“You said that he treated you badly for years, what happened to make you finally take a stand against him?”
Dorothy had not told anyone about the phone call she had received two days ago. She had not been able to trust anyone, but she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she could trust Julius. “I was getting ready for work two days ago when the phone rang. I was running late and sort of knew that it was someone calling for Nigel so I wasn’t going to answer it but it kept on ringing and something made me pick the receiver up. A young girl was on the other end and she asked if I was Nigel’s wife. I said I was and she told me her name was Tatiana and she was fifteen years old. She had met Nigel at a ‘Singles’ bar, told him she was nineteen and flirted with him. He said that he was going to take her to Disneyland. He told her that I was going to borrow some money from the bank and give it to him and he would use the money to spoil her. She said that when she asked him why I would borrow money from the bank and give it to him to spend on her he told her it was because I was stupid and desperate to keep hold of him. He said the only thing I was useful for was giving him money.” She paused as she thought about the number of times she had given him money or bought him something or done something he had asked even though she had disliked it.
“Dorothy?” Julius encouraged.
She cleared her throat, “Tatiana said that she wasn’t calling me to tell me about the loan and if that was the only thing she wouldn’t have bothered. She said that she was calling because of something Nigel had told her when he was drunk. Something that the man in charge of her had heard and planned to use her as bait to get as much money as possible from him. He told her that after he got his hands on the loan he was going to cash in a life insurance policy he had taken out on me. I didn’t want to believe her, I kept telling her to stop lying to me. Over and over again I kept begging her to stop lying to me. Then she told me something that tore me up – it ripped my heart out,” she paused again.
“What did she tell you?”
“She told me it was Nigel who had hit me on my head with a hammer. She told me he had practiced how he would kill me and part of his plan was to make it look like I had been accident prone for months.”
“What?” He stared at her, shocked and confused.
“I . . . umm, I,” ashamed, she looked away.
“Dorothy, you don’t have to tell me if it makes you feel uncomfortable-”
“No, I do want to tell you. God knows I need to tell someone,” she took a deep breath. “One night I woke up and saw blood on my pillow, my head was throbbing and I panicked. I remember the look of shock and fear on Nigel’s face when I started screaming. He took me to the hospital and told the doctor that I must have been sleep walking again, fallen and hit my head. He said that I had been falling a lot recently. I knew that was a lie but I was confused and my head hurt; I felt dizzy and sick. The doctor examined me for bruises consistent with falls but couldn’t find any. I couldn’t understand what had happened. This stranger on the phone explained that my husband had used a hammer and hit me twice on my head then calmly hid the hammer and went back to sleep. She told me where he had hidden the hammer. I found it exactly where she said it would be, covered in my blood. She said I needed to leave him before he killed me. She said there had been a glint in his eyes when he spoke to her and she knew he was going to kill me. She said that she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t tell me because she didn’t want my death on her conscience. That was what pushed me to take a stand. Her words were like a compass directing me to what I had to do in order to survive. I searched and searched until I found the life insurance policy he had taken out.” She took a deep breath, held it for a few moments, and then released it. “It was all true; everything Tatiana said was all true.”
“Tatiana? Is she from Europe?”
“Czechoslovakia. She came here for a better life. She was living in an orphanage in Czechoslovakia with her little sister, Tereza; their parents had died in a car accident and they had no one to take care of them. One day a woman from America visited her orphanage. She told the manager that she wanted to take some of the girls to new homes in America and she had contacts with many families in America who were looking to adopt children. Tatiana and four other girls who could speak and understand English came over to America. She was full of hope and wanted so badly to be adopted and then help get her little sister adopted too. It wasn’t until after the first few weeks of their arrival that she suspected that something wasn’t right. They were moved around from one house to another house and watched by a group of men.”
Julius’ heart began to beat rapidly as he held his breath. He knew what was coming and he would give anything not to have to listen to the words.
“Within weeks Tatiana had been repeatedly raped, beaten and made to sleep with at least twenty different men. She said she lost count at twenty and thinks that it could have been more. Two of the girls she came with disappeared one night, she has not seen them again and thinks they may be dead. One day she saw a uniformed police officer in a squad car outside the house she was held in and ran to him for help. She didn’t realize that he was a customer. The police officer took her back inside and told the man in charge of the house to control his whores. She was beaten so badly that night with a baseball bat that she thought she was going to die. Now she does as she is told and trusts no one, especially the police. With everything that has happened to her at fifteen she still had the courage to phone me and warn me about my husband. She had one phone call which she could have used to save her life and she chose to use it to save my life! If that’s not Divine intervention I don’t know what is. So now I have a new purpose and I’m going on a mission.”
“What is your purpose and where are you going?”
“My purpose is to stop the exploitation of children. I’m going to Europe. I’m going to make sure Tatiana’s sister Tereza and Tatiana’s best friend Leona are safe and I’m going to help the orphanage in any way I can. And I’m going to stop this happening. I don’t care if I can only help one girl at a time. I’m going to help as many as I can. I can’t do anything for Tatiana. I tried to find her. I thought about calling all the ‘Singles’ bars and clubs that Nigel goes to but if I do that and the men watching her get spooked they could really harm her. I can’t go to the police, especially if some of them patronize brothels – they won’t help me find her.”
Inside the police station Detective Kowalski pretended to study the arrest sheet in front of him for a few moments then looked up, “Mr. McKenna, you have been arrested for the possible murder of your wife as well as assaulting two police officers. My men have found papers in your house which indicate that you took out a life insurance policy on your wife. You added a clause to include ‘missing’. How do you explain that? How do you explain that your wife is missing and you added a last minute clause to include payment if she is missing or if her body is never found?”
“I didn’t do that. I took the policy out, sure, but I didn’t add a clause. Someone else must have done that! It wasn’t me!”
“So who did it?” Kowalski asked. “The aliens?”
“I sold the house two days ago. The buyer has been after it for years and offered to pay within twenty-four hours. I stopped payment on his car and told the car people to take it back. Now I have about fifty thousand dollars in a private account and I’m going to disappear.”
“What if I can make that happen, Dorothy?”
“I know an Agency that could use people like you in Europe to help stop human trafficking. I’ll help you get a new identification and disappear.” He thought of Elaina and he felt a surge of anger followed by . . . hope.
Dorothy stared at him, “You’re serious aren’t you?”
“When it comes to helping to save innocent children, I’m very serious. The question is Dorothy, are you?”
“That’s all I need to know. First, let’s get my wife and son out of here. Cara’s brother is in London. He has a house in Oakland that we can stay in for a few months. You need to get a new perspective, I need to get some rest and then we need to get you to Europe.”