Winter's Voyage
Chapter 1

Caution: This Mystery Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Teenagers, Consensual, BiSexual, Heterosexual, Fiction, Crime,

Desc: Mystery Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Winter Jennings reporting for duty. I'm 33, a private detective in Kansas City. Mother of a pretty decent kid, Walker, 14. I'm in married-love with Vanessa Henderson. Vanessa is working on opening her own restaurant, Euforia. I'm on a case that has me preparing to board The Globe, a troubled residential yacht. My departure is delayed when a friend is murdered. Plus, Pilar Paloma arrives on the scene. From Hondo, Colombia. Oh, and a designer drug that makes heroin look like pablum.

Engineers tell us that a machine runs at peak efficiency right before it breaks down.

Walker, Vanessa and I were rollerblading around our enormous loft to soaring Italian arias cranked up to the max. Scarlatti, Parisotti, Rossini, and Verdi reached forward through the centuries to inspire us, touch us, move us.

It was 5:30 on a Tuesday morning and we were swooshing around furniture, area rugs, small sculptures, on a purely impulsive lark. Vanessa had woken up feeling the urge. Surprisingly, Walker was fairly easy to roust this time. He grinned, tucked morning wood into red boxer-briefs, laced up.

Unsurprisingly, Mindy was unresponsive. She sleeps more soundly than any human ever scrutinized by science. Going back to homo erectus times.

Vanessa was wearing a black ‘Winter Sucks Cock’ Tee-shirt. Long story. Mine was more demure, ‘I Love Vanessa.’ Vanessa, at 5’ 10” is naturally graceful. She reminds me of a panther, a tiger, some sleek cat. Put her on blades and it’s a force-multiplier, she becomes so fluid that she seems almost alien. Some undiscovered life-form from some undiscovered planet.

Walker ... well, Mr. Puberty is still butt-fucking him. He can pretty much maneuver around our hardwood floors without crashing, falling, tripping others.

I’m somewhere in between, grace-wise. But we all soared that particular Tuesday morning, effortlessly forming twosomes, threesomes, morphing back to singles. It was like a seemingly choreographed gambol while that glorious music thrummed through the air. The euphony seemed to fill the room, wall to wall to wall to wall, floor to ceiling.

Vanessa, gliding backwards, easily did a figure-8 around Walker, giving his bulge a friendly squeeze on the way by. I’m going to speak with her about that. Someday.

There is only one axiom I live by. I call it the Winter Jennings Code: If we didn’t do things we shouldn’t, we’d never feel good about the things we should do.

At work, Bulldog Bannerman’s Dragon Lady # 1, called me at my office in the Livestock Exchange Building, “Bulldog’s on the way.” Click.

Bulldog, city fixer, Kansas City style.

I left my .38 in the right hand drawer of my stylish Nelson Swag Leg desk, figuring that Bulldog wasn’t planning to off me. I unlocked the door separating my office from the modest, underused, reception area. Then I looked out my peephole and unlocked the steel-reinforced door to the hallway.

Winter Jennings, open for business. A mostly sunny morning, Tuesday, August 8, 2017. Because it’s Bulldog, this Tuesday will be interesting. Interesting good or interesting bad, I don’t know. But interesting.



“Do you think I’m too tall? Kind of goony?”

“I think your little pee-pee is too short.”

“F. U.”

“You wish.”

I’m Winter Jennings, a 33-year old private detective. I was a single mom of a single kid. Walker, 14. But I married up, married Vanessa Henderson. Along the way the three of us acquired a girl, Mindy Montgomery, 16, who has somehow become my son’s live-in girlfriend.

The four of us reside in a large, lovingly renovated loft in a century-old building -- the Wrigley Hotel. Although our fifth floor loft isn’t part of the hotel operation. The Wrigley is on Main Street, in the gallery-filled Crossroads District, just south of downtown Kansas City, on the Missouri side of State Line.

This would be the last month the four of us would live together. Stanford.

Bulldog Bannerman avoids the media, shuns even the most positive coverage. He’s been a behind-the-scenes guy since the 60s and his influence seems to grow with each passing year. White hair cropped short like he wore it in the Corps, wiry build, looks like he could still step back into a Golden Gloves ring.

He didn’t sit, merely handed me an online printout that would flood the city’s digital screens in a few minutes. Bulldog learns about things before regular people do.

“Sorry, Winter.”

It was an AP release about to hit the digital stream, “Sister Mary Catherine Packer, 62, was strangled to death early Tuesday morning at her shelter for homeless girls in Northeast Kansas City.”

The rest of the copy blurred from my silent tears. I sat down. Bulldog gave my shoulder a soft squeeze and left. Sister Mary Packer. Slight, determined, relentless, dressed for utility except for her neon-colored sneakers. A saint to the wretched little girls who knocked at her door.

Someone said, “Fuck.”

I’ve lived -- while attending college -- in New York City and London. But Kansas City, the Missouri version, is home. Born here, grew up here, family and friends here. Guess I’m just a provincial girl.

Actually, Doubly Provincial, now that I think about it.

There is Kansas City and then there is Winter’s Kansas City.

While the Chamber claims the Greater KC Metro Area has around 2,000,000 mostly un-incarcerated souls and sprawls over almost 8,000 square miles, My Kansas City is much more consolidated.

Turn your back on the Missouri River, face south, and look around. You’ll see the West Bottoms, or, using its upscale name, River Market. And this is the little pocket of the city where my office building resides in the once-bustling, starting-to-bustle-again, stockyards.

Squeeze your eyes shut while Uber takes you south over those fucking freeways that ugly-slice through the city and you’re in downtown. Or, as the successful marketing campaign dubbed it, the Power & Light District.

Keep heading south, say on Main Street, and you’re in the artsy Crossroads District. Where I live with Walker, Vanessa, and Mindy. Our loft takes up the entire fifth floor of the Wrigley, pretty cool digs, in fact.

Motoring further south through a vague stretch known vaguely as midtown, you come to historic Westport. There were military battles of some sort fought back ... um, back in time. It’s mostly bars now with a few good restaurants sprinkled in.

Next is KC’s jewel, the Country Club Plaza. It’s a ritzy shopping and dining area modeled after Seville. The one in Spain, not the Detroit version. I love the Plaza -- 15 square blocks of colorful tiles, graceful arches, parking hidden from view, cast-iron scrollwork, low-rise decorative towers. Plus around 30 or so bars and cafes with outdoor seating.

Brookside is next. Neighborhood shopping and dining. Largish houses on largish lots.

Furtherest south in My KC is Waldo -- bars, bars, bars with a few eating establishments. Lively nighttime scene. Smaller bungalows than Brookside.

Now, with Mary Packer gone, My Kansas City is dimmer, more hushed.

Vanessa and Bear entered my office together. She took me in her arms and I lost it. Weeped, cried, sobbed. Bear opened my little office bar and poured us 9 AM snifters of Germain-Robin brandy from California.

Vanessa said, “Phillip is on the way to tell Mindy.” Phillip Montgomery, banker, father of Walker’s girlfriend.

I said, “We need to go get Walk.”

“We’ll take your truck, Bear is going to the shelter.”

The Sister Mary Packer Shelter. For girls in need. Bear runs a major restaurant, he’ll be able to handle the shelter for a while. Work around the crime scene area, those girls still need to be fed.

Vanessa and I head for Pembroke Hill School to pick up my son. Our son.

I hadn’t known Mary Packer’s middle name. Catherine. Nor her exact age. 62. Doesn’t matter now.


When Bulldog dropped the bombshell I had been preoccupied by three significant -- significant for us anyway -- items on our little events-horizon: Mindy Montgomery was leaving us, leaving Walker, to enroll at Stanford University. We all understood this would almost certainly be the end of the kids’ romance. Walker knew it at a deeper level than the rest of us.

Vanessa Henderson was working frenetically to open her new Brookside restaurant. Euforia. Regional Italian food. Euforia is an investment in time, money, and effort. The cash commitment goes against the counsel of our financial advisor, Gertie Oppenheimer.

With all of this going on, I was scheduled to fly to Palermo on Thursday to meet, and board, The Globe. With 200 luxury condos, it’s one of the largest residential yachts afloat. Phillip Montgomery’s New York hedge fund, Envoy Assets, owns 30% of the ship. And something troubling was going on. I’d been contracted to investigate.

Well, later.

Back when I was in New York, going to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a girlfriend talked me into attending a weekend workshop called “The Experience.” It was an eye-opener. A new wave of feminism. Without any of the militancy.

The guru, Mama Gena (Gena Thomashauer), is inspirational, positive, strong. A true motivator.

To oversimplify, she teaches women how to move beyond a male mindset. Personally and professionally. She preaches pleasure, a type of happiness not confined to the rules created and reinforced by men.

One small example, stop thinking of chocolate as a guilty pleasure. Like it? It’s just a pleasure. Enjoy it.

The same thing for work. Stop looking at your career as duty. Either enjoy it or find something else to do.

Strident? Not at all. More celebratory than anything. Several women wore Tee-shirts that said ‘8,000 Nerve Endings.’ The number that happen to be in my vagina. Mama Gena uses the word ‘pussy’ a lot. Pussy as in pleasure.

Ever since my babysitter, Peggy Rawlings, and her brother Ryan, first seduced me, I’ve celebrated my hedonistic side without really thinking about it. Mama Gena reinforced my sybaritic nature and expanded my positive understanding of myself, my opportunities, my outlook on life.

We tend to admire people who preach what we already believe, don’t we?

Mayor Tom Lynch held a noon press conference to announce that Homicide Captain Dave Jennings, my father, would head up a dedicated task force to find and apprehend Sister Mary Packer’s killer.

City Hall and the police brass often hold media events in a threadbare room, poor lighting, dusty plastic ferns, worn furniture. The shabby setting is to downplay the true power of the city. The weight and majesty of the executive branch combined with the raw power of law enforcement.

This particular media showcase was in the plushest mayoral conference room that City Hall has. Flags, framed portraits, polished oak. No subterfuge. Bulldog Bannerman had placed his experienced index finger on the pulse of the city. Blood pressure up. Interpreted the increased electrical activity from his private EKG.

A beloved nun had been killed. He told the mayor, “Full Monty.”

By two o’clock that Tuesday afternoon a war-party of sorts was gathered in our loft. The mourners -- Walker, Mindy, and I. Phillip and Rebecca Montgomery. Phillip had started the Sister Mary Packer Foundation once Mindy became a daily volunteer at the shelter.

Rebecca had spent a lot of mothering time with those lost little girls herself.

Bear would have been here, all 6’ 8” of him, but he had taken charge of the shelter. The girls need food, showers and beds even without Mary. Probably need them more than ever without Mary. Phillip dispatched a grief counselor to hang out at the site, talk with anyone who wanted to.

Daddy, Homicide Captain Dave Jennings, was here. The mayor, also the head of the Police Commission, had immediately put him in charge of the Sister Mary investigation. Daddy stopped by mainly to hug me. And to murmur, “We’ll catch the cocksucker,” before he left to open the Murder Book.

Also present, notably so, Bulldog Bannerman, the first time he’d been in our loft. That I knew about anyway. Locks and permission are of little consequence to him. He sat quietly, watching, listening, that’s how he operates. So far as I know, no one told him about our little gathering, let alone invited him. But he was more than welcome. Things tended to get done when Bulldog was involved.

At the end of the impromptu meeting, which was mostly free of emotional outbursts and staccato obscenities from me, Bulldog said, “The city is posting a reward, $100,000.”

Phillip said, “OneBank will match it. I’ll make some calls.” The wealth network. This reward fund would grow rapidly.

Between the two men -- Bulldog, the pragmatic city fixer and Phillip, the connected banker -- they worked out the next steps.

First thing, above everything else, was to keep the shelter going. It would be the one thing that Mary Packer would have asked. This would entail finding a replacement for Mary, probably more than one person, to run the place. Which was now a large enough operation to have a weekly budget of over $3,000.

Phillip asked me, I’d known Mary longer than anyone except for Bulldog, where I’d hold her memorial service.

“Right here. Mary spent the night here, drank a lot of wine. A few times. She liked it here.”

Bulldog left the funeral arrangements up to Phillip. Bulldog said, “Tom will want to speak, but you should do the eulogy.”

Mayor Tom Lynch wouldn’t miss a turnout like this one. But, all in all, I think he’s a pretty good guy. Daddy agrees and he doesn’t like politicians.

There is only one axiom I live by. I call it the Winter Jennings Code: The higher the mountain, the more treacherous the path.

Well, Mary’s death changed everything in our little world. There’s never a convenient time for murder, is there?

Phillip not only understood I had to postpone my investigation of The Globe, he had one of his assistants reschedule my trip.

Mindy had been accepted to Stanford. We were all proud of her, even Walker. Especially Walker. Although it meant the probable end of his love life. His sex life. Mindy is two years, almost three years, older and in Teenage World, the boy is supposed to hold seniority.

Mindy had worked her wealthy little butt off at Mary’s shelter and announced today that she would not be leaving for college. She’d stay to work at Mary’s until things are running smoothly again. Until a new administrator is found.

Walker was the first to respond, “No, Mindy. Sister Mary would want the same thing for you that she wanted for her shelter girls. To move on, to keep trying. Keep going.”

Little fucker. I may have teared up, just a little, I was so proud of him. Vanessa too.

Walker, Vanessa and I joined forces with Phillip and Rebecca to squash Mindy’s brief, kind, unselfish, rebellion. She has gained a lot of spine since she had fallen prey to a cult, but she didn’t have enough to stand up against our united front.

That left Euforia.

We had rented a failed Brookside liquor store on the south side of 63rd Street. From the minute we signed the lease, the financial clock was ticking.

Vanessa was working killer hours trying to get her restaurant in good enough shape to do a series of soft weekend openings. There wasn’t much she could do to help in the Mary Packer investigation. It simply made sense for her to continue to apply her prodigious work ethic to the launch effort.

That Tuesday night, it was a quiet dinner, just Walker and Mindy, Vanessa and me. I can’t even remember what we had, probably just salads.

The kids went to bed, they’d comfort each other. Vanessa would comfort me. I hope someone pretty fucking celestial is comforting Sister Mary Packer.

In the shower, Vanessa said, “I’m sorry, Winter, I just have to keep pushing on Euforia.”

I hugged her, a slippery, soapy hug, “Of course you do, baby. I’m just sorry I can’t help more.”

I expected her to hold me in bed, console me, nurture me. Instead Vanessa lay on top, kissed me deeply and licked and nibbled her way down my body. I wasn’t in the mood, not really, but I didn’t object.

Usually she’s hungry, ravenous, when she’s between my thighs. This night it was a different Vanessa. Probably a different Winter as well. She was tender. Slow, loving, and tender.

It wasn’t passionate, it wasn’t the one thing in the world I needed. But it helped. I’ve always been an easy cum, ever since I first got my boobs. So it was enjoyable, even without the usual passion. Then she did hold me as I fell into a deep sleep.



“Do you think I’m good looking? I mean to a girl?”





“How dumb are you?”

Daddy and Sergeant Louise Finch knew I’d investigate Mary Packer’s murder on my own. Parallel to, and I hoped not interfering with, the official police inquiry. Neither of them tried to dissuade me.

Not that it would have made any difference. I would throw myself into the hunt for that fucking creep no matter what the police, even Daddy, said.

By Wednesday morning the reward money had already topped $325,000. The citywide manhunt was on. It could have been a woman killer I guess, but the odds were against it. And womanhunt didn’t have quite the ring to it.

I have a network of freelancers around the metro area and I sent them into action. To talk to their acquaintances, listen for rumors, pay attention to gossip. See if anyone is spending large.

Whoever strangled Sister Mary knew about the existence of the dark green cash box, a flimsy lockbox. Which was where the grocery money was stashed. Mary didn’t keep careful records, but probably around two or three thousand dollars was missing. And that’s a fortune in some parts of town. Including the Forgotten Northeast.

I forced myself to look at the photos. Sister Mary Packer had been brutally beaten in the face, then strangled in the little twin bed where she’d slept for decades. The police believe that the intruder inadvertently woke her up and panicked.

I had just one dream about my friend. I saw her lying in her little bed, calm. Looking into her assailant’s eyes with both understanding and compassion.

Utter bullshit, of course. But that’s the kind of impression the dignified, self-contained, little nun left.

Back in the real world, I contacted my computer hackers, Jessie and Jesse Sullivan. Twins. Possibly lovers. Although these days, since learning of Phillip Massimino’s far superior hacking prowess, they were a little less confident of their own digital abilities.

I told them, “Full out. Don’t worry about expenses.”

Jessie nodded, “We’ll use Collins-Smythe.” Cutting-edge Federal facial recognition software not yet available even to state and local law enforcement. Bulldog had promised me a copy of the security videos from everywhere around the shelter. The Sullivans would use screen captures to run the faces through Collins-Smythe.

Daddy’s task force was twisting arms, I hoped brutally when necessary. Snitches, punks on parole, grifters, hustlers, tweakers, jailhouse rats, ... anyone and everyone who might have heard even a whisper.

The mayor felt the community outrage. Thanks to the Foundation and the Scholarship Fund, Sister Mary Packer had attracted a lot of positive media attention, some of it national, over the past year. Was Tom Lynch acting in his own political interests? Of course. But that didn’t mean that all the publicity, the reward money, the area-wide reach-outs wouldn’t do some good. They might.

Toilet seats and the death penalty.

I’ve never been bothered when a guy leaves the toilet seat up. No big deal, it’s really more of a manufactured gender issue to me. We have different plumbing, deal with it.

Despite my having run into a few truly evil people in my time on the Job and in private practice, I still believe that an enlightened society does not kill its own.

Including Sister Mary Catherine Packer’s killer.

It seemed like just last week, shit, it was just last week, that our loft was the home of Mindy Montgomery’s graduation celebration. She’d finished her course at L’École Culinaire and we gave her and her classmates a blowout party.

The guests of honor, the only important guests, were Sister Mary Packer and the girls from her shelter. Months earlier, Mindy had talked L’École into sending its students to receive hands-on experience at the shelter. And then Vanessa had arranged with other restaurant owners and managers to hire the shelter girls who went to L’École on scholarship.

Vanessa and I got Mary’s blessing and each girl left that night with a goodie bag that contained some basic female stuff and $200 each.

It was a festive, laugh-filled evening. What a contrast from Mary’s memorial this week.

They mayor did speak, eloquently and briefly.

Then Phillip delivered the eulogy. Bulldog slipped behind Vanessa and me. He whispered, “Listen.”

I learned later that the Church had tried to step in, tried to take over Mary’s shelter. Some good intentions, I’m sure. But also the Foundation’s budget that was substantial enough to self-fund the shelter for decades.

Near the end Phillip became as blunt as I’ve ever heard him. “I recognize Cardinal Moynihan and Archbishop Ramirez.” He gave a small smile, “The Church is welcome here of course. Everyone is welcome.”

Gazing directly at the Cardinal, Phillip said, “But the Church will not be taking control of the Sister Mary Packer Foundation. Nor her Scholarship Fund. The Church abandoned Sister Mary Packer 36 years ago when it closed Our Lady of Adversity and left the Northeast to struggle on its own.”

The crowd was dead still.

“Sister Mary didn’t complain, didn’t say a word. Didn’t ask the Church for help. She just kept her shelter going on her own. Fed and cared for six girls a night, seven nights a week. For decades. On her own. On her own.”

Phillip ended on a high note, praising my friend Mary Packer and had the loft cheering and laughing and, some of us, crying quietly.

Vanessa and I never had discussed it, but I was the head of our little family. Not that I carried a title. Not that I had much responsibility. Nor was it a role that I had consciously sought. Things just evolved.

Walker had grown up doing, mostly, what I told him to. These days he listens to Vanessa as well. There’s probably a mixture of adulation, love, awe, but he does what she tells him to with alacrity.

But both Walker and Vanessa look to me when there’s a question of family direction or dynamics. I gave, unhesitatingly, my full Vanessa-blessing when she wanted to invest our money in her new restaurant.

The two of them followed my lead in celebrating Mindy’s departure for Stanford. It was the second time she had left Walker, but this was more understandable.

Previously she had dropped Walker for another boy, an older boy. But this time around she had been open about sending out her college applications. It wasn’t a surprise, it was understandable. Laudable in a traditional way.

Didn’t mean that Walker wasn’t hurting though.

But he and Vanessa echoed my reaction by embracing Mindy, her goals, her future. Her future without us.

Vanessa and I decided not to shower Walker with attention, with affection. We’ll give him time to adjust to his new reality at his own pace. Let him feel, appreciate, our love for him through ... what? Implied compassion? Osmotic endearment?

Truth was, Vanessa was embroiled in Euforia and I was ensnared in revenge. The seeking of it, I mean.

We’d monitor Walker when we could and apply whatever it took, whenever it took.

Sometimes I step back and just think about my son. He becomes more fascinating to me with each passing year. I had so enjoyed that transition time, those innocent years -- roughly from 7 or 8 to 10 or 11.

Then he discovered I had a body. A body that fascinated him. This revelation was accompanied by the usual puberty things.

Walker has gone through South Park meets Butthead, stopped by to visit the Waltons, decided he prefers sex, but regularly returns to a semi-human form. One not obsessed with body parts and their various functions.

Oh, that’s an exaggeration, he’s basically a good kid. But still.

Curiosity, explorations, testing limits, pushing boundaries. Walker was still my beloved little boy, but was evolving into something more. Now, at 14, he’s betwixt and between. Still an adolescent of course. But ... well, I’m not sure what it is that’s driving him, but I’m pretty sure it’s more than just hormonal flow.

It’s ... I don’t know what it is. He’s yearning for something inchoate, something that I don’t understand any more than he does. He’s uncertain, yet more curious than ever. Daring, awkward, confident, clumsy. Finding his footing, finding his voice.

Vanessa’s only post-Mindy advice, “Jack-off a lot, Walker.”

“I will.”


“I promise.”

Later that night in our bedroom, Vanessa handed me her cell. She undressed, ran a brush through her lush black hair and posed in the soft light of our bedside lamps.

She winked, “Walker.”

We selected three nudes for him.

Neither of us bothered to tell him not to share. He understands the underage trouble Vanessa and I would be in if any authorities spotted the nude photos of us.

In the morning, Walker smiled shyly at Vanessa. Whispered, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, lamb. Just remember.”

“I will. Jack-off.”

He didn’t even turn pink. So I guess his masturbation is now an officially approved topic. Oh, why not?

There is only one axiom I live by. I call it the Winter Jennings Code: Hunt or be hunted.

The Sullivan twins had run every security tape of every person anywhere near Mary’s shelter for the month leading up to her murder. The tapes -- from fast food restaurants, ATMs, gas stations, convenience stores, apartment buildings -- were a study in poor digital quality, bad lighting, wrong angles, faces concealed by caps, scarves, shadows.

Daddy’s task force had a team assigned to the analysis and identification of the same individuals from the same tapes.

For me to birddog their donkey work -- how many fucking animals can I cram into one thought? -- was probably a waste of time, effort and money. But I understood why I was going through the motions.

It was something to do. And something was better than nothing.

The Collins-Smythe facial recognition software turned up three... ‘possibles’ is too strong a word. Three men, maybe of interest. One was employed at SafeGuard Protection, the company that regularly patrolled the neighborhood around Mary’s shelter. This guy had a record -- assault. But what caught the Sullivans’ attention was that his conviction was under a different name.

Two other Northeast men had done time on domestic battery charges.

It wasn’t much, but I turned it over to Sergeant Louise Finch. She didn’t have the facial recognition software that the Sullivan twins did.

“Thanks, Winter, I’ll toss them into the hopper.”

“How’s the Tip Line coming?”

“The usual. No hits yet.”

False confessors, lunatics, lonely men and women wanting someone to talk with. Most though, just wanted a shot at the reward money. Which now topped $430,000. And it wasn’t all fat cats. Individual donations from $5 to $20 were pouring in.

Sister Mary Packer had touched the city.

Gerard Malden, ‘Jittery Gerard’, one of my eyes and ears out in the field, called me, “It’s just a rumor, Winter. But I thought I’d bring a guy by.”

“Where are you?”

“Walnut. 12th Street.” Downtown, not far from the stockyards.

“You know where I am.”

Gerard introduced me to a fat, greasy teenager. Tony. Acne. Maybe 17 or 18. Body odor that fought with his breath for domination.

Gerard cracked his neck constantly. And loudly. Disconcerting until you get used to it. Maybe someday I will.

Gerard is in his indeterminate 40s, maybe 50s. Bald, black, handsome, twitchy. Large, hard pot belly. He neck-cracked as he jiggled his right knee, then his left. Incessantly, but only one knee at a time. The little finger of his right hand explored his nostrils and ears while his left hand adjusted and readjusted his balls.

I turned to his companion, Tony. Last name neither asked nor given.

As Tony spoke, I wished I’d opened my windows to Genessee Street. And I wondered how much a fumigator would charge to do my office. He said, “I hear SafeGuard Protection is hinky.”

“Hinky how?”

Giant yawn, Tony isn’t into dental hygiene. “Some of the guys ... well, some companies need protection from the protectors.” He nodded to himself, pleased with his phrasing.

“How so?” Another yawn. I sat back, but not quickly enough.

“Midnight cash registers. When they’re off.”

I translated: some of the guards hit their own client’s business on their nights off. Not unheard of. It’s a low-paying job and doesn’t attract many of the city’s better angels. I slipped Gerard an envelope with ten $10 bills in it. Let him figure out shareholder disbursement.

Another of my freelancers, Buster Fagin in Raytown, called in, “Nuttin, Winter.”

“Not even a whisper?”

“Nah, we don’t got much to do with Northeast. How ‘bout some pussy?”

“Why aren’t you in school?”

“Teacher conference. How ‘bout I come callin’ on Ms. Vanessa?”

11-year old Buster Fagin had met Vanessa one time and was smitten. As were most male members of the human race. And some from the other contingent as well.



“Um ... how important is, you know, size? To a girl?”

“Why are you asking?”

“Well Freddie says...”

“Fuck Freddie.”


A few of the pimps in the Forgotten Northeast had turned into comparative chatterboxes. No, they didn’t talk to the cops, and no, they weren’t particularly civic minded. And selfishly, they wanted the intense police and media attention directed elsewhere.

But they passed along rumors, gossip, speculation. To me.

Plus, even though they are puss-boys, I think they were a little appalled at the strangulation of a neighborhood icon.

Walker (lower voice register), “Winter?”


“JLo or J. Law?”

Which megastar would I welcome in my bed?



“Why curtail my options?”

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Story tagged with:
Teenagers / Consensual / BiSexual / Heterosexual / Fiction / Crime /