Sex Story: Chapter 4 - I'm Winter Jennings, 32, former police officer, current private detective. A now-single mother with a horny son, a friendly-enough ex. My father is about to retire as a respected homicide captain here in Kansas City, Missouri. My work is usually routine, mostly computer-driven. Except when it isn't. Revenge porn, a cult, a wife beater, insurance scams, pimps. A particularly nasty psychiatrist. On a personal front, everyone who knows me well, knows I like sex. A lot.
Mindy’s sad, familiar story came haltingly out over the course of that afternoon and evening. First though, I bought her a new wardrobe. We went online and she showed me the type of clothes she liked. I wrote down her sizes along with the brands of cosmetics she preferred. Gave everything to Cathy, along with enough cash.
Before talking with Mindy, I left the loft to call Daddy in private. Taking Mindy away from that ratty cult was something I wanted him to know about. Just in case.
I had told Walker, “Gene Austin is downstairs. If Mindy tries to leave, don’t do anything, just call him.” I was about 95% sure Mindy didn’t have the gumption to do anything on her own initiative these days. And she didn’t.
So we talked. The three of us. Mindy not only didn’t mind Walker’s presence, she seemed comforted by it.
Yes, she’d fallen under the influence of The Creed of the Brethren. Just a little at first. Everyone was so kind, so interested in her. Not like those Mission Hills snobs.
A cute 16-year old boy had skillfully separated her from two girlfriends at the tony Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kansas. Fucking Kansas. He, Kevin, was neatly dressed and polite. Mindy had been flattered by the attention.
They met up again on Saturday as they had planned and the light flirtation from Kevin had been most welcome.
It was classic grooming. Having culled the weak one form the herd, The Creed played the long game. Mission Hills, hell yes.
Mindy spent an occasional Saturday night with her new friends while her mother thought she was down the street. Or around the corner.
The Leader, Ms. Viola Cummings, was especially persuasive. Used subtle, no-hurry methods. Compliments, a steady stream of ‘you’re so special’ flattery.
Viola Cummings was an alias, but I didn’t really care about her. Nor about the rest of The Creed. But as soon as we had Mindy home, I called Sergeant Louise Finch. Told her about the cult, about the suspected prostitution. She hates shit like that, but by the time Vice, Child Protective Services, warrants, public relations, ... that’s one reason why I’m no longer with the KCPD.
Oh, that, and they were going to fire me.
On my own, well with Bear, we went in and rescued Mindy. Just fucking went in and just fucking rescued her. The police may or may not get its act together in time to raid The Creed before they’ve moved on to another city.
And ‘rescue’ was the right description. Nothing good would have happened to Mindy in that cult. Of course I couldn’t know what her future will be, but at least she has a better chance now.
The Creed had taken its time with Mindy. They’d never captured anyone remotely like the little rich girl from Mission Hills. They reeled her in slowly, patiently. Praise, tributes, accolades.
Never asking for money, never asking for anything. Until they did.
Mindy felt she was among friends, felt she belonged. It felt like home, except better. Everyone so interested in her, everyone so nice to her.
By that evening with Walker and me, Mindy admitted that she’d been given to two men to fuck. A very special favor, but more than that, a very special honor to be chosen for these powerful, influential men.
“Daddy can’t know. Ever. You have to promise.”
“I promise, Mindy.” A vow I’d try to keep. But if it went to trial, which was unlikely, but if it did, I wouldn’t perjure myself.
No, Mindy hadn’t been a virgin. But she also hadn’t had much experience. Viola had given her a pill that made that night a little fuzzy. “But I felt pretty good at the same time. Lightheaded.”
I could see Rebecca Montgomery in Mindy. Trim body, good posture, same intelligent gray eyes. But Mindy didn’t have her mother’s healthy glow, her mature confidence. However there was a strong, solid base in the girl, something to build on.
That night, eating wild boar pasta -- cinghiale -- from Lidia’s with Walker and me, Mindy took a breath, “How long can I stay here?”
She and I had already talked about some decompression time before she went home. I had both a deprogrammer and a therapist, a real one, scheduled for two separate appointments tomorrow.
I wanted the cult expert’s take on how deep the Creed had gotten their hooks into Mindy. And the therapist for all of the obvious reasons.
I said, “From our point of view, as long as you want honey. Walk has already fallen in love with you.” An exaggeration but Mindy smiled. And that smile transformed her pretty face into a beautiful one.
“But first, we’ll call your mother. After dinner. I’ll give her the good news. And explain that you need a little private time before going home.” I paused, looking into her eyes, “Then I’ll hand you the phone.”
Mindy was calm, “Of course. I love my parents. It’s just...”
Walker said, “We understand, Mindy.”
On the phone, Rebecca started crying at the good news. Not sobbing, but not trying to disguise it either. When I explained that her daughter wanted to hang with us for a while, Rebecca merely said, “Of course. Whatever she needs. Let me know how I can help. Phillip and I.”
I handed my cell to Mindy. Walker and I went to the other end of the loft. Half an hour later, Mindy came up to us smiling. “I talked to Daddy too. Everything is cool.”
Walker said, “They’re thankful you’re okay. I would be too.”
Mindy grinned and hugged him. Good kid, Walker.
The next day, Mike Flowers, the cult expert, told me, with Mindy sitting right there at the breakfast table, “She’ll be fine. Mindy’s strong and smart, the two most important characteristics in a case like this.”
Mike was in his mid 30s, medium build, dressed casually in khakis and a gaudy Hawaiian shirt. He looked at Mindy, “But see somebody, a professional. Meet with them every week.”
“I will. Promise.”
Dr. Lindsey Conners was around 40. Short black pixie cut. A little plump, a little soft looking. Until you noticed her vivid dark eyes. Nothing soft there. A psychiatrist so she could prescribe meds. If needed. And if Mindy felt comfortable working with her.
And working is the operative word. A good therapist will make you dig deep, will make you face uncomfortable, long buried truths about yourself. Make you work the process no matter how unpleasant.
But I was reasonably optimistic. Mindy was intelligent as Mike had noted. Her parents certainly had the resources to provide the best care available.
Dinner, takeout again, this time from Extra Virgin. Duck tongue tacos followed by grilled octopus. I wasn’t surprised that Mindy had a sophisticated palate. Mission Hills money.
The three of us agreed Mindy would stay here a week, returning home Wednesday morning. She’d settle in and start back to school the following Monday. She’d be almost a month behind, but didn’t seem worried about catching up.
I find myself thinking about Vanessa. A lot. And always with pleasure. While she was born in Indiana, is a classic cornfed Midwestern girl, she looks exotic.
She and her mother, still back in Indianapolis, are close. Vanessa and Marina take a trip to Kiev every year, Even though they both were born in the states they feel a kinship with Ukraine, with the hometown of their ancestors. I’ve met Marina a few times. At 50, Marina looks like Vanessa’s sister. Bloodlines.
I’ve also met Vanessa’s grandmother, Sasha Andrushchenko. What a life that 64-year old woman has lived. Yes, 64. Yes, she had Marina when she was young.
Sasha was born in what is now Ukraine, but was part of Russia at the time. Sasha’s own mother, Veronika, had been raped and left to die by six or eight drunken Russian soldiers. She survived.
But those times, the 50s, were rough. That place, Kiev, was hardscrabble. Vanessa told me, “My great grandmother, Veronika, was turning tricks. For food. To stay alive. To keep Sasha alive.” Vanessa shrugged, “It was what it was.”
So far as I know, I’m the only person Vanessa has spoken to about her family. Other than the usual surface stuff when her mother comes to Kansas City to visit.
Vanessa, lying in bed with me, in each other’s arms, told me, “Veronika was desperate for Sasha to have a better life. Any life other than the one they were living. Which was almost no life.”
She paused a long time, “I don’t blame Veronika, not one bit. I would have done the same thing for my daughter.” She smiled, “In case you ever knock me up, Winter.”
But it was a bittersweet smile.
Then, “Veronika sold Sasha to an American businessman. Milwaukee. Apparently he was well off. Not wealthy, but not hurting for money.” Vanessa spoke quietly, calmly, “He was a pedophile.” She paused, “We do not speak his name. Sasha, Marina, me. He adopted her. Had to in order to take her home. Bribed the right people in Kiev. Sasha was young enough to adopt.”
“Veronika did the right thing. She died later that year of dysentery. Sasha was in America. Away from Russia. Fucking Russia.”
Over time, Vanessa shared the rest of her family history. “Sasha became pregnant. Because of that, or maybe because he was bored with her, or maybe she was too old, anyway he either gave her away or resold her. Sasha isn’t sure.”
“God, poor Sasha.”
“You’re right there. She had hardly any English. No friends, no money. Just a trunk full of clothes and a couple of ratty rag dolls.” Vanessa smiled, “She still has those dolls.”
I shook my head.
“But Sasha was tough. Gritty. She learned that from Veronika. She was put in a house, obviously a whorehouse. Sasha was the only young girl and in high demand, especially after she had Marina.”
“Where was this?”
“We think Chicago, but can’t be sure. Anyway, the woman in charge was an angel. She lied and said that Sasha had run away. Taken her baby daughter and run away.”
“She and the other whores hid Sasha and Marina. Kept them fed, taught Sasha rudimentary English. But word was leaking out about the young whore and her baby. So the madam talked her brother into driving them out of town. He ended up turning Sasha and MaMa over to an Indianapolis orphanage.”
Vanessa smiled without mirth, “The rest is history.”
Walker was an angel during Mindy Week. He asked her for homework help that he didn’t need. Flirted with her. Teased her gently. When he got home from Pembroke, he took her out on the town. Showing her the insider’s view of the Crossroads.
Walker introduced Mindy to everyone he knew. One night at dinner she called him The Mayor of the Crossroads. I could tell from his expression that he was falling for her. Big time.
My pal, Peggy Rawlings, “Good. Older woman, it’s time for him to score some pussy.”
“He’s 14 years old, Peggy.”
“It’s time for him to score some pussy.”
I had turned off the $1250-a-day meter the day Bear and I brought Mindy home from The Creed. But Rebecca insisted on a $25,000 bonus. I accepted. And, I told myself not to make a habit of this, gave my favorite nun 10% of it. In cash.
Walker expanded his guided city tours with Mindy. He knows the names of most of the bus drivers on the routes he frequents. Mindy was impressed. She knew the Country Club Plaza of course. Everyone does. But she’d rarely been downtown, suburban girl that she is.
The Farmer’s Market was a revelation.
I took Mindy to work with me after the three of us had enjoyed breakfast chez Town Topic. Another blank in her education, diner food. Also she’d never been to the stockyards. What sort of ignorant parents does this poor girl have?
Mindy was amazed at the quality of the food on Genessee. Restaurants she’d never heard of. A neighborhood she didn’t know existed.
When it was Walker Time, I dropped her at the new streetcar terminal by the Asian market. She’d take the free ride to the Crossroads. Mindy, too, was learning the names of the drivers and conductors. Something they appreciate.
Monday night, driving home, it was around 9:30, I was startled to see Walker and Mindy coming out of Anton’s Taproom holding hands. You sly dog, Walk. He was carrying the usual takeout containers in a recyclable canvas tote. Good. As usual, I was hungry. Beer Can Chicken and Berkshire Pork Chops.
At dinner, I smiled at Mindy, “One more day, two more nights.”
She didn’t seem disturbed by the prospect of going back home. She’d called her parents every night, on her own. Good, long talks too.
Walker said, “I wish you could live here.”
Huge grin, “Me too. In a way. But I miss my parents. And I have to get caught up at school.”
I said, “Mindy, this is nonnegotiable. You’ll be coming back to spend weekends with us whenever you want.”
Head bobbing, Walker enthused, “Come here Friday after school. We can ride the bus together Monday morning.”
Mindy tousled his wavy blonde hair, “Deal.”
Tuesday night, Mindy’s last for a while with Walker and me, we went to BEAR’s for dinner. This would be a tough one for Walker. The Supreme Goddess, Vanessa, would be there. But so would Mindy, a girl who let him hold her hand.
Bear may be bigger than a house, but he’s smarter than the average bear. He introduced the love of his life, Barry Sanders the audiologist, to Mindy. Barry was the polar opposite of his husband. He was sylphlike, graceful. And charming.
Mindy began trying to thank Bear, trying to let her appreciation gush out for his part in the rescue. Bear put a shush finger to his lips, “I just rode along with Winter, Mindy. She was Mission Commander.”
Bear turned to Walker and in a terrible British accent, “Sorry, old chap. Vanessa took the night off. Sends her love.”
Mindy said, “Who’s Vanessa?”
Bear said, “My bar manager. I may have to fire her, she keeps slipping freebies to Walker.”
Two simultaneous feelings hit me. Bear and Vanessa’s sensitivity, their awareness of the Walker - Mindy situation. How kind not to make Mindy feel like an afterthought next to the gorgeous beauty queen.
Second, I was pleased with Mindy’s immediate question, “Who’s Vanessa?”
In a way, the possibility of a tiny, budding romance would be taking advantage of Mindy’s vulnerability. Of her gratefulness to me and, by extension, Walker.
But we all know how to rationalize, don’t we? Walker could be a pleasing distraction, keeping Mindy from thinking back to her dark period. In any case I wouldn’t discourage them. I guess by leaving them alone, I was passively encouraging them.
A cute couple in any case. Mindy was taller, but only by a couple of inches. She was older, but Walker was mature for his age. And much more socially grounded than Mindy.
As he did every night, Walker pushed the button that slid the cedar panel back, the panel that hid one of the Murphy beds. The whirring continued and the bed came gently down out of its recess. Thank you Gene Austin for your kindness and ingenuity in remodeling this into one of the coolest lofts in town.
Walker, on his own, arranged the hand-painted, 8-foot tall Japanese wooden screens to provide privacy for his little girlfriend. Girlfriend and boyfriend, that’s how I’d begun to think of them.
Then Walker put fresh sheets on, something he’d done every night since Mindy had been in residence. She helped him make the bed. I wondered if either one of them found the domestic sight, the idea, erotic. I did, just a little.
I hugged Mindy goodnight and gave Walker his goodnight kiss. No tongue, not in front of others, but I did give his little butt a friendly squeeze. Mindy giggled.
In the morning I found them both asleep in Mindy’s bed, Walker spooned behind her. Both still wearing their clothes from the night before. So sweet.
Daddy had never shot at another human being. Despite movie and TV depictions, most cops don’t. He is a trained negotiator, talks would-be suicides down, is usually the first to be called in hostage situations.
He’s never lied to a trapped man, never tried to paint a rosier outcome than was possible. He isn’t 100% successful, no one is. But the top brass feel better when Captain Dave Jennings is on the scene.
His numbers, and police departments all over the country were learning the value of micro-statistics, improved wherever they assigned him. It was like some mythical force field accompanied him. Daddy didn’t eradicate crime in Kansas City, but more than one hombre had decided to mosey on to a different pasture.
Not because Captain Jennings was Superman, not at all. But he lifted the men and women who served under him. Over time he upped their game. By quiet leadership, by example, through experience. He knew what worked and, more importantly, what didn’t.