"Hey big boy, want to have a good time?"
I couldn't believe it. Here was one of the people I was to guard against, propositioning me!
As security chief for the Edgewater Casino in Las Vegas one of my jobs was to hold the hookers down to a dull roar. As part of the service to our customers, we tolerated a few of the nicer ones and even encouraged some of the more discreet but we did not allow the outright propositioning of our patrons. If a guy wanted a hooker there were always a couple at the bar or one or two playing the slots so he could strike up a conversation. The better ones stayed in the casino hotel and usually serviced two to three "clients" a night at about 200 bucks each. The first encounter covered expenses, while the rest were profit. A good hustler could make 6 to 10 grand a month.
I turned around, ready to read her the riot act but was surprised by what I saw. She was a very attractive but plain woman, tall with soft light brown hair, blue eyes and what I guessed was a nice figure hidden by the clothes she wore. The dress was the type I imagined a poor tenant farm girl might wear to church on Sunday mornings. I thought her to be close to 30, far older than most of the hookers that frequented our posh casino, and about 4 or 5 years younger than me.
She still hadn't made me as Casino security, so I asked, "What did you say?"
"I asked if you would like to visit with me this afternoon, sir." She was looking at the floor or my shoes or anything other than me. There was definitely something wrong here. She was too old, too shy, and far too inexperienced to have any success as a hooker.
"How much for the afternoon?" I asked.
In a voice so low I had to strain to hear her, she said, "Whatever you want to pay but at least fifty dollars."
I took her by the arm and told her to come with me. We moved towards the rear of the Casino where the elevators to the hotel above were located. The corridors that led to my office and the other Casino administration areas were off to one side. As we approached the elevators, I could feel her trembling and looked at her face. She was crying quietly, tears streaming down her face.
"Are you sure you want to do this?"
"I have to do it. I need money to get back home."
The normal routine was to call the local police and have them detain her for a few hours. She would even mugged, fingerprinted and be submitted to STD tests. Since she hadn't actually done anything, they would hold her for a couple of hours, release her and tell her to get out of town. From what I had seen here she probably couldn't get out of town, she didn't have the money.
"Where are you staying?"
"I don't have a place yet."
"Have you had lunch?"
Instead of taking her to my office the inevitable call to the police, I detoured and ushered her into the almost deserted coffee shop. I could see that she had regained some of her composure while we waited for service. We both ordered hamburgers and fries. She had an ice tea while I had a Coke.
I picked at my hamburger. She wolfed hers down so there was very little conversation while she ate. "Now, tell me what's going on here," I said when she had finished. "I am head of security here. I see lots of hookers and know that you're not a prostitute."
She began to cry again. "Are you going to arrest me?"
"No, there haven't been any complaints yet so you're off the hook for now but you have to leave the casino right away. I'll run you in if I catch you here again."
"I would like to leave," she said, "But I don't have any place to go and l am broke." She then told me a story that would put any soap opera to shame.
Her name was Linda and she was 24 years old, born late in life to a couple with a small farm in Nebraska. Over the past few years, the farm life had been very difficult and they owed more on the farm than it was worth. About four months ago, her mother took gravely ill. Linda had nursed her at home until she died five weeks ago. On the night she died, her father left the farm in his old pickup truck. When he did not come home after a few days she filed a missing persons report with the local police in Nebraska. Although there hadn't been any trace of him, his old pickup truck turned up at a used-car lot here in Las Vegas. She had told the bank to take the farm for the mortgage, sold the meager furniture and other miscellaneous possessions and hopped a bus for Las Vegas looking for him. Upon arrival in Las Vegas this morning, she stowed her suitcase in a bus locker and set out to find him. As soon as she hit the streets, she was pushed down and her purse with all her credit cards, money and identification was snatched. She had made her way to the Casino, met me, and I knew the rest. She not only didn't have any money but even the key to the bus locker with her suitcase was gone along with her purse.
I'm not usually a sucker, but I believed her. I told her to stay in the coffee shop for a couple of minutes while I arranged to for someone to cover for me and I would see what I could do to help her.