Monthly Archives: May 2018

Trip on This: Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fifteen

Sunday night.  Trip and Mowgli have to wait until the day after viewing the pictures and discs because they needed to do some prep work.  This is not a situation that they want to walk into without carefully planning what they’re going to do.  Both recognize the volatile nature of what they’re about to do and want to try to account for all the ways things could go wrong.  Neither of them will admit to nerves, but they both know that the odds against the two of them are infinite.  The only thing on their side is that they have the element of surprise.  As long as they hadn’t known who was in charge of the whole operation, they had been at the mercy of the assholes.  Now, the worm has turn, and the hunters have become dead meat.  They work in grim silence, not wanting to jinx the expedition with needless verbiage.  Once in awhile, Mowgli would start to say something only to be cut off by a glare from Trip.  She is used to working solo, and it’s bothering her to have to rely on someone else, even if it’s Mowgli.  Finally, it’s time.

Trip plays a version of a con to find out where O’Reilly is—she has Mowgli call him on his cell phone, pretending to need a lawyer, panicked.  At first, O’Reilly doesn’t want to talk to Mowgli, but Mowgli manages to convey the urgency of his situation.  He accomplishes this by sheer volume—O’Reilly finally decides to talk to Mowgli simply because it’s the most expedient way of getting Mowgli off the phone.  After Mowgli babbles for ten minutes about some made-up legal situation, he manages to finagle where O’Reilly will be and elicits O’Reilly promise to meet Mowgli for ten minutes.  As she might have guessed, O’Reilly will be at his—and Andretti’s—favorite watering hole—Tosca’s.  It’s not Trip’s sort of place, but she’s willing to put up with it if it nets her what she wants—O’Reilly.  Of course, Mowgli gives O’Reilly a fake name and of course, Mowgli isn’t going to show up, but O’Reilly doesn’t know that.  Mowgli and Trip high-five after Mowgli hangs up the phone.

For the occasion, Trip is wearing the shortest white leather mini-skirt she has, a bright purple leather halter top that securely covers her tattoo, thigh-high leather boots the exact same shade as her top with three-inch heels and a long, white leather trench coat.  She also has on elbow-length gloves the same color as her boots and halter top.  It is a look that worked well for her when she was on the streets and by the admiring glances she’s garnering at Tosca’s, it’s still a look that works well.  She’s wearing the platinum wig, but has made up her face—read, her eyes—to look ‘extra-Oriental’ just for O’Reilly.  The only thing marring her look is the oversized plum-colored bag she’s toting, but it’s a necessity.  She is confident that she looks nothing like her normal self nor the other self that shadowed O’Reilly the other day into this very bar.  To prove her point, she smiles widely at Seamus who is working the bar and obviously doesn’t recognize her.

“Wow, aren’t you the vision now,” Seamus grins at her, discreetly checking her out.  “What’ll you be having to drink, darlin’?  First one on the house.”  Trip is at the end of the bar nearest the door whereas O’Reilly is at the far end, drinking what looks to be a martini with three olives.

“White Russian,” Trip says in a little-girl’s voice.  She bats her eyelashes at Seamus who is loving her performance.  The healthy dose of cleavage doesn’t hurt.

“Aw, darlin’, you don’t be wanting that,” Seamus cajoles her.  “How about a Irish coffee?  It’s what we’re famous for, you know.  And I, being Irish, make it the best of anyone.”

“Why not?”  Trip coos, tilting her head to the side.

“What’s a girl like you doing by your lonesome?  I’d think the boys would be busting down your door.”  Even though there are Irish coffees lined up on the bar, Seamus ignores them to make one fresh. He places it in front of Trip with a flourish.

“Sometimes, a girl just wants to be alone, you know?”  Trip says, sipping daintily from the Irish coffee.  “I love boys, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice just to be.”

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Trip on This: Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen

They have it—the evidence needed to nail the mayor.  Sam Davies—the fucking hypocrite and so much more.  First, there’s Blanche’s final note written a few days before she died.  She finally uses his name instead of calling him ‘sweetie’, which, of course is not proof in and of itself.  She writes how if they have this letter, then she really is dead, and her lover, Davies, is the instigator behind it.  She implores the reader to ‘do the right thing’ and make sure that he’s stopped.  It seems that Blanche had an attack of conscience as she prepared to meet her maker.  The last sentences are smudged, most likely by her tears.

 

He is a monster.  I didnt want to believe it, but now I finally do. 

 

Trip and Mowgli fortify themselves before viewing the DVDs.  They know that this is the end of the line, which means that whatever they are about to see will most likely be even worse than the photos.  The sleeves are labeled ‘Wild Nights’ and are dated, ranging over the past five years.  Chances are she stole a selection of DVDs which—hopefully—indict everyone involved.  Trip and Mowgli sit and stare at the discs dumped on Trip’s bed for perhaps five minutes or longer.  Neither wants to actually play one of the damn things, but they know they are only prolonging the inevitable.  They pop the first one in and prepare to be disgusted.  Initially, it appears as a scene from some frat party with a shot of ‘the boys’ getting ready to go out on the town.  O’Reilly and Peters are starring in this one.

The DVD is more of the same depicted in the photos but worse because now there’s movement and sound.  Even though they keep the volume on low, the screams and cries fill their ears until Mowgli reflexively covers his.  He is squeamish and can’t watch some of the gorier torture, but Trip forces herself to watch every minute of the two-hour DVD, her eyes wide open.  She doesn’t flinch at the graphic images and piteous sounds, but there’s a tightness around her lips that hadn’t been there before.  After it is finished, she pops the next one in before Mowgli can protest or ask to take a break.  She wants to get the viewing done as soon as possible and even if Mowgli bails on her, she’s determined to watch every single damn DVD to see exactly what they’re up against.  She has to sit on her hands from time to time so as to not turn off the disc or at least pause it, but she makes it through the second one.  By this time, Mowgli has turn green and is only watching sporadically.

“Break time,” Mowgli says firmly as soon as disc number two, starring the editor-in-chief of the Chron and the chief of police, is over.

“One more,” Trip replies just as firmly, popping DVD number three into the machine.

“Gotcha,” Mowgli says softly as the mayor’s familiar and photogenic face fills the screen.  “It’s show time.”

After watching the third disc is finished, they do not speak.  Without a doubt, Sam Davies is the vilest man on earth, and he needs to be exterminated like the pestilence he is.  In this DVD, he does things to the eight-year old girl that no one should ever have to experience, and it seems more like a blessing than anything else when he finally kills her by strangling her with his own hands.  Yes, kills her.  Not accidentally, either, in the midst of passion, but coldly, once he has finished his fun with her body.  It is clear that she is not there voluntarily, nor does he handle her with any care.  Only after he kills her does he tenderly stroke her skin, as if to say good-bye.  There is a wrinkle in the middle of the DVD which indicates he’s watched it several times as a DVD is harder to make skip than a video—he is an even sicker man than O’Reilly.

Still not saying a word, Trip ejects the DVD and hurls it across the room.  Fortunately for both of them, the DVD doesn’t shatter.  Trip and Mowgli stare at each other, their faces bleak.  Both of them are children of the streets and have seen the horrible things that humans do to each other, but after viewing that DVD, they don’t consider Sam Davies to be a part of the same species as themselves.  He obviously doesn’t hold himself to the same standards as mere mortals as evidence by the damning disc.  Trip and Mowgli both acknowledge that they are willing to sacrifice everyone else—in other words, allow them to escape—if it means nailing Davies.  They don’t need to discuss it; they can tell by looking into each other’s eyes that it is so.  Ideally, they would love to nail every single one of the bastards pictured, but Davies is the one they’re focused on.

Still not talking, they speed through the other discs in order to determine that hizzoner is featured on more than the one—he is.  Though none of the other footage is as vivid nor as damning as the one of him committing murder.  After discovering that yes, indeed, the mayor is prominently featured on the other discs, Trip puts all the DVDs—save number three—into Mowgli’s bag.  The special disc resides in lone splendor in Trip’s bag.  Now, they have to decide what they’re going to do with the DVDs.  They talk about it, but neither has any concrete ideas.  They are demoralized by what they’ve immersed themselves in.  Mowgli rises abruptly and goes into the bathroom.  Soon, the sounds of the shower running are heard.  Trip stares out the window, though it’s too dark to see anything.  She waits patiently for Mowgli to scrub the slime off his skin which seems to take an inordinate amount of time.  Then again, he still has the sling which might be the problem.  When he returns, he still has an expression of disgust on his face.

“We have to put the DVDs somewhere for safekeeping,” Mowgli finally says.  “And the last packet of pictures.”

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Trip on This: Chapter Thirteen (Part Three)

Chapter Thirteen (Part Three)

“Mowgli, bring the key here,” Trip orders, rising to her feet.  She brushes the dust of her jeans as she waits for her partner in crime.  Mowgli ambles over, key in hand.  When he sees the suitcase, he begins to laugh.

“Bigger than a breadbox,” he snorts, slapping his thigh.  “How the hell did it take us so long to find this thing?”  He slips the key into the lock and it turns.  He throws back the lid, and photos start tumbling out of it.  The thing is stuffed with bundles of pictures of all different sizes.  Trip picks up a bundle and glances through it.  What she sees there causes her to take a closer look.

“What the hell?”  Trip asks, bringing the pictures closer to her eyes.  Mowgli is looking at a few pictures as well, his mouth set in a harsh line.

“Let’s grab this and get out of here,” Mowgli says abruptly, throwing his pictures back into the suitcase with revulsion.  “We’ve been here long enough.”  Trip agrees and tosses in her pictures as well.  They close the suitcase and lock it before Trip stuffs the key in her bra.  Mowgli grabs the strap attached to the handle and starts wheeling the suitcase behind him.

“Hey, what’s your hurry?”  Stanley asks them as they rush by.  His brother, Thomas, has joined him while Trip and Mowgli had been excavating.  Thomas is a carbon copy of his brother except with darker hair and three inches more height.  The difference is, he doesn’t talk unless he is forced to.  He nods amicably at Trip and Mowgli then returns to whatever it is he’s doing.  “Don’t have time to chew the fat with an old friend?”

“No,” Trip says, brushing him off.  Mowgli doesn’t elaborate as he’s hot on Trip’s heels, all thoughts of giving Stanley Trip’s number vanished.  They hop in Trip’s car and zoom back to the hotel, careful not to go more than five miles over the speed limit.  It wouldn’t do to get pulled over by the cops with the suitcase full of pictures.  Neither of them say a word as Trip drives, too sickened by their discovery.

“Dump it all out,” Trip orders as soon as they return to the hotel.  She has locked the door to ensure that no one will be walking in unexpectedly on them.  “Every single last filthy picture.  The shitheads!”  Mowgli does as he’s told, spreading the pictures across both his and Trip’s beds.  Then, even though neither wants to do it, they look at the pictures.

Little girls—lots of them.  Mexican girls who can’t be more than fourteen years old, tops.  Naked, mouths parted in silent screams, squirming under the weight of full-grown men.  Girls doing things they shouldn’t even know existed, and being tortured to boot. Girls’ bodies, limp and lifeless.  Dead or unconscious is unclear, but disturbing either way.  Different places, different settings, same stories.  Trip and Mowgli flip through picture after picture, not saying a word.  There is nothing to say that won’t diminish the monstrosity of what has been done, that doesn’t pale besides the reality of evil incarnate.  There are tears running down Mowgli’s face as he looks, but look he does.  These girls deserve to have someone pay attention to their shortened lives—even if it’s only to mourn their passing.

Fortunately, the men were arrogant enough to allow their faces to be photographed except for in the snuff pictures.  Arrogant enough, or sick enough because they wanted trophies of their conquests.  There are Peters and O’Reilly and, oh, shit, the chief of police.  There is the editor-in-chief of the Chron as he holds a girl’s head to his cock.  He is grinning, mugging for the camera as if he’s going for a walk in the park instead of raping a little girl.  DiCalvo or Andretti or whatever his name is, is not pictured, so he must be the clean-up man.  He might also be the photographer. The pictures are in color, which makes the degradation even more vivid.  There is one series of stills of O’Reilly doing unspeakable things to a girl who can’t be older than ten.  Mowgli bolts to the bathroom from where retching sounds can be heard.

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Trip on This: Chapter Thirteen (Part Two)

Chapter Thirteen (Part Two)

“You got it?”  I ask the minute we reach the hotel and are safely in our room.

“I got it,” Vandalia grins, pulling a packet out of her bag.  “The manager was more than delighted to help me and completely understood how a touch of arthritis made signing my name so difficult.  He did so admire my ID, though.”  She and Mowgli laugh in triumph, but I’m too focused on the manila envelope sitting on the bed in front of me.  I pick it up and heft it in my hand.  It seems too slim to have caused so much trouble.

“This is all there was?”  I ask, toying with the clasp.  Now that I have it, I’m suddenly nervous.  What if it doesn’t have what we need?  What if it’s all been nothing?  All the scheming, the planning, the conniving.  I dismiss these unworthy nervous thoughts and pull the envelope to me.

“That’s it, buckeroo.”  Vandalia drawls.  “Sean, the manager, assures me that nobody has been in the box except for moi.”  The self-satisfied smirk on her face grows as she leans back on the bed.

“Open it, Del,” Mowgli says impatiently, itching to rip it from my hands and open it himself.  “Let’s see what we got here.”

I slowly open the packet, my fingers suddenly cold.  I pull back the flap and plunge my hand inside, pulling out first a sheaf of papers, then another key.  The three of us stare in bewilderment at the key for a minute, not sure that we are seeing what we see.  I turn the envelope upside down and shake it—empty.  The silence is unnerving as none of us can think of what to say.  I pick up the sheaf of papers and leaf through them, handing each page to Mowgli when I’m through.  He, in turn, hands it to Vandalia.  The three of us read, frowning as we do so.  There is a bunch of legalese which makes no sense, but what it boils down to is that O’Reilly, Peters and a ‘silent partner’ own a nascent company called BLots which in a year or so will be ‘challenging the stranglehold that Nike has on the sneaker world’.  The company is based in Juarez, Mexico, and a Senor Ramon Lopez-Garcia is the nominal president.

“This is it?”  Vandalia asks, setting down the last page of the document.  “This is the reason those girls were killed?”

“Not the whole reason, I don’t think,” I say, shooting a glance at Mowgli.

“I agree,” Mowgli nods his head.  “I mean, it’s sleazy, but it’s not exactly illegal.”  He leans back on the bed and closes his eyes to think.  The three of us are huddled on my bed, all frowning.

“I think it’s a blind,” I finally say.  “This stuff is crap, and I think Blanche understood that in her dim way.  That’s why she put the second key in the box; it opens the box that holds the real stuff.”

“Question is, where is the second box?”  Vandalia asks, her face serious for once.  No one ask the question they are all thinking—how many boxes are there?

“Another bank?”  Mowgli asks, his voice unsure.

“No,” I say, examining the key.  “This isn’t a bank key.”  I show it to them, displaying the number on it—A341.  “Some kind of locker or perhaps storage room,” I muse, turning the key over in my hand.  On the other side of the key is a tiny inscription that says, “R. Bros.” on it.

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Trip on This: Chapter Thirteen (Part One)

Chapter Thirteen (Part One)

“Wake up, Sunshine,” Mowgli shakes me out of a deep but restless sleep.

“Huh, what?”  I mutter, burrowing my head under the pillow.  “Shouldn’t you be oblivious or something?”

“Get up,” Mowgli repeats, plucking the pillow off my head.  With a reluctant sigh, I heave my body in an upright position.  I yawn and rub the sleep from my eyes.  I am not a morning person, and I do not like talking to anyone after a job, and I’m hungry, and someone’s trying to kill me.  I do not want to get out of bed on this sunny Saturday morning.  It feels like it’s the crack of dawn, but a quick peek at my clock tells me it’s almost noon.

“You are disgustingly chipper for a man who’s been shot,” I grumble, standing and stretching.  If I were at home, I’d be sleeping in the nude but out of deference to Mowgli’s delicate sensibilities—hah—I had worn a long t-shirt to bed.

“I need help washing,” Mowgli says bluntly.

“Well, how’s a girl supposed to turn down an offer such as that?”  I raise an eyebrow and motion for him to follow me to the bathroom.  I help him out of his shirt and sling and with a washcloth, sponge him down.  The doctor says in a few days, Mowgli can go without the sling if he’s a good boy.  Knowing Mowgli as I do, he’ll be out of the sling by tomorrow.

“What about the rest of me?”  Mowgli asks.  “I’m feeling grimy.”

“Up to you,” I shrug, leaning against the counter.  “It won’t bother me any.  You ain’t got nothing I haven’t seen.”

“Oh, yeah, I do,” Mowgli banters, grinning.  Under his smile, however, is a grimace.  He’s in more pain than he cares to admit, but is too proud to say so.  I know better than to foist a pill of on him, so I hold my tongue.  “Help me out of my pants, will you?”  I undo his khakis and slide them off him until he’s standing in front of me in silk boxers.  That’s my Mowgli for you—nothing but the best for him.

“Should I?”  I gesture to his underwear, but he shakes his head.  I wash him as best I can within the limits.  “That should keep you from smelling, at least for today.”

“I’m taking a shower tomorrow by hook or by crook,” Mowgli mutters, looking with distaste at his body.

“Well, since I’m of sound body, I’m taking a shower now.”  I push him towards the door, but he resists.

“At least help me dress first,” he protests, grabbing me by the arm.  After I finish dressing him, I take my shower.  Normally, I’m in and out of the shower in seven minutes flat, but today I linger.  I figure I’ve earned an extra ten minutes, especially as it’s not on my water bill.  The hot water beats against my muscles, working much like a masseuse.  Of course, that reminds me of Evelyn Sato who I had met so briefly.  It would have been nice to receive a massage from her, but it was not meant to be.  I hope she didn’t suffer much during her death.  I lather up my hair and give it a quick wash.  One nice thing about having short hair is that it’s easy to wash.  Once I’m through pampering myself, I step out of the shower ready, if not eager, to face the day.

I go back into the room to change.  Mowgli is sitting on his bed, watching the television.  There is no ‘breaking news’ about anything concerning our case which is good news, indeed.  I relax a fraction at the absence of more trouble.  Subconsciously, I was expecting one of the girls to end up on the news, dead.  Of course, there would have to be something spectacular about a whore’s death to make the citizens of San Francisco give a damn about it, but I’m sure the assholes could trump something up if need be.  By now, it is clear to me that the boys will go to any lengths to make sure that whatever they’ve been doing is covered up.  By the same reasoning, it must be really huge if they’re desperate enough to kill three women in cold blood and to set up a fourth woman—me—at the same time.  My anger grows at the thought of how expendable women are to guys like this.  Not just women, but girls—little girls.

Thinking about little girls reminds me of my hypothesis that these boys are involved in a kiddie-porn ring.  I ask Mowgli what he thinks, but he agrees that the stakes would be too high for our boys to get their hands dirty in something like that.  As distasteful as it may be, there are many ways for rich, powerful guys to lay their hands on children that aren’t quite as risky.  When I point out that frequenting hookers is risky, too, Mowgli rightly counters that so far, it’s only O’Reilly and Peters we’ve been able to peg as visiting the girls.  As for going to a strip bar—well, there’s nothing illegal about that.  If the mayor is involved and if he is Blanche’s boyfriend, his only real slip up we’ve discovered—legally, not morally—is whatever evidence Blanche had on him.

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Trip on This: Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

“Which one of you is Lolli?”  I ask, scanning the girls clustered under the light.  It is three o’clock, and the girls are showing their wear-and-tear.  I used to hate this time of night because you’re dead tired on your feet and still have another hour or so to go.  Everything is snapping your last nerves, and if you’re on drugs, you’re aching for a hit.  Plus, the johns who use the services this late at night are usually the real fucked-up, psycho-types.  The kind who decide to off a whore just for kicks with nary a qualm about it.  This is also the time the sad sacks manage to creep out of their hidey-holes, and sometimes, I hated them worse than the psychos.  All that emotional pain rolling off their bodies.  Pathetic.

“Who wants to know?”  A hard-eyed redhead who was definitely not on the right side of twenty snaps her gum at me, her hip thrust out provocatively.  I narrow my eyes and take a step towards her.

“Aw, Trip, chill.  She’s just messing with you.”  A girl with dyed black hair whom I knew slightly turns to the redhead and retorts, “Back off, Yo-Yo.  You don’t know who you be messin’ with.  That be Trip.  Ever hear tell of her?  Story goes she took a chainsaw to some yahoo from Florida who thought he be the man.  Well, he be the eunuch after she was done with him!”  The gathering burst into appreciative guffaws at the story, but the redhead isn’t amused.

“So?  What she got to do with me?  Why she gotta be asking about Lolli?”  Yo-Yo thrusts her face into mine, baring her teeth.

“Back off, Duncan,” I hiss through my own teeth.  I’m not amused by the story, either, and the girl telling it didn’t even get it right.  “I got no beef with you, but I can sure find one in a hurry.”  Even though I don’t move a muscle, something in my eyes must warn Yo-Yo that I’m not playing because she backs off.

“I’m Lolli,” a small voice says from behind the crowd.  The girls move slightly to reveal a girl who is nothing more than a child.  She is everything M.L. says she is and more.  Her face is devoid of anything but the merest trace of makeup, and her ears are not pierced.  She is wearing tiny, cut-off overalls that barely cover her butt cheeks over a white, long-sleeve t-shirt that cuts low and is cropped just below her flat chest.  There is a mournful look in her eyes that zings straight through you.  She is the picture of innocence except for the five-inch stilettos on her feet, white of course.

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