I've been away. I don't like to think about it. I guess you could call it a crisis of faith. It seemed like what I do wasn't making any difference in the world. Sounds ridiculous when I say it aloud like that, but it's true. I guess maybe we all feel like that at some point -- I'd take out some mook, the next day his ugly twin brothers are running his territory. I put down THOSE bad boys, and a week later some friggin' fresh puke has brought in a whole baker's dozen of pimps and dealers.
I'm back now. Nothing fancy this time. Just me and the enemy.
And the fear.
That's my main weapon-the most trustworthy tool in my arsenal. Of course, if fear alone doesn't do the job, there's always the 50mm, or the backup .45, or the M16, or the MAC-10, or the pumpgun, or the custom "Bearkiller" throwing knife with the non-reflective finish. Funny, but since my return I seem to feel a lot less chatty and a lot more pissed-off.
Like for instance, Number One on my list of current pet peeves is a worthless little piece of nothing called Fat Sal Manetti - One of those repugnant cockroaches who somehow buys the leap from petty thug to semi-legitimate businessman. Social climbing through blood money. He has a suite of offices on the thirtieth floor of the building I spent a solid thirty minutes infiltrating. Ritzy place, all marble and glass. Selling crack to kids pays well, but I already knew that.
Fat Sal is a cautious man. Guard Number One is on the stairs a full two floors below my intended point of entrance. He gets a knife in the throat for his choice of careers. Another one with heavier ordnance on the landing of thirtieth floor…I have the luxury of a clear line of vision, so I take my time with this one, and allow him a quick peek at the emblem on my shirt. Poor little creep gets so scared he forgets to go for his gun. It costs him some pain, but only for a moment. Considering his entrance wound, I did him a favor when he went down the stairwell.
Two more by the elevator and it seems like Fat Sal's help is getting better. Thousand dollar suits and good reaction time. Not good enough, though. Elevator Punk Number Two gets all weepy when I disembowel his buddy. A little of his friend's blood splatters on his pants, but since they were already wet, who notices? His whining offended me, so I put both thumbs through his eyes, and wiped my hands on his silk shirt. If he had a complaint about the service, he didn't share it with me.
A security cam sees the whole thing, so I give a big thumbs up. I WANT them to know I'm here. "Hey, Sal", I'm thinking. "I'm back. Miss me?"
Outside Sal's office and the bodycount grows. Three unremarkable men meet three well-deserved if unimaginative fates. I line up my shots on the last one so that the fire penetrates the door to Sal's office. I figure the screams of his henchmen combined with a little heavy artillery will tenderize the meat inside. Even over the symphony of gunfire and Sicilian profanity, I can hear Fat Sal's panicked voice ordering his personal guards to take me out.
Fat Sal is screaming at his two lieutenants to save him, protect him, for god's sake SAVE HIS LIFE, but the terrified gunsels are holding their uzis in shaky hands, unsure of both their aim and their nerve. One, "Squeaky" Romasi, longtime-confidante of Fat Sal and a man with twelve kills on his scorecard, actually considers shooting himself just to end the terror he feels. The other, Sammy "Two-Tone" Cotton, is simply frightened beyond his capacity to understand, and holds his gun up almost without being aware of it, not realizing that pulling a gun on Frank Castle is a guaranteed death warrant.
There is a moment of horrible silence as the moans of the men outside fade in volume and inevitably cease entirely. Fat Sal is gripped with the irrational hope that the harbinger of his demise outside his office door has missed him somehow… "Maybe if I hide under the desk, he won't find me…", he thinks with a childlike desperation. Then, the door erupts in another deliberate burst of gunfire and HE is there. He doesn't make an effort at cover. He doesn't even look at Fat Sal's remaining two guards, who instinctively drop their weapons, before dropping to their knees and weeping.
PUNISHER: Hello, Sal.
FAT SAL: Oh, god, Castle…please, oh my God. Please…I've gone straight, I swear. Please. Jesus…Please, please don't kill me. Please, for the love of Christ!
PUNISHER: Gone straight. Is that right, Sal?
FAT SAL: Yes! Yes, I swear it, Castle, on my mother's grave! I'm in textiles now, I got papers and everything! I got a factory downtown…I'm all legit, I swear it!
PUNISHER: You wouldn't LIE to me, now, would you, Sal?
FAT SAL: (Openly weeping…) Oh, God. No, Castle. I swear it. Please. I got KIDS, Castle…please, please don't do this thing….
PUNISHER: I only ask because, well, because I caught up with a friend of yours, right before he decided to dive in front of a subway train. Maybe you remember "Fast Eddie" Torrance, Sal? Wasn't he like, your nephew or something?
FAT SAL: Oh, no…my sister's kid. Oh, no…(Blubbering now…)
PUNISHER: Don't shed TOO many tears for him, Sal. He ratted you out. (The Punisher removes a notepad from his belt, flips it open and begins reading from his scribbled notes…) Oh, yeah, Sal…he gave you up REAL good. Arson, Insurance Fraud, Pimping, Smuggling, Bribery…I'd say you're still in the business, Sal. Read it yourself.
Castle tosses the notebook to Sal, who reads the list of sins that had been given by his now-deceased snitch nephew.
SQUEAKY: Please, Punisher…let me and Two-Tone go, it's SAL you want. PLEASE…for the LOVE of GOD! We won't say nothin' to NOBODY!
Two-Tone begins weeping anew, counting the misdeeds of his too-brief life…
FAT SAL: Hey…what's this other writing here in this notebook?
FAT SAL: There's more stuff in here…Hey! It looks like…it looks like poetry!
PUNISHER: That's nothing. Give it back, Sal.
FAT SAL: No, really! Ha! It's poetry!
SQUEAKY: You kiddin' me, Sal? The Punisher writes poetry?
PUNISHER: Okay, now that's PRIVATE…
FAT SAL: HA! Guys! Listen to this! It's Be-yoo-ti-ful!
Oh, happy bright yellowy sun
You always make me feel so small
And it always makes my heart feel glad
You make the flowers grow so tall!
I like you for the light you bring
That makes me want to dance and say,
'Thank you, Mr. Happy Sun!I'm glad you made me feel this way!'"