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The Journal of Sharise Sills

By Dennis Butler

A companion short story to Indigo Tears

Smashwords Edition

Copyright (c) 2013 Dennis Butler

All Rights Reserved

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database for retrieval, without the prior written permission of the author. Short passages may be quoted or used in reviews without permission.

 

This book is a work of fiction. The story in this book, all the characters, organizations, governments, government agencies and all other places named or implied are either derived from the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real people living or dead or incidents, events or organizations, governments, government agencies and all other places named or implied is entirely coincidental.



Indigo Tears: A Novel

By Dennis Butler

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/471452


I used to simply separate people into two categories. They were either good or evil. But I have grown to see that the entire human race is really a spectrum. On the one end are the selfish narcissists who are incapable of having any feelings for anything or anyone outside themselves. On the other end of the spectrum are the kind and totally selfless people who have the ability to feel empathy deep in their hearts. The rest of us are somewhere in between. Sharise Sills






Chapters of Hell (Table of Contents)


2003 - 2005

2006 - 2008

2009 - 2011

2012 - 2014

2015 - 2017



2003 - 2005



Some of my story was written in the past-tense as I looked back over my time in hell. Some of it was written in the present-tense as I lived it. Sharise.



To this day, I don't know why I didn't rely on my instincts. Something didn't feel right about the man asking me directions. I never heard the passenger side door of the van open up. As I thought about it more and more, I realized that the second man must have been walking alongside of the van on the opposite side when the van pulled up beside me. That's why I didn't hear the door open. That's why I didn't suspect anything. I didn't suspect someone was rounding the rear of the van as I gave directions to the driver. Normally, you would figure that as long as the person you are speaking to was inside a vehicle with the door closed, there was no threat. Normally, you would feel threatened the moment the stranger opened the door. But this wasn't normal.

As I looked back on the incident, I realized they were professionals. But what's the point of dwelling on it now. It's too late. My life is now ruined. My life is over. How could another human being have stolen my life from me? But that's what he did. He took my life from me. It would have been better if the trafficking hunters in the van had just run me over. There can be nothing worse than this. If I had the nerve to commit suicide, and went to hell because it's a sin, hell would be better than this.

The nightmare began the moment I hit the floor inside that van in West Philadelphia. I was only a few blocks from my house. If I had left a little earlier or a little later, the two east European men in the van may have snatched someone else. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I decided when I started writing this journal that I wouldn't write any of the details about what was done to me. Just as there are sick and twisted people in the world who force women to perform vile acts of perversion, there are also those people that will be turned on by hearing about how I was raped or forced to have sex with another woman while men watched and laughed. So that's about all the details I'm going to write about what I was forced to do. It began inside that van, a couple of blocks from my house and continued for thirteen years.

My journey into hell began in the back of the delivery van and continued on to a voyage by sea. Before that time, I never realized that hell was a real place. I never realized that you could reach hell by sea.

The voyage itself was hell. We had to relieve ourselves a few feet from where we slept. We had no water for cleaning ourselves. When we did have water we saved it for drinking. We had very little food and for a time we thought we were going to starve to death. It was in the shipping container where I met Allison and Amy. Allison, Amy and I are sisters. We aren't sisters by blood. We are sisters bound by our shared suffering.

The three of us would have died in that shipping container if it were not for the kindness of a Nigerian stranger named Ewan. Ewan stole food and water for us from the freighter ship's galley as we crossed the Atlantic, headed for Africa.

I didn't think anything could be worse than starving and dying of thirst inside a shipping container. I was wrong. When we arrived at our destination, I descended into a deeper level of hell.

When we first arrived at the mansion, we met the man who had us abducted and brought there to him. He apparently paid a lot of money for us and we were considered his property. When he introduced himself, he told us his name but he requested that we refer to him as "Master." I guess this would have been degrading and humiliating for anyone, but I think it was just a bit different for me. Both of my parents were community activists. They spent a great deal of time teaching me what they glossed over in public school. They taught me about slavery and the civil rights movement of the sixties. The thought of being owned by anyone made me "red" with anger. I realized that my predicament had nothing whatsoever to do with skin color and yet I also knew that the resentment I felt for this rich white man who made me call him "Master" was different than what the other girls were feeling. I resisted it with every bone in my body. It wasn't long before the Master attempted to break me.

My first attempt at resistance consisted of organizing a hunger strike. It took some coaxing but the girls finally agreed. It wasn't that they didn't think they could stop eating. It was the fear that the Master would harm their families that made them reluctant. The plan was that we would eventually become too weak and delirious to perform sex and the Master would let us go. We would become unappealing. He didn't say a word about it for a few days. On the fourth day, I went to use the bathroom and noticed there was no running water. All the beverages at the bar were locked up and there was no water in the bathroom. I checked the small kitchen we had access to. All the beverages had been removed and there was no water in the kitchen.

Starvation is much different than dehydration. After a few days without food, you are no longer hungry. You become weak and dizzy but there is no craving. After twenty four hours without water, it was all we could think about. You will do literally anything for water. I wondered if I was capable of killing someone for water. Sex was a no-brainer. I would do anything with anyone if they gave me water. I think the craving was greater than a drug addict's craving for heroin.

The following day, the Master came into the nightclub area carrying one of those plastic coolers that people living in the normal world would bring to a picnic. He blew a whistle that he used sometimes to degrade us further. The four of us came out into the nightclub. The Master had placed the cooler on a table. He opened it up and lifted out a bottle of water. He brushed the ice off it, opened it and took a long drink from it. "Are you thirsty girls?" he asked with a chuckle. "End your hunger strike now. Have a drink and then you can have something light, like chicken broth. I don't know what all this self-induced suffering was supposed to accomplish. Remember, I don't have to kill your family members. I can just make them suffer. Now come here and drink."

That was it. Our first and only attempt at resistance ended in failure. It was further proof that we were his property. We were his slaves.

My empathy for Amy overshadowed the anger and resentment I felt toward our captor for making me a modern day slave. It was difficult enough for someone like Amy to survive in the regular world. I knew it would be impossible for Amy to survive as a sex slave. I pleaded with the Master to set Amy free. For a while I think he was even considering it but eventually he became angry at me and told me not to mention it again. He said he paid five million dollars for Amy and he was not going to just set her free.

During our first year at the mansion, our captor tried different things to get Amy to be a good sex partner. He tried sedating her and tying her up and he even tried being gentle with her, but nothing worked. A few of his business associates tried different things but no matter what they did, it always ended in Amy crying, screaming and shaking or curling up in a fetal position. Our captor's business associates said it wasn't working for them and they left her alone. I heard one man say that he may as well just masturbate. It would be more fulfilling than trying to have sex with Amy.

Allison, Amy and I had become close during our journey to hell. When we arrived at the mansion, there was already one other sex slave there. We exchanged horror stories with Wendy Chen. Wendy told us she was attending Columbia University in New York City where she was taking prerequisite courses before beginning medical school. Wendy planned to eventually become a physician's assistant. One night she was leaving school late after staying to do some studying in the school library. She left the school on the south side of the campus on 114th street. From the school she only had to walk west one block and north one block to the subway station on Broadway. She knew she shouldn't be walking on 114th street after dark. There were some dimly lit areas on 114th street. But she also knew that all she had to do was walk up to Broadway and she would be safe.

She never made it to Broadway. Two men attacked her from behind as she passed a parked delivery van. One of them held her while the other wrapped a bandana around her head and mouth and then put a pillow case over her head. They pushed her into the back of the parked van and tied her up. When she woke up, she still had the pillow case over her head and her hands were tied. She couldn't see the man who was on top of her. Wendy told us she was raped repeatedly. She didn't know if it was the same man over and over again or different men. She only heard the sound of a few men speaking in an east European language she couldn't understand. She was kept in a shipping container with her hands and feet tied. The pillow case was only removed for a few minutes a day for her to eat and drink. She was raped again in the shipping container for the first few days and then she was left alone. She had no idea how long she was in the container or how long she sat there waiting for food and water each day.

She was eventually put in the trunk of a car and when she was taken out of the trunk, she was carried by two men and set down on a blanket. A few hours later the pillow case was removed. She looked up to see three men and a woman looking down at her. One of the men was a doctor who examined her and gave her several pills. The following day she was taken to a shower stall by an African woman and washed up. She rested for two days and then she was brought to her captor's bedroom where she was forced to have sex repeatedly for the next few weeks. The captor told Wendy to call him "Master."

The frequency of the sexual attacks eventually tapered off until they were about once a week and she was moved to a small, windowless bedroom attached to a small nightclub. Wendy told us she spent all of her time alone, locked in the windowless room, except for when the Master would come for her. Wendy told us that she was so bored and so lonely that she eventually looked forward to the Master's visits. "I guess that's how he controls and dominates his women," Wendy said. "You become so starved for human contact, you begin to develop feelings for your captor. I know it is sick, but that is what happens when you are in isolation." Wendy paused for a long time and continued, "The day the African woman told me that you three were coming was the happiest day I had since I was taken prisoner."


2006 - 2008



One thing that Ewan was right about was that we would be better off as property of one person, rather than being sold to a brothel. As Ewan had said, if a woman was sold to a brothel, they would be treated more like farm animals than a human being. In a brothel, a woman who is forced into prostitution is basically used like a farm animal until she is no longer useful. Once she is too sick to perform, she is generally killed and her body is dumped somewhere like an old pair of shoes. There is almost no chance at all that a woman who is forced into prostitution will live long enough to be considered undesirable and set free. They don't live long enough to grow old. They die of AIDS or some other transmittable disease or they are beaten to death.

Although life at the mansion was still a living hell, we were seen as an investment. For that reason, our captor had rules that he enforced. His business associates who came to his private parties had to use condoms and extreme rough sex was not permitted. He permitted me to keep this journal as long as I never mentioned anyone by name. Throughout this journal I will refer to our captor as "the Master." I can't even say that he was a truly evil man. For him it was more about his love of money than anything else. The service he provided for his exclusive clients was business to him. Unfortunately for us women, we were the service. In fact, most of the Master's clients were much more depraved than he was. Very few of them seemed to be what I would consider normal. By that I mean that I can count on the fingers of one hand, the number of men that wanted normal, traditional sex. They all seemed to have some kind of sick, twisted fantasy. I will not write about that here because it is too disturbing to think about.

All things considered, we were better off with the Master than in a brothel. If we had been sold to a brothel, every day would have been the same. Every day would have consisted of being abused by anonymous clients from all over the world. At least at the mansion, there was something to look forward to. Our captor would spend June, July, August and September in the Netherlands. He didn't need us. He was so rich that he could have prostitutes brought to his home in the Netherlands, any time he wanted. Occasionally he would have a special client stay at the mansion in Algiers during the summer. These were terrible times. The clients were always married millionaires from wealthy countries. They were away from their families and wanted to live out their fantasies. It never, ever consisted of traditional sex. It was always something depraved.

But there were times when life at the mansion was bearable. We were confined to our section of the mansion but we were free to do whatever we wanted during this time, as long as we spent at least two hours a day in the gym. Our captor wanted to make sure his investments were maintained. Our section of the mansion included the nightclub, the three bedrooms, the small kitchen and the gym. Our captor hired an extra guard for the summer months to supervise us. The liquor was removed from the bar area so we couldn't drink and we were weighed every couple of days. If our ideal weight wasn't maintained, we were forced to diet or even starved until our weight returned to what our captor considered to be our ideal weight.


2009 - 2011



2009 was one of the worst years at the mansion. It was not only the year that the Master spent the summer in Algiers, it was also the year that Amy was sold. The Master had spent six years trying to make Amy into an obedient sex slave. It's not that she was a rebel, although there may have been just a touch of defiance in her, the fact was that it was impossible for Amy mentally. The Master just couldn't get it through his head that it was never going to work. He made the announcement the day before Amy turned twenty three. We all thought that it was especially mean, even for the Master. Amy had her problems but she had all her wits about her so when the Master made the announcement, she immediately began screaming and crying. He didn't even have any tact when he delivered the blow. "Amy has been sold to a brothel." He looked straight at Amy and continued, "You will be leaving tomorrow. Your new owners will not be as patient with you as I have been." That was it. He delivered the news and turned around and started to head back toward the main part of the house.

I ran after him and grabbed him by the shoulder as he opened the door to the central hallway. "What the fuck is wrong with you?" I yelled in his face as he turned around. "You know she can't survive in a brothel. You are giving her a death sentence."

"The deal has been made. There is nothing you can do to change that. I suggest you calm down unless you want to go with her."

I had tried my best to protect Amy whenever I could, but my survival instinct kicked in and I said nothing. I had lived through many ordeals with Amy but that was the worst I had seen her. For a moment I was thinking that maybe she would be better off if she was executed. The three of us tried to comfort Amy as best we could but there was nothing positive we could say.

The following day, the hallway door opened and in walked the Master accompanied by his bodyguard and the doctor that came in every few months to examine us. The body guard held Amy while the doctor injected something into her arm which I assumed was a sedative. As she began to look like she was going to pass out, the bodyguard picked her up and carried her away. The Master turned around and looked at me for a second. For a second I thought I noticed a glimmer of humanity in his eyes. I wondered if he was feeling some regret about selling Amy. I hoped he would somehow change his mind.


2012 - 2014



I will always remember 2013 as the year that Amy returned. We had no advanced notice that she was coming back. She was dumped on the front stoop of the mansion. She was dumped like a dog that is "taken for a ride" by an owner who doesn't want the dog anymore. Allison, Wendy and I were recuperating from one of the Master's parties. We were explaining to the Master's African servant that Wendy needed to go to the hospital or she needed a doctor to come in and look at her. Wendy is a somewhat petite woman. She weighs about 110 pounds and she is exactly 5 feet tall. One of the Master's guests was a large man from the Czech Republic. He had penetrated little Wendy from behind and the bleeding continued on through the night. It was almost 11:00 AM and the bleeding hadn't stopped. Wendy appeared to be in pain as she lay there moaning and sobbing.

The Master's servant had just turned to walk toward the door to ask for a doctor when the door swung open. The Master's bodyguard stepped into the nightclub area carrying someone who seemed to be unconscious. As he passed us by, heading for the nearest bedroom, we all screamed at the same time, "Amy, it's Amy." I was so happy to see Amy and to know that she had survived almost two years in a real brothel. All my own miseries seemed to slip away, at least temporarily.

"We needed a doctor for Wendy," I said to the bodyguard. "Now we really need a doctor."

An hour later the door opened again. This time it was the Master and the doctor who stepped in. "Which room is Amy in?" the Master asked. I pointed toward my room and the Master and the doctor hurried in.

"Malnutrition, dehydration," the doctor said after looking at Amy for a few seconds. "Do you have any of those energy-water drinks in the house?"

"There are cases of vitamin water in the kitchen," the Master's servant replied.

"For now, just let her start drinking the vitamin water. When she starts to look more alert you can see if she can eat some broth."

"Wendy is bleeding. She needs you," Allison said to the doctor as he stood up and began throwing things back into his medical bag.

The doctor spent about a half hour examining and treating Wendy. When he came out of the bedroom he frowned at the Master. "No more anal sex for her, unless you want her dead," he stated firmly. That was the first indication I had that the doctor did not entirely approve of the Master's private brothel. The doctor seemed a bit angry and I wondered if he could somehow become our ally.

After the doctor packed up and left, I stopped the Master before he could follow the doctor out and asked him, "What's going to happen to Amy now? Are you going to ship her off again?"

The Master walked back into my room and looked at Amy for a long moment. He spoke quietly while still looking down at Amy. "There is a storage room off the big kitchen. I'll have a few things put in there. She can stay there. Maybe I can find something else for her to do."

When the Master turned around I grabbed his hand and held it in my two hands. He stopped and looked at me, knowing I was about to say something. "Thank you, thank you, thank you" was all I could think of to say. As he stepped out of my room Allison thanked him.

"I guess somewhere inside him, there is what's left of a heart," I whispered to Allison.


2015 - 2017



What I wouldn't give for just one bottle of Scotch or Bourbon. But the Master had figured out long ago that he needed to keep the liquor locked up. He had retractable roll-down shutters installed on the liquor cases. It was one of those nights that all the soap and water in the world wouldn't wash the disgusting filth off me. The Master's guests had all left at about 3:00 AM and I was the last one to use the shower. When I put my robe on, I passed by the other rooms and Allison and Wendy were already asleep. I knew I wouldn't be able to fall asleep so I sat up at the end of the bar, engrossed in my newest form of self-entertainment. I thought up new ways to commit suicide.

The problem was that I hated pain and I had no access to strong medications. I had to think of new and different ways to end my waste of a life. One of the Master's business associates came two or three times a year. I had asked him a few times to smuggle me in some sleeping pills. I convinced him that I suffered from insomnia and he believed me. He was one of a handful of somewhat normal friends of the Master. He said he would bring prescription sleeping pills on his next visit. I decided I would hide the pills and when the Master returned to the Netherlands for the summer I would swallow the entire bottle of pills. I hoped it would be enough for me to go to sleep permanently. It would be painless. When the girls woke up the next day, I would be gone.

As I was sitting at the end of the bar, lost in my fantasy of death, I heard a noise. It was coming from the high window on the back wall of the nightclub. I hid just inside my room and watched as a man and women climbed down a rope ladder. I assumed they were burglars but since I wanted to die anyway, I had absolutely no fear as I walked up behind them. That was when I met Gavin Hawkins and Sophia Rodriguez, the two people who would save my life.

Gavin and Sophia weren't thieves. They were there for us. They came to rescue us. They actually came to rescue Amy, but their mission changed the moment they saw me. They promised me that if I escaped with Amy that my family would be protected. When we first arrived at the mansion years before, the Master swore that if we tried to escape, he would have our families killed. Gavin and Sophia promised to have our families protected if we escaped with them.

On the night we planned to escape, I waited for the two rescuers to climb down the ladder. To my surprise there was a third person climbing down the ladder. He was a detective who came all the way from Philadelphia to help rescue Allison. Detective Campioni didn't appear to be in the best of health, but he came anyway. As it turned out, the escape probably would have ended in failure if were not for the detective. Our escape didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped, but somehow we all made it out alive. Sophia was shot but she recovered. The Master's bodyguard wasn't so lucky. Detective Campioni shot and killed him.

We left the Master handcuffed to his own bar when we left. For a few seconds I thought about killing him, but I decided it wasn't worth carrying the guilt around for the rest of my life. The Master was a pathetic excuse for a human being but it would still be a mortal sin if I killed him.

We escaped and left Algeria. The detective took us home, one by one starting with Wendy who lived in New York. After Wendy, we drove to my family's house in West Philadelphia. The feeling I got when I walked up the steps of our family's front porch was surreal. It was like walking in a dream. As I have adjusted to life back with my family, I still find it hard to believe I actually lived through those thirteen years in captivity.

I consider Allison, Amy and Wendy family. Although I only see Wendy once or twice a year, we still talk on the phone at least once a week. Allison and I are like sisters. In fact, we may actually be sisters in a short time. If there is such a thing as "love at first sight," it most surely happened between Allison and Robbie. There were sparks that day the detective brought me home and Robbie answered the door. Allison and Robbie just smiled at each other but I could tell that something was going on there.

Since Allison and I are like sisters, we spent every Saturday and Sunday together. I would sometimes go to Allison's house but most of the time, she came to my house. I think everyone knew why. It took about two months before they somehow managed to make something like a date. Robbie offered to drive Allison to the University of Pennsylvania to sign up for the speech therapy program. After the sign-up, they stopped at Tiramisu Pastries on 38th Street. That was the beginning. When they walked into the living room a few hours later, everyone knew what we had all suspected.

Allison and Robbie began spending every weekend and a few weeknights together. I was happy so see my baby brother and my best friend together although my life was a little boring without my friend Allison to hang out with. I hadn't been out with anyone since the rescue. I looked up my old boyfriend Greg but it turned out that he got married a few years earlier and moved to the other side of the state. I thought that I was ready to date but I just didn't seem to meet anyone during my normal lifestyle. I worked in a nursing home and I figured the chances of meeting anyone there were pretty slim.

There were two exciting things that happened toward the end of 2016. The first surprise was that Allison and Robbie got engaged on Christmas Eve. It wasn't really a surprise. We all knew it was just a question of "when." After dinner on Christmas day, Robbie stood up at the dinner table and told everyone he had an announcement to make. "Allison and I got engaged last night." Everyone cheered and congratulated Robbie and Allison.

We were about to get up from the table and begin hugging the new couple when Robbie made a hand gesture to let us know he had more to say. "It's a bit ironic. I was the guy who told his friends I had no interest in ever dating a white girl. And now here I am, in love with the whitest white girl I ever saw." Everyone looked over at Allison who was blushing, crying and giggling at the same time. Robbie paused for a moment and continued, "But love has a plan of its own. Love doesn't care about your beliefs or your politics. Love goes where it wants to go and does what it wants to do. I've heard that love can sneak up on you slowly. Well that is not what happened with Allison and me. Love hit us instantly and knocked us down. That day when I opened the front door to see Allison and Sharise standing there, I must have opened my heart also. Allison climbed into my heart and locked the door behind her and threw away the key. Love hit me with a one-two punch, one to the head and one to the heart. I love you Allison." The room erupted in joyful bedlam as everyone ran around the table hugging and congratulating Allison and Robbie.

The second surprise of 2016 came in the mail, the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. I could tell it was a wedding invitation by the fancy gold type on the envelope which was postmarked, Huntsville, Alabama. Seeing their names in the fancy golden font brought tears to my eyes.

Ms. Amy Harrison

and

Mr. Gavin Hawkins

together with their parents

Mr. and Mrs. Roger Harrison

and

Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hawkins

request the honor of your presence

at their marriage

Saturday the seventh of April

at four o'clock in the evening

Community Church of Huntsville

Huntsville, Alabama

Reception to follow

Blue Lagoon Caterers



To think that Amy almost died when she was shipped off to the brothel in Qatar and now she was living a normal and happy life.

Gavin and Amy's wedding was a time to remember forever. The story of Gavin and Amy is one for the storybooks. Two people who carried their own special baggage throughout their lives had become true-soul mates. Finding a human trafficking victim is like finding a needle in a haystack. Perhaps it is more like finding a needle in a stack of needles and yet even this unimaginable obstacle couldn't keep them apart. It was the most undeniable proof that true love does exist. Gavin overcame insurmountable hurdles to find the love of his life.

We all spent three days in Huntsville preparing for the wedding. Gavin filled us in on all the other things that were going on in their lives. Amy and Gavin had decided to stay in Huntsville after they were married. They visited Orego and Montevideo and although Amy liked it there, she felt more comfortable living with her parents in Huntsville.

Gavin remained an employee of Orego. They were building an extension on the back of Amy's parent's house where they planned to set up a small lab and a studio apartment. Max had set up a secure web application where Gavin would be able to flag cases to work on. Amy planned to help Gavin with the data entry part of the process. Gavin wouldn't be doing any more rescues. Instead, he would begin to establish remote contacts in local police departments. Gavin also planned to work with the FBI on locating possible terrorists.

Gavin had also started writing his first book. As expected, it would be a non-fiction documentary style book about human trafficking. Gavin figured that since he had been awarded the Noble Prize, his book would have instant credibility. He could use his notoriety to try and reach out to clients of the sex trade. Gavin felt that the only real solution to the problem was to educate clients. He wanted to show the clients the direct result of their solicitation of prostitutes. The book would place the blame for the problem solely on the clients. As Gavin frequently said, "If there was no demand, there would be no trafficking of human beings."

The wedding itself was a kind of reunion. Billy and Claude from the band were there. Max, Ramon, Yennifer, Sophia and even Rose came all the way from Uruguay. Gavin told us the story of Rose's rescue in eastern Europe. It was hard to believe that Rose had lived through that and showed no outward signs of psychological damage. She appeared to be a natural leader. Everyone seemed to stop and listen to her when she spoke.

Santiago came from Texas with his new wife Audrey and his daughter-in-law Janice. Allison, Wendy and I were horrified when we heard the story of how Santiago and Audrey met.

Yennifer, Max and Gavin were inseparable over the long weekend. Gavin had insisted that he didn't want a bachelor party so the whole group went to a sports bar in downtown Huntsville. When Gavin introduced us to Yennifer he referred to her as his other sister. "Well, someone needs to look out for you," Yennifer said. "I guess Amy will have to do that now."

Gavin thought that he noticed an almost unnoticeable hint of sarcasm in Yennifer's comments and Amy seemed a little confused by it so Gavin explained that Yennifer had become like his big-little sister. "She treats me like a big sister even though she is almost ten years younger than me," Gavin explained.

"Hahaha," Yennifer replied sarcastically.

Gavin had noticed that Yennifer and Max seemed to be acting like they were fond of each other so he commented, "I guess you'll have to look out for Max now, Yennifer."

"Max can take care of himself," Yennifer remarked. Gavin couldn't tell if she was serious or joking.

"I think it's time for another round of drinks," Max said.

That's how we spent the rest of the weekend, leading up to the wedding. Allison, Wendy and I got to know the Uruguayan group and we drank and laughed and were just glad to be together.

Gavin had told us that he wrestled for many days about who he would ask to be his best man. He finally decided on Max. Even though Billy was his oldest friend, Max had been closest to Gavin as he chose a different path in life. Max gave the first toast to the new bride and groom but several other people also wanted to make toasts. Max's toast was followed by Ramon, Amy's father and Billy but the toast that brought tears to everyone's eyes was the short toast by Rose. I thought about standing up and saying something, but Rose had somehow been able to express all my deepest feelings. There was nothing left to say after Rose spoke:

Most of you don't know me. I'm from Uruguay where I lived happily for the first fourteen years of my life. In the winter of my fifteenth year I was abducted and forced into the international sex slavery trade. I was treated as a farm animal where I was routinely raped and degraded in unimaginable acts of depravity. I only wanted one thing. I wanted to die. I wanted to commit suicide but I spent most of my years in captivity, naked and chained to a bed.

However, I was a fighter and they never broke me. I fought right up to what was almost the end. It would have surely been my end if it were not for Gavin. When he found me, I was starved, dehydrated, sick, chained and sitting in my own filth.

Gavin is the most special person in the world to me. I love you Gavin and I love whoever you love. So I love you too Amy. I don't need to wish you luck because I know you won't need luck for your marriage to thrive. I know you will remain together. I hope that you will both live to a ripe old age and that when the time comes, you will pass on together so that you will never again be without each other.



There was a long period of silence as Rose wiped her eyes and walked back to her table where she sat with Max and Ramon.

The band was just starting to play when Gavin waved for them to stop. Gavin stood up at the bridal table and waited for everyone to quiet down. "I have one short announcement to make before we begin getting wild and having fun. It isn't a pleasant announcement but some of you will need to hear this. There is one person missing from this party. I attempted to contact the detective who came to Algeria to help us rescue Amy, Allison, Wendy and Sharise. I spoke to his wife. He passed away very recently. He was running after a car-jacking suspect and dropped dead of a heart attack. Let's have a moment of silence for Detective Joseph Campioni."

After a few moments, the band started up again. They began with a ballad and after that they picked up the pace. Before long, the dance floor was full.

The reunion of Allison, Wendy, Amy and I at the wedding was not like other reunions. There was no reminiscing about good times. There were no good times to reminisce. But we did it together and we shared a special history. It was a history of pain, misery and torment but it was our history. Our reunions were more about crying than laughing. Even as the Margaritas flowed freely, there was not much laughter. In fact if it wasn't for the fact that we all loved each other dearly, we would probably never even reunite. But we had suffered so much together that we were all as inseparable as Amy and Gavin. I guess the four of us will always remain kindred spirits.

Wendy and Allison were both back in school. Wendy picked up where she left off a million years ago in medical school. The only difference for Wendy was that instead of going back to Columbia University in the city, she was attending St. Johns, not far from where she lived. Allison was on her way to becoming a speech therapist. Allison and my brother Robbie were extremely happy together and we all assumed that they would eventually get married. "Can you imagine what their children will look like?" I often wondered to myself. Robbie and Allison were like two people doing a TV ad for underwear. They were both flawless and beautiful. I wondered sometimes if Allison had ever talked to Robbie about the things they did to her back at the mansion. I never asked her. Although we were close, I knew it was none of my business.

Amy was busy with her new life, living and working with Gavin and she actually seemed more confident than I had ever seen her. She talked more than she ever did before. It still wasn't much but at least we all knew what her voice sounded like.

It seemed the only one who didn't have a direction in life was me. I still lived at home with my parents and I had changed jobs four times since we came back to Philadelphia. I just couldn't seem to get myself interested in anything. I tried to find things that I used to care about but there just didn't seem to be any passion. Before the "incident," I used to love music. I still seemed to like music but I never got around to listening to anything new. I generally just came home from work and watched TV with my grandmother until I fell asleep.

I signed up with an online dating service and spent hours reading the profiles but I never contacted anyone. A few times when men contacted me, I started writing replies but I kept putting off clicking the "send" button. I kept telling myself that I needed to re-word my email but I never seemed to get around to it. The one thing that I did do with at least a spark of interest was attend church regularly. My father and grandmother had stopped going but my mother still went. We attended church every Sunday and we usually stayed around for coffee and cake. It was the only social activity I did with any consistency. My mother kept trying to get me interested in a single gentleman who was about my age. A few times he stopped to talk to me but I didn't know what to say to keep the conversation going. I wondered sometimes, what happened to the fighter I once was. I wondered if all the fight was drained out of me in Algeria.

As time went on I began to realize that I was in a kind of depression. I did my best to hide it but my mom knew something wasn't right. I knew she was trying to talk to me about it but I just kept telling her I was fine. It was seeing how Allison, Wendy and even Amy had moved on with their lives that really got me thinking that maybe I needed to make changes to my life. Maybe I just needed to talk to someone outside of my family. I decided that after I returned home from Gavin and Amy's wedding, I would do something. I decided that I would talk to a therapist or psychologist or something.

It seemed the pieces of my soul didn't fit together anymore. I needed something or someone to help me put the pieces back together. Perhaps there is someone out there who will find and read this journal who will help me. Perhaps there is a knight in shining armor who will save me.

***

I am your daughters and your sons; your sisters and your brothers. Please see us. Please help us.



The End.




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