Monday, September 08, 2008

Season One, Episode One: Speedokiniland

Markus Bentley was sweating. Admittedly, it was hot. Sun shining, brewing hot. But he was only wearing tiny swimming trunks and carrying a towel. Like most people here outside the Brother Hotel. Welcome to Speedokiniland.
He stayed on the path winding its way through the palm trees and the other subtropical vegetation he knew nothing about. Smiled cheesily at the couple of young girls drifting by in the opposite direction.
The deep house music told him which direction the pool was in. The mood was very different from his previous visit.
Bentley saw the young women on the left of the pool, but pretended not to notice. He let his eyes drift to the company across the water, on the right, a bunch of dark tan men with women swooning around them. Two retired couples at the far end of the pool, obviously trying to stay away as far as possible from the deep house drifting out of the pool bar, on his right before he hit the pool. Always put the pool bar at the front, so you get first choice of the arriving customers. Two middle-aged men were waiting for their orders right now. Markus didn’t recognize the barman.
He stuck to the left edge of the pool and the obviously predictable happened.
'Hi, Bent.’
'Ola, chica.’
He wished she had remembered not to mention names. With a bit of luck, the sound of his name was drowned out by the house music and nobody would remember after the panic. He looked back at the other guests, she thought he was checking out the ladies. He preferred Markus or Bentley, but the stupid abbreviation had stuck.
There, she did it again. He thought about showing off that little finger as a friendly warning, but that would have meant revealing what he was holding under the towel.
Bentley crouched next to the three young ladies and one young man in the group. Joking and bantering, that’s what he was here for. So they had to think. She introduced her friends but he forgot their names as soon as he was letting his eyes wander away from them. They were gorgeous people, but that was not what he was here for.
He nodded vigorously at the end of a question. One of the women started talking. Bentley smiled at her and looked at the pool bar. One customer was staying on, the other one was wading across to this side. Not good. Bentley smiled back at the speaker and looked again. The guy with the pinacolada or whatever was sticking to the side of the pool like a jellyfish. Not good.
'Bent, do you think they’ll make a good couple?’
Fortunately, the woman speaking was pointing at the young dude and the brunette sitting on his chair. Bentley nodded.
'You’re beautiful people. Sure.’
A brutally loud laugh resounded from behind them, from the other side of the pool. A perfect excuse for Bentley to turn his body half around and look at the source of the commotion.
The guy with the dark mustache and the gold-framed shades was having the time of his life, slapping the bikini babes and the shady guys crowded around him like shoppers around a market stall.
Bentley counted three bodyguards around the man. One guy swimming down there in the pool could also be a member of their entourage. But Markus had no time to wait. The loud laugher was fondling one of his lady friends, gross.
Bentley shot another look at the pool bar. An elderly woman was inquiring for the specialty of the day.
Bentley turned to the young woman closest to him.
'Too bad but this is where my vacation ends, now I have to start working.’
He took hold of the woman, gently but convincingly. As he turned her around to face the opposite side of the pool, the towel slipped out of his hands. To reveal the Glock he had been holding awkwardly underneath.
The young people in his group screamed as they saw what he was doing. But he had no time for them.
He raised his arms around the woman, pointing the gun straight at the loud bozo across the water. Fired as he stood still for a long second. Then pushed the woman forward. Fired some more as he saw the bodyguards around the man reach for the towels on their chairs. Where they had been hiding their own firepower.
Bentley pushed the woman forward as he kept firing at the men. Only the men, not the women, please. Those men treated them as decoration, so he didn’t want to harm them.
Around the pool, pinacoladas and other pseudotropical juice clattered against the ground.
The guy who had gotten his drink from the pool bar just minutes ago dropped the glass into the pool and clambered out, slipping back in again.
Bentley didn’t pay him any attention. He held on to the woman, whispered something into her ear, and together they jumped into the pool, still firing at the men.
Just in time, because one of the bodyguards had finally gotten hold of his 9 millimeter, and was firing it at the surface of the pool, where Bentley and his companion had been just seconds before.
The guy kicked a woman out of the way, nearly tripped over the blood of one of his colleagues, and fired into the pool.
Under water, Bentley held his lady friend tighter as he saw the bullet pierce its way to the bottom of the pool.
The swimmer looked at them and saw the gun. Instead of being scared to death, the guy headed straight for Bentley. Keeping low, trying to place the woman between them.
Markus let go of his friend, fired the gun at the approaching shark. To his amazement, things worked like they had told him. The bullet found its target, and blood started leaking out of the man’s head into the water.
Bentley turned his attention up and fired a couple more rounds out of the pool.
When there was no reaction, he took the woman’s hand and made a sign to go up. Enough water for today. The woman surfaced first, gagged, and saw the remaining bodyguard point his gun at her head. She screamed.
Bentley was next, his hand with the Glock in front of him, firing. The man fired a bullet into the side of the pool, millimeters clean over the woman’s head. Bentley’s bullet didn’t miss. The bodyguard joined his colleagues.
'Run out of here, but not with me,’ Bentley shouted at the woman as they climbed out of the pool, which was gradually coloring red with the blood of the dead swimmer.
Bentley didn’t look back but ran away between the palms. On bare feet, the Glock and his swimming trunks his only possessions.
He tripped over a root. Landed with his face in the grass. Looked around him. The barman from the pool was behind him.
How could he have been so stupid. That’s why he hadn’t recognized him. It wasn’t the regular barman. At least, the guy didn’t look like he was armed.
Bentley could outrun him, so he wouldn’t have to kill anybody anymore.
He was approaching the front of the hotel. He came round the corner, saw the valet handling the keys.
Bentley rammed the guy, sending him against the pavement and his keys all over the place. He grabbed a key straight blind, hoping it wouldn’t be a Smart. Nope. The keys had the blue and white squares from the Bavarian flag.
He ran under the straw roof protecting the cars from the sun. he flashed the remote around, trying to find the right car as the barman arrived at the front door.
The lights flashed. On an X7X, a heavy dark SUV. Thank God for that. From the corner of his eyes as he climbed into the vehicle, he saw the barman grab a set of keys from the pavement.
Bentley screeched out of the parking lot, into the two-lane street in front of the hotel. Heading north like he’d planned.
As he was passing the intersection, he saw the car behind him. A Chevrolet Ganache. The women’s version of the Corvette. Low, sexy, red, convertible. Top down, a good target if he wanted to have a go at his pursuer. The barman.
The SUV was an automatic, that was fine with Markus. Less time needed to be spent on shaking around. Keep your eyes on the road and on your pursuer.
He felt silly driving a heavy vehicle wearing nothing but a pair of downsized swimming trunks, but hey, this situation was out of the ordinary. The barman wasn’t exactly dressed for a hot pursuit either.
Bentley saw the guy swerving to the left and coming past him as they careened across an intersection. Bad idea. Bentley went left himself, hitting the sports car. The barman slowed down but stuck close.
Markus looked at the Glock on his dashboard, but thought it would be a bad idea to handle it while driving. Don’t Glock and drive.
Instead, he tensed and watched the road ahead. There it was, the pedestrian crossing from the hotel zone to the beach.
Just as the lights turned red, he braked, turned the car left and went right on to the beachfront walk amid screams from the tourists. The barman was still following him.
Bentley turned on his headlights and honked like it was snowing in hell. The tourists dispersed alright, but not all of them as fast as Markus had expected. Scared parents pulled their kids into the sand, skaters went right into the boardwalk café and rammed the waiters, sending the hamburger and pizza plates shattering around.
As he was guiding the car around a fountain, his swimming trunks were emitting an electronic noise. He grabbed into his crotch and pulled out a cell phone.
'I did what you told me to, how you told me to. What more do you want?’
His lips tightened. He threw the cell on the passenger seat. The barman was still following.
Bentley suddenly braked, forcing his pursuer into a maze of fruit stalls, paintings, fitness equipment and musical instruments left behind by buskers who had seen him coming.
The stuff was flying around, but Bentley wasn’t watching, he was hurrying to get some distance between the barman in the red convertible and him.
The next pedestrian crossing over the main road was coming up. Markus picked up speed and saw the surprise on the face of the truck driver who was going parallel with him on the main road.
Bentley honked at the family ready to cross the road. They moved into the sand, good for them. He pulled the SUV to the right, left the beach path with just inches left, saw a bus coming but drove across the road to put himself short in front of the truck.
The barman followed him but he wasn’t fast enough. The truck hit him with a full broadside. He careened back across the road and hit the bus. The red convertible was propelled onto the beach, but the barman was already flying through the air with the life out of him. Not wearing seat belts in a convertible. Bad idea.
Bentley saw the wreckage in his rearview mirror. He shook his head.
He would do anything for his sister. Even shoot a thug in a crowded swimming pool. Camry thought he would. He was right. But now he had to do things for himself.

NEXT: Find out what happened Four Weeks Earlier in the next episode of Concentric before September 20.

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