Verdell sat idle in his father's driveway, captured by the notification that popped up on his smartphone.
Police Investigate Decapitation After Temple Terrace Man Found Dead
Hillsborough County, Florida – A man was found dead, decapitated, with full-body trauma inside an empty warehouse in Temple Terrace on Harney Road on February 28 at 4:55 p.m., according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Deputies have ruled this a homicide and believe the horrifying murder was not a random act.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office asks anyone with information about the death to contact (813) 777-9311. Sheriff Dunn said that all information is essential information. No detail is too small to report. Anyone can call in tips anonymously to Crime Stoppers.
Police have not released the victim's identity.
A grin spread across Verdell's face as he skimmed the breaking news story. The news notifications helped him keep an eye on how much information the police were willing to reveal. Verdell laughed again as he read that same story a third time. To most people, laughing at something so horrible would constitute insanity, but for Verdell, it was just business. As he got out of his car and grabbed his belongings, Verdell shook his head. He was privy to something the police were not. No one would be calling the tip line to help solve this one. He made sure of that when he disposed of the body.
"Hey, Pops. How your legs feeling today?" Verdell asked as he laid his laundry, pressed and starched, fresh from the cleaners, across the new oversized chair in his father's living room.
Verdell Sr., his father, pushed himself back and swayed forth in an old Rocker and Glider chair.
If Verdell was going to continue to stay there, the house needed an upgrade. And social security sure as hell was not paying for luxuries.
"I'm doing as well as I can be, son. You know this plastic keeps me stiff sometimes. But I won't complain." His father grunted and chuckled lightheartedly, tapping his cane against his prosthetic legs.
Verdell stared at his father blankly before bursting into laughter, a little harder than he should have. His father's look of disgust let him know that he was a little overzealous with that last chuckle, but Verdell shrugged it off. Living without legs was considered a blessing in his father's situation. The old coot should have lost his life.
"Hell, I don't see what you standing over there, snickering about. You over there with both your legs and ain't got the good sense God gave you to not laugh at those who are suffering."
Verdell watched, lip curled into a scowl, as his father used a cane to balance his weight and get up from the chair. Verdell Sr. slid prosthetic feet into his torn old house shoes and shuffled towards the kitchen, mumbling under his breath.
"I don't know why the hell you would ask me just to make fun of me. Something ain't right with that shit there. Not right at all."
Verdell made a mental note to aim higher, possibly for the neck or the head, the next time he felt the extreme urgency to off his father. Verdell hawked his throat and sucked his teeth before following his old man into the kitchen.
Standing at the door, Verdell already knew the answer but figured he would ask, "Did you eat today?"
"What you ask me that for? You going to laugh at me for starving too?" his father asked, full of sarcasm.
Sorting out pots and pans, Verdell prepared to cook a quick dinner of corned beef, rice, and cabbage before he left for the night. "Pops, why all the sarcasm? I asked because I care. I would think that you would have pulled yourself together by now and realized there are better ways to die than starvation."
If feeling sorry for himself was the only sentiment his father gained after being shot and having both of his legs amputated, it was a hell of an improvement. Who knew it would take having his legs blown off to get a little emotion out of him? Maybe if his father had gained a little perspective after they lost his mother, then they would not be here.
Thoughts about losing his mother made Verdell's blood boil, despite reaching into the cold fridge to grab the cabbage and the celery. Verdell had to get a grip on his anger before he ruined everything again.
Eight years ago, Verdell shot his father, not once but twice. No matter how justified his anger, it was not an authorized hit. Verdell's job description had always included maintaining self-control as a priority. It was what separated his class from the mongrels. Therefore, his emotional slip-up, howbeit not murder, was still punishable.
When Verdell shot his father, he thought he had walked away from his childhood home for the last time. He would never have expected to be here now, taking care of a man he once blamed for all of the horrible shit that ever happened to him since his mother passed. Maybe he still held him responsible.
After the emotional drain of leaving his father for dead and the gory nature of his assignments in the days leading up to that heated decision, Verdell wanted to give himself a semi-retirement gift. Somewhere peaceful, he could dress his physical and mental wounds, maybe eat a few tasty meals, and take a few ladies for a wild ride. His search for peace led him to a Craigslist ad for a 2.7 acre property with split level home with three bedrooms, three full baths, a barn, and a natural lake in Thonotosassa. It was the perfect location for him to get away when he was not on assignment. Verdell emailed the contact, making sure to tell them he could pay in cash. Not to his surprise, he received a response within minutes, asking when he would be available to see the property.
Verdell checked with all of his sources to make sure the listing was legit. Verdell waited until his connections in the city's Commissioners' office signed off before happily agreeing to set up his walkthrough for the next evening.
The property was more than he could have ever imagined. The pictures were no match for what stood before him. Verdell declined to see the barn and the rest of the land after viewing the main house. Garden jet tubs, marble in the wet areas and main walkways, and plush carpeting in all the rooms. He had to act fast. He felt like he would lose it to another buyer if he did not make an offer now. Verdell could not believe a place like this was still available. And it was going to be his. He offered fifteen percent below the asking price, and it only took the realtor twenty minutes and one question to get his offer accepted. The owner wanted cash. Who would pass up two hundred seventy-five thousand dollars cash? Surely not anyone he knew. There was only one problem. Verdell hid his payouts from each job in different accounts. Sometimes, it was hard for him to recall where his handler routed the funds.
The amount of money he accumulated was always a surprise to him. And as long as it kept growing, there were no issues. Verdell chose to live out of his newly acquired 2008 Dodge Challenger and had spent next to nothing since he started wet working. That was one of the perks of the job he loved. It paid for itself. The premium he received for completing each assignment was more like a bonus.
Verdell excused himself from the realtor to go outside and check his balance and make the transfer in private. As soon as his foot hit the driveway, he found himself gasping for air as they bagged him.
Verdell began to panic and fought his attackers. He could tell the bag did not have many holes because he felt himself beginning to pass out from the lack of oxygen coming through the small holes in the sack.
Thoughts quickly ran through his head about who could have grabbed him. Who could have known where he would be and catch him off his game? Could it have been Donnie Belasco's people? Verdell ruled them out because he had not heard any fake ass Boston accents or smelled any weird combination of basil and cinnamon men’s body spray. How about the guy that had his side piece and his daughter whacked? No. That guy was a fucking sociopath and definitely would have foolishly announced his plan to bag me before paying his stooges to execute me.
Thoughts about sparing the daughter after murdering her mother made Verdell's chest tighten. He gasped for air, trying to release the tension, but only found himself closer to unconsciousness. He had to stay focused. Verdell realized if he was not dead, the best thing he could do was sit back and enjoy the ride. Verdell breathed in deep and exhaled. Performing that task alone let him know that there was a chance he would make it out of this snatch and grab alive.
Verdell woke up in what he remembered as the diagnostic room. While inside, they showed him pictures of his father airlifted and arriving at Tampa General Hospital. He had not bled out from his bullet wounds. Verdell did not get a chance to explain his botched attempt at revenge. The Camp had Verdell gagged, bare from his waist up, strung upside down, and dipped his entire trigger arm from shoulder to fingertips in concentrated hydrochloric acid. Verdell had to keep his head craned and tried his best to keep it from flailing, despite the convulsions of agony that rippled through his body. They would have to kill him if they wanted him dead. He was not going to dip his head in the acid for them.
Verdell had never felt that type of debilitating pain in his life. He just knew that he would see the bone when they pulled his arm out of the vat. The smell was unbearable. He threw up twice and caught a crick in his neck from trying to stay stiff enough to avoid the acid that was dangerously close to his skull. Burning hair mixed with the smell of dying flesh had Verdell extremely nauseous. To Verdell's surprise, he did not see the bone, but his skin appeared melted into the muscle. He could not remember if he passed out from the pain or the sight of his arm disintegrating right before his eyes.
They tortured and beat Verdell into a haze for days. When he woke up, the fog was so heavy; he could not recall if his torment lasted days or weeks. He was in a dingy two-star motel off Fletcher and Nebraska with his arm wrapped in gauze when he came to. Next to him, the number of an orthodontist to replace missing teeth, a manila envelope, and a briefcase holding five hundred twenty-five thousand dollars. On the dirt-smudged mirror was a sticky note that said, "If your simple ass didn't know before, now you know who the hell gives the orders, and it sure as hell ain't you. Lay low. We'll call you when we need you."
It took Verdell three full months to heal from his injuries and the surgery on his mouth. He needed to get a sleeve to cover the scar tissue on his arm. He had learned his lesson. The Camp made it clear their position on unauthorized hits. He understood.
Fortunately for him, when he was out of commission, no one had bought the Thonotosassa property. Verdell knew the realtor had a thing for him when they first met, and sure enough, when he called, she was anxious to meet him and go over the purchase contract. Verdell was more than happy to oblige. When he gave her the two hundred seventy-five thousand dollars for the property and another fifteen thousand for herself, she had no problem helping him warm the house up. His only catch, she had to do everything in panties, only. Verdell had finally bought his peace.
Closing the refrigerator door, Verdell looked at his arm as a reminder of his lack of discipline. He would not dare risk going down that road again. At the oddest moments, the smell of burnt skin and hair still haunted him. Especially in times like these, when he felt his sorry ass father had many more secrets to be punished for.