The Deserter by Nelson DeMille Read Online (FREE)
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Kyle Mercer walked across the bare room. He had been on his feet for days, hiking across the tribal frontier, into the outskirts of this ancient city, down the canted streets of the old quarter, and into this empty apartment where the walls were covered with peeling paint and splotches of black mold.
A plastic tarp flapped against the third-story window, moved by the warm winds rolling down from the valley. The tarp flashed a sliver of hot sunlight; then the room was dark again. Outside he heard the bustle of the street market, the rapid-fire Pashto tongue that had become familiar to him over the years. But it was different here. Here there were more people, more tongues, the staccato voices overlapping and bouncing off the close mud-brick walls of the old city.
He wanted to walk now, down in the bazaar, past the piles of fruit and nuts and spices. To touch and taste and smell. He wanted to find a woman to fuck.
But instead he was here, in the bare room, in the dark. Here, he had work to do. Here, there was no one to fuck. Just someone to hurt.
The guy was still passed out, slumped in the wooden chair, hands tied behind him. His face was battered. He drooled a line of blood.
Mercer walked over to the man and slapped him across the face. The eyes fluttered open. The mouth moved, but no sound.
Mercer eyed the bloody pliers on the floor. He himself had once been threatened with them, but that felt like a long time ago. He had taken the pliers, and now they were his. But he did not use them to threaten. That wasn’t his way. He just acted. You pull out one fingernail and the guy understands that it could happen again, nine more times, and he knows exactly how it’s going to feel.
And that’s just what he’d done, all ten of them, because this guy was a tough son of a bitch. And that was fine. That was expected. The tougher the nut, the sweeter the meat.
Mercer swung his foot into the guy’s shin. The man yelped in pain. It wasn’t too loud, because he was spent. Probably no one heard. Probably no one cared.
Mercer leaned in. The man’s left eye was swollen shut, so he looked into the right eye, a sliver of hazel surrounded by swollen purple flesh. “Where is he?”
The man’s lips trembled. His teeth—he still had all his teeth; he should consider himself lucky—slipped over his chapped lower lip. “F-f-ffff…” His lips went slack.
“France? Fiji? Fresno? Where?”
“F-f-ffffu… fuck you…”
Mercer buried his fist in the man’s face and split his nose open. Blood gushed out as the chair toppled backward and crashed to the floor, crushing the man’s tied hands beneath the weight of his body. He moaned as the blood streamed from his face and pooled around his head on the concrete floor.