“If you let me go, I have friends. They can get you money, drugs, girls, whatever you want, man.”
I laughed and shook my head. “You’re not hearing me, Smith. I don’t want money, drugs, or girls. My daughter was murdered. Money can’t replace her; drugs can’t get me high enough to forget her. There’s no replacing Janie.”
Smith’s face flushed red, and he leaned forward and spit at me. “Screw you man! Someone will find me, and then you’re going to pay! My car has a GPS, and you’re going to die!”
“There you go! Spit in the face of death. I knew you could do it.”
“I’m going to have your head,” he shouted.
“Do you favor a specific foot?”
I slammed the hammer down onto the top of his left foot, cutting off any words he might have said. Smith howled in pain, and I slammed the hammer down again.
Tears burst from his eyes, and Smith sobbed. I dropped the hammer and sat back down.
“Here’s what you don’t understand, Smith. Torture is an ineffective way to gather intelligence because the person receiving the torture will say whatever they need to, to get the pain to stop. So, I can’t trust anything you tell me now. Which means that now, I must move onto another source.”
Snot bubbles came from his nostrils, and he began to sob even more. “Please, don’t kill me. I’m sorry about your daughter. Please, please, don’t kill me.” I pulled my phone out and recorded Smith. He continued to cry and beg, and an idea began to form in my mind.
“Who killed my daughter, Smith?”
The question brought more snot, more bubbles, and more sobs. It was pathetic.
“…Don’t kill you, right? You want to live, right?”
“Okay, well, I can’t just let you go. So, I’ve gotta get my pound of flesh.”
Red blood splattered the soundproof vinyl, and Smith screamed. I reminded him that he’d made his bed, and now it was time for him to lie in it-like a big boy. His screams continued for hours, and when I was done, I drove his police car into the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway.
On the front passenger seat, I buckled in my pound of flesh that I’d taken from Smith, and I watched as it sailed into the murky water below. And I remembered what I told Smith when I left.
Your life came at a cost. If you were unwilling to pay the cost, then you should have chosen death. You didn’t, so shut up and pay.