As the house settled and the events filtered through my mind, I continued to sit in the small crawl space in the dark. I was terrified to come out and discover that my life really had been ripped away.
I don’t know how long I sat in the darkness, but at some point, a steely resolve settled in my heart and soul as I made a promise to my mother. Someday, when I was much older, I would make those bad men pay. I would find them and hurt them like they hurt my mother. They owed me their lives, and I would make sure they paid their debt.
Present (Seventeen Years Later): Zerro
I watched him slither in his seat. He was nervous. I could smell it without even seeing it. His eyes watched me carefully, trying to figure out what I would do next.
“You realize that borrowing money from the mafia without the intent of paying it back is the same as saying, come and get me, I’m ready to die?” I kept my voice calm and cool. I could mean business without showing it. That’s how I worked.
“We… I don’t have any money, Zerro...” His voice was shaky and broken, he was so scared he could barely utter a word. I didn’t care about his excuses for not having his payment. I only cared about him giving me my money, even if that meant I had to do something to get it.
“Alzerro,” I corrected him. I hated it when people who didn’t know or care about me called me Zerro. My closest friends and family were the only ones allowed that privilege. When it came to business, you called me by my name. You would give me the respect I demanded.
“Alzerro,” he quickly corrected himself. His chest was heaving and sweat formed on his forehead. I could tell he thought he was going to die, and he would eventually, but I had something else in store for him first. I wanted my money back, and I would do whatever was necessary to get it. Whatever. Was. Necessary.
“I was afraid this would happen, so I went out of my way to dig up some dirt on you… Guess what I discovered? I found out you have a daughter. A very cute, young, naïve, innocent, intelligent daughter. I bet she’s very capable of handling dear ol’ Dad’s debt, don’t you think?” My voice was sinister, calm, and deadly. His face was a mask of confusion until what I said hit him square in the chest.
“No. Please. Bree has already suffered and lost so much. I borrowed the money for her to go off to college and lead a normal life… This is my debt to pay, not hers. Please, I beg of you. Please don’t bring her into this.” His features paled as his eyes brimmed with tears. He was at my mercy, yet his pleading meant nothing to me. I would love to say that I had a heart somewhere underneath my hatred, anger, and coldness, but I couldn’t. I knew who I was, and I made no apologies for it.
“I didn’t bring her into this, old man. You did,” I hissed out, shoving his words back at him. He was trying to make me feel guilty, but situations like these never made me feel bad. If anything, it fueled the inferno inside of me and made me feel more powerful.
“Please…” he whispered as he began crying again. At that moment, all I could see were the tears that must have been falling from my mother’s face when someone put a gun to her head and killed her. That man never even gave her the chance to beg or plead for her life. I prided myself on not being like that evil bastard; I, at least, was considerate enough to allow my debtors that chance before I killed them.
“You have two weeks until I come back to collect your debt. If you don’t have it by then, I will be choosing your alternate payment. One way or another, you will pay me.” I smiled, simply because I was a sick bastard like that.
My men released him, and before I stepped out of the rundown farmhouse, my eyes landed on a photo of his daughter. She would be mine; she just didn’t know it yet.
It had been months since I had seen my Dad. I had been really hesitant about leaving for college because I was leaving him all alone at the farm. I wasn’t sure he could even make his own breakfast in the morning, do his laundry, or figure out how to run the vacuum. Mom had always catered to his needs, and after she had died, I tried my best to take care of him and the house. He never asked or expected me to do most of the household chores like cooking, cleaning, and laundry, but I did because I loved him. I pull my car onto our dirt road and instantly feel as if there is something wrong. I can’t see the farmhouse yet, but that did nothing to ease the knots forming in my stomach.
Pulling around the bend and up into the driveway, I notice two black SUVs parked in front of the house. A man in a dark suit is standing outside of one, his hand on a shiny item at his hip.