Pfand X
Chapter 21

Copyright© 2011 by Lazlo Zalezac

Agitated, Jeremy Upton paced around his cell. Once the initial shock of being captured and locked up had passed, his fear had turned to anger. How dare they lock him up like a common criminal? Didn't they know that he was their superior in every way? When he got out of there, he was going to make them pay. His fertile imagination was busy thinking up ways that they would pay.

His imprisonment hadn't been that bad except for the isolation and boredom. The food wasn't first class, but it wasn't bad either. He had expected a number on the clothes they had provided him, but they had been straight off the shelf clothes – short pants, tee shirt, and sandals. It wasn't exactly the kind of clothes one expected in prison.

The sound of a door opening, and then closing, echoed down the hallway. It wasn't meal time and the guards didn't come by any other time. He went to his cell door to see what was happening. For now, he welcomed any kind of distraction that would relieve the tedious boredom. He was surprised when two guards stopped in front of his cell door.

"Mr. Upton. Would you please put your arms through the slot in the cell door?"

Jeremy had to admit that the guards here were polite. They might not do what he wanted, but they always called him 'Mr. Upton.' He had to put up minor resistance, just to let them know that he wasn't cowed by them.

"Why should I?"

"Well ... you can put your arms through the slot, or I can hit you with a taser. It's your choice."

The options had been stated in much the same tone of voice that one would use in offering tea or coffee. Jeremy glanced down at the taser attached to the man's belt, before he put his hands through the slot in the door. The guard put a pair of handcuffs on him.

"Would you step back, please?"

Jeremy stepped back. The guard opened the door and gestured for him to step out.

When Jeremy didn't move, he said, "Please step out of the cell, Mr. Upton."

The guards took Jeremy to the end of hall and into a small conference room located there. After having the man sit down, one of the guards chained the cuffs to an eye-bolt located in the center of the table. The two guards left the room without saying anything, once the prisoner was secure.

Jeremy tested the chains that held him to the table. They were solid, and he wasn't going anywhere. He sat back in his chair to wait. He looked around, expecting to find a mirror through which they could record the interview, but there wasn't one. There were two doors, the one that he had come through and a second one to the side of the room. It didn't seem like the normal police interrogation room.

A solid looking man with short hair, blue eyes, and a thin tight mouth entered the room. He exuded confidence in how he held himself. He moved with the grace of a panther, and looked just as dangerous. There was a hardness in his expression that made Jeremy nervous.

The man sat down at the table across from Jeremy. He reached into the pocket of his suit coat and pulled out a small pipe and a bag. He place the pipe and bag on the table. He studied Jeremy for a minute without saying a word.

"Do you know who I am?" Jeremy demanded.

"Yes. You are Jeremy Upton. Until recently, you were a very wealthy man with a portfolio worth over twenty billion dollars."

"That's right. I'm a very wealthy and powerful man. If you know what's good for you, you'll release me right this instant."

"You were a wealthy man. Your portfolio is now worth about ten million dollars; and, unfortunately for you, it has been seized by the government."

Jeremy smiled at the absurd statement that he had lost so much money. He had investments in some of the largest companies in the world. There was no way that his billions could have turned into a paltry ten million even with that minor drop in stock prices he had witnessed. He was sure that he still had a friend or two in the government. He'd have his money back in less than a week.

"You're lying."

"No. The IRS seized your assets. You're effectively broke."

"I demand to see my lawyer," Jeremy said.

"Why?"

"I have a right to a lawyer."

"Not in here."

That answer took Jeremy by surprise. "Where am I? Gitmo? You can't hold me under the Patriot Act."

"You aren't in Gitmo, and you aren't being held under the Patriot Act."

"Who are you?" Jeremy asked trying to figure out what has happening.

He had been pretty sure that the guys who had boarded his yacht and captured him had been Navy SEALS. He was pretty sure that he was being held by some government agency somewhere. As soon he could learn who these people were, he would know who to talk with to get released.

"I'm Adam Knight."

"Who do you work for?" Jeremy asked.

"I can't answer that question. You aren't cleared to know the answer," Adam said.

Shaking the chain holding him to the table, Jeremy said, "I demand to be released."

"That's why I'm here."

Surprised by the answer, Jeremy asked, "What?"

"I'm here to arrange your release," Adam said.

"Just release me."

Adam said, "That's not possible. You see, you have to do something for us, before we release you."

Jeremy sat up a little straighter. He could understand a deal. He was good at making and breaking deals. He wondered who he'd have to 'throw under the bus, ' in order to get released. It didn't really matter to him who it was. His freedom was far more important, to him, than anything else in existence.

Slyly, he asked,"What do you want me to do?"

Adam said, "I've studied you. I've come to the realization that you are a superior man. You were educated in the very best schools. You joined the Skull and Crossbones while in college. A very exclusive group of people are members in it. You've made billions of dollars through investments. You controlled an economic empire that had global reach. You have a capacity for ruthlessness that makes you a totally different class of person than the average Joe Blow. Clearly, you are a superior man."

Feeling that the man had stated obvious facts, Jeremy said, "I know that."

"So what I'm going to suggest should be no problem for you," Adam said with a slight smile.

"What?"

Adam held up the pipe and studied it for a minute. He looked over at Jeremy.

"Three times a day, we'll take you to a small room. Once there, you'll just have to smoke one crystal out of that bag, using this pipe. At the end of two weeks, we'll release you."

"What is in the bag?" Jeremy asked.

Adam said, "It's crystal meth."

"I'm not smoking that," Jeremy said.

Crystal meth was one of the tools that had been used by the New World Order folks to control the weaker members of society. It was one of the ways they were using to cull the herd of unfit people. It had been a success; there were over a million meth users in the country. They didn't live long and productive lives.

Adam said, "Don't tell me that a superior man like yourself is afraid of this? You can handle it. I know you can."

"No."

"Are you saying that I was mistaken about you being superior to everyone else?" Adam asked looking disappointed in Jeremy.

"You're not mistaken," Jeremy said eying the pipe.

Adam said, "A superior man such as yourself couldn't become addicted to a common drug like that. You'll leave here and never touch it again."

Jeremy thought about it. "What if I don't do it?"

"You won't leave here,"Adam said.

"How long do you intend to keep me here?"

"We will keep you here forever, or until you do as we ask."

"Someone will ask questions," Jeremy said.

He was a rich and powerful person. People like him didn't disappear without people asking questions. There would be an investigation and they'd find him. He was pretty sure of it.

Adam said, "Nobody is looking for you. It's been assumed that you fell overboard. Only a dozen people even know you're alive. I can assure you, that we aren't going to talk."

"I'll escape," Jeremy said.

"There's no escape from here. Even if you get out of your cell, there's nowhere for you to go. This facility is located in the middle of nowhere. You'd die before getting any help," Adam said.

Jeremy sat there staring at the pipe. "I won't do it."

Adam said, "You really disappoint me, Mr. Upton. I had really thought you were a much stronger person that than. Clearly, I was mistaken in taking you for a superior man."

"I won't do it."

"You'll never leave here. You'll never rebuild your empire. You'll just be a nobody stuck in a cell in the middle of nowhere. What a waste."


Two weeks later, Adam and Jeremy were riding in the back of a limousine through downtown Los Angeles. Adam, dressed in a suit, was calmly sipping on a glass of apple juice. He was calmness personified.

Jeremy, dressed in shorts, tee shirt, and sandals, was nervously tapping his fingers on his thighs. He was continuously looking around nervously. He kept talking incessantly. There was a light sheen of sweat on his forehead like he had a minor fever.

"Where are we?"

"We're in downtown Los Angeles."

"You're going to let me go?"

"Yes, Mr. Upton. I'm going to let you go."

The car pulled to a stop below an overpass. It was a rough looking area. There was graffiti on the concrete of the overpass. Broken glass littered the ground. A few homeless people were milling around.

"When?"

"In just a minute," Adam said. "I have a little present for you."

"What?" Jeremy asked. He licked his lips nervously.

Holding out a small paper bag, Adam said, "There's a pipe, a lighter, and a small bag of meth inside. It's a going away present from me to you."

Jeremy snatched the bag out of Adam's hand. He opened it up and looked through it. He was reaching for the pipe when the locks on the limousine clicked open.

Adam said, "You may go now."

Without saying a word, Jeremy opened the door and fled taking the bag with him. He wanted to put as much distance between him and those people as possible. He knew they were going to try to hunt him down and hurt him, but he'd show them. He'd escape.

He didn't have any money or identification. That didn't matter. His first concern was to get away. His second was to use a little of what was in the bag.

Watching the man disappear around a corner, Herman, the limo driver, asked, "What do you think are his chances?"

"He's going to binge, tonight. He'll never kick it," Adam said tiredly.

Jeremy was convinced that he could control his drug use. For the first few days, he was euphoric and talked for hours on end about how he would start to rebuild his empire. By the end of the first week it was obvious to everyone except him that the drugs were in control, and he wouldn't be rebuilding anything.

He had lost a lot of weight in two weeks. The effects of the drug burned off fat and then muscle. His face was already shrinking, skin stretched tight over his cheek bones.

"How long do you think he'll live?"

"I don't know. I don't care," Adam said tiredly.

"That's a nasty drug."

"A nasty drug for a nasty person. There's a kind of justice in that."

Herman said, "It was people like him who helped make drug use a problem."

The entire war on drugs had been nothing more than a colossal farce. It was really using drugs to wage war on the general populace. It had created a lot of casualties. Young people had gotten addicted and wasted their lives. Their addiction had turned them into criminals. Crime of all kinds had skyrocketed.

Herman's hobby was reading history. One thing in history had always bothered him. He could never understand how citizens could be turned against their own people in such a way that they could imprison, torture, and kill their neighbors. It ran counter to what he viewed as the social instinct of human beings. Over the past few months, he had started to understand how that could happen.

One of the worst results of the drug war was that police had started down that road to viewing the public as an enemy. Dealing with drug users who had turned violent required a forceful response. Each time an officer had to use force it became easier to use force on the next person. Every traffic stop had the potential to turn into a life threatening situation. Over time, a wall of distrust was being built between the public and the police. It was just a matter of time before the police could be turned into a tool of repression rather than protection.

Widespread drug use was a reality and it wasn't going to go away. The world would be dealing with that problem for decades. At least, with the recent elimination of a large number of corrupt individuals, government support for importing drugs had disappeared. The idea that federal resources had been used to import drugs into the country still angered Herman.

Herman asked, "Why did you do that to him?"

"I discovered that he ordered it done to a man who had once been a neighbor of mine."

"Ah."

Adam said, "Let's go see Carl. It's time to deliver some good news for a change."

Carl had spent the past two weeks stashed in a hotel room on the outskirts of Los Angeles. They had parked him there, while the nation recovered from the elimination of the majority of government leaders. With him being on the FBI's most wanted list, he couldn't move around freely. He couldn't be removed from the list, until there were people in the positions where those kinds of decisions could be made. The previous occupants of those positions were either dead or in jail.

There was more than enough evidence to clear Carl. In fact, he hadn't even been charged with a crime other than terrorism and that charge hadn't been backed up by any kind of investigation. Getting him off the most wanted list had just been a matter of finding someone who could make it happen on the government's side. A Curador lawyer had been hard at work.

"It'll be good to see Hammond. I've missed having my brother around," Herman said.

The two brothers had played a game of rock-scissors-paper to determine which of them would have to babysit Carl while he was going around the country. Figuring that the excitement would center around protecting the factory, the loser was stuck with Carl. Hammond had lost.

Herman had ended up with maintaining security around the pickle factory. Despite his expectations, it had ended up being a dull job. There had been no late night raids to destroy the factory. There had been no bombs planted by work crews. Herman felt cheated.

"I'm sure he'll enjoy seeing you," Adam said. "You two have a lot to talk about."

"He's going to regale me with tales about shootouts and living the dangerous life. I get to tell him about sitting around on my ass watching video cameras that showed deer grazing," Herman said.

Adam laughed. He had tried to tell the brothers that serving as bodyguard for Carl wasn't going to be an easy assignment. They hadn't believed him when he had said that there would be some very exciting times.

Herman drove up to a small motel, and parked in front of the main office. The limousine looked out of place parked next to older SUVs and rented sedans. The two men got out and went into the office.

The man behind the counter pointed towards the back room and said, "They're waiting for you."

"Herman, why don't you wait out here? I'll send Hammond out to talk with you," Adam said.

"That's fine by me," Herman said.

He went over to the coffee machine and poured a cup.

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