Ruthlessness Personified/Supply Meets Demand
TIME: 1946 HOURS
DATE: 13 MAY 1988
"This guy is pathetic, Earl. I mean…were the pickings that slim?" the man grumbled, his eyes transfixed on a nearby monitor.
His oily, slicked black hair was ruffled in the back, a tiny coif curled into a perfect semi-hook. His tie hung loose from his unbuttoned collar as he reached to wipe the building perspiration from his forehead. He paused briefly before turning to the older man standing only a few feet away, waiting impatiently for a response to his rather curt query.
The older man was concentrating on a separate monitor that displayed a similar scene as the other, but from a slightly altered angle. He nonchalantly brushed a tiny spec of lint off his right shirt sleeve and adjusted his glasses before bothering to reply. His thick, wavy hair was grayed at the temples; his meticulously groomed mustache pitch-black by comparison, giving it the look of a fuzzy black caterpillar lying beneath his rather prominent nose. "Calm yourself, Aaron. My god, you’re the highest-strung young man I have ever met. Nothing to go catatonic over, my boy. The clock at the bottom of the screen is reading a bit over twelve minutes, is it not?"
The younger man glanced back over his shoulder at the monitor he’ d been screening, his face frozen in a sour scowl. "Twelve minutes, forty-three seconds, but damn it, Earl."
Leaning back in the comfort of the padded leather chair he had sunken into, the older man waived him off with a hand displaying a bulky, pear shaped diamond ring on the index finger and a wrist sporting a Gold Rolex watch "Three more minutes of footage is all we need, Aaron. We can pad the rest of the tape with additional footage from past skirmishes. You know, kind of a ’greatest kills ’ snippet. Sit, Aaron. Drink some bottled water and by all means lay off of the caffeine for a bit."
Grunting his displeasure, Aaron Kyle sidestepped over to the chair fronting his monitor and plopped down with a huff. He was going to have someone’s ass from the hiring department later that afternoon, no doubt, and it wouldn’t be the first time. This was the third straight ’dud’ they had thrown to the wolf in the past five matches. They were either going to have to find more suitable combatants, or begin to consider placing some sort of handicap on Dr. Ruthless out there. Aaron tired of shifting through old footage to pad the product, and knew eventually the audience would feel the same about purchasing inferior entertainment. They were a fickle bunch, as most of their ilk were, and would quickly grow bored and find new, increasingly perverted ways to spend their seemingly endless supply of capitol.
Aaron sipped his warming bottled water and observed the man on the screen crouch and walk behind a row of lined metal barrels. As the man’s head slowly scanned a darkened alley to his immediate left, Aaron could see the fear in the subject’s spastic, darting eyes. Jesus, soon as Parks finds this guy, he’s buttered toast. Hell, I believe I’d have a better chance of walking away intact than this clown.
The subject remained crouched between what had been two one-floor barracks buildings from back in the days when the base was fully manned. The two-foot long machete he held in his left hand shook visibly and Aaron couldn’t help but smirk after shooting the older man a dismayed glare.
"The son of a bitch is going to piss his combat fatigues, Earl. Wasn ’t this guy a Green Beret in another life?"
Earl Barron didn’t respond for a full thirty seconds, an annoying trait that frustrated Aaron to no end. He realized and accepted the entire project as being the old man’ s offspring right from the beginning, and that the twenty million that had been spent to renovate the ramshackle base had come from Barren’s deep pockets--but being subjected to playing second banana to anyone was something he could not, and would not, ever grow accustomed to.
"One more minute, Aaron. And yes, he did possess all the necessary credentials. Military training…no family to speak of. He simply desired the magical payday. Wanted to become the next in line to the throne, as so many of them do."
Scratching a light growth of stubble on his otherwise flawless, smooth face, Aaron Kyle scoffed. "Next in line for a body bag’s more like it. Parks is gonna hand him his liver on a plate."
Earl Barron nodded in silent agreement, his mind already locked on the matter of busines s at hand, such as number of VHS tapes (the majority) to produce as opposed to Beta (a definite minority), and exactly how much to charge for each since production values had been on the increase of late.
His bladder threatening to release its content s with each frantic movement, Bobby Kane wished with every fiber of his existence that he hadn’t taken the double-hit of speed an hour earlier. In Grenada, Puerto Rico, and countless other stressful, wartime scenarios, he’d found th e practice of popping a beanie or two actually settled his mind and honed his senses.
This time, however, with a cool million dollars on the line, as well as opportunities for larger paychecks in the near future, it was having the reverse effect. Every wind-blown leaf or piece of loose gravel that fell underneath his steel-toed boots caused him to leap back like a spooked grade-schooler. That, coupled with the primal fear he felt for his opposition, a man he had been told was responsible for over sixty deaths via hand-to-hand combat, was causing his hands and legs to tremor uncontrollably.
It was a feeling he wasn’t used to, nor a damned bit comfortable with, especially under the present circumstances.
Kane wasn’t a physically imposing man by any means. At first glance, one might even label him a bit scrawny in appearance. He was six-two but only carried one-hundred seventy-five pounds on a tightly muscled, immaculately toned body. His face was gaunt; his complexion as pasty as dried dap. He wore bushy eyebrows, thick-framed glasses and a constant expression of grim weariness. Many times he had used these less-than-intimidating features against his opponent with undeniable success.
Troubled by violent outbursts as a child and juvenile, he had been trained as a weapons expert by the Army , and took to it like he’d been born and bred to the expertise that had come so naturally.
Sliding his way forward between two of the empty steel barrels, he cursed himself for wasting the limited ammo he’d been allowed. Three lousy shots from a .38 hadn’ t exactly been his count or weapon of choice, but then again, he hadn’t been given one . He’ d told himself before the dance had ever started not to waste them, since he would only have the blade and billy club left in a woefully limited arsenal.
Regardless of his own self-warnings, he had fired all three rounds at his large but shockingly swift quarry just moments after the klaxon horn had sounded to initiate the skirmish . The first two rounds had ricocheted harmlessly off of the paved roadway just inches from his target’ s scrambling boots, the third whistling off the side of a stone building just as his opponent had leapt and then rolled behind its eastern-most wall.
Kane cursed silently under his breath while scanning the rooftops of the buildings he’d slithered between. He felt his neck muscles begin to cramp from both the twisting movement and also the unbearable stress sweeping over him like a viral infection.
Big SOB has got to be strong as an ox. Biceps the size of an anaconda’s midsection. Fists like twin goddamned wrecking balls. (inhales deeply) I’ve got to keep my cool when he comes out of hiding. Use the blade like I’ve been trained to do. Can’ t let him get those meat-hooks on me. That’s the main thing
Less than two dozen feet away, a thick shadow paused, its barrel-shaped chest as still as the surrounding structure it occupied. Eyes that burned with a night vision not in-bred but trained as such remained glued to its prey’ s ever-shifting line of sight.
A thick-handled yet sleekly designed machete lay propped against its left leg, held ever-so gently and without a touch of anxiety.
Although his prey was relatively small in stature, at least frame wise, the man knew through experience not to take anything for granted. He recalled a bar fight in Manila with an individual a foot shorter and at least sixty pounds lighter than himself. A broken rib, separated shoulder and full-blown concussion later, a hard, painful lesson in underestimation had been duly noted for future reference.
It would have been no problem to simply step out and spear his opponent with a quick toss aimed at the midsection or upper chest, especially from the relatively short distance between them. He had once split a man’s skull from thirty yards with a similar toss and weapon, the velocity of the toss thrown with such force that the victim barely had time to blink before his head had exploded in bone-splintered fragments.
Such routine action wasn’t to be allowed, however. The suits desired hand-to-hand combat if at all possible. Long distance disposals were frowned upon by their buyers, who supposedly paid a king ’s ransom for each new episode. The filthy rich were nothing if not bored to tears by anything other tha n extreme excesses. He’d heard that each cassette went for as much as two grand a copy, and that they were producing up to one hundred thousand per episode, not counting the overseas markets.
Small wonder the suits could afford his extravagant services, b owing to each new request, no matter how ridiculous, as if doing nothing more than tipping a loyal servant
Peeking around the side of the concrete wall, a metal light pole positioned at the front of the building that shielded his presence even further, he watched the smaller man shuffle forward to the last of the barrels he’ d been using as cover.
The man’s head whirled about constantly, scanning all sides like a lighthouse beam into stormy waters, grasping the club in his right hand and the combat knife in his left. Both weapons shook visibly, and were awkwardly positioned, as if he was a complete novice in how to use either.
The smallest of smiles cracked the larger man’s grim visage. He was equally elated and sickened by the lack of quality competition in recent matches. Still, better them than him, regardless of the ease in which the deed was done.
Waiting for the man to break for an opening between the barracks buildings and a stretch of grassy flatlands which led to a vacant hanger across the way, Mason Parks lingered without a hint of apprehension.
The breezeless, dead air was unable to provide the slightest hint as to his quarry’s whereabouts. Bobby Kane prepped his unsteady gait for a mad sprint towards the open hanger a few hundred feet ahead. He’d come to such a tactical decision due to two distinct points; he felt like a sitting duck with a target pasted between his shoulder blades out in the open, and there was a damn good chance that if his opponent wasn’t already using the building as a hiding place, he could utilize it’s spacious darkness to rethink a suitable plan of attack.
Besides, at the moment he found himself scared shitless, and understood that such men could literally smell fear in an opponent.
Sucking in a lungful of the humid night air, he shoved himself forward in a sprawling lurch, leaving clouds of dust and flying clods of dirt swirling like swamp mist in his path.
Kane hadn’t run thirty feet when his left ear detected a series of heavy thumping noises By the time he attempted a duck and roll an instant later, leaving him in a classic crouched fighting stance, he found himself staring at a field of matted grass patted down by his own boot prints. The only sounds present were that of his own harsh breathing, his pulse pounding frantically.
"W-what the? I know I heard somet-- " he whispered through gritted teeth, the knife and club held up on each side of his sweat-soaked face as if he were attempting to assist a plane in landing on an invisible runway. He rose to his feet, blowing out a lengthy sigh of relief before casually swinging about towards the hanger.
The machete blade entered his throat just below the Adams apple, penetrating with such force that the wooden handle ended where the perfectly horizontal wound began.
Parks had pursued him with the quickness of an Olympic sprinter, carefully tracing the other man’s steps through the dust and adjoining grass that led to the hanger . He’d been less than two feet away when Kane had performed the pitifully predictable roll. Parks had leaped completely over the man’s spinning frame, landing on his feet after a single bounce atop the shag-carpet thick grass surface.
He had positioned the machete for the strike a mere millisecond before the other man had turned. Despite the complete incursion of the blade through the man’s throat, Parks had actually held back to some extent on the torque of his jab in case the man somehow found a way to slip the blow, thereby leaving himself off-balance and open for a counter-attack.
The tip of Kane’ s boots hardly scraped the ground as he hung semi-airborne from the inserted weapon like a prize fish being displayed from an open pier. His body shook in a series of death spasms, simultaneously defecating and urinating into his camouflaged pants.
Sneering in disgust, Parks jerked the weapon free in a single lightning-quick movement, allowing the body to fall backward as a gush of crimson flew forward in a wide spray.
Leaning down after all movements had apparently ceased, Parks gripped the man roughly by the hair and lifted his upper body forward until it appeared the man was attempting an impromptu yoga movement, his legs splayed out to form a perfect ’V’ shape.
Raising the machete shoulder length high with his free hand, Parks paused for dramatic effect before lashing the blade across the man’s exposed, bloodied neck.
He held the detached head into the air for a few moments, his bare arm firmly flexed and as thick as an average man’s thigh.
Walking back towards the East Side of the base camp, Parks permitted the grotesque trophy to swing freely at his side.
Certain the hidden cameras had obtained ample useable footage, he let Kane’ s detached skull drop into the grass like a discarded melon shell. "Shit’ s getting too easy," he mumbled in a deep, humorless tone that sounded as if croaked through a voice box hindered by waves of static