What “Softening Up’ Means
Jose apparently was the squad leader. He and the other goons stripped off their shirts. “Now we have some fun, muchachos.” They all laughed.
Three of them took thin leather gloves from their uniform pants pockets. One guy took off his belt, palmed the buckle, and wrapped the belt around his hand. Jose just clenched his fists into tight balls. Then the gut punching started.
Jab! Jab! “A-a-a-g-g-h! A-a-h-h-h!” Crunch! Splat! Jab!
You remember the blinding pain as they ripped away at your abs and chest. The heavy blows knocked the wind out of you, drilled into your solar plexus. Against the wall, you couldn’t move with the blows; your body took the punches full force. You screamed when you could get some breathe, choked for air when you couldn’t. You remember hearing Paul scream and gasp for air, but the torture quickly turned into a blur of unending pain.
Jab! Scream! Gasp! Scream! Jab! On and on.
You remember the frustration of not being able to predict where the punches would fall. There was no way to prepare for the forceful jabs. You heard the smack of fists on sweaty skin, yours, Paul’s. Then the screams, yours, Paul’s. Up and down your abs, which you tried to tense to counter the blows. Then on your pecs, pounding away at your nips. Were they bleeding? Who knew. The roundhouse blows to your sides were particularly hard to take. You thought your ribs were being broken. They weren’t; otherwise you could have passed out.
Then the rain of blows stopped. You remember being too dazed you almost didn’t notice. You could barely see through the sweat and tears that stung your eyes as Jose stood in front of you.
“Now for the special treatment,” he grinned in your face.
He backed away as one of the guards handed him a wooden club. It was about as big as a baseball bat, but not tapered. It was a thick piece of wood. The wood was darkly stained. Probably a mixture of sweat and blood you remember thinking. Then the full horror exploded in your brain: he was going to use that on you!
He moved to the side, laughed loudly, and then swung the club at your gut. You remember very little after that other than a red ocean of pain and gasping for air when you could. You screamed like a wild man and pulled on the chains like an animal. It felt like you stomach was being pulverized by a pile driver, a horizontal pile driver.
“A-a-g-g-h! [gasp] A-a-g-h!” filled Room 3 as the agony continued for an unknown period of time.
Eventually it stopped. You collapsed in the chains, shredded, still in agony. Then you remember the switch to hearing Paul’s agonized screams, which deeply hurt you psychologically since he was your special buddy. You wanted to shut out the sound of his pain but couldn’t. How the fuck were you going to survive this?
He stopped screaming and you looked over at him. His entire front torso was deep red from the punching and clubbing. You were sure you looked the same. His nipples were bleeding a bit. Small rivulets of blood mixed with sweat ran down his chest. You looked down at your own chest and thought you saw the same thing. You remember being dazed and confused; time was distorted.
The heavy metal door swung on its rusty hinges and the Colonel re-entered the room.
“Now we will begin the real torture, gringos,” he said.