Growing up my father always told me I was a follower, not a leader. On an almost daily basis he would say to me, “Boy, you have got to forge your own path in life, instead of fooling around with those knuckleheads you call friends.” He was, of course, correct, but when I was a teenager that kind of wisdom went in one ear and out the other. In my mind I was invincible, I knew everything, and I could get away with anything.
I was wrong. My friends and I fucked with the wrong person. I spent two years in a psychiatric facility and am a shell of the person I was before.
In High School I fell in with the wrong group of friends. We were a merry band of burnouts, jocks, and assholes. We all played Junior Varsity football our freshman and sophomore years of school. We clowned around during school, smoked weed before practice, and never saw the field during games. It was no surprise to anyone when we didn’t make the varsity team our junior year of school. We suddenly found ourselves with too much free time on our hands, now that we didn’t have to attend football practice for three hours each day. We took to hanging out around town after school. Smoking and sometimes drinking when we could find someone to buy us booze.
Tyler, who was definitely the ring leader of our little group, eventually got us into petty theft. He was your typical spoiled rich kid. His parents were always working, never home, so they bought his affection with gifts. Gave him whatever he wanted. So, of course, he grows up to become an asshole. This kid, for whatever reason, loved to steal. It was definitely for the thrill of it, since he had Daddy’s AmEx in his wallet and could buy whatever he wanted.
On a typical afternoon we’d get out of school around 2:30, and drive around town smoking and sometimes boozing. We always rode with Tyler, in his brand new SUV. I had a shitty Honda Civic that I had bought after a summer of working, while our other two friends, Chris and Ahmed, couldn’t afford cars. Tyler would choose a store, and give us a laundry list of items to steal. Ahmed would usually be tasked with distracting the clerks while the rest of us made off with whatever we could get our hands on. We’d then sell whatever we got on e-bay and split the profit.
I could tell that Tyler was getting bored with the petty theft by the time senior year rolled around. He invited us over one weekend and I could tell he had something planned by the idiotic grin on his face. We smoked weed, ripped shots of tequila, and played video games until around midnight. Tyler said he was bored, and decided that we needed to go for a joyride around town.
However, once we were in the car, Tyler drove us farther out into the suburbs, away from town. He refused to tell us where we were going until we stopped outside a large house.
He turned to us, motioning towards the dark house, and said, “Yo, this guy is loaded. My Dad told me this guy came into his office the other day and insured $500,000 worth of rare coins.”
Chris pumped a fist in the air and drunkenly slurred, “Hell yeah man, screw that guy let’s get paid.”
Tyler extended his fist to Chris for a pound and said, “That’s my boy right here.” And then turned to Ahmed and me and said, “what about you two.”
Ahmed looked at me and then down at the floor, “Uh, I don’t know man. Stealing shit from a store is one thing, but breaking into some guy’s house is goddamn serious.”
Tyler’s face reddened and I could tell that he was about to tear into Ahmed. Me, being a spineless shit that hated confrontation, jumped in and said to Ahmed, “Dude, you could buy a sick car for yourself if we got those coins.”
Tyler regained his composure and said icily, “Y’all need to man up. The guy isn’t even home, he’s in fuckin Europe or some shit right now. Have some faith in me, have I ever gotten you guys caught?”
Ahmed reluctantly agreed to join in, and we passed around the handle of tequila until we had finished it. Tyler pulled out a black bag and passed out black masks and gloves.
“Fuckin legit” slurred Chris as he pulled on his mask.
Tyler smiled and pulled on his own mask. He said, “Okay here’s the plan. We go around the back and check the windows. If they are locked then we break the glass and let ourselves in. I looked up this guy’s insurance application in my Dad’s office, he has no security system so we have nothing to worry about.”
We exited the SUV and crept around towards the back of the house. The windows were all locked, so Tyler picked up a rock and smashed a small hole in the nearest window. We boosted Chris in first, and Tyler told him to scope the place out.
“Looks empty!” Chris drunkenly yelled out.
The three of us standing outside flinched, and Tyler muttered to himself, “Goddamn lightweight.”
When we were all inside the house Tyler instructed us to split up and search the first floor. I was searching through a cabinet when I heard Tyler yell at Chris, “Put the speaker system down, we came here for the coins.”
After ten minutes we regrouped and decided to split up. Chris and Ahmed would search upstairs while Tyler and I checked out the basement. The basement door had a thick padlock on it, but Tyler laughed and said, “Why put a padlock on a cheap wooden door? What an idiot.” He easily kicked in the door.
There was no light switch near the door, so we descended the stairs using the glow from our phones to guide us. A small hallway at the bottom of the staircase led to another door. This door was made of steel. Tyler immediately started kicking the door. He gave up after the third kick and began ramming his shoulder against the door. He slumped to the floor, cursing, after his second attempt at smashing in the door. I was about to suggest to Tyler that we admit defeat and go back upstairs. Maybe we could find something else of value.
I stepped forward to jiggle the door handle, and found that door was unlocked. Tyler shot me a dirty look from the floor and said, “Why the hell didn’t you tell me it was unlocked?” He pushed past me and through the door.
We found ourselves in small room crowded with trophy cases and paintings on the wall. Tyler stepped closer to one of the trophy cases and found it full of rare coins on display. “Jackpot” he whispered. He opened up the case and began stuffing the coins into his bag. I began looking around room, guided by the light of my phone, and became increasingly disturbed by what I saw. On the wall were paintings of torture from various time periods spanning the last thousand years. One painting showed a young boy being lowered headfirst into what looked like a boiling vat of oil. Another painting depicted a woman being burned alive above a fire, skewered like a pig.
“Uh, Tyler” I said, my heart pounding.
“Shut up and make yourself useful.” He snapped. “Check out the other trophy cases.”
I crept towards the nearest trophy case and aimed the light on my phone towards it. It was full of pictures. Dozens of pictures of young men tied up. Some seemed more alive than others. They were missing limbs, tied down to tables, or hung up on the wall. I slowly turned towards Tyler and opened my mouth but found myself unable to speak. I stared at him stupidly, my head pounding and stomach knotted.
Footsteps on staircase freed me from my terrified trance. “Tyler we need to get outta here right now.” I croaked.
He said, “What’s the rush?” then called out towards the staircase, “Ahmed, Chris, took you clowns long enough. Hit gold down here boys. Lets spark up a spliff to cele…”
The overhead light snapped on and Tyler and I were momentarily blinded. I started to curse when I heard quiet sobs. I opened my eyes and saw a large, overweight man standing behind Ahmed and Chris. Chris’s face was covered in blood, and I saw that he no longer had eyes. Dark, empty sockets looked out upon the room.
Tyler straightened up and screamed, “Who the fuck are you? Step back or I will fuck you up.”
The fat man pushed Ahmed towards us, put hand his around Chris’s shoulder, and said, “Chris, why don’t you tell your young friend here what happens to boys who disrespect me.”
Chris opened his mouth and made a strange gargling sound. Blood dripped out of his mouth. Ahmed, tears running down his face, whispered to us, “He cut out Chris’s tongue and eyes.”
The fat man, eyes glinting, laughed deeply and said, “Ahmed is correct, but I think we can all agree that Chris is much better behaved now.”
He patted Chris on the head, tousled his hair, and said, “Now, which one of you can explain what nice young men like yourself are doing in my home at this time of night.”
Tyler took a step towards the man, raising his fists, and said “You have no idea who you are messing with.”
The fat man chuckled, causing his jowls to jiggle and raised a pistol. Tyler paused for a moment, contemplating the gun in the man’s hand.
“No way, you can’t touch me, my father is a powerful man.” Said Tyler.
The fat man laughed again, put the gun to the back of Chris’s head and pulled the trigger. Brains and bits of skull showered Tyler.
“You boys can call me Mr. G, and you are going to do exactly what I say.” Said the man. He nodded towards me and said, “You, take the painting down behind you and twist the knob.”
I did as he instructed and a secret door in the wall opened, revealing a large, circular room behind it.
“Move along now.” Said the man cheerfully. The three of us slowly moved into the room with the fat man not far behind. In the center stood a stainless steel surgical table. The periphery of the room was filled with a variety of torture devices that looked straight out of the dark ages. I recognized a Torture Rack, Judas Cradle, an Iron Maiden, and a large vat sitting over a propane burner. On a wooden table there appeared to be a wide variety of knifes, hammers, scalpels, and saws.
Mr. G put his left hand into his pocket and pulled out a black plastic comb. He combed back his dark greasy hair while still pointing the gun at Tyler.
“Where do we go from here” he mused aloud as he placed the comb back into his pocket. He continued, “Tyler, only one of you will be allowed to leave my house tonight. Who should it be?”
A dark spot began to grow on Tyler’s crotch. The smell of urine filled the large room. Tyler pointed a trembling hand towards Ahmed and me and said with a quavering voice, “This was all their idea. They dragged me into this whole thing. I swear!”
Mr. G’s brow furrowed as if he were seriously considering Tyler’s words. He smiled at Tyler and said, “I believe you Tyler, but the only way you can leave is if you help me tie up your friends. There is some rope over on the wooden table.”
A look of relief came upon Tyler’s face, and he smiled at Ahmed and me. He shouted out, “Whatever you say Mr. G.” as he quickly scampered over to the table to retrieve the rope.
“Good, now bring it back to me my boy.” Said Mr. G. He turned to Ahmed and me and winked.
Tyler approached Mr. G, rope in hand, and said, “Ya know Mr. G, I told these guys not to mess with a man such as yourself, but they just wouldn’t listen.”
“Yes, yes, I am sure you did.” Said Mr. G as he pulled out a small taser and knocked Tyler unconscious.
Mr. G grunted, “You boys stay right where you are.” as he bent over to tie up Tyler’s hands and feet. He then dragged Tyler’s limp body over towards the large vat and hoisted Tyler into it. He tied Tyler’s hand to a hook hanging over the vat, so that Tyler’s head would not slip underwater. He leaned down to light the propane burner under the vat and said “Let’s get this soup cookin’” more to himself than to Ahmed and me.
Mr. G came back to Ahmed and I and said, “Who’s next?”
Ahmed and I looked at one another, but said nothing. Tyler had awoken on the other side of room and began begging for Mr. G to let him go. “Please, please I’ll do anything. ANYTHING! Oh God it’s getting hot. It’s burning.”
Mr. G ignored the pleas and hummed to himself while staring at Ahmed and me. Tyler’s pleas became shriller, until they turned to gibberish, and eventually one continuous scream which lasted for minutes. The screams eventually stopped and the smell of cooked flesh filled the room. Mr. G returned to the vat and turned off the propane burner.
Without warning Ahmed sprang to his feet and sprinted towards the door. Mr. G cursed and fumbled for his gun, aimed, and fired off a shot which his Ahmed in his calf. Ahmed crumpled into a ball on the floor. He only made it halfway to the door.
Mr. G walked over to Ahmed, grabbed both of his arms, and dragged him towards the steel table in the center of the room. He looked at me and said, “Lucky man! I am going to put on a show for you!”
They were ten feet away from the table when I made my move. I used every last bit of energy I could muster as I sprinted towards the monster in the middle of the room. He had dropped Ahmed’s arms and pulled out his gun. I could feel the bullets whizzing over my head, but the adrenaline surging through my body drowned out any and all sounds. My shoulders connected with the fat man’s abdomen and I pumped my legs, driving him backwards like we were taught during football. We gained momentum as his obese body began to topple backwards. I dug deep to pull up whatever strength I had left. His body slammed into the open Iron Maiden. I released him and immediately grabbed the door and struggled to push it shut.
I heard a gasp from within the contraption as the spikes bit into his flesh, but he did not scream. Instead he began to laugh, louder and harder until the doors were finally shut and the spikes fully impaled his body. And then there was only silence.
I turned and retrieved Ahmed, supporting his weight against my shoulder. Ahmed and I slowly made our way out of the basement and called the police. The police found a dozen more body in a freezer behind the torture room.
I was a nervous wreck for years after this incident. Only with intensive therapy have I been able to obtain something resembling a normal life. The deaths of my friends were awful, of course, but the sound of Mr. G laughing during his final moments of life are what haunts me to this day. When I close my eyes to sleep at night all I see are his eyes twinkling and jowls jiggling as he laughs at the terrible death closing in upon him.