This story is by R. Knowlden Parker and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
While the older man thrusts his body into hers, her thoughts drift back to the mountains and fishing at the lake.
Watch your step sweetheart. Her father’s voice echoes in her mind as they descend the last bit of rocky terrain to the water’s edge. This memory is how Maya remembers that life can be peaceful and that she was once loved.
The man finishes and dresses himself with a sense of selfish shame but no actual remorse. Then leaves her like discarded roadkill on the side of a highway. They always have that sense about them when they leave. After all, most men know that raping a fourteen year old girl is nefarious. But they never feel that way until after they’ve taken what they want. The guilt that follows sends them away degraded—until next time.
Still partially naked, her eyes remain closed, Whoa Maya…reel it in, bring it here. Holding on to his voice is the only thing she has left. Even her faith that he’ll save her somehow is fading.
“Get up!” Paulo, an irascible man, bursts through the door. “Take this.” He demands holding the white pill menacingly.
Maya doesn’t know what the pill is. All she knows is that it clouds her mind and makes the experience fuzzy. She doesn’t like it but she’s forced to admit that these pills and the booze helps make her existence tolerable. If she can obliterate the memory of every day she can somehow handle the next. Maya is skilled at surviving her situation.
“Come with me, you’re done for night.” He mutters tersely, “I have a meeting.” Maya can’t believe it—she’s only been raped twice today. That hasn’t happened since her training when she was broken in like a horse.
The door to her 8X8 room locks behind her. She washes up with a cloth and basin of water, then lays on the mattress against the wall. Other nights, when Paulo is away, she talks with the girl next door. Tonight however, she feels more refreshed with less pain to forget about.
She works hard to conjure up a new memory. Hold on Maya, her father lovingly grabs her elbow, take my hand. We’ll cross this street together.
She unconsciously grasps her elbow as tears stream down her cheeks into her ears. Gratitude fills her chest as the scene unfolds in her mind. With so many of her memories dissolving, a new memory is a precious gift.
“Two whiskeys, neat.” Dan orders, exactly as instructed. Ten minutes later another man joins him at the table.
“Dan?” Questions the newly arrived man.
“Paulo?” Dan replies in the same tone.
Paulo has a frightening reputation. He’s worked hard, even killed for it. He has the history and temperament to be both feared and respected. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he simply takes it. Now he wants to expand his business into a more lucrative market—Americans. That’s why he agreed to this meeting.
Dan also has a reputation. He’s the front man for negotiations such as these. It’s not a wholesome job brokering deals all over the world, representing rich Americans who partake in this underground tourism. A tourism Paulo wants to monopolize in his country.
“You requested this meeting,” Paulo sits down, lighting a cigarette, “tell me what you want?”
“I want to throw a party.” Dan responds sliding a drink towards Paulo. “We want fifteen girls between twelve and seventeen years old.” Dan talks as if he’s selected an entree at a family restaurant.
This isn’t his first time negotiating like this, nor his last. Still, he needs to be careful. Paulo is more dangerous than other merchants. Dan notices his dark eyes for the first time. Most eyes reflect light—Paulo’s absorb it.
“Fifteen girls will cost extra…” Paulo begins.
“I know you’re capable of acquiring what we want,” Dan interrupts, “and my employer is willing to compensate you appropriately—$20,000 dollars should be fair…”
Paulo’s monstrous eyes remain fixated on Dan.
“…in fact,” Dan continues unfazed, “We can make it an even $25,000 if you bring a virgin just for me.”
After a long minute Paulo finally blinks, “We have a deal!”
Glasses clink solidifying the arrangement, “Let me show you my inventory.” Paulo smiles pulling out his phone. “So I can get a taste of what your employer likes.” After scrolling through his mobile catalog with scores of teenage girls, Dan provides a down payment and a beach house for the party.
Paulo finishes his drink, “If everything goes well we can hopefully throw more parties together.” He is skilled at his job.
Back in his hotel room Dan calls his employer. “We’re all set…this Friday,” and hangs up.
Taking a deep breath he grabs his cell and speed dials home.
“Hey honey…I’m fine…I miss you too…you know normal business trip…”
After checking in with his wife and daughters Dan sits on the bed wondering for the hundredth time how he got to this point in his life.
Maya has not been raped for two days, which makes her fearful. Paulo has been incessantly yelling into his phone, threatening to kill anyone that doesn’t follow through with their assignments. Last night Maya got a roommate. A big breasted fifteen year old that, like her, was kidnapped at gun point from her home. Paulo describes her as, “Perfect for his new client.”
“If we pull this off,” he lectures into the mouthpiece, “these Americans will make us very rich.”
Maya enters the beach house full of dread. She feels the evil emanating from behind the beautiful facade. I can’t enjoy this beauty, she tells herself, taking in the quinceanera decorations, alcohol, food, and music. She recognizes the extravagance of the house is meant to distract her, even make her feel special.
Maya notices the bedrooms with huge beds, clean sheets, condoms, towels and feels the terror digging inside her chest.
What are these men going to do to me?!
Feeling her anxiety rising, she takes a deep breath and closes her eyes.
I love you, her father whispers in her mind while she reflexively grasps her elbow. He’s the only person to ever make her feel special.
Dan is rearranging the flower vase on the coffee table when he sees her across the room. He recognizes Maya from Paulo’s mobile catalog, but couldn’t anticipate what it would feel like seeing her in person. She opens her eyes and watches Dan cross the room toward her.
“Good evening,” He introduces himself warmly, “What’s your name?”
“Maya,” She answers cautiously, not sure how to interpret this encounter. Usually the men only stare at the girls, picking their favorites while fantasizing about what’ll happen in those rooms. Never has she been approached before the selection happens.
“How old are you?” Dan continues.
Fourteen years old—that’s my daughters age. Dan stops this thought immediately. He can’t allow his mind to go there. He has to be two different people, the family man at home and this man now. The man that throws extravagant sex parties in other countries. The man no one else can know about.
“Everything is going to be fine,” Dan attempts to ameliorate her anxiety. “Trust me.” He whispers with a look in his eyes that alleviates her angst. Then walks away.
“Lets get this party started!” Dan exclaims extracting a briefcase from under the couch and giving it to Paulo with a beaming smile. Paulo simply takes the case and nods then turns to leave.
Before he reaches the door a blinding flash of light followed by a thundering BANG fills the entire house. Simultaneously fifty police officers swarm inside from every direction, guns drawn.
Maya screams but her immediate fear subsides when she sees Paulo pinned to the ground—in handcuffs.
The girls are quickly taken into a different room. While Paulo and his men leave the house flanked by police officers and surrounded by news cameras.
An hour later Maya is talking with a social worker and detective, trying her best to answer their questions when someone lovingly grabs her elbow.
Her heart stops as she turns around. “PAPA!”
“My baby girl—we found you!” He cries, sobbing into her hair, releasing three years of repressed hugs through his arms.
Dan enters the room and watches his employer and daughter hold each other for a very long time. It’s been over six months since his organization started planning this raid—at the request of Maya’s father.
The next day at the airport, Dan watches news coverage showing the arrest from a hidden camera inside a vase on the coffee table. “Six monsters are in custody…” an officer declares at a press conference. Dan’s cell rings, “Hey honey…everything went fine…I’ll see you tonight…love you too.”
To date Dan’s organization has rescued over one thousand victims and arrested three hundred traffickers. He is very skilled at his job.