Next week I begin this conference. Recognized writers, editors, publishers and critics from the literary world gathering for three weeks of professional instruction and input. Total immersion in our craft and an opportunity to network with some of the best players in the industry. I can’t wait, let it begin!
Cover of my new book, out later this year, currently in edit, very excited.
(Back cover summary)
Alex Wintour is the seventeen-year-old daughter of the US Ambassador to Pakistan. She becomes the target of a brutal terrorist kidnapping and the focal point between Mustafa, the Karachi-born US-educated Navy Seal assigned to rescue her and Omar, the young Al Qaeda operative who interrogates her. His command of English and American culture is based on his living in Kansas as a foreign exchange student.
He would turn out to be the perfect foil for Alex.
The plot twists and turns with finesse as Mustafa balances his relationship with Ambassador Wintour, his wife Sally and his extended family in Karachi.
The connection between Mustafa and his partner and lover, Dalia, the beautiful Israeli assassin who works for Mossad, the world’s most efficient killing machine, complicates his mission and may compromise his mission to rescue Alex.
This book has it all, political intrigue, conflict, romance, and ideology. Western culture and economics clash with Muslim poverty and hopelessness in a squalid interrogation hut in the foothills of the Hindu Kush of Western Pakistan.
Alex and Omar are intellectual equals, a relationship complicated by the Stockholm syndrome, they’re attracted to each other, emotionally and physically.
The story gives you a view of Muslim, American relations so different from today’s media, you’ll question every assumption you’ve ever made.
Don’t miss this one, as current as today’s headlines.
Alex arrives at the Taliban Village, it’s dusk, the sun is setting behind the Hindu Kush Mountains to the West. She’s tired, sore, hungry and terrified. She wants her parents, her boyfriend, and Beepa.
Casey got his stripes the old fashioned way, through the ranks, he earned them. He was respected by his peers, his men loved him, not a man on that team that wouldn’t take a bullet for Bull Casey.
We met in basic training, I was a recruit, Casey a drill Sargent. He couldn’t break me down physically or mentally, God knows he tried. That SOB busted my balls for seven long weeks of BUD’s training at Coronado, at the end of it all I found myself respecting the bastard, if not liking him.
I hadn’t seen him since graduation, not surprising I’d find him in an NCO club.
I smiled when the waitress said the beer was on the gentleman sitting at the bar. That was no gentleman, it was Casey, the insignia on the sleeve of his dress blues told you all you needed to know, red stripes, three stars and an eagle, not a man alive going to fuck with him.
I heard a rumor he was in town, seemed appropriate we’d meet in an NCO club, our last meeting in California was in the same place, they all looked the same.
He turned on the stool, I smiled and nodded. The long neck in my hand tipped forward, his did the same, he headed for my table.
I started in the back streets of Karachi, there are no street names or addresses. You either knew where you were going or you didn’t get there. This is the cultural backwater of the country, it all comes together here, a mélange of sights, sounds and smells. This, for me, is what Pakistan is all about, not the sanitized streets of Islamabad or the commercial offices of Lahore. This is where light and dark are indistinguishable, where good and evil mix in a cauldron of grey matter.
Here a man will risk his life betraying Al Qaeda for a price. Here a man will risk his life defending his family name.
Here I will find Alex.
He was still in shock, when he clears his mind and gets his emotions under control he’ll understand that we’re dealing with a highly sophisticated adversary.
Al Qaeda hasn’t terrified the western world because they’re brutal maniacs, they’ve done it because they’re calculating terrorists with a game-plan. They know what they’re doing, it’s about power and control, this kidnapping was planned from the day the Wintour’s transfer was announced in the Daily Express, the local Urdu language newspaper.
An Ambassador’s daughter was more valuable than the Ambassador. Her rescue is axiomatic, the Ambassador would bend, twist or break US policy. The kidnappers knew this, they would hold out, not for money, they’re looking at Guantanamo, high-profile prisoners, prisoners worth the life of an Ambassador’s daughter.
I was born and raised on the South/West side of Chicago; my father was a Rastafarian pothead who walked out on us when I was two. My mother, Juanita, worked nights cleaning office buildings, to make ends meet for my three younger sisters and me. She did a little hooking on the side; the latter was more profitable than office cleaning.
She worked Rush Street on weekends; her pimp promoted her as the best trick in the loop, most clients agreed, at least the sober ones.
Juanita could do ten to fifteen tricks a night without complaining; the average time with a client was fifteen to thirty minutes depending on services rendered. Pimp (he never mentioned his name) took care of Juanita, often paying her a performance bonus. There was competition on the street; pimps would entice the better performers to join their stable for a bigger cut or access to the better corners. Top girls were often tattooed with the pimp’s initials; branding was catching on.
Juanita refused to let Pimp put his stylized P in red, white and blue anywhere on her body; some things were sacred after all and besides she might opt for free agency one day.
I knew that when Juanita got home late, it meant business was good, and there’d be extra on the table. She didn’t take food stamps or welfare she was a naturalized citizen and felt it was unpatriotic. Juanita was a business woman an entrepreneur who paid her taxes; it was the American way.
I was a street kid, living by my wits, not by my brawn which was anemic. My friends looked to me for solutions, not muscle. I was clever and dependable, and the neighborhood knew it.
By the time I was fifteenI had saved $1200 in small bills running errands for the South Side cartels. I appreciated the value of a dollar and didn’t spend foolishly. I stashed my money in two tin cans, one fit into the other providing double thickness. I hid it beneath the welfare housing project in Pilsen, the Latino barrio on Chicago’s lower west side where we lived. The rats were my only concern; they were big as cats eating anything not nailed down, one reason I used double cans.
The streets in Pilsen were dangerous for most but not for me; danger was a sign of competition between the cartels, I thrived on it. They needed the services of a neutral currier, one who kept his mouth shut and was dependable. They preferred me to a phone call, no record of the transaction if the Feds were tapping them, curriers were expendable.
I never argued, I always believed negotiation was better than confrontation. Leave something on the table was my motto, my clients left feeling good about the deal and good about Magic Slim. For me a smaller cut of a larger pie made sense, why risk market share by being greedy.
When I turned eighteen and decided to leave home Juanita pushed a crisp $100 bill into my shirt pocket, gave me a big hug and a kiss and wished me well as I boarded that Greyhound for Cleveland, for her it was one less mouth to feed. I never told her about the money under the building, I learned early to trust no one but yourself, your own Mother could be compromised. Going to Cleveland was a gamble but I figured it was better to be a big fish in a smaller pond . Cleveland was a growing market largely ignored by the cartels. It was in Cleveland that I would become the most successful pornographic film producer in America.
My studio was a key link in a human traffic supply chain stretching from the former Soviet Republics in Eastern Europe to the United States. Trafficking accounts for an estimated $32 billion in annual trade with sex slavery and pornographic film production accounting for the greatest percentage.
Market research drove my business, I eliminated all but the most profitable segments of the market, sexual exploitation of minors and pornographic film production.
Business was booming.
There were two main sources feeding my chain, Eastern Europe and Latin America. There were others , of course, including Asia and the Middle East but I didn’t have the infrastructure or logistics to support more. If clients wanted to do Asian I referred them to a house that specialized. My friend Mr Chin ran a quality house and appreciated the referrals. He reciprocated in kind, he didn’t manage Latinos or Whites he referred those clients to me, Chin and I understood each other and often compared notes.
The girls from Eastern Europe were smuggled across the Canadian border, they were caucasian, under age and naive. Some were snatched from streets and school yards in Chechnya and Dagistan while others were sold by destitute parents who couldn’t afford them. The “mules” or travel agents as I called them were typically Russian or Kazakh and would handle all export arrangements. The girls would board tramp steamers as human cargo. They were locked in a dormitory like state room built into the forward hold of the ship, it had a toilet and bunk beds but no room to walk or stretch. The noise from the ship’s engine room was deafening and the constant smell of diesel fuel, deification and vomit kept the ship’s crew on deck and away from the girls. When they reached Nova Scotia, they were herded out of the bulkhead at night. They were taken to a vacant dormitory for a quick shower so their smell wouldn’t alert the border guards as they crossed into the US illegally.
Once in Northern New England they would be separated according to prearranged destinations. The girls destined for Cleveland would board my large RV with one way glass, the girls could look out but no one could look in. The RV was paid for, and it was first class, I wanted my girls to know they were in professional hands.
My drivers and their helpers were selected with extreme care, they were carrying valuable cargo and under no circumstances were they to fraternize with the girls, to do so would provoke my wrath which often meant the last thing they would ever do.
Best in-class were advertised in international style magazines with code words. These codes were known only to select clients and certain intermediaries approved by Slim. This elaborate distribution system was part of Slim’s business model, his clients paid an annual subscription fee for the on-line dictionary, code words and descriptions were revised monthly.
An interested client would pay an access fee for further information that included a set of professional photographs, a video and voice recordings of the model addressing the client by name. Should the client accept, a detailed travel itinerary was submitted calling for first class travel and accommodation. Slim required a letter of understanding spelling out terms and conditions and a 50% deposit. He didn’t like contracts, his word was his bond, everyone along the chain knew that.
This was a classic value chain with each link making a contribution. My trainers were the best, most had been or still were film stars featured in porn videos. I employed both male and female trainers, most were bilingual in English and Russian, the women made the girls feel safe. All training classes had male and female instructors and a variety of training aids. They used video’s and live demonstrations on technique in the use of condoms, dildos and other toys. These classes were behind a two way wall length mirror so students could see themselves and make necessary corrections. We taped these training sessions, there was a market for rehearsals especially in the volume end of the market. Each class of girls was judged strictly on the merits. The fast learners went on to advanced training. They learned proper etiquette, social skills and party games. They learned how to dress, apply makeup and discuss world events. These girls were a bit older, sixteen to twenty thinking they were twenty five to thirty.
The premium girls were in demand, there never seemed to be enough of them. They were treated like first dates, not hookers enjoying perks like corporate jets, hotel suites and luxury yachts. They were expected to talk and act like socialites in public but behave like porn stars in the bedroom. They learned to love this life-style, most never wanted out, it meant back to the barrios if they were lucky but more likely meant back to the bottom of the chain for violent abuse at the hands of depraved clients who got off torturing the girls.
The others, the girls not as pretty or smart or accepting, the girls who thought to much about going home and resisted training these were Slim’s problem children. At an average age of 14 they would stay in the US where client expectations were less demanding. Pole dancing, lap dancing and prostitution were legal in Los Vegas appealing to the convention trade and Japanese tourists. Slim was a full service supplier, his girls were trained for specific customer demographics. Like Chevrolet’ vrs Cadillac it’s all about price, performance and style. Slim was the General Motors of worldwide trafficking, he offered products for every taste and price point.
He thought of it as cutting and polishing rough diamonds, some would be destined for grinding wheels while others would be featured at Tiffany’s. Slim was particular about his vendors, he only did business with those who shared his understanding of quality control. There was an old saying on the street, ‘garbage in garbage out’ Slim would not accept garbage from his vendors his reputation depended on upon it. His supply chain integrity was impeccable. He was selling quality, that meant each link in the chain was important, a classic supply chain, value addition through processing, training, and logistics.
Slim’s reputation was international, if you wanted to maximize return on investment you sent your assets to Slim. He wasn’t the cheapest but he was the best. Girls trained in his building were traditionally high earners and the pimps and video producers were more than willing to pay a premium on the market, they received a good return on their investment.