THE STORY OF A SAFE-HOUSE. Screenplay created by Male Survivors of Sexual Violence.
Let’s Go See
I wanted to see it for myself. I did not want to see it through someone else’s eyes.
The immigrant detention center in Dilley, Texas, is one of the most corrupt institutions to have ever been entrusted with caring for children. The guards there sell children. The guards there rape children. No cameras are allowed. The guards there act with impunity. The immigrant detention center in Dilley, Texas, is a major hub in human sex trafficking.
When I’m teaching photography, I never stress the tech stuff beyond the obvious because what isn’t obvious is what we mostly see. We feel it in our gut. We see it, but we are not seeing it. It’s there. But seeing is not believing. We see, we know, but we remain indifferent. We would never protest at the gates. We feel powerless at the sight of nighttime prison lights.
I want to teach the boys to see. The human being is amazingly blind.
I don’t cut holes in fences anymore.
But Tal does.
We had our cameras, and I was wearing Google Glass.
The air that night was full of secrets. Yet it was a blank and vacant nothingness in the face of the size of the location. The glaring light washing out without weight, a scattering of lesser elements, an overkill of climbing into someone’s blindness propelled, configured by a carving etching against the indifferent walls. It was all a murderous warning do not come here.
We could hear the insects all around us piercing the lantern of Diogenes as does by halves a set of sharpened wire cutters.
A tap to the side of Google Glass starts the video. I was surprised that we could get any images at all, but the bright lights that surrounded the detention facility lit the place up like the moon goes cold.
It wasn’t like the sneaking around — we were spies — crawling around at night as kids. As kids, we were subversive. As adults, we were suspicious of almost any ultimatum.
Or what, exactly. We articulated or what, exactly, a lot. If only to ourselves.
Guards and dogs.
Institutions have guards and dogs.
These symbolisms are used to answer questions on the high status of what authority.
Dangerous kids. Lock all your doors. Or they will invade your homes and teach you Spanish.
Why would four young boys be handcuffed and being put in a van so late at night.
It is the institution that is dangerous. My leg is going numb. All you can see is a bunch of feet when they’re closer, but when they first emerge from the right side of the building, you can plainly see who was walking toward the van, and you were hoping the van they were walking toward was not the one you were under with your camera. Google Glass is able to pick this stuff up, with the capability of turning .mp4 into png.
They were handcuffed. They were headed toward the van next to us.
At this point, you cannot sweat the small stuff.
Chickens are better security. Anyone comes too close to chickens, the racket chickens make would put German Shepherds to shame.
“Something is wrong. Something is very wrong,” I whispered to Tal was was beside me.”
“Tell me about it.”
Antonio was with this group. We just didn’t know which one he was.
“I was supposed to meet this shipment in Chicago. When this happens, it means someone is paying more than Ernesto. It’s a double-cross.”
“How did anyone even know — outside of us — that you were meeting with Ernesto.”
“No one but you guys knew.”
A long silence.
Someone is a snitch.
It was time to get the fuck out of Dodge.
I had to see it with my own eyes. What other kind of business like this one — the sex trafficking of boys — is so managed by Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak where the common agreement of the members of the culture is such that — it doesn’t exist because we have seen it. The boys being sold were invisible. I had always been invisible. If you are in any way waiting for the culture to recognize or validate you, you’re in for a very long wait in the hall by the Principal’s office.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
I started plotting on a way we could steal Antonio. We would have to keep track of where these boys were. There was no way we could spring him from this detention center. Too many armed guards, and no way to get a message in or out.
A double-cross was bad news for Tal. It meant that Ernesto would assume Tal was in on it.
It took a year to get Antonio out.
He was the only one who could tell us about whatever happened to the other boys.
“They’re dead,” he said. “If you begin to look sick, they kill you.”
The living are invisible. The dead are invisible. How does one make invisibility an attribute.
Harry Potter had his invisible cloak. We didn’t need one.
We all connected at a Motel Six we use when we need to to disappear. The Dodge Motel Six That Is Not In Dodge.
We call it the Blair Witch Motel. Kilian and I were alone in the Winnebago. The other guys were taking showers in the motel room.
Waffle House coffee, styrofoam plates, plastic forks, and chocolate waffles.
Kilian shoved his iPad toward me on the table.
“It’s happening,” he said.
“Read this. Everyone with HIV is being required to wear a bracelet that transmits your geolocation. Any person with HIV who does not wear the bracelet is committing a felony.”
“It’s been in the works for months. Some of us knew it was coming. Gee, I gles we better get our bracelets.”
“I’m not wearing a fucking bracelet.”
“Either am I.”
“We’re going to have to be a whole lot more subversive than we ever have been.”
“You can’t get the meds unless you have a bracelet.”
“I see that.” I returned the iPad.
“Just in case we are ever wanted for crimes.”
“Almost all of us are wanted for something.”
“Kilian, I’ve been telling you this kind of thing was going to happen. It just did.”
“So, we’re taking Antonio back with us, and what I want to know is when is someone going to start fighting back.”
Tal and I are going to Mexico. There are some people there who owe me a few favors.”
“Rayce said you know the drug dealers.”
“I would call them wealthy gentlemen who live in guarded compounds.”
“This sounds like a gun run.”
“Said gentlemen are having a fire sale on weapons.”
“Why do we need weapons.”
“You never know.”
“It’s all getting pretty radical, if you ask me.”
No one had.
“So, we’re going to start fighting back.”
“Someone has to. They started out with lists. We were on all the lists. Now, they want our blood, our urine, and to get the meds we have to wear a wrist band that tracks us. They’re fearful. If you need someone to blame — I do — then we have to start blaming some of the traffickers, the pimps, the scumbags who turned HIV into the us fight against them.”
“No one wins.”
“The next step is to round us up. Homeland Security already has the camps ready to go. They’re not unlike the Dilley Immigration Detention Center for Undocumented ten-year-olds.”
“We’ve been pushed into this.”
“The pushing started a long time ago.”
People are going to die.”
“People have been dying since 1981.”
“It’s like a mosh pit and no one is going to be there to catch you.”
“We have to catch ourselves. We have to feed ourselves. We have to get the medication ourselves. We need to be armed for ourselves. If they’re already scared of us, and they are, we need to stand up, fight back, and scare the shit out of them when we do not as a matter of necessity follow their arcane rules. The have their guns. We will get our own guns. They’re fucking with us, we will fuck with them.”
Tal and I said goodbye to the Winnebago group. Eavan driving. I stood and watched them go until they had disappeared.
We would leave early in the morning for Mexico.
I was packing my bag in the motel room. “I hope you got your wristband today,” Tal said.
I sat down on the bed and laughed.
“It’s not funny.”
“Frankly, I think the CDC is a laugh a minute. This new wristband gig will drive a lot of people underground.”
“You were already underground. How is it you know so much about human sex trafficking, anyway.”
“Are there parts of your past you’d rather forget,” Tal asked.
“My entire writing career for starters.”
“Maybe I can show you something no one writes about.”
“Maybe the people who have tried to write about it are dead.”
“If I can get us close enough…”
I reached into my bag and pulled out the Nikon. My photographs of Tal are all of him looking sort of grim. If not grim, then deadly serious.
“That is what a telephoto lens is for.”
CONTINUED AT: PART EIGHT