I’m working on Easytown 2, and I haven’t decided on a title yet. This section is from chapter 2 (unedited, of course):
“Hey, baby. You look cold and wet. I could make you hot and wet.”
I glanced at the hooker who beckoned me toward the darkened alley in the rain. She was a new girl, didn’t know I was a cop yet. If she survived her first week on the job, she’d know better than to ask me for sex.
“I’m a cop, sweetheart.”
“Oh, I love cops,” she replied, stepping out of the shadows and closing the distance quickly.
She wore a prosthetic on her right leg below the knee. It looked like some high-end tech, but she could have gotten some help from some type of charitable organization. Her clothing looked cheap: skirt, halter-top and a clear plastic rain poncho with glowing pink LED tubing around the seams. It was the diamond studs in her ears that blew her cover. I pointed to her obviously expensive leg. “What sorority?”
“Huh? I’m just having some fun, you know?” Lie.
We saw it all the time. Sororities and fraternities had their pledges do all sorts of crazy things down in Easytown to show their dedication to the organization. We’d had males pick fights with district toughs and attempt to ride the police drones like a bull, girls stripping in front of uniformed cops and performing sex acts on each other in front of live news feeds. But this was the first time I’d seen one of them force a girl into prostitution.
“Don’t bullshit me, kid. What sorority?”
“I wouldn’t charge you. It’d be a freebie since you’re a cop.”
“Do you see the news vids? People die every day down here. Street prostitutes usually don’t last more than a few days. How important is it to you to join this sorority that you’d risk getting murdered?”
“Shut up. Andi, video from my last prostitute job.”
I pulled out my phone and Andi projected the crime scene photos from two days ago in the space between me and the girl. The pictures flipped rapidly through the mundane things and then slowed down when the close-ups of the body began. Sick fucker had pulled the prostitute’s intestines through her anus while she was still alive.
Where was the Paladin that night?
The girl retched and looked away. “That was three blocks from here, just a little bit further up the Lane,” I said. “Casey Bond; she was pledging a sorority too. That was done to her while she was alive, screaming for her mother at first and then for a merciful end to her pain. We have witnesses.”
I reached out and grabbed the girl’s chin, forcing her to look me in the eyes. “What sorority?”
“Sigma Tau Epsilon.”
I released the girl’s chin. “Andi, stop the playback. Thanks.” As I slipped my phone back inside my coat, I whistled for a cab.
“What are you doing?”
“Saving your life.”
An orange and blue taxi halted at the curb and the door slid open. I grabbed the girl by the elbow and tried to steer her toward the car. She wouldn’t budge.
“I won’t get into STE unless I get a guy to pay for sex with me.”
I looked around the area, but didn’t see anyone watching or any cameras set up. “Where are they?”
She found a spot on the ground that seemed extremely interesting.
“Where are they?” I repeated.
“One of the sisters is a computer science major. She hacked into the camera up there to watch.”
I followed the direction she’d nudged her chin. Son of a bitch. The sorority had hacked into the city’s security camera network. These goddamned hackers were getting out of control.
The pledge kicked glumly at a pebble. For a moment, I considered getting into the cab with her and riding a few blocks to make the watching sorority girls think she’d successfully landed a john, but pushed the thought aside. It wouldn’t teach the girl a lesson and it sure as hell wouldn’t affect the sorority.
I tilted my fedora back and stared directly at the camera. Then I pulled off my glove and stuck up my middle finger, mouthing the words, “Fuck you.”
More department sensitivity training was coming my way.
“Hey, let go of me,” the girl squeaked when I grabbed her upper arm in a vice and began physically dragging her to the cab.
“It’s for your own good, kid.”
“Ow! You’re hurting me.”
I laughed at her naivety. “This is nothing compared to what you’d experience if a real john came along or if one of the district’s killers got to you.”
I shoved her hard into the open doorway and she fell across the seat before sliding down to the floorboard. Somewhere along the way, her leg had detached, so I picked it up and tossed it inside as well.
“You’re an asshole!” she screeched.
“You’re welcome,” I answered and slammed the door.