“She was six,” Rose said. “A little girl, innocent, happy, born to wealthy parents who seemed so normal. She went to school in Bayside, in the best school district in New York City, which is why her parents didn’t immediately send her off to private school. They lived in Bayside Manor with their own boat dock on the bay.
“She was a good student. She got up and dressed herself every day, got herself ready for school, sat quietly and ate breakfast prepared by the housekeeper. Evelyn wasn’t a nanny although she served in that capacity when the girl’s mother was exceptionally busy with her work. Mommy was a socialite who did an extraordinary amount of charity work. That work kept her happy and busy and the girl would grow up to do the same, but not before becoming a stunning young lady, a debutante brought out at the debutante’s ball.
“Every day the girl came home from school and did the little homework a first-grader had and then she ate a snack. After the snack either her mother or Evelyn would take her out to her playground to play.
“ ‘One day you’ll have little brothers and sisters to play with,’ the girl’s mother had been saying for awhile. Then, one day the little girl saw the bulge, very small at first, but she knew her mother was pregnant and understood that her words about brothers and sisters had been designed to prepare her for the day that was coming.”
Rose poured coffee for herself and after returning the coffee pot to the kitchen she sat down to drink it. Today she was wearing a simple cotton dress and sandals and Murph could see she had not put on any makeup. “I’m going to show you my panties in a few moments, so don’t be shocked. And I’m going to ask you to touch me. Don’t get scared. It’s not sexual.”
Murph didn’t say anything. He was thinking about what Rose had told him so far—nothing much of anything—but he sensed where it was going though of course he had nothing but a gut feeling.
Look for Rose’s Story on Amazon Kindle this week.
They didn’t run behind. No matter what you thought about him, Drenovis was an ace at expediting and he called the orders efficiently. Mr. Jim made it clear to Bill and Henry Lee that he didn’t want Drenovis to have any chance to say anything negative or critical, so they made sure to be swift and accurate. All plates were released only when they’d satisfied Mr. Jim’s aesthetics.
At the lunch table they all had choice words for the disliked manager. Mary recalled how he’d hit on her. She laughed it off, said he was one ugly cracker. “Now you,” she said to Bill, “you’re one cute white boy.”
They all had a few good laughs. Drenovis could see them and hear them and the harder they laughed the more irked he was. When he’d had enough such that he felt he was gonna blow his temper, he called Lexi into the office. He gave her a dressing down for being inebriated on the job and offered her a choice, not a good one, not one with any good alternative for her.
Mr. Jim had just gone out the back door. Henry Lee and Bill were standing in the hall. Lexi, in tears, ran through the kitchen and out to them. She threw herself down on the lettuce cases and wept.
Mary and Bea came out. Seeing Lexi run through the kitchen, they already knew what happened. Mary put her arms around Lexi and stroked her back.
“It was give him a you-know-what or get fired. So I guess I’m through.”
“Shit,” Henry Lee said, drawing out the word to “shee-it.”
“You done right, girl,” Mary said. She continued stroking Lexi’s back.
“What you think?” Bea asked Mary.
“I think we need to stick up for her.”
“Me too,” Bea said.
“You ain’t hitting that today,” Henry Lee said to Bill.
“Guess not,” Bill said. “Maybe not ever.”
Even distraught as she was, Lexi heard that interchange. She looked up at Bill then down to her feet. “I don’t mean to cause any trouble,” she said.
“He’s mad with us,” said Mary. “We gave him a hard time all through lunch. And so you know, I didn’t give him no favors either. But lots of the waitresses do.”
“I’d rather work in a fast food joint flipping burgers. The hell with him.”
“Wait around till Tommy gets back. Me and Bea’ll see what we can do. Take her with you in the meat room,” Mary said to Henry Lee.
Downstairs, Lexi sat on the stainless steel counter while Bill and Henry Lee cut meat. Drenovis came in once to see what they were doing. Seeing Lexi there, he turned red and told her to get her things and get out. Bill took this one on. He stepped between her and Drenovis and told Drenovis she was staying to see Tommy. Then, most uncharacteristically, he told Drenovis to cart his funky ass out of the meat room.
“I’m gonna fire you too,” Drenovis said.
“Go for it,” Bill said. He looked Drenovis straight in the eyes. “I know six other places give me a job and more money too. I’ll take a few days off and be working next week.”
“You’re getting too big for your britches,” Drenovis said.
“You’re the one out of line,” Bill said. He picked up the sharpening steel and his curved butcher’s knife, honed the blade’s edge on the steel. “Go on out of here before you get yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in.”
“This isn’t over,” Drenovis said.
“I suppose not. No matter. We’ll finish it.”
“You watch your step.”
“You watch yours,” said Bill.
Coming This Week:
The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide
Social Darwinism! Murph had written about Social Darwinism not too long ago saying that Social Security, Medicare and all the social welfare programs, programs like Food Stamps, ADC, TANF, WIC, and especially the protective agencies like CPS, were begun with the best of intentions, the true desire to help the ill, the helpless and the needy. But their intentions and desires were perverted over time, superseded by the need to survive, the first premise of evolution. At the precise moment this occurred, these programs started becoming detrimental to their clientele, to society and to the taxpayers who ultimately funded them. The reason: Social Darwinism, in this case, agency evolution, the survival of the fittest agencies through funding, funding because money was the agencies’ representative manifestation of strength and power.
Murph had written that Child Protective Services (CPS) perfectly demonstrated this evolution. The goal of CPS should only be assisting its clientele in accordance with the purpose for the organization. But its evolution suggested that its primary goal had become its own survival. It justified its existence by keeping a healthy number of kids in its control, thus maintaining funding (and quite neatly, he thought) somewhat like an agent or even a record company does, by collecting commissions and royalties on each property handled.
Goddamn, he thought. He sat back in his desk chair and sipped his coffee. DFCS and all the CPS agencies have made caring for kids a byproduct. What they do is shuffle them around like chattel and collect royalties on them, all by maintaining the number of kids with the revolving door.
His friend, a lawyer, had fought DYFS in Jersey and he’d dealt with ACS in New York while at the BOE. DYFS was like every other bureaucracy and government agency, city, state or the big boy Federal, just like the BOE in New York where he worked for a quarter century. Most of the on-the-line workers, the combat troops as he liked to think of them, were just normal, regular people who wanted to do good, to do their jobs well and help the people they were supposed to help. Then there were the ones who were lazy and didn’t do much but collect the paycheck, the not-so-competent ones who tried but didn’t get much done, and finally the jaded, corrupt ones, the ones involved in what Rose Friedlander was alluding to in regard to what both her husband and her father had been involved in, in asking Murph to look into that Georgia Senator circa 2010 who had done a report on the corruption and child trafficking in the Georgia CPS system.
That Senator was killed, Murph thought, and then he thought if you believed otherwise, that she was the victim in a murder-suicide by her distraught husband, then you believed the check was in the mail and you believed that the protesters started the riots at the demonstration where he was arrested eons ago. Not. Sergeant Hopkins, the cop who arrested him, was just one of the jaded corrupt following the orders of the FBI, who actually started the riots, who was following the orders of President Nixon. No one wants to believe these things, Murph thought, the clandestine conspiracies our fiction and cinematography are saturated by, yet we all believe them on some level and stay quiet because… because of suppression, because the suppression is much more diabolical in the United States, Murph thought, because here they maintain the illusion of freedom and democracy. They don’t’ kill you, he thought. They kill your life.
Look for Rose’s Story on Amazon Kindle this week.
So who killed you, Jack? One of them? Murph wondered.
Murph wondered what was hiding in the shadows. The worlds we don’t see, he said to himself, like who killed Kennedy and why Jack Ruby so easily killed Lee Harvey Oswald and then was himself so conveniently hushed up, like the realities of human trafficking.
In 2015, 11,800 runaways were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Of them, it was estimated that a fourth, or 2900, were likely sex trafficking victims. Seventy-four percent of that fourth, or 2146 children, were in foster care when they went missing. So, Murph thought, was it one of them who killed you, Jack? One of their parents? One of their handlers?
Maybe one of them, he thought, thinking that Jack and his friends took those trips down south for the trysts supplied by CPS workers. Murph knew that up to 75% of kids in foster care were sexually abused, that the rate of sexual abuse within the foster care system was more than four times as high as in the general population. In group homes, the rate of sexual abuse was more than 28 times that of the general population. A CPS worker or hired killer to protect a CPS worker from being found out? A parent of one of the foster kids? Rose had a CD. Who else had one?
Yeah, Murph thought: the worlds we don’t see. He told himself again that the Georgia Senator and her husband were murdered. She was just weeks from exposing the human trafficking and sexual exploitation within DFCS. Coincidences like that weren’t usually coincidence. Politicians lie. Agencies lie and protect themselves. You can’t fight human trafficking with a sign saying # bring the girls back.