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.”
“No,” Trip says flatly. “Nine of the discs, yes, but not this one. I don’t trust anybody but us.” She stares at her bag which contains the DVD and the photos as if there’s a live rattlesnake hissing inside. They haggle about it, but in the end, Trip wins. All the other evidence is enough to put the mayor and his boys away for a long time; the little bundle of evidence that Trip is keeping will put him away for life. Or perhaps have his life taken from him.
They leave the hotel posthaste after making a call to yet another friend of Mowgli’s. His friends are more likely to be trustworthy than Trip’s friends, but no less on the fringes. This particular one, Incubus, is a slinky, liquid girl of indeterminate age and race. Her fiery red hair comes from a bottle and her brilliant green eyes are sure to be contacts. Her voice is husky and raw, as if she’s just been thoroughly fucked and put away wet. She accepts the DVDs from Mowgli with a gleam in her eyes. After he whispers something in her ear, however, the gleam turns into rage. Like Trip, she’s a former pro who doesn’t take kindly to big boys breaking little girls. This time, Trip and Mowgli has included copies of all the paperwork which doesn’t interest Incubus in the least. She listens to the instructions—go to the detective in charge of the case and the reporter for the Examiner if Trip and Mowgli are killed—with the same impassive look that Tron had shown. Nodding her head once, she slams the door shut in their faces.
“That’s it,” Mowgli sighs as they climb back into Trip’s car. “Nothing more we can do to safeguard the evidence.” His bag is now empty while Trip’s is still filled with goodies. Correction, his holds his gun, but little else. They find a tacqueria in the Mission still open and grab some food to go before returning to the hotel for a confab.
“That’s the shit,” I sigh, leaning back on my bed after finishing my second enchilada. “I feel like I’ve been running on empty for the last few days.”
“What are we going to do?” Mowgli asks, licking the salsa off his fingers. Though neither of us have said it, taking down the mayor is our first—and really, only—agenda.
“We’re going to use me as bait,” I say simply, as if the answer should be obvious. I hold up a hand to quell the protests I see forming on Mowgli’s lips. “Look, I’m the one they set up. I’m the one who’s supposed to take the rap for their dirty little stunt. I’m the one who has the most to lose. I’ll approach them saying I have Blanche’s evidence and bargain for a trade.”
“That’s suicide,” Mowgli says flatly. “They’ll take you out in a heartbeat the minute you show your face.”
“Not if I don’t have the stuff with me,” I say patiently. “They’re not going to kill me until they know what I have and where I’ve stashed it. To make sure, I’ll set up the meeting in a public place. Like Tosca’s. I’ll tackle O’Reilly, see if I can exploit his weakness. Maybe I’ll make him a deal. Show him what good faith I have. I wonder if they know exactly what Blanche took?”
“Maybe with the DVDs, unlikely with the photos. They probably have millions of the latter.” Mowgli looks ill at the thought of more girls suffering the fate of the ones we had seen in the pictures and DVDs. We think of the children of ‘the boys’ who may be suffering as we speak. We think of the countless girls that Davies and his gang have tortured for their twisted games. How can anyone with children do that, especially what Davies did? Are any of their children safe with these monsters on the loose? The mayor only has boys now and there’s no evidence that he likes boys. O’Reilly has daughters, but both of us think that he wouldn’t be likely to shit where he eats.
“You’re probably right,” I reply. Most likely the boys sublimate their needs until they are out of the country or at least out of state; it’s only when they leave their native habitat that they feel safe allowing their true nature to surface.
“And when the need gets too strong, they go visit the girls down in the ‘Loin,” Mowgli says, his face immovable. It’s possible that he’s remembering little Lolli whom the boys like to pop.
“I’m telling you, don’t waste your sympathy on that one,” I counsel, patting his knee. “Little Lolli can take care of herself.”
We talk about our plan, the catch being that we don’t have one. It would be ideal if I could talk to DiCalvo, Andretti, whatever his name is because he seems to be the one who sets everything in motion. He’s the Handy Man, and he’s the son-of-a-bitch who set me up. Ironically, he’s the only one of the boys who doesn’t seem to participate in the actual debauchery, so it’s more accurate to call him the procurer and perhaps the enforcer. I decide that I will strong-arm O’Reilly into calling DiCalvo for me. Mowgli argues, positing that O’Reilly is actually more suitable for our purposes because he’s an active participant in the orgies as well as the killings. In Mowgli’s words, O’Reilly is more despicable than Andretti, with which I disagree. After all, Andretti is the one who killed the three young women and framed me for their murders. In my eyes, that makes him just as culpable as O’Reilly. Yes, I’m biased—I freely admit it. I hate that man more than I’ve hated anyone in my life, and I intend to make sure he gets his just dues.
We continue to argue, our voices rising. By the time we have finished our meal, we aren’t speaking to each other. We are the best of friends, but the last few days have taken their toll on us. By an unspoken accord—because we aren’t speaking—we turn on the television set to the news, which is a rehash of our case. The perky little blond with the fake boobs and bobbed nose has nothing new to report, but she’s doing so with great gusto. She recites each excruciating step in the case, drawing that noose tighter around my neck. She hammers home the point that the suspect—me—is considered armed and dangerous and that anyone with information should call this toll-free, anonymous hotline number. She also confides in that little-girl voice of hers that if someone should come across said suspect—me, again—to avoid confrontation, but escape as quickly as possible. Given that I’ve been fairly able to roam around San Francisco escaping detection, I’m assuming that most people don’t play close attention to the news. Also, the Asian population in San Francisco is thirty-some percent, so girls like me are a dime a dozen since we all look fucking alike.
Bambi the reporter, real name Sandi, stumbles over the next bit of news which is that there is a ten thousand dollar reward for a tip leading to my capture. For a minute, I’m indignant. Ten thousand dollars? Is that all I’m worth? I let go of my indignation when I realize that I have plenty of other things to worry about other than my monetary value. Bambi is gesturing dramatically at Blanche’s apartment building which is behind her. As there is absolutely nothing going on there, it’s more for theatrics than anything else. It’s as if someone coached her on what a real reporter should do, and she is following the notes without questioning why it should be done that way. Her face is technically flawless, but has no memorable feature. Everything about her screams ‘manufactured’, which is most likely what her viewers want. These days, reality television has substituted for real life, and a created person like Bambi is much more acceptable than a real person.
“Her name is Delilah Wire, alias ‘Trip’, and she’s well-known as a ‘repo man, er, woman’ in the Mission District,” Bambi continues, glancing at the Telecaster once again. This one isn’t going to make it if she doesn’t cut back on the errors.
“Why are they dropping this information now?” Mowgli asks, frowning as he watches the television. He has forgotten that we aren’t speaking to each other, and I’m not about to remind him.
“The more interesting question is why haven’t they mentioned it before now?” I ask softly, leaning forward to watch Bambi even more intently. Bambi rattles my statistics over the air, only stumbling once or twice. They give out my apartment building, interviewing some of the tenants. Mrs. Sanderson is one of the first ones they snag.
“She’s a lovely girl, no matter what you heathens say,” Mrs. Sanderson says mulishly, her eyes dark. “She’s in Connecticut visiting her sick mother. That’s the kind of girl she is! Now scat!” She brandishes a cane at the reporter who beats a hasty retreat.
“That’s my girl,” Mowgli says under his breath, shaking his head in admiration. “Nice to know somebody’s got your back.” Mrs. Sanderson is the only one, however. The rest of the neighbors interviewed display no surprise that I am wanted for multiple murders.
“I always thought there was something strange about her,” a thin, tweedy man with receding blond hair and horn-rimmed glasses says earnestly to the camera.
“Strange about me, hah,” I explode indignantly. “This from the man who doesn’t remember visiting me when I was a pro because he was flying on crank!” Mowgli shushes me so we can hear all my former neighbors damn me without knowing the facts. To a man, they paint a picture of a loner female who never had visitors except one really tall, really good-looking Asian man, and who stayed out all hours of the night, not that they were watching, mind you.
“She wasn’t one to say ‘hey’ in the hallways if you know what I mean,” a dried-up prune sniffs, her thin, fastidious nose wrinkling in disdain. “She was a piece of work. I hear she was even a prostitute at one time.”
“At least I got laid,” I retort, my eyes growing hard. It’s nice to know that so many people are willing to throw you to the sharks in a moment’s notice.
“Chill, girl,” Mowgli says, patting my arm. “They’re just saying what the reporters want to hear.”
“I’ll tell you one thing. Once this is over, I’m moving out of there.” I scowl as the neighbors keep blabbing about what a lost cause I am.
“I hear she knew all those girls,” yet another former neighbor of mine informs the reporter. As they continue to come out of the woodworks, it occurs to me that they know way too much information about me. I’m not secretive about my past, but I don’t discuss it, either. I find it hard to believe that all these neighbors happened to hear incriminating evidence about me. I mention as much to Mowgli who vigorously nods his head.
“Another piece of the puzzle,” he remarks as the last neighbor hammers yet another nail in my coffin. “They were prepped.” No need to ask by whom because it doesn’t matter if it’s Andretti or O’Reilly or the cops. “Not much difference in the long run, is it?”
“Nope,” I say, shaking my head. “Not in the least.” We look at each other, in perfect agreement.
“Why don’t we just go to the cops now?” Mowgli asks softly. “We got enough shit to put them away for good.”
“First of all, who do we tell? We’re assuming the detective on the case is straight, but we’re dead if we’re wrong. Second, I want to nail the bastard myself. I’m willing to turn the rest over to the authorities, yes, even DiCalvo, but not Davies.” I look at Mowgli, waiting for him to argue, but he remains silent. I almost want him to disagree because I have my reasons lined up, but he doesn’t say anything. “So, you get to tackle the detective, see if he’s on the up-and-up, or better yet, send Vandalia. I’m going to catch me a killer.”