George Pelecanos

George Pelecanos by DC Noir Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: George Pelecanos by DC Noir Read Free Book Online
Authors: DC Noir
minutes later he had her out in his old Cutlass. Now what? Antwain wouldn't
believe he'd blown her away unless there was proof. He'd want to see the body.

    He
felt the girl looking at him as he pulled out of the lot. Did she believe he
was one more sorry nigger, a killer?

    He
headed downtown on New York Avenue. Approaching Chinatown a few minutes later,
he still didn't know what to do.

    One
of his favorite spots, the China Doll, was open till 4 a.m. on weekends. He
turned left on 5th, right on H, and parked under a streetlight. He looked over
and the girl was so pale, the eyes so big. Striking.

    He
wondered what the moment felt like to her. Wondered who she was, where she was
from, what her story was.

    As
if she'd read his mind, she said, "I'm Mariana. From
Moldova." Heavy accent, but understandable.

    "Mol--?"

    "Moldova. My country."

    It
sounded familiar, but only vaguely. Sherman felt stupid.

    "Your
first time in Washington?" he said. "Nation's capital?" And felt stupider yet.

    "Capital
of the world," she said. "Is what we learn in school. We study English language and much about United States."

    "How'd
you end up here?"

    She
shrugged. "Why you ask? Man say you kill me. So?"

    "I'm
not going to kill you," Sherman said. "I'm police, not a killer."

    No
reaction. Maybe she didn't believe him.

    At
a loss, he asked her again how she happened to get to the U.S. from..."Moldavia?"

    "Moldova."

    "I
don't even know where it is," Sherman said.

    "Is far. You know Romania? On other side. Far."

    They
sat there for most of an hour, under the streetlight, while she told her story.
She said Moldova was one of the old Soviet states, one of the poorest countries
in the world. In their capital, she said, men who worked in hospitals had been
arrested for chopping up corpses and selling the flesh as meat at open-air
markets. She grew up in a village called Droki, in a little house where the
electricity rarely worked--her and two sisters and their mother, after her
father drank himself to death. She quit school at fourteen and worked in a
beetroot factory. Two years ago, when she was seventeen, an aunt in a
neighboring village sold her out--told her about job opportunities abroad and
dropped her off for an interview, supposedly, but the "interviewers" were
Albanian gangsters who locked her up with some other girls and later drove them
across Romania and Serbia to Macedonia, where they were locked in little rooms
in back of a kafane, a club--like the Sunbeam, Sherman imagined--and forced to
service twenty, thirty men every night. Slaves. After
sixteen months she was saved by a man who bought her and took her to the
authorities. The authorities arranged her passage back to Moldova. She got home
only to find the Albanian Mafia had not only snatched her sister Nataly but
murdered their little sister Lena, who had witnessed the snatching. Nataly had
been gone for nearly a year. Their mother had received a single card from her,
which said she'd been taken to Italy and forced into prostitution.

    Sherman
tried to take it all in. You thought growing up in Barry Farms was tough?

    She--Mariana--said
she'd gone to Albania then, last year, and asked to go to Italy as a
prostitute, "my only hope to find my sister." She was sold at an auction and
put on a speedboat across the Adriatic at midnight with other illegal
immigrants. Gangsters in Italy took her first to a beautiful seaside town
called Rimini and then many other places. Everywhere, she showed a picture of Nataly,
but no one knew her.

    The
life was brutal, as in Macedonia. Threats, beatings, torture. When one girl was
suspected of talking to the polizia the men gathered all the others, tied the
"bad" one in a chair, pulled her tongue out with pliers and sliced it off.
Mariana saw girls killed for no reason than to put the fear in the others.
Three girls killed themselves.

    Sherman
was sweating, hearing it. He started the Cutlass and ran the AC.

    She
said she was finally reunited

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