More Challenges after Abel Saves Trafficked Alice from a US Lawmaker

More Challenges after Abel Saves Trafficked Alice from a US Lawmaker

“Nice work”, Elliot said as he looked up from his reading. “Is this your first by-line in the Washington Post?”

Abel sat at a table in the corner of the hotel room, the newspaper spread out before him. “As a matter of fact, it is”, he said. “Front page no less. I like the way it looks. Except for the photo.” Abel pointed to a picture of Jason Schroeder being dragged off the yacht, cuffed hands in front of his face. This caused his shirt to rise up enough to expose his ample girth. “That’s an image I didn’t need to see while I was trying to eat my breakfast.”


Elliot laughed out loud. “Have to take the good with the bad, my friend.”

Abel wished he could enjoy his front-page success more fully. But his neck was stiff from sleeping on the hardwood floor. And then there was Alice. For the moment she was resting comfortably in bed, but she had awakened several times during the night, sweating and shaking. Abel couldn’t be sure if she was suffering from nightmares, or if she was having withdrawal symptoms. Since she hadn’t had a fix for her drug habit in more than 10 hours, withdrawal was the likely cause. Abel was concerned how she might react once she was fully awake.


Elliot interrupted Abel’s thoughts. “When are you giving TV interviews? I heard someone from Larry King Live called.”

These Americans, Abel thought. All they think about is becoming famous. Even though he didn’t want to talk right now, he felt he owed Elliot basic courtesy. In fact, he owed Elliot a lot more than that.

“I haven’t dealt with the TV media yet”, Abel answered. “I told the hotel staff that Alice and I wouldn’t be talking to anyone for now. Anyway, they seem more interested in Jason Schroeder and his prostitutes than in this human trafficking business.”


Elliot exhaled a sigh. “That’s par for the course”, he said. “Especially since Schroeder got elected by selling himself as part of the Christian right.”

“They should get over this adolescent preoccupation with sex and focus on what matters”, Abel said, his voice grumbling with disdain. He was feeling less sanguine by the minute as the prospect of having to deal with Alice’s addiction came closer.

“Horny congressmen are fun, man. What’s not fun are teenage girls forced into the sex trade. Hits too close to home. People think about their own little girls falling into that life, and it scares them. This is America, man. People don’t want reality. They want fantasy. You think network news could survive if they kept airing real stories? Fairy tales. They give the masses what they want.”

Abel looked at the photograph of the congressman and felt vaguely ill.


“Somehow I doubt people really want to see this guy’s beer belly”, he said.

But in truth, Abel understood what Elliot was saying. Salacious stories weren’t the exclusive preserve of the American media. He’d seen it all over the world. The British made it an art form. In the United States, all network television outlets – broadcast and cable – and most of the country’s newspapers were owned by large corporations with stockholders. You had to keep the stockholders happy, and you did that by making money and turning profits. A major component of that result for the printed word was selling newspapers, and not only for the money direct sales brought in. The more newspapers a company sold, the higher the advertising rates it could charge. Same for television. The more viewers a show drew, especially in that 19 to 49 demographic age group, the higher the advertising rates went. And scandal sells. That was the bottom line.

Abel felt a rising anger at the way corporations had consumed the world, and how this philosophy, devoid of morality, focused so narrowly and collared everything.  But then he realised that blaming corporations for their behaviour was no more sensible than blaming a shark for eating a seal. It’s what they do. It’s what they were made to do. The difference, of course, was that God had made a shark. Man had made corporations. And he had made them in his own self-image: greedy, voracious, self-serving.

What a world, Abel thought, shaking his head. He should be happy this morning. Instead, he felt the weight of so many problems yet to come. And so many problems that would never be solved. Not by him. Not by anyone.


So, the only sensible thing to do was to keep his head down, keep moving forward and keep trying to do the right thing.

Alice interrupted his musings when she rolled over in the bed and groaned softly, pulling the fluffy comforter up around her shoulders. Abel watched her closely, his heart racing and his throat tightening.

“Maxwell, I really need your help with Alice”, Abel said. “I don’t want the press seeing her. Not like this.”

“No problem”, Elliot responded. “I can help the two of you slip out of the hotel and get on a plane back to Nigeria this afternoon.”


“We can’t do that just yet”, Abel said. “She hasn’t had a fix since we left the yacht yesterday. I don’t know what to do about that.”

“Don’t worry”, Elliot assured him. “We’ll take her down to Bethesda Medical Centre. I’m sure they can find a spot for her in their drug rehab unit.”

Abel rubbed his eyes. “I’d rather get her out of town.”

“How far out of town?”

“As far away from Washington, D.C. as possible.”

Elliot looked at him. “You’re not thinking these guys would still come after you two?”

“I don’t know what they’ll do. But the farther away we are the better.”

“There are plenty of places she can go for rehab”, Elliot replied. “Regular hospitals and private facilities. The Betty Ford Clinic is in California.”

Abel waved him off. “Forget it. Too expensive. Too exclusive. Too high-profile.”

“Okay. I know of one in Canada.”

Abel responded to that notion. “Another country. That’s perfect.”

“I’ll check into it. But you still have to deal with the immediate problem. That girl will need a fix right now.”

Abel shook his head. “This is your city. How would I know about that kind of thing?”

“You wouldn’t.  Let me make a few calls. I’ll see what kind of short-term treatment we can arrange for her.”

Abel nodded, grateful for the help. He was feeling over his head, dealing with a drug addict in a strange country. It was all overwhelming. He thought things would get simpler once he had Alice in hand. It dawned on him how wrong he was. Their journey home was only just beginning.


Bentley Medical Centre, a small, private health-care facility, was located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, an upscale suburb of Washington, D.C.  Elliot called in a favour with a former addict to get Alice admitted there. The man was only too willing to help Elliot. After all, the reporter had saved his life with a series of articles on street people. The addict’s picture had accompanied one of the stories. His brother, with whom he had long ago lost contact, spotted the picture and followed up. Ten days later, he was in a clinic. Now the former addict was an administrator and counsellor at the clinic. This Dickensian tale had turned out well for all concerned, since he arranged to get Alice admitted quickly and anonymously.

It was a good thing, too, because Alice had been in a frantic state when she woke up in the hotel. A doctor from the clinic arrived to help sedate her for the ride to Chevy Chase.

Once they had checked Alice into Bentley, the doctor told Abel she would be put through a three-day emergency detoxification programme. This would allow her to function somewhat normally until she could be put into long-term rehab.

Abel breathed easier once Alice was admitted. Just the sight of the girl sleeping comfortably, free from the control of narcotics, the abuse of the sex trade, and the brutality of the syndicate, made all his other problems seem manageable.

As Alice rested, Abel sat down with Elliot to arrange their next move.  He would spirit her out of Washington into Canada. The long trip home was to have many detours.


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