The Adventures of Barb Wire Episode 1 The Bounty Hunter Story by L’Espion [email protected] Chapter 2 Snookered “So much for American justice,” Barbara snorted. She watched the coverage of Leonard Salmon triumphantly descending the steps of the courthouse after having been found not guilty of all charges. It appeared that hiring a million dollar lawyer; careful jury selection; and making generous donations to the sitting judge for his re-election campaign could actually result in the dismissal of all charges. Ah well, it was no skin off her nose. She had made a cool fifty grand hauling the drug lord’s ass back to jail. It was money she had put to good use renovating her bar. She’d been able to cut back on her bounty hunting activity and devote more time to acting as hostess in the Hammerhead. She clicked off the TV and picked up her training gear. She had a three hour martial arts session scheduled before returning to the bar to supervise the preparations for the evening. A new band was debuting and she wanted to make sure everything went as planned. She was halfway out the door when her cell rang. She glanced at it and noted that it was from Thomas Crashell, her sometime boss at the bail bondsman agency she worked for. She had been taking fewer and fewer assignments thanks to the big score she had made bringing in Salmon and had told him not to call her unless it was really worth her while. “This better be good,” she muttered. “Kopetski,” said, holding the phone to her ear. “Barb, honey. I’ve really got something for you.” “Don’t call me honey; and no I’m not interested.” “This is big. You should clear sixty C bills easy.” “Sixty C? You mean six thousand dollars?” “No, babe. Sixty thousand. C is one thousand in Roman numerals.” “First of all don’t call me babe, don’t call me honey, or blondie or anything else. You do and I’m off the phone. Second, C is one hundred in Roman numerals. M is a thousand. So what is it six thousand or sixty thousand?” She was in the parking lot by now, heading for her bike. As she straddled it Cashell answered her question. “Fuck the Romans. It’s sixty thousand. You can’t afford to pass this up, Barb.” She sighed. “No I can’t. OK, fill me in.” “You heard about the Vanderlee case?” “Course I have. Believe it or not I actually have a TV at home.” Carl Vanderlee had been arrested on charges of using his position as president of the Steel Harbor Savings and Credit Union to launder money for a number of drug cartels. Bail had been set at a million dollars, most of that posted by local bail bond firms. Almost certainly Thomas was in for part of that. “How much you in for, Thomas?” “Three quarters of a mill.” “Then shouldn’t I get seventy five grand; not sixty?” There was a long silence and then Cashell answered. “You drive a hard bargain, Barb.” “BS. Seventy five Gs is ten percent. That’s my usual fee.” “I knew I could count on you, Barb. Come over right now and I’ll fill you in.” “I guess you can,” Barbara sighed. She kicked her bike to life. No workout today, but in her line of work an hour could make the difference between a successful apprehension of a bail skipper and a complete failure. In the case of Vanderlee he probably had enough in the way of resources to put considerable distance between himself and Steel Harbor in a relatively short time. She needed to get after him ASAP. A short talk with Cashell gave her some idea of where Vanderlee might be. He’d buggered off in the middle of the night and his Mercedes SUV was missing from his garage. A traffic camera had picked him up heading north along the lake and a quick check of his holdings revealed that he had a wilderness cabin a couple of hours from town. It made sense that he might hold up there for a day or so and then make a run for the border. The relatively remote location of the cabin and the fact that it was accessible only by a rough track meant that no one would bother to look for him until close to the time of his court appearance and by that time he might be anywhere, especially if he had access to a boat that he could use to cross the lake. Fortunately, she didn’t have to change. She habitually wore one or the other of her leather bodysuits. They worked well for work or pleasure. In fact she was wearing the one she had on when she had taken Salmon in. Perhaps that was a sign of good fortune. She refueled her highly modified Moto Guzzi V7 and roared out on the highway. It took her only an hour to reach the turn-off to the cabin. After that the road got rough. Much rougher than her bike was intended to handle, but she stuck with it, roaring down the dirt track at speeds that bordered on sheer stupidity had she not been so skilled a rider. Even so her leather bodysuit was considerably splattered with mud by the time she neared the cabin. “Thanks the gods for GPS,” she muttered. Her instrumentation told her that she was within a half mile of the cabin. Not wanting to frighten off her quarry she parked the bike in a thicket and went the rest of the way on foot. She had a pretty good sense of direction, but she detached the GPS unit from the bike just in case. She hadn’t done a great deal of wilderness tracking, but the little she had done had shown her how easy it was to get turned around in the woods. A few hundred yards into the woods showed her that she had been right to be cautious. It was a mature stretch of woodland with a mixture of deciduous hardwoods ranging in size from samplings to giants with trunks more than two yards across. Very quickly she lost sight of the sky and she had to make numerous detours around trees and fallen logs, as well large outcroppings of shield rocks. She was in a true forest primeval, and completely out of her element. After half an hour of pushing through thick vegetation she realized that following the road on foot might have been a better plan. Still, she had her GPS and she followed it carefully, correcting her course whenever she got turned around until finally she stumbled upon a clearing. She almost walked out into the open before she realized that she had found the cabin; if cabin was the right word for the building in front of her. It was constructed of wood and stone and looked large enough to comfortably house at least twenty people. Forest mansion would have been a better description of the place and she was wondering whether she had found what he was looking for until she spotted the dark blue Mercedes SUV parked in front of it. “Bingo!” she muttered. It appeared that her prey was close at hand. If so it was going to be the easiest seventy five grand she had ever made. She checked her weaponry. She was carrying a Cold Steel Leatherneck sheath knife and two Kimber Custom Carry .45 semi-automatics, along with four spare ammo clips. It was probably a bit of overkill, but in her profession more firepower was better than not enough. She didn’t expect much in the way of resistance from Vanderlee, but there was no telling who he might have teamed up with in the house. Everything about the cabin seemed quiet; almost too quiet. That made her uneasy. Surely it actually couldn’t be this easy. Nervously she checked around her but detected no threat. Her experience as a bounty hunter had taught her considerable patience, but she knew that it was possible to be overly cautious as well. She shook her head as another mosquito hummed by her ear. The thirsty little blood-suckers had been on her as soon as she entered the woods and the one thing she hadn’t considered when she set out was that she might need some repellent. It was a good thing that she had worn her matching black leather jacket when she had set out or her arms and shoulders would have been a mass of bites. Even so a few had gotten through, raising a couple of swellings on her neck. Damned if I’m going to stay here and be eaten alive. She was tempted to kick the door open and go straight in through the front entrance, but decided that might be a bad idea. Her arrival might not be expected, but there was no point in taking any chances. Also she would have to cross the lawn and driveway to get up to the house. Anyone looking out the large front windows would easily see her, so she circled around to the back. Unfortunately, the back was just as open as the front. A large lawn stretched before her and to one side were a couple of tennis courts. Prudence said that it might be best if she waited until dark, but prudence was not on her side. If she could figure out where Vanderlee had gone so could someone else and she didn’t want to lose the reward to another more aggressive bounty hunter. Also, if the mosquitoes were bad now she hated to think what they would be like when the sun went down. Checking her guns once more, she advanced in a crouch toward the back of the house. She was hallway across the lawn when the back door opened and two men stepped out. She recognized both of them at once, particularly the larger of the two. Salmon! What was he doing here? Her pistols were out at once. “On your knees,” she ordered. “Do it now or I’ll take your legs out.” “I don’t think so, babe,” Salmon drawled. He seemed completely unconcerned, something that set off a warning signal in her head. Vanderlee seemed less confident. He raised his hands and looked at her apprehensively. “I don’t think shooting us would be smart,” he said. “You’ve got guns trained on you. Several guns.” Barbara’s eyes went to the upstairs window of the cabin and saw what she should have noticed before. Two of them were open and protruding from each was the muzzle of what appeared to be an assault rifle. With the range almost point blank any attempt to go back the way she had come was suicide. That left shooting it out or running toward the house to make herself a harder target. And then both those options were taken away from her as well. Someone behind her cleared his throat. Shit! I’m surrounded. “You’ve got four guns trained on you, babe,” Salmon informed her. “It would be a shame to ruin that expensive leather outfit you’re wearing so I suggest you drop the guns and raise your hands.” Barbara knew when to call it a day. Resisting would simply get her shot full of holes. “All right,” she said, carefully laying her guns on the ground, “you win this round.” “I think I’m going to win all of the rounds,” Salmon sneered. “Kick the guns away from you and then get down on your knees with your hands on your head.” By now Salmon had his gun out as well. Standing just fifteen feet away he had it centred on her body. “Just go easy on the triggers, boys, I’m cooperating.” She did as she was told and went down on her knees with her hands behind her head. “Take out your handcuffs,” Salmon ordered. “I know you always carry them with you. Just use one hand.” “What?” Barbara retorted. “You think I’m going to overwhelm you while on my knees?” But she did as she was told. With her left hand still on the back of her neck Barbara reached around behind her and detached the handcuffs. “Good girl,” Salmon sneered. “Now shuck the jacket and get rid of the boots.” “What the hell?” she responded. “You don’t need my jacket and boots off to handcuff me.” “I will the way I’m going to do it,” Salman answered. “Now do as you’re told. I’m getting impatient.” He waved his gun at her to emphasize the point. Barbara wasn’t really afraid of the thug. He had her where he wanted her, but so far as she knew Salmon wasn’t a killer. However, guns handled as carelessly as Salmon was handling his had a way of going off accidently and she didn’t want to provoke a mishap. She pulled her arms from the sleeves of her jacket and tossed it to one side. She did so with regret. There was a set of brass knuckles and two more knives hidden in the jacket. It also left her feeling a lot more vulnerable. Still on her knees before Salmon and the others, her shoulders were now bare, giving her captors an excellent look at her décolletage. “I can’t get the boots off while I’m on my knees,” she said. “I’ll have to be sitting.” “Be my guest,” Salmon said, motioning with his gun again. “Just don’t try anything clever.” Sitting on her backside in front of her captors did not improve her chances of escape. They all kept several yards away from her and the guns they pointed toward her never wavered except in Salman’s case. Also it she was going to do anything, launching an attack while sitting down was much more difficult than from a kneeling position. A pair of boots and two more concealed weapons joined her jacket. She didn’t really like where this was going and the lascivious gazes of her captors as they fixated on her high, firm breasts did not help much either. She wasn’t wearing anything topside under her leather bodysuit. She had never needed to and exposing half her breasts had always been part of the bad girl persona she had so carefully cultivated. She wasn’t a hard-bitten ball-breaker; but considering the sorts of people she dealt with on a daily basis it did not hurt to come off that way. Now she was wondering just how far Salmon would take this forced striptease act. “Satisfied?” she asked as the second boot followed the first. “Almost,” Salmon replied. He motioned to the cuffs. “Now snap those on your ankles.” “I won’t be able to walk if I do that,” she protested. She didn’t add that she wouldn’t be able to run or kick either. Up until now she was hoping that the idiots who had her at their mercy would make a mistake; perhaps get too close to her and allow her to make a move; or at least lower their weapons. None of that had happened and she knew that once her ankles were shackled it wouldn’t matter if they did; she would be pretty much helpless. “Quit the stalling,” Salmon growled. “The cuffs on the ankles now. And I want to hear them click” Reluctantly Barbara locked the cuffs around her ankles. The required “click” that Salmon had demanded sounded like the slamming of a cell door. Her situation had gone from bad to almost hopeless. “And on your knees again,” Salmon ordered. “I expect the only way you can get a woman in this position is by pointing a gun at them,” Barbara responded as she moved to the ordered position. “Ha,” got you there, boss,” one of the hired guns laughed. “Shut up you idiot,” Salmon snarled. “Now things are going to get interesting,” He stepped toward his captive, now a bit bolder once Barbara was wearing the cuffs. He looked down at her. “Unlace that outfit. All the way down.” Now Barbara knew how far Salmon was going to take her humiliation. He had her at his mercy, but she wasn’t ready to meekly comply. “Go to hell,” she spat. “Give me the prod,” Salmon said. Vanderlee moved toward him and handed him a black plastic rod about twenty-four inches long. Barbara hadn’t noticed Vanderlee holding anything, not that it mattered. “This is illegal in the US, but I got it through my Chinese contacts,” Salmon remarked. “Several settings. I expect the high might kill you so I’ll just set in on low to start.” He clicked a button on the handle and moved it toward her. “Still time to change your mind.” “Bastard,” Barbara replied. With her ankles shackled she could hardly avoid what Salmon was going to do, but she decided to be defiant anyway. He moved the baton toward her and she tried to knock it away with her hand. That turned out to be a painful mistake. A brutal jolt shot up her arm and through her body, forcing a cry of pain from her mouth and temporarily completely collapsing her. Gasping, she managed to get herself back into a sitting position although for a few seconds she couldn’t feel her arm. “I’m guessing a further lesson isn’t necessary?” Salmon sneered. “You son-of-a-bitch,” Barbara groaned. “My parentage isn’t an issue,” Salmon replied. “Now deal with the laces.” “Asshole,” Barbara muttered, but she was suddenly very afraid. She was perspiring now, the sweat running down her back and between her breasts. Being forced to unlace her bodysuit in front of the assembled mobsters was both frightening and humiliating, but she didn’t have much choice. She could do it herself or have Salmon shock her into insensibility and then do it himself. Her fingers went to the top of her bodysuit. For a few seconds she fumbled with the clasps holding the end of the laces in place. The clasps were not designed to be easy to open for obvious reasons and she had to press hard to release them. Once she did the pressure of her breasts popped the laces out of the aiglets, giving the watching men an impressive eyeful. “Those can’t be real,” muttered the thug holding a shotgun on her muttered. Barbara coloured. She was proud of her curvaceous physique, and justly so considering how hard she worked to keep it in trim. And although she used her natural beauty to good advantage when it suited her she was not at all in to showing it off to a bunch of leering scum. Barbara was mortified, but she said nothing. Just taking off her clothes was encouraging her captors more than enough. She pulled on the laces, giving them an even larger expanse of skin to ogle. Each tug of the laces revealed a little more skin until finally she gave them what they had been waiting for. The front of her bodysuit opened to reveal her perfect breasts and taut pink nipples. “Hey, I think you’re wrong, Stan,” another of the goons said. “Those are real enough all right. There’s no plastic anywhere in those puppies.” “Christ, those nipples look hard,” another of the thugs said. “I think she’s getting off on this.” Barbara’s outfit was now open to the waist, the laces completely undone. Defiantly she pulled the front of the bodysuit closed and held it that way. “Oh look, she’s playing cutsie,” Stan said. “She won’t be for long,” Salmon replied. “Lie face down, now.” Barbara hesitated, knowing once she was flat on the ground there would be almost no chance of escape. But Salmon waved his gun and she reluctantly went completely prone. “Pin her,” Salmon ordered. The two goons closest to her immediately closed in and grabbed her arms. They used their weight to make sure she stayed down and then pulling on her bodysuit they peeled it down to her waist, baring her torso and pinning her arms inside the sleeves. Salmon was not far behind. He had abandoned his electrified baton and had picked up something else instead. It was a heavy length of dowel that he shoved between her elbows and the small of her back. It forced her elbows up and then he used the laces from her bodysuit to bind her elbows to the dowel. There was a “snick” as he cut the cord and stepped back from her. “Now roll her over,” he ordered. Barbara was flipped over on her back and Salmon finished his bondage, tying her wrists together across her belly. Furious, but helpless she was then dragged to her feet. She was now nude to the waist. Arched backward due to the way she was bound, her breasts were thrust forward. “You asshole,” she gasped. “You will regret this.” “Not as much as you will, babe,” Salmon returned. “Before I’m through with you you’ll wish you never barged into my hotel room.” “This is what that is about?” Barbara asked. “Revenge for something I did two years ago?” “I said I would get even and I will. This is just the start.” Salmon turned and headed for the back door of the house. Unable to take a proper stride Barbara was half-walked half dragged to the doorway. She was sweating now, and not just because of the temperature. She was bound, half-naked, and in the hands of a vengeful thug. She was in serious trouble and it was unlikely that anyone was going to rescue her. Damn, she thought. What have I gotten myself into this time?