The Sacrificed by Shlomo X

Excerpt, continued

Editor’s note:  Over the next few pages, there is a terrific amount of bloodshed, detailed carefully by the author.  Exotic guns. Explosions. Dying enemies. Dying comrades. Everything rings true. If you know a lot about guns, you’ll be able to tell the author knows a lot about guns also. If you’ve held a friend as he bled to death, you’ll know the author has done that too. Let’s pick up the story where The Boy and Theatre have separated from their group, so that their friends can die providing cover for their escape.

Porto Maduro, the old and dilapidated warehouse district that was now host to a wild firefight, was less than a kilometer from the Florida entertainment district. Within ten minutes Theatre and The Boy were walking among dive bars and tango joints. The Boy approached a middle-aged lady on the sidewalk outside a bar.

My friend and I are looking for a party.

Of course.

We just got off a long ship tour, we’d like to have a long party, maybe all night and all day, could that work?

It would be expensive.

You don’t have kids or friends at home?

No, dearie, we can make it work.

A price was settled, and the three started off to her apartment that was barely a block away.

At this point, the firing had slowed down considerably but not stopped completely. The prostitute said, “Something’s going on, I’ve never heard anything quite like that.” As somebody who had grown up in the Argentina of this time, the idea of a firefight over the horizon didn’t seem to worry her too much.

When they entered her third floor walk-up, the boy took a quick look around to check that the small apartment was empty and was satisfied. It was as clean as could be expected, but with a considerable amount of peeling paint and mold on the ceilings.

The prostitute looked at the two and put out her hand, “Now would be a good time to pay me.”

 

The Boy moved quickly closing the short distance between them and clamped a hand around her mouth, pushing her down on the bed and pressing the barrel of his suppressed handgun to her eye. “Here is the thing, we need a quiet place to stay for a day, and we are willing to pay a lot for the service. If you cooperate, it will be very much worth your while. If not, I’m just going to have to kill you. Does that work?”

Her eyes grew, but that didn’t give The Boy enough comfort to remove his hand.

He took the two pouches that The Captain had given him. Feeling the weight, he opened one. Inside were 10,000 U.S. dollars, 20 rolls of blank film and 20 Krugerrands. This was the package that was intended to be given to Theatre. He removed his hand from her mouth and lowered the gun from her face. She nodded and stayed quiet.

Quickly, the boy went through the wallets he had taken from the men on the dock. Between them, they had a little more than twice as many pesos as the woman had asked for a day’s services. He split the money and pocketed half, giving her the other half. “This is for your time.”

 

He held up five Krugerrands. “This is five ounces of gold. Each coin is worth almost ten times what you asked for a day's work. He set the coins on the bed by her feet. That is for tying you up.” He held up five more, “This is for not making a fuss or any noise, and these five are for never telling anybody about it. If that isn’t a good deal for you, then I will have to kill you. You get to decide. There will be no reward from anybody for turning us in, just to be clear.”

 

The woman’s eyes went from the gold to the pesos to the gun to his face, rapidly, three times. The greed and the fear were fighting it out. “Okay. Okay…. But are you going to fuck me?” The Boy looked at Theatre. “I’ll pass I think.”

 

“Okay, lady, you don’t have to work for the money, it’s just for staying out of our way until midnight tomorrow.”

The boy handed her the pesos to go with the five coins. He set the small fortune on top of the dresser and said, “Tomorrow you’ll get the rest”.

Using a small knife he had pulled out of his boot, The Boy cut a blanket into long strips, saying, “Signora, please get undressed, go to the toilet and then get into the bathtub” His tone left no room for negotiation. Laying a blanket under her, the boy tied her hands and feet. He opened and gave her a half bottle of wine that he found in the kitchen. “You can drink this quickly, but then I’m taking away the bottle and gagging you. When it’s light outside we’ll feed you. Until then, you are getting paid well for not bothering us and staying out of our way. I’m not going through the bother of taking you to the toilet again, that’s why you’re in the bathtub. You leave the bathtub after we leave your apartment.”

 

Once she had drunk the wine, The Boy gagged her as gently as he could and returned to the kitchen. A quick search turned up bread, dulce de leche, mortadella, cheese, and a few other scraps to feed the two men. The Boy divided it into five piles and pushed one to Theatre. “Eat, then sleep in the bed. I’ll take first watch.”

The older man ate silently and lay down on the bed without taking off his boots. The boy found a bottle of cheap rum, quickly cleaned his feet and gave himself a short “bath” with rum on a dishcloth, before taking a quick inventory of ammunition and then sitting down with facing both the door to the hallway and the door to the bathroom. He could hear the woman mumbling and trying to get comfortable.

In the distance, the noises from Porto Maduro had stopped completely . It was just under two hours since the first shot had fired. 

24 hours later, each man, having taken three four-hour watches of sleep, finished the food in the apartment, emptied their bowels, drank their fill of water, and checked their appearance in preparation for leaving the apartment. They knew that they would be in public for a minimum of an hour on their way out, and they had to assume that many people would be looking for them.

Theatre was wearing the jacket of one of the dead Argentinian security men over an old men’s shirt that he had taken from the woman’s closet. He had to assume that what he was wearing the day before had been registered with the police. Theatre had also shaved a patch in the middle of his head and saturated his hair with talcum powder. They had found a pair of reading glasses which were now perched on this nose. While a poor disguise, it easily made Theatre go from a 30 year old fit man to a 50 year old man, at least at first glance and from a distance.

While the woman didn’t have any more men’s clothing that would fit The Boy, she did have a couple of tee shirts that he didn’t feel would attract attention, and her feet weren’t that much smaller than his, so he took her sneakers. With his neat hair, sneakers and a tee shirt, The Boy looked like a schoolboy. The pair would look like a man and his boy, out a little too late on a school night. The Boy left his boots. As much as he didn’t want to, he knew that he wouldn’t need the boots as much as he would need the lighter bag. In the closet they found a large canvas shopping bag, and into it went the two pouches, the product, a Russian assault carbine with three magazines, a Russian handgun and a bottle of tap water.

The Boy let the prostitute use the toilet one more time and wash off the filth that had accumulated on her in the tub. He put down a clean towel in the bathtub and tied her again. He gave her a bottle of wine, which he opened. “Lady, drink this, take a nap. When you wake up break the bottle and use the glass to cut yourself free. If you break the bottle on the tub before I’m out of the building I’ll hear it and come back up and kill you, and you won’t get to enjoy all that money that I’ve left you.”

The Boy and Theatre left the room knowing nothing more about each other than they had going in. The younger man didn’t really know anything about the agent he was risking his life to extract, and the older man didn’t know anything about the agent he was trusting with his life. That was just the way these things worked.

They stepped out into the cobblestone road and quickly started to move north. While they wanted to be directly east of here, The Boy had chosen a path that went north, then east then south, to avoid crossing what would probably still be a major crime scene.

They had four hours to get in position, or they would probably be stuck here for the duration, and die here. The Boy didn’t think that they could realistically go west over the Andes into Chile with the resources that they had. He might be able to, but he wasn’t sure about Theatre. Since five of his mates had died to get Theatre out, that wasn’t an option.

Once they had made it 200 meters from the entrance of the apartment building, the boy was sure that they weren’t going to be ambushed on this side of their hike. Now they had to avoid attracting attention. If none of his colleagues had survived to talk, then there wouldn’t be an ambush on the other side. If they had, there was nothing The Boy could do about it yet.

 

Less than ninety minutes they had crossed the railroad tracks again, and made their way to the sandy, lightly forested dunes that lay to the east of the docks. The biggest problem they faced was that The Boy hadn’t had the large wire cutter on him when the shit hit the fan, so they had to use his little pocket tool to get through the two rings of fences they encountered.

 

Once in the dunes, the boy opened one of the pouches and took out a wristband with a compass, a watch, and a counting tool on it, and strapped it on his right wrist.

 

He took out a small waterproof pocket notebook, found a group of numbers and started looking through the compass at points on the Buenos Aires skyline.  He moved purposefully along the dunes.

Theatre waited patiently, he knew exactly what The Boy was doing, and knew the only contribution he could make was to be quiet, and watchful. He figured that if they were going to die tonight, it would be here, and only because somebody had told the security forces where to look for them. The Boy thought it more likely they die later, out at sea, but they didn’t compare notes at this point.

Within a few minutes, The Boy had uncovered a duffle bag, buried 30 centimeters beneath the sand. Out came dry suits, flippers, life vests, two floats, a pump and some dry bags. The Boy handed Theatre a dry suit, a set of flippers and a vest, and proceeded to inflate two seal-sized floats before putting on his own gear.

Using a grease pen and a board that fit over his forearm, the boy copied a series of numbers from the notebook. He transferred their useful possessions from the shopping bags to the dry bags, and secured them to the floats. They finished the bottle of tap water from the whore’s apartment, and buried everything that was left – including their clothing – in the sand.

With clamps and cords, The Boy tied the himself to the other man, and then to the two floats, making one secure caravan.

“This is a six man job, usually. And I’ve never actually done it before, aside from in training, even with the full team. So I need you to swim as hard as you can, but keep in mind that we have a two-hour swim ahead of us, at least, so swim hard but pace yourself.” He smiled nervously knowing how stupid that sounded. “We should be okay. I’ve attached the beacon to your vest. If something should happen to me, inflate your vest, hold on to a float, and activate the beacon. And, well, that would probably be a good time to pray. You also have the handgun. If we do encounter the enemy, I would suggest it would be better for you not to be taken alive.”

“I wouldn’t have been the one navigating on this mission, if the others had survived. So I am going to be working really hard at this. We are racing the tide, so we have one realistic chance or we won’t make it. So, unless you have something urgent to ask or say, being quite for the next couple of hours would be an excellent course of action, sir.”

 

With that, they each took several hard deep breathes and waded into the muddy water of the La Plata River delta. As the water reached their chests, The Boy started swimming, and Theatre felt himself pulled along with the powerful strokes.

 

For the next hour, The Boy stopped every 10-15 minutes to look back at the skyline through the compass on his wrist, and glancing at the numbers he had written on the board attached to the opposite forearm.  At the one hour point, the stops became more frequent, until he was stopping every two minutes or so at the two hour point. They then started swimming in a large circle, getting tighter until the boy let out a grunt when he touched a black, basketball sized buoy.

 

The Boy smiled for the first time since meeting Theatre. “Now, finally, I think I might actually fulfill my mission, sir.” “You mean get me home?” “Yes sir.”

 

The Boy clamped Theatre and the floats to the buoy. “You can rest for a while now, sir.”

“You mean here, floating in the middle of a huge muddy river in the middle of the night? You mean rest like that?” Theatre gave The Boy his first smile, too.

“Yes sir. Just like that, sir.”

 

The Boy took ten long deep breaths, and then disappeared into the muddy water. A minute later he came back up, took several more breaths, and disappeared again. Ninety seconds later, a five-meter long black torpedo of rubber surfaced, with the boy holding on to the side inflating it from an air tank.

 

After several breaths, The Boy disappeared again to surface attached to a second rubber torpedo. Suspended in between was an aluminum deck. Next The Boy inflated a V-shaped nose, bringing the inflatable boat to life. Its markings were strange – a combination of Russian and Arabic. It had been sold by Russia to Egypt, captured by Israel, and sold to Britain. The Boy helped get Theatre on the boat and secured the gear to the side of the boat. There was no way he was going to lose the beacon or the product at this stage in the game.

Over the next hour and a half, the boy dove and surfaced, using a parachute like device that he filled with air from a tank, to lift the goods from the depth. Four Jerry cans of fuel and one of water, several dry bags of gear, and an engine.

He changed into a new set up silk underwear under a dry suit and had Theatre do the same. He gave Theatre a handful of protein biscuits and ate three himself, with half a liter of water from the Jerry can.

Once he had everything secured and he had checked the engine to make sure it worked, the boy returned all the surplus to dry bags, attached them to the buoy cable, slashed the buoy and scuttled everything that they weren’t taking with them.

The engine was turned on and ready almost exactly at the time that the tide turned, giving them three hours before sunrise to get as far away from the territorial waters of Argentina as possible. They didn’t have much speed, but they did have enough fuel to get them pretty far out. The Boy opened the pouch with the beacon, extended the antenna and turned it on. Now it was out of their hands and in the hands of the Royal Navy.

Setting course, and making himself as comfortable as he could on the aluminum boat floor, The Boy initiated the first non-operational conversation he had had with Theatre, and one of hundreds that would follow in the coming decades. “So, sir, how did you like Argentina?”

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