Power of One
The floor of the boat reeked like stale fish and seaweed. Scales stuck to Scott’s lips as the gangsters wrapped his ankles in chain links. On one leg he felt the frost melting off the links, but on the other, he felt nothing.
“You don’t have to kill me, I can pay you!” Scott said, trying to hide hysteria. “Whatever Hector paid, I can double it. What’s more, I can disappear so you’ll get his money too!”
“Shut it!” The man in the burgundy vest said sending a sharp boot to Scott’s temple. “We know better than to play with Hector. Think we want to end up like you?”
Scott knew they were right. He wouldn’t have done any different if he was on the other side of the chains. They wrapped his legs so tight he could feel a tingling sensation where the one leg had gone numb. The other was numb a long time ago.
“Alright, anything you gotta say? Better to get this over with.”
“I…I…let’s fake like you’re throwing me in. Then we’ll get to my place and I can advance twenty grand for you guys. Twenty grand each! How does that sound?” Scott’s voice shook as he spoke.
“Just like a guy to waste his last words trying to make a deal. Alright then, let’s do it.”
One man had Scott’s legs and the other man grabbed him painfully by the wrists, which were tied together. Scott made himself heavy by sticking his butt out. He wiggled until the first man dropped his legs. Scott kicked at him, but the man in the vest grabbed his legs again and hoisted him up.
“Stop! I’ll pay you!” Scott screamed. He felt their hands release him as he flew over the edge of the fishing boat and into the water.
The chains dragged him down fast as frigid river water engulfed him. Scott felt his body become stiff and accidentally blew out a portion of his air struggling against the chains.
He kicked with his legs and twisted his wrists to try to get himself untied. Cold water drained his strength. He didn’t know if he’d be able to get loose even at full strength.
Scott hooked his foot around his other foot and slid off his leg. For the first time, he was glad for his handicap. Scott’s prosthetic leg came out from the chains and with the tension relieved, his living leg came out easily.
He swam outward with his leg and wriggled his wrists. Ever since a child he’d been able to fold his hands and escape toy handcuffs and things of that sort. He could swim fine but once he broke the surface he needed to deal with the gangsters. Hands would be…well…handy for that.
With a skin-scraping yank, he got his hands apart. Scott noticed that his prosthetic leg had floated up to the moonlit plane of the water now. The gangsters would know that he had a fake leg and possibly look for him to surface.
Scott heard the boat start. The sound of the propeller Johnson motor churning was unbelievably loud to a person with his ears in the water. His muscles tightened up like rubber bands. This was his last chance.
He burst out of the water with one arm propping him on the ledge of the boat and saw the man in the vest standing upright looking right at him. Scott took a handful of his ill-styled vest and pulled him into the water.
The gangster shrieked with surprise and hit the water headfirst. If Scott had any luck, the man’s clothes would weigh him down and hypothermia would set in. Scott rolled into the boat and was immediately stepped on by the driver. The driver pinned him by the neck with his boot but Scott grabbed his other leg—for this man was unlucky enough to have two of those—and yanked it out.
The back of his head hit the lip of the boat. This gave Scott time to stand up and lean against the Captain’s chair. With one leg he didn’t have the balance or leverage to punch down at the guy so he took the throttle handle and pushed it all the way forward.
A chunky sound came from the prop, as if he were driving the fishing boat through a shallow weed bed or some muck. The boat shot forward, sitting him into the chair and making the driver who was still in the boat stumble again. Now Scott realized he had propped the man in the vest. His body glimmered in the moonlight atop the black water behind the wake of the boat.
A fillet knife was wedged between the windshield and the dashboard of the boat. Scott took it and swung wildly at the man in the boat with him. One cut went deep across his forearms with which he tried to block. The man jumped back and made fists. Scott yanked the steering wheel and sent him staggering. He took another swing and missed.
The gangster eyed Scott and his blood stained knife and rather than face another wound, he jumped overboard in fright.