Did anyone see the news from Washington involving Wolves? The Obama Administration is thinking about lifting the protection from Wolves. This would effectively make Wolves open game once again for all of those people who are simply haters. The Wolves were put under protection because they were in danger of becoming extinct. Now decades later their population has increased to somewhere in the 6000 range over 10 states. The present administration wishes to declare that this means that the species has officially recovered and can now be hunted wantonly again. Can you imagine if humanity had suffered the calamity of the Wolves? What if there were only 6000 of us left, scattered across the area of 10 States, when we once roamed all of North America. Is that what recovery of a species really means? Unbelievable. What a bunch of selfish, short sited idiots!
Grrrr... I'm going to shut up now, because if I don't I'm going to explode!
Last night I finished that chapter in Cali's life. She set out to confront her past, I don't think she knew what she was asking for. You tell me.//////
Cali took a quick look around. There were scruffy looking employees everywhere, and not all of them were men. She found that odd, given that this house was primarily used for prostitution. They lounged on benches and leaned in doorways. Cigarettes hung from most of their mouths, and they had guns clutched in their hands. Desperation hung like a cloud over them all.
The entire compound was in a general state of disrepair. Women with haunted eyes scrubbed walkways with deck brooms and hung old sheets on lines to dry.
Cali and Nickola exited the car. It had stopped raining, but the courtyard was a giant mud pit. Cali found an island of somewhat solid ground on which to stand. She leaned on her toes so her spiked heels didn’t sink into the soil.
They were met by a man wearing a suit that had seen better days. The cuffs were scuffed and the buttons were pulling at their threads. He had not seen a razor in at least two weeks. A light breeze kicked up and lifted the sheets like sails. It also sent a foul odor rushing up Cali’s nose. She nearly gagged. She had smelled such men before. It was the smell of an unwashed man and an unwashed woman. The odor brought back memories, unpleasant memories. It was all Cali could do to keep the shudder that convulsed inside of her from being seen on the outside.
Nickola and the man conversed in Italian. Cali didn’t speak it. She knew a few phrases. But they were the phrases of a child. They did her no good here. The man eyed her. His look was lecherous. She had seen it many times before. But for the first time in her life she glared back at the leach, and raised her hand for the man to get an eyeful of the ring. He swallowed hard and lowered his gaze. Cali stayed in character while inwardly thanking Ben and Angela for the ring on her hand. It had felt good to watch the leach back down. It had given her a sense of empowerment that she had never gotten to feel before. Don’t let it go to your head stupid. You’re not out of here yet. Hell… you haven’t even begun.
“Ma’am, this is Umberto. He begs your forgiveness, and offers you a guide, one who speaks English.” Nickola fell into his roll well. Perhaps for him it was not so much a roll as it was acceptance that Cali was his master… at least for now.
Cali was careful not to nod or smile at the smelly man’s discomfort. It did bother her that she had to actually tell herself not to find humor in the situation. God I’ve grown soft! She let herself fall into her old ways of thinking. “Tell him I will forgive his filthy looks, when he has bathed and made himself presentable. In the mean time I will accept his offer of a guide.” Her voice held almost no emotion. She was neither spiteful nor angry. It gave the impression that she was accustomed to being treated with a great deal more respect. It was apparently exactly what Umberto needed to hear. He turned red and apologized in earnest.
He bowed and backed away. When he was a fair distance from her he shouted for someone called, Ettore. As time ticked and the unknown Ettore did not appear, Umberto became more and more agitated. He glanced at her and Nickola with growing fear evident on his face. Suddenly a boy, clad in only a pair of dirty boxers burst through the door. He stumbled and fell into the dirt of the courtyard, almost on Cali’s feet.
Immediately Umberto began to berate the boy, who apparently was this Ettore. The child had bruises and welts all over his body. He had been beaten quite a bit. Cali’s heart went out to him, but she did not move. This boy was not her concern. She could save him, but doing so would only condemn some other boy to his fate. Leave it alone. You can’t change the world. She felt her heart grow a thick callous and could almost see her empathy fly away on the breeze. There will be time later to perhaps revisit the idea of helping some of these people. Now is the time to be the master of all you see.
Umberto was going to beat the boy right then and there. Nickola stopped him. Cali couldn’t understand his reason. That didn’t stop both men and the boy from looking to her for confirmation that the child was to be spared, at least for now. She met the eyes of all three and returned her gaze to Ettore. “Do you speak English child?” Her voice was cold.
Ettore squirmed around until he was on his knees in front of her. His head was bowed low. “Yes, Ma’am.” His English bore a thick Southern American accent.
So, he is a victim of the child slave trade. I’ll have to speak to Angela about this later. She looked at Nickola. “He will do. But wash him first. He stinks.”
Nickola relayed the instructions and two woman and a man suddenly appeared to carry out her command. Ettore was whisked away. Another woman appeared as the boy and his attendants disappeared. She had just stepped out of a bath. Her hair was wet and she smelled of Lavender soap. Word was spreading that the Lady had been offended by the smell of unwashed humanity. She was not surprised that it was a whore that had taken the hint and bathed first. It was their job to recognize the desires of their masters, and to meet or exceed those desires. Cali had been one of the best at doing just that, when she was only 12 years old.
The woman held a hand to her chest and said spoke her name, Lave. She beckoned them inside. The interior of the building was worse than the exterior. The place stunk of unwashed linen, animal droppings, human piss, unwashed bodies and sex. Empty liquor bottles of all kinds, as well as old newspapers and general trash littered the floor, tables and chairs. Women and boys were rushing about trying to pick up the trash. There was not a single employee of the family in sight. They had all disappeared. Cali hoped that they were all making themselves presentable.
It was muggy inside, and the air was cloying. The taste was beginning to stick to the back of her throat. “Get me wine. From a fresh bottle.” She couldn’t help the disgust that came out with her words. This was a nice building. It was in a nice place. The least this trash could do was keep it up. It was easy to rebuke them. She had never been in a house like this. When her step mother had sold her as a whore, she had been allowed to come home each night. That was before she had met Ben. He had purchased her to stay with him and his family. She had been 13 the first time she had been with him, and 15 when he had given her freedom.
Another freshly washed woman came into the room. She was carrying four bottles of unopened wine. She approached Cali and bowed while still proffering the wine so she could make a choice. A few minutes later she was handed a freshly washed wine glass filled with the wine that she had chosen. Cali wanted to gulp it down. Instead she pulled as much as she could into her mouth, while still looking like she was sipping. She had chosen a hearty burgundy. The rich texture coated her tongue and burned the dry spot that had been forming at the back of her throat. She parted her lips and allowed the alcohol to evaporate up through her sinuses. It was a decent wine for everyday drinking, but more importantly, it served the purpose of masking the stench.
For the briefest of moments Cali again thanked all the Gods that she had never been subjected to such a place… and then she remembered why she was here. This is where Lilly had breathed her last. She had died sucking in this stench… after having lived in it. Cali put the glass down. She didn’t deserve to have her senses deadened.
Still, she dare not allow shame or guilt to descend upon her heart. For if it did, she would surely make a fatal mistake amongst this band of cutthroats. Cali assessed her surroundings again. Nickola stood at her side. His head on a swivel and his hand on a gun under his jacket. The room was slowly emptying of trash and filling with freshly washed whores of variant ages and divergent sex. Their clothes appeared to be clean but old and unkempt. Their eyes were mostly indifferent. Like animals in a Zoo. They expected nothing from her and would accept anything from her, without complaint or gratitude. They were dead already. She knew now why the Vinccencio family considered this place to be the end of the line. These whores had been used up. There was no spark of life left in them. This is where human trash was sent, so it could finish dying. Cali realized that her assessment did not just apply to the whores. The employees that came here for the scant comfort that they could find, were also among the trash. Somehow they had fallen from grace, and this was their reward for having done so.
She mulled over her thoughts and found an anomaly. If this is the ass end of the Vinccencio family business, then how had Ettore gotten here?
Her mental question seemed to summon the boy. He entered the room with the three people that he had left the yard with. He had been scrubbed, evidenced by the harsh red glow to his skin, and given clothing to wear. The pants might once have belonged to him but they were now too short and too tight around his thin, malnourished waist. A ragged button down shirt that was as ill fitting, covered his boney chest. His feet looked like they didn’t belong on the sticks that were his legs. They seemed too big.
Cali let her eyes take in Ettore’s body all at once. His feet and hands were too big or his body was too small. He would never grow into the size man that he was meant to be if he was left here. In fact, if he were left here, he may never grow up at all. In his eyes she saw defiance, anger and hatred, and inside her soul a kindred spirit screamed to be heard. This was an injustice that Cali needed to see made right. But, at the moment she had no idea how she would manage it.
/////// I don't know if I'm going to allow her to save the boy. I think that I might do something else with him. Hmmm.... the possibilities are starting to present themselves to my imagination.
Live well and be good to each other.