1 In The Whore-House

The leg lampHartog stood at the brothel door holding the tiny capsule between his bent pointer finger and thumb. He turned it over allowing what little sun penetrated through the smog haze to bounce off the titanium covering, then slipped it back into the inner pocket of his coat.

It was too hot for a coat like his but it was the one thing Global Warming couldn’t make him give up. Hartog felt naked without it. Hot and smothered in it. Still he wore it.

He pressed the buzzer on the intercom and wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his sleeve.

Before the receptionist could, reply he said, “Detective Hartog here to see your boss. She knows I’m coming.”

“Good morning, Detective Hartog.”

So polite.

He wondered what she was wearing. He couldn’t help himself. A French maid in vinyl – or leather? After all this was an up market establishment if his research was correct. A flimsy silk nothing with cheeky nipples peeking out at him or a gushing black creation of lace revealing a lush expanse of cleavage?

“I appreciate your enthusiasm for you work Detective, but I will just confirm your appointment with Miss Amanda.”

Damn it!

The woman had summonsed him. And here he was loitering at the door like some common Joe. He pulled himself up again. This was an establishment, not a brothel and the door looked like any other door on the strip. He could easily have been waiting for his accountant or lawyer or style guru to buzz him up.

“Thank you for your patience, Detective Hartog. Miss Amanda will see you now.”

Hartog glanced at his watch and waited for the door to click. He’d now been awake for 36 hours.

It was a good thing he’d never had an interest in getting on the Vice and Device team. His mind was too fertile, too active already before adding sex and breasts and legs up to here into the mix. And too little sleep…

He could deal with the sleep dep, it never clouded his judgement. Women however…

Dead – they didn’t screw with his head. Not that he wished the entire female population dead. He just…

The door clicked open and he left the train of thought behind with the welcome door mat. He recognised that train of thought only too well and knew which station inevitably terminated at.

The receptionist was waiting for him when the elevator door opened into a large elegant waiting area. She was wearing a simple black suit, a flourish of scarlet beneath the jacket.

Fumbling with his holographic badge, he mentally dropped kicked himself – caught up in his own fantasies. No lace or leather here. Purely business.

“May I get you something to drink, Detective Hartog? Coffee, tea or perhaps something a little stronger?”

“Water will be fine.” He’d given up the hard stuff. His doctor telling him it was booze and an early grave, which for a while had seemed the better option.

“If you take a seat Miss Amanda will be with you in a moment.”

Ten minutes later Miss Amanda appeared in an almost identical black suit, this time with a violet blouse beneath, plunging to unbusinesslike depths beneath the tailored suit jacket. Hartog dragged his eyes from the cleavage and rose from his seat. She towered over him and that was saying something. Even without heels she was a giant.

He knew, she knew.

“I appreciate your expediency Detective,” she said, striding down a corridor to a large, sun drenched office with lush tropical plants at strategic decorating points. He wondered if it were feng shui.

It had to be a trick of lighting. There was never that amount of clean, clear sunshine in the city. Everything was painted in the tawdry shade of pollution – but in here, the den of iniquity it was bright. No shadows dancing in the corner.

“I was just tying up a loose end. I apologise for the wait. Are you certain we can’t get you a coffee?

“No, I’m fine with water.”

Miss Amanda motioned to a spartan leather chair to the side of her desk and settled herself opposite him, a pitcher of water between them and two crystal glasses. No expense spared here. The couch was more comfortable than it looked. Many things in this place were more or less than they seemed.

Miss Amanda, the Madame was one point in question. She was neither young nor old. Her dark hair rolled into a timeless French Roll at the back of her head and her long legs casually crossed. Neutral make up enhanced her natural beauty. She could have been stunning but she chose not to be.

“I am interested to know how Portia’s case is progressing Detective.” She poured and offered him a drink.

The girl hadn’t even been dead for 12 hours and she was already on his back.

“It looks like the case of another whore being cut up.” He took a long gulp at the ice cold water and winced the pain freezing his frontal lobes for a moment.

Miss Amanda uncrossed her legs and lent forward. “My girls are not whores Detective. Let’s get that straight from the beginning. Portia was one of my highest paid girls. She has a Masters degree in Engineering and was studying for her PhD.”

“And her death is bad for business.”

Miss Amanda lent back and recrossed her legs. Hartog took out tiny recorder and placed it on the table in between them.

“You don’t mind if I record this conversation.” He couldn’t bring himself to call her Miss Amanda and she didn’t fit the title of Ma’am. And he wasn’t really asking her permission any way.

“Portia came to me about a month ago and told me she had a problem. It appears one of her clients had taken an unhealthy interest in her.”

“It’s a rather unhealthy business you dabble in.” He narrowed his right eye and looked hard at Miss Amanda – no surname that he could find on the City’s database.

“I told you Detective my girls are not whores. They are paid for services other than sex. They are sought after because they are intelligent and beautiful. Portia was worried he was falling in love with her, that it would complicate things.”

“Don’t mix love and business hey?”

Miss Amanda didn’t bite. She didn’t even twitch.

“Who was this client Portia was upset about?”

Image: Kevin Dooley via Flickr

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About Jodi Cleghorn

Emerging author, editor, publisher and innovator with a penchant for the dark vein of humanity. Creative Director (eMergent Publishing) and creative spark behind the conceptual anthology imprints Chinese Whisperings and Literary Mix Tapes. Author of ELYORA (Dec 2012), a horror novella set in rural New South Wales and co-author of the epistolary serial POST MARKED: PIPERS REACH with Adam Byatt. Known to dance like no-one is watching.
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7 Responses to 1 In The Whore-House

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention 1 In The Whore-House | Dirk Hartog -- Topsy.com

  2. PJ Kaiser says:

    Jodi- this is intriguing. The slow reveal was very effective in this piece – it was a good place to jump in and the reader has to be alert to new info as we go. Can’ wait to learn more about this client!

  3. Dirk has his own home now! Snazzy site.

  4. Pingback: Fiction Round Up XI | Chinese Whisperings

  5. May I say your dedication to the cause and output is amazing. I like you writing in this style … sleazy and crisp. Two of my favourite things.

  6. Pingback: #TuesdaySerial Report – Week 1 – May 4, 2010 | Inspired by Real Life

  7. Pingback: #TuesdaySerial Report – Week 1 – May 4, 2010 | Tuesday Serial

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