The Orphaned Chapter Four

“About damn time,” Wilcox said with his grey eyes peering through the young Father.
“Love you too Wilcox.”
Wilcox stood there grim-faced as always, the deep lines in his face telling of his experiences in battle and in life. When his eyes fell on Harmon he had unleashed a feral groan. Even his shivered hair seemed to bristle, standing upright like ashened blades of grass. His eyes matched the hue of his hair, and they rolled back into his head as he waited for Harmon to approach.
Harmon looked through the glass partition at Romanski who was handcuffed on the other side of the interrogation room. The Russian was cuffed to a metal desk in the center of the room. He was smiling as though waiting for a party to start. Dressed in prison grays he still managed to look dapper. From the stiff way the man held his leg Harmon imagined there was some kind of cast beneath his pants. The knowledge of that brought a glimmer of a smile to his face.
Harmon pressed his fingers to the glass much like he did outside of Susana’s observation room. Unlike with Susana though he wished Romanski was dead, that he had ended him when he had the chance. Then the world would be down one less monster. And he wouldn’t be there smiling like shark before feasting.
“What does he want?” asked Harmon.
Wilcox snickered. “That’s your job to find out, isn’t it?”
“You realize I’m not a trained interrogator.”
“You realize I don’t give a damn?”
Harmon smiled. “You could’ve had a career with Hallmark with all these sweet gems Wilcox.”
Wilcox spat a heavy glob onto the floor in Harmon’s direction. It landed with a wet thunk. The old man wore a sickened grimace as Harmon met his gaze. “He only wants to talk to you. We worked him over a bit already and he’s hanging in there. Smiling that damn smile. Since he’s only willing to talk to you let me say this once: don’t screw this up.”
All semblance of arrogance left Harmon’s body as he gave Wilcox a solemn nod. He headed over to the door where he was stopped once again. “I know you shot him on purpose. You’re becoming one of us after all.”
A growl escaped Harmon’s throat as he unlatched the door. His senses were assaulted by the stench of death; the cancer was savagely eating him. Despite it all the Russian seemed to be enjoying every moment of this.
“Hello comrade!” Romanski grinned, his mouth curved as if he was savoring their encounter. “I trust you and the little one are well.”
“Hello Romanski. I trust you’ll never walk without a limp.”
The Russian howled with delight. “Very good my friend, very good indeed. This is why I like you.”
Harmon wanted to pull his gun, press it to the Russian’s head, and end him. His brains leaving a pulpy fan pattern behind him. Instead he snorted and took a seat across from him. This close the stink of the man was nearly unbearable. It made Harmon’s eyes water. At this range he felt like a minnow about to meet the end of the food chain.
There was no doubt as to who was in control. The problem would be in gaining the upper hand on a powerful foe that did not seem to care about anything.
“Why am I here?” Harmon asked folding his arms as though he was annoyed.
Again Romanski chuckled. “Would you like me to tell you? To be fed by the hand like a helpless babe? You’re not that dumb my friend. Stop playing. Tell me why you’re here.”
Harmon exhaled. “Because you want it that way.”
“Good. Now why is that?”
“Because you’re dying. Despite your vast knowledge and wealth, science betrayed you and is killing you. Yet you still yearn for some power. So you see someone like me who made the mistake of showing an iota of compassion in front of you. You took that for weakness. After seeing my supposed weakness you saw an opportunity to gain control over someone again. To feel like you actually mattered. So until you take your final breath you feel determined to make my life hell.”
Silently Romanski laughed at the man, but there was no denying the quick rise and fall of his shoulders. “Is that what you managed to come up with? Comrade you are highly deluded. You think much too highly of yourself.”
“It’s true.”
“Not in the slightest. What is it you know about me? All this technology, and you can’t do simple barebones research? Foolish.”
“Oh we know quite a bit.”
“We? I didn’t ask for we. I asked what you knew about me.”
“Enough. I know enough about you.” There was no masking the hardness in his voice. Although he couldn’t see him Harmon felt Wilcox’s gaze through the two sided mirror. The old man’s voice whispered in his head, ‘Stop falling into his traps. Don’t let him play you. Hit him for Christ sake! Break a few fingers. The cancer doesn’t mean he can’t feel pain.’
Romanski put his shackled hands on the table. He propped them up and splayed them open to make a fleshy pedestal. He sat his head in the impromptu throne and gazed at Harmon like a love struck tween. The smile on his face was wide and beaming.
“So tell me comrade. What is it you know about me?”
Harmon took a breath, lowering his eyes as he did so. His eyes searched the desk and the floor for an answer. He brought his eyes back up to Romanski’s. “I know that your father has to be ashamed of you.”
From behind the glass Harmon swore he heard every last blood vessel in Wilcox’s head burst like minuscule kegs of dynamite. The old man wouldn’t come in though. Harmon had to learn…at least that is what the older gentleman would tell himself.
Romanski meanwhile furrowed his deep brow. His face, his eyes went cold as he leaned back in the chair. He studied Harmon as if he were an alien being seated across from him.
“Tell me,” Romanski said letting his Russian accent get thicker as the anger seeped through his pores. “What is it that makes you say such a stupid thing?”
“You asked me what I knew so I told you. Everyone knows Viktor Romanski was brilliant. A genius by many standards. He created the original formula that fuels everything we do. Despite this he had a conscious. When your organization, the Strovinka, suggested he begin using babies, no, fetuses to run the formula on he refused. Standing up to them cost him his life.
“They looked to you to do it because your intelligence is comparable. While you understood your father’s work, you were far from his equal. You lacked his heart and passion. It showed in your work. The formula became unstable. Your incompetence cost the Strovinka millions, and with the Russian economy what it is they could have gone bankrupt. All because of you. Killing your father was their biggest mistakes.
“So you stole from them, knowing that your time with them was coming to an end. Bit by bit you took a small fortune, enough to live in excess a couple lives over. But the Strovinka are serious about their money. They’ll hunt you. They’ll keep hunting you until they kill you and get back their money back. That’s why you wanted to get caught. You want us to keep you safe. Because you’re a coward who never was able to move from under your father’s shadow.”
Flecks of crimson darkened the Russian’s face. There was no hiding the fact his blackened teeth were grinding together. Harmon didn’t flinch. He managed to smile. He brought his smiling face within inches of the Russian’s. It wasn’t every day the prey caught the hunter.
“They found someone,” Romanski said calmer than he appeared. “He made it work.”
Those words struck Harmon like a blow to the gut. He knew. The people he worked for were monsters but if Romanski was right then the Slovakia were not only pure evil but…
“That’s why I ran. You were right. They didn’t need me anymore. Not with that young guy there. He ruined everything. I had it easy.”
That would mean…
“They scare me. They should scare you too. Brick by brick they will tear this place down. Then they’ll so you horrors you couldn’t imagine. That is why I left.” He appeared deflated. Suddenly Harmon sat across a cancer victim who had no chance of making it. “I don’t want to die like that, not by their hands. Protect me. Protect me and I’ll do whatever you want.”


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