“Fuck it,” Mike said. “Plan B then.”
They had planned as much as they could. Plan A was created in the hopes that Jack would cooperate, although they didn’t have much hope that he would. No sane person would, and Jack was far from sane. Plan B had been worked out beforehand as well, to keep Jack in the dark for as long as they could. Less emotion, less violence, if they could help it.
Joe and Mike donned the heavy gloves. The three moved in on him, Carla being the most careful. She couldn’t use her gun with the heavier gloves on, she later realized. She had only her leather gloves for protection.
Joe and Mike acted at once. Joe moved behind Jack, locked his heavy arms around his neck and held on. God, Jack was strong. He growled and lifted Joe off the ground. He started to try to grab his brother from behind but Mike got a hold of Jack’s free arm.
Jack was now pulling Mike toward him, even with all of Joe’s efforts to restrain his brother. Jack yanked Mike toward him and then he whipped his hand up, flipped the nail outward. He aimed for the eye and shoved with every ounce of his strength.
Fortunately, Joe saw it at the last second and heaved Jack over. The nail drove into Mike’s cheek—and stayed in.
Mike fell back, surprised as hell, howling.
Joe jumped on Jack, but he was no match for his brother. He was holding on, now with his legs wrapped around his brother’s waist, but he was losing control.
With a howl of pain and surprise, Mike yanked the nail out of his cheek. He was angry now. It hurt, but Mike was trained military and knew his mission. His anger made him stronger and he used that to get a good grip on Jack’s free hand, slap the cuff on it and yank it to the chain tied to the other beam. They had him.
Jack was still standing, now with his arms stretched wide, as if he were being crucified. But he thrashed and snarled as Joe moved around to face his brother.
To Mike, he said, “Are you all right?”
Mike’s gash was narrow but it had gone straight through. Blood ran down his cheek and he spat more out.
“Can’t think about it,” he panted. “Move in, move out. Right?”
“Right,” Joe answered. They knew the sooner they did it, the sooner this would all be over.
They each took hold of one of Jack’s wrists and pulled him down to a kneeling position. Even now, he could be dangerous. They moved quickly. First, they moved one of the water buckets a little closer. Carla came as close as she dared. She pointed the gun straight at his face while Joe and Mike moved the other bucket into place.
“I’m not fucking around, Jack.” Carla’s tone was cold now. “Don’t move or I’ll shoot you.”
He growled at her but he wasn’t certain she wouldn’t shoot. He trusted no one now. All he could think of was saving his own life.
They’d agreed that Mike would do it. They’d figured out the logistics, and now Joe moved behind his brother and, as he lifted Jack’s legs, Mike dunked Jack’s head into the cold water.
It only took a few minutes but it seemed like forever. Carla couldn’t watch. She was a good, strong cop, but she ran to the corner and vomited while Mike held down the man she cared so much about.
Jack finally stopped struggling. Just like Joe had, Mike watched as Jack’s arms and legs now convulsed. Then he was still. As Mike gently lifted Jack’s head out of the bucket, Joe set his legs down.
It was done.
Joe just stood there, looking at his brother’s lifeless body. He couldn’t hold back any longer, and let the tears come. Carla was just about as useless. She finally holstered her gun.
Mike knew what to do. It wasn’t any easier the second time drowning someone. He unchained one of Jack’s hands, turned him on his side, and hit him hard in the back.
Jack just laid there, eyes wide open, mouth open, completely still. Mike hit him again, harder.
Joe picked up on Mike’s growing anxiety. He bent down next to him. “It’s not working?”
“I don’t know,” Mike said.
“What should we do?” Now Joe was starting to panic. Carla just backed away, her hand over her mouth, horrified.
“Jack! Come on, man! Wake the fuck up!” urged Mike.
“Let’s take the other cuff off.”
“No,” Mike argued. “We all agreed he’s not getting loose unless we’re sure he’s cured.”
“Fuck that. He’s my brother, goddammit. Carla, give me the cuff keys.”
Carla looked up at Joe, her eyes round and full of fear. She looked from Mike to Joe...then shook her head.
Joe was about to get up and get the keys, one way or another, when Mike locked his fingers together for maximum force—and whacked Jack in the back as hard as he could.
Finally, Jack started coughing.
Anna was wild with fear and worry.
He had managed to get her away from the door, but she fought him, and he knew her, too. If he didn’t hold his ground, she’d be down in the cellar to possibly mess everything up. Or worse, get hurt.
So, he did all he could to keep her in the room without hurting her. Jared didn’t know what was happening any more than she did, but he had to keep her away from whatever was going on down there.
They ended up laying on her bed side by side, Jared with his arms around her and Anna sobbing quietly. He wondered how many more tears she could possibly shed. He handed her a water bottle from the nearby nightstand. Maybe that would help replenish her tears. She took it and drank the whole damn thing.
It wasn’t until the knock came at the door, that he let her go. She leaped up and ran and had the door open before Jared could even roll over.
Uncle Joe stood there, sweating, shaking, but smiling. He embraced her, still smiling. That said it all. As Anna wept happy tears, Jared wondered if he would cry like this, too, if his own parents were involved in this crazy mess. He was, after all, becoming more concerned about them. They worked at the zoo, too. But where were they now? Why hadn’t they called him?
“He’s all right,” Joe said, stroking Anna’s hair. “He’s all right.”
“Can I see him? Please!”
“Yes, come and see your dad,” Joe said, and she rushed down the stairs after him.
Jared found Anna sitting cross-legged across from her father, embracing him. Jared thought it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever witnessed. Father and daughter reunited. For them, no one else existed. Anna was so happy; she kept wiping her father’s tears away. Jack caressed Anna’s hair like he’d done a million times before, whenever she’d had a skinned knee or a bad dream.