It seemed like the usual Mardi Gras celebration. The parade went almost without a hitch and relatively few pickpockets and robbers had been arrested. No rapes had occurred. And though a few prostitutes had been arrested for soliciting the officers, not many of them had been out either.
They would be out after dark, though, you could always be assured of that. And they always knew who wasn’t from the city, seemingly selecting those men that they had selected from the crowd through their young accomplices during the day who wandered through the crowds talking to everyone. Many were husbands, boyfriends or even fiances of the women with them. Some, but not many, were single. All found the temptation too much to resist. By morning, many would be impoverished…depleted by the fancy, high end prostitutes who were extremely expensive.
Of course, with the men out of the way, the male prostitutes could easily seduce the women by offering revenge sex at a cost. It was just the way it was. Vice tried to stop the cycle, but it was never ending. The more they cracked down, the more it took place. When they were raided in one area, the prostitutes moved to a different area until it cooled down and then moved back.
Michael wondered why they even had the prostitution laws. They really couldn’t prosecute, and even when they could, it was such a minor offense that it never really mattered anyway. All they did was fine, then release. Oh, they held them for a while, maybe a day or so, but never really very long.
And johns were a different matter altogether. There was an overabundance. And many of them were well connected. All being caught did was bring a problem to the attention to the masses. But the politicians and city officials were always kept quiet.
Being a john held no party affiliation. Both sides were just as guilty at enjoying the forbidden fruits of the prostitution trade. It was a given. Even some of the police officers seemed to indulge. Crooked cops would show leniency if bribed with sexual favors.
Michael knew that corruption was rampant within the system, but realized he was powerless to do anything. He was just a detective. He had to follow orders. And orders were that anything in vice, save robbery and rape, were nearly always solved by a simple fine. Gambling and prostitution were allowed to walk. Extortion, if proven, would always be prosecuted, but those that couldn’t be proven walked…even though it was known. Drugs, on the other hand, were a different matter depending on the vice cop. Some were on the take and had dealers of their own. Others went by the book. Still others took payola.
Michael wondered if prostitution was the same way. How many of his fellow officers were actually doubling as pimps? Perhaps he would never know. Not that he wanted to, really. But honesty and actual belief in protect and serve seemed almost nonexistent. Maybe he had worked in the system too long and was starting to see the cracks. Or maybe, the number was actually lower than he thought. But even a little corruption in law enforcement was too much.
God! He needed to get out. He had been in it for far too long. Promotion or no, this case that seemed to have no end would be his last. After it was solved, if ever, he would retire out. Quit before the job ate him alive and then spit him out an empty shell.
She was on the prowl again. This time, she had chosen a couple male prostitutes. Temporary patches for a quick fix. A hotel room was better than some house somewhere. And she could leave whenever she wished.
Delgado Rivera had been on the streets since he was thirteen, a prostitute since fourteen. It was good money, if you had the right pimp or worked for yourself. But with a pimp, you could be bought or sold for a high enough price. Same with Madames. They would buy or sell you to another, if they got tired of you or you weren’t bringing in the revenue they desired.
His friend and fellow prostitute, Marcuz Luder, had been on the streets just about as long. They had been under more than their share of pimps and Madames before they had gone together and bought out their “contracts”. Now free from the expectations of others, they were free to make money for themselves alone. And they did quite well on their own. Far better than they had while working for others.
They had picked her out of the crowd. She had been watching the parade so intently when they approached her. She was affluent. Or so she seemed.
And her personality was addictive. Almost like some drug. It wove a spell over both men, making them desire her as much as she desired them. She paid them in advance and named the hotel they would meet at.
Shortly after six, she met them at the hotel. She had all night before Morgan returned. Tomorrow, she would be his wife. But tonight, she was free to play.
Absently, she had packed a pair of scissors in her purse. She wondered, sometimes, what she was thinking of when she did those kinds of things. She didn’t think of herself as being a dangerous person. She didn’t believe that she would ever harm anyone. But she always did things that she couldn’t remember doing. Or that she was unaware that she was doing until she looked in her purse and saw something there that she had no memory of placing there.
She arrived bearing all the alcohol the three of them could ever drink in the few hours they would be together. She had even brought a little extra cash as a tip for each man. Tonight, she would make sure they earned their pay.
In a bag, she had all the party favors. Never leave home without protection, she thought. And tonight, she had to be protected. She wanted to avoid anything bad.