“Nobody knows just how many kids there were. The chaos at the parking structure exit lead to a shoot out with the guards. A number of children and some of the buyers were taken into custody. I didn’t much follow it after that. There were some blurbs on the news about sweeping raids but only blurbs. That kind of news isn’t sexy. A politician sending nude pictures of themselves to a teenager sells far more advertising than a story about legitimate police work shutting down a child sex trafficking ring. Sad, but true. There is no such thing as honest journalism anymore.”
I looked her in the eyes and said “I wasn’t playing God and killing them didn’t bother me. A small caliber rifle from a good distance meant I was never threatened by their handguns. Oh, the bullets smacked into the back wall of the store but they weren’t anywhere near me. Short barreled hand cannons are horribly inaccurate beyond thirty yards. Besides, there was enough daylight coming through the skylights and windows to remove all possibility of muzzle flash. Given the odd shapes in the center of a multi-story shopping mall, the echo was everywhere. They had no idea where the bullets came from. By the time the second guard went prone for safety a bullet had already entered his forehead.”
“Ultimately the ring was taken down. That was the overall objective. The details of how weren’t that important. I would be shocked if the cops put much effort into locating the shooter. Not once they figured out what was really happening in the mall. Pity the Realtor though.”
“Who would ever consider buying or leasing a mall which had once been used for a child sex trafficking operation? Have you ever seen the movie ‘Changeling’ by Clint Eastwood?”
She shook her head no.
“You should. It’s about the Wineville California chicken coop murders where boys were being abducted and kept in a chicken coop, sexually abused, then murdered. A woman who lost her son was forcibly committed to a mental health institution when she insisted the boy they brought back to her was not her son. The story was so horrific Wineville changed its name to Mira Loma in order to stop being associated with the story. The state of California also made it illegal to forcibly commit people to psychiatric facilities just on the word of the authorities as a result of the case.”
“In 1928 the world was shocked and scrambled to change laws when a child sex ring was discovered. Admittedly, it was a single operation, not quite a ring, but, it made national news for a long time. Nothing that horrible had ever been dreamed of, let alone encountered. Today it is three sentences below the fold on page three. Stories like that don’t sell advertising. Politicians shagging minors and other sexcapades are what bring in the real advertising dollars, so that is what gets reported.”
“I hate to admit it, but you are right” Melony responded. “Sex scandals are all the news cares to report on these days. But why did they hire you if you didn’t do the job they wanted?”
“Oh, but I did. At least I did the job the client really wanted, a slow horrible death for the seller. That fact the ring was also taken down was a free bonus. They, whoever they are, formed a new group/division and I was its first hire.”
“A new division?” Melony queried.
“SKREP. Sanctioned Kill Requiring Extreme Prejudice” I explained. “The child sex trafficking ring was all the advertisement it needed. It’s for client’s who need to do more than just take out the head of something. They need it crippled, preferably exterminated.”
“What good is it to simply kill the head of a drug cartel, assuming they can be found?” I rhetorically asked. “The next in line simply takes over, perhaps there is a brief power struggle, but the drugs keep flowing and it is pretty much business as usual. When the head of a cartel who knows he or she is dying because they know a lot about gunshot wounds is faced with having to cough up the goods on the core operation to get medical attention or die, they tend to cough it up. Not all of it certainly. Even if they wanted to the human body doesn’t hold that much blood. They have plenty of time to give up the key pieces the client wanted though. The big raids and mass arrests pretty much obscure the fact someone killed the leader. There is nothing to lie about because the so-called journalists never bother to ask. They just fill their column inches with the police briefing, if they bother to report on it at all.”
“I consider myself pretty jaded” Melony challenged, “but even I find that last bit hard to swallow.”
“The consider this. Just how many cartel arrests/raids do you read about happening across the border in Mexico?”
“A few” she responded slowly.
“They happen a lot. While snot-nosed George was committing fraud to get us into a war Mexico was waging its own war on drugs, an actual war, asking for troops, equipment and weapons. There were mass firefights, arrests and body bags most every week. I saw no more than two news reports on that because our press was all WMDs twenty four seven” I responded.
“While we are at it” I continued, “if there is a police raid rounding up fifty cartel members on the same day a story breaks about yet another priest buggering alter boys being moved parish to parish, which story will be on page one above the fold and which story will be on page five below the fold?”
I saw fire in those eyes. Apparently I just stepped on a land mine and was existing in that hazy moment after the blast unaware about just how much of my body was gone.
“Never mention that bastard’s name in this house!” she screamed at me. “I have to put up with people talking about that worthless piece of shit in public, but not here!”
“Okaaaayyyy” I answered slowly. This was sounding like a really good time to exit. In truth the land mine did me a favor, or so I wanted to believe. The problem with this belief is I was still looking into feral eyes, unwilling to look away because of the sudden danger they presented.
While some might consider such a description unkind, she either hadn’t blinked or blinked at the exact same time as I each and every time for the past minute. She was propped up on her side by her right hand completely naked yet radiating a sense of full body armor. Sometimes a rabbit stops running from a coyote when it knows it is doomed. It’s an odd thing to see. Yes, I’ve seen and heard all sorts of stories about a rabbit running until it dies from a heart attack trying to get away, but I’ve also seen them just stop and accept their fate. Until this moment, I had no idea why.
A tear began to leak down her cheek. My mind was equally divided between the cause being sadness or the fact she hadn’t blinked in over a minute. The look certainly hadn’t changed.