The Word

The transparent web

It began slow. Like a silent disease he crept in and slowly began spinning his web. Like a spider’s web his threads were also transparent, unseen by the unsuspecting. I would come to know this was on purpose. This was the process. Like the spider, once it spins it’s web it sits, it waits patiently for unsuspecting prey to find its self caught in its grasp. At which point the spider attacks and wraps his prey to be devoured. Keep this image in mind as you read this story because the similarities are staggering.

Our relationship began as any other might in street life world of horrors, quick exchanges set up through text. No more than 10 words were exchanged between us during any given meeting. I began to notice that every time we met up he was driving a different car. These weren’t then $2,500 cash lot cars I was used to seeing. These were nice cars, expensive cars. More than that there was always a gorgeous girl with him. Perfectly put together and nicely dressed. I always thought he was bit slob-ish looking to be running around with those kind of girls. Truly this just confirmed the fact that he was in fact into guys, in my mind. Over time I found myself feeling a little tinge of jealously over these girls that seamed to have this lavish lifestyle.

He must have noticed that in me, the jealously, the intrigue I was now showing in the mysterious. I had gotten off work late that night. I was exhausted as I collapsed on the couch telling my neighbor friend, Lizzy, about how if we could only hook a “big one” we could live like the Hollywood stars. At that moment my phone rang. Richie appeared on the screen. My eyes widened, he had never actually called me. I answered with a question, “Hello”? His peppy charismatic demeanor beamed through the phone. He wanted me to come to Dallas with him for a pick up. I saw the opportunity and seized it.

Generally I was a plain girl. Pretty but soft. I didn’t wear flashy clothes. I wasn’t adorned with fine braids and jewels so to speak. I had thought if I was going to hook this fish I was going to need to step it up and catch his attention in the same way the girl’s I had seen in his company previously had done. I quickly curled my hair, put on some lipstick, and doubled down on my mascara. I could tell by his approving reaction upon his arrival that this was going to be my chance. True to pattern he arrived in a car I had never seen before. It was the nicest car I had ever seen in my life. Sleek and shiny, leather interior, those seats that when you sit down into them they make you feel like you’ve just sat down in the command center of a space craft. He tossed me the keys and said, “why don’t you drive.” Got ’em.

I was surprised how freely and effortlessly conversation flowed between us. This man was intelligent, on my level, unlike the men I had run around with previously. He had ideas and innovations. We spoke of ways of life, religion, astrology, intellectual topics. There was also something different about him this day. Generally his appearance was sloppy. Clothes a mess, hair a mess, but I’ll tell you his eyebrows were always on point. Tonight he was dressed, and not as I expected him to be. He was thuggish, but not pants around your knees thuggish, more like Kayne West thuggish. Hair straight and pulled back, he looked good. His voice was deeper, calmer, he was suave. Still though he kept his mystery alive. He would interrupt our conversation, stating that he needed to check on his friend. With the phone on speaker he called several women. “Hey daddy!” they all said when they answered. He would ask them if they were having a good night, making good money. They would report and he would tell them to call him if they needed anything.

I wasn’t alarmed in the least bit by these conversations. I had just thought “Daddy” was his nickname. Possibly he was even the one who was taking care of their needs. He did seam like that kind of nice guy. To me it was as if he was a white knight. Riding through the streets of the metroplex finding women and giving them a chance to become something. After several trips to Dallas together that looked exactly as they did before, he revealed to me that he owned a record label. He said he had some new talent about to drop but he wanted to hire me as a agent to gather more talent. I could not explain to you how cool and powerful that made me feel. I was one step away from Hollywood, in my mind.

I did this for awhile. Looking for talent, collecting mix tapes. Truth is I never found anything worth penetrating your ears. I couldn’t find worthy talent for nothing. I began to fear he would drop me. I was still working at the retail store but, he was giving me more than a weekly pay check. The work I was doing for him was resulting in free drugs, new nice clothes, and a company vehicle. I did not want to lose that flow of income. So I went to him, told him I wasn’t serving his company well in seeking talent, was there something else I might be able to do? He didn’t seam to mind that I didn’t want to continue to work for the label, he quickly gave me a new “station” as his runner. I would conduct all of his drug transactions from the picking up to the sale of contents.

This was a job I could do, and it was one that kept me in close proximity with Richie. By this time I had determined that he in fact was not into men, but into women. It became my mission to hook this fish by becoming the most desirable women around him. I was going to do this by availability and willingness to do anything he required. Lizzy became suspicious of Richie at this point. She was always vocalizing that something wasn’t right. She felt uneasy about him. I thought she was just jealous. Richie was spending a lot of time at my apartment and when he was there I kept her away. I had convinced myself that my lack of availability to her was aiding in her sudden efforts to keep me away from him. I wasn’t going to have it though. I spent all my time either with Richie or working for Richie. He had me completely wrapped in his web.

One night we were doing our regular pick up’s when Richie said he needed to make a pit stop. he instructed me to pull over at the gas station ahead. No problem, I did exactly as he asked. When we stopped a beautiful girl in a shimmering green dress jumped from a jeep and threw herself on Richie; I was jealous. An older gentlemen came around from the drivers side of the jeep and shook Richie’s hand. There was a brief exchange between the two before the three departed ways and returned to their vehicles. I was naturally curious but I didn’t question him. I knew he would tell me if he wanted me to know what that was about. I sat wondering to myself why that beautiful girl was with that man. She had to have been around my age, eight-teen. He had to be in his mid to late 40’s. As a young adult the age gap was a little much to stomach. At first I believed he must be her father or uncle. However, the chummy exchange between them solidified that was not the case.

“You know, I’ve put that girl through college. She’s about to graduate.” Richie said as he broke the looming silence. “Wow, really? Why would you do that?” I asked, stunned he would be so generous. “She’s done so much for me, its a way to repay her.” He said. “You mean like me?” I asked. “The work she does is a little different than the work you’ve been doing.” He replied. Becoming intrigued, wondering what she could possibly do more than I was already doing for him that earned her college tuition, I pressed him a little further, but cautiously. “What is it that she does?” I asked. “Did you see that man she was with?” he asked. “The old guy? Yeah I saw him.” “He is very rich but very shy. He has a hard time finding companionship so he contacted me.” Richie explained slowly. “Why would he call you? Is she his girlfriend?” I asked trying to piece together what exactly he was saying. “He pays a high sum of money per week for her to live with him. He provides her everything she wants from cars to make-up. I could do the same for you.” You know in the cartoons when a filing cabinet opens at it has like one million files in it and they burst open  unexpectedly? That was my brain in this moment as I questioned him, “What are you saying?” He smiled and paused before he revealed, “I’m a pimp.”

I laughed in his face. “Seriously?” Images of fur hats, canes and solid vibrantly colored suits danced through my head. I said, “nobody really does that? Seriously?” I couldn’t believe it. Not that he said he was a pimp, but that pimping was a real thing that real people actually did. After processing that fact I began to think about all the girls. They were so beautiful and put together, like beauty queens and business women. Nothing like the stumbling crack heads in leotards you see portrayed on television. My mind is swirling around as I process that there is an unknown world happening right within what we call normal life. People really do this, and are doing it. The truth was everyone of them looked they were doing better than me. They had things I didn’t have. All they had to do was look good and give men companionship, doesn’t sound all that bad. However, I was resistant. I had a slight leverage in this deal. While the shiny things that were flaunted were tempting, the truth was I did already possess the basics. I had my own car, was it a BMW? No, but it looked good and ran good. I had my own apartment. I had my own income source. All of this happened within a split second. Nothing more was said that night about his real occupation.

A few days passed before Richie and I spoke again. He always seamed to know the perfect amount of time to place between meetings. It was just enough to make me think he’d forgotten me and to be bummed out because of it. He called me and asked if I’d like to go with him on a new set of pick ups. Glad he was still interested in me I quickly agreed to join him. He told me to be ready in 15 minutes and he would be there, be watching. I jumped right up and primped up and was outside waiting within 12 minutes. He arrived 8 minutes later, 5 minutes late, I waited outside. He didn’t ask me to drive this time which made me feel like he might be distancing himself from me. We went to some of the biggest clubs in Dallas. They looked amazing with there posh architecture and flashing lights. I had never seen anything like it, so naturally I was fascinated. We would drive around the building, passing the front where people were valet parking and emerging from their vehicles in suits and black dresses. I knew these weren’t the same caliber strip clubs I had been to only months prior. As my eyes lit up with the flickering of vibrant color coming from the doors, a sheepish grin would come across Richie’s face.

We repeated this at each club we went to. After the flaunting of the lavish, Richie would drive around to the back of the building where he would be met by women who looked as though they had stepped out of a black tie event you’d only see in the movies. She would come to the car wait for Richie to roll down his window, which was always a brief 5 seconds, then she would lean in, kiss his cheek, and we would drive off. In times past he would always explain to me what was happening during our pick ups. What we were getting, who had supplied it. Where and how the person in the middle got involved. But he didn’t do that tonight. He barely said anything at all. Right when I would begin to feel like I was in trouble he would pass me the blunt giving me the feeling that he wasn’t done with me. By the end of this nights pick up’s I was fearful that if I didn’t give him something to keep him interested I was going to lose this fish. I brought up the girl in the green dress. “Can I ask you something?” I finally spoke like a child afraid their daddy is mad at them. He cut me a sideways look and raised his eyebrow inviting me to speak. “What exactly does that girl have to do? You know, the girl in the green dress?” He toyed with me, “Don’t worry about it. You can’t do it.” I sank, “It’s over.” I thought.

It was a few more days before I heard from Richie again. Like I said he was great at waiting the perfect amount of time. It was as if he would walk you right up to the very edge of a steep cliff making you think he would throw you to the bottom, then at the last second, changing his mind. He didn’t call this time, he just stopped by. Actually, he just barged in. Came in quickly and said, “I need to set up headquarters for the night, can I do it here?” I had no idea what that meant but eager to get back into his good graces I agreed. He pulled me to the side and told me, “she better not be here when I get back.” Trying to impress him I replied, “yes sir.” He looked at me surprised and was out the door again. There was no telling when he would be back so I ushered Lizzy out and waited. I ended up being glad that I did because he was back quickly with two women.

One of the girls was tall, thin, Caucasian woman with long brown hair named Amber. The other a short mixed woman, with highlighted hair. Her name was Ruby. Richie came right in and took his place in the over-sized chair in the center of the room. Amber and Ruby made several trips back and forth from the car to the apartment. They were bringing in mirrors, clothes, make up, computers, everything that would be needed for the night. Neither of the girls spoke, they never looked up. After bringing in all of their supplies both girls began man-scape Richie. One of them straightening his hair, the other buffing his nails. I was tasked with ironing his clothes, which I was happy to do. It made me feel a small part of this operation. After tending to Richie the girls began to transform there selves.  Truthfully both of the girls were plain, nothing about them was significantly or naturally beautiful. They weren’t unattractive but you could tell that left to their own vices they were pretty mousy. I was shocked to see that once their hair was done, make up on, and they were dressed there was nothing mousy about these girls. They went from a 4 to a 10 real quick. They were showing me all their tricks and expensive make up. Every outfit they brought in was brand new from Dillard’s.

After everyone was ready it was time to start working. “How do you ever lure potential men?” I asked. They quickly showed me around several websites where you simply place an add with a picture and phone number. “The pictures you’re using aren’t of the girls. How does that work when they get there?” Richie explained, “It’s about the fantasy. Show a man a picture that excites him he doesn’t see a face. He will notice skin color and hair color but otherwise he’s just interested in caring out his fantasy. It doesn’t matter its not the same girl.” I found that fascinating. It also softened me toward the idea a bit. I wouldn’t have to actually put myself out there. I mean a fake picture with a fake name, would it really be so bad? We had four cellphones with four different numbers posted all of which continuously rang off the hook. They were able to filter through the freaks and perverts by the high dollar price that was attached to these girls. They would charge $250 just to show up. Services would then range from $50- $500 in additional payment. Richie explained to me that he doesn’t make his girls scrape the scum. His girls were high class, high dollar girls that ran in high roller circles. Another thread entangled me further into his grasp. “I wouldn’t have to sleep with any sleez balls. I already give it away for free anyway.” I played with the idea in my mind.

The girl’s spent all night going in and out from one call to the next. At the end of the night the girls had brought home over $5,000. Richie declared the night a success and we all slept, on the floor at his feet. I got up the next morning and went to my job at the retail store. I had to admit that this job was nowhere near as exciting as my night had been before. I wasn’t even participating, but I felt the rush. This went on for a few weeks, late nights in a hidden world and boring days in the light of the mundane. After awhile of building up a relationship with Amber and Ruby I asked them how they got into this. Why they were doing it. They explained to me that when they met Richie they were broken women. They came from abusive situations where they were discarded and broken. Richie found them in their time of need and took them in. He provided them food clothing and shelter. He taught them to be beautiful and to be in control of the abusive men who had wrecked their lives before. “Before Richie we had nothing and nobody. He gave us a chance at a new life.” they said. I pressed them about the girl who has college and cars. “Richie’s looking for mine.” They both assured me. “But in the meantime we have nowhere else to go and it’s the least we can do for him. Plus knowing you’re in complete control with a man is the most exhilarating thing I have ever felt.” I didn’t share those circumstances so I didn’t ask many more questions.

It had all become a little much for me. The lack of sleep and food was beginning to take its toll on me. Richie provided exactly what we needed, when he thought we needed it. We always had cigarettes, we always had weed. We would get food every couple of days. We didn’t question it because it made us skinny and we were pretty strung out on drugs anyway. I had decided I needed to try to smooth things over with my parents. It had been awhile since I had talked to them. Really, I needed to get away. I escaped the metroplex and retreated to the piney woods. I spent the weekend with no calls from john’s, all the food I wanted and a renewed strength to go back to the life I needed a break from. When I returned home I was surprised to see head quarters had been moved from my apartment. Shocked and scared that my new family had abandoned me I called Richie. He instructed me to pick him up some dinner and deliver it to him at a near by hotel. I obliged. When I arrived there was a new girl with him. A blonde, I was the blonde. She wasn’t as pretty as Amber and Ruby, even all made up. However, I’m sure as he planned, I was extremely jealous. I even cried once I left. He replaced me. It’s over I thought.

The next day Richie picked me up from work. He was pressing me hard to start working for him like Amber and Ruby. He assured me that I would never do any slum calls. I would be his “bottom bitch”, the one in charge. I was resistant. I told him I didn’t need him in the same way the other girls did. Realizing I wasn’t going to break he offered a new station, “madam”. I would keep the new girl, Diamond. I would do for her what he did for Amber and Ruby. Set up calls, transport, protect. I would still turn all the money over to him but he would pay all my bills and provide all my needs. This was a deal I could agree too. There was one catch though, I would need to quit my job to be able to dedicate all my time to making sure Diamond was producing. I agreed.

Diamond moved into my apartment and we got right to business. I would provide her with the phone Richie would provide me each morning and she would post her adds and wait for calls. She stayed busy day and night. I was surprised by the clientele that came through my apartment. Bankers, lawyers, business men. Rarely did a man in casual dress come for an in house call. Going out wasn’t always as upscale. There were creeps from time to time. Men who would rough her up a little bit. She always assured me it was no big deal. “Part of the trade” she would say. The arrangement was going well. Business flowed effortlessly. I kept my end, he kept his end. I knew this wasn’t right so I could only stomach it for so long before I would have to retreat back to the piney woods for a time. That time came about month after Diamond came into the picture. I told Richie I had to leave town but would be back.

When I got home this time Diamond was gone but Richie, Amber and Ruby were back to operating out of my apartment. I was disappointed to see the set up when I arrived home. I was hoping for at least one more night before I would inevitably return to his web. Everyone was all smiles when I walked in. They greeted me warmly, excited to see me. My disappointment was quickly replaced by feelings of joy. My family was happy I was home. When I asked where Diamond was Amber and Ruby looked to the ground. Richie said, “you know why.” I knew she had been removed from the family. Before I left for the woods Richie had stopped by to check up on us, collect any money and change out the phones. Everything was fine until I had reveled that Diamond had spent some time surfing Myspace. I didn’t understand why anger came over his face. He said, “Oh. Myspace huh?” I said, “Yeah Myspace.” like what’s the big deal? She was crouched in the corner. He approached her, proceeded to lift her from the ground by her neck and mercilessly smack her face over and over and over till she looked as thought she would pass out. When he dropped her to the floor he turned and left without a word. I was shocked, I was appalled, I was terrified. I kept telling her she didn’t have to endure this. We could go to the police, they would help. She assured me her last pimp was worse and he was just punishing her because he loved her. I took pictures in case she changed her mind. Maybe she had, maybe that’s why she was dumped in a brothel.

Richie became more persistent in his insistence that I start working for him. He was providing for me and I wasn’t providing for him. That wasn’t what a family did. The more I resisted the more he pumped me full of drugs. He was pulling out all the stops, bring to life the lavish Hollywood lifestyle I had professed desiring when we first met. He purchased a beautiful two story brick him in an upscale neighborhood. Nicest house I’ve ever seen. 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, wide open concept spacing, beautiful yard. I mean it was something you’d expect a famous person to be living in. The day we moved him in I marveled at the place. He kept telling me, “That room would be yours.” It was the junior suite, bigger, nicer more private than what the other girls had. “I’ll give you the BMW.” He said in passing. All of these things were to much for me to pass up. I agreed to seriously consider the offer. He was pleased to reward my renewed attitude with 2 hits of ecstasy, every 2 hours for the next 6 or so hours. To say I was completely out of mind was an understatement.

I agreed to go on my first call. I remember driving there and screaming as though I was on a roller coaster. I was tripping so hard that every car that passed looked like a flash of light, slight movements looked as though the world was under a strobe light. I remember walking to the door of a mans apartment and he opened the door and I barged in. I completely over took the situation. I can be very outgoing and charismatic when I want to but when I’m high, its over the top. The man must have noticed my fast talking and twitching jaw because he asked me if I was high. I told him I was, so he offered his bong. I was probably lucky as hell that my personality can be over baring and even intimidating to some. The man couldn’t bring himself to ask me for any favors. Once he kind of shrugged and began to remove his pants he uh…. finished, I was able to take the money and leave without ever even touching the man. I did it.

My victory was greatly celebrated by my new family. Richie wrapped me in his arms and showered me with affirmation. “I knew you could do it. You did great. You belong here. You are part of us.” While my immediate reaction was a release of endorphins. Acceptance. I belonged, we were a family, they wanted me. As love began to well up in my chest it was quickly snuffed out by panic and fear. My mind began to race. “Oh God, what have I done?” I thought to myself. Not only had I stooped lower than I ever intended to allow myself to, I had just given him all my power. No longer did I have any cards left to play. I had given in, I was completely wrapped in his web and it was feasting time. I had to get out of there. I quickly jumped up and ran from the house. I jumped into my car and peeled out of the driveway. “I got to get away.” was all I could think. I flew down the interstate, now sober, everything still a blur. I couldn’t slow down, not even to toss money in the tolls. Surly he was going to come after me. What if he did to me what he did to Diamond?

When I arrived safely away back at my apartment I breathed a huge sigh of relief. As the breath flowed from my lungs, tears rolled from my eyes. What had I done? More over why had I done it? I was always so careful, keeping the upper hand. This time I found myself in a situation I was hoping I could rinse away as I lie in the shower letting the water scald my skin until finally turning ice cold. Trying to muster the strength to get dressed I collapsed on the closet floor where I stayed until morning. I hadn’t been awake 5 minutes when Richie barged through the door with Amber and Ruby trailing behind. The first thing he did was take my phone. “The girls need it for calls.” I didn’t object. He didn’t say a word to me for the rest of the day. I was anxious all day, consumed in fear. Fear that he would hurt me, fear that he would leave me. I didn’t know what to do. I was relieved when the day was over and I was allowed to go to bed. I laid there all night trying to figure out how I might get myself out of this horrific nightmare I found myself trapped in. As the sun rose in the sky so did the fear in my heart. What could I do? How could I get away? He wouldn’t let me out of his sight. Then the universe seamed to through me a little favor.

My mother had text me and Richie actually let me have my phone and respond. Seeing an opportunity I text her back: ” please tell me you are in Dallas.” She responded, “No I’m picking Dewayne up from school. Why?” I explained to her my situation. That I was involved with a pimp and I wanted to get away. I was scared and didn’t know what to do, please help me. Her response set into a motion a series of events. “That’s bullshit, fix it your self.” My heart sank. I had to think quick. It would likely be days before I would be allowed to use my phone again. I said I wasn’t feeling well and went to lay in the bed. I quickly text a mutual friend of mine and Lizzy’s who knew the situation with Richie. By this time I had been completely isolated from everyone I used to know. Richie had consumed my life and all my possessions. My friends tried to warn me, but after all my refusal to listen, they stepped back. However I reached out, “Call Lizzy. Tell her to call the police. Do not respond, Do not call. It’s Richie.” I quickly deleted all the messages and waited.

Not long after there was a knock at the door, “Metro Police.” Nobody moved. We were instructed to stay quiet, they’d go away. Their knocks progressed to banging on the door. Richie began to press me to answer the door. I told him I couldn’t that I had warrants and they are probably just doing a round up. After convincing him that I hadn’t been the one to call the police he ushered the four of us into my tiny bathroom. As we sat in there he threatened us, “If one of you did this I’ll kill you.” ,”Once they leave I’ll punish you all.” all believable outcomes at this point. Between threats I was constantly silencing my buzzing phone. Lizzy was blowing me up, Richie couldn’t know. I was panicking as he finally asked who kept calling. When I told him he told me to answer it and put it on speaker. Panic. I answered, she exclaimed “whats going on?” Richie instructed me to ask her if she called the police. Not knowing he could hear her, she said “yeah, you told me to.” F*&K.

The threats that had been directed at all of us turned quickly to me. I begged God to let the police get him, for them not to go away. I knew I would die that day if they gave up. Once information that we were indeed inside reached the team of officers who had now arrived they busted the door down. They came in so quickly and dragged Richie out that it took a second to realize what was happening. Next thing I knew we were being ushered out being told to get against the wall. The officers began shouting, “Who’s Jordyn? Who’s Jordyn?” That was me so I stood up. They took me to the door way, 10 feet away from Richie and began to question me on what was going on within the residence. I refused to speak. I would not take the chance of Richie hearing me snitch him out. The officers finally got tired of my refusal and cuffed me for felony aiding and abiding prostitution. Once a safe distance from Richie’s vision and hearing I told them I would talk but didn’t want him to know. They proceeded to cuff and stuff me just like the others and transport me to the police station.

I told the police everything, except for the fact that I did indeed go out for him one time. I thought the police would judge me and that I would be labeled a prostitute. If they thought that of me I feared they wouldn’t help me. As it turned out because I had never “worked” for him, they couldn’t charge him with anything. Pimping was a victimless crime, one entered into by choice. I was to prideful to confess that I had lied. Plus I figured that if I went back and said I had lied that it would seam as though I was lying about that. However they took the report and found enough drugs money and weapons to hold them all for a few days. They advised me to lay low and get out of town for awhile. I was naïve and found that to be an over reaction on their part. Little did I know the issue would end up being forced by an eviction notice tacked to my front door. I had 48 hours to move out. I had nowhere to go, no friends to stay with, my only option was to humble myself and go back to my mother. If I’m honest her location served my needs well at the time. I needed to get away, she was far away. I had no money, she wasn’t going to charge rent. It’d only be temporary, I thought.

**** This is a true story, names have been changed to protect the identities of the individuals involved. To further assure that fact I also will not state what specific city this all took place in. But I would like to share that because of this case the local police department eventually added a Human Trafficking Department and they now work day and night to keep men like Richie off the streets and away from women who don’t know any better!

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