Chapter 9 - Vengeance
A of Romance by The Star*
Claude Valkenberg was worried.
He had good reason to be.
In fact, he had several pressing concerns.
His wife, a gorgeous woman he'd as a celebration of having 'made
it'--once he got rid of the bitch he'd when he was young--showed
signs of a roving eye. She made no secret of her disappointment in him and
in his failure to provide the income and social standing she wanted.
Then his associates disappeared.
First, the Schwartz had gone. One vanished, the other dead of
injuries he suffered during his capture on the Steele Ranch.
Then the Hammers had disappeared, right after they'd killed Marty
The Schwartz was as good as gone; and the Olsens had been the
latest---vanished without a trace. They'd just left everything and
disappeared. He didn't have any idea if they were hiding from someone or
if they had run into something they just couldn't handle--something fatal.
He'd warned Olsen about using drug money. Well, screw him. It was his own
They'd been run out of Dallas, leaving town with what they could carry,
as the bank seized all the assets they could find--including his 'emergency
walk-away' stash of about $3 million in small bills he'd skimmed from their
operations. Damn that Olsen! He said the scheme with the Black Angus
bulls to finance the oil deal was rock-solid. When the bulls from the
Steele Ranch showed up in Texas, the value of Olsen's bulls dropped to half
what they'd paid. Since it was all 'leveraged', the house of cards came
tumbling down. A lovely operation, ruined by such a little thing.
And, one more time, the Steeles had a part in it.
He didn't believe for a minute that they were responsible. How could
they have been? But they sold those bulls of theirs at the worst possible
time for him. On the positive side, he liked New Orleans. The 'big easy'
was his kind of place, where hustlers and gamblers were admired, as long as
they were winning. Still, it paid to be careful. With his 'partners'
gone, he needed to be certain that something unexpected didn't happen to
him. He hired a burly 'driver' for himself. The guy could drive pretty
good, but was mostly a thug who'd thump anybody Claude told him to.
~~ * * * * * ~~
The ranch was a busy place. was home, helping with the horses when
she wasn't on the phone. (Her phone bill was prodigious. Every call was
long distance and many were to relatives on the east coast.)
The two Indian ladies we'd hired to help with the horses were very busy
indeed--and accomplishing more than we hoped, in our 'best case' dreams.
To top it off, George and Hazel were there, along with two couples they
Then Tom Shaliko and Gary Butler showed up.
It seems Hazel had called a meeting.
In the great room of their log cabin getaway home--total of about 6,500
square feet of 'rustic cabin'--we gathered.
"Adoré has done a fantastic job for us, taking our for what was
done to Martin... Your contacts were great, Tom... But, from what we're
hearing, the last of them, the Valkenbergs, will be a tougher nut to crack.
Since the rest of us have a stake in this, it seems to me that she
shouldn't have to do it alone."
We all agreed that we would welcome the chance to help. had let us
participate a bit. But mostly, she was taking her own vengeance and I
didn't feel it my place to interfere.
obviously agreed with me. "I'm doing OK. Why not leave things as
they are? I won't hesitate to ask for help when I think I can use some."
Hazel looked at her fondly. "Adoré-Dory--I'm so glad Martin you! You've never disappointed me... This is a case, dear, when the rest
of the wants more of its share. And I think you're into a little
more than you know.
"I know that I want some of my own revenge. And I think Rick does, too.
Even George is pissed off at these people. He's found out about a few
things they've done that have cost him a bundle... And, Dory, I've found
out a few things I don't think you know about. I think this one needs to
be a project."
said, "I'll reserve judgement on that. Meanwhile, I'm all ears,
"OK. What I've learned is that both Anita and Claude have a network of
their own. Their families are almost as extensive as ours--except theirs
are amoral without exception."
Grandma paused, "Have you heard of the Gradlings?" Of course we had.
"Well, Anita Valkenberg is a Gradling." That caused some eyes to widen.
"And 'Valkenberg' is just another name for the Dykers." Another name most
"So," Hazel continued, "you can see that when we take care of Claude and
Anita, we better make sure their families can't tie anything back to
us--even suspicion--or we'll never end this vendetta."
Everyone was fully alert now. We had a much bigger problem than we
realized and grandma was proposing we finish it off cleanly.
After some general discussion among the group as a whole, George said,
"I'd like to bring our guests into this. They are good friends who are
fully aware of what's going on. I think they can help. They're willing. I
trust them. If you agree, I'll invite them to join us."
Again, a bit of discussion--the consensus was that George trusted them
and thought they'd be helpful. It was enough.
Frank Albers and Witt Charpenning were brought in and introduced to
everyone. They already knew who most of us were, though we'd never heard
of them before. Hazel said, "Frank and Witt's wives have graciously
absented themselves from the house. They're down at the ring, watching
Robin work with the horses. While they have an idea about what's going on,
they won't pry or spy." Grandma grinned. "They're ladies and nice people.
George took the floor.
"Frank here is a senior officer in the Secret Service. He's done his
time on the White House detail, but prefers being a law-enforcement officer
to being a bodyguard. Presently, he's in charge of the New York office
where he divides his time between possible threats to the persons of high
level government people and chasing various scoundrels who violate the
country's currency and other financial laws."
We took a moment to assimilate that.
"Witt is a bit more of a maverick. He heads the security office of
Wells Fargo Bank, having left government service in disgust several years
ago. Witt's people are the best I've ever seen at spotting crime of all
kinds, if there is any kind of paper trail. And they are also the best
there is when it comes to physical security--whether of a place, a person,
or a valuable item on the move."
"I'm sure they're great and very good at what they do, George,"
Uncle Rick said, "but how does that help us?"
George grinned. It was not a pleasant smile. "They have, like us, had
their problems with Valkenberg--and the Gradlings and Dykers. If they can
help us, without doing anything illegal, they will. (They don't consider
sharing information illegal, regardless of what congress may decree.) And
of course, kicking around ideas about how they would handle a
'hypothetical' situation, between friends, is not a problem at all, but
rather good professional training and something they do all the time to
had a 'hypothetical' all ready to go.
"You obviously, from what George said, know more about Valkenberg's
present location and situation than I do. Given what you know, purely as
an intellectual exercise, you understand...?"
They nodded. They understood. And would pump them, later, for
details. "If your objective were to completely terrify the Valkenbergs,
and then, only after they had been completely terrorized, demoralized, and
humiliated, them--in such a way that there was absolutely no link
back to you--how would you go about it?"
was asking for a plan for what she intended to do.
Frank and Witt just smiled tight little smiles, no teeth showing. They
knew precisely what she was asking.
"First, I think I'd work on terrorizing and demoralizing. Little
things--not harmful, in themselves, but that demonstrate an ability to take
their lives on a whim. Things like car bombs that only burn up the
electrical system--with a lot of smoke; dead in their beds--placed
there, preferably, while they are sleeping... Notes left on their
pillows... There are any number of things along these lines that would
make somebody jumpy."
"How about phone threats and things like that?"
"Not a good idea. There are too many records of telephone calls. It
just isn't worth the risk."
Frank had ideas, too.
"Witt has a low and devious mind... I like him.
"Of course, the genre of ideas he's suggested lead to others. But I had
a thought about the humiliation part. Claude has this little hobby: He
likes to be tied up and have a woman do him while he's helpless. I think a
video, in living, breathing, sweating color might be edifying to his
'friends' in New Orleans."
liked that a lot, too. "Can such a be found?"
"For a little cash in the right place, it can be produced."
"How about Anita?" grandma asked.
"Well, Anita is a bit different. She's as cold as they come. Oh, she
talks the talk all right, when she's trying to seduce a man. But Anita
never gets out of control. And Anita always looks after Anita, first,
last, and always. So what I would suggest is to put her in a situation
where she's completely subjugated. Where she first loses control over her
body, then over her emotions and will. I'd reduce her to slavery, in such
a way that she becomes a laughingstock--even an embarrassment--to her
"And the rest?" Tom asked.
"Well," Witt said, "that depends. They'll surely try to tighten up
their security once the demoralizing attacks begin. Between us, we can
keep them close to insolvent, so they can't afford very much security.
Then, the strategy would be classic 'divide and conquer'. Get them apart,
then separate them from their bodyguards, and they're duck soup."
~~ * * * * * ~~
And so it started.
Claude had wasted little time finding the upper tier establishments that
catered to off-beat appetites. The next time he indulged his little
fantasies, he was captured in color. Even the sound quality was excellent.
Just to avoid poor quality, he was taped in two different
houses, tied to a bed, whimpering about how he'd been a bad and
pleading for the woman to beat him, and then sheath his erection.
The fact that the women in the films were pretty seedy and obviously
merely the whores that they were, made the films tackier and more
At a bachelor party for the son of one of the leaders in local society,
the films appeared for the first time. It was obviously an amateur effort
and there was a lot of laughter and bawdy suggestions about how to do it
better. When Valkenberg's face was revealed and most of the there
recognized it, the laughter doubled.
The next day, an acquaintance asked if it wouldn't be more fun with the
woman tied? Valkenberg didn't understand the question. But later, another
man he'd been trying to interest in investing in a scheme mentioned that he
couldn't see giving a broad that much control. "You let them get the upper
hand in anything, they'll end up cutting off your balls... Especially if
you're tied up with something, right Claude?"
He began to get the idea that his little secret wasn't so secret. He
also found that potential investors he'd been courting were much more
distant than they had been. One even flatly said he wasn't interested...
and don't bother him again.
That same day, his car exploded, when the driver started it.
It wasn't harmful, just a loud bang and a big cloud of smoke and the
wiring burned up. The shop fixed it in a day.
But he knew it could have been a real bomb.
Adoré really liked the idea about the dead in their bed. She'd
seen -_The Godfather_, and loved the scene with the head. So she
enlisted Tom's help. Through the network between Indian tribes, they
established a working relationship with a group in Louisiana and Alabama.
These were real 'Rambos', with lots of military and para-military
training--and real-life experience.
It was easy to bypass the security system and enter the Valkenbergs'
apartment in the middle of the night. Once inside, they quietly placed a
dead pig, with its stomach sliced open and entrails hanging out, on the bed
between the sleeping couple.
While they were at it, they set a few minor booby-traps and put some
labels on things that were sure to make their victims think twice about the
most common household items. For example, they labeled the milk bottle,
"Poison", with a big peel-and-stick label. And Anita's face cream had a
label saying "Acid". Claude's electric razor would give off a cloud of
yellow smoke when he plugged it in. And the shower spewed purple water for
the first several minutes it was turned on.
Anita spent the entire day screaming, it seemed to her, as she
discovered one thing after another. Claude screamed at his
driver/bodyguard, who promptly quit.
"Hey, man. I didn't hire on for this heavy shit. Get yourself another
target. It ain't gonna be me."
Then he rapidly found that every decent security agency in town knew all
about him and demanded cash up front. He finally found a couple of thugs
who said they'd handle the bodyguard chores.
Appealing to the Dyker didn't help. They found it humorous...as
long as none of them were threatened. Anita's family, the Gradlings, was
even worse. One of her cousins, the only one who would take his call,
said, "I heard about your porn-star career, Claude. Has Anita seen your
epic adventure yet? If she gets smart and leaves you, we'll see about
finding a cousin to take her in." And the phone was hung up in his ear.
The rest of the hung up on him as soon as they heard who was
Three days later, Anita tried to start her car, which she'd parked very
carefully in the secure, locked parking garage under their apartment
building. When the car wouldn't start, she eventually looked under the
Then she started screaming, and kept on screaming until a security guard
heard her, and led her away.
Several sticks of round, red, items labeled 'dynamite' were lying on the
engine of her car. And all the electrical wires were pulled out.
Up in the apartment, she screamed at Claude, as she beat on his chest
with her fists. "I don't care what it takes, or who you have to buy off.
You take care of me, or I'm outta here! You promised! Now it's pay-off
time, buster. Do what you have to, but keep us safe."
"I'm trying, honeybunch. I really am. I just don't know what this is
all about. As soon as I find out, believe me, I'll take care of it. Just
like I did that Marty Steele..."
Slightly placated--she knew all about that and approved--Anita said,
"See that you do. I'm getting real tired of this shit. You made lots of
promises. I want to see action."
Claude guaranteed that she would--having no clue how he would keep this
Joe D'Albert was a pimp. He was big, hard-muscled, black, and really
knew his way around a woman's body. Joe very rarely had to punish one of
his by beating her. All he had to do was threaten to cut her off.
Joe's method of keeping in line was addicting them to sex--with him.
He wasn't merely very good: he was exceptional.
Adoré arranged for another little 'surprise' for Anita. It was enough.
Anita ran, leaving a note for Claude that she'd had it and was 'going home
to mama.' She 'ran' right into a trap.
After three days in a tiny basement room, with cement walls, a faucet
and a drain in the floor, and a ceiling light that never shut off, Anita
was ready for anything.
What she got was Joe D'Albert. Joe took her to a nice room, bathed her,
caressed her, and finally took her. He kept her for forty-eight hours.
Anita was a cold woman, but she wasn't frigid. After Joe, she'd never be
frigid. She knew that women were multi-orgasmic, in theory. Now she knew
what that meant. Joe did his best to keep her in a constant state of
She'd performed shamelessly for him. Anything he suggested, she jumped
to do. She'd taken him missionary and doggie style. In the mouth and up
the ass. She had no idea that the whole thing was captured on film--and
wouldn't have cared if someone had told her. Nor did she know that the
edited film would soon find its way into 'X-Rated' rental stores all
over New Orleans and the south-eastern part of the country.
After she'd eaten and slept, Joe engaged in another marathon session
with her. Again, it was all taped. By the time he was finished with her,
Anita was a sex addict and pure slut. She'd take anybody, any time, in any
When she turned up at the apartment, Claude had just about given up on
her. He didn't believe the note, but when she didn't return, he started
Anita attacked him and forced sex on him. When Claude was spent, unable
to continue, she threw on some clothing--whatever came to hand--and left,
to find a more capable partner.
In the saloon on the corner, she found two horny and brought them
home. Claude wakened to find two he'd never seen before screwing his
wife, one at each end.
He yelled, screamed, chased them out, and slapped Anita silly. It was
the first time he'd dared to hit her.
Anita wasn't really paying attention. She was too busy trying to coax
an erection out of Claude's trousers to worry about the fact that he was
Finally, he let her suck him. It quieted her.
"Where were you, these past few days?" he asked, as his cock stiffened
in spite of himself.
"Joe," she muttered around him. "Big Joe... Mmmmmmm," she hummed,
feeling his renewed interest in her mouth.
"Who's Joe?" Claude demanded. He had to pull her face away from his
crotch, and move up to mount her, just to get her to pay attention.
"Wonderful Joe," Anita murmured. "Big Joe."
"Big! At least ten inches. And... my god... did he... know...
how... to... use... it!" she gasped, as she strove against her husband's
body for the stimulation she craved.
Like many people, she didn't realize that it wasn't the size of Joe's
equipment--which was not much bigger than average, actually--but that he
really knew how to turn a woman on and keep her turned on. Joe could
totally satisfy three jaded whores in one evening and never come himself.
It wasn't size; it was technique.
By design, neither Valkenberg was aware of that.
Claude was able to get her off twice before his tired equipment spurted
feebly and he was done.
Anita was tired, but still horny.
She left the apartment, in search of stiff cocks.
By the end of the week, the whole city knew all about Anita the
insatiable. And Claude the cuckold--who liked to be tied up.
Anita foggily realized that something was wrong. She wasn't in control,
her was. That just wasn't like her.
She called the cousin who was head of the in New Orleans. He was
very cold. "If you want to leave your husband, we'll do what we can for
you. But don't expect much. Frankly, we're happy that you stuck to your
married name and we haven't been dragged into your shame."
The cousin agreed to take her in and get medical attention for her.
Unfortunately, the doctors he brought to her were a practice
doctor, who diagnosed a yeast infection and gonorrhea, and a psychiatrist
who worshipped at the altar of Freud to the extent that he hadn't a clue
about what had happened to her or what to do about it.
Within a day, Anita was going crazy in the cousin's house, without a
cock in her and a caressing her. So she walked off and found a
friendly bar, with a couple of who were interested in giving her what
Soon, Anita was not welcome in any social circles whatever--except the
lower class corner taverns, where she trolled for cocks. She was a
laughingstock, the subject of dirty jokes. The news even made its way to
Dallas, where most said it confirmed what they'd suspected about her, with
her hoity-toity attitude.
Claude couldn't get in any of the doors he tried to open. No one would
even see him, much less discuss an investment or loan with him.
The security people were fired. (Actually, they quit, when they didn't
Claude found a cheap room, in a boardinghouse.
decided it was time.
~~ * * * * * ~~
Anita was picked up by a good-looking guy who said he'd satisfy every
craving she had.
When she woke up, she was again in a tiny, dingy, basement cell. This
time, strapped to a bed.
She was highly aroused, but unable to do anything about it. The
restraints on her hands and legs prevented much movement of any kind.
Once she was awake, she heard a female voice say, "Glad you're back with
us. Are you able to pay attention, or do we need to tranquilize you?"
"Who? ... Who are you? ... Where am I? What the hell are you doing to
"Relax Anita. It's going to get a whole lot worse. So, like they say
about rape, you might as well relax and enjoy it."
"What the fuck is going on??!"
A feminine hand slapped her, hard.
"Shut up, bitch! NObody here gives a damn what you want. Get that
through your slutty head."
There was a moment's wait, for Anita to figure out that she wasn't in
any position to be giving orders, or even demanding answers.
A figure moved around the bed, into the light.
"Do you recognize me?" the woman asked.
"No. Should I?"
"I would think so. You and your husband ordered my husband and me
killed. I'd think you'd at least know what someone you kill looks like."
"You can't be..."
"Can't be what?"
"You can't be Dory Steele. The Steeles are dead. The Hammers got them
both in Los Angeles."
"Anita... Have you ever heard the proverb, 'If you want a job done
right, do it yourself'?"
"So, the Hammers fucked it up, Anita. They got Marty, all right. But
the woman with him wasn't me. It was our hostess. The woman we were
staying with. Her husband and I got a 24-hour bug and didn't go to the
dinner with the Hammers."
Anita began to get the idea that she was in really serious trouble.
"Then, all this stuff that's been happening... That was you?"
"Yeah. Fun, wasn't it? They're all dead...except the Schwartz's, who
wish they were... Did you ever see the tape your husband made? He's
almost as big a porn star as you are."
"You haven't seen it? He didn't share his acting debut with his loving
wife? I'll correct that oversight right now."
showed Anita the tapes of Claude's perversions. Three or four
times. Then she showed her the tapes of her, performing enthusiastically
with Joe D'Albert.
When Anita would have closed her eyes and turned her head away, said, angrily, "Watch every second of it, bitch. Or else I'll immobilize
your head and tape your eyelids open!" Anita believed her and watched her
Watching the tapes of her with Joe, made Anita desperately aroused.
crooned, "So you see, little one. You are the slave, now. You are
a slave to your body... to your sex. Your rotten cunt. You must have
men, filling you, using you, touching you, defiling you. You have no
choice. You're the purest form of slut...
"Tell me, Anita, was it worth it? Was it worth my husband's life? Or
mine? When you leave here, if I let you go, you're going back to Joe.
He'll take you one more time--just to complete your conditioning. But Joe
won't keep you. You're much too a bitch for him. He'll sell you.
Maybe to some pimp in Miami. Maybe into Mexico. You won't care. You'll
be doing everything you can to get cocks into you and avoid the beatings
you'll get if you're not successful. But the beatings won't matter. You
will need those cocks. Not having cocks will be the worst punishment there
could be, for you."
Anita whimpered. "No. You won't do that to me. Claude will find me.
He'll take care of me."
"Well," drawled, "you saw his little movie. Now I'll show you the
live action version."
drew a curtain, revealing a window into the next room.
Where Claude was chained to a bed, busily the dick of the by
his head, while another beat him with a small whip. Claude was
obviously enormously turned on by the whole thing and actually leaned into
The lights flickered and the promptly left Claude, writhing in
frustration, and came through a door into the room where Anita lay.
The mounted Anita: one in the mouth and one in her pussy. Anita was
aroused again and insatiable again. When she finally passed out, thanked the for their help--they were members of the Indian group Tom
introduced her to--and asked them to return the following day. When they
did, they gave Anita another marathon session of sexual stimulation, then
let her sleep.
Anita's next waking memory was in bed with Joe, her body strumming in
ecstasy. Joe did a good job. He kept her orgasmic almost 24 hours,
She next became aware of waking up in a bed that didn't smell very good.
Her left ankle was attached to a long chain, which was fastened to the foot
of the bed. It was very warm, and she was soon sweating in spite of her
At dusk, a came to her. Tossing his clothes on a chair, he mounted
her and eased a bit of her need. Just as she was nearing a climax, he
shuddered and grew limp; then got off her, dressed and left. Another man.
And another. None took the time to help her with her need, though their
cocks were better than nothing at all.
Finally, she brought herself off with her hands. Then went into the
tiny bathroom that her chain allowed her to reach and relieved herself.
In the morning, a maid, who didn't speak to her, but looked Mexican,
brought her a breakfast of cold beans and tortillas, with a jug of water.
By mid-day, she had an case of Montezuma's revenge.
Three days later, ten pounds lighter, she had control of her bowels.
But her body's craving for cocks was out of control. Soon, they began to
arrive. She took seven or eight of them that night.
And so it went.
Anita had been in the Mexican crib over a month when her mind and body
stabilized enough for her to have some idea of what had happened and where
Weeping bitterly, she demanded to speak to someone. Finally, a heavy
woman, with a large, hard-faced appeared. The slapped her a few
times, just for the fun of it. The woman said, "Don' know where you from.
Don' care. You mine. You keep happy, you have OK time. You no keep
men happy, you have shit time. 'Member dat!" The slapped her some
more, then raped her brutally. She didn't care. It was a cock.
~~ * * * * * ~~
Valkenberg didn't get off so easy.
Not just mom, but all of us were really pissed off at him. Having dad
killed meant war.
We started by showing him the of him in the cat-houses. Then the
videos of Anita with Joe's big black cock in all of her orifices--and Anita
crying for more.
When we showed him the films of him cock while being whipped,
and Anita with Joe again, he broke down.
"Please. No more. You've ruined me. What more do you want?"
"Why Claude," Hazel said, "we want your life. Like you took Martin's.
Isn't that only fair?"
"Kill me, then. Just be done with it."
"Oh, no," Rick whispered to him. "It won't be that easy."
He was given an injection that made his skin ultra sensitive. Then he
was whipped with feathers, until his voice was hoarse from screaming. His
balls and cock were tickled with down, until he'd been aroused for hours.
He was given an enema and an electric butt plug fitted. It didn't just
vibrate, it changed length and circumference. And gave random electric
shocks--but not enough to stop his heart.
Sleep was not allowed. Buckets of ice water were thrown on him, if
necessary. After a week, his body shut down and he slept for more than 48
No one was looking for him. His former 'associates' in New Orleans
thought he'd taken off for friendlier places. Not that any of them
Finally, he was strapped naked to a bed. He was fixed in position, with
his arms strapped straight out to the sides, his shoulders secured, and his
legs firmly anchored to the bottom of the bed.
The bed was raised to an upright position. And Claude, awake and alert,
was left to hang there. Every six hours, he was given a drink of water,
through a straw. After about 14 hours, he wet himself.
The lack of circulation in his arms caused them to give him excruciating
pain, before they went numb. Then his legs began to bother him. They felt
heavy and seemed to be filling with liquid. They were--both lymph and
He contracted his leg muscles rhythmically for a while. That helped.
But eventually, he couldn't keep it up.
He tried to sleep, but the pain wouldn't allow it. Then he experienced
trouble breathing. His lungs seemed to be filling with liquid!
The bed slowly rotated back down to a reclining position and Claude fell
into a deep sleep of exhaustion. Meanwhile, his body circulated the blood
and lymphatic fluids that had collected in his legs and lungs while he was
upright. When he awoke, 24 hours later, his body had pretty much healed
itself, except that he was a bit dehydrated. He drank from the straw by
his mouth and slept again.
He awoke to the feeling of the bed being raised. He screamed when he
realized what was happening. No one came. No one cared.
This time he lasted only about 22 hours, before his breathing almost
stopped and he was lowered to his back.
When he awoke, he was in pain everywhere.
But his mind was clear and he could breathe. There were a circle of
faces around the bed. He recognized a few of them.
Hazel spoke for us all. "Claude, this is the last time we'll speak with
you. You, your and your friends have attacked us for years. You
tried to steal from us and kill us. We tried to discourage that. But when
you actually killed one of us, we had to put a stop to it."
"Claude, do you understand?" demanded.
He could only mumble, but clearly, he did.
"You killed my husband. Your accomplices are gone--every one. Your
wife, that beautiful, empty 'trophy' you were so proud of, is servicing
every Mexican cock she can get hold of and will until she dies. And you,
Claude? Why, you've been crucified. You've almost died twice. We brought
you down and let you recover, both times. What do you think? Should we
bring you down again? Or should we just let you go ahead and die this
time? Do you want to live, Claude?"
He pleaded with them. Not for his life, but for a speedy death. He
admitted to all his crimes against them and confirmed their suspicions that
he was the 'mind' behind it all. Schwartz and Olsen were, at heart, just
amoral thugs who had made some money. Valkenberg was the one who had put
the ideas in their heads about getting ahead by getting the Steeles--purely
because we happened to be in the way; not because of anything we did.
We were tired of him. pushed a needle into his arm, injecting a
microscopic bit of plutonium into his bloodstream. He was a dead man. We
removed the straps binding him to the bed. Previously, we'd completely
cleaned the place. There were no traces that we'd ever been there--only
He had a mirror by the bed, so he could see himself, lying there. And a
TV monitor continually played the of Joe enslaving his wife.
Although he was free to move, he lacked the strength. After he lay
there in pain for three days, his breathing, then his heart stopped. He'd
been pretty much unaware of his surroundings for the last of those days.
We didn't care. He was, even unconscious, in obvious pain.
His body was thrown in Mobile Bay, where it made a good meal for a large
number of crabs before it was found. The autopsy was inconclusive; too
much of it was gone.
The Gradlings and Dykers were quietly told, through government sources
that they trusted, that Claude had stupidly gotten himself embroiled in a
scam involving one of the drug cartels. They were more than happy to let
the matter drop, without trying to gain additional details that would
involve the rest of them.
Three years later, one of the Gradlings was vacationing in an
out-of-the-way spot in Mexico. Feeling horny, he decided to try the local
cathouse. The madam suggested he try the Anglo girl. She'd learned and
was very good at pleasing men.
He did, and was shocked to come face to face with his cousin, Anita.
The madam was right. She was very good, although she looked like hell.
Gradling tried to buy her, but the price asked was outrageous. He
wouldn't pay that much for her.
Two years later, he came that way again and decided to see if Anita had
learned anything new. He was told she'd died. It seems she'd contracted
syphilis. With the gonorrhea she already had, it went pretty fast. Of
course, she was never unchained. And when she could no longer turn tricks,
the madam hadn't worried too much about feeding her regularly.
~~ * * * * * ~~
We had our vengeance.
Were we happy? Not really. We'd gladly give a lot more than we
spent--and than we lost--to have dad back.
We knew that we'd inflicted the most pain we could on our attackers, in
every way we and our inventive friends could contrive. We'd paid back
ten-fold or more.
But we were relieved it was over. It had diminished us, too. It had
made us little better than the we'd executed. We knew it. And it
saddened us. At the same time, we knew we had no choice but to eliminate
the threat the three families presented. For our children, if nothing
Even mom, who had gotten into the vengeance thing more than the rest of
us, would have liked to go back to the time before it all started.
One day in the spring, Tom came riding into the ranch headquarters
in his beat-up pickup. He was accompanied by a middle-aged Indian we'd
never seen before. This guy was wearing worn but clean Levis with a big
silver and turquoise belt and a western with Indian patterns on it.
Tom introduced us. "Audry, Rob, this is Jeff Highhouses. Jeff's a
Navaho, from down in the 4-corners country."
"Pleased to meet you, Jeff. Any friend of Tom's is welcome here," I
Audry added, "What brings you up this way, Jeff?"
"Tom told me that some members of his tribe needed help. And that it
wasn't the kind of thing they did real well... I have to confess, you
don't look much like native Americans to me."
We smiled and Audry stepped in to end his confusion. "Biologically,
we're not. But the tribes at Warm Springs adopted our families a few years
ago. We're registered members now." She grinned, "As much as if my hair
were black as yours."
Jeff grinned back. Tom had had his little joke on him, by not telling
him this before.
"Tom says that your suffered a great loss and took a great
revenge. And now, you are not at peace, though it is over. Is this
"Our people have a ceremony for this. It is to cleanse the mind and
body, and restore the spirit to harmony. Tom thought maybe you needed
"Only too true, Jeff. Can you do the whole and the ranch, too?"
He laughed. "I'm a medicine man, not a magician." He sobered, though
his eyes still twinkled. "But we can try."
That night, we convened the family: Uncle Rick and Aunt Elin, and mom.
Jeff briefly described what the 'sing' tried to do and offered to do it for
us. called grandma and invited her and George for the event. It took
six days and would start the following Wednesday.
I won't try to describe the indescribable. Some of it is best kept
private, anyway. Jeff brought in an assistant from Albuquerque and
enlisted Tom and a couple of other tribal elders to help him.
"I know," he said, "that some of our symbols don't mean anything to you
folks in the northwest. But they all have analogs in your symbols--and
they are the ones I was taught."
Tom agreed that they'd do what he asked of them. The biggest difference
was the big northwest Indian drums, instead of the smaller hand drums of
My recollection of the week is that I was very tired and thirsty most of
the time. And the smoke from the little fires kept me sneezing a lot.
When it was all over, I felt a sense of peace. Jeff was right. They
could instill harmony where there was discord.
Even dropped her sorrow and deep loss. She still missed dad sorely.
But she was a much happier person most of the time. Soon, she left the
ranch. She stayed with grandma for a month or so, then with her in
A cousin in Miami invited her for a visit. His had died and he was
alone in a big house. He said he'd welcome the company.
never came back. Audry and I visited her whenever we could. She
and her cousin had obviously bonded. She was into marlin fishing and
looking at the ocean from her back deck. We were happy that she'd found
For me, it was decision time--keep the program, or sell out and
concentrate on the cows.
Turns out, it was out of my hands.
Zach and Moira qualified for the junior nationals.
Audry just grinned and said, "Well big guy. Think we can sell the
* 'Vengeance' is the ninth in the series of Audry stories. (c) 1997,
2001, Extar International, Ltd. All rights reserved. Single copies for
personal, non-commercial use may be downloaded or printed. Any other uses,
including reposting, or posting on an archive site, must have prior
permission from Extar International. Comments always welcome.