Nick Carter Excerpts — Trouble in Paradise (Part 1)

Nick Carter #121, Trouble in Paradise,
Charter Books, 1978
Excerpts, Part One:
   “What am I doing here?”
   “I am Captain Basil Pettibone. You are a pris­oner of the BLF, the Bahamian Liberation Front.” He said it with a certain fanatical pride. I realized that if they were all like him, I was up against a pack of lunatics.
   “It be bad for you if you try to escape,” he warned me. “I have six more guards outside. We be waiting for de car to take you to the ‘Minister of War.’ Here you be interrogated.”

   A faded blue beat-up Volkswagen bus came, and I was led outside and piled aboard. The six guards, all wearing tan jumpsuits and blue berets, and carrying American-made weapons, sat in front of me and behind me. Pettibone sat in the seat next to me. The curtains on the windows were drawn and I was blindfolded.
   The throbbing in my head had eased, but there was a tender bump on my forehead.
   After about an hour, the bus pulled to a halt. They hustled me out and removed the blindfold.
   A few feet ahead was an ancient stone fortress, built into the hill. It commanded a view of three fourths of the island’s coastline.
   They took me up the hill, across a dry moat and into the fortress. I was placed in a damp window-less room that had been hewn out of the stone of the hillside. The only furniture was a heavy oak table and one chair, placed in the center of the room.
   I had the feeling I was being watched. They were smart—they were letting me stew for a while. I sat down and enjoyed the cigarette. It was going to be a long wait. The wall behind the desk was covered with a heavy curtain. Whoever was watching me was behind the curtain. I finished the cigarette and put it out. Without warning, the cur­tain was drawn aside.
In the archway of the tunnel that had been hid­den by the curtain stood a tall, husky figure, silhouetted by the flaming torches held by two guards standing to the rear. He stood with his hands on his hips, staring at me for a long moment. I couldn’t make out his features.
   “I am the Minister of War for the Bahamian Liberation Front,” he said finally.
   “Mr. Cartah, or, if you prefer, Mr. Coppola, we know you are a member of AXE,” the man said. “We also know that Mr. David Hawk, of AXE, arrived on the island last night. What we would like to know from you is what you know of the BLF and where your Mr. Hawk is now.”
   “What makes you think I’d tell you if I knew?” I said.
   “Because, Mr. Cartah, you are in no position to object,” he said. “You are not a stupid man. It would be foolish of you to try my patience. I have a very short temper.”
   “Yeah, I’ll bet.”
   “Mr. Cartah, if you don’t feel like talking, we have someone who could help encourage you,” he said. “Captain Pettibone, the man who captured you, is an expert in torture. He takes great pleas­ure in his work, especially with white imperialist pigs.” At the mention of Pettibone, I thought of poor Aaron and my blood began to boil.
   “It can do you no good to resist, Mr. Cartah. You will only get yourself hurt unnecessarily,” the Minister said.
   “Enough talk—I have wasted too much time,” he said. “Mr. Cartah, where is David Hawk hid­ing?”
   “I told you I don’t know and I wouldn’t tell you if I did.”
   “You are quite certain that is your feeling?” “That’s it, pal,” I said.
   “You are a fool, Mr. Cartah,” he hissed at me. “Guards!”
   I was grasped roughly by the front of my shirt and pulled to my feet. I brought my knee up smartly and could feel the guard’s scrotum flatten. He keeled over with a scream. Two more came at me and I grabbed them by the ears, smashing their skulls together. I took out the fourth guard with a right hand—a real sucker punch—and the blood squirted across his face in rivulets as his nose flattened. The fifth one received a broken windpipe for his trouble, but the sixth jumped me, knocking me off balance. I sprawled on top of the heavy table. By now two more were on top of me.
   I could feel fists and gun butts smashing into my face and head. I didn’t want to go out—if I went down they’d kick hell out of me. I was badly dazed as they dragged me toward the door. Everything went black for a few moments. The next thing I knew, they were dragging me up a narrow flight of winding stone steps. I began to fight again, when something hard cracked across the back of my head. The lights went out.
WHEN I CAME to, I was lashed to a chair in the center of a round room. This room was built of stone like the other, but it wasn’t as suffocating. About ten feet up the wall all around the room were narrow, barred windows. I realized I was in the main tower I had seen before crossing the moat.
   I had been hit in the head so many times that it was hard to tell exactly where my head ached the most. When I was fully conscious, I realized a strange thing: my trousers and underwear had been pulled down around my ankles. Oddly enough, the rough seat of the chair didn’t irritate my bare bottom—then I realized there wasn’t any seat to the chair.
   It was a straightbacked wicker chair. The wicker seat had been cut away, so that my but­tocks, testicles and penis hung unprotected. Anxi­ety began to grow in the pit of my stomach as I listened to the low-pitched, excited chattering of the guards around me and wondered why my pants were pulled down.
   I raised my throbbing head slowly and was faced with the sight of my Luger still tucked in Pet­tibone’s cartridge belt. He reached out, grabbing me by the hair and yanking my head up. I looked into his sweat-beaded, ugly black face. His tiny dark piercing eyes danced excitedly, like those of a man about to have an orgasm. He was breathing heavily and an insane grin was stretched across his face, making the deep scar near his mouth appear even more gruesome.
   My mouth was very dry, but I gathered as much saliva as possible and let it go right in his face. It was stupid of me. I was in no position to play tough, but realizing this animal was the cause of a good man’s death had made me blind with anger. Still holding my head in place, he back-handed me with his small bony fist. It wasn’t much of a blow, but at this point it was enough to make me go groggy. Then Pettibone gave the signal and the torture began.
   It was simple but diabolically effective. Sitting on the floor four feet behind me was a guard. In his hands he held an old-fashioned wicker rug beater with a flat, petal-shaped end. This was placed di­rectly beneath my seatless chair. On Pettibone’s signal, it was raised sharply, connecting with my bare buttocks.
   The first sharp crack resounded throughout the room, jolting me out of my daze. Again it came up swiftly, stinging my buttocks. I tensed myself, trying to harden my gluteal muscles. It didn’t help. The third swat was even more painful.
   “Perhaps now you be ready to answer de Minis­ter’s questions?” I heard Pettibone’s whining voice inquire. “Where be Hawk?” I shook my head stubbornly and heard the sickening sound of the beater connect with my bottom. The pain was searing.
   “Mr. Cartah, stop this foolishness. Tell me where Hawk is.” It was Poole’s voice. He must have entered the chamber when the torture began. I was leaning forward, the bindings cutting into my arms.
   “Continue!” Poole commanded.
   This time the blow landed flately against my testicles, sending a spasm of unbearable pain up into the pit of my stomach. The pain was so ex­cruciating that with each blow I was beginning to see lights flashing before my eyes. I was saturated with my own sweat. Again and again I felt the vivid agony of the beater swaking against my scrotum, making me gag. I felt I was going to vomit and began to retch violently. I hadn’t eaten since the day before; there was nothing for me to throw up. In my agony, the taste of bile and blood filled my mouth. Somewhere in the distance, I could hear the deranged cackle of Pettibone’s enjoyment. My mind was filled with the knowledge of my torment, yet my anger wouldn’t allow me the peace of un­consciousness.
   I felt a hand grasp my hair and pull my head back. The dark, solemn face of Stanley Poole studied me. His face seemed cloudy. Thankfully, I realized I was beginning to fade. He released his grip and my head dropped forward on my chest. The area of my buttocks and testicles felt as though a flame was being held beneath them.
   Suddenly my entire body convulsed as the beater smacked against the tip of my penis, send­ing a shooting pain throughout me. The room flashed with light and then there was nothingness. I wasn’t out for much more then a minute when I felt water splash over my head and face.
   “Cartah, be sensible, mon, allow me to stop this terrible pain,” said Poole. The evil bastard was reasoning with me now. “I am telling you, mon, you are giving Captain Pettibone much pleasure. He is only too happy to continue into the night.”
   Again the awful pain began, as again the sicken­ing sound of the beater splatting against my flesh resounded throughout the chamber, sounding like a baseball bat hitting a wet pillow. The blows were inconsistent now, landing on my buttocks, testi­cles and penis at random.
   I had to concentrate on something to keep from going mad with the pain. The object I chose was Pettibone’s shiny black combat boots. I gritted my teeth against each searing blow, studying how they were highly polished to a glasslike sheen. I saw a cockroach crawl from the corner of the room across the stone floor. When it reached Pettibone’s left boot, it crawled across the toe. I followed its trail until it was out of sight in the shadows of the other side of the room. Moments later I passed out again.
   This time I had no idea how long I was out or what time it was. The chamber was much darker and I could see the flickering from the candles on the walls. I was so dry that I couldn’t make saliva. My lips were cracked and swollen.
   “Come, come now, Cartah. You have proven yourself a very brave and loyal man,” Poole said. “But do you really think Hawk would suffer such excruciating pain for you? Be reasonable, mon.”
   I could hear Pettibone’s imbecilic giggle again. I raised my head and looked at him. He was soaking with sweat. There were white flecks of dribble in the corners of his mouth as he grinned demonically. I vowed to myself that if I ever got out of there, I’d take great pleasure in killing him. I looked over to Poole, who seemed passive, unin­volved.
   “I need water,” I said.
   “Of course, Cartah, but first tell us where Hawk is.”
   “Water first,” I said.
   “Look at it this way, Cartah,” Poole reasoned. “I have heard that you have a great appetite for women. Do you realize that if Captain Pettibone continues this punishment, your instrument will be useless.”
   “I need water,” I said, trying not to show the fear I felt. He motioned to Pettibone, who stepped forward with a tin pan and a sponge. He pressed the sponge against my mouth and I gagged from the vinegar.
   “You bastard,” I said, and spat the remaining vinegar on his boots.
   The torture began immediately. I tried to steel myself against the blows. They were growing weary of my refusal to talk, and the blows were doubled, both in number and severity. They didn’t allow me the pleasure of passing out now. Each time it appeared that I was about to, water was thrown on me. The agony was interminable. Time had no meaning—pain became my only reality. At last my mind and body refused to accept any more and the room faded to blackness.
   When I awoke, I was lying in a large double bed, between crisp, clean sheets. There was a strong smell of jasmine in the air.
I heard the curtain in the doorway flutter and I looked up. A girl entered the room carrying a wide tray laden with tiny vials.
   “I am called Kelia,” she said. Her voice was lush and throaty. Quietly she approached the bed and placed the tray on the side table. She flattened the pillow behind me, easing me gently back. Then she turned the sheet down to my waist.
   “You will turn over, please,” Kelia said. I obeyed her like a little boy who was about to get candy. She opened a bottle and poured some of its contents between my shoulder blades. It felt warm, warm and soothing. Kelia began at the back of my neck, gently working the oils into my skin. Her hands were strong, but with a gentleness only a woman could have. She moved down my back, slowly massaging the oil in. Her warm hands moved luxuriously, sliding smoothly across my skin. When she reached the small of my back, her gentle fingers kneaded softly. I could feel my body relax and the soreness leave my muscles.
   Kelia wiped her hands on a towel and moved the sheets down below my buttocks. I heard her gasp softly when she saw what had been done to me. Quickly, she opened another vial and poured the sweet-smelling liquid on my cheeks. Then, deftly, she began to rub the oil over the tender area.
   “Oooooh, easy, honey,” I said.
   “There, there,” Kelia crooned. “Soon the pain will leave.” She was right; in a few moments my sad behind began to feel less painful.
   “You will turn over, please,” she said. With a little effort I was on my back. I watched as Kelia poured some ointment in the palm of her hand and gently cupped my scrotum. She rubbed the healing fluid around slowly, taking me in her hand, mas­saging and caressing the oil in. I didn’t believe it would happen, but I was beginning to grow hard. I laid back, closing my eyes thankfully. Poole had been wrong. I was still all together.
   “You are a beautiful mon,” Kelia said.
“Oh, darling, I’m so happy you’re alive,” said Kiki. “How did you escape?”
   “A poor little girl who had gotten herself in­volved with the BLE She took one look at what they did to me and knew she was wrong.”
   “What happened, darling?” she asked. My shirt was open, and Kiki covered my bare chest with tiny kisses.
   “I met Hawk, He’s now somewhere on the is­land. On my trip out we were followed, but we managed to shake them. Coming back, they sur­prised us. The beachboy Aaron was killed and I was captured.”
   “I read how they found his body,” she said. “I had a feeling that his killing might have a connec­tion with your disappearance.”
   “Yeah, they wanted me alive. They took me to someplace called ‘Over the Hill,’ the Nassau slum area. From there they took me to an old deserted fortress and questioned me,” I told her. “Stanley Poole is Mr. Big behind the revolution. He calls himself the Minister of War.”
   She looked up at me. “My God, Nick, your face! What did they do to you?” Kiki began to cry softly, gently caressing my face. I had forgotten how they had beaten me before they tortured me. I must have been a mess, because it really upset her. She was sobbing now. I held her close, petting her head, trying to soothe her.
   “They tortured me, Keek, they let this insane little animal loose on me,” I said. “They tortured me like I never want to be tortured again in my life….
-Continued in Part Two.

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