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I had been watching them for some time. I belonged to a cop watch group, but that was just the start of my activities. Ever since my foster-father was tasered on a morning walk by some dipshit beat cop who thought he shouldn’t be walking in the community he lived in, I’d been working against police violence. I’d had my eye on two vice cops that I suspected of being involved in a white slaver ring. Prostitutes had been disappearing around the downtown area and four college girls were missing. Nobody cares much when prostitutes disappear, but college girls stir up a fuss when they’re missing. I had suspected pimps might be involved when the prostitutes went missing, but I talked to a couple and they were very angry about their hoes vanishing. One of them told me about these two vice cops arresting his girls and that when they made the arrests, he never saw the girls again. I tracked them for two weeks and I finally had video. They were using shipping containers down at the docks and there were more than two involved. There were at least six. I taped for a week, and when I saw one of them go to the container with a little girl, I decided to act.
Obviously, I couldn’t call the police, so I waited for the next delivery in the container area. The security guard must have known what was going on, so I gave him a love tap with a sock full of quarters and took his uniform. When the two cops showed up they had two unconscious girls in the back of their car. I shot them with a taser and made sure they stayed down with a couple of love taps each. I used their handcuffs to fasten them to another container and walked back to the truck for bolt cutters. I put on a ski mask and walked back to the container. When I cut the lock off and opened the door, the stench was horrific. They had a couple of buckets for toilets inside and there were about fifteen women looking at me with terrified expressions on their faces. Some of them were asleep and I yelled to wake them up.
“Come out here, single file and one at a time,” I told them. They all stood up and began to file out. I gave each one of them five hundred dollars and told them to catch a cab to Palm Beach and go to the police. I gave them DVD’s with the video on them and they filed away. One of them gave me a hug and told me thanks. The others were in shock and they didn’t say a word. Finally, I saw that only the little girl was left. She just stood there. I took off the mask.
“Come here, honey,” I told her.
She slowly walked toward me and seeing her broke my heart. She couldn’t have been more than five and probably not more than three. She had on what had been a little white dress. It was stained and wet, and she had obviously peed on herself at some point. She was bedraggled and very dirty. She was a little brown thing with a mop of dark, very curly hair with a white cloth headband. I guess they were into black slavery as well as white slavery.
“What’s your name, honey?” I asked her.
“Mallowy,” she said.
“Mallowy?” I asked.
She shook her head. “No; Mallowy.”
She nodded. “That’s a very pretty name, honey,” I told her. “Where do you live, Mallory?”
“Home,” she said.
“Do you know the address?” I asked her.
“Don’t know what that… addwess is,” she said. She obviously had difficulty with the “r” sound.
“Is there a number on your house?” I asked her.
“Don’t know,” she said. “Need to pee.”
I looked around. “Go around there and pee,” I told her. “I’ll wait here for you.”
She nodded and went around behind the container. When she came back I had decided we couldn’t stay there. I took her hand and led her to the truck. I opened the door and she hesitated.
“Not supposed to wide with stwangews,” she said.
“I’m not a stranger,” I told her. “I’m helping you. How did you get here, Mallory?
“A policeman bwought me,” she said.
Jesus Christ! There went my plan for finding out who she was. I helped her climb up on the running board and into the cab. She smelled like a toilet, but I turned the heater on and rolled the windows down a little.
“Are you hungry, Mallory?” I asked her.
“Yes, thusty too,” she said.
“Do you like McDonalds?” I asked her. She nodded and I drove through and got her a couple of happy meals on the way home. She wanted cheeseburgers, and I bought a Big Mac meal for myself. She didn’t want to touch her meal.
“Hands diwty,” she said.
I got her some Germ X out of the pocket of the door and she used a paper towel I had to clean her hands. She devoured the happy meals and eyed my fries hungrily. I handed them over and she drank both her cokes. She played happily with the toys until we pulled up in front of my place. I lived in an old factory building down on the water. I’d remodeled it over the years and I had a nice living space inside. There was a garage door in one side, and I pulled in and lifted her down. She held my hand and I took her inside.
“Mallory, we need to get you cleaned up. Do you want a bath or a shower?” I asked her.
She thought about it for a minute. “Bath,” she decided. “Clothes diwty, too. You have clothes?”
“I’ll find you something, baby,” I promised. I rummaged around and found bakırköy escort an old Dolphin’s jersey. I went in and ran water in the tub, putting lots of bath gel in it. I got her a couple of towels and a wash cloth. “Can you wash yourself, Mallory?” I asked.
She looked very dubious. “Mama wash me,” she said.
“Mama’s not here,” I told her. “Do you want me to wash you?”
She seemed unsure about that too. “Not supposed to let people see me naked,” she said.
“You’ll be in the tub and the bubbles will cover you up,” I assured her. “You’ll just be naked getting in and out of the tub, okay?”
“Okay,” she agreed.
She took off the filthy little dress and very dirty panties and put one foot in. “Too hot,” she complained.
“You’ll get used to it,” I promised. “You’re very dirty and we’ll need hot water to get you clean.”
She sank reluctantly down and eased her little body into the water. It took her a minute to get all the way down, and when she had relaxed I covered the washcloth with soap and began to scrub her. The dirt peeled away and there was a lovely child underneath. She was very light for a black girl, and she had green eyes with flecks of gold in them. I wondered if one of her parents was white. I scrubbed her face until it glowed and made her lean her head back so the shampoo wouldn’t get in her eyes when I washed her hair. The bath water was very dirty by the time we were through and I made her stand up after it drained and rinsed her off with the shower. She stepped out on the mat and I dried her off and slid the jersey over her little head. It was like a dress on her, and I took her into the living room. I sat down and she crawled up on my lap.
“I need to talk to you, Mallory,” I told her.
“What?” she asked. “Am I in twouble?”
“No, baby; I just need to find out some things about you. Do you know what your Mom’s name is?”
“Mama,” she said.
“What color is Mama?” I asked.
“She like you,” she told me. I nodded. That explained a lot.
“Do you know your Dad’s name?”
“Don’t have no Dad,” she said.
“What does your Mom do?” I asked her. “Does she work?”
“She wuuk for Jewome,” she said. “She Jewome’s woman.”
The only Jerome I knew was a pimp downtown. Jesus, this little girl’s mom was a whore! I had no idea what to do. Would her mother even want her back? If she did, could I give her back to a whore? Jerome was a vicious bastard with a reputation for stringing white women out on drugs and whoring them out.
“What am I going to do with you, Mallory?” I mused.
She looked up at me. Those wide, emerald eyes pierced my soul. “Hug?” she suggested.
I pulled her little form close, wrapped my arms around her and hugged her tightly. She smelled like a clean little girl now. She snuggled in and I petted her for a while, just lost in thought. When I looked down, she was asleep in my arms. She looked so tiny and innocent. My heart was melting just watching her slightly parted lips and the rise and fall of her breathing. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but she needed to sleep. I eased her onto the sofa and went to get her a pillow and a blanket. She sighed and shifted in her sleep when I slipped the pillow under her head. I spread the blanket over her and went to take a shower, myself. I left my bedroom door open and the night light on in case she woke up. I drifted off and slept the sleep of the virtuous.
I woke to the feeling that someone was watching me. When I opened my eyes Mallory was standing in front of me.
“Are you okay, honey?” I asked her.
She shook her head. “I’m afwaid,” she said. “You house is too big and scawey.”
I lifted the covers and she gratefully climbed in bed with me. “What’s you name?” she asked me.
“I’m sorry baby, I should have told you. My name is Vallon; Vallon Drake.”
“Vallon,” she said.
She scooched over against me and I wrapped my arms around her. We quickly went back to sleep, a little dusky angel pressed tightly against me.
She was an early riser, and that suited me just fine. I was usually up by seven, anyway. School was on Christmas break and I didn’t have to go to work. I helped her climb up on a barstool and she watched as I cooked breakfast. I scrambled eggs and fried sausages. I put cheese on the eggs and fried Texas toast in butter while hash browns were cooking.
“What do you usually eat for breakfast, Mallory?” I asked her.
“Captain Cwunch,” she said.
“Well, I eat real food,” I told her. “You try this. I think you’ll like it.”
I sat by her and we ate together. Evidently she did like it, because when she was through she looked up at me with those huge emerald eyes. “Mo?” she asked.
I translated that to mean “more.” I filled her plate again and put strawberry jam on her toast. I got her a glass of chocolate milk and she drank it all. She looked up at me with a little mustache from the milk and I had to laugh. “You have a milk mustache,” I explained.
She smiled and licked her upper lip. I turned the TV on for her while I cleaned up the dishes, and she sat happily on the floor watching a cartoon, still dressed in her Dolphin’s bostancı escort jersey. I still didn’t know what I was going to do with her, so I called my sister, Kim. She agreed to come over and talk to me, so I sat on the sofa to wait. Mallory noticed I was sitting there after a minute and came to sit on my lap. She was still there, her eyes fixed intently on Dragon Ball Z, snuggled back in the crook of my arm like a kitten when Kim came in. She just stood and looked at us for a minute. Mallory glanced at her and then snuggled down a little more on my lap, still fixed on the TV.
Kim came and kissed me, then she sat down beside me. “Who’s your new girlfriend, Vallon?” she asked.
Mallory heard that and she giggled. “Kimberly, this is Mallory. Mallory, this is my sister Kim.”
Mallory looked at her for a second then climbed over me and gave her a hug. She settled back into my lap and turned her attention back to the TV.
“She does that a lot,” I told Kim.
“She’s gorgeous,” Kim said. “Are you babysitting, Val?”
“Not exactly,” I told her. I explained the situation to her. “I have no idea who her mother is except she’s a prostitute. I have no idea what I’m going to do with her. The police kidnapped her and they were going to sell her as a slave.”
“What’s a pwostitute?” Mallory wanted to know.
“Someone who works for Jerome,” I told her. She seemed satisfied with that answer.
“What about child services?” Kim suggested.
“We were in child services,” I reminded her. “Have you forgotten what that was like?”
“No, it was horrible,” she said. “I just don’t know what else to do. You can’t give her back to a whore, Vallon!”
“I know, but what else am I supposed to do?”
“Why don’t you keep her?” Kim asked.
“Keep her! I don’t know how to take care of a little girl! How would I do that anyway?”
“You took care of me,” she said. “Look at her, Val. She’s beautiful and she obviously loves being with you. She breaks my heart! If you won’t take her, I want her.”
I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of keeping her. I looked down at her and she smiled up at me. She really was a beautiful little girl.
“How old are you, Mallory,” I asked her.
She held up three chubby little fingers. “Fwee,” she said. Jesus Christ!
“How would I keep her, Kim?”
“I’m an attorney,” she said. “You know everyone in this city. We’re rich and we’ve got connections. We can make it happen.”
“Mallory, would you like to live with Vallon?” Kim asked her.
“Love Vallon,” she agreed.
“There you go,” Kim said. “She loves you. How can you resist that?”
“Will you help me with her?” I asked Kim. “This isn’t one of your crusades, Kim. Mine either. This is a child and she’s a big responsibility.”
“I know,” she said. “Yes, I’ll help all I can. Where should we start?”
“She needs stuff,” I told her. “We need to get her everything, and what am I going to do with her when school starts back up?”
“Take her with you and put her in the preschool at your school,” she said. “I’ve decided you’re going to adopt her, Val. I’ll go get her some sweats at the store and then we’ll take her shopping.”
I groaned. Just what I wanted to spend my day doing.
“Would you like some new clothes, Mallory?” Kim asked.
“Yes,” she said. “Need panties, too.”
Kim laughed. “She’s delightful, Vallon. You’ve needed something like her for years. She’s going to be so good for us.”
“Yes, I be good,” Mallory said. “Love Kim, too.”
We took her to the mall and she chattered happily the whole time, trying on item after item for Kim until we had her sizes down pat. We got her shoes and clothes and packed my truck full of stuff.
“We need to get her stuff to play with,” Kim said. “Take us to the toy store, Vallon.”
We got a million more things there, and Mallory fell in love with a big white bear. She held it all the way home and she seldom let the thing go. Kim went home and we ordered pizza for supper. We had gotten a bunch of movies for her to watch, and she sat on my lap, holding her bear while we watched The Jungle Book. When the movie was over she climbed down and took my hand.
“Bath,” she said.
I bathed her and she pulled on her jersey again and went and got in my bed with the bear. That became our routine every night. I got her into pre-school and she did just fine there. She was very smart and she loved to color. My refrigerator was decorated with her pictures and she went to practice with me every day. The kids on my basketball team loved her and she sat on the bench beside me during the games, a little brown pixie. Her adoption papers were a lot of trouble, but we finally got it done. We told them I found her on the street and her parents couldn’t be located.
Child Services threw a fit for a while, but Kim kept filing injunctions and petitions and wore them out. I got the Mayor to intervene and our Senator was on the same football team as I was in college. He got involved, and finally it came down to a hearing. The judge asked Mallory who she wanted to live with.
“Want to live with Vallon,” she said. “Love Vallon. çekmeköy escort Love Kim, too.” That was it.
She was mine and I loved her. She spent a lot of time with Kim, too, and I think Kim fell in love with her the first day. When track season opened, she went to those practices with me, too, and she attended every meet. The track kids adopted her, and I would find her sitting under the bleachers with the girls, the center of attention and loving every minute.
I hadn’t realized how empty my life was until Mallory came to live with me. I had imagined that I was happy, but I had no idea. I could come home from the worst kind of day and when that little brown girl climbed up in my lap I would feel like the king of the world.
“I love you best of all, Daddy,” were the sweetest words I ever heard.
She was reading simple books by the time she started kindergarten, and she was the teacher’s pet. She shot up like a weed and she was soon the tallest kid in her class. She never gave me a minute’s trouble, and she quickly forgot I was Vallon and I became Daddy for several years. I quit the cop watch thing; all that didn’t seem half as important as going to birthday parties, trick or treating or Christmas programs.
She messed up my hair, my home and my world. I was a puppet in her hands and she made me dance a merry tune. I loved every minute of it. She loved what I loved, except for a dirty white bear. It smelled terrible after a couple of years. I tried to get rid of it several times, and there was a huge clash of wills. I told her he was dirty and all his stuffing had fallen out. There was nothing left but a dirty white rag. She finally agreed to get rid of him when I told her we would get him again, just like he was new. She was very unhappy for a day until Kim dropped off a new one.
“Bear looks nice,” she said. She hugged him and everything was okay. She mastered the “r” sound when she was five, and by the time she was ready for middle school, she knew more words than I did. She read everything she could get her hands on. We were the library’s best patrons, and she had shelf after shelf of books she read over and over.
She wanted to learn how to play an instrument. We debated it for a while and decided that she could start with piano. We got her an electronic one and she took lessons religiously. In the seventh grade she decided she wanted a French horn. She was very good at both instruments.
When she turned 13 we had a talk about the sleeping with me thing. We built her a bedroom and she kept her stuff in there but she absolutely refused to sleep there. I made her sleep there for three nights and she didn’t speak to me the whole time and she cried every time I looked at her. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I went into her room and she was curled up on her bed crying. I scooped her up and took her to the sofa. I sat down, holding her on my lap and she sobbed into my chest.
“Baby, you’re killing me,” I told her. “Talk to me. Tell me why this is such a big deal.”
“Don’t you love me anymore, Daddy?” she wept. “Why are you punishing me? What have I done? I don’t understand.”
“I love you more than anything in the world,” I told her. “I’m not punishing you and you haven’t done anything wrong. You’re just growing up, baby. What would your friends say if they knew you were sleeping with me?”
“I don’t give a damn what they would say,” she sobbed. “I don’t tell them. It isn’t any of their business.”
“Baby, you know I don’t like for you to curse,” I told her.
“I’m sorry, Daddy,” she sniffed. “I’m just so miserable. What’s wrong with me that you won’t let me?”
“Mallory, I’m trying to tell you that there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re a big girl now. You’re growing things and becoming a woman. It’s just that grown up girls don’t sleep with their fathers.”
“Since when do we care what other people do?” she asked. “What are you talking about, ‘growing things’?”
“Look down at yourself,” I told her. The old Dolphins jersey had worn out long ago and been replaced by new ones. There were two definite little mounds under it.
She looked down at herself. “What?” she asked. “Do you mean my boobs?”
“Yes, Mallory, that’s exactly what I mean.”
“So, because I have boobs, you won’t let me sleep with you?”
“Well, that’s not all. Your shape is changing. Your butt is getting sexy and you have this hourglass shape going on. You’re becoming a woman, baby and I don’t think I should be sleeping with a woman.”
“Daddy, do you know I remember the day I came to live with you?” she asked.
“No, Mallory; I thought you had forgotten. You never talk about it.”
“I’m not stupid. I know you’re not really my dad. I mean, you are, but I know we’re not related. Do you think I haven’t noticed that I’m black and you’re white? I know Aunt Kim isn’t really my aunt. I know you adopted me. We don’t talk about it, but I remember. I remember my mother. I know what a prostitute is. I remember you said she was one, and you took me away from all that. I remember being in that container and I remember you taking a very scared little girl home with you. I love you, Dad. I need to be with you and for you to love me. It’s going to make me very sad if anything ever changes between us. I understand the some things. I don’t mind, but I know it embarrasses you that I have boobs and I’m okay with that. I’m not okay with this. I’m never going to be okay with it. I’m sorry I’ve been a bitch about it and I’ll sleep by myself if you insist, but it’s going to make me very sad.”
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