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.