sent out. He also made it clear if anything happens to his wife or child..." Santos didn't have to elaborate.

Gunther considered what he heard. "You could hire me to kidnap and torture Henson. I promise you, I'd get the email account and password from him."

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