I was extremely pleased when Anya wanted to stay home. She was expecting a call from her sister in Russia. Vlad and I drove to the Cowboy Bar and Grill first. It and the Cop Out were my usual hangouts. Well not where I hung out, just where I went to get laid.
When we walked in, I could see that business was off. Sarah was standing at the bar with a drink in her hand. I suppose the Christmas spirit was found in a glass at cowboys.
“Sarah how about a cup of bad coffee,” I suggested. She looked from me to Vlad who shook his head.
“Here you go, one bad coffee on the house, since it’s Christmas,” she said placing the coffee in front of me.
“Sarah what do you know about an organized ring of girls operating in town?” I asked.
“I don’t know anything,” she said. The look on her face told me it was true.
“Do you know where I need to go to ask?”
“There is nobody that I know in town with that kind of organization. Maybe in Tryon,” she said. “But I wouldn’t know.”
After she left Vlad said, “You know I don’t think there is a market here for girls in any large number. Maybe one or two, Do you know how many he is supposed to be running and how he is doing it?”
“If I knew that, I wouldn’t be on this fishing trip,” I admitted.
“Let’s rethink this expedition. Who would most likely want those kinds of girls?” Vlad asked.
“My guess would be the people dealing with the mission. Either other members or vendors that kind of thing. The problem with going outside that group is that the girls are not going to be be really high class.” I said.
“Not even close,” Vlad agreed.
“Those people don’t have the kind of money to make the venture viable.” I suggested.
“How much extra money do they need. They have almost nothing now, anything is a step up. As for Peace, he may not be in it for the money. He might be in it for the power. Maybe he is planning a coup against the Preacher.”
“That’s a lot of intrigue for a non profit. But you know a hell of a lot of money is going into the mission. If someone decided not to spend it, very soon he would be very rich.” I admitted.
“If they weren’t operating the girls internally, how would they market them. Remember we still have the same customer base. I don’t see college boys riding one of these beasts,” Vlad said.
“There is a section of town where the riff raff moved after the preacher rehabilitated the West End section. Come on let’s ride down and ask a few questions. These people don’t have a lot to lose Vlad, so go easy it could break bad at any second.
“Well we are a little over dressed to be anything but cops or something like it,” he said.
“Let’s just see how it goes. I can send someone back undercover if it gets to that,” I agreed.
The Shamrock had needed a coat of paint ten years before. By the time we showed up it needed a complete renovation. At the very least someone needed to change the grease on the walls. There was so much dirt attached to the hanging bulbs that the room was several lumen darker than necessary.
Neither Vlad nor I were dressed especially well, but we were still over dressed for the Shamrock. At least we didn’t create a riot when we entered. People didn’t start running for the exits. It was probably my really bad hair that held them in place. No self respecting cop or do gooder would have hair that looked like mine.
“What’ll you have,” the waitress asked.
“Might as well make it two beers,” Vlad said.
“You want to eat?” she asked through her broken teeth.
“No thanks,” I said.
What the fuck are you doing? the question came from the controller.
I’m trying to find out what the Deacon is up to, I replied in a silent message.
Since we weren’t going to fool anyone, I decided just to go for it. When the waitress returned with the beer I asked, “We are having a party at my place the weekend after Christmas, New Years, and we need a few girls. who should I talk to?” I asked.
“I ain’t got no idea,” she said.
“So much for that ten dollar tip,” I said. “All I want is a name. You aren’t involved at all.”
“What you want the girls for?” she asked.
“It’s just a party for my friends. We like all kinds of different things. I will provide the dresses and all that. They just have to show up and be friendly, very friendly.” I smiled what could have passed for a leer at her. I had a clear memory of how to do it, so it came pretty natural.
“I don’t want nothing to do with that, but I can get you a phone number,” she said.
“I don’t want store clerks now. I want real women, you know what I mean.” I said.
“Yeah, I know,” she said it with a great deal of disgust.
“I need a shower,” I said after she had gone to retrieve the number.
“It can only get worse, you know that.” Vlad said to me.
“Yes, but with a little luck we can fuck someone up and make it all worthwhile,” I said with a smile.
The waitress came back and we traded a ten dollar bill for the phone number. “If this number is a fake, I will be back for my money,” I said it with that smile again. “I might have to take it out in trade, but I’ll get it.”
“The number is good, ask for Sammy,” she said.
“So there is at least one cutout,” Vlad said.
“Even if these are the same girls,” I suggested.
“If he comes up with a few, odds are good they are the same ones. Not that many large operations at one time in a small town. This ain’t New York City or Moscow even,” Vlad said.
I dialed Sammy’s number and it went to voice mail, so I hung up. “We are going to need to grab him up,” I suggested.
“Is he going to disappear?” Vlad asked.
“That is totally up to him. I am not interested in hiding a body this time of year, but I can be convinced.” I said quietly.
“Sounds like a perfectly reasonable answer,” Vlad said.
Vlad and I packed it in, since we couldn’t lay our hands on the Sammy guy right away. I sat in my comfortable chair running on half power and charging. I was in no hurry to find out what little there was to know about all the players in the current drama.
It seems that there was mostly petty crime on the sheets of the poorest of the poor. It looked as though Sammy had a little burglary and a little larceny but nothing major. He seemed to be the kind of guy who would steal your tools, if you left the door open, but might not bother breaking a cheap lock to get to them. In other words he was most likely no more than a guy, who knew the guy, with the girls.
Vlad had mentioned something as he left the truck. “You know you are pretty well known to be running a scam. Maybe we should either get someone else to run the scam, or just pickup these guys and sweat them. You ought to think that over.”
So I thought it over while I charged. I decided that I didn’t want to spend my time torturing people except as a last resort. I wanted to outsmart them. Okay when I couldn’t outsmart them, I would gladly pull out a fingernail.
I would have to see if I could get someone else to play the party hostess. I had always wanted to try working with Tiny Dancer. Maybe she would like to get involved. She sure as hell looked the rich bitch part.
Christmas Eve and the Sit Down was open, but there was a sign stating quite clearly that it would be closed the next day. I picked up a couple of extra bags for the next day.
Since I was on the bike, I took them home before I rode to the mall to walk. Yes I went walking on Christmas Eve in all the traffic. It was pretty awful on the roads and the foot traffic in the mall was just as bad. It felt a lot like life in a pinball machine. Still I hung in there till I started my laps of the crowded mall. Even through the crowd, she stood out. Nobody else in the whole world moved like the Tiny Dancer.
I had to hustle but I finally did catch up with her. “Hey girl, you gonna have a few minutes sometime today, or are you all booked up for Christmas?” I asked.
“I got some time. You want to talk now?” she asked.
“Somewhere a little quieter, if you trust me not to attack you?” I asked.
“I trust you. Your place in an hour then?” she asked.
“My place in two hours, I just got here.” I said smiling. I walked off knowing the deal was struck.
“Dancer, would you consider making a call for me. Before you say yes, it is going to require you to do a little acting.” I suggested.
“Everything you do sounds like fun. I have been known to play a part you know. I’m more than ready to get involved.” she said.
“Okay, but you have to pretend pretend that you are throwing a snooty New Years Eve party and want some poor hookers to amuse your wealth guests,” I said.
“That sounds cruel, but I can do it.” she said. I’m sure you know to stick as close to the truth as possible. If he asks, It’s New Years Eve at your place. He shouldn’t ask, since he is just the guy who knows the guy, but you never know.
I dialed the number given to me by the waitress at the Shamrock. The phone got answered by a guy who sounded half asleep. “Sammy you don’t know me but my name is Sadie and I was given your name. I’m looking for some street wise hookers. I’m having a party and I want some real whores with character not class. It’s kind of a joke, but I need five of them.”
“Who gave you my number bitch?” he asked.
“What your mouth,”Dancer said. I nodded my approval. “I got your number from a waitress in a club. She said you knew all the players. If you didn’t know the prostitutes, you would know someone who did.”
“Yeah, I know a guy who runs ten dollar whores. Is that what you want?” he asked.
“That’s exactly what I want. Can you set it up or do I need to meet with him.” I had told her not to push to get up the ladder. If he didn’t volunteer, I would grill one of the girls. One of them would always talk.
“Sadie, why don’t you meet with us both and we can work out a deal?” he suggested.
“That’s fine, when and where?” she asked.
“How about we meet at the McDonalds at the Mall. Since it’s Christmas Eve I will have to see if he is available. Give me a number and I’ll call back.” I quickly wrote the number of the burn phone on the card. “Be sure you bring your check book to the meeting.”
I shook my head and whispered, “Cash no records.”
I sat quietly while she said to him, “If it’s all the same, let’s use cash.”
“That will work just fine,” Sammy said.
“I’ll be waiting for your call,” the dancer informed him. She turned to me then asked. “So how did I do?”
“You are a natural,” I said and I meant it. I would expect to hear from Sammy any time, I thought. Maybe not before Christmas had past, but that was okay as well. I had tons of loose ends out there I could try to tie up.
I was still waiting on the Park Place building to settle, and then there was the Irishman in D.C. thing. Once the boys on the farm identified Irish, I was going to have some serious ‘splainin’ to do.
“Thanks for taking care of that for me. I am going to need you to meet with them and maybe lure them somewhere so that I can grab one or both of them.” I said.
“Why don’t I just wear a wire and play act some more. I can probably find out what you want to know. It seems to me you already have an idea what you need to know,” she suggested.