He grins and for the first time since I walked in here, his eyes skirt me.
While I’m secretly having an anxiety attack, Victor ponders it for a moment, making it seem as though he’s taking the offer into consideration.
Victor glances at me.
“No way,” I say right on cue. “He’s disgusting, Victor. I don’t agree to this.”
Victor stands up and casually takes me by the elbow.
“You’ll do what I tell you to do,” he says.
I shake my head back and forth, looking between them, trying not to break character, but finding it more and more difficult to achieve.
I can do this, I tell myself as the loud pounding of my heart rises over my voice in my head. Victor won’t hurt me. In any way. I have to believe that.
Why doesn’t he just kill the pig now? I don’t understand…
With my elbow still clenched in his hand, Victor turns to Arthur Hamburg and says, “Fifteen thousand,” and Hamburg’s face lights up. “And it’ll be another fifteen if I let you go down on me.”
I feel my eyes widening in my skull.
“It’s a deal.”
“No,” I say and try to wrench my arm free, but then Victor narrows his eyes at me and I give in.
“Bend over the table,” Victor says.
He looks at the heavy square marble table to my right, moving nothing but his eyes.
“Now, Izabel,” he demands.
Oh my God…
Hesitantly I step over to the table and lay my stomach and chest across it from the waist up. Already I feel the air in the room brushing against the fabric of my panties. I swallow hard.
Victor comes up behind me and raises my short dress the rest of the way over my butt, resting it on my lower back. One of his hands squeezes my cheeks.
“Make her cry,” Arthur Hamburg says from the chair behind me. “I have things you can use if you’d like.”
“I can make her cry without them,” Victor says, pulling my panties down and letting them fall around my ankles. I gasp uncomfortably as I’m exposed. “But I might use them still. It’s been a while since I really hurt her.”
Arthur Hamburg makes a strange noise I’ve never heard before. “Oh yes, I’d very much like to see that.” He smacks his hands together and adds with creepy delight, “How small is she? I have a rubber bat.”
I freeze against the table, his comment sucking the breath right out of my lungs.
Are you f**king kidding me?
I’m ready to kill him now. He could be my first kill. I’m ready to do it!
My hands begin to shake underneath my chest.
Stay in character, Sarai…no matter what.
Then suddenly, as if we’re no longer in the room with this sick f**king bastard, I feel Victor’s fingers slide into me and I’m instantly wet. I gasp sharply, the warm breath emanating from my lips coats the marble table inches from my face with moisture. I watch it appear and disappear with every rapid breath I take.
“Spread your legs,” Victor instructs.
At first I don’t, but when he wedges both hands between my thighs and forces them apart, exposing me fully, I don’t fight him, I just grapple the edge of the table with my fingertips and straighten my back.
My mind struggles with the wrong in this. I know it’s wrong and disgusting because that man is sitting there watching this happen. But the other part of me, the part that is starting to block Arthur Hamburg’s presence from my mind entirely, wants Victor to have his way with me. I try to shut my eyes and picture only Victor in the room and it works a minute or two until I hear Arthur Hamburg’s voice again.
“Yes, she’s very pink. Very small,” he says and I grit my teeth.
Victor begins to stall.
“You know,” he says, “maybe you could show me what you have. I’ll f**k for a little bit first, open her up some, and then—”
“Say no more,” Arthur Hamburg says with a sadistic smile in his voice.
I hear him get up from the chair and then his dress shoes tap against the floor as he walks by. I see his pants have already been unbuttoned, his shirt untucked sloppily about his grotesque stomach. He’s already been touching himself. As he approaches what looks like a large closet, he stops about mid-way and turns back to Victor. He seems to be contemplating intensely until he says, “Would it be OK if I allowed my wife to watch with me?”
After a momentary pause, Victor answers, “An extra person wasn’t part of the deal.” He mulls it over. “But I suppose that would be alright. Is she downstairs?”
“Oh good,” Arthur Hamburg says, rubbing his fat hands together. He continues onward toward the closet, opening both enormous doors to reveal a walk-in bigger than an average bedroom. “No, I keep her in here.”
Huh? You keep her in there?
Sensing that this has gotten more than just Victor’s attention, I look up just as he walks past me. Having no idea what he’s doing, I’m not sure if I should stay like I am, or do what I’d rather do and stand up to let my dress drop back over my ass. I wait it out a few more minutes.
“Don’t be too shocked when you see her,” Arthur Hamburg says. It looks like he’s punching in a series of numbers on a silver keypad in the wall on the inside of the closet. “In a way, my Mary is just like your Izabel.”
“Is that so?” Victor says stepping into the closet with him.
Another massive door breaks apart from the wall inside the closet to reveal another room.
“Yes,” Arthur Hamburg goes on. “Though she’s much more submissive than yours.”
Then I hear a loud thump and a bang as the two of them disappear somewhere inside the hidden room. I scramble to pull my panties up and run across the space to see what’s going on, nearly tripping on my way there because of the heels.
“Get in here, Izabel, now!” I hear him shout and though he called me Izabel, I know by the urgent tone in his voice that he’s speaking to me as Sarai.
Once I make my way past the tall shelves inside the closet and burst through into the hidden room, I’m shocked and confused by what I see, unable to form thoughts much less words. Victor has Arthur Hamburg pressed face-first against the wall with a tie wrapped tightly around his thick neck. His face bulges over the restricting fabric, his skin turning dark red and purple. A woman lies on a cot next to the wall wearing a long, see-through white cotton gown that has been soiled by urine and blood.
“In the closet,” Victor says, pressing his body against the struggling man, “there’s a briefcase on the floor with a gun inside. Get it.”
I nod rapidly and run back into the closet behind me to search for the briefcase, finding it in seconds. I take the gun out and rush back inside the room.
He frees one hand and I give it to him.
Victor shoves the gun against Arthur Hamburg’s temple and releases his body. He gasps for air, making desperate choking sounds as he tries to regain control of his breathing. Then Victor pats him down, checking for weapons. When he’s satisfied there are none, Victor reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out a pair of rubber gloves and tosses them to me, indicating for me to put them on.
I do so quickly.
“Now here are how things are going to happen,” Victor says to Arthur Hamburg. “Unfortunately, you get to live. If it were my choice, I’d of killed you last night at the restaurant, or any other Friday night before that. But you get to live.”
What. Is. Going. On? I can’t wrap my mind around this unexpected turn of events.
“If you didn’t come here to kill me,” Arthur Hamburg says, his voice shaking with fear but laced with amusement, “then what the f**k are you here for? Money? I’ve got plenty of money. I’ll give you anything you want.”
Victor shoves Arthur Hamburg onto the floor and keeps the gun trained on him. Sweat is pouring from the man’s face and neck, soaking his white dress shirt. Then Victor reaches inside his hidden suit jacket pocket and hands me a small yellow envelope.
“Open it,” he instructs.
As I’m doing that, Victor turns back to him.
“The death will be ruled as a suicide,” Victor says and I’m growing even more confused. “She left a note signed by her hand. All you have to do is wait one hour after we leave to call it in.”
“What the f**k are you talking about?” Arthur Hamburg snaps, despite a gun being pointed at him.
I can’t decide who to look at more, the sick man on the floor or the poor woman lying on the cot.
Suddenly she looks up at me with sad, weak, tormented eyes and a chill runs through my body.
“Victor we have to help her.” I start to move toward her.
“No,” Victor says. “Leave her be.”
“Remove the contents of the envelope,” he interrupts.
I take out a folded piece of paper first, trying to grasp the feel of it through the tight rubber gloves sealed to my hands.
“Read it,” he says.
Carefully, I unfold it and look down into the pretty handwriting in a blue ink flourish. And as I begin to read the letter aloud, I start to feel queasy and my heart hurts.
My Dearest Husband,
I can’t do this with you anymore. I’ve shamed my family, our children, we’ve shamed ourselves, Arthur. I don’t love you anymore. I don’t love myself. I don’t love anyone because I can’t. I haven’t been able to feel a valid emotion in twelve years of the thirty I’ve been married to you for. I can’t live like this anymore. So many times I wanted to seek help, maybe get on medication. I don’t know, but after so long, after years of wanting to get help I started not to care.
I am so sorry that you had to see me this way. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t come to you for help. But I didn’t want help. I just wanted it to end.
And that’s what I’m doing.
I’m ending it.
The man can’t take his eyes off his wife. His flabby chin vibrates as he tries to hold in his tears. But I still don’t feel a shred of remorse for him. Not only because I’m still struggling to figure out why this has happened, but because I know he’s a sick man and doesn’t deserve remorse.
“Why are you here?” he asks, his husky voice shuddering.
Victor looks to me. “Give me the SD card,” he says.
I pull the tiny square card from the corner of the bottom of the envelope and place it into Victor’s free hand. He holds it up to Arthur Hamburg wedged between his thumb and index finger.
“All of the information on this card has already been transferred to my employer. The names on your extensive client list, the locations of your underground operations, the video evidence that your dear wife recorded that you knew nothing about. It’s all here.” He throws the SD card onto Arthur Hamburg’s chest. “If anyone comes looking for me or Izabel for the death of your wife and it’s not ruled a suicide, all of that information will be released to the FBI. We are to walk out of here unharmed and as welcomed as we were when we walked through your front doors. Is that understood?”