~of one’s evil~
~is but a water mark~
~the flood of another~
~the trouble with Luis~
Luis set the tripod and adjusted the focus on the video camera. These caverns with their ingenious hoists and pulleys were fine for the business of torture but they just weren’t designed for movie making. There were no movies, no electricity, none of that when all of this had been built. It would have been a good time to be alive, Luis thought, a time fit for a man like me. Ah well, I will learn the buttons and the switches, just like I have learned everything else in my life, by using them.
He could have had someone else run the movie machine. The Patron had offered to appoint an assistant to help him but it was his experience that most men didn’t have the stomach to even watch what was about to take place in this hidden cavern in the vault. Or else they enjoyed it too much, took pleasure from it. Luis chose not to be around such men. There was a piece of work to do here and he would do it. It was as simple as that. This man had hurt the Patron. For that sin he would pay dearly. Making him pay was the job at hand and Luis was just the man for the job. Oh yes, he always preferred to work alone.
This was Luis’ first experience with film making. In the past, the Patron would come watch for a while if he decided to take a personal interest in the proceedings. He was not a cruel man and most times chose not to watch. He knew the value of punishment and that a man in his position must mete it out. Luis had never witnessed the Patron partaking of any personal joy or fulfillment when punishment was administered. With this man it was different. Yes, he would be the exception to the general rule. Luis didn’t trust exceptions. In his experience, any variance from routine was an invitation to a man to make mistakes.
The Patron had important business to take care of tonight, he had told Luis. The meat on this table was an event he preferred to be able to savor over and over and it had to be taken care of immediately. So, the camera and the tripod, recording a unique and specific event, revenge. Perhaps for the better, Luis thought, it will prolong the man’s agony. Each time I change positions I’ll have to readjust the camera. He’ll be forced to wait, left dangling in my web. He must be a very bad man, something to do with the new girl. So be it, torture is a fine art and I am a Picasso. The knife is my brush.
Lance was suspended in a trestle-work, a rack of sorts. Luis liked to think of it as his web. Lance’s body hung spread-eagle, upside down. His feet and hands were fixed by tethers to the four corners of the works. There were a series of gears and checks to adjust the tightness of each tether singularly and a master gear to adjust them all at once. Lance began to moan loudly, a pitiful whining sound, almost liquid. He jabbered incoherently and was slobbering from his mouth. Luis reached out and tightened the master gear a single click. This induced a blood-curdling scream from Lance.
Luis shook his head doubtfully. This one wouldn’t last. There was no bottom to the man. It appeared very likely the Patron would be cheated of the satisfaction of a full treatment. De’ Angelo, now there was a good one. Most men from the South, those that Luis had anything to do with anyway, could endure pain and come up spitting. They had bottom. And maybe this Wulf they spoke of, he sounded like a good one, the one the Patron referred to as Brother. Then there was the large one, the dark man. Luis allowed himself the luxury of a straight-lipped smile when he thought of the giant. One day the large one would cross the Patron. On that day he would be handed over to Luis’ device. He would be careful with that one, guard against him in every way. He was a very dangerous hombre. Luis was a patient man and all he had to do was wait.
Yes, but the work at hand. Luis had hoped to save the iron masque for the taking of the tongue for later but the weak one kept crying out and sobbing. The masque would contain and quiet him, of that Luis was certain. Of all instruments of torture, Luis understood the masque as well as a man could hope to understand any tool of his trade. He had personally experienced its application a full score of years before. It was not an experience a man was likely to forget. The upper part of the masque screwed to the top of the head like a crown, while a hinged apparatus dropped down to engage the chin. Once the head and face were fixed in the iron masque, a small tubular guillotine affair was screwed into the mouth. The tongue would have nowhere to go except into the jaws of the guillotine.
Once the tube was fastened to the masque, a simple lever was used to set the guillotine in motion. It gripped the tongue in its spiny hook-toothed mouth, stretched it out slowly and painfully until the guillotine severed it at its base. This routine procedure was accomplished with much choking and gagging, the breaking of teeth. Once the masque and guillotine were in place, the subject was unable to cry out without choking himself. This was a benefit Luis especially appreciated, since he abhorred loud noises of any kind. Weak men were generally noisy. Torture, in Luis’ opinion, should be endured in silence.
Luis zoomed the camera focus in on Lance’s head, fixed it in that position and moved away from the tripod. He approached the man from behind and passed his knife in front of his eyes. “No, no, no!” Lance pleaded. “Don’ use my knife! It ain’, it ain’, oh god, don’ use my knife!”
Luis cocked his head and looked into the eyes of the man. He stroked his long brown hair to calm him, then jerked his head back and scalped him in one deft movement. His eyes never left the eyes of the man, even when they rolled back in his head and he passed out. Luis held the bleeding scalp up in front of the camera lens before laying it on a side table. Luis had never met a man he couldn’t look in the eye. He had stared silently into the eyes of the men who had taken his tongue. Many years later he had stared into those same eyes when he settled his debt by taking their lives. The eye of the camera though, it troubled him. It was as if it were sucking at his spirit, stealing the dark secrets there and, in so doing, compromising his art.
He took the iron masque from the table and screwed the crown in place. The man didn’t move but Luis knew he was alive because small pools of blood formed when he tightened the screws into his skull. The face lock squeaked when he lifted it up and clamped it firmly to the man’s jaw. Luis went to a work bench and returned with a can of oil, which he used to lubricate the moving parts of the masque and guillotine. He tightened the screws into the man’s jaw and adjusted the framework to accept a face with a wide-open mouth. Luis set the oilcan back on the table. He gave a slight shrug for the benefit of the camera and returned to the man with the tiny guillotine in one hand, the knife in the other.
He tapped Lance’s nose with the guillotine a few times and got no response. He shrugged his shoulders again and buried the blade of the knife in the man’s hand. That got his attention. When the man screamed, Luis slammed the guillotine into his mouth. It was a good scream, perhaps the perfect scream. It positioned the tongue just so, right where it needed to be. Luis checked and tightened all the thumbscrews on the iron masque while the man trembled in horror. He pulled the knife from the flesh of the man’s hand and watched his eyes while he choked and gagged, his body writhing and jumping, pulling against the tethers, shaking the trestle works.
The man closed his eyes and kept them tightly shut when Luis held the knife above his head, sending the blood to drip off the blade and form twin pools in the hollows of the man’s eye sockets. He blinked the blood away and closed his eyes tightly again. This won’t do, Luis thought while he listened to the sounds of the man’s eyes clicking and choking. He took a folding chair and set it up beneath the man’s head. He sat down and clamped the head between his knees and pulled the eyelids up one then the other by their lashes. The knife came to his hand and, with a few deft cuts, the lids no longer belonged to the face of the man. Luis held the two spidery looking pieces of flesh up for the eye of the camera to witness and record. He stood up and pushed the chair back with his foot before setting the man’s eyelids on the table next to his scalp.
The weak ones gave Luis a pain in the ass. They wreaked whatever havoc they chose then howled like jackals in the jaws of the wolf when the tables were turned. Luis checked off the list in his mind. The tongue must be taken while the man is alive, since the integrity of the skull and face should be preserved. The taking of the skin was most difficult and the finest of arts to achieve. This was where Luis excelled. This one was a unique challenge, since the lines of the cuts would be dictated by the perimeter of the man’s tattoo work. The coils of the snakes began at the navel and the crack of the man’s ass. They flowed into flames which licked at the base of his chin and the mounts of his ears.
If he were only strong, Luis thought, the procedure would be straight forward, scalp, take the skin, castrate and remove tongue. But this man, he is weak. He won’t be around for the best of it. This one won’t last. Nah. Luis casually flipped a lever on the masque and the man’s tongue was gripped and pulled taut. It hung dripping from the masque. The machine emitted a series of small tinging sounds when the guillotine severed the muscle and released it to drop into Luis’ ready and waiting hands. He examined it closely then dangled it in front of the camera. He twisted the man’s head around to face the lens and wiggled his bloody tongue in front of his tortured lidless eyes.
Luis carried the tongue to the nearby table and dropped it into a large jar of formaldehyde. It left a series of tiny blood trails behind when it sank to the bottom. He picked up the eyelids and dropped them in as well, trying to remember if they would float. They did, like palm fronds on the face of the ocean. Luis saw this as a good omen. He felt the man’s eyes watching him. Good. That was as it should be. Maybe this one was stronger than he thought. Luis hardly ever wished he could speak, words having brought him the humiliation of his life, the taking of his tongue. And, in Luis’ opinion, actions spoke much louder than words in most cases. But now, just now, he’d like to tell the man, the best is yet to come. You have not begun to suffer yet.
~artist by choice~
~a man of the blade~
~concentration at knifepoint~
conceived by & property of
Tom (WordWulf) Sterner ©