PROTECTION RACKET - ROBERT CRISMAN
When Michelle went ho-ing at Wong’s, she knew there’d be lots of guys winging right in. Pimps and wannabes wanting to snatch up the new star in town, the suburban princess gone wrong.
They’d want to take her all the way up on the mountain and show her the valley below...
Romero spoke of practical matters. He had a megawatt smile that showed his gold tooth with the diamond. He dressed all pimp hip-hop, a cliché for days...
Romero suggested that he and Michelle go to Phoenix.
“Really, Romero, Phoenix? Why would I want to go to Phoenix?”
“Sunshine, baby, all warm and toasty.” He laughed. “You lounge around in a bikini all day by the pool, drinkin’ your Cuervo an’ workin’ on your tan. And meanwhile, they got all these wealthy retired down there, baby. All them old men just bakin’ away in the sun. Got nothin’ to do, they used to run Intel or somethin’ up here, they cashed in their chips an’ now they got all the time in the world on their hands, an’ now they just waitin’ for you. They see you there by the pool, they send a drink over an’ take you to dinner. You ride in stretch limos to all the best shows.” He grinned. “You be the belle of the ball down in Phoenix.”
“And what would you be?”
“I be with you.”
“Uh huh. And then what?”
Romero grinned. He loved to spar. “Look, girl, you in a strange town, Phoenix. You never been there, don’t know nobody but me, and you need somebody make the way smooth. Make sure nobody come up on your blind side, all that. All them places, shit, this town, Seattle, you workin’, you out there. Always them dudes, they got the big teeth, they just wanna take it, you know what I’m sayin’?
“A girl get hurt. I make sure that don’t happen.”
“Uh huh. Well—”
“I’m tellin’ you, baby, it’s cold in this world. On Aurora right now. All over the world...”
“Well, that might be true, but we’re indoors now. It’s way nice and toasty in here.”
“Yeah, baby, now. But shit do happen, you know? A man keep shit off you and—”
“God, Romero! You make it sound like a protection racket!” She laughed.
Romero stayed deadpan. “Everybody needs a little protection, girl.”
“I have protection,” Michelle said. “Lena’s friends.”
Lena, Michelle’s buddy at Wong’s, was friends with some bikers who’d motor on by on the weekends. Pimps and the bikers stayed clear of each other.
“Them bikers come in here?” Romero laughed. “Baby, they take you and sell you right out of the trunk of some car in some fuckin’ small town. Run trains on your pretty white ass.”
Michelle blinked. “I don’t think so...”
Romero gave her a long moment’s hooded-eyed look and then got up from his chair. “You think about what I been tellin’ you, girl. I talk to you later.” He flashed her the megawatt grin. “You pretty, girl, I swear to God. Every time you come in, the fellas be thinkin’ it’s recess in heaven.” He laughed, winked, walked away.
Awhile later, Michelle left the bar, her thoughts in a tangle. Romero, his predator’s smile; she saw herself kidnapped and beaten and stuck in the trunk of a car driven south... Stereotypical drama for sure, but the fear was real in her throat.
Next night, Michelle bought a gun from this guy that she knew for $75 and some pussy. He also sold her some bullets. She hoped the thing had a firing pin.
Pimps, bikers, whatever, she needed protection.
All these guys winging...
BIO: Robert Crisman writes crime and noir fiction. He spent 15 years on streets in downtown Seattle and has some idea of what really goes on in these realms. He has stories at A Twist of Noir, Fictionaut, Yellow Mama and Darkest Before Dawn. A movie he scripted, Chasing the Dopeman, is currently in post-prod down in L.A. and, with luck, it’ll be ready to go sometime this fall. He maintains a blog, chock full of stories, at 6S.
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