The four triad members maintained their act as Brig’s speech became gradually more slurred and unintelligible, to eventually a soft snore.
“Brig, you still with us, buddy?” A-fai inquired. Getting no response, he rose to his feet.
“Brigham Young, are you in there? Just shout if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?” A-fai sang the lyrics from “Major Tom” with only a hint of a Canto accent. He grabbed the top of Brig’s head by the hair with his left hand and twisted Brig’s head roughly back and forth. “Brig do you like your new friends?” A-fai manipulated the head to make it appear as though Brig were looking at the others and then shook the head animatedly up and down as if nodding “yes.” Johnny and Glitch laughed approvingly. “And does Briggy still want to go to Mount Everest?” Brig’s head nodded his approval. “Will Brigham help his new friends by convincing his father to pay them $10 million?” Brig nodded emphatically. “That’s a good Brigham” A-fai sang as he crashed his right hand into Brig’s face. Brig fell from his chair like a sack of potatoes.
“Aiya!” Glitch protested. “That’s wrong. The man can’t even protect himself.”
“You’re right. My bad.” A-fai pulled Brig up into a sitting position. The skin around his eye was already swelling. Brig murmured something unintelligible.
“What’s that? You want another?” A-fai shook Brig’s head affirmative. A-fai looked at Glitch, “He says he wants another.” A-fai pummeled Brig’s face with a left hook and blood gushed from his probably broken nose.
Glitch jumped up to defend Brig, who slumped over after A-fai’s last punch.
“You sadistic fuck! He won’t be any good to us dead.”
“You want some of this bitch?”
Johnny, who was bigger than both, separated the two before any blows were exchanged.
“Stop!” commanded Tommy. The two immediately backed away from each other.
“I’m just doing my job asshole!” A-fai defended.
“What’s your job? Destroying the asset?” Glitch had little taste for the violent side of the business. He preferred cracking computers over human heads.
“Are you done?” Tommy asked rhetorically. A-fai and Glitch looked down at their feet, uncomfortable in their disobedience.
“Go get the blood and the camera,” Tommy commanded Johnny. Only minutes ago they spoke and acted as equals, friends, but now it was clear that Tommy led the group. Johnny obeyed immediately as Tommy withdrew a nasty-looking knife from his coat pocket and placed it on the table.
“It wasn’t all acting,” Rejoined A-fai, incorrectly assuming that all was well. “He made it easy. All that shit about soccer, and football, and basketball. That is so typical of an American, ‘If it isn’t invented in America, it’s not worth shit.’” He gave Brig a kick to the ribs that caused the unconscious Brig to grimace.
Moving with surprising speed, Tommy grabbed the knife from off of the table and raced across the room. The knife came to rest against A-fai’s throat. A thin line of blood appeared where blade met skin. Tommy knew how to handle a blade.
“What part of ‘stop’ didn’t you understand?”
When A-fai started to respond, Tommy pushed the sharp blade harder against his throat, drawing more blood.
Tommy shook his head, “It’s a rhetorical question. I assume you know what ‘stop’ means.”
Tommy calmed himself by taking a deep breath. “If you disobey me again, we won’t need the pig’s blood. Yours will do just fine.”
He pushed A-fai away with a hard shove from his knife hand. A-fai stepped back, touching his bleeding neck to judge the severity of his wound. Tommy winced, the pain from his left hand demanding attention. He had forgotten about his injury in the adrenaline rush of his attack on A-fai. He looked down at his heavily bandaged hand to see a small blot of blood spreading across the white gauze like cancer. He pulled out a plastic bag of painkillers from his coat pocket and dry swallowed two.
“Careful now, we don’t want him remembering any of this.” Tommy cautioned. He looked down at Brig, who was stretched out across the plastic tarp that covered the apartment floor and furniture. What happened to you? thought Tommy, looking down at Brig. Here was a relatively young man that seemed to have everything, but was set on destroying himself despite the advantages in life he had been given.
Johnny walked back into the room carrying a bucket of what looked like blood and placed it near Brig’s head. Tommy instructed A-fai to put Brig’s hands into the bucket of blood, and then to wipe the bloodied hands on Brig’s clothes, face and matted hair. Tommy dipped the knife into the blood as well, sheathed it, and placed it in one of Brig’s pockets.
“Prop him up against the couch,” Tommy commanded.
A-fai obeyed with speed, moving Brig into a sitting position. Glitch re-entered the room carrying a handgun and stood next to the comatose Brig. The front page of yesterday’s South China Morning Post was placed on Brig’s chest, headline and date facing forward. Glitch put the gun to Brig’s forehead, using the nuzzle of the gun to keep Brig’s head from falling forward. Johnny snapped several photos and showed them to Tommy for his approval. The pictures looked brutal enough. In fact, with Brig’s eyes closed, he may already have been dead.
“I want you to email Brig’s father.” He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket. “Here is the message I want you to send.” He handed Johnny a piece of paper. “Attach two of those photos to the message and use this email account,” he pointed to an email address at the top of the page. “Understand?” Johnny nodded yes. “If you have any problems, call me. I should be in Shenzhen by noon tomorrow.”
The email message was a ransom note, explaining to Brig’s father that a Chinese Triad was holding Brig hostage. He was directed to wire US$10 million dollars to a specified bank account within forty-eight hours, or his son would be killed. If the money was not deposited into the account as instructed, or if the police were notified, Brigham Young VIII would die.
Tommy splashed some pig’s blood on his shirt, and the gauze sling that held up his left arm. “Where are the coats?” Tommy looked at Glitch. Glitch moved swiftly down the hall and came back with two long black raincoats. He placed one of the coats on a chair nearby and helped Tommy into the other. Tommy shoved his right hand into the right sleeve and draped the left side of the coat over his left shoulder as the sling prevented him from doing otherwise.
“A-fai, help Johnny get him ready to go.” Tommy nodded his head towards Brig.
“Clean him up a bit. He’s going to need to get through immigration, so clean the blood from his face and hands.” They got Brig into a standing position and managed to get him into the other coat.
They left Glitch’s apartment around 2 a.m., placing Brig’s body roughly into the back seat of a black BMW. As Brig was being lowered into position, his head hit the edge of the BMW’s roof. He let out a groan.
“I didn’t mean to.” A-fai looked fearfully over at Tommy. Tommy waved him off, “Get in the car. Let’s go.”