From the Journals of Mac Harper: Out Rider Agent #11557
CIA Handler: Henry William Towler (U.S. Ambassador stationed in New York City)
The truth about my R&R 'exploits' in Taiwan-Entry III (Final)
Mere written words cannot describe the revulsion I felt when I came into the brothel houses, though most of them were more like huts. They stunk, it was dirty in every sense and the heat was unbearable. You had to be a real psycho to put up with these conditions willingly, as their many customers do. At first the owner tried to sweet talk me into starting off my carnal evening with some of the lovely women of the house. I think he took too much stock in the word 'lovely' because they were anything but. I don't mean to sound cruel or stuck-up about a lady's looks, but these women were pathetic underneath the white powders and heavy makeup. I knew what lurked beneath. Blackened teeth, halitosis, bumps, bruises, and mysterious skin ailments. And lest we forget, they were possibly swarming with diseases on the inside.
The first few houses were clean, in the sense that there was no sign of Katie anywhere. I checked high and low, but refrained from revealing my identity in case the madams called one another to warn of my coming.
As I made my way through the slums, it was hard to look at the people in their conditions and not feel sorry. All many of them knew was poverty, and heartache was ingrained in every face. I can still feel their accusing eyes on me. "Here comes another rich white man to abuse our children." I hated that feeling. I wanted to run through the streets and apologize to each and every one of them for the failures of my race and country.
The last brothel home was larger and more 'luxuriously' furnished than the rest. By the time I made it there, I was antsy. This had to be the hideout. Its location made me suspicious, being in the poorest section of the slum. I was taken to a very hidden back room with shoddily painted Pepto-Bismol pink walls. In the left corner lay a king size mattress propped up on a broken box spring. The stuffing of the bed was worn down to lumps with unidentifiable stains on top. Grimy, threadbare, red linens and lace draped over the bed. It churned my stomach and I was grateful to have not eaten a heavy meal beforehand. I was told to wait, and so I did for nearly ten minutes. The door slowly opened and a girl no older than eleven eventually crept inside to meet me. Her defeated gaze and battered, spindly body tore my heart. She shyly came to the edge of the bed and climbed up, waiting for my direction. I think she was truly taken with me. When I didn't respond she removed her shoes. I couldn't let her get any further.
Compulsively, I reached over and stroked her choppy black hair, shaking my head. She was then shocked to find that I could speak to her in her native tongue. I could see she was apprehensive because I didn't want her services. That wasn't gonna sit well with her owner. I handed her some money for her troubles and gave her my last sandwich and water. She ate it hungrily and gratefully. What saddened me was that I had to reassure her that my refusal wasn't personal. I pulled out the picture of Katie and knew I hit pay dirt when her face glowed with recognition. The little girl, I'll call her Mei, was apparently the eyes and ears of the place. She had seen a group of rough men bring in a little white girl two days earlier and she had never seen the little girl leave. Mei also knew of a secret room beneath a cherry blossom painting and even told me the panel to push to get into it. The brothel owners had used Mei to bring Katie her meals and keep her clean.
It wasn't easy to get into that hideaway under the scrutiny of the others. When I had to leave Mei, she cried, and thanked me for my kindness. She gave me a long hug and a modest little weave pattern of the beach that she created. I didn't want to take something she worked so hard on, but she said when she wanted to be reminded of the ocean, all she had to do was think of my eyes. That touched me profoundly. I still display her token in my apartment. My inquisitive friends can always expect a tale to go with all of my keepsakes.
My biggest dilemmas were how I would free Katie, and then get her out undetected. I couldn't linger in the hallway too long, so I just pushed the panel and quickly jumped inside when the wall slid open. It was very dark in the cramped space, with a small lamp hanging off a broken nightstand and casting looming shadows. The air was damp and smelled foul. I heard rustling on the bed and Katie's soft whimpers. I pulled out my flashlight and shone it in her direction. She gazed pitifully at me with bloodshot green eyes and she jostled her binds fearfully. She must have sensed I was there to help. I was immediately aghast; No words had to be spoken…the bastards had gotten to her. These are the chances we take in my line of work, we win some, and we lose some. I felt wretched, and though she was alive, I felt I had lost her.
Katie was handcuffed to the rusted bedpost with her arms over her head and clothed in a thin white nightdress. She was barefoot and I noted scratches and bruises on her limbs. I hurried over to her and picked the handcuffs, then used my blade to cute the ropes around her ankles. She could barely move her arms from stiffness so I helped her lower them. She shuddered under my touch, and kept drawing away. Her mouth drooped miserably when I removed the gag. I spoke to her soothingly, telling her who I was and that I was there to rescue her. I didn't like her unusual silence. She had suffered a great trauma and was almost in a state of shock. I peered around the room for other exits, but it was completely enclosed. The only way out was the way I came in. Talk about a potential fire hazard.
I knew it was time to enforce my authority to these monsters. I calmly wrapped Katie in a blanket and carried her through the passage. The other members of the house looked at us bewildered and I saw the owners freeze up. They motioned to use the phone, but I whipped out my gun,with a little difficulty, after adjusting Katie in my arms. I shouted at them to put their hands up and everyone did just so. I told them I was leaving with the hostage and nobody should try and stop me. That exact moment was when the carnage began.
I have no clue where it came from, but I imagined that somehow the White Tigers were alerted of my investigation. I'm gonna have to work on my covers! I'm so used to being me, I guess I just shine through all the facades. I think I overdid my Edward Bauer complaints in the other brothel. He had put up such a stink that he was only bound to find the next one and make more noise. They surely alerted them of his coming. My instincts were quicker than the firebomb and I shouted for everyone to duck. Still clutching Katie, I frantically dove behind the front desk and kept my body on top of her. Everyone screamed as the flames immediately engulfed the house. There was ominous cracking above me and I knew that the roof would soon cave in. My only chance to escape was the window behind the desk.
I yanked the phone chord and caught the phone in my hands. I threw it at the window and it shattered. Leaving Katie, I stood up and made a big enough escape path. Katie was like jell-o in my hands, so I had to shake her to her senses. She finally realized the danger and wailed uncontrollably. I couldn't stop to comfort her and I picked her up, shoving her through the opening. I hollered at her to stay down, but to get as far away as possible from the fires.
I will never forget the things I saw that day, young women and children in flames running for their lives and trying to smother their burning bodies in filthy puddles of water and sewage. It struck me after I got Katie to safety that little Mei was still trapped somewhere inside. I couldn't leave her to die. I remember literally jumping through the blaze and running to the back room where I last left her. The smoke blinded me and I had to chuck myself on the floor and crawl. I kept calling for her, and finally heard her gasping and choking inside. Her soft cries of my name, well, she called me Macki, enforced my decision to keep plunging ahead.
The knob was burning hot; I tore off a piece of my shirt and twisted it anyway, pushing heavily against the door. When I stumbled within, Mei had already succumbed to the smoke. There was no chance to go back the way I came, the fire had engulfed everything and was roaring down the hall toward us. There was a steel barred window in her room. I grasped the rungs and pulled and tugged with all my might. They finally loosened and I yanked off the entire grating, smashing the window with it. I shoved Mei out and just as the flames burst through the doorway. I slithered through the window, cutting myself deeply in the process.
I remember when I came to Dani's studio for the first time and she made me remove my shirt to check for scars. That was the one she worried most about, the scar that ran from my upper chest toward my back. Believe me, in my modeling cover, the other raw hot dogs and plucked chickens pick on me for not waxing. But buddy, when you got scars to cover up, having that body hair helps a lot. Besides, I'd rather run through a live minefield than get waxed. Nobody is gonna take away my manhood like that! Besides the pain is unbearable, more power to you women!
It was pandemonium outside, and their fire brigades were slow in coming. The mobsters were nowhere in sight…just as I figured. I feared the worst, realizing that I compromised Katie's life for Mei's. However, when I ran around to where I left her, I found Katie. She was huddled beneath a rusted rooftop that had blown off a neighboring house in the explosion. I lowered Mei to the grass and quickly administered mouth to mouth. She was unresponsive until the fourth try when she gasped for life and cried in my arms. I hugged her and promised she would be safe. It was time to flee the scene, so I grabbed both girls and ran to my car, driving the heck out of there as fast as I could to Frank's hotel.
I'll fast forward a bit, to about three days after the mission. This is when the R&R rumors were born. Henry had called to congratulate me and announce that I was officially part of the Outrider team. WOOT! My true 'exploit' was kept confidential, even to my fellow Outriders. It was really all Henry's fault. He made it seem like a Mickey Mouse case that involved the upper crust of Taiwan and their multi-million dollar escort services. I could have literally knocked him down for that one, but it kept the other Ambassadors and diplomats out of his coiffed hair. CST was, and always will be an unmentionable topic for many, and any attempts to thwart it would be scorned and I could have faced severe penalties. I guess I should thank Henry for saving my buns once again. You'll understand why when you read the rest of this.
Frank was able to return Mei to her family and even provided them some compensation money. They were extremely grateful. Mei had been one of the unfortunate children kidnapped. To this day, Mei has been my pen pal and she has blossomed into a pretty and healthy teenager. She desires to work in some kind of law enforcement to help bring justice for her country. I couldn't be more proud.
As thankful as I was that Katie was safely at home, something ate at me heavily. Three days after the rescue, she was still unresponsive to her family, choosing to sit in her room all day and lay in bed, gazing blankly at the walls. Frank called her robotic, and there was nothing the therapist could do for her. She barely slept or ate. My empathy was riled and I decided to try and help before I went home. I came to her armed with photos of the White Tigers and news clippings.
I had to reach her deepest fears. These men were powerful and strong, they knew what they wanted from her and they got it. She agreed to that much, even showing minor symptoms of the Stockholm syndrome. She made lame rationalizations that they fed her, they didn't want to hurt her, and were only trying to make money to help their people. I gave her a little lesson in CST, showing her the images of the poor, victimized children that were forced into that way of life. Katie was stronger than that, she made it out alive and I convinced her that she never wanted to feel so vulnerable again. My tactics worked and she completely incriminated all of them. Like a gushing waterfall, Katie cried openly for a long time in my embrace, sobbing over and over how they hurt her so bad. I knew at that moment that I wasn't getting on the flight Henry booked for me that night.
I became Mac: the one-man army when I stormed their hideout, catching them unawares during a heated game of Mahjong. Take a lesson from the Ancient Persians, and make your siege when all guards are down…that's how Babylon fell in one night! I felt like a superhero, beating some of them to pulps and dodging rapid gunfire with my gymnastic maneuvers–and a heavy bullet proof vest. The place literally went up in smoke. I wasn't going to play fair, so I tossed a few hand grenades. As I hoped, it put an end to the whole mess, but also a few lives. When I look back, I realize how hasty and foolish I behaved. The case was over, but like always, I had to take it to the next level. I wasn't content with just saving Katie and Mei's lives. I was doing it for every exploited child in the world. The entire criminal element known as the White Tigers had to go down.
CST has since become my hot topic, and I will drive anyone into the ground if they even joke about it. It's really a twisted world when you see these seemingly 'nice' people getting their jollies off of an adult and child liaison. I have very little tolerance for any of it, in all its forms. I know that Henry is very hesitant to assign these sort of cases to me, but he also knows I will get the job done fast and furious as needed.
Well, this is the end of my first, sorta classified journal entry. I won't ask if you enjoyed reading this or anything like that. It's only a mish-mash of my personal thoughts and musings on the various missions I'm assigned. With all the madness that goes on in my cover as a male model, be rest assured, there will be more of these to come.