Death on the Waterfront - A Short Story
On the mean streets of Duluth, Minnesota a strange and deadly game is taking place. Pimps and traders in the sex business are dying violent deaths. Are turf wars the cause of this, that's what the police seem to think and no one was to worried about their deaths. No outcry by the citizens over these murders so they were back page news with little follow up by the police.
Duluth, located on the shores of Lake Superior is a major seafaring port for the area. It is also home to women being forced into the sex trade in various ways, with many of them being American Indian women. This has been going on for decades, yet little is being done to stop it.
There are various women rights groups fighting it and attempting to bring the subject to light, but in the end it's been a losing battle to the sex traffic group.
They are the ''lost'' people, citizens turn their heads and don't want to be reminded that this is taking place in their city. Drugs and alcohol abuse are there as well. They all seem to fit in the seedy side of Duluth.
At a store front clinic that is trying to help stem the tide of this curse on Duluth a thirty-five year old woman is sitting behind her desk. The surrounding office shabby at best, but with little help and very little money it is the best that she can do. Besides it's all about trying to save the women caught up in this savage underground business, not being a fashionable place of business.
Dee sits beside the table she calls a desk, tired and thinking that things will never change, she has not the money or the help to make a difference and the thoughts of just quitting this and getting on with her own life are becoming more and more prevalent in her mind.
She is the only one in the office and it's late. She should have left hours ago, but the work was never ending and she forgot the hour. The office was located in the ''bad'' part of town, a place where the police seldom showed up and the denizens of the night were free to roam.
Dee looked up from her desk and there was a man and a dog standing in front of her desk, she had not heard him enter and didn't know how long that he had been there. She was gripped by fear as she looked into his face. He was tall, over six feet with a lanky body, long black hair hanging loose wearing a beat up levi jacket and worn jeans. He said nothing as she looked at him, his face showed no expression yet he didn't look away, his eyes didn't move from her.
She was about to panic, as she reached for the phone his hand took her wrist, firmly but without hurting her. She tried to pull away but couldn't. She wanted to scream but who would hear her.
Softly he said ''do not fear me''. With that Dee stopped struggling. Who was this man and what did he want, those question would not come out of her mouth.
He released her wrist, turned and walked out of the her office. As the door shut behind her she wondered if it was a dream or what just happened. She locked the door behind her and walked across the deserted parking lot but she felt no fear, in fact she felt quite safe and very calm.
As she drove home another drama was taking place a few miles away. A pimp was on the street bullying one of his ''stable''..A young girl of 17 years was cowering as he slapped her. He took a sick pleasure in slapping her around and if she didn't bring in enough money for him tonight he would really teach her a lesson. Laughing, he let her go and turned to check on another of his stable. Walking down the street, he stopped to light a cigarette. As he brought the lighter up to the cigarette a hand reached out like a striking cobra, fingers tighten around his throat, an icy cold grip that could not be broken. Just as quickly the hand released his throat. The pimp staggered a couple of steps, spinning around there was no one there except for a old dog.
What the hell was that he thought to himself, this was his territory and he would protect it. He continued walking down the street when he heard someone call to him. He turned around and looked into the face of death. The pimp reached for his pistol but the hand streaked out and the fingers wrapped themselves around his Adams apple, squeezing, then snapping sideways, ripping his throat apart, the pimp started gagging and fell to the ground, his mind screaming that this could not be happening to him, then a blow to the throat stopped his brain from thinking any longer. The last few breaths came out of him as he died looking into the face of his killer.
In the suburbs of Duluth, the middle class and upper class neighborhoods are reading about the numerous killings that have been taking place in their city. The victims are the pimps and drug lords that control the streets of the waterfront.
The men working the ships that come into port aren't leaving their ships for a night of vice anymore. Pimps and drug dealers are worried that their business is being destroyed or that they are next in the line of death. The ''girls'' are leaving and Dee is seeing them come to her in ever increasing numbers, wanting, begging to help them get out of the ''life''.
The police have no leads on the killings, not that they were trying very hard to solve the crimes but now the pressure from the Mayor and citizens is being felt. The killings are making headlines across the country and the Mayor doesn't want the reputation of his fine city spoiled. The citizens are worried that the killing may extend to the ''good'' citizens, the same ones that for years knew of the sex trade, the lost children and drugs. But this might intrude into their neighborhoods so it was time to sound the alarm.
The body count was mounting. The killing were savage in nature. Crushed throats on some of the victims other bore the wounds of a knife or some large cutting tool. Others were found ripped apart, it seemed like attacks by a large wild animal. The police in Duluth had never dealt with anything like this before.
Dee sits in her office. She feels like finally something is being done to help the girls and she knows that the man that visited her is responsible. Is he responsible for the killings she asks herself. She knows the answer but doesn't want to admit it. After all, the girls are being helped, some of them are actually giving up the life and to her that is what counts, not the killing of the predator's.
Dee is sitting in her office late one night when a man walks in, an old man with long braided silver hair an old dog with him. He sits in front of Dee saying nothing. Dee looks at him, studies his face, his hands. He must be a hundred years old she thinks to herself, but his eyes are bright, missing nothing and knowing all.
He looks at her for a very long time, Dee says nothing, she doesn't know what to say. Finally the old man speaks to her. My name is Henry LaPlante I am an elder and mide of the Ojibwe people or as you white people call us, a Medicine Man. I have come to tell you that ''he has returned''...Returned! He! what in the world are you talking about old man. Dee is getting irritated, she is tired and not in any mood to listen to stories from an old man.
You know what I'm talking about says the old man. He is the one, the one that is killing and he will not stop. That shocked Dee, she was stunned to think that this old man knew that she knew who the killer might be.
He began to tell her a story, the story of Stone Hand who for hundreds of years had been the protector of the the Ojibwe people. Dee laughs at the story, how could the killer be hundreds of years old she asked the old man.
He is of the ''Spirit World'' he is not one of us he tells her. He has seen what is happening to the girls and women of the Ojibwe and to the others that are not of our tribe. The police cannot stop him, no one can stop him. The killing will only stop when he wants it to and not before.
Shaken, Dee sits there unable to say anything, her thoughts are jumbled and her mind is telling her this cannot be true. Damn these Indians and their crazy stories. Spirit worlds, protectors what nonsense.
She shakes her head, as if to clear cobwebs from it, the old man is gone. Was he really there at all she thinks, no, it was only a dream. Then she feels a chill run through her body. Another pimp is dead and another ''lost'' girl is free to return home.
A few short blocks away from Dee's office a few minutes after talking to Henry LaPlante another deadly encounter was taking place. A middle aged pimp was strutting down the street to ''check'' on his girls. Suddenly out of the shadows a huge black form hurtled itself at the pimp. Try to avoid the monster he tripped over some garbage. The last mistake that he ever made. The black form, now in the shape of a huge wolf was on him and ripping at his flesh. Soon the beasts huge jaws closed on his throat. With blood dripping from it's maw, it threw back it's head and let our the howl of the wolf. It was heard for blocks and all that heard it were frozen. No one wanted to investigate the sound.
Months has passed since the killing stopped. The police had no clues to who the killer was, no prints, nothing for them to go on. The pimps left alive have left for somewhere that they were not the hunted. More help arrived in the form of social services and programs to help the girls return to a normal life. The Sex Trade in Duluth was no longer.
Dee sat in her office. She had more help and money to help those in need. She felt good, being able to help was good for her, and good for the girls and community.
As she sat there, there were questions in her mind that needed to be answered. Were the killing the only way to clean up the city. Granted, they were pimps and drug dealers who made their living off human misery. Forcing women into lives that only had one way out, death. But the killing was a savage way to deal with the problem. Her moral compass was off kilter, she could not condone the killing but could not condemn it either.
She wondered about the strange man that came into her office that night and of the old Indian that told her the story of Stone Hand. Was any of this real, or was it just coincidence. What was the real truth here, she thought to herself.
She had never told the police about the old Indian or about Stone Hand. Was that wrong, or was she simply protecting herself or hoping that he would kill all the pimps and drug dealers.
She left for home, that night her sleep was not sound, it was filled with dreams, dreams that didn't make any sense to her.
The next morning she fixed breakfast and drank her coffee musing about the men in her life, one a stranger, the other an old Indian. Laughing, she thought that her life was really dull. She hadn't been on a date in years, her work with the girls had taken over her life, but it was all worth it, as she could see the results. Results that were pleasing to her and the girls.
Driving to work, to her store front clinic, the day was bright, the streets free of the scum that only a year ago were in control. She parked her car in the lot and started walking to the short distance to her office.
Sitting at her desk, which had replaced the old beat up table that she had used before, she was talking to a co-worker when she looked up over the woman's shoulder and there standing at the glass door that read ''Women Services'', was the old Indian, looking in and smiling at her. What has his name she thought to herself, oh yes, Henry LaPlante. His beat up levi jacket and worn jeans caught her eye, startled at the clothes that he was wearing she rubbed her eyes. Those clothes belonged to Stone Hand not the old Indian. She jumped up from her chair and started towards the door. The old Indian smiled and hung something on the door, turned and walked away his ancient dog padding after him.
She swung the door open and called to him, he kept walking, not turning back. She looked at the door and there hung a ''Dream Catcher''..There would be no more bad dreams for Dee.
Kavika 2012. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission.