The flight to The Hague was uneventful. I went to the hotel and took a nap. I woke to the knocking on my door. There was Alex with a cup of coffee.
“Good morning. I figured you would need this, if not now, later.”
“What’s the plan?”
“Would it be possible to leave later at night rather than in the morning?”
“It will depend on the pilots. They need to get at least 8 hours of sleep before flying. But why the change?”
“You are in danger. They have figured out that the boys are being flown somewhere, but they don’t know who or how. We have spotted them watching the airports. Our people have been arresting them for illegal entry into this country.”
“Where are the boys now?”
“They are in a safe place. Can you move your plane to a military base?”
“Yes, if we have clearance.”
“I’ll be right back. Call your pilots and see if they can move on a minute’s notice.”
I wonder how much the life of the pilots and myself are in the balance. I didn’t care about myself as much as I did about other people who are attached to me.
I called room service and ordered breakfast for two. I was getting to know Alex. He could eat any time and anything.
Alex arrived with the porter wheeling in breakfast. He had a smile on his face; food seemed to do that for him.
“Here is your clearance, have your pilots fly here. They have been notified and are expecting them.”
I looked at the paper he handed me, “Are you sure? This is a classified site.”
“I told you powerful people are backing you.”
“What about the boys?”
“They are there waiting for you.”
Alex and whoever he’s working with continue to amaze me. I called the pilots and gave them instructions.
I looked at Alex. He was eating breakfast. I decided if I wanted anything, I better get over there.
“Alex, the first group, is getting settled, thanks to my boys. The new rooms that are finished are great, by the end of next week all of the bathrooms should be finished, I’m having an elevator put in. The architect had the plans already. He was waiting for me to climb the steps. I can’t promise any longer that each boy will have his own room. They now will have to share. It’s not what I’d like, but I can’t turn a kid down.”
“I think you’ll find they won’t mind sharing. You could build another building.”
“No, I want the boys to experience a family. If there were another building, they’d feel different, separated like not part of the group. No, sharing the room isn’t going to be a problem for them as much as it is for me. I wanted them to feel that they deserve their own space, free and not intimidated by someone else. But maybe that’s just me.”
We finished breakfast, I checked out of the hotel, and we drove to where the plane was parked. I didn’t realize it was that far away, it took us 4 hours. Of course, as soon as we arrived in the small village, we had to have lunch. I told Alec to order anything he wanted. For a while, I thought that was a mistake, but Alex is Alex.
The food was good, and I realized as I ate, I was hungry. “Alex, the plane has to be provisioned. Where’s the food coming from?”
“That’s taken care of. You didn’t think I’d forget about that. The base will handle that. Don’t be surprised as to what your steward finds in the packages that are being brought aboard.”
“Can we go to the plane? I need to see how they’re doing and when they can fly?”
“Okay, but the only one there is the steward. The pilots are sleeping in one of the officers’ quarters.”
“Maybe I can read the papers that go with the boys. I’m assuming you have information as similar to the last group.”
“Yes, but maybe it’d be better to tour the base. There are some men there who would like to meet you.”
Alex led the way. Driving on the base was something else. We were stopped twice and had to be cleared each time. Arriving at the headquarters, a general met us, inviting us in for coffee. He wanted to know more about what Alex and I were doing. He said he was surprised when he was told a private plane was going to be landing.
I looked at Alex and let him take the lead. I just sat back, enjoying my coffee while Alex was explaining what we were doing. As he talked, the General kept looking at me, then back at Alex. I watched his reaction when Alex told him the ages of some of these boys. He told him about Anthony and Chris, he told him about the number of boys I had, and I was here to take more boys to the States.
I just sat there and listened. I watched the expression on the General’s face as it changed, and even when Alex told a funny story, he just smiled. I think his mind was somewhere else.
When Alex finished, the General stood, and so did we. “Gentlemen, it’s a little early, but would you join me for a light lunch. I declined and said I’d join him for coffee. Alex smiled as he said he’d be happy to join him.
With the amount of food Alex ate, you would expect to see a man seriously overweight. But that wasn’t the case. He was on the thin side, overactive thyroid, I’d guessed.
I had a coffee and was talked into having a slice of pie. Alex said it would be rude not to have anything. I shouldn’t have worried. Alex made up for both of us.
I looked for my plane. It was well hidden. “You are looking for your plane?”
“It is parked in one of our hangers. I was told that no one was to see the plane before it took off.”
Later, when it was just Alex and me, “Alex, there’s a lot of secrecy going on concerning this trip.”
“Yes, besides hiding from the men watching the airport, there are high-level discussions with the Russians concerning the Russian Mafia and what they are doing. There’s a feeling that their government is looking the other way and maybe even encouraging this at the lower levels. Our people want them to crack down on these people. Starting sometime this week, a big effort will be made in the newspaper to publicize this crime if the government doesn’t do something.”
“If it’s like the usual response, they’ll arrest someone or shoot them, and then everything will return as it was before.”
“Maybe not this time. We’ll target the people with this information and pictures if necessary. There won’t be a change unless the people demand it.”
“I don’t want to see my boys get hurt.”
“They won’t be. Isn’t that your steward?”
“Yes, Jimmy,” I waved, and he headed toward us.
“Jimmy, this is a good friend of mine, Alex. Alex, this is the best steward in the business. He has a heart of gold, and our passengers really appreciate his attention and care.”
Alex shook his hand, “I know Jimmy, we have had a few discussions.”
“Jimmy, how are the pilots? Let me know when they have rested enough to return home.”
“They are ready now. Ronnie is checking out the plane.”
“Let me go and talk to him. I want to make sure he’s rested before we leave. Our cargo is too important to take chances.”
Walking to the plane, I saw Ronnie coming down the stairs, “Ronnie, are we ready to depart?”
“We need to get fuel, and then as soon as Tony wakes up, we will be ready to go. I’m going to check with the administration here to get permission to fuel up.”
“Alex, maybe we could get the boys on board before we go for fuel. This hanger provides a good cover. I’m sure Jimmy can keep them occupied with a movie and some snacks. What do you say, Jimmy?
“We are stocked like never before. I had to use the forward toilet to stack some of the boxes.”
“Alex, what do you think?”
“I agree; it’s a good idea. Carleton, there is one thing I haven’t told you, and hopefully, you’ll agree. There are 11 boys. One is five years old. I thought he could sit on your lap.”
“Alex, if we are stopped and overloaded, we’ll endanger all of our lives.”
“Carleton, he doesn’t weigh much. Toss off one of your boxes. He’s five years old, Carleton, five years old!"
“Tell me the story. Five years old is hard to understand.”
“One of the boys in this group told us that he overheard one of the men say that they had a buyer for the boy. They were to deliver him last night at midnight. We watched, and sure enough, we saw a man with a very young boy. One of my men approached him. The man ran toward the river. He was going to throw the boy into the river. One of our men stopped him, took the boy, and the man fell in the river in the ensuing struggle. We didn’t know he didn’t know how to swim. He drowned. We were sorry about that.”
I bet, I thought.
“We took the child to one of our doctors. He confirmed that the boy was molested. Evidently, they were shoving stuff up his bum, probably trying to take a male penis.The doctor treated him, I have some cream that is to be applied daily. I’ll give that to you. What do you say?”
“Alex, how can I not take him. Jimmy, have Ronnie check the weight to be sure we won’t have a problem. The child can sit on my lap.”
“I knew you couldn’t say no, Carleton. I was afraid to tell you beforehand, but that was foolish of me. I knew you’d do everything possible to take this boy.”
Jimmy went to talk with Ronnie. Alex went to get the boys ready, where ever they were being kept.
Jimmy returned and said Ronnie didn’t see a problem if I didn’t. I went and boarded the plane. As I was boarding, I noticed a sign on the plane, “Jimmy, what is that?”
“The men here on base put that on your plane when they found out what we were doing here. They said they wanted to be part of the rescue, and that insignia represents a rescue mission. You can peel it off if you want.”
“No, leave it. It’s what we have been doing a lot of lately.”