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Chapter 53

Mikayla let him kiss her tiny breasts and roll his tongue inside her open mouth. This is just petting, Momma. No way was she ever going to have sex with him again.

You were right, Momma. Germaine is no good. If it weren’t for him, you’d be alive now and I wouldn’t be living in a dumb group home. She felt it helpful to talk to her Momma even though she never got an answer. It couldn’t hurt for Momma to know what she was doing—especially now. If her momma was an angel, she was looking out for her.

Germaine had picked her up a block from the bus stop this morning. They were parked under the eaves of an old wooden warehouse that she thought looked abandoned. Although they had parked here before, she had never been inside. It was in a bad neighborhood, not far from where she lived with her mother. Empty beer cans, used condoms and other trash and overgrown weeds littered the driveway. She wondered why Germaine took a chance with her there.

He rolled her over in the back seat of an old Lincoln he was driving now and pressed his body against hers. She could feel him hard against her backside.

She got her hands out from under her and put them in push up position on the leather upholstery. With a loud grunt, suddenly she was sitting up and he was squished against the side window.

“What the fuck…”

“Germaine, I have to tell you something. I can’t have sex with you today. I’m wearing a tampon…for the first time.”

“Well, Goddamn…little girl’s getting all grown up. You should have told me this before I picked you up this morning. What a waste of time.”

“But I wanted to see you. Didn’t you want to see me? Talk to me?”

“Talk? Shit! We talk about three things: Sex, clients and money. That’s about it and that’s the way it should be. I talk. You listen. Got it?”

She opened the car door and got out, watching him zip up his pants.

“Take me back to school, then. At least at school there’s a boy that likes to talk to me.”

“White or black?”

“White.”

“Oh, fancy little white boy wants to talk to my little gal. Well, you better warn him to keep away. You belong to me. Besides, he’d probably ditch you after the first screw. Just wants a little black pussy.”

He was leering at her, his face inches from hers.

Mikayla slapped him hard. She had never done that before. She didn’t cower. She looked him in the eye. He rubbed his cheek with one hand, glaring at her. Then he flicked his fingers against her lip, coming closer. She felt his hot breath.

“Maybe it’s your monthly. That happens to women. Just shows you’re growing up, little girl. We got a lot to do together before you become a big-assed whore. Like your momma.”

She backed away from him, afraid she might hit him again. She took deep breaths, counted to ten and remembered her plan.

“You don’t need to drive me all the way to the school. Just take me to 49th Street. I can catch a bus. You’re always bitching about gas money anyway and you told me on the phone yesterday you had a ‘big deal’ meeting today.”

Germaine looked at his watch and whistled. “Hop back in the car,” he ordered. “We gotta move fast.”

Mikayla saw him take something out of his pocket and place it under a rock at the warehouse entrance. It wasn’t hard to figure out that the meeting was right there.

Five minutes later, Mikayla watched Germaine drive off as the city bus pulled up to the stop on Twenty-Second Avenue South. She let the other passengers in line board the bus and then she backed away as the doors closed. Fifteen minutes later, she was back at the warehouse.

She didn’t see Germaine’s car or any other activity. She walked around the warehouse and discovered that the bottom glass on one of the side windows was broken. She picked up a nearby tree limb, broke the rest of the glass, pulled the window all the way up and climbed inside.

Even in the darkness, she could tell it was dirty. The only light came from the window she had climbed through. She felt the grit on her shoes, brushed away a few cobwebs, letting her eyes adjust to the light. The smell…what was it? She sniffed a few times, while looking for a place to hide.

Dead fish…. that was it. Black kids from her neighborhood didn’t go to the beach too often, but one of the times that she did she remembered a terrible smell. Red Tide, the summer camp counselor said. Dead fish, she remembered. Here it was again.

She didn’t want to turn on any lights if there were any that worked anyway. She looked for a good place to hide. Two minutes later she was enclosed behind packing crates and wooden boxes with wire doors that were stacked taller than she was. She could peer in between them into the open area. She saw cardboard boxes, file cabinets and big lamps stacked against one wall. She saw a filthy mattress on the floor next to a stack of sheets. She could hear….and she could see. That’s all she needed. She silenced her cell phone, and nearly fell asleep.

The sound of a key in the latch startled her. She scrunched down further behind the crates, peeking out between them. The door opened slowly and she had to shake her head and adjust her eyes again to the darkness. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

Dressed in jeans and a black leather jacket, holding a gun in one hand, cell phone pressed against his ear was…no, she couldn’t believe it…no, no it couldn’t be…but it was…that police detective, the one who had Baker-Acted her a few months ago when he arrested Germaine. A few days ago Germaine had told her, laughing, that the detective was locked up himself and charged with having sex with girls.

“Every man likes them young and tight. Cops ain’t no different,” he said.

That guy…that creep… was here to meet Germaine? What’s going on?

She couldn’t hear what the detective was saying into his cell phone. He had a key to the warehouse. He wasn’t hiding, so he must just be waiting for Germaine. The two of them? She could hardly believe it.

Maybe she should let someone know where she was. Her heart rate picked up and she realized she was scared. This probably wasn’t as good an idea as she thought. But she had to make him pay.

She wasn’t about to call the group home. They thought she was in school. School…Bayview High…Robby Hartman. He was a contact on her text messages. She slid down to the floor, her back against the crates. No one would hear if she sent him a text.

ROBB…she started but stopped at the sound of a car parking outside. Two doors slammed and she heard footsteps at the front door to the warehouse.

“Ho,” she heard Germaine exclaim. “You there?”

She turned and peeked between cartons to see the cop step out of the shadows.

“You betcha, Germaine. I had to see if you put your money where your mouth is. If you really had the goods you bragged to me about when we were cellmates. This dump is roach infested. I’ve stepped on three already. It hasn’t been used in years. So far, I’m not impressed. Worse, I’m feeling mighty unhappy being dragged down here to tour this shit hole.”

He twirled his gun in Germaine’s direction.

Mikayla raised up on her haunches. Germaine was sweating. Suddenly, the door squeaked open again and another man stepped into the building and stood behind Germaine. A thin white man in a dirty white tee shirt who looked vaguely familiar to Mikayla, although she couldn’t really place him.

“Not so fast, Detective. You’re lucky to be out on bond. Don’t dump on my friend, Joseph. From what Germaine says, you have on line connections to dudes who want porn. To be more specific, kiddie porn–-the chance to have live sex with young girls.”

“Who are you and what’s your connection to this?” the detective demanded.

Mikayla shivered. The cop sounded really angry. Looked it, too, the way he waved that gun around.

The white man, looking red-eyed and disheveled, put his arms around Germaine. He looked like her momma did when she was on drugs. Then she remembered where she had seen the man. In the courtroom.

“Germaine is my partner,” she heard the man say.

“Germaine supplies the girls, the men, the motels and,” pointing to the dirty mattress, “sometimes this warehouse,” he continued. “I add the cameras, sound, lighting and technique. To expand our little franchise, shall we say, we need a bigger distribution list. Germaine says you have that. Thousands of names and emails of men caught in your sex sting, before you flipped that is. We can make it worth your while to skip bail, leave the country.

“It’s simple,” the white man continued, wiping his bleary eyes. “We need you. You need us. Especially if you want to finance a way out of the country. I understand they have you nailed for solicitation, at the least. Ten years or more. Ask me. I know the penalties. I was just smarter than you and never served time.”

“So, you must be Haller, “Mikayla heard the cop say. “Show me your stuff.” “Germaine and I talked a lot that night in jail. I knew he was having sex with underage girls and earning more money selling a few girls for sex. I figured there was more to it. But you’ve got to show me proof. Germaine said it was in this warehouse. Show me what you do here, Big Shot.”

Oh, shit, Mikayla thought. Now they would be moving all around inside the building. I need help. I can’t call 911. They’ll hear me. Robby. Yes, Robby. He’s on my text contacts.

ROBY I NEED HELP. CALL COPS TO WAREHOUSE SOUTH SIDE 15 MINS WALK FROM 49TH ST NEAR 22 AVE. GERMAINE, DIRTY COP, SKINNY WHITE GUY HERE.

It took her longer than she thought to type it. She could hear the men walking around the warehouse. She placed her hand over the phone to silence any “swhoosh.” She hoped Robby had his phone on.

She peeked through the cabinets. All three of the men were looking at some lighting fixtures and files from cabinets across the room from her.

“While you get the stuff organized over there, I’m going to look at those crates against the wall,” the cop said.
Oh God, thought Mikayla. He’s coming this way. As she scrunched further down with

her back to the crates, her cell phone slid out of her hand. All of a sudden she heard a ping. It sounded as loud as a rooster’s crow.

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