“The mother was eleven weeks pregnant when she started to show. The little girl noticed her mother seemed a little flushed in her complexion and that she was rather content. Before the pregnancy there had been an edge to her and several times the girl had heard her parents argue, something she had never heard before, not because her parents didn’t argue but because they never did it where the girl could hear it. When the girl asked her mother, her mother said not to worry about it, that everything was okay.
“The girl asked her father too. He sat her down on her bed one evening and put his arm around her. It seemed to the little girl that her father’s hand brushed her non-existent little breast and she wouldn’t have even noted it if it hadn’t seemed as if her father had taken a little squeeze there. Imagination, she would think later, and she would dismiss it totally as her mind playing tricks on her. The bed bounced, she told herself, and we had a little accident.
“The father said that everything was okay. His hand quickly moved to the girl’s shoulder and stayed there so he could squeeze her to him, side by side, in hugs. He told her that Mommy was really busy with a big society banquet for one of her charities and she hadn’t been feeling quite herself. He told her they didn’t know why yet and couldn’t seem to pin it down on anything, but if she didn’t feel better in a day or two, they’d head off to the doctor. ‘You don’t need to be concerned at all, my sweet,’ Daddy told her. Daddy hugged her to him, caressed her, and then he told her to get ready for bed since it was getting late. He said he would send Evelyn up to help her.
“Evelyn put her to bed that night. Evelyn did not ordinarily put her to bed. That was Mommy’s job, exclusively, though Daddy always came in to kiss her good night before she fell off to sleep. The little girl thought she heard another argument happening, but she wasn’t sure. Evelyn petted her gently and read her a story. Evelyn was always soft-spoken. She smelled like gardenias. The little girl asked Evelyn if her parents were arguing. Evelyn said they were, but that it was okay. Lately her mother and father had both been edgy but she didn’t know why except that they were pregnant and women weren’t always themselves in pregnancy.
“Evelyn kissed the little girl good night and told her not to be concerned. She told her that every marriage had rough spots and that for some reason her parents seemed to be going through one of those. She said she’d seen them before with her parents and she was sure it would pass.
Look for Rose’s Story on Amazon Kindle in a few more days.
“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.
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.
Look for Rose’s Story on Amazon Kindle this week.
Murph’s overwhelming instinct was to start the story with the double murder of the Georgia Senator and her husband some seven years ago, the double murder Rose had told Murph to look up at one of their first meetings. It was ruled a murder-suicide, dismissed as a financially distraught husband who could simply bear it no more, whatever the it was. The police and FBI never did a murder investigation, never looked into the fact that such an investigation would likely lead to high-powered, high-positioned politicians and State DFCS workers who were involved in the kidnapping and selling of children.
There was a cover-up going on. Kidnapping kids and placing them in foster care where they were literally for sale, and consequently sold—that was what it was about. The Senator’s murder, the double murder of her and her husband (of course since there was no murder investigation it could never be called a murder) was swept under the rug and anyone who disagreed with the murder-suicide findings was called a conspiracy-theory hack. The Senator’s death occurring just a few weeks before she was to present a new report on the corruption within DFCS, a report specifically detailing DFCS kidnapping and trafficking kids then selling them as sex slaves and/or forcing them into prostitution, was never even considered suspiciously coincidental. How strange!
It was so clear to Murph and a whole lot of people, as clearly non-coincidental as Jack Ruby killing Lee Harvey Oswald. To Murph, it was as clear as the FBI starting the riot he was arrested in. That was clear because he’d seen it with his own eyes, personally witnessed it and been a victim of it. Oorah.
Initially, the Senator criticized The Adoption and Safe Families Act passed during the Clinton Presidency for the trouble with DFCS. This act provided financial payouts to state and local agencies that increased the number of children being adopted out of Foster Care. It was like a royalty system, a pay-per-head scheme which she claimed caused Georgia state and local officials to flood the Foster Care System with kids that did not belong there so they could get their hands on the Federal monies.
The Senator’s initial criticism and her subsequent finding of the “flooding” of the system led her to publish a report about the “corrupt child protective services in her state,” a report which detailed her ongoing investigation of CPS, a report in which she chronicled witnessing firsthand the ruthless behavior from caseworkers, social workers, investigators, lawyers, judges and therapists. Essentially, the report outlined their collusion and pretty much damned the entire system.
Having produced this report, the Senator was beginning to lose favor with the press and beginning to be marginalized by her peers. What she was looking into was extremely volatile and dangerous because it threatened to expose high-level officials. Nevertheless, the more she uncovered, the deeper she went with her investigations and the further she expanded her scope, even encompassing areas outside Georgia’s borders and into surrounding states.
The Senator had her supporters, ardent supporters who encouraged her to go on. Her going on led her to believe there was a direct link between elite-level child pornography and child sex trafficking and gross misconduct within Child Protective Services (CPS).
Hence she was murdered, but not immediately. First she was politically murdered. She lost reelection a year after publishing her first report and claimed the loss was due to the report, her beliefs and her refusal to cease her investigations. She was about to present the new report which named names and provided details of her suspicions regarding the illicit link between CPS and child trafficking when she was killed, when the alleged murder-suicide took place.
Look for Rose’s Story on Amazon Kindle next week.
Not long after Eleanor was gone and Bill’s Suburban life had quieted some, State West was down a cook and the east sent Bill over to do the lunch rush on the line with Robert and Alvin. Alvin was burly, a heavy-drinking, pot-smoking man in his thirties. He was related to Henry Lee and Yulie, who’d died awhile back, who Mary talked about as if she had loved him. Robert did the grill, Alvin worked the middle cutting roast beef from the steamship round, and Bill did the fryers and vegetables.
This was the day the line caught fire, a good one too, starting on the Garland and spreading quickly over and past the charcoal grill.
“Damn,” Robert said.
Bill started to panic since this was his first real fire and he didn’t quite know what to do. Robert gently grabbed his wrist and held it, shook it so his whole hand shook.
“Check out your mind, baby,” Robert said. “Make every step count for two.” He let go Bill’s wrist. “Now go to the walk-in and get me a case of milk. Quickly.”
Alvin was nowhere to be seen when Bill returned with the milk. Robert, slow and easy as was always his way, reached into the milk case, took up a gallon container and started pouring milk systematically over the fire. He did the charcoal grill first, then the Garland. Meanwhile, Bill covered the food that might get splashed, and within a matter of moments, the fire was out.
“If the foam goes off,” Robert said, “we lose all the food and can’t do the lunch. You know Mr. Bowman gonna lawnmower our asses if that ever happens.” Then he said “Put the milk away, chill out a minute and we’ll clean up.”
Bill was coming out of the walk-in box in the prep kitchen when he heard Robert yell, the first and only time he ever heard Robert yell.
“Who the hell cleaned the broiler and didn’t empty the damn grease drawer?”
Bill saw the kitchen stop dead. No one moved, no one made a noise.
“You stupid bastards,” Robert continued, yelling at no one in particular, “that ever happens again I’ll fire all you crazy bitches.”
Done, Robert turned to Bill. “C’mon baby,” he said, calm as if he’d never raised his voice, “let’s go get some air.” He put his arm around Bill and started for the door.
The moment the door closed behind them, as if it were one living organism, the kitchen came alive again. Robert’s arm still around Bill, he said, “Glory hallelujah,” and he started to laugh. Then he saw Alvin sitting on a big rock with Alfreda, Henry Lee’s wife.
“What the hell you doing out here?” Robert asked.
“Shit,” Alvin said, “I’m a cook, not a fireman.”
Bill would never forget those words. Alvin was sitting on that rock all relaxed and peaceful, smoking a cigarette and talking to Alfreda as if nothing was going on.
Bill lingered outside with Alfreda after Robert and Alvin went back in to start the clean-up. Alfreda was dark chocolate like Mary and skinny like a speed freak. She didn’t get up from the rock and Bill sat next to her a moment.
“So,” Alfreda, said, “I am gonna get with you, you know.” As she said this, she slid her hand into Bill’s lap and rested it there. She began indulging herself and Bill made no attempt to stop her. He couldn’t help but get roused.
“You’re Henry Lee’s wife,” Bill said.
“So? Being married never stopped him any.”
“Never seemed to stop you any either.”
“What are you saying?”
“Bea, Mary, Norma, Eleanor. That’s what I’m saying, and now it’s my turn.”
“I don’t think so,” Bill said.
“I do,” Alfreda said with a big smile.
Due to several personal commitments, Coming Now In About Another Month:
The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide
Bill took up the thin boning knife and the sharpening steel, and facing the short loins, he straightened the blade. Having sat out so long, the meat had sweated and a thin coat of slime covered its outsides. Starting in on the first loin, the knife slipped several times, even crashing once against the stainless steel counter on which his cutting board sat. He honed the blade straight again, honed it often now because a sharp blade was essential. Too slow, he was thinking, and he tried working faster but the slick meat was slippery and the knife’s path unsteady.
He never felt the knife slice his leg and because of the meat blood on him he didn’t notice his own fluid escaping till it had spilled over his shoe. “Damn,” he said, shock-sober. Dripping blood the whole way, his foot squishing in his shoe, he ran for the bathroom.
“What the hell,” Henry Lee said seeing him burst in. Bill stopped cold, blood flowing out his pant leg onto the floor. Henry Lee’s stump stared at him, and the wood leg, the foot part covered by his sock and shoe, angled against the wall nearby. Bill stared from stump to limb and back again. He was frozen, blood puddling around his foot, the puddle spreading and deepening. Henry Lee was frozen too, torn between helping Bill and hiding the stump. “Lordy, Lordy,” he finally said, “you keep admiring me, you gonna bleed to death,” and trying to keep calm, he reached for his leg. “Better take down your pants and let’s see what you done.” He flashed a smile that quickly turned to a grin. “Nice to make your acquaintance,” he said, then, “Mary,” he shouted, “Mary get down here quick.”
Mary took the stairs two at a time and rounded the corner on a run. The bathroom door was open. She found Bill standing in his dripping blood, Henry Lee sitting on the commode strapping his leg. He was muttering to himself how he couldn’t even take a crap in peace.
“Goddamn,” she said. “What you do, boy?”
“Guess I cut my leg,” Bill said.
“You guess,” Mary said. “Shit. Sit down.”
They both heard the toilet flush and Henry Lee came out of the stall as Mary was helping Bill take down his pants. The gash ran over the front of his thigh, a solid, deep cut about two inches long.
“Nice job,” Mary said.
“Can’t leave the boy for a second,” Henry Lee said.
“Get me a clean towel,” Mary said.
Henry Lee went for the towel, and Mary, on her knees before Bill, looked up at him. “Keep drinking,” she said. But her scowl turned soft and she smiled. “Leastwise you did a good job on yourself. That’ll need some stitches.”
“Give me a kiss,” Bill said. He reached down and kissed her square on the lips, catching her by surprise as his hands reached to her breasts. She might have slapped his hands away, but she focused on the immediate task, applying pressure to the cut to stop his bleeding. Despite her sensibility, she kissed him back, letting her tongue find his. She felt her nipples stiffen inside her bra as creaminess stirred between her legs.
“Be still boy,” she finally said. Her hands were quickly coated with his blood, part of it already drying on her dark skin. She waited impatiently for the towel, helped Bill sit himself down on the floor.
“Tommy on his way down,” Henry Lee said, returning.
“He gonna have to go to the hospital,” Mary said. “Guess I’ll take him ‘fore he bleeds to death.”
Mary wrapped the towel tightly around his leg and elevated the leg so it was higher than his heart. She helped him hold still, the leg propped up, and kept pressure on the cut over the towel. Tommy came in in his usual slow, shuffling way.
“It’s pretty bad,” Mary said. “He gonna need stitches.”
“Okay,” Tommy said, scratching his bald head. He looked at Bill’s leg, but with the towel over it there was nothing to see. “I’ll drive. You can sit in the back with him and keep pressure on it.”
“Pick your pants up, boy,” Henry Lee chided. “Don’t want anyone seeing that little white thing you got.”
Bill laughed. “It’s as good as any, better than most.” Bill smirked.
“Shut up, fool,” Mary said. “ Pick up your pants, and let’s go ‘cause I got a life and being with you in the hospital ain’t it.”
“You know you crazy about me,” Bill said quickly picking up his blood-soaked pants. Mary gave him another towel to press on the cut as he walked. Henry Lee knew he would have to stay and work with Robert until Bill came back. He still hoped Bill would be able to do his night shift.