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I proudly present chapter

4.04. An immoral proposal

[The parents visit the youth home BSWD.]

Excerpt:

….
Rica Restito, Sam’s mother and her eldest daughter Silvia, she is married here in Tugalm City, and Lang, the mother of the brothers Jan and Dan (Her real name is Lydia Barcella.) want to meet Michael in front of the BSWD premises to visit the social workers and of course their sons. Rica, Silvia and Lang are still waiting for Michael. The three women cooked and fried fish. They also bring rice, fruit, sweets and soft drinks for the boys. For Tommy they have a Tupperware with crispy fried fish, a box with rice and a small box with spicy soy sauce. Michael Kabaltos, he is Phil’s father, and will also represent little Aboy as he is Aboy’s uncle, arrives at the BSWD at noon. He jumps out of the Motorola and flicks away the cigarette butt. The greeting with the women is short and superficial.

“Well, let’s see what the BSWD wants from us,” says Michael mockingly.

The women are visibly nervous, but look rested and recovered. Silvia and Lang are slightly made up. Silvia even corrected her eyebrows.

He points to the bags: “Very good, you have the food for the children with you.”

Silvia replies quickly: “We also cooked for Tommy.”

Rica and Lang nod satisfied.

“You went to see Tommy this morning? How is he?” asks Lang worried.

“He’s fine. I cleaned the cell,” replies Michael proudly and continues: “Tommy had an attorney this morning. I’ve already forgotten the name. The policewomen must have sent that man. Tommy is not enthusiastic, and he certainly won’t hire him. Franco and Attorney De Baron are with Tommy now.”

The group makes their way to the chain-link fence gate. The women talk about attorneys.

“It’s good that Tommy didn’t take this attorney. He’s recommended by the police! What’s that supposed to be?” says Lang indignantly.

….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 4.03. online • Oily attorney •

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4.03. Oily attorney

[The next attorney is coming.]

Excerpt:

….
In Officer Sarang’s office Franco and a slightly overweight man are standing at the seating area and have a lively but quiet conversation. The gentleman wears trousers made of fine thread with creases and a yellow polo shirt. His hair is combed back smooth and has a shine from oil or hair wax. The full face is adorned with a delicate Errol Flynn mustache. He wears blue-tinted sunglasses with a thin gold frame, gold chains and a massive signet ring on his right hand. All in all, he looks like a true American mafia boss from old US films.

Franco greets me warmly and introduces the gentleman as Attorney De Baron. As with Attorney Pizarro, De Baron’s belt also has a large bunch of car keys.

Status symbols!

Short hand shaking and we take the seats.

“So you are Mr. Heger, German. I saw the TV report. Stupid thing, Mr. Heger, very stupid thing.”

A young policeman brings some sheets that the attorney studies immediately.

“Tommy, how are you, did you sleep well?” asks Franco concerned.
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 4.02. online • Highblood •

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4.02. Highblood

Excerpt:

….
Filipinos say when they are upset or angry: “Highblood.” I’m not sure what causes more highblood to me: the arrogant nature of the attorney or what he said?

I’m thinking about what the attorney just told. There are uncertainties and doubts: What did the attorney talk about and — damn — what if there is even a little truth in it?

Human trafficking, life imprisonment. “Is it human trafficking when I stay at the hotel with children? That was to protect them,” I whisper bitterly and shake my head. “I just don’t want to be on the streets of the Philippines at night with five kids!”

Child abuse, 12 to 15 years imprisonment. Again I whisper: “My God, they just romped naked on the beds and Aboy was naked in the bathroom. They are children! They wanted to have fun and were just very happily. They don’t know such huge, soft, king-size beds. I have also stopped the romp and the other play.”

The parents should start criminal proceedings against me, this guy said. “Is he crazy? Never!” I want to shout this loud out, but say it barely audibly and add: “Filing a case against me? They would never do that! They are long-time friends and very good acquaintances of mine. They will never file a case and there is no reason to do so! No reasons at all!”

Nonsense, that’s the business of fear, I finish my dark thoughts. My blood pressure drops and the pulse no longer beats as quickly. I hang limp like a teenager in the cheap, shabby plastic chair. The young escort officer clears his throat. I jump up, and the chair slides backwards loudly: “Sorry!”

The officer is probably a little surprised at me, at least his face is astonished or questioning: “Sir, I’ll bring you back to the cells.”
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 4.01. online • What? •

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4.01. What was that?

Remark

Entire chapter for my lovely readers.
Laughing and howling are very close here.

4.01. What was that?

The officer and I are just passing the barrier when the gatekeeper speaks to me: “Your visitor is Mr. Kabaltos?”

Startled, I answer quickly: “That’s correct, sir! But Mr. Kabaltos is allowed to stay at the cell yard. I’ll be back quickly too.”

“No, no,” the gatekeeper answers, “it’s his cell phone that he left here. It is buzzing very often.”

The gatekeeper and the officer exchange a few words, and tell me to wait because the officer is already going to Michael to take him to the gate.

Michael checks his cell phone. Meanwhile, we go to Officer Sarang’s office. The escort officer sits down at Sarang’s desk. Behind Officer Pangutana’s monitor sits a handsome, sporty and elegant dressed man. He will be around 40 years old. “Mr. Heger, nice to meet you. I heard about this extremely embarrassing story. May I introduce myself? Pizarro, Attorney Pizarro.”

We shake hands powerfully, although this is not common in the Philippines. The attorney’s English seems to be good. Probably he was abroad for a couple of years? I believe.

Attorney Pizarro sits down behind the monitor again and uses the computer keyboard. I sit at the corner of the desk across from him, but I can’t see the screen and reply: “Yes, of course, an embarrassing story. You could say it that way.”

“You are close to the children and their parents, Mr. Heger?”

“Yes, of course, sir. I’ve known the boys since they were born and the parents for a long time.”

“Well, that’s very good. You don’t have an attorney yet?”

“No sir, you are the first attorney I speak to.”

He is reading a thin police file.

“Is that my file?” I ask curiously.

Attorney is puzzled by my question: “Yes, a copy of it, Ma’am Tolisan was so kind.”

I realize this is the attorney the policewomen are recommending. Whether an attorney who is recommended by the police in secret — because the police are not allowed to recommend attorneys — is really the right one? I get cautious.

The attorney continues as he studies the file: “Well, the kids don’t say anything about abuse. There are also no offensive photos. You opened the cottage door voluntarily, Mr. Heger. The children were sleeping and no one was naked when the rescue operation took place. But the boys romped naked on the beds in the hotel beforehand. Oops, strange,” he says while turning the page,” a page is missing. It is probably not meant for me.”

The attorney grins oily and turns to the computer. He taps the Enter key briefly and loudly: “Republic Act 9208, human trafficking, life imprisonment!”

At first I think I misheard. It echoes in my head: “Life imprisonment?” Then I’m thinking he’s kidding me. What he said bounces off me because I don’t want to hear that.

The attorney goes one better. He frantically types on the keyboard and pops the Enter key loudly again: “Republic Act 7610, Child Abuse, 12 to 15 years imprisonment.”

I get hot, my pulse and my blood pressure goes up. My blood sugar, however, is apparently dropping because I am starting to shiver. Now I feel miserable. Confused, I shake my head, wipe the sweat from my forehead with my little cloth and croak with a dry throat: “But, but, the children, they are not testifying against me and the parents are on my side and good friends.”

My mind spins like a merry-go-round and I declare Attorney Pizarro crazy. It flashes through me: The business of fear! Yes, he wants to scare me in order to win me over as his client! Immediately I pass my judgment on Attorney Pizarro: No, not like that, not with him! Not that way!

Pizarro is not finished with his incredible statements: “All parents are your friends? In that situation it would be better if the parents file a criminal complaint against you!”

I think I have misheard again. That’s outrageous, and that takes the biscuit! Now I am totally confused and speak hoarsely: “Never!” My dry throat scratches, I cough, clear my throat several times and hardly bring the words over my lips: “Why should the parents do that?”

The attorney works the keyboard, answers casually and appears arrogant: “Because it’s better.”

For me the conversation is over. I cross my arms demonstratively on my chest and move the chair a little backwards. The plastic chair creaks pathetically on the concrete floor. Like a trumpeter I make big cheeks and let out the air loudly.

Attorney Pizarro probably understands my body language. How and what he asks seems like sarcasm to me: “Are you okay, Mr. Heger?”

I’m sweating on my forehead again. I wipe it away with hectic movements and be silent because I’m speechless.

The attorney suddenly holds a business card in his hand. It’s the size and thickness of a credit card, is made of plastic and has a high-gloss surface. When I turn the card, the font and logo appear three-dimensional. Lost in thought I let the high-tech business card circle in my fingers and look sadly at it from all sides. I would love to jump up straight away, run out of the office and be with nice Michael. Though I’ve never smoked in my life, my body screams for nicotine while I think about Michael. Or is my body crying out for sugar? For chocolate? I just don’t know what’s going on with that stupid body. But I still feel miserable and the slight tremor does not subside.

Again Attorney Pizarro seems to be able to read my mind: “You need legal assistance, Sir Heger.”

Oh, suddenly he’s calling me “Sir.” I’m angry.

Attorney Pizarro is standing now behind the desk. Contrary to his elegant appearance, a bunch of keys hangs and jingles on the carabiner on his belt. The voluminous Toyota car keys are striking. They certainly belong to a fat SUV.

“Call me or let the policewomen know and don’t wait that long. My phone number is on the card.”

We shake hands again. This time his hand is dominant and powerful. He waves my hand like a handkerchief in the air. The attorney leaves the room with great strides. Exhausted, I sink into the stupid, loudly creaking plastic chair, am confused and annoyed at the same time and have only one thought: What was that?

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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 4.00. online • Suffer •

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4.00. New day – old suffering

Excerpt:

….

That was the night: I badly slept, dreamed stupid, often woke up and urinated several times in a mineral water bottle.

I have a little headache. No choice, I open my eyes. The carpet of cobwebs with the innumerable sucked-out insects hangs over me. That’s how I feel right now, sucked. A new day starts outside the cell. My watch shows 5:43 a.m. I put the neckline of my t-shirt over my nose. It smells bad. The rest of the water in the bottle is lukewarm. Still, it helps wash down the leaden taste and furry feeling in my mouth.

Now I’m sitting on the edge of the rickety, dirty bunk bed. The small bottle of ethyl alcohol is on the floor next to the bed. I inject a little alcohol into my hand and rub it on my face and scalp. The scent of alcohol smells pleasant and invigorates my senses. A second empty plastic bottle has to be sacrificed for my morning toilet. The rats didn’t come back, but I also didn’t miss them. That unbelievable pile of rubbish on the wall opposite. I shake my head in disgust and whisper: “Thomas, where did you get into? This is a real nightmare. Today is Tuesday, the third day of detention. Something has to be done. Finally do something! There is only one solution: I have to get out of here! It cannot be, that I’m here!”

I go through my hair and have to admit: “All my hopes are now with the lawyers. They’re called Attorneys here. But maybe the police will finally understand that I’m innocent!”
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.21. online • Phone call •

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3.21. A short phone call

Excerpt:

….
Of course, my mother doesn’t call with Skype. Her cell phone number appears on my display: “Mom, don’t call my Philippine number with your cell phone. This is too expensive!”

My mother interrupts me: “Wait and listen, Tommy, I’m in the car right now. Wait, there’s something, a parking space, wait!”

Incredible, I stare at the phone and wait.

A few minutes later I first hear the sound of the blinker, then my mother curses, then she pulls the hand brake, then I hear the sound of a lighter, her inhalation of a cigarette and finally her worried voice: “Well, I’m back, Tommy.”

My eyes are closed. I’m mentally in nowhere. I have both elbows on the thighs. My right hand supports my forehead. The left hand pushes the Samsung on my ear. Good that it is waterproof, because between the ear and cell phone are already pearls of sweat.

Surprised, I ask: “Yes, I’m here, have you achieved something?”

“Yes, listen to me, my son. Sabine informed the German embassy in Manila. She wrote an email. Calling was not possible because she waited too long and the call was very expensive. I had just spoken to Sabine. She doesn’t have any feedback on her email yet. Write her the exact name of the city and police station you are in and what you are accused of.”
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.20. online

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3.20. New suffering

Excerpt:

….
It’s 4:45 p.m. My visitors left about half an hour ago. I’m in the same situation as yesterday: standing at the cell door, looking onto the yard and pressing my forehead against two bars on the door. In the late afternoon the air stands still. It is scorching hot, and the cell resembles a hot oven. My impatience increases, accompanied by a steadily increasing uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Did the officers forget me? Did they forget that the policewomen promised me to call? I feel bad. There is no one here to talk about my worries.

This silly helplessness and dependence on other persons. The knowledge of being curtailed in personal decisions and rights. No longer being one’s own master. Pinned down in this unworthy dungeon, in this godforsaken place. A place where nobody really wants to be. And another bad feeling is clutching me: Loneliness! I am alone in this hole. I miss my friends and last but not least my family. Talking, joking, laughing, taking spontaneous actions together. Simply surf the Internet, write emails, Skype, WhatsApp. This is no longer possible. Only with a request and the goodwill of the police. My impatience turns into anger. I just gently shake the lattice door. It rattles a little. From the other cells I hear the usual low murmuring and snoring, but no other reactions.
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.19. online

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3.19. Horror ride

Excerpt:

Marielou and Jonathan have a very dangerous experience with the German Frank.
….
Marielou clings to Frank’s hips and she presses her right cheek tightly against Frank’s back. He is leaning forward and steering the rattling decrepit motorcycle. She smells the cold smoke of the chain smoker on Frank’s denim vest. Her long hair is blowing wildly in the wind, and she is annoyed not to have tied her hair in a braid before setting off. Jonathan, who is sitting behind Marielou, holds with his right hand on to the bottom of the empty propane cylinder. With his left hand he is constantly busy wiping Marielou’s hair from his eyes and face. The propane gas cylinder that Frank has tied with ropes behind Jonathan on the wobbly frame presses Jonathan painfully in the back. Now, to make matters worse, he gets cigarette smoke from Frank’s “More” in his left eye. The engine roars, the gearbox cracks, the frame and shock absorbers of the Yamaha STX groan. They are shaken vigorously on the first two unpaved kilometers out of the village. The most important part of the motorcycle is the horn, which Frank operates continuously. Children, dogs, cats and chickens jump aside in fear. Nevertheless, Marielou and Jonathan are pushed back on the worn, smooth synthetic leather seat when accelerating and then pushed forward again when braking. And there are many obstacles like pedestrians, puddles, potholes and branches. Frank has no problems. He holds on to the wide handlebars. Jonathan has Marielou before him, a graceful young woman with a pleasantly fragrant body.

On the so-called highway — the road has only two lanes and unpaved hard shoulders — Frank accelerates so much the engine can. The muffler has holes like a kitchen strainer and the noise is deafening. Now they crawling behind a completely overloaded wooden truck for about three minutes. The trunks are at least one and a half to two meters thick.

Frank curses, loses patience and shifts down a gear. The gearbox cracks, the 125 cubic centimeter engine howls. There is blue smoke from the exhaust and the rust holes. Frank turns the gas to the stop, and the motorcycle is already beside the truck. They are just at the height of the trailer hitch of the articulated lorry when the huge front of a yellow intercity bus suddenly appears in front of the motorcycle riders. Marielou sees the lights up of the headlights and hears the bus horn. Frank yells “Shit!” Marielou already recognizes the white in the wide-open eyes of the panicked bus driver and the passengers in the first rows of seats. Marielou sends a quick prayer to heaven, Jonathan hysterically yells something vague behind her. The motorcycle engine howls again, the tires of the bus and the semi-trailer are smoking blue from braking and throwing up a lot of dust. It smells like burnt rubber and Marielou closes her eyes: “I’m too young to die. Lord help me!” One swerves to the right, and they drive in front of the semi-trailer. The yellow bus races past them on their left, honking loudly. The wind from the huge bus grabs the old machine with the three people fighting for their lives and shakes them wildly. Frank is busy not to lose control.
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.18. online

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3.18. Goodbye my friends

Excerpt:

The parents visit the accused Tommy [Mr. Heger]
….
The parents agree that Rica and Lang cook the food for the children tomorrow. I give 1,000 Piso for this.

Like time, money goes by quickly.

Ernesto looks at his worn wristwatch and demonstratively puts on his faded blue cap: “Jesus, after three o’clock already. We really have to go!”

Matthew jumps up: “Yes, I have to visit my client today. Otherwise, the job will be gone tomorrow.”

He stands in front of me and holds his big hand to me to say goodbye. He is a strong guy with big muscles and passed the very dark skin color on to his children Jan and Dan.

Sam’s father Ernesto is a wiry, sinewy man who was a fisherman all his life. The sea and nature are its territory. He also extends a friendly hand to me when we say goodbye. I see this as a very positive gesture. So far, he and his wife were very critical of the story and to me. More critical than the other parents. At least I think so.

Ernesto clears his throat: “Tommy, I wish you the best. Don’t worry about the children. We’ll take care. One of my cousins works at the BSWD in Sendong City on the top floor. Let Attorney Padernesto advise you.”

“Of course, Ernesto, and thanks for your help.”

I look into the faces of my friends: “Thanks for your help.”

Ernesto explains: “I’ll meet Attorney Padernesto tomorrow. He’ll contact you. I’ll give him your phone number.”

Franco sits behind Ernesto. At the name “Padernesto” he winces and rolls his eyes, unnoticed by the others. I see it.

Franco’s behavior seems excessive and inappropriate.

Isn’t it best if several attorneys advise me? I wonder, but don’t want to waste any further thoughts on it now.

Silas and Mikel-Loy say goodbye with sad faces. For them the adventure could be continue. Kagawad and Romolo say goodbye warmly, as good friends do. Everyone wishes me luck. Before the group leaves, Franco says his obligatory prayer.

After the “Amen” only Michael and Franco stay. I look sadly after the group and again painfully aware of my precarious situation: pinned down to this godforsaken place.

Michael’s wife Vicente turns around: “Be strong, Tommy, and don’t forget to pray!”

Then, after completing the visitor formalities at the barrier, the group finally leaves the site.

Michael offers me one more Marlboro. This time I refuse. The taste of cold smoke in the mouth and throat is now very unpleasant.

I put two empty water bottles aside for the night as there is no toilet. Then there are two full liter bottles of mineral water. One for drinking and one for cleaning my hands. Franco and Kagawad also bought a 150ml bottle of alcohol. The label reveals, “70% solution.” The alcohol smells refreshingly like what hairdressers use.
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.17. online

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Journey into Disaster

I proudly present entire chapter

3.17. Marielou and the German

Marielou goes quickly and purposefully through a maze of narrow streets and small squares. It consists of crooked bare walls and simple huts made of damp bamboo cane. The walls and roofs of many huts are made of thin braided leaves of the nipa palms. Behind the thin walls, Marielou hears women, men, children, babies, music, chickens and dogs when she scurry past. She hurries past pig and chicken pens and passes small yards with one or two palm trees. Dripping and often holey laundry hanging there. She passes garbage dumps. Garbage is actually everywhere. Finally, she steps out of the labyrinth and enters the dusty and hot-shimmering village place with the old Korean building, the waiting seat and the worn basketball net.

On the ramp in the shadow of the old Korean building, which used to be a match factory, Marielou meets her friends Jonathan Restito, an older brother of Sam Restito, Editho and Fernando. They are all at the same age as Marielou and have known each other since they were born. The boys, bored, throw pebbles on the dry ground. When they hit, the stones create clouds of dust that look like small explosions and they are childishly happy about them.

Jonathan jumps up: “Marielou, Lou, did you hear? Tommy was arrested, my brother Sam and four other boys are in the BSWD!”

“Yes, of course I’ve heard about, everyone is talking about it. Two of Ning’s cousins and two of my cousins are among them,” replies Marielou, breathless and slightly annoyed.

“And our Sam,” moans Jonathan and lets the remaining pebbles fall behind his back.

Marielou shakes her head. With worry lines on her pretty forehead, she replies in frustration: “Damn it, I can’t believe it! Tommy arrested, why?”

The tall, spindly Editho replies quickly: “We don’t know either, Lou. We went fishing and missed the TV report.”

Fernando, who, despite his 18 years of age, still has the broken voice of a 15-year-old, adds sadly: “But we barely caught anything. Just enough for breakfast. Nothing to sell. We’re broke.”

“As always,” notes Marielou. “Don’t worry, I’m broke too. Not even one Centavo in my pocket.” She becomes restless: “Do you know whether Frank is in his house?”

“Nope, Lou,” replies Jonathan.

Marielou gets desperate. She gesticulates vigorously while she speaks: “Anyway, I’m going there. Frank is also German. Maybe he knows what to do. We have to do something. We must help Tommy. I can’t just sit around idly, while Tommy is stewing in a cell.”

Jonathan rubs his dusty hands on his dirty shorts. Neither hands nor pants get any better. He answers: “I’ll come with you. Tommy has to get out of jail!”

Editho and Fernando also want to go with Marielou, but she refuses: “Forget it. Frank is strange, he won’t let more than two into his house anyway. You know that.”

-★-

Now the two teenagers are sitting upstairs on the covered veranda in the German’s house and look out over a short stretch of beach, the estuary, mangroves and the open sea. When Tommy lives in the house, Marielou, Jonathan and many of their friends often sit here. Neither of them has such an intimate friendship with the grouchy Frank as they do with Tommy. Marielou notes that Frank is the opposite of Tommy in every way: the strongly built Tommy and as opposed to the almost two meters long, smart Frank. So slender, that it looks sickly. Tommy’s always naughty grinning healthy face with full cheeks. Frank, however, with deep, dark rings under the eyes, as if he constantly has not enough sleep and then these always hanging corner of his mouth. Tommy is kindhearted. Frank doesn’t seem to care about other people and their worries. The biggest difference, Marielou sees again and again, are the mentalities of the two Germans. Tommy likes to laugh, crack jokes all the time, is interested in anything and everything. Frank seems always in a bad mood and wants to have as little to do with the villagers as possible. This is also shown by the three-meter-high fence that surrounds the small property, Marielou believes.

Frank, in his mid-forties, comes up the stairs smoking and sits down with the insecure teenagers. Now they sip indefinable bitter iced tea. Frank lights the second cigarette from the cheap Philippine brand “More.”

Marielou isn’t sure whether Frank is in a bad mood again, because he scowls at her and Jonathan and says: “Tommy, the idiot. He’s traveling to Tugalm City with five monkeys. Why doesn’t he come back the same day?”

“We don’t know either, Frank,” Marielou replies. She is contrite.

“Did you see the news, Frank?” asks Jonathan kindly.

“I don’t have a telly. It’s just garbage in there. I got the story from my neighbors earlier. There is already a lot of gossip about the dumb story.”

Frank blows cigarette smoke into the blue sky, pulls up his nose and spits from the balcony. Marielou turns away in disgust. She doesn’t really know how to react to Frank’s unkind behavior towards them and decides to just ignore it: “Do you have any ideas how we can help Tommy?”

Now the German throws his cigarette over the balcony railing and replies harshly: “Not at all! It doesn’t matter whether something happened in the hotel or not. They will really blow this story up and pull Tommy into court! Hello, Marielou! He’s a foreigner! Believe me, everyone wants to start earning money with it immediately. It’ll take at least seven years!” Frank laughs maliciously.

Marielou is unsure again. Is he joking or is he serious about his bad talk? She stutters: “But isn’t Tommy your friend, Frank?”

“Marielou, what should we do now? With five monkeys in the hotel? How stupid is that? No, he has to help himself. What happens now is clear. The police and the media will show up here soon. Asking stupid questions: um, okay, Heger lived here too. In this house — in my house! Goodbye loneliness and paradise. The fucking hell will break loose. But then I’ll be gone. Thank God, I have another house in the mountains.

Marielou and Jonathan are horrified. They don’t know how to answer and, out of desperation, they are drinking the bitter ice-tea. Marielou shouts in panic: “But we have to do something! Tommy gives money for my education and for Jonathan too.”

Jonathan nods barely noticeable and looks like he’s about to howl.

Frank’s facial features relax a little: “I know that! You can go to Attorney Padernesto. He certainly knows advice. What Tommy needs is money, a lot of money, to get out of the story.” The German leans forward, lights another More, inhales, grins crookedly: “A really lot of money!”

Marielou is persistent: “What’s about the embassy? They can not help? Gives any advices?”

“The police will inform the embassy. Then we’ll see if they can do anything,” Frank replies disinterestedly and adds: “Go to Padernesto! As far as I’ve heard he’s the best attorney in town. I’ll go with my motorcycle to Sendong City. I can take you with me and bring you there. In 30 minutes at the waiting seat?”

Marielou and Jonathan are relieved, the conversation is over.

“Okay,” sighs Marielou, “in 30 minutes at the waiting seat.”
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.16. online

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Journey into Disaster

I proudly present chapter

3.16. Naked in the hotel. Tommy’s story

Excerpt:

The parents visit the accused Tommy [Mr. Heger]
….
The mothers give me a short hug. Lang and Rica sob, Vicente weeps softly. The women’s faces are tearful, and I look into reddened eyes. The men greet me with a loose handshake without looking in the eyes. It’s such a custom.

Now the parents are sitting on upturned Coke crates or on the few dingy plastic chairs. The teenagers Silas and Mikel-Loy squat comfortably on the floor, in the typical Asian posture: their knees at their chest and their upper body bent slightly forward. This way keeps the balance optimally. They stare, point and whisper with wide eyes about the condition and the trash in my cell.

Franco and Kagawad Jacob Castro are still not back from running errands. I’m starting to worry. After all, they carry my VISA card with them.

There is an embarrassed silence. The mothers sob a little and the exuberant joy from the first meeting this morning is gone.

The policewomen have probably given the parents another hard time, is my interpretation of the change in the parents’ mood. With my right sandal, I paint a small figure eight on the dirty concrete floor. I’m insecure and nervously thinking: How can I get the conversation going? First of all, should I apologize? Answers come to my mind: But for what? Maybe for the stress that I caused the parents or for the isolation of the children in the children’s home of the BSWD?

I look around. In the faces of Romolo, Vicente and Michael — I think — I can see the joy at seeing me back and it seems there is a certain expectation of myself. Matthew and Ernesto have impenetrable expressions. Impossible to look behind the façade there. The women Lang and Rica have sadness and despair on their faces. Between cleaning and blowing their noses, they keep looking for eye contact with me.

Michael laboriously digs cigarettes and a lighter out of his worn jeans and grins broadly and offers me a Marlboro. Relieved and grateful, I accept, although my nicotine level must already be toxic. Michael, Matthew, his wife Lang and Romolo also set one on fire. Smoking creates community. The ice is broken. I blow the smoke into the blue, cloudless sky and try to sound casual: “This is all exhausting!” Michael nods vigorously so that his thick pigtail swirls around. Romolo and Matthew start grinning broadly. The women breathe more easily now, the sobbing stops. Only Ernesto still looks bitter. He opens the conversation with a deep voice: “Of course, we could say that, it’s exhausting.”
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.15. online

Chapter 3.15. online. • Excerpt and Preview • Access to the entire novel by password • The novel as book and ebook will be published soon.

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Journey into Disaster

I proudly present chapter

3.15. Naked in the hotel. Police — parents

Excerpt:

The parents under interrogation.
….

Office of the policewomen

With a petrified expression, Ma’am Papillio remains at her desk while the parents return to the office and quietly sit on the chairs. She keeps staring into the laptop. Ma’am Tolisan works in the chamber, takes brief notice of the parents and types on the computer keyboard. The parents sense that something is wrong. Maybe the policewomen are upset because the parents are five minutes late returning to the office.

Ma’am Papillio clears her throat, kneads her fine hands briefly and sits down with the parents. Ma’am Tolisan also sits down.

“Well,” Ma’am Papillio begins the conversation, “we have new information about what was going on in the hotel room.”

Ma’am Tolisan lets the tension rise: “The BSWD has informed us! The children said something. Well, something happened in the cottage, an incident.”

Ma’am Papillio beat about the bush: “Yes, it could be put that way, incident.”

The parents get restless.

Ma’am Tolisan clears her throat and looks at Ma’am Papillio: “We already know that some children showered naked and that Heger was strangely present in the bathroom.”

Ma’am Papillio nods and tells: “But new is — and that is really not good — the children told the BSWD employees that they played and masturbated their genitals.”

“And your great friend Tommy watched, approved and not prevented!” adds Ma’am Tolisan triumphantly in a sharp voice and drummed the pencil loudly on the notepad.

The parents are shocked.
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.14. online

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I proudly present chapter

3.14. Until eighteen?

Excerpt:

The boys have a conversation.
….
The seven boys have had their afternoon nap and are now playing with the new basketball in the yard. Aboy, Phil and Dan, who have been interrogated by Sir Sala and Ma’am Solano, join them. Immediately the same teams form as before. The five from the village play against the three street boys who form a team with the two brothers. There is only one basketball net. It doesn’t take long for the five villagers to throw fifteen baskets and win. They are the well-rehearsed team.

Now the ten boys sit breathless and sweating on the concrete blocks.

“Sam, what did you tell the fat bitch when you were alone with her?” Aboy asks after they have caught their breath. Then he wipes the sweat from his face and forehead with the front of his t-shirt away.

Sam is surprised by the question and stutters: “What, what?”

Phil scowls at Sam: “When you were chatting with her alone, you told the fat aunt that we were playing with our dicks. While you were talking to her, she was always loud: Oh, my God; oh, my God!”

With a mischievous expression Dan repeats: “Oh, my God; oh, my God! You don’t know, Sam, but we were listening at the door.” He slowly nods to emphasize his words.

Aboy adds: “Because you said that, the two fat olds called us over and grilled us. But we also told them that you rubbed your dick under the covers.”

Dan laughs and repeats: “You rubbed.”

Even the leader of the street boy Dodung laughs: “Aha, so Sam is ready.” He spoils the word ‘Exercise’, laughs at Sam and says: “Sexercise every day, wank, wank?”

It seems Sam is uncomfortable with the conversation: “Well, I’ve checked my equipment. But Aboy, Phil and Dan called, who has the biggest? They had a competition.”

Dodung grins to Aboy, Dan and Phil: “And who has the biggest one?”

“Aboy,” laughs Dan.

“Sam,” calls Phil.

“He didn’t take part at all. Sam doesn’t count!” shouts Aboy indignantly.

Phil nods and grins mischievously.

“You are all stupid!” says Jan. He looks darkly: “Sam, you shouldn’t have told the fat bitch.”

Sam replies sadly: “I didn’t mean to.”

“But why did you tell it then?” asks Phil.

“Well,” sobs Sam, but remains silent.

“Well, what?” demands Jan. His little brother Dan babbles: “Well, what?”

“Oh no, I…” Sam stutters and sobs: “The fat aunt said I should tell the truth, if not, we’ll stay at BSWD until our eighteenth birthday.” Sam is close to tears.
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.13. online

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I proudly present chapter

3.13. Cute Ning

Entire chapter:

Learn about the Philippines!
….

3.13. Cute Ning

(Continuation of chapter 3.06.)

Marielou storms into the parents house of her best friend and immediately into Ning’s small bedroom: “Ning, Ning, you heard, Tommy has been arrested! Some boys are in the BSWD youth home! In Tugalm City. This is a disaster. Ning, that can not be true!”

“Yes, of course I heard that! The whole village is talking about it and two of my cousins are among them. Jan and Dan.”

“Oh, your uncle’s sons, your cousins?”

“Yes, from my father’s brother. My family Barcella.”

“Ning, I know your family! Somehow the two of us are related to.”

“Everyone in the village is related to each other, Marielou, you sweetheart.”

Marielou tries to get attention: “Ning, weren’t you listening? Tommy has been arrested!”

The extremely attractive Ning is lying on her stomach on the bed. Her legs are bent upwards and her delicate feet are circling in the air. She supports her narrow chin with her hands. The top she wears is cut very deep. The way Ning is lying there, the top shows more than it hides. Concentrated, she looks at the laptop. An inserted USB stick with SIM card flashes frantically. A table fan hums in the corner of the room and ensures tolerable temperatures.

“Ning, why are you lying in front of your laptop with your make-up on? Now finally listen to me!”

Ning won’t be bothered. On the screen, Marielou recognizes a pixelated but easily recognizable face of a man in his best years, with blond hair. Ning speaks in honey-sweet tones into the headset microphone: “Darling, a friend has just come. It must be important. Can we chat in an hour, please?”

Marielou is standing next to the bed. Apparently the fair-skinned man talks to Ning. She turns the computer: “Marielou, say hello to Kimmi. He’s from Finland.”

Marielou waves timidly.

Ning says into the headset’s microphone: “Oh, no Kimmi, we can’t do that. My parents are next door. But I think Marielou isn’t wearing a bra right now.

Marielou nudges Ning. She is now outside of the laptop’s camera, grimaces and lets the index finger of her right hand circle around her temple. The gesture for: he is crazy!

“Okay, Kimmi, in an hour? Good, okay, honey! Bye.”

Ning closes the laptop without warning. The USB stick no longer flashes.

“Very good,” groans Ning, “another guy with a lot of money. I’ll have him ready soon!”

“So far soon, for what?”

“Oh, Marielou, you are really behind the moon. Kim wants to send me money by Western Union.”

Marielou plays the offended: “Sorry to bother you.”

The super-slim Ning jumps from the bed: “Come on, honey, let’s get out on the veranda. Drink iced tea. My mum will make some for us.”

Ning discovered the Internet three years ago — when she was sixteen years old — and immediately recognized the many ways to make quick money with it. She became aware of her effect on men when she was 14. She surfs on different platforms every day. It used to be Frienster, now it’s more Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. She is also on some dating sites or chat forums, but also on Skype, Telegram, Viber or Whatsapp. The internet is full of lonely men’s hearts. Ning is the master of pulling the money out of these lustful guys with various stories and eroticism. She hopes that her prince will be among them at some point. Ning is sure of it. And then get away from the Philippines as quickly as possible.

-★-

Now the two beautiful Asian girls are sitting on the shady veranda and drinking cold iced tea. Since Ning has been up to mischief on the Internet, the poor fisherman’s hut has turned into a handsome little house. Ning’s father rarely goes fishing and Ning’s younger brother goes to private high school for his first year.

“Ning, do you have a load? I need a call,” says Marielou nervously and adds in a mock command tone (in the very special language of long-time friends): “Now let the cp grow over, honey. I know you have load!”

Ning, grinning, pushes the expensive touchscreen across the table. Marielou reads Tommy’s number from her cheap cell phone and types it into Ning’s Samsung. It rings, but Tommy doesn’t answer: “Of course they took the cell phone from Tommy,” whispers Marielou and bites her lower lip. The same game with Franco’s number. Franco is her cousin. The fathers are brothers of the Taslig family. One of the largest clans in the village and in and around Sendong City.

A crack in the loudspeaker, then a deafening noise. It gushes out of Marielou: “Franco, it’s Lou. Thanks God, you’re on the phone! Where are you? It’s so loud with you? How is Tommy? Has he already been dismissed? That’s a misunderstanding! Franco, what happened anyway? And what’s about the boys?” At the last few words, Marielou sobs and is close to shedding tears.

“I can’t understand anything! Who’s it? I’m in a Motorela.”

“It’s me, Marielou!”

“Ah, Lou, we’re running errands for Tommy. Call back in three minutes.”

Ning refills the glasses: “What’s the college doing?”

“We had a lot of actions and activities over the weekend. It was fun. Ning, you always have advice. How can we help Tommy?”

“I saw the news, Lou, in Kandayo’s house. Why is Tommy going to Tugalm City with the boys? And why isn’t he coming back the same day?”

Marielou is frustrated: “I’d like to know that too, Ning, but that doesn’t matter now. Tommy is arrested and the children in the BSWD.”

“You, Lou, doesn’t Tommy support you? Has he ever asked for something in return?”

Marielou looks questioningly and drinks a small sip of iced tea: “What do you mean, Ning?”

“Hello, Lou, take a look at yourself in the mirror! You are a cute sweet eighteen and you look just gorgeous!”

It dawns on Marielou. For a moment she is stunned by the question of her best friend. Nevertheless, she says resolutely: “No! Tommy never asked me! He’s not that kind of man.”

“You see, Lou. Maybe Tommy is into the cuties. I mean in the little cuties!”

Marielou is shocked by Ning’s frankness and what has been said. She chokes on the iced tea, coughs and stutters: “You’re stupid, Ning! Not all men are guys like yours from the Internet. These horny guys just want to see you naked in front of the camera and then lay you down on the first date.”

Ning is completely unmoved: “That’s right, sweetheart. But as long as they pay, that’s okay. And they pay well!”

Ning’s cell phone briefly plays a melody and falls silent.

“Oh, it’s Franco’s number.” Marielou calls back, but before she can say anything, Franco speaks breathlessly: “Don’t worry, Marielou. Tommy is okay. Children too. Attorney is already on his way to see Tommy. We’re shopping for him.”

“What can I do now, Franco?” Marielou is now shouting: “I want to help!”

“You can’t do anything now, just pray, Lou. Well, I, well, we have something to do. Kagawad is with me. Oh, Lou, maybe you can do something after all. Let Frank know. He’s in his house, I think. But I think he’ll already know about Tommy. Frank is also from Germany. Maybe the embassy can help? Try it, Lou. We’re in a hurry, because we want to go back to Tommy in a moment.”

Marielou looks at the cell phone perplexed, because suddenly the conversation is over.

“Franco said I should go to Frank. Are you coming with me, Ning?”

“I have an important date, Lou.”

“Well, honey,” sighs Marielou, “then I’ll go. Oh, Ning, please don’t tell such things about Tommy. Something like that can quickly become a sure-fire success.”

“Sorry Lou, that I talked so. Tommy is a good person, I know. You’re worried about your college and all that. I understand you.”

“I’ll see you later,” says Ning. The two girls hug briefly.

Now Marielou is on the way to Frank, the German. He owns the house at the mouth of the river. The house that Thomas Heger stayed in many times.

….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.12. online

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I proudly present chapter

3.12. Truth and dizziness

Excerpt:

The parent’s interrogation is almost over, but then the superintendent gets a call from the social worker who is supervising the children.
….
Ma’am Papillio goes to her desk. She’s curious who’s calling all the time. Her cell phone is buzzing in her hand, and she’s taking the call: “Ma’am Solano, good afternoon.”

Ma’am Solano seems excited, she takes a short breath and moans reproachfully: “Ma’am Papillio, good that I can finally reach you! I’ve tried for almost an hour!”

“I was very busy!” She apologizes half-heartedly and asks: “Well, now you’ve got me on the phone, what’s so important?”

Ma’am Solano replies breathlessly: “The boys played with their genitals in the hotel and this German watched and didn’t stop it! In addition, he was alone in the bathroom with little Aboy for a while. That’s what Phil, Aboy and Dan reported. I’ll write a short report, ma’am.”

Ma’am Papillio looks at the parents who are about to leave the office. She covers with her hand the cell phone and says: “Just a little moment. Stay please!”

Reluctantly, the parents sit down again. Michael and Matthew already have cigarettes in their hands.

The investigator speaks to the social worker: “Oh, that’s interesting news. Did the boys say why they didn’t tell us about ‘playing’?”

“The children answered this question, because nobody asked!” In order to dramatize the matter, Ma’am Solano swindles a little, she quickly adds: ”They said, they were ashamed to talk to the police about it.”

There is a short pause in thought. Ma’am Papillio turns away from the parents and holds her hand over her cell phone, and whispers: “Bad photos?”
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.11. online

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I proudly present chapter

3.11. My visitors

Excerpt:

….
I swallow the sugared bun with Coke: “I’m really glad to see you.”

My visitors also chew pieces of yeast cake. Kagawad and Franco are silent and reserved. It seems they are keeping a secret. Silas and Mikel-Loy are happy and excited.

Then Silas bursts out: “Tommy, imagine we are not allowed to visit the boys!”

Mikel-Loy can’t hold back the information either: “Uncle Mik-Mik, I mean Michael, Phil’s father, could still enter the BSWD. He brought the boys our food.”

Silas interrupts Mikel-Loy: “But Sam’s mom, Rica, had to stay outside.”

“Aunty Rica also cooked food. We didn’t know that. We cooked too, so we cooked twice for the boys,” says Mikel-Loy excitedly.

Kagawad lights a Marlboro. Franco is silent and looks like Kagawad seriously.

Silas is pouring more Coke, but lets the cup overflow in his excitement: “Hey man, Tommy, they have all a really highblood.”

Shocked by the bad news, I ask: “Parents are forbidden to visit the boys? Who ordered that? And who has a highblood?” Stressed up I rove my hair. “Shit! Damn it, what can we do now?” My throat is tight. The yeast lump in my mouth is getting bigger and bigger, and it takes me a long drink of Coke to swallow it down.

Kagawad clears his throat: “The parents have calmed down already, Tommy. I know this from other cases of abuse and neglect of children. As Kagawad, I am always involved when something like this happens in our village. Usually the isolation is only so long until the police have completed the investigation.”

Kagawad can’t reassure me. I’m desperate, in panic and have a choked voice: “But this is an escalation! The story is getting out of control! Why are they doing this? Isn’t it clear that I am innocent? Damn, everything goes completely out of control!”

“Calm down, Tommy, we’ll see.” Kagawad blows the smoke from the cigarette into the deep-blue sky and holds the box under my nose. I pull one and light it with trembling hands. Silas and Mikel-Loy get restless. Kagawad gives them a sharp look. But his heart is too soft to refuse cigarettes to the two.

“Don’t get used to it in the first place, expensive and unhealthy!”

I usually have as much nicotine in one year as I’ve had in the past two days. In this exceptional situation is it suddenly irrelevant. The cigarette helps to come down.
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.10. online

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I proudly present chapter

3.10. Naked in the hotel

The social workers ask three of the five boys what happened in the hotel.

Excerpt:

….
“Well,” says Ma’am Solano, “we want to know what happened in the hotel. Yesterday I had a short talk with Sam. He told me that Phil didn’t just jump on the bed, instead he was lying on the bed and playing with his penis.”

Sir Sala turns to Phil: “Without pants and without shirt!”

Phil is startled and pushes himself into the plastic chair. The chair slips a little backwards. Phil looks to the side, embarrassed. “Um,” is his only reaction.

Ma’am Solano leans towards Phil: “And Tommy was watching?”

“And he also took photos?” adds Sir Sala quickly. The way Ma’am and Sir pronounce their sentences, Phil and the two other children are uncertain whether these are questions or statements.

After a brief pause in thought, Phil stutters: “No, no, Tommy, he didn’t take any photos.”

Aboy laughs: “Ha, Phil called, I have the biggest.”

Phil counters: “I was just kidding! And you Aboy took part and Dan too.”

Aboy laughs again: “But only because you’re such a show-off.”

Sir Sala and Ma’am Solano fixate Dan.

With downcast eyes and a slight grin, he says quietly: “Aboy and Phil made their dicks big. I just played along. It was just for fun.”

“And Tommy, he said that you should do that and then took photos?” Ma’am Tolisan states: “He has such a great camera.”

Sir Sala is biting a biscuit. It cracks loudly, he chews and asks: “And did you participate?”

Ma’am Tolisan leans forward and whispers: “Take part of a photo shooting?”
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.09. online

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3.09. Parents under interrogation

Excerpt:

….
Ma’am Papillio looks around: “And Thomas Heger, that’s the man’s full name — isn’t it? Your Tommy, as you call him, does he have a girlfriend here too?”

“Or a boyfriend?” Ma’am Tolisan extends Ma’am Papillio’s question unmoved.

The parents look at each other questioningly.

Vicente replies: “He said, he had a girlfriend in Cebu. But that was over. As far as I know, he has nothing here in the village and no boyfriend.”

“But Mr. Heger would be a good match! Foreigner, rich, good-looking, educated!” asks Ma’am Tolisan, again in an emphatically casual manner.

“We’re all well married, ma’am, and we don’t really know Tommy’s private life,” Lang replies, wiping sweat from her forehead with a hanky. She and everyone from the village are clearly uncomfortable with the subject.

“I note,” says Ma’am Tolisan, looking at the yellow paper, “the parents do not know Mr. Heger’s private circumstances, but let their children travel with the foreigner.”

Rica gets nervous. She stutters: “Tommy has got a girlfriend — a partner — in Germany.”

Ma’am Papillio shakes her head seriously and asks pointedly: “Do you know his partner? Has he ever accompanied Mr. Heger to the village? Has your friend Mr. Heger ever shown you photos?”

The parents timidly shake their heads.

Ma’am Papillio looks up with satisfaction, then she looks around seriously with pressed lips and narrowed eyes: “All children have cell phones with them, and it comes from Heger. What is it about? Maybe gifts for you? Gifts, to get the children?”

Ma’am Tolisan adds in the usual way: “To build trust?”

Ma’am Papillio rubs her forehead and temples with her fingers. Her eyes are closed. She seems focused and thoughtful. Before the parents can answer, she asks sharply: “Did Tommy give you money to allow the children to travel with him?”

“Or other things like cell phones?” adds Ma’am Tolisan sternly.
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.08. online

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3.08. Conspiracy

Excerpt:

….
The senior social worker of the BSWD Ma’am Solano has a call with the CEO of the TV station: “Yes, Sir Steiner, sorry, but I can’t do anything. This is an order of the police. The children are isolated and nobody is allowed to visit them”

Steiner sounds indignantly from the loudspeaker of the cell phone: “Ma’am Solano, there is always a way.”

Ma’am hears Steiner blowing out the smoke of a cigarette. He continues in a conspiratorial voice: “We need another interview as soon as possible. And of course, Ma’am, we will pay another handsome sum.”

“Yes, yes, of course, Sir!” Ma’am Solano stutters submissively and wipes the sweat from her forehead with a handkerchief. “But not here in the BSWD, that’s impossible.” Her voice becomes higher: “Sir Steiner, a good opportunity for a short interview could be if the prosecutor wants to see the boys in the Hall of Justice. The problem is, Ma’am Papillio hasn’t finished her investigation to bring the case to the prosecutor. It takes a while before the prosecutor wants to see the boys.”

Steiner interrupts Ma’am Solano’s speech: “It’s no wonder. The German has only been in prison for two days.”

There is a clicking of a piezo-lighter, Steiner inhales and a short pause in thought follows. He blows out the smoke of the cigarette sharply and is annoyed: “It can take one to two weeks before the prosecutor calls the children. We can’t wait that long, Ma’am. Manila is on my neck. They want more information and another interview. We are exclusive now. Manila gives me great credit. But I have to deliver, otherwise the story will be burned quickly. The competitors never sleeps.”

Ma’am Solano ponders and her voice rises again by one pitch: “I…, Sir Steiner…, I’ll talk to the chief prosecutor. I know him privately. One of his prosecutors should question the children himself as soon as possible.” She jumps from her chair and yells pointedly: “I know, how we can cut time short!”
….
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Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.07. online

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3.07. Cluelessness

Excerpt:

….
Rica arrives the church about 20 minutes after Michael. There are anger and frustration among the parents and their friends, because Rica was not allowed to visit the children. Nobody really knows what to do now. Michael, Matthew, Romolo, Kagawad Jacub Castro, the freetime-pastor Jack and the two teenagers have to smoke — about Rica’s bad experience — in front of the hut of the Born Again congregation.

Rica, Lang, Vicente and the pastor’s wife, sit together, comforting Rica and wiping tears from their eyes. Rica is still completely dissolved and must first calm down. She is hardly capable of a reasonable conversation.

Returned after smoking, the men and the two teenagers Silas and Mikel-Loy sit apart from the women. Michael tells breathlessly and with sweeping gestures how he was able to use Marlboro to get the security guard to enter the youth home. He and his audience giggle a few times. Then he reports with a low voice and a serious expression on the conversation with the head of the youth home Sir Sala, his unpleasant questions and the strange suspicions towards Tommy. His face brightens again when he tells how the children were happy about the little cuddly toys. Rica, who stayed with their daughter with her husband Ernesto, knows nothing about cuddly toys. The women tell Rica that they bought small gifts, sweets and everyday items for the children at Gaisano this morning.

Sam’s mother, Rica, curses the unkempt security guard who denied her access to the youth home and almost put one of the plastic bags with the food in a dirty puddle. She hides her ugly memories of the devil Dengue and the subsequent nervous breakdown. Rica is deeply indignant about the youth home. But now that she is among the friends from the village, her energy and confidence are returning. She dries the last tears, straightens her hair and finds her way to calm down. Fighting spirit is back, and that’s how the friends know her.
….
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