Lily tossed and turned all night thinking about Mabel. She had a million things on her agenda to do for the day. She had Real Estate closings, she had to meet with the solar factory’s architects and surveyors, and she needed to follow up with Mabel, who was her first priority.
Lily went to her favorite bakery and brought a half dozen blueberry muffins to bring to Mabel as a treat. She came to the hospital’s security desk to get her visitors’ pass, and she was told that the patient was no longer in the hospital.
Lily tried to get information on where Mabel went. “Did she get transferred to somewhere else? Did she pass away? What happened? She still wasn’t 100% well. I know she could not have recovered overnight to be discharged from the hospital.”
“Ma’am, we can’t give you that information. I’m sorry,” the security officer said.
Lily remembered what the ER nurse had said, that many times O.D.s just walk out because they need a fix.
'Well, maybe she didn’t get far. She’s on foot. I can find her if she left on her own,’ Lily thought.
Lily got in her car and drove around the area. She went up and down the streets and alleys searching for Mabel. She went to the building where she first found Mabel. A new plywood board was nailed to the building’s entrance. It was undisturbed, so she figured that Mabel was not in there. An idea popped into Lily’s head. ‘She needs money for her drugs. Maybe she’s out begging.' Lily went past a few shopping centers and train stations to look, but did not see Mabel. Lily attempted to use her newfound skill of telepathy to locate Mabel, but she could not feel Mabel's mental energy.
Lily’s heart sank. She wanted to help Mabel believe in herself again. Mabel was gone, probably resuming her self-destructive habits. All Lily could do was to pray and ask God to keep Mabel safe.
Lily also knew the cardinal rule of substance abuse recovery. Even though others may try to help, no one can help addicts until they are ready to be helped.
Part of Lily’s commitment as a human Intergalactic Visitor member was to monitor how the refit plan was progressing in the lives of ordinary people. She was about to monitor a mandatory recycling class at a community center near her home.
As she entered the building, she noticed a poster that had a list of ideas for the youth to consider that did not require electricity and was carbon neutral.
Hey kids, check out this list of fun things to do while the refit plan is in progress.
Play board games
Make a puppet and put on a show
Tell ghost stories
Have a rapping contest or
Fly a kite
Ride a bike
Create obstacle courses
Visit your local playground
Play a musical instrument
Form an acoustic band
Write short stories
Explore soapbox racing
Play tag, you’re it
Play duck, duck goose
Have a sing along
Play the telephone game
Put together puzzles
Play picnic games like
Three legged races
Potato sack races
Cross country skiing
Telescope star gazing
Knowing that the children of the twenty first century were used to electronic gadgets, the community center also offered video game nights a few times a week. There was an added almost unexpected benefit to the Green Refit Plan. The leisure occupations that did not require a plug-in to the power grid gave children greater opportunity to use their imaginations and be more creative in their thinking. It had worked for their parents and grandparents.
Since the start of the refit, families focused on spending more time together. This time enriched family togetherness and improved strained relationships. After all, that was all most kids really wanted from their parents: to spend time with them. The parents of the modern age were so used to giving a “thing” to their child, that they forgot that the simple things in life carried greater value than what a manufactured item could give. All it takes sometimes is flipping the switch on ideas because there are so many alternative ways to enjoy life and do things that are entertaining.
Lily entered the classroom where the recycling class was being taught. The room was filled with about thirty adults of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds. Some of the students seemed interested to be there, and some she could tell were there begrudgingly because it was required that all citizens now had to be educated on the benefits and proper way to recycle. Lily and Ms. Cummings, the teacher, greeted one another. Ms. Cummings stood at the front of the class and began the lesson.
“Hello, everybody. My name is Ms. Cummings. I will be teaching you your mandatory recycling class.
“The newest most lucrative and very environmentally beneficial business of the twenty first century will be the recycling and reclaiming business.
“All garbage that people throw away is not garbage. Much of it is manufactured substance that can be reused over and over again and made into new items. One time use and then throwaway habits have to change. Plastics, metals and glass have endless reincarnated lives. People have to learn to sort their garbage. Sorting is not as hard as some people may make it out to be. This is how to make it easy. In your kitchen, you put a small garbage can right next to a large recycling can. When you have something to discard, it takes a one second decision to choose which can an item will go into. All newspapers, food and other packaging boxes, cardboard, office and school paper, old homework papers, magazines, junk mail, old phone books, catalogues, paper folders, used posters, paper signs, used gift wrapping paper and paper bags should be recycled.
“The paper you won’t recycle include obviously used tissues and soiled paper towels, anything that is laminated with a plastic or other coating such as juice boxes, soiled pizza boxes. Usually the bottom of the pizza box is full of grease and melted cheese, but the lid of the box is often times clean. Tear the lid off the box and recycle that if it is clean. Also, don’t recycle any papers that have personal information on them.
Metals can always be melted down and turned into something else. For decades now, metal scavengers have been able to make a modest income by going up and down alleys and gathering discarded metal items and putting them in a truck. They take them to a metal scrap yard that already exist in most urban areas, and they can make $100 (+) dollars a day on discards that didn’t cost them anything. That’s $3000.00 dollars a month if metal scavenging is done every day.
“I’m not saying that everyone go out with a truck and search the alleys and curbs, but we have many metals in our homes that can be melted and recreated into other items. Metals are abundant on the planet, but the mining, the fuel used to tote the metal to various places for processing expends a lot of energy, which is usually connected to fossil fuel burning. Of course we are trying to change those methods with all of our green refits.”
“What about miners and others who depend on mining for a living?” A participant asked.
“It’s a new age. Reclaiming, recycling and repurposing are the new jobs for the green age that we are now coming into. Miners may just have to flip the script on the process as to how they will offer metal to their market. They can get into the metal recycling business and keep their workers and their clients. They just have to restructure how the metal is gathered. This will actually be less labor intensive and more economical for them because they will use recycled materials.
“People are afraid of the Green Revolution because they see loss of what they are used to doing or having. Going totally green will create different ways to get the job done. The resistance to change is a mental block that people may put in their minds about new things. It’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just reinventing a better more efficient and green way of carrying on with the things that we want to accomplish.
“The world just can’t keep throwing away reusable items as garbage. It’s not garbage. The Earth’s resources are already over exploited. Our human populations around the world grow by tens of millions of people every year. We simply can’t continue the cycle of taking from the Earth, using, throwing away, deciding oh we need more of the same thing tomorrow, so let’s take from the Earth and use once, throw away. Take from the Earth, use a hot minute and throw away.
“That cycle has to STOP! Multiplying that cycle by billions of people and what do you have? It would be like in the cartoon Wall-e where our garbage is everywhere.
“Recycling and reusing is all about changing habits. There may be a learning curve at first if you are new to recycling, but once you get into the routine of it, you will recycle without thinking. From the time my son could walk at 9 ½ months old, I’d give him an empty can, used oatmeal box or other item to be recycled, and I’d say ‘go put this in the recycling bin.’ And he loved doing it. It became a fun game to him. Recycling is a part of parenting values that I want to instill in him. Many of your kids recycle in school. There often times are recycling bins in classrooms for paper and plastic. Many schools teach ecology strategies that students can apply to their home life. Children understand the need for conservation, and they are very adaptable to it.
“Let’s face it. It’s the adults who are stuck in familiar, comfortable routines. Most of us have grown up with ‘If you don’t want it, throw it away.’ All of the “don’t wants” are garbage. WE HAVE TO CHANGE OUR MINDS ABOUT THAT.
“Our Earth, our environment can’t survive on that type of thinking anymore. We can begin to make the world a more sustainable place in simple one-second decisions. One second is all it takes to decide, ‘do I put this item in the recycling bin or do I put it in the garbage can?’ Pretty soon it would be a no-brainer as to what gets recycled verses what is actual unusable garbage.
“My household has been recycling for a couple of decades. And you can visually and dramatically see the results of not filling up the garbage can with just anything. I have two big cans in my alley for sanitation pick up. One is a garbage can and one is a recycling can. They are both the same size. My recycling can is always so full that we’ve had to add extra bins to hold everything. If I peek into the garbage can, there is a small amount of actual garbage sitting lonely on the bottom of the can. My garbage can should be three times smaller than what it is, and my recycling can should be twice as big as it is.
“Our town is very big on recycling, and every year we get a report on how many trees we have saved by recycling all of our paper. Our town of 53,000 people saves two million trees from being cut down and turned into paper. That leaves more trees to stand and stay to suck up all of our horrible CO2.
“There are many canned goods that are used in most people’s kitchens. It may take just a half a minute more to get a can ready to put into the recycling bin. The label has to be pulled off and that label gets recycled. Give the inside of the can a quick swish and rinse in the sink, and then the can is ready to go into the recycling bin. For your pop/soda cans, crush them, and they go into the recycling bin. Disposable foil pans like the kind used for takeout, Thanksgiving turkeys, pie pans etc… give them a quick cleaning and recycle them. If the pans are all crusted with burnt on food, don’t worry about it. That’s one that got away, and you can put that burnt one in the garbage.
“Any other metals around the house that have served their purpose, like forks, knives, spoons, metal curtain rods, metal fencing, bed rails, metal folding chairs, non-Teflon coated pots and pans, metal tire rims etc… need to be recycled. For those large items that don’t fit in the recycling container, put them in the alley or by the curb and watch them disappear.
“Now we come to plastics. Plastics are made from petroleum products. Many people don’t know that. We drink water from a plastic bottle and throw it in the garbage. It took us maybe a half-minute to gulp the water or maybe we sipped on the water all day. Ninety percent of used plastic water bottles end up in the garbage. That plastic bottle will remain intact for about 1000 years.
“So what’s wrong with that?” She paused and waited for answers.
“If 90% of people throw away their plastic bottles, then that adds up to a lot of bottles. . . a lot of bottles that will need a lot of space to dump them in,” one class participant offered.
“Yes, you’re right. Each day in the U.S. alone two million plastic water bottles go into the garbage. That doesn’t even account for all of the single serve plastic bottles for juice, soda, milk, vitamin and sport beverage bottles.
“We as a society have grown accustom to enjoying daily conveniences, but we seriously have to think about taking some responsible action with that container that allowed us to satisfy our thirsts.”
One guy raised his hand to make a comment. “I want to do the right thing and put my empty bottle into a recycling bin when I’m out running. But, on my running routes, there are no recycling bins for me to put my bottle into. I either have to carry the bottle home with me and recycle it, or I usually just chuck it into a garbage can.”
“That’s a real good point. Many municipalities have been very slow in providing public recycling containers. That is NOW going to change. This is a part of our nations green rebirth. In fact, the new mandate is to have more recycling containers than garbage cans in public areas. The recycling habits that we are trying to instill in citizens at home will carry over into your community and public activities as well.”
“You know if we are trying to cut down on fossil fuel usage and if that is used to make plastic, we will continue to use more and more fossil fuels. It makes sense to recycle bottles. Melt them down and reuse them again,” another student offered.
“Yep! That’s the answer. Every citizen just has to get on board with that. Remember the world is in an all hands on deck mode to collectively green our world. That is why these green education classes are mandatory because the changing of habits won’t just magically happen. People have to be informed with the whys and how’s so that a firm understanding can be accomplished. We all have heard the terms recycle, reduce, reuse. They are becoming empty buzzwords. But if people realize how their actions or INACTIONS impact the world, maybe they can change their fixed mindsets towards being green. And truly that is where it starts. It starts in changing your thinking from wasteful environmental damaging old habits into new and refreshed ways of conquering our problems.
“So, your plastic two liter pop bottles, plastic laundry detergent bottles, plastic fabric softener bottles, milk and juice jugs, shampoo bottles, body wash bottles, plastic takeout containers (rinsed out of course), plastic party cups and plastic plates, deli containers, Styrofoam cups and takeout boxes (cleaned) can all be recycled. If you have a spray bottle or a bottle with a pump, take out the sprayer and the pump before recycling them. Those pieces can’t be recycled because they have metal in them that can’t be separated at the recycling sorting facility. You can recycle the bottle.
“By the way, the fact that it takes hundreds of years for plastic to breakdown applies to all plastics, not just water bottles. So, there should never ever be any plastic containers in your garbage can . . . period! It all has to be recycled.”
“Do we have to sort all of our recycling into separate bins? You Know, a bin for plastic, a bin for paper? Or, can we dump it all into one can like we do our garbage. Because that would make it easier to just dump in one can,” an eco learner asked.
“It used to depend on the municipality in which you lived. Some required sorting, others allowed dumping all in one can. The problem with sorting is that people weren’t sorting properly and at the recycling plants the workers had to be hired to sort out the items. Since we need 100% cooperation of every citizen to recycle, we have “the just dump” method for the nation. So, an expanding green job is being a recycling sorter. This is going to be a huge new business. Recycling, reselling recycled materials and repurposing them.
“Glass containers these days seem to be on the decline in favor of companies preferring to use plastic for bottling and packing. But, glass too can be recycled.
“Plastic bags are still around even though they have been banned. Everyone should be carrying their reusable shopping bags to the stores. Note that I said “stores” plural, not just the grocery store. If you’re going shopping to the big box stores, drug stores, dollar stores, clothing stores etc . . . bring your reusable bags. If you still have plastic bags in your home, you can recycle them in your bins so they can stay out of landfills and be remanufactured into something else. And don’t tie up your recyclables in plastic bags. It makes it harder for the recycling workers to sort.
“Traditional plastic garbage bags are also forever in landfills too. We are working on creating some biodegradable “plastic” like bags that will be more Earth-friendly for toting out the garbage.
Table scraps will be our last topic of discussion. Some of you may have garbage disposals built into your kitchen sinks. You traditionally grind your food waste into the drain. Well, lets throw out another alternative. Community gardening and backyard gardening is being pushed. Grow locally to cut down on the “food miles” and the CO2 used in its travel.”
“What are food miles?” Someone asked.
“A food mile is the amount of transportation it takes to get an item of food from point “A” to point “B”. For example, perhaps you want a pint of strawberries and you live in New York. The strawberries are grown in California. Those strawberries traveled three thousand miles to get to you in NYC. That’s a lot of CO2 dumped into the atmosphere to travel that distance. When this happens all over the world, everyday, for billions of items the CO2 adds up! Transporting food leaves a heavy carbon footprint. What we are trying to get people to do is to become localvores. That means you get your food supply from growers within a hundred mile radius from where you live . . . at least the bulk of your food.
“So, my subject now is composting. First of all, I grew up old school. Some of you may know what I mean. Your parents told you to eat all of your food because someone in the world was starving, and that is true. Everyday, we Americans have a bounty of food while there are millions if not billions of people in the world who struggle daily to provide at least one decent meal for their families. America’s demand for three substantial meals a day has also had an impact on CO2 output. More demand for meat and “biggie burgers” means more animals are raised and more methane from their poop is released into the atmosphere. Methane is twenty five times more lethal than carbon dioxide. This is yet another cycle of demand and supply that affects our planets climate. If you eat less meat, the demand, for livestock will decrease causing lower methane release. There was a recent scientific study that discovered that the planet will get seven degrees hotter by the year 2100. That is absolutely deadly! It is because the greenhouse gases are accumulating in our atmosphere and trapping heat. Methane is a very dense greenhouse gas. If we could replace a few meat meals per week with other protein rich foods, we could possible advert disaster. AND, that is the whole idea behind the Green Refit Plan. We are not trying to torture the public or make certain business go under. NO! WE ARE COLLECTIVELY TRYING TO SAVE THE PLANET!
“If you live in a house and have a yard, we are encouraging the planting of backyard gardens. Grow the variety of foods that you enjoy. Since we are in the North, obviously we can only do that in warmer months. The art of canning in glass mason jars is being revived in urban areas. Put away some of your harvest for winter enjoyment.
“For apartment dwellers, urban gardens are now being established where abandoned buildings and vacant lots used to be. There are a lot of people who have migrated here from farm areas who enjoy sharing their knowledge on how to grow crops. The government is also repurposing farmers whose crops have failed in the past few years due to drought conditions in several states. The farmers are now coming into urban areas to teach city dwellers how to create and sustain community farms. You see, many things are changing according to the new environmental need. The food now has to come closer to the city to cut down on those food miles . . . at least until the majority of the world is driving non-polluting vehicles.
“So, instead of contaminating the ground and fertilizing plants with chemical fertilizers, compost is the best choice for feeding plants. Scraps from your table can be placed into a compost pile. The composting bins are easy to make and Mother Nature does all of the work.”
“How does composting actually work?” A curious learner asked.
“When plant life breaks down, leaves, flowers, grass clippings, fruit etc, it turns into a nutrient rich mush. Within a few weeks to a couple of months it can be placed on growing plants, and the compost helps the plants to flourish. It’s nature’s full cycle of life.
“When you compost your non-meat and non-dairy table scraps, you put less “garbage” into the garbage can too. Those scraps aren't garbage. They are plant food that you can use to grow more food for your table. See it’s all about how you look at things.
“Does anyone have any remaining questions?”
“What if we don’t cooperate and recycle?” One guy asked.
“Ah! The best question of all. First of all, I’d have to ask what kind of world do YOU want to live in? We need air, water and food. If any of these necessary elements to your survival were contaminated, defiled, or toxic what will happen to you in the long run? You see, we think climate collapse is in some far off distant future and that we won’t have to deal with the punishing effects of an unsustainable world. However, we are already at the cusp to the point of no return when all hell is about to break loose. You will be affected!
“So, the decision that you make right now will affect your quality of life. Everybody has to do their part to bring balance to the world. So hopefully, people will want to be a green warrior and be a part of the generation that will reverse the ills imposed on the environment. Is it so much to ask that when a drink is finished from a plastic container that it be put in a place to be recycled and repurposed? If our lives are so cushy that we are too lazy to make a one second decision to choose to drop a used plastic bottle into a recycling bin, then we deserve to suffer the consequences of a collapsed, super heated environment. That IS the reality of collective INACTION!
“But! You can feel good about your one-second decisions to recycle discarded items. Every time you go to the garbage can, think, ‘can I help or hurt the planet by putting this item in the garbage?’ I guarantee you that if you get into the routine of recycling, it will become automatic and you won’t have to take thought about what to do. The benefit of everyone recycling will have a positive impact on our world’s environment. Our children, our grandchildren and children yet to be born are counting on us to be the green generation. They are counting on all of us right now to leave a viable, sustainable world. Our children’s futures are not disposable. What you do today will impact their world tomorrow.
“Besides, we know that most will try to dodge our universal recycling program despite all of our dire warnings. Our safety net for this is that your garbage will be inspected before it is collected. There will be new jobs created just for this. It is that vitally important that everyone participates and cooperates in recycling that such a position is created.
“Now is the time! This is our only shot at turning this climate disaster around. Are there any remaining questions?”
No one had any more questions. “Thank you for attending the class.”
Lily was impressed with Ms. Cummings content and delivery of the lesson, and she expressed her complements.
“Hello beloved reader. Yes, you. Please begin to do your part towards getting recycling into your everyday routine. Thank you.”
Lily and Sam had not seen each other for four months. They longed for each other and kept in touch when they could. The distance and the circumstances between them inhibited a roaring romance. Their energy for giving love had to be directed towards world-work and their dreams of each other put on hold. But on this day, Lily was beside herself with excitement. Sam was in town to see her. He stayed at a boutique hotel on the North Side of Chicago. She arranged to meet him at a vegetarian restaurant near where he was staying, and she could not wait.
Sam arrived at the restaurant first. He had a bountiful bouquet of flowers for Lily. She was running a little behind schedule since parking was hard to find because gas cars not yet refitted occupied the majority of parking spaces on the street. Lily eventually found a space and walked towards the restaurant. In the distance as she approached, she could see Sam standing near the restaurant doorway. She was melting inside looking at his tall-sculpted frame. Sam also caught view of Lily’s loveliness. As Lily got closer, both had wide smiles of love’s anticipation. Then came the embrace. The rapture of Spiritual connectivity electrified their reunion. Their passion and fire for one another thrust their longing lips together for a passionate kiss. The world stood still and disappeared in their rapturous moment.
It took almost half an hour for Lily and Sam to compose themselves and loosen their hold form each other to enter the restaurant. Such a dramatic reunion would make it that much harder to part when Sam had to go back to Africa. They sat down in the swank, ultra-modern, restaurant, ordered their food, and began to catch up with what the other had been doing. They held hands while they talked.
“I have missed you, so much, Lily,” Sam said as he looked deeply into her eyes.
“I think about you all the time, Sam, and it tears me up that we are not together. Now, I’ve got more on my plate with the building of the solar plant, and you’re in Africa doing your thing. It’s so hard to be away from you.”
“Why don’t you come to Africa and build your factories? We could use the jobs and the renewable energy sources. We can also be together,” Sam said with a slight pleading tone in his voice.
“I’m already on top if that idea. In fact, since your family is in Real Estate, I’ll need help scouting a few spots in which to build.”
Lily then gave a heavy sigh. “But unfortunately, I probably won’t be able to actually get started on that for at least a couple of years.”
When Lily had gotten out of her car to come to the restaurant, she had noticed a few men standing outside a liquor store. Next to the store was an entrance to the building’s apartments. However, since Lily was making such a beeline to Sam, the sight of the men was fleeting. Out from the big floor to ceiling window of the restaurant, Lily observed different men walking in and out of the apartment building. She felt a negative twinge go up her spine.
Sam and Lily continued their conversation and began enjoying their lunch. Lily peeked from time to time speculating about what could be going on with all of the male traffic across the street.
Sam zoned in on Lily’s visual preoccupation.
“What do you keep looking at, Lily? Is it your car? Is someone near your car down the street?”
“No, I’m seeing all these men come and go out of that building. It bothers me.”
“What? Do you think they are selling drugs or something?”
“I don’t know. Could be. I just have a bad vibe about it.”
“Well, I will of course walk you to your car to make sure you’re safe when it's time to leave.”
“Yeah, I’d definitely appreciate that.”
Sam and Lily continued to try and focus on each other and their food. Lily saw a man come out of the questionable building. He was heading to the restaurant. When he entered, Lily zeroed in right away on a bright red spot at the front zipper of the man’s beige pants. It looked like blood, but why was it there? The man asked the waitress if he could get change for a twenty. He was a bit happy-go-lucky as he began to hum a tune while the waitress got rid of some of her singles from tips for a less bulky twenty.
“Thank you ma’am, and you have a good day,” the man said. He then walked out and went on his way.
Lily had a real ugly feeling that flushed over her entire body. It made her stomach feel nauseous, and she stopped eating. She looked more intently at the parade of men at the apartment entrance.
“Maybe it’s a whorehouse,” Sam suggested.
“If it is, how come it’s not shut down? I mean the traffic in and out is very obvious to me, and I’ve only been sitting here seeing this for about an hour. If this goes on everyday all day, I’m sure someone would have reported it and shut it down.”
Lily wanted instant answers. She called her waitress over. “Did you know that guy that you gave change to?”
“No. I don’t know him. I mean he’s been in here before for change, but I don’t know his name.”
Lily summoned the waitress to come closer for a more discrete question. “Do you know what’s going on in that building across the street?”
“We don’t really know, but there is a rumor that it is a gay gentleman’s club...you know, go-go and pole dancers. There are always some big husky guards outside. I don’t think the police bother them, since it’s thought to be an adult entertainment business.”
"OK. I was just wondering. Thanks for the info.”
“Sure. Can I get you guys anything else?”
“No. Thank you.”
“So, it’s a gay bar. Mystery solved,” Sam said.
“I don’t know. My gut just doesn’t feel right about that building.”
The waitress brought the couple the check, and the two paid it and left. Lily and Sam did not want to part, so they decided to go for a walk along the lakefront. There they strolled hand in hand savoring each moment.
As the dusk began to settle in, the pair decided to start to wind down their day. Sam walked Lily back to where she had parked near the restaurant. The flow of male traffic outside of the suspicious building had doubled. Lily didn’t know how the neighbors could stand all of the nuisance noise. The men coming out of the building all seemed to be very happy and content. Some would even high five one another as one came out and another went in. Lily still had a nagging negative feeling.
“Sam what do you think about going in there to see what’s really going on just for a moment? It’s going to bug me all night if I don't resolve this negative feeling.”
“OK, Lily, I’ll go in. You want to stay here in your car until I come back or go into the restaurant where we had lunch?”
“I’ll stay here in the car for now. Just come right back. Please.”
Sam walked towards the building. Two 300 pound men guarding the door asked Sam for I.D.. Sam showed his passport.
“Ah, Mandingo, Zulu warrior,” one of the guards said in a patronizing way. Sam was silently offended at such a stereotyped remark.
They gave the passport back, and Sam was instructed to give it to the next guy at the top of the stairs for copying. Sam complied and was told to go to apartment 2N.
Sam entered the apartment and several men were sitting around the living room. A small bar was to one side where drinks could be purchased. The guys all had a number in hand. When the number was called, they went into one of the bedrooms. When Sam’s number came up he followed suit.
The bedroom was small, only ten square feet. Upon entering, an acrylic, bulletproof ticket booth dominated the majority of the room. Inside it sat a man among safes and cash registers. Sam felt uneasy. He surmised that he was in a gay brothel. How would he back out now? He really didn’t want to get as far as he did, but the way it was set up, the people running the place had the flow of traffic controlled.
“What do ya want?” The booth attendee asked.
Sam pretended like he didn’t understand English. He shrugged his shoulders and spoke back to the man in his African language.
The man grew impatient very quickly and was suspicious. He put one hand under his chair.
Sam was alarmed. He didn’t know if the man was about to shoot him or not.
“What do you want?!” The man again barked.
Sam began to wave his hands in a ‘no’ pattern and began to back up to leave.
The booth attendant pushed a switch under his chair that locked the door behind Sam sealing him in the room. It also set off a silent alarm to all parts of the building.
Sam could hear a commotion, and the men in the waiting area being told to go to another room. Heavy footsteps ended at the door to the bedroom. One of the guards that had been posted at the entrance entered the room.
“What’s the problem here?” The guard asked the button pusher.
“This clown ain’t supposed to be in here! He doesn’t know what to ask for!”
“He’s from Africa. Maybe this is his first time.” The guard turned to Sam. “Hey is this your first time for a joy ride?”
Sam nervously shook his head, yes. He felt trapped and had to go with the moment to ensure his safety.
The guard asked Sam if he had $200.00 U.S. dollars. Sam shook his head yes, and pulled the money out of his wallet and handed it to the guy in the booth.
“Give him a virgin for this virgin,” the guard instructed the money taker.
“Do we have any left?” The guard then thought to ask. “If not, give him one of those short petite Asian gals.”
“No, we got one virgin left. She came in this afternoon.”
Sam was incensed! ‘She!?’ He thought. ‘Virgin!? What do they have going on in here?’
“I’ll take him up to the third floor where our tight cuties’ are. Follow me.” The guard demanded of Sam. Sam felt like throwing up. He also wanted to flee. He was in way over his head. His only backup was that Lily was tucked away in her car waiting for him to come out.
They walked up two flights of stairs. The place smelled of pee and semen. He could hear the sounds of headboards rhythmically knocking against the walls and muffled screams and whimpering coming from bedrooms throughout the building.
Sam felt like taking a fast and hard swing at the guard, to try and knock him out to leave. But Sam realistically did not feel that he had a chance to get out. His plan was to, follow the guard into the room, wait, say he did it, and he could safely leave without causing suspicion.
Sam was put into a bedroom in one of the upstairs apartments. He could hear sexual activity in the two adjacent rooms. High pitched, throated, groaning sounds made him think someone was trying to scream, but that his or her mouth was covered.
The room contained a bed and a nightstand. On the nightstand were rubbers, duct tape, baby wipes and tissue. The headboard had layers and layers of tape residue stuck to it.
“I’ve got to get out of here.”
Once again he could hear those same heavy footsteps approaching, accompanied by the muted cries of a child. The big 300-pound brut had a small girl thrown over his shoulder. Her mouth was taped. She had a lot of fight in her and was punching and kicking her arms and legs to protest her captivity and her eminent fate. The guard dropped the girl on the bed like she was a sack of potatoes.
"Enjoy your joyride,” the heartless guard said as he exited the room.
The terrified child looked at Sam with a face soaked in tears. She was vigorously crying.
Protests of the child’s crying were being shouted from the nearby rooms. “Shut that kid up!” Came from one room.
“Hey shut up! I’m trying to do my business in here,” a pedophile shouted.
Sam burned to a crisp. The truth was revealed. It was not a gay strip club or brothel. It was one the most base, diabolical, demonic places of hell on Earth. It was a sex slave operation. Sam was so enraged, his adrenaline and anger were about to turn him into an unstoppable raging bull. He told the girl he would not harm her and that he was going to get her out of there. He tried to take the tape off of her mouth, but it was too painful for her. He saw the guard walking down the stairs. Sam picked the girl up, and rushed the guard from behind, causing the guard to fall down the stairs. Sam ran down the stairs as fast as he could. The exit was then in full view. The other guard saw Sam barreling towards him. Sam cold-cocked the man across the face, knocking him to the ground. The steady stream of men going in and out of the entrance scattered away. Sam ran towards Lily’s car. Lily saw him coming towards her carrying the girl in his arms. Her eyes were wide with confusion. Sam was at the passenger door with the girl still crying uncontrollably. Lily opened the door, and Sam jumped in. “Leave now Lily! Let’s go!” Sam commanded.
Lily complied and rapidly drove the car off the block and out from sight around the corner.
“We’re going to the police station now!” Sam exclaimed.
“OK, OK, Sam. What happened to this girl?”
Sam was irate. “Sex slaves! They have children and ladies from other countries that they are selling to these filthy dirty men! It’s disgusting! The children were in there crying and screaming.”
"I knew something was wrong with that place! I could feel it!” Lily shouted.
Sam had never been so angry in his life.
It took five minutes to get to the police station. Sam and Lily took the child in.
“Somebody help us please, please help!” Lily and Sam shouted as they ran into the police station.
A police officer grabbed the girl from Sam’s arms.
“I rescued her from a sex slave house not far from here. Help this girl. I couldn’t get the tape off her mouth. Someone needs to go back with me and to get the other children out of there and to make some arrests before they get away!”
“Calm down a moment. Tell us what happened,” the police officer said to Sam.
Sam began to roar. “There is no time for that now! We have to go before they flee!”
Lily intervened. “Send someone to 640 Table Avenue. There are men in and out of that building all day. We saw it. Sam went to investigate, and he found out it was a sex slave operation!”
The police officer called dispatch to send officers over to the address.
A couple of squad cars were on patrol in the vicinity of the building. It took a half-minute for them to arrive.
When the police arrived to the building, they went in floor-by-floor and room-by-room. No one was in the building. The children, sex slaves, child molesters, and staff were all gone in less than ten minutes time. Left behind were bloodied sheets, used rubbers, empty booze bottles and the stench of degenerate behavior.
The officers on the scene radioed back to dispatch. “There is suspicious evidence here, but no suspects or children remain.”
Sam began yelling. “Don’t let them get away with what they have done! You go find all of those bastards and put them under the jail for life!”
Lily came to Sam’s side to try and calm him down.
The police had assisted the little girl to remove the tape from her mouth. She was able to tell the police what had happened to her and that she knew who brought her to the house of crime and where he lived. The police contacted her parents, and they were on their way.
Detectives investigated the Table Avenue building and collected evidence and DNA samples from objects all around the apartment building. When they were done, the building was sealed off and a plain police car was placed nearby to catch any would be customers or anyone else who might come back to the building.
Sam and Lily remained at the police station as Sam gave descriptions of all of the staff that he encountered in the house of sin. He even looked through books of mug shots and was able to positively identify a few of the people that he saw. As Lily looked on with Sam, she even found the mug shot of the man who came into the restaurant for change earlier in the day.
Lily pointed out the picture to the police officer that was assisting them. “We saw him leave the building earlier. He had blood on his pants. Hopefully that’s the evidence that you can use to lock him up for good.”
Lily started crying. Sam pulled her close to him as he too was overcome with grief due to the evening's events.
“I can’t believe that people can be so cruel to children. The nasty jackass perverts! How can this happen?” Lily said to Sam and the officer.
Then she directed her rage at the police officer. “How did you all NOT know what was going on there? How come you all don’t stop it? No telling how many children have been raped and abused on your watch! I saw for an hour in broad daylight dozens of nasty, ugly men go in and out of that building. Even I knew something was no good. You all work in this neighborhood everyday. How could you not know?”
The police officer attempted to defend himself. “We can’t get to everybody and do everything. And our budget...”
Lily cut him off. “There is no excuse when it comes to children! They need to be protected and priority number one! They don’t need nasty, sick men taking away their innocence. Those children are going to be ruined for life! It is your job to protect! Protect! It says it on every squad car in the nation. And I don’t mean protect the operators who may pay some of you to look the other way. You need to protect the children out there! You need to save the children from this debauchery.”
“Yes, ma’am, we are just as disgusted as you. We can arrest the pedophiles, but their lawyers get them off or they make plea deals and then they are right back to the business of endangering children. If I had it my way, the law would be one strike and you’re out. No plea deals! Go straight to jail and rot there for the rest of your life. They have rotted the children's brains and psyches for life. This is a worldwide problem. It is not just a Chicago issue. We need more citizens like you who aren’t afraid to stand up and say and do something when they see it or suspect it.”
“I knew something was wrong and nasty with that place. Go with your gut! The gut always knows. It’s like a computer chip that sums up everything and spits the calculation out to you in a bad feeling. How horrible! People are so damn sick. Maybe this world shouldn’t be saved. Maybe the CO2 should be allowed to consume us all for allowing such heinous activities to happen.”
Sam held Lily as tightly as he could. He needed solace from the experience, too.
“In some African nations, if an adult touches a child, it is punishable by death.”
“Maybe that should be an international law,” the officer stated.
Lily and Sam stayed at the station for a couple more hours and continued to look through mug shots. They were able to identify ten people based on their afternoon observations from the restaurant and Sam’s infiltration.
It was difficult to shake off the unexpected events of their day. They had a few days left to spend together before Sam had to go back to Africa, so Lily showed Sam around Chicago. The couple also spent time investigating organizations that were established to prevent sexual abuse. Each made generous donations