September 2, 2018
Four years ago, during 2014 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I dashed off a 50,000-word draft of MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT, a thriller bearing no resemblance to Abba’s classic. The ‘man’ in my story lurks behind profiles of unsuspecting users on the ‘Man After Midnight’ dating site. Once he arranges a date with a woman, he meets her for drinks which he spikes. At 12:01 a.m., he leaves her body gutted of all female parts before dropping his calling ‘card’ a crude drawing of a clock with its short hand on twelve and the long hand, to one minute after. But, something occurred to me once I read what I had written: that true death involves so much more than just the body.
Now, I am making human trafficking the subject of my story. Already a global pandemic, trafficking degrades women and girls in body, mind and soul. In fact, actual death might come as a relief.
Despite our expectations, traffickers aren’t always easy to identify, especially if they begin by telling a vulnerable female what she is desperate to hear: that she is beautiful and desirable. Once he reels her in with his honeyed words, he convinces her that he is her very best friend, her only confidante. Only he and he alone truly cares more about her than even her boyfriend, friends, or even parents. He rushes her to the next step: to move in with him or even marry him. He tunes in to her deepest desire and, then, promises to deliver it….or so she believes.
Want to attend college? Send money to family? Dream of modeling, singing, dancing, or acting? Well, you certainly have the figure, voice, legs, or talent for it. Whatever your heart desires, it’s yours.
But his smoldering eyes and gleaming smile mask a deadly secret about. ‘Mr. Wonderful’: that he is a trafficker. When she least expects, that charm, passion, and effortless wit disappear. He spikes her beer, wine, or high-dollar coffee with Rohypnol and tosses her into a van with other terrified women.
Any female, no matter her age, can become a victim before she suspects what is about to happen.
For example, in Man After Midnight, Destiny — my protagonist’s rebellious but virginal teen — goes missing on Halloween night in 2012.
The premise goes like this: When the mother of a teenager learns that her daughter is being auctioned to the highest bidder by 12:01 a.m. on the ‘Dark ‘Net’, she must find the auction and purchase her from ‘The Man’ no later than midnight or become his newest victim, herself.
Thank God, I have never been trafficked. Since I haven’t, I must rely on research. Books, documentaries, and personal experiences of those whose bodies, minds, and souls bear its scars. For the past month, I’ve binge-watched docudramas and read survivors’ stories. Today’s post, Part 26a, is about my findings.
- that they can be any age, even children
- that they can be of any ethnicity and come from any background
- that even their families risk being killed
“Ah,” you say. “But that only happens in other countries,”
Whoa. Not so fast. Statistics from 2017 show that, in the United States, alone, human trafficking is a pandemic that now spans the globe.
Today’s traffickers don’t always look ‘sleazy’ . They can be co-workers or supervisors, professors or students, doctors, attorneys, or clergy. Some are ‘gamers’ posing as teens while they look for latchkey children. Others ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ their prey on the social media.
Coming up in Part 26b of my blog post, SAME MAN, DIFFERENT PLAN”, Jody Paar will recount her own nightmare in our ‘once-safe‘ United States of America.