Sitting in the parking lot of the Sherburne County Detention Center in a black tinted-out Harley Davidson pickup truck was Tragedy, a member of ‘The Unit’. She had patiently watched as the man whose picture sat on the seat next to her walked inside the building. Pressing the button on her wireless earpiece, she relayed a message, “The rooster is in the henhouse, copy?”

To which the reply was, “Copy. Five minutes and the hen will be out.”

As soon as Captain Mark Hanson entered the jail, his secretary Evelyn greeted him with his morning coffee and breakfast roll. She’d been his personal secretary for twelve years and hadn’t missed a single morning of the ritual.

Entering his office, he set his coffee and roll down on his desk and took off his jacket. Then he settled in at his desk to review the overnight log before morning roll call. He hadn’t been sitting three minutes before he heard the Bob Dylan ringtone coming from his cellphone. He normally didn’t answer his cell while savoring his few moments of peace, but that song had meaning behind it – it was his favorite song that he had chosen for his wife. It was so out of character for Glo to call him at work he knew something needed his attention. He immediately got up to retrieve the phone out his jacket pocket and noticed something even more unusual – she was using FaceTime.

Mark leaned over and kicked the door closed before accepting the call. The sight on the little screen had him totally discombobulated. There was his wife, his everything, of twenty years in her bathrobe with an egg-sized knot and red tear-stained face trembling with fear. After several pulsating seconds, he regained his composure and blurted out, “What the hell’s going on?”

Stumbling over her words, trying her best to get them out, she said, “You have to comply with them. Please! They have guns and are going to kill us if you don’t do exactly what they say! Please, do as they say!”

The camera view swung toward his son who was crying through the duct tape around his mouth while waving his helpless arms also trapped in duct tape.

In a rush of panic, Mark said, “Don’t worry baby, we’re on our way. Whoever did this will pay!” Just then, a sound resembling a gunshot, temporarily silenced everyone on both ends of the phone. Dig a Hole had slapped Gloria across the face. Just off camera, he leaned into the microphone, “Look Mark, come play hero if you want. You won’t make it out the parking lot to that Crown Vic before a bullet rips through that bald head of yours, not to mention I’ll paint the walls of your perfect home with the blood of your loved ones.”

“Now, what you’re going to do is release Candyce Valdez. If she is not walking outside that jail in exactly five minutes, send the coroner to your home address. Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT deviate from my instructions. You will not attempt to call anyone if you plan to see your family again; but, before I go-watch carefully.”

Turning the camera toward the window facing out toward the backyard he could now see Bri standing in front of the loading end of the wood chipper. She was holding the beloved family pet. After a moment, she dropped the unsuspecting pooch inside. Seconds later blood, fur and bone particles spewed out the backside.

 Dig a Hole waited to let the message sink in and then said, “Hold on. If you didn’t like that, then you’ll definitely not want to see this!”

Naughty moved into view next to the chipper. This time, however, instead of a dog, there was a screaming infant dangling over the business end of the cutter.

Continuing, Dig a Hole said, “Don’t test my resolve. I’ll send that lil’ mutherfucker through for the first second past five minutes – and the next minute Junior will follow. Understood?” Without waiting for a response he coldly confirmed, “Time starts now. And know – I’m watching.”

Hearing the beep from the phone ending the chat, Gloria’s heart rate lowered and her pulse went into slow motion - as did everything else around her. She mustered all the courage she could to look across the room into her son’s eyes. She was doing her best to give him hope that everything would be ok, but the energy of the coldblooded, heartless beings present in the room rocked her to her very core. She couldn’t imagine what her husband had done to get them into this situation.   

She silently began to pray that her husband would act upon his love for his family instead of his devotion to the justice system.  

Minutes later a confused looking Candyce came stumbling out the front door of the Sherburne Detention Center, hair all messed up. Stopping just steps from the door, she paused to slide her foot into her shoe, which was only half on due to the Captain waking her up and rushing her out the door. Much to the surprise of not only Candyce, but the entire jail staff as well, the Captain, without so much as telling anyone why or where she was going, personally walked her through the security corridors and out the front door

Standing up and straightening her hair, she looked up and saw the black truck idling in the parking lot. The tinted windows prevented her from seeing who was inside. When the window rolled down she saw a woman wearing a ball cap and heard her heavily accented voice- one she was very familiar with being that her father was Cuban, say, “Hurry up, Mami! Run, we have to go.”

Without hesitation, she did as instructed, ran around to the passenger side and hopped in. Tragedy had the truck in drive before Candyce even got the door closed. She wasn’t taking any chances of being followed. Several miles up the road, she pulled over to their prearranged location and told Candyce, “Let’s go.”

Not looking back, expecting Candyce to follow, Tragedy jumped out of the truck and into a new conversion van. Once inside she said, “Make yourself comfortable. We have a lil’ ride to take. I know you’re wondering what all this is about, but I’ll leave the explaining to our mutual friend, Galen.”

Hearing his name immediately brought joy to Candyce’s soul. She’d waited for what seemed like an eternity to be able to see, smell, feel and lay in the arms of the only man she had ever loved besides her father. Her mind raced with a thousand and one unanswered questions. She couldn’t even remotely imagine what Galen had done to get her out. The one thing she was sure of was that she couldn’t give two fucks about any of it. All that mattered was that he had come back for her exactly as he said he would.

Once they were safely cruising down the highway, Tragedy radioed that the hen was safe and the yard was clear.





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