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Old 02-13-2015, 09:24 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Part II:

Afternoon, Near Mariel, Cuba:


Lieutenant Ray lay on the bed of the truck, trying to make some sense of what had happened. The shock of capture was wearing off, and now she realized that some kind of strategy to resist her captors was needed. She would have to hold out until whatever information her captors wanted was likely out of date, though she knew from a SERE briefing a week earlier that the Cubans likely did know what squadrons were flying out of Homestead, so there was no way she'd be able to keep from telling that, but the Cubans-and Soviets-would want her to confirm what they already knew. And no doubt, they'd want some kind of propaganda statement, but she vowed then and there to make the Cubans work for it. She wouldn't be signing anything unless forced to do so.

Her thoughts were interrupted by more shouting. Ray managed to peep under her blindfold, and saw two more prisoners arriving. Both looked to be male, but she wasn't sure-some of the women who'd gone through the RTU with her had cropped hair, but obviously, she was in no position to ask. Then there was more shouting, and the guards threw someone into the back of the truck. But the guards didn't climb into the truck; instead, they went back inside. And a weak voice asked, “Kelly?”

“Pat,” she replied, her voice nearly a whisper. “You okay?”

“They beat the crap out of me. Didn't tell him what he wanted, though.” Arwood responded.

One of the guards knocked the side of the truck with his rifle butt. “QUIET!” he shouted.

Both prisoners obeyed. After some time, the shouting picked up, and two more bodies were unceremoniously thrown into the back of the truck. Kelly manged to whisper, “Who's there?”

“Wells; who u?”

“Nathan?” Kelly replied. First Lieutenant Nathan Wells was one of her RTU classmates. He'd come to the 31st with her, but was in the 308th TFS. “Who's with you? Pat Arwood's with me.”

“Kelly? Oh, my god... Haley Clark,” Wells said. First Lieutenant Haley Clark was his back-seater-another one of the first women to be qualified as F-4 WSOs.

“SILENCEO!” A guard shouted, then he climbed into the truck and kicked everyone at least twice.

A few minutes passed, then several guards climbed into the truck, the engine started, and the truck drove off with its human cargo. The road was bumpy at first, whether from lack of repair, or just plain a poor job in the first place, and everyone was decidedly uncomfortable. The prisoners could tell when the truck got onto a smooth road when the bumps stopped and the truck picked up speed.

It was a fast drive, relatively speaking, but soon, the truck left the highway and was obviously in a city or town, given how slow the truck was now going. None of the prisoners knew where they were, until one guard mentioned to another “Havana.” That made all four nervous. Havana? Uh-oh..., they all thought. Then the truck pulled off the street, a gate opened, and the truck drove into a walled compound.

When the truck stopped, the guards dropped the gate and dragged the Americans out. First Wells, then Clark, Arwood, then Ray. All four were soon kneeling on the ground, blindfolded and hands tied behind their backs, with the afternoon sun beating down on them. The new guards made sure no one talked, nor tried to look up and peep under a blindfold. They've got some experience, Ray thought, as the guards circled the four. Then, one at a time, they were taken inside. This time, the two men, Arwood and Wells, were taken first, then the two women.

The guards took Ray into a room, closed the door behind them, and then sat her down on a chair. One of them took off her flight boots, then tied her ankles to the chair. When that was done, the two guards left, turning off the light and leaving Ray to her thoughts. Okay....it's been rough, but it could be worse, she thought. Who's first, though? That thought went through her mind as she dozed off.


Evening, Ministry of Defense Interrogation Center, Havana, Cuba.


Kelly was suddenly jolted awake when the light came on in the room. Though still blindfolded, she was able to see a pair of boots striding to a desk-which she hadn't noticed earlier. Suddenly, the blindfold came off, and she saw a tall, well built Cuban officer. Though he had no epaulets or insignia on his uniform, it was obvious he was an officer. And he glared at her with unconcealed hostility and contempt. With that kind of look, that meant trouble, and there was no way around it, except to take whatever came her way. He took out a folder and read silently, then he closed it and glared at her again.
“So. Lieutenant Ray, will you answer my questions?”

“Under the Geneva Convention...” Ray started to say, but she never got to finish, for he got up from behind the desk, came over, and kicked her to the floor, still tied to the chair. One of the guards pulled her back up.

“The Geneva Convention means nothing here. You will answer all of the questions put to you. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” the Cuban shouted.

“I'm a Prisoner of War, and under the Geneva Convention..”

SMACK! The Cuban slapped her in the face. “I have done this before. In Hanoi. There were thirty Americans that the Vietnamese allowed me to handle. All of them submitted to me. ALL OF THEM.” He yelled at her. “And the same with a number of those from Guantanamo. Everyone submitted. Including several women!”

When he said that, something she'd read about a number of POWs in Hanoi came back. Thirty American POWs at a camp near Hanoi had been tormented for nearly a year by two suspected Cubans, and all had been broken-some repeatedly-with one being tortured to insanity and ultimately dying in Hanoi. Now she was in the clutches of this same animal. And she braced herself for what was sure to come. If this is the guy that tormented guys like Jim Kasler, then I'd better do as good as they did, she thought.

“WILL YOU ANSWER?” He yelled again. “ANSWER, BITCH!”

Kelly just looked straight ahead at him. “I have nothing to say.”

“YOU WILL!” he roared as he kicked the chair, knocking her to the ground. A guard pulled her up, and he kicked her back down again. Then he nodded to a guard and stormed out of the room.

The guard untied her from the chair, and stood her up. Two other guards came in and she noticed they all had lengths of rope in their hands. This is not a good day, she said to herself, as the guards forced her out of her flight suit, until she was stripped completely. A few minutes later, she was trussed up in the ropes, screaming.


Several Hours later:


Lieutenant Ray lay on the floor of the interrogation room, covered with sweat and bruises, her hands still tied behind her back, and she was again blindfolded. She'd been through a session in the ropes, and a beating at the hands of the interrogator. She was now certain this was the guy the POWs in Hanoi called “Fidel”, and the fact that he bragged about being there several times made that all the more certain. Other than a guard giving her a sip of water every now and then, she'd had nothing to eat or drink since her shootdown, and it got to the point where she'd lick her lips with her tongue, trying to moisten them. They said it would be like this, the SERE instructors, and everyone there was saying “It can't happen to me.” And she'd been one of them. Now it was, and she had to ride it out.

The guards had left the light on the whole time, and she didn't know if it was day or night outside. The only other thing she knew was that the others were going through a similar ordeal, as she'd been able to hear their screams. She had heard what she thought was Pat's voice, saying “Hang in there, guys,” only to hear the guards fall upon him and beat him once again. After they'd finished, she had been able to close her eyes underneath the blindfold, and doze off.

Kelly was awakened all of a sudden by a swift kick to her buttocks. “GET UP!” the voice shouted. It was the same interrogator. “ON YOUR KNEES!” he shouted, as she struggled to do so. And for a few minutes, nothing happened. The anticipation was intense. Whatever you're going to do, she thought, get it over with. This time, she didn't raise her head and peer from underneath the blindfold, for the last time she'd tried that, a rubber hose had landed between her shoulder blades knocking her down. Then he spoke again.

“Now, will you answer the questions?”

Kelly kept her head down, saying nothing.

SMACK! He slapped her in the face, very, very, hard. “WELL?”

“Ray, Kelly Ann; First Lieutenant, United States Air Force...”

The guards then fell upon her with their hoses and sticks, beating her all over. They even pulled her up, raising her tied arms, so that they could beat on her back and buttocks. After a few minutes, the interrogator asked again. “Will you answer?”

Kelly said nothing. When she didn't say anything, the guards threw her to the floor, and rolled her onto her belly. Two guards grabbed her ankles and spread her legs apart, and then she heard an ominous sound: the interrogator unzipping his pants.....When she heard that, she knew what was coming, and decided that she wouldn't scream if she could avoid it. She heard him walk behind her, get on his knees and he grabbed her buttocks and pulled her close.......



Later:


Wailing sirens woke Kelly up. Then came the sounds of antiaircraft fire, missiles being launched, and bombs exploding. Then came the sound of jets overhead. Somebody was paying Havana a visit, and maybe, just maybe, it was the guys in the 31st. I'll take the Navy in a pinch, but hey, if it's Americans overhead, whoever's doing it is fine with me.

After “Fidel” had had his turn with her, the other two guards took theirs, before they left her alone again. This time, they had put torture cuffs on her wrists, below where they were tied. And these were ratcheted down tight. She had heard from one former POW that fighting the cuffs wasn't a good idea, as some of them tore the skin if you did fight the cuffs. Only after her tormentors had left did she do what she hadn't done since being shot down: cry. Another thing that had been common in Hanoi, but don't let the bad guys see you cry, because you're vulnerable.

Suddenly, the all clear sounded, and the door to the room burst open. Two guards came to Kelly and dragged her to a stool that they had brought with them, and very roughly sat her down on the stool, and then tied her ankles to the stool legs. Then they untied her wrists, took off the cuffs, and then retied her hands in front of her. Then they threw a rope through one of the rafters, and one end was tied to her wrists, then they pulled on the other end of the rope, putting her tied arms over her head. The guards then tied off that end of the rope, and then left, leaving her tied to the stool, with her arms tied over her head. And she was still blindfolded.

Then she heard the interrogator shouting at someone. And a response-a loud one. “Arwood, Patrick, Captain,”

“SUBMIT!” she heard next, and Pat kept repeating his name, rank, and number. Then several screams followed-louder than she'd ever heard. She peeped under the blindfold, and turned her head. The door was closed, but she heard someone being dragged out. Pat? Oh, God....

The door opened. This time, it wasn't the interrogator, but a guard. He had a pail of water, and a dipper. And something happened that hadn't happened yet since her capture. This Cuban was actually polite. “Aqua?” he asked.

“Please,” she said weakly.

The guard came and helped her drink. Several dippers of water, and she felt better-only a little, but better. He then took a cloth from his pocket, dipped it in the water, and wiped her face. If this guy's doing it on his own....be glad for small favors. When he was finished, he asked, “Good, yes?” And she nodded. Then he got up and left, closing the door behind him.

Well...that was a surprise. Like they said, be glad for any small favors, because they'll be few and far between. And I got through these two rounds. What's next, she thought. But she wouldn't find out for a while, as her captors had the others to work on.


Later:


The door to the interrogation room opened, and that got Kelly awake. She was still blindfolded, and couldn't tell who was there, only that whoever it was was circling her. Then her blindfold came off. It was the same interrogator. He glared at her, noting with approval the bruises, lacerations and such on her chest and abdomen. And this time, she noticed, he had a wooden stick in his hand-about the size of a broom handle. She knew now that he would not have any qualms about using it on her. But, she said to herself, I'm not ready to give in just yet.

Then some screams got her attention. The sicko had left the door to the interrogation room open, and she could hear the screams of at least two others-Nathan and Haley, she realized. But not Pat. Where is he? Was he the one I heard being dragged away?

Then the interrogator shouted at her, “WILL YOU ANSWER?”

Kelly looked at him. That brief respite had recharged her batteries, so to speak. “I'm a Prisoner of War, and I've already told you everything the Geneva Convention..”

SMACK! He hit her across the shoulder blades with the broom handle. Then he did it again to her chest-twice. “The Geneva Convention doesn't apply here.” He shouted again. “WILL YOU SUBMIT?”

She took a couple of deep breaths, and looked at him. “No.”

This time, she got a dozen, along her upper and lower back. And the screams were loud. “BITCH! You'll submit. Just like all the others!” he shouted as he beat her. When he was done, he blindfolded Kelly again, and stormed out of the room. But this time, he left the door open, so that she could hear the screaming coming from the other rooms.

It could've been worse, she thought. This time, though, hearing the screams, she did cry underneath the blindfold. And she knew that it wasn't over yet. Not by a long shot.


Some time later, two guards came into the room, and they brought someone with them. She wasn't sure who, but she knew something was up when the rope holding her arms above her head went slack, and her tied hands fell into her lap. Then a guard came and removed the blindfold.

Kelly was now faced by a Caucasian woman with blond hair, done up in 60's style, wearing a Cuban officer's uniform with no insignia. But this woman glared at her with the same contempt that the interrogator had. Kelly felt that this woman was looking her over, and didn't care a whit about what had been done to her. The woman spoke.

“You just have to be brave, just have to? Why do you resist? Socialism is coming to America, and it's futile to stop it from coming about.”

“Who are you?” Kelly asked.

“I killed a racist cop who pulled me over for speeding. He was from a police department that beat up blacks protesting the imperialist war in Vietnam, so I have no regrets.” the woman said.

Uh-oh....Kelly thought. A story she'd read in the newspaper before the war came back. Didn't the FBI think a few of those '60s radicals had made it to Cuba? Well, it looked like one of them had. She stared at the woman in front of her. “So now you're helping the Cubans-and the Russians. How's it feel to be a traitor?.”

SMACK! The woman slapped her hard. “I'm not a traitor if I'm helping bring about a better world. It's useless to stop the march of Socialism. You will not go home until the flag of Socialism flies over every city and town in America!” she yelled.

“Who are you?” Kelly asked, not caring if she paid the price.

The woman stared at her. “I'm on the Criminal FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. You've never heard of Michelle Bateman?”

“Too young.” Kelly quipped, again, not caring if she regretted it later.

“How about the Weathermen? We were trying to stop the illegal and immoral war in Vietnam! Or were you more concerned with what you were wearing, or which rock group was the most popular?” the woman shreiked.

Kelly shook her head. “I was in grade school when you were doing that stuff,” she said. “But putting bombs in the Capitol doesn't help your cause any.”

“There's not much of the Capitol left,” the woman sneered.

“The point's still the same.”

“That's because the people are deluded. They believe whatever the media tells them, and what the capitalist politicians say. I had hoped Socialism could come to America peacefully, but if it takes a war, and the gutting of the heart of Capitalism-New York? So be it!”

And that justifies killing three million people there alone? Kelly thought. Fortunately, she didn't say it out loud. “So what? The Russians started this war. They won't finish it.”

That set the woman off. “I was hoping you'd have a different attitude than the other woman. Obviously, I was mistaken.” She nodded to a guard, who untied Kelly's ankles and dragged her back to the center of the room. Her hands were untied, then retied behind her back, and the torture cuffs put on-and ratcheted tight. Very tight. And once again, she was trussed up in the ropes, and screaming almost immediately.


After the session in the ropes, the woman left the room, and Kelly was thrown into a corner and left there, her hands still tied behind her back, and the torture cuffs on as well. How long had it been? The interrogation room was windowless, so she had no idea if it was day or night outside, let alone how many days she had been in the room. She was tired, hurt, and hungry, but was still in no mood to cooperate. And to think that another American was actually helping the Cubans? That made her blood boil, and want to resist just a little bit more. When this war's over, she promised, that....bitch is going to pay-and if that means strapping her into Old Sparky someplace, so much the better. And that interrogator....not just what he did to me, but if he killed Pat, I'll gladly testify wherever they want me to. And if that straps him into the Chair? Good.

Though her ankles were also tied, she managed to curl up in a little ball in the corner. Kelly closed her eyes, and by thinking happy thoughts-though that was a little hard at first, she managed to doze off. And for the first time since she'd arrived in Havana, she wasn't blindfolded when she went to sleep.


Later:


Kelly awoke with a start: the door to the interrogation room flew open, and two guards came in and dragged her in front of the interrogator's desk. Then the interrogator, who she was dead certain was the sicko the Hanoi POWs called “Fidel”, strode in. He glared at her with a contemptuous look on his face, then came up in front of her. He stared down at her face, as Kelly looked up. And he said, in a charming tone of voice, “Will you answer the questions?”

She looked right at him. “No.”

His eyes widened, and his face got red. Then he punched her in the stomach, not once, but twice, forcing her to double over, and the guards pulled her back up. “YOU ARE GOING TO SUBMIT, BITCH!” he shouted.

“Ray, Kelly Ann. First Lieutenant...”

SMACK! His palm slammed into her cheek. “SUBMIT!” he shreiked.

Kelly said nothing. I'm not ready just yet, she thought. Then she shook her head no.

The interrogator nodded, and the two guards simply let go, and Kelly fell to the floor. Then one of the guards went out of the room, and brought back a set of leg irons. Horseshoe-shaped clamps with eyelets for a metal bar. The clamps were put around her ankles, and the bar inserted through the eyelets, behind her ankles, and secured with a padlock. Just like the display in SERE, she knew. Same thing. After that, the guards lowered the rope from the ceiling, and tied the near end around the bar, between her feet. Then the guards pulled on the other end of the rope, and very quickly, Kelly was hanging upside down, by her heels. When she was three or four feet off the ground, the guards tied off the rope, and she was left hanging, with her tied and cuffed hands dangling behind her shoulder blades.

When she was secured in that, the interrogator and one of the guards picked up their broom handles and while the guard beat her back and buttocks, the interrogator focused on her breasts and abdomen. After they'd each given her a dozen, the interrogator stopped. “Will you answer the questions?”

He was glaring into her face. She looked him straight in the eye, and gave a firm “No.”

“BITCH!” he shouted. He walked behind her, shoved the guard out of the way, and worked over her back and buttocks again. Then he stormed out of the room, and the two guards followed, turning out the light and slamming the door shut, leaving Kelly hanging there in the darkness.

As Kelly hung there, sweat began dripping off her bare body and onto the floor. She couldn't see it, but some of it got in her eyes and stung. I'm not giving up just yet, she thought. And I don't want him to think every American woman he's tortured is weak. He's going to have to work for what he wants. And she remembered one guy from SERE: he'd been shot down four days before Christmas, 1966. He spent most of Christmas day hanging upside down, almost like this. I wonder if I'll beat his record?


Some time later, the door opened, and a guard turned on the light. Kelly blinked her eyes, as the bright bulb was practically next to her, and she focused her eyes on the doorway. The interrogator was back, and he came over to her, pulled up his chair from behind the desk, and sat down. He said nothing at first, but simply watched as she hung by her heels. Then he asked, “Had enough? Will you answer the questions?”

Kelly shook her head. “No.”

The interrogator nodded to a guard, who lowered her down to the floor, where another guard removed the ropes from the leg irons. Then he roughly put her on her knees, and then he got some more rope. He used that to tie her tied wrists to the leg irons, and then he turned to the interrogator and nodded.

“ANSWER THE QUESTIONS!” he shouted.

Kelly looked him straight in the eye again. “No.”

“Fidel” came over and kicked her, knocking her over, and a guard pulled Kelly up by her hair. “I will say it again. ANSWER!”

She shook her head no.

He kicked her over again, and once again, the guard pulled her up by the hair. “All right, Bitch! You can stay on your knees all night for all I care.”

Night? Kelly wondered. How many so far?

Before he left, “Fidel” blindfolded her again, and as the guards left, they turned off the light, leaving her in darkness once again. She ached all over, her arms were getting numb, and her bare body was drenched in sweat. She wondered if she was suffering in silence, but the occasional screams and shouting from the other rooms actually reassured her. Nathan and Haley were still holding out, but Pat....if he's dead...what do I tell his Mom when I get home? Thoughts of home, and life before the war, helped her doze off again.


Wailing sirens woke her up. Then came the sounds of antiaircraft fire and of missiles being launched, and of aircraft overhead. But this time, there were no sounds of bombs going off. A recon run? The wing had the Mississippi Guard RF-4s attached; maybe it was a couple of their birds making a photo pass. And it had to be daytime outside: those RF-4Cs needed daylight for their cameras. A faint smile came to her: just hearing the planes overhead gave Kelly a little bit more fuel to keep holding on as the all-clear sounded.


The door to the room opened again, and this time, she didn't peep under the blindfold. There were three or four this time, but she really couldn't tell without raising her head, and if one of them was “Fidel”, that really wasn't a good idea. So she just kept her head low-literally-and waited. Then someone-a guard most likely-came behind her and began untying the leg irons from her wrists. After that, she was lifted up-still on her knees, so that the leg irons could come off. Then off came the torture cuffs. But her hands were still tied behind her, and the blindfold stayed on. She then heard another, familiar voice.

“You just have to be brave, don't you?” It was the radical who'd had her trussed up in the ropes earlier.

Kelly said nothing.

“Maybe this will get you to change your mind?” the woman said, cracking a whip.

Uh-oh...Kelly thought, as a guard pulled her head back-by her hair, and the whip came down on her breasts and belly. Again and again, a dozen times. Then she circled around to Kelly's back, and a guard raised Kelly's tied arms, forcing her head nearly to the floor, as it was the turn of Kelly's buttocks and back. After a dozen lashes, it stopped.

“Now, will you answer? Will you show your good attitude?”

Kelly shook her head no.

The guards then threw her to the floor, rolling her onto her back, and then two of them spread Kelly's legs. Then the whip lashed her breasts and belly again, and also lashed her pubic region. Then the voice asked, “Will you answer the questions?”

“NO.” Kelly said. That SOB may wind up breaking me, but not this, this....bitch. And one day, she vowed, I'm going to watch when they put you into the Chair.

“Your choice.” the voice replied. And Kelly was able to peep under the blindfold again. The woman had taken off her Cuban Army fatigue top, but still had her bra on. She then knelt close to Kelly's spread legs. And again, Kelly knew what was coming. You call me 'bitch'? Well, look in the mirror, she thought. And no, I'm not giving you any satisfaction. She gritted her teeth and turned her head away as the woman knelt closer.....


After the woman had had her turn, the three guards each had theirs. When they were finished, the guards then put the leg irons back on, and this time, it was different. Kelly was sat down, legs in front of her, and a rope tied from the leg irons to her neck. Then the rope that had been tied to the leg irons when she was hanging upside down was tied to her wrists, and the guards gave it a pull. It was another version of the ropes, but this one was less painful. This time, she knew, they left off the elbow ropes. Maybe they just want to make sure I'm not going anywhere, because if they were serious, they would've tied my elbows together, she thought as her tied wrists were lifted up, forcing her to hunch over. After it was tied off, her back was fully exposed to that whip-and the woman lashed Kelly's back repeatedly. When she was finished, the woman and the three guards left, leaving Kelly to her thoughts-and pain-once again.

She knew that sooner or later, she'd have to give in. But not this time, Kelly thought. I'm not giving in because of her and what she did. She began to drift off again, only to be interrupted by a loud boom. It didn't sound like an explosion, so what was it? Then came the sound of antiaircraft fire. Somebody had gone supersonic, right over Havana. Whether it was somebody from Homestead, an SR-71, or the Navy, she didn't care right now. Whoever you are, thanks. You just gave me some more fire in the belly, and I'm got some more fight left. It's not quite the bottom of the ninth, but more like the Seventh-Inning Stretch. Her arms and shoulders ached, as did her whole body, she was drenched in sweat, and she hadn't eaten anything since before takeoff from Homestead. But she wasn't ready to give up.
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