Friday, 10 November 2017

The Human Commodity

Three gentlemen, smartly dressed in black suits and sunglasses, came upon a house. It was a three bedroom bungalow. The house was in the middle of a paved compound and was fenced with brick walls. The house looked abandoned, spooky, and puzzling. They walked around the house taking notes and making references. When they got to the back, three old metal cabinets stood abandoned with a litter of paper lying around them. They thought little of the litter and moved on. Having gone round the house, they stopped at the front door which was ajar and one of them knocked.

Pushing the door open, a boy in his early twenties appeared without his shirt on. He was putting on only shorts. The men introduced themselves and showed him a search warrant. Without uttering a word, the boy allowed them in without any resistance.
The smell in house was tangible, stale, humid, and with an unnerving odour. They turned and looked at the boy when the smell filled their nostrils. “What on earth goes on in here?” they quietly asked themselves, as they put on hand gloves. The boy innocently followed them as they strolled around inspecting the house. He was obviously just a house keeper. They went through the different rooms which were mostly empty. Medium sized wooden beds were in the rooms. The beddings were unkempt and looked ragged. The odour they had perceived was stronger in the rooms. With empty wardrobes and no litter, they didn’t know exactly what to look out for. The toilets were the source of the unnerving odour they perceived. They gasped for air when they opened any of the toilet doors. It was obvious the house had an insufficient supply of water. Whatever happened in the house was usually carried out quickly after which the house was abandoned. They turned to the boy. Surely, he was going to tell them everything they wanted to know. He stared at them with the innocence and curiosity of a toddler.
As they stood in the empty living room, they beckoned the boy over. When they asked what the house was for, the boy stared at them without a word. The men became cautious. They perceived resistance and adjusted their positions thinking the boy might take flight. The most senior of the three men asked the boy again, and moved closer to him this time. The boy seemed unmoved and stared at them with even more curiosity. Patience soon ran out. One of the men held the boy by the arm and shook him vigorously while he asked the same question. The boy mumbled out gibberish incoherently. The boy was deaf and dumb.
Through several attempts of unorthodox sign language, the men were able to communicate their question about the owner of the house. At that moment, one of the men opened a door close to the entrance into the house. It was another toilet. After overcoming the first pong, he peered into the small toilet with his nose and mouth covered with his palm. After sighting what appeared to be the cover of a double pill, he called the attention of the other men. They all saw the pill cover close to the toilet seat. They collected the item and it was inspected. Several nods after inspecting the item confirmed they had come upon the first tangible evidence that something sinister went on in that house. They turned to the boy again, and this time, they were more forceful and careless with the sign language. The boy waved signs of denial and kept pointing towards the backyard. Curiously, the men paced behind the boy as he quickly made his way to the backyard. The boy took them to the three cabinets they had overlooked earlier.
They gestured to the boy to stand aside without moving. One after the other, the cabinets were pulled out and inspected. They only found some flimsy squeezed up pieces of paper which revealed irrelevant information. Frustration began to grow on their patience and the boy sensed it. The boy bent down quickly and started turning over pieces of paper which had almost being buried in dirt. The men paid him little attention and began to discuss their next strategy. Suddenly, the boy started mumbling again and he gave a piece of paper to one of them. The boy chose the man who shook his hands earlier. The paper was long beaten and had been worn thin by weather elements. The man who received it held it with some care and placed it on top of one of the cabinets. It was an overseas money transfer receipt. It carried the name of what appeared to be a hotel in Paris and there was a name on it. The name of the hotel was ‘Gotrede Pitch’, and the man who made the transfer had a name they had come across before in their investigation. He was the owner of the property they sought after.
The item they found in the toilet was a notorious pill used by people who trafficked young women abroad. The pill weakens female subjects and makes them vulnerable to sexual advances. The pill made women unable to conceive after intercourse without condom, eliminating the risk of pregnancies in the trade of sexual abuse and trafficking. The men were special investigators that had been on the trail of a notorious trafficking gang, and that dead piece of paper found by a deaf and dumb boy who may have been intentionally planted in the house, had finally provided vital clues for the first time. Any hurried intentions disappeared. The men immediately called for a professional sign language interpreter and some backup.
When backup arrived, a comprehensive search was conducted. The house was turned upside down. Apart from finger prints and beddings stained with fluids, very little else was revealed. However, the professional interpreter gained ground with the boy. The boy revealed some information about the rate at which young women were brought in and taken out. The practice had stopped for some time now the boy revealed. However, the boy couldn’t say exactly how long. He too was a victim of trafficking but was abandoned when it was discovered he was deaf and dumb. He goes out to beg for food in the day time, and comes back to the house to rest his body at night.  The investigators went into a small meeting and paid no further attention to the boy for a while. By the time they needed the boy again, he had disappeared. He may have played a script all along, and had run away into dusk. The house was cordoned off and put under surveillance.
Back at the office, the transfer receipt handed to them by the boy was investigated, and was discovered to be authentic. Why would the boy hand them evidence about his master and run away? This baffled them. They made arrangements with contacts in Paris and prepared for a trip to Paris. Few days later, a phone call informed them that the boy’s corpse had been found. He was strangled to death. A sad end indeed. The murder of the boy provided further motivation for the detectives. They left for Paris without delay, for the arrow-head they sought after may have been put on alert. 
Paris was filled with its usual fanfare. Every day was party. They checked into a hotel close to Gotrede Pitch under various aliases. They monitored the place for days and collected several photographs which they analysed with intelligence officers from Paris. They however could not tell who the owner was. They needed to force out the owner soon or they may hit a dead-end again. It was time to make a bold move. One of them dressed casually and entered Gotrede Pitch one evening to look around. It was a club. An exquisite club. A well decorated club with so many VIP rooms. The man noticed some armed guards located strategically. The dance floor was railed with extravagant lightings, and an impenetrable crowd remained on the dance floor. The blast of music was deafening. The man patiently made his way through the crowd on the dance floor and into the VIP area. There were several rooms. Each room had a green and red bulb by the door. Some rooms had red bulbs on and some others had green bulbs on. There was a door at the end of the corridor. A big brown wooden door with carved images on it. The man used his discretion and opened one of the doors with the green light on.

The door opened and revealed a colourful interior with an upholstery chair. He went in and sat down. A poster on the wall with explicit sexual content explained the services available. There was a maiden behind a dark tinted glass in front of him. He looked around for closed circuit cameras but found none. He inserted the amount requested for full private service into a slot machine by the chair. Soon after, light music streamed down from some overhead speakers and the lights behind the dark tinted glass came on. The maiden on the other side of the glass door was a goddess. Dressed in only lingerie, she had a litter of jewellery to match her fiery makeup. To the man’s excitement, the glass opened and she actually came out. She wiggled and wriggled slowly mimicking the movement of a snake before she rested her huge waist on his laps. Her perfume was heavenly. As she continued her very tempting dance, he whispered into her ears, “I am here to take you back home.” She brusquely stopped, and in one sweeping motion, she grabbed all his private package in one firm palm grip. “Don’t play with me and be careful with your answers.” “Who are you, and what do you want?” She spoke so softly that the words gently sailed into the man’s ears.  He knew she was serious. After a hard swallow, he looked straight at her, and in a flurry, revealed everything about him and his mission. She stood up and told him to leave or he would end up dead like all who had come before him. He told her they killed the deaf and dumb boy and assured her it would be different this time. He told her that he was only there to ask about the owner and possibly get a description. “He never comes out of that room at the end of the corridor. The door is always locked. I think he has another way out which he uses. I have only seen him once, and that was the day he raped me at the house were they held us in Nigeria before they brought us here.” “You have to go because your time is up” she said quickly and got up. “Wait” said the man, as he held her hand. “How many of you are here?” he asked. She tried to smile but her smile was empty. She had been bled of all emotion. After an instant thought session, she sadly whispered “about twenty.” She shrugged off the man’s arm and walked back through the glass door. “What does he look like?” the man uttered quickly before she closed the glass door. She looked at him for a bit and said, “stocky, short, black, and with facial marks.” The tinted glass door closed then went dark.
In the cover of darkness later that night, about twenty women were hurried off into a bus through a secret passage way by armed men. As what used to be their home disappeared behind them, one of the ladies remembered a gentleman had told her earlier that evening that “it would be different this time.” Well, not that time it seemed. “When will this end?” she thought silently.