The party was very swank. Jimmy and I had come down to Paraguay to settle some important matters with the International Trade Commissionís deputy minister. When the deputy minister tried to strong-arm me for an extra twenty percent, I didn't like it.
So Jimmy and I waited a few days, caught him alone and roughed him up a little bit. We had to let him know that we learned how to do business in the harsh streets of South Philly. The deputy minister learned quickly, "you don't shakedown the Johnson brothers."
Well it was our last day in that hellhole. Our plane was scheduled for takeoff at 10am. Jimmy suggested that we spend some time in the cantina where the high priced hookers were hanging out. All the American businessman got a little piece of ass in the whorehouse at the rear of the bar.
So there we were, at this party. Everybody is treating us like kings. Gorgeous women, liquor, coke, you name it. We were having a blast. I had two honeys that were kissing and touching me all over. They spoke perfect English. One was a graduate of Vassar and the other was a top model that had made some porno films back in the states.
I am not quite sure how it happened. One minute I'm drinking and grabbing the girls' breasts, then suddenly they disappeared and 10 or 12 of the meanest bunch of hard legs you ever saw surround Jimmy and me. These guys were big and ugly. And they had guns.
This guy Ernesto comes over to the table. He got this big grin on his face. He shakes my hand like we were long lost friends. Standing next to him is this skinny bitch. She starts talking.
"Mr. Howard Johnson, let me introduce you to Mr. Ernesto Cuervo. He speaks no English so I will translate our conversation. Mr. Cuervo wants you to call him Ernesto, no Ernie, please call him Ernie."
I sized him up. He is still wearing that fake smile but I knew that Jimmy and I were in big trouble.
He says something in Spanish to the skinny bitch. She says, "Ernie says that there is a problem. He says there is a misunderstanding that needs to be clarified. He is concerned that you will leave our beautiful town with a misconception. He cannot allow that to happen."
I look at Jimmy and Jimmy looks at me. The buzz is starting to wear off. One of Ernie's thugs puts his hand on my shoulder and pats it gently.
Then the skinny bitch says, "You Yankee asses think you own the world, don't you?"
I start to apologize.
"No, no, no. Now you want to cop a plea to save your ass but it is too late. Ernie is very upset. You have embarrassed him and there must be restitution!"
I shift my position slightly in my seat. The hand on my shoulder becomes a vice.
The skinny bitch continues, "Ernie likes you. He understands that his friend got greedy. He offers his apology for such rudeness. To make amends Ernie has decided to accept the 20 percent that was requested of you."
Ernie's face wasn't smiling anymore. His expression was dead serious.
"Before we say goodbye we want to give you the experience of a lifetime! It is something that your government's CIA has developed. Come let us show you."
They took us down to the basement. And for the next few hours they tortured us. They gave Jimmy the water board treatment and they gave me electric shock to my genitals. Then they beat us with pickaxe handles and baseball bats.
It was mid-morning when we regained consciousness. Jimmy and I were lying on the tarmac of a deserted airfield. My body ached everywhere. Jimmy helped me to my feet.
We did not know where we were. We had started walking when a car approached. It was a taxi. It had Florida tags.
The driver, a brother with a Jamaican accent says, "What you fellas doin out here in da' middle of nowhere? Mon, the dispatcher say he got a call to pick you up. How you get here?"
I ignore his questions. "Where is this place?" I asked. I cough up some bloody phlegm. We get in the cab.
"Smuggler's airfield." the driver says, "Key West, Florida, USA! Where to?"
"Get us to a hotel." I said. I had learned my lesson. Ernie was the man! I was not going to tangle with him again. Anybody who can dump us in the United States must have the juice, the political connections. Maybe he was a CIA guy. We had to keep quiet about what had happened. Or else we were dead men.
©2006 Richard C. James