"I'm not sure I can believe you Chris," Donna told her friend as they sat together having lunch. "Not that I don't believe what you're saying isn't true, but that what your brother's friend told him isn't," she added trying to clarify and mollify her friends hurt look.
"Pete has never lied to me," Chris stated, "and I know he wouldn't have told me all this if he didn't honestly believe it too!" she added. "Which is why I decided to come to you with it, if anyone could look into it, I know you could, especially with all your connections!"
"I don't know Chris," Donna sat thinking it over, "too much hearsay for one, and if what your brother's friend told him is really true, it might be next to impossible to even prove it unless someone was idiotic enough, and willing enough to somehow get inside under cover as it where. Donna paused momentarily as her sharp mind tried to find some sort of solution, though she just couldn't see any way around it given the information that she had. "And to be honest, I can't think of anyone in their right mind who'd be willing to even do that!"
"What about you?" Chris asked. "You've sort of done things like this before haven't you?" she asked, "Which is why I told Pete I'd come to you in the first place. If this really is going on, if it's for real, don't you think someone should expose that it is and inform everyone?"
It could indeed be a big story, especially if it was true. But finding a way to actually prove that it was might prove to be next to impossible.
"There's a big difference between my pretending to be a care-taker at a home for the Elderly and something like this," Donna went on. "All I had to do there was basically keep my eyes and ears open, help out a little with the help of the trusted staff, and eventually discover who it was that was actually molesting all those women. This is a hell of a lot more complicated than that. I couldn't just observe things the way I did there, I'd have to pretend to go along with everything for a while until I was trusted enough to be accepted. And after what you've just told me, I'm not sure that I could, I'm not sure anyone could for that matter."
"Well, perhaps you're right," Chris said dejectedly. "It was just a thought, but I thought at the very least I would mention it to you, see if you were interested in looking into it."
At just thirty-three years of age, Donna Jones was a highly regarded, very well respected investigative reporter. Aside from the Care Center report she had done, which had eventually helped the police capture and convict an individual who'd been working there for years, Donna had also gone under cover, eventually exposing a Prostitution ring at a well known and up until then, highly regarded health spa, as well as numerous other though not as highly publicized stories. She was good at what she did, having several connections as well as a team of very efficient experts with various skills that she often tapped into in order to help her in uncovering her stories and bringing about the truth.
Donna wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty either, short of actually breaking the law, doing whatever it took which had at times included her wearing disguises as her face and identity were often too well known. But as she sat there thinking about what her friend Chris had just told her, she couldn't for the life of her find a way to get inside on this one, short of actually pretending to go along with it for a time, put up with what she knew would eventually prove to be a harrowing experience if nothing else, before she'd have enough proof to substantiate her story and expose everyone involved. She was good, but she wasn't sure she was good enough, let alone emotionally strong enough to pull this one off.
"Let me think about it for a while," Donna said picking up the check as they finished their lunch together. "In the meantime, tell Pete to tell his friend not to say or mention this to anyone else, if I do decide to look into it, it could jeopardize any real hope of exposing this, especially if someone becomes aware that either I, or someone else might be, not to mention my safety," she added as a concerned thought.
In her line of work, Donna had known there was some risk, but she'd always taken precautions before hand to ensure her own safety. In this situation, there wouldn't be much she could do to honestly protect herself should she be discovered. This time, she really would be placing herself out there on a limb.
"I'll do that," Chris told her assuring her. "But promise me, if you do decide to look into this, you'll be careful, don't take any unnecessary chances or risks if it means your safety, or perhaps even your very life. Pete's friend said these people can get pretty rough, and he meant that very seriously!" she cautioned.
"I will, and I'll keep that in mind," Donna told her friend, and then headed back to her office to give this some more thought, do a little research, though she didn't expect to find much that would initially help her going in.
If there really was much truth in what she'd been told, then this would be a difficult nut to crack, the people involved where very careful, did a lot of background research themselves, had people investigated and followed before ever permitting them to be trusted enough to use once they'd been trained.
She didn't know if she could even do that to begin with. Donna would be required to act and behave in ways she had never imagined before or even thought possible.
"I don't know Donna," Jerry told her after listening to her for the better part of an hour. "This would be the deepest you'd ever had to go without much of a safety net," he said telling her what she already knew. "And I'm not sure Dan would even go along with it to begin with," he added.
Jerry was her best male friend and co-worker. He was also the best brain with the best technological background she knew. If she ever needed or wanted anything, Jerry could find a way to get it, which had included faking I.D.'s as well as a complete new identity with history behind it if she needed it, which in this case, she would. As for Dan, he was the owner and managing editor of the newspaper she worked for. Though she was more free-lance than a hired on employee, she had worked exclusively for Dan, and had earned a decent enough salary in doing so.
"We're not going to tell Dan anything about this," she told her friend. "Not until I've got a lot more to go on, then we'll bring him into it," she told him. "If what Chris told me is true, then there are too many people in high enough places that they could bury all of this, including me if I don't find and get the proof that we need first before going to Dan with any of this."
"I still don't like it," Jerry told her. "But I'll be there every step of the way if I can," he added already knowing as he said that, that Donna had already made up her mind. "So, what are you going to title this story if you do manage to expose it?" he asked.
Donna laughed, "Oh I don't know, something along the lines of 'The Stepford Wives meet the Marquis De'Sade?" she said.
"God Donna, just the sound of that sends chills up and down my spine," he told her.
"Yeah, me too," she said seriously, already feeling them.
As Jerry began work on giving Donna a complete new identity, which anyone having access to the network would easily be able to find, Donna began her own initial research on the company in question, a perfectly legitimate one on paper, and one that was also highly regarded in the industry, yet low key just enough to fly just under the radar where it mattered.
She brought up their web site. It looked just like a number of other temporary hiring/placement agencies that specialized in temporary part-time help for numerous Fortune 500 Companies for which it served. Donna shook her head wondering, just how many placements where there, where the type of activities going on were actually happening? Real? It could also be entirely false, some disgruntled ex-employee with a chip on their shoulder hoping to seek revenge for all she knew, though she'd been given assurances from Chris that this wasn't the case.
Pete's friend had stumbled into it, though even this was a "friend of a friend's" sort of thing, and Donna had learned through experience that most of the time, those sorts of rumors and accusations never panned out. Pete had insisted however, to Chris, that what that friend had told him was held in the strictest of confidence, bragging about it to him, exclaiming the truth of it, and sadly enough, how exciting it had been for him to have personally experienced it on top of all that.
"Women hired, and then trained and placed to be willingly humiliated, abused, and even tortured, all for the amusement of other men and women in high places, in highly respected positions, for well known companies and organizations, all under the guise of temporary help," Donna mused while reading through "O.B. & D Services," which stood for Office, Business and Document Services, specializing in temporary employee placements.
It was again all legit, on paper. There was nothing that she could find anywhere, where there were any filed complaints against the agency. Any firings had come from just cause, each one thoroughly and appropriately documented, but even those were far and few between. Even so, Donna knew Jerry would be thorough in checking those out.
.... There is more of this story ...