Duggie's head was pounding. He could feel a massive swelling behind his ear which throbbed like hell. He felt his feet and hands being bound, people were talking but he couldn't rise his mind out of the fog that dulled his wits. When he was hoisted off the ground he came round some little bit, he could see the man holding his feet Duggie, didn't recognise him.
“What yous doin?” mumbled Duggie, in his Dublin drawl. The old man looked at him but didn't answer, they were outside now and the cold air was refreshing. “Hang about,” thought Duggie. “Why am I tied up? Why are the carrying me outside? This isn’t good. I got to get out of here.”
“Where are taking me? Let me go, you fuckers,” Duggie spat. He tried to kick, but the men held him easily. The man holding his legs was old, but his work toughened arms were as hard as iron. Duggie struggled, still the men said nothing to him, with each movement fresh pain appeared somewhere new on his body. They had given him a right battering, even the hiding he took from Rob’s thugs didn’t hurt this much. His head hurt the worst. Duggie could feel the cold blood beginning to harden in his hair and down his neck. The constant throbbing behind his ear was getting worse the more he woke up, and what had they done to his hip? It was in agony.
Just like that, they were inside again but not the house. Duggie gave a last strong lurch, the man holding his shoulders lost his grip and Duggie dropped to the ground. He landed hard on concrete covered with cow dung. The man holding his feet booted him a few times in the ribs. Duggie stopped wriggling. He looked behind and the old farmer he had followed from the village stood above him, his face swelled and bruised from the beating Duggie had given him in the bedroom. The old man looked at him with worried eyes, not frightened, just weary. In the end he turned and walked towards the end of the shed. He grabbed a huge metal container and heaved, amazingly it glided away from the wall. The black gaping maw that stood behind held nothing but bad news for Duggie. Trust him to pick a degenerate old farmer with his very own dungeon.
“Are you two queers or what? You better not come near me or I will fuck you up,” yelled Duggie.
The taller man just started to laugh. “You hear that Pat, the little scumbag thinks we are in love with him,” Michael laughed. “Sorry lad but your luck is completely out today. You’re a crap burglar and sex in the cowshed is not my thing.”
Just as quick as he started laughing the tall man stopped. He was creepy, his elevator didn’t stop on all the floors if you asked Duggie. The tall man turned to the old farmer, his voice turning serous, "If you want to give him a go, Pat, I won’t mind.”
“You can’t do that. Don’t let that freak touch me,” Duggie shouted, while kicking so much it was as if he was having a seizure. In Duggie's mind, the theme tune for ‘Deliverance’ was playing real loud. He always laughed when the ‘Squeal Piggy Squeal’ part of the movie came on, now, it wasn't so funny.
“Stop winding him up Michael,” Pat said, but still enjoying the way the little man was panicking. “Let's get him inside," said the battered old man taking Duggie under the shoulders again. With one quick jerk Duggie was being carried again, backwards this time.
“Don’t put me in there, please,” Duggie pleaded, struggling again. “Let me go and I won’t say a thing. If you put me in there, I swear to God, I’ll ruin you. You’ll wish you were never born. You don’t know who you’re messing with. I have friends you know, if I don’t get you they will” he ranted.
He was a gibbering mess but some of the threats stung Pat, could he ruin him? What if he did leave him go, would he return with even more of his kind?
“You have a right mouth on you,” said the taller man, holding his feet. “I liked you better when you were asleep."
Pat had no idea what to do, hearing the little robber rant, it was clear he wouldn't think twice about coming back for revenge. Either in the dead of night, or by the light of the court house. Pat didn't relish checking doors and locking himself in every night. More importantly, nobody was going to take his land from him. Michael and Pat dumped Duggie on the floor, then turned on a light. The room was small only five feet wide, by the width of the shed. There were two steel posts supporting the roof.
“Pat, can you bring in a couple of bales of straw?” asked Michael, taking charge.
“And some rope,” Michael called after the farmer.
“What are you going to do with me?” Duggie asked, now alone with this crazy hillbilly. Sweat was running down his face and the shakes were back.
“That’s not up to me,” said Michael, smiling, “If it were, you wouldn't like it.”
The old farmer appeared with two bales, Michael took a pen knife from his pocket and cut the yellow plastic twine. He spread the straw around the base of one of the poles. He then grabbed Duggie by the back of the tee shirt. He roughly dragged him to his feet and made him hop towards the pole. With a jerk of the tall man's powerful arm, Duggie was flung back first against the roof support. Quick as a flash the tall man was garrotting Duggie with the twine he had just cut from the bail of straw. Duggie started to panic and trash but that made the string bite into his neck even more, strangling him.
The tall hillbilly came around in front of Duggie, grasping a fist full of greasy hair, holding Duggie's head still. His dark merciless eyes, never blinking.
“What’s your name?” Michael spat, with venom.
“Duggie? What kind of a name is Duggie?”
“Douglas, my name is Douglas,” he rasped, the skin of his neck on fire.
“That’s better Douglas. Let me tell you what is going to happen. I am going to untie your hands. If you struggle I am going to pull your legs. That little bit of string is going to hang you, slow. It is the worst way of going, Douglas, let me tell you. Getting rid of your body will be easy, we’ll dump it in the slurry tank. Oh, first we’ll slice you open from neck to dick. Don’t want gas bringing you back up as you rot do we?”
Michael talked with such calm conviction that both Pat and Duggie knew he meant every last word. Duggie said nothing just blanched white with terror, getting raped didn’t seem like the worst thing that could happen anymore.
“Right so, are we ready?” Michael said. Duggie eyes were huge and terrified.
Duggie felt the belt around his wrists loosen, his hands were free. Duggie didn't twitch a muscle. Michael took his wrists and moved them either side of the support pole. His movements were slow, gentle, even sensual.
He knotted the rope around the little man’s wrists in a complex bind. When the bond was solid, Duggie heard the rustle of a plastic bag. Duggie had heard of guys being killed using plastic bags, he began to cry. Instead of placing the bag over his head, the man behind him covered his hands and bound the bag over them. "We wouldn't want you breaking a nail trying to open the knots," said Michael at last cutting the twine around Duggie's neck free, allowing him to slide to the floor, in a sobbing heap. Happy with his work, Michael sliced the tie off Duggie's legs and closed the pocket knife.
“I could murder a cup of tea Pat,” Michael said, winking at Duggie before walking out the door. The old farmer that had been so helpful earlier in the day, stared him straight in the eye.
“You would have taken everything I have,” he said. Duggie avoided the farmers gaze. “You might even have killed me.”
“I needed the money,” Duggie mumbled.
“See where greed has got you,” said Pat. He turned off the light and closed the heavy door leaving the room in complete darkness. Duggie felt his stomach churn, he cried and yelled to be let out, the darkness was pitiless.
Pat sat with his trousers around his ankles in the middle of the kitchen. The electric kettle whistled happily in the corner, Michael prepared a pot for tea. The hole in Pat's leg was small, but it was angry, he winced as he tried to bandage it.
“You should put some Savlon on that,” Michael advised, while stirring the milky tea.
“It will be fine. I'll get it checked in a few days,” Pat said. He winced again but this time he held his hand to his chest. “Flipping heartburn on top of everything,” he said and burped. Pat finished the bandaging and hoisted his trousers to full mast, he rummaged in the kitchen drawers and found painkillers and antacid. He popped the pills and washed them down with sweet tea.
“What do you want to do with him?” asked Michael, nodding towards the cow shed.
“Not right sure. Tonight is not the time to make any decisions,” Pat mused. “Let’s leave him stew for the night and see if he is feeling any less self-important in the morning.”
“I don’t think I will manage much kip after all this excitement,” chuckled Michael.
“Here. This will help,” said Pat, pouring two hefty glasses of whisky from the very same bottle Duggie was swilling from an hour ago. They clinked glasses and drank in silence. It was not long before Pat climbed the stairs for a little sleep. He was jaded, sore and feeling sick. Pat climbed into bed with a feeling of dread he never before experienced. He was freezing, shivering all over, his leg throbbed and his indigestion was getting worse. It burned in his chest like gristle lodged in his gullet. He needed some sleep, just a few minutes would do. Pat closed his eyes, in moments he was gone.
Downstairs, Michael mulled over the problem that huddled in the back of the milking house. He wasn’t joking before, he would have killed the little burglar without a second thought. Scum like that made his skin crawl. The selfish idiots expecting handouts, taking what isn’t given, caring for nobody but themselves. Michael had done things he wasn’t proud of in the past, he had done them for the Irish People. Because of these things, he hadn’t had full night sleep in twenty years. It was sickening to think that his sacrifices had been for the likes of that scumbag. Douglas - Duggie, whatever he called himself, did not deserve to be part of any country he had bleed to build. Even so, this was not his battle, it was Pat’s. Michael was only a tool of retribution.
Pat woke a little after sunrise, he felt sore all over. Throwing back the covers he sat up. The acid throb of heartburn was as strong as ever. Pat's vision swam and dimmed from the edges, he thought he was going to pass out. Pat pulled in great lungfull’s of air until the feeling passed. There was a tight band of pain across his chest, his face, and leg. He couldn’t decide which part hurt worst. Pat though of the man he had tied up in the shed. Was he a kidnapper now? Things seemed so clear last night, this morning, the whole world was terrifying. Pat's brain was in meltdown, he imagined he could hear the taunts of the villagers, sound bites on the evening news, the protests of his son and the haranguing of the police as they locked him up. Pat stood and waited for the room to settle before making his way to the bathroom.
In the kitchen, Michael was dozing by the still warm range. Pat filled the kettle, the movement roused Michael from his sleep.
“Morning,” he said, stretching.
“Want a mug of tea or something to eat?” Pat asked.
“Just tea would be grand,” Michael said, heading up the stairs to the bathroom.
“Sugar Michael?” Pat called up.
“Just milk,” came the answer through the thunder of morning urine.
When Michael came back to the kitchen Pat was sitting over his tea looking troubled. “What are we going to do,” Pat asked.
“We can do anything you want Pat. That little git came here, he would have left you for dead, that's if you were lucky,” Michael reasoned, stirring his mug of tea.
“True, but I’m not like him. I don’t beat up people,” Pat said.
“Actually that is exactly what we did,” Michael said. “You were right too. These scum are going around praying on people like us! The flipping Gardai can’t do a thing about it. I am sick of it Pat, I say we do something about it ourselves and we should start with him.”
“What are you on about, are you saying kill him?” Pat gasped, not believing what he was hearing. “We can’t just kill someone Michael.”
“I can,” he said calmly.
“You can’t Michael, I can’t let you.” Pat slammed down his mug. “Okay, he broke in to my home and scared me, I'm still scared but that's not reason enough to take his life.” Pat stood and paced the room. He was wincing and rubbing his chest.
“Are you feeling alright Pat? You don’t look the best.”
“How should I feel? Between getting the crap beaten out of me last night and you telling me to kill a man before breakfast. You’re as bad as he is,” Pat shouted. Suddenly he stopped mid rant and let out a little wheeze.
“Pat what is it?” Michael was worried now.
“Heartburn, get me some Rennies from the drawer over there,” Pat said, sitting down. Pat got the small box of antacid tablets for him. He took three and washed them down with the tea. After a few minutes Pat seemed to feel a bit better.
“I am going to let him go,” Pat said at last.
“Whatever you want to do is fine by me,” said Michael, shrugging his shoulders. Offering to snuff out a life didn’t seem to knock a spark out of him. Michael was getting to his feet but Pat held up his hand. “I’ll do it myself, I want to talk to him before I let him go.”
Michael sat back down.
“I'll be back in a minute” said Pat walking out the door.
Duggie had yelled and struggled for a long time after the farmer had left him in the dark. He threatened the pleaded with his invisible jailers, but nothing happened. He cried and in the end he was sick. During the night, he pissed in his pants when he could hold it no more. Duggie was no stranger to humiliation, it’s the first thing the drugs take. Sitting in his own waste for hours at a time was a new low, even for him.
He had drifted to sleep for a few minutes, or perhaps longer, it was hard to tell in this hole. His shoulders ached, his head throbbed, but the worst was his skin. It was on fire with an itch he couldn't scratch. He was coming down and coming down hard. He felt cold, but was sweating. His stomach churned and his head buzzed with the need of his medicine. He felt a huge weight on his chest, he struggled to draw a breath. This was only the start, he needed a fix and he needed it now.
After a time Duggie noticed a chink of weak light in the pitch black, there was a crack in the roof. Through the fever, Duggie pondered his chances of getting out of this place. He had worked on the ropes last night but they held strong. He couldn't get a grip through the plastic bag. The bag thing was real clever, Duggie would have to remember that for the future. If he had a future.
As time passed, Duggie was more and more convinced he was a dead man. Why had the Gardai not come? Why did they just leave him sitting in his own filth? If they were going to let him go they would have done it by now. What kind of nutters kept a burglar tied up in a shed? No matter which he looked at it, there was no good ending for him. Even if he did manage to get out of here, he still didn't have Rob’s money. Just then the door opened. The old farmer tuned on the light. He looked older than he had yesterday by ten years. He stared at Duggie forever with wrinkled watery eyes. Duggie couldn't figure out what he wanted. Was he angry or sad, happy or sacred? He seemed resolved and that was the worst thing he could have been.
“Hey man, what are you going to do to me?” Duggie said at last.
“Why did you break into my house?” the farmer said, his voice dead cold.
“I had too,” mumbled Duggie
“I need the money, I owe people,” Duggie said, going with the truth. “It wasn't personal, I don’t even know you. I followed you here, I wish I never had.”
“There is a man in my kitchen who wants to kill you,” Pat said. Duggie began to sob. He couldn't hold it together any longer. Coming down made everything seem more vivid. He could feel the cold wet soil filling his still living mouth.
“Please Mister, Don’t Don’t…” he had nothing else to say.
“Give me one good reason, just one," yelled the farmer, coming close to Duggie. He pulled up short when he got the smell of vomit and piss.
“I don’t want to die,” was all Duggie could blubber. The farmer sprang away from him holding his arm. He swayed, and lost his balance. The old man staggered around the shed before falling against the wall, his eyes bulging. The farmer started to shudder, his face got all strained and red. The old man spammed, spit gurgled from his lips and he made the most horrible gasping noise.
“Buddy BUDDY! What's wrong? HELP, HELP!” Duggie screamed at the open door.
Pat’s lips turned blue, he choked and shook, and at last let out a long gurgling belching breath. The old man lay still, the smell of his bowels evacuating joined the already stinking air in the bunker. Duggie kept shouting but no one came. He pulled at the ropes but they wouldn’t give. Duggie was alone with the old man as he passed from this world into whatever was waiting for Duggie next Friday.
Michael had breakfast on the plates, it was getting cold. Pat should be back by now. Michael thought he had better go check on him, in case that little guy put up a fight when he got free. Michael walked to the milking parlour, the door to the bunker stood open and the light was still on. He could hear crying coming from inside, Michael walked into the small room. The smell hit him in the face like a slap, Pat lay on the floor, not moving. Michael had seen enough bodies to know his friend was gone, but he knelt and checked for a pulse anyway. Nothing.
“He just dropped down mister, I did nothing to him, I swear to god. I did nothing,” the burglar sobbed.
“You killed him. It was your fault. You scared him senseless and you wonder why he is dead," snarled Michael.
“I swear mister, I never wanted any of this, just let me go please,” Duggie whinged.
“What if I do? You’ll only terrorise some other poor soul. You’re scum Douglas, the lowest form of life on the planet. I think when all is said and done, we’ll all be better off without you,” Michael raged. Duggie looked in his eyes and knew the man was crazy.
“Anyway, I wouldn’t like to leave Pat by himself,” Michael said, standing up and walking to the door.
“Don’t leave me here, Please, Don’t leave me,” Duggie cried.
“I’ll leave the light on. I want his face to be the last thing you ever see." Michael said then turned and sealed the door. The screams of a man losing his mind only just audible, as he walked away.