Page 13 of Endless Whispers

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"Be quiet in here.” Brock demanded in a hushed voice.

“Your kids are sleeping?” Mick whispered. “You keep your drugs next to your kids?”

“I don’t have kids,” Brock chuckled out. “But don’t wake up these kids or Lars will not let you walk out of here. He’s not going to want to deal with them.”

“How many kids are there?” Mick asked as the door creaked open and the light from the hall streamed into a small apartment. There were children on cots. On mismatched couches. Sleeping bags on the floor. There was barely a path to get by the children but he followed Brock and the other man’s footsteps as they crossed the room and entered a tiny kitchen.

“What the hell is that?” Mick asked, knowing any person in their right mind would have questions. “You running a daycare up here or something?”

“You tried to buy from a girl at a bar, right?” Brock asked, pushing his long hair out of his eyes. “Well those girls have kids and they can’t very well stay by themselves at all hours of the night.”

“Damn. That’s actually kind of smart,” Mick said, his voice a little louder now. He propped his bag up on the table and unzipped it. The cash drew the attention of both men.

“Shit, he really has it.”

“You think I’d come all the way up here and try to screw you?”

“People are idiots.” Brock opened a cabinet over the sink and removed a fake panel in the back. “You said you want a mix of everything?”

“Mostly pills though. That’s what most people are looking for these days. Throw in a little coke. Some weed if you have anything decent. Fentanyl but I don’t want to screw with too much of that stuff, but every now and then someone wants it.”

“Damn, who the hell is going on your boats?” Brock started pulling things from different hidden compartments in the kitchen and piling it up next to the bag of cash.

Mick took stock of the heavy curtains drawn to block out the outside world. The air was thick with the smell of soiled diapers and rotting food. A child coughed in the next room.

He was working hard to keep his senses sharp, absorbing every detail. He tried to get a sense of the layout of the rooms, the presence of security cameras, and the ominous atmosphere that clung to the place like a shroud. It was clear this was no ordinary drug den. It was a prison. And worse, there were more of these around the city, hiding the same dark secrets.

“You done yet?” Lars asked, pushing his way into the crowded kitchen. “I want him out of here already.”

Mick took the stacks of money from the bag, making room for his haul of drugs. This money was sent from Carmen for the entire job. He’d used every cent of it right out of the gate. But Carmen trusted him and she’d understand why he had to do it.

The basement Darlene had mentioned weighed heavily on his mind now. Charlize would be antsy. She was always so impatient and he knew with these three men distracted she might have a shot at getting in the building. All he could hope was that if something looked off, she’d bail.

“You’ve got impressive shit here, man,” Mick said, knowing the signal word would have her springing into action.



“Finally,” she gasped with relief, stepping quietly out of the car and going low. Moving as silently as she could, Charlize made her way to the small windows that nearly met the ground. They were rusty hinges and old layers of paint but they looked otherwise accessible. Charlize grabbed the screwdriver from her pocket and dug it into the side of the window, trying to pry it open. It wouldn’t budge.

She tried a few more. They seemed sealed in some way. It was clear this wouldn’t be her way in. If she was going to do this, she’d have to use the same door Mick had gone through. She dusted the dirt off her pants, pulled up the hood on her sweatshirt, and dipped her head low as she darted toward the door. It was locked. Of course it was locked.

Logic told her to go back to the car. Sit in the back under the blanket and wait for Mick to come out. But fortune favored the brave. And they could use some good fortune right now. She glance up to the fire escape where a curtain was being drawn in and out of the open window by a breeze. This was not the basement. Not what she and Mick had discussed, but a moment later she was pulling herself up onto the fire escape and narrowly dodging a camera perched at the corner of it.

With a tentative peek inside, she made the decision to slide her body in. It was quiet. A small room with a few beds and what appeared to be sleeping women.

“Who...” A woman gasped quietly, covering her mouth, clearly more afraid of the men guarding the place than a potential intruder.

“Quiet,” Charlize pleaded. “I’m not here to hurt anyone.”

“You’re the woman from the gala,” Rose said, leaning in to be sure. “You can’t be here.”

“I know,” Charlize said, surprising herself with the agreement. “But I had to see some of this for myself. The basement. How do I get to the basement?”

“You don’t,” Rose growled. “Go back out the window before they find you here.”

“Down this hall and take a right. Then there are stairs behind a metal door. It locks from the outside so you can get in.”

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