The night of the raid found Carol eager to get it over with. If everything went well all she and George had to do was turn up and wait to be arrested with everyone else. Both of them were familiar with that. It happened if you worked undercover long enough. You’d be arrested, along with the real suspects, to avoid blowing your cover. Then, when the time was right, you’d simply disappear or turn witness and give evidence at the trial. Carol hoped that was all that would happen tonight.
Looking around Carol was sure that there was more of a crowd in the casino than there had been the night of the previous game. From snippets of conversation that drifted to her Carol could hear that tales of the last hand the other night had grown in the telling. No surprise. Hands like that were rare. Two in the same hand with a pot that large was something you might only see once or twice in a lifetime. People were eager for a rematch between George and Cal. They wanted to see what would happen this time. There were mentions of her as well, about how she’d been offered up. Carol shivered, caught between revulsion and desire.
A rise in the volume drew Carol’s attention. Cal had arrived. She could see him, the top of his head rising above the people around him. Carol couldn’t see if there was anyone with him, if he’d gone through with his promise to bring prostitutes with him tonight. She hoped that he hadn’t. She knew that they would fascinate her. That the words, looming in her mind even at the thought, might overwhelm her. Her throat tightened, she was being choked from the inside. She had to get through tonight, then try to sort herself out. Desperately she hung onto Janice’s advice. Believe in herself. Do what she wanted to do. Carol knew that she wanted to be a policewoman. That was what she was here for tonight. That was what she was going to do.
Carol let her hands slip to George’s shoulders, partly a gesture to maintain the cover of their supposed relationship, mostly an attempt to calm her nerves. Her partner sat at the card table, waiting for the other players. Carol watched the top of Cal’s head as he moved through the crowd, coming closer.
The edge of the crowd parted to let Cal make his way to the table. Carol’s breath caught as she realised Cal wasn’t alone. On one arm was a blonde. Carol knew immediately what she was. The woman wore a red mini skirt, stocking clad legs ending in red high-heeled shoes. Her top, tight and revealing, was made from a black and white tiger print. If the clothes weren’t enough her bright red lipstick and heavy makeup left no room for doubt. Her look screamed ‘whore’ at Carol. As did that of the other woman. Black, knee-high boots, a short, black, mini-skirt, tight around her hips, naked flesh between hem and the top of the boots. Her top was a plain white, a blouse, looser than the blonde’s, but it was cut so low, and the material was so thin, that Carol could tell the woman wasn’t wearing a bra. The second woman was a redhead. The second woman, and Carol almost felt her heart stop as she realised it, was Janice.
Carol couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The woman was wearing heavy, dark, make-up, eyeliner thick around her eyes, her lipstick a deep burgundy, but it was definitely Janice. How? Why? Her clothes, her makeup, the way she held herself, screamed ‘hooker’, ‘prostitute’. Carol knew that it had to be true. She looked it, Cal had said he’d bring whores. But how could Janice be doing this? She’d said that she was happy at college. She’d told Carol that she wanted to graduate, get a good job. That she wanted to make her own choices. What was she doing here? Like this? Carol felt her world start to shake, like a building with its foundations washed away. She couldn’t move, could hardly breathe. She’d been clinging to what Janice had said, and now here was Janice, obviously whoring herself. Carol could hear the whore in her own head, laughing at her.
Cal sauntered over to the table, one arm around each woman. “See?” he said, cockily. “Told you I’d bring my own.”
“J-Janice?” Carol couldn’t stop herself saying the redhead’s name. She could feel one of George’s hands on hers, warning her not to break their cover.
“Hey,” Cal smiled at George, “looks like your girl knows one of mine. Thought I knew what she was. How much she charge? Maybe I stood you too much money for her last time.” Carol knew that the barb was meant for George. Cal was trying to rile him, put him off his game. If they were a couple it might have worked. But Carol knew that George wouldn’t fall for it. The effect on her was another matter. Janice hadn’t escaped Copeland’s web. She’d been given the chance and it looked like she’d turned around and headed straight into what he’d planned for her. A prostitute. A whore. Selling her sex for money. Carol could feel her own resolve weakening. Words came back to her, from early in her captivity, pounded through her consciousness I’m going to be a prostitute, I want to be a prostitute.
No, she thought, grimly. No. I can beat this. I’m better than this. I’m a policewoman, god damn it. I don’t care if Janice couldn’t escape. I’m different.
Her thoughts consuming her Carol didn’t notice that the game had started or that Janice was approaching her. The brunette detective jumped when she felt a hand take hers. She looked Janice in the eye, still wanting to believe that she’d made a mistake, that it wasn’t the young woman she’d rescued from Copeland’s prison.
Janice leant towards her, her lips almost touching Carol’s ear. “I’ve been trying to reach you,” Janice whispered.
What for? Carol thought, crazily, To make me like you? You lied to me. I don’t, I don’t,… Carol’s thoughts trailed off as Janice led her unresisting into the crowd, away from the table. With every step she could feel Cal’s eyes on her, leering.
Janice stopped, looked around. Somehow she’d found a small space, free of people. They were as alone as it was possible to be in the crowded casino. Janice leant closer to her again. Carol wanted to back away, but was frozen, helpless. She hated the feeling, hated the thought that she couldn’t control herself.
“They said you couldn’t be reached,” Janice began. Carol could hear the hesitation in the other woman’s voice, “I should have guessed that you were on another case. There’s something I need to tell you.”
Damn right, Carol wanted to yell. Like what are you doing? But she couldn’t force out a sound.
“I’ve found something, something about.” But whatever Janice was about to say was lost in the uproar as the doors of the casino were flung open and armed police stormed in.
“Police. Nobody move,” the one in the lead yelled. It was no surprise to Carol when this became the signal for a stampede of movement as the patrons rushed for the exits.
The fog that had enveloped Carol’s thoughts since she had recognised Janice had broken with the appearance of the other police. She could see that the police at both entrances were having a hard time getting through the crowd. No-one was getting away. But no-one amongst the raiders was going to be getting to the casino office any time soon either.
Carol made a decision. She wanted to be a policewoman, so she would damn well act like one. She headed for the office as quickly as her high heels would allow. She could sense Janice following her. She thought about telling the other woman to stop, but didn’t want to waste the precious seconds. Janice would have to take her chances.
Reaching the door took longer than Carol had wanted. She’d had to force her way through the panicked crowd, something her heels had made even more difficult.
As they reached her goal Carol could see one of the guards standing beside the door, looking around nervously. His hand edged closer to the bulge under his jacket. Carol realised that he was weighing up his chances of taking on the police.
“I wouldn’t,” she said, casually.
The man looked at her, and Janice, and then cocked his head towards the door, a gesture Carol didn’t understand. Carol thought he was going to do something foolish as pulled out his gun, but then he threw it under one of the nearby tables, and hurriedly pushed his way into the crowd.
Inside the corridor Carol heard Janice close the door after them. It muffled some of the sound from outside. She thought about arguing with Janice, telling her to stay out of this, but she wasn’t sure that she had the time.
Carol hurried down the corridor, trying to make as little noise as possible, cursing the heels she was wearing. The door at the end wasn’t quite closed. Carol knew that she was taking too many risks. She didn’t know who might be in there, how many there were, or whether they were armed. She didn’t even know which of the two doors she’d never been through had an exit, if either of them did. Maybe what she was doing was pointless anyway, perhaps no one would be there, or they’d already got out.
Stilling her doubts as best she could, Carol carefully pushed open the door. She could see someone crouched down, trying to open a safe. To her surprise she realised that it was Cal. He must be the mystery owner of the casino. The big man had to have moved quickly to get from the card table to here since the raid began, his bulk probably easing his passage through the crowd.
As the two women entered the room Cal looked up. Carol cursed the noise their heels had made. Maybe someday, she promised herself, she’d work out how to walk quietly in high heels.
Cal smiled, swinging a gun idly in their direction. “Hey, maybe, it’s not such a bad night after all. When I told Gary to let my girls in I thought it’d be red here and the blonde. Didn’t think it’d be you. When we get out of here we’ll have some fun.” Carol looked around, desperately trying to think of some way to slow Cal down, hold him here until the other officers arrived. She could see another door on the far wall of the room. If she couldn’t think of something he’d get away.
One hand still entering the combination on the safe Cal leered at her
“I think I’ll do you first. Already had some fun with the other two.” Cal’s eyes flicked to Janice. “No offense Red, happy to do you again, but this one and me got some unfinished business.” The last tumbler fell into place.
Cal’s gaze returned to Carol as he shoved the handle down and opened the safe door. “And if you’re any good, I’ll pay you your going rate. Red’s already got her money.” Carol struggled to keep her mind on her job. She had to find a way to keep Cal here. But other thoughts pressed in on her. Cal had just said he’d had sex with Janice. And that he’d paid her. Janice hadn’t denied it. It had to be true. Janice was a prostitute. Cal had had sex with her, for money. Carol could feel her breathing deepen, could feel despair and arousal rising equally high within her. Images tumbled through her mind. Of Cal and Janice having sex. Of Janice’s p-pussy being stuffed with Cal’s c-cock. How long ago had they done it? Had Janice insisted on protection? Some whores did, others didn’t, but Janice was a smart girl, she probably did. But if she didn’t, was she still stuffed full of Cal’s cum? Standing right here, next to Carol? Stuffed full of cum that a man had paid to put in there? The images in her mind began to shift, those of Janice being replaced with a vision of herself, having sex with Cal, of him paying her. Carol could feel her knees weaken. Fear rose, fear of what was happening to her, of what she might be becoming.
“Hey,” Cal’s words cut into her consciousness. “Don’t pass out on me Melissa. It’s Melissa, isn’t it?” The big man’s fake charm was like a bucket of ice water, his patronising tone grating on Carol, bringing her back to the reality of the situation, “Never seen a gun before, huh? Well, it ain’t for you, unless you’re stupid. Just get that case there and you two start putting the money in while I check the corridor.” Cal indicated a briefcase sitting on a chair.
Carol was thankful for Cal’s misinterpretation of her moment of weakness. She took the chance offered by his directions to think. A plan started to form in her head.
“And don’t try anything funny, I know how much is in there,” Cal called over his shoulder as he headed for the door.
Trying to ignore the faint damp feeling between her legs, Carol picked up the briefcase and crept over to the safe. Once there she whispered to Janice, who had followed her, like a shadow, “Slowly.”
Janice nodded. Carol could see the fear in the other girl’s eyes, but she seemed willing to trust Carol.
They started, slowly as they dared, putting the money in the briefcase. After a few moments Cal called out from the door, “You finished yet?”
“No, there’s a lot here,” Carol called back.
“I know, but hurry up,” Cal shot back, his tone becoming agitated. “Those cops are going to be here soon.”
A few seconds later he called again, “Shit, you done yet?”
“Almost,” replied Janice. It was true. Slow as they were, the piles of money had almost been transferred to the briefcase. Carol wondered where her colleagues were.
“What’re you doing? Counting it out?” Cal demanded, angrily.
“Well, we,” stumbled Janice. They hadn’t been, but it looked like Janice was trying to give Cal a reason for the time they were taking.
“Shit,” Cal swore, “stupid whores.” Carol couldn’t suppress a tremble as he applied the term to her. She knew that her time was almost up as Cal closed the door and advanced on them.
Janice gave Carol a wink as she moved to meet Cal, “Hey baby,” she crooned, running her hands over his chest, “It’s okay, we’re done now.”
“Out of my way, bitch,” Cal snarled, pushing her aside. Carol wasn’t sure whether Janice had planned it, but as she stumbled the redhead changed direction and fell into Carol. The policewoman found herself pushed toward the briefcase, which they had perched on the corner of the desk nearest to the safe. Carol smiled, did nothing to stop her own fall, and knocked the briefcase onto the floor, money scattering in all directions.
“Stupid, clumsy bitches,” Cal growled, pointing the gun at them. ”I ought to drill you both. Help me get it back in the case.” A shake of the weapon emphasising his point.
As they all bent to get the money Carol finally heard the sound she’d been waiting for, the door opening. As she looked up she could see two officers running in.
“Armed police, Hands up, nobody move.” Relief made her giddy, her head light as the old joke came unbidden to her mind, about how are you supposed to put your hands up if you weren’t supposed to move. She slowly got to her feet, hands raised. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Janice following her actions.
Cal hesitated, as if weighing his chances. But then Carol could hear more movement in the corridor. The big man crumpled, and threw down his gun.
As they were led away Carol could hear him muttering “Stupid fucking whores”. Part of her smirked, happy that she’d fooled Cal into thinking she was just some brainless floozy. Another part, a part she wanted to deny but couldn’t, simpered and preened at being called a whore. She felt both aroused and sick at the same time.
Before they were separated Carol managed to whisper to Janice, “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay, we’ll talk soon.” Her calming words belied her own emotions. With Cal under arrest other thoughts had nothing to stop them. What had happened to Janice? Why was she a prostitute after all she’d been through? And if Janice couldn’t help herself, what, Carol thought, was going to stop the same thing happening to her? She could feel the words becoming stronger and stronger.
Carol was taken to a nearby police station. She was asked for name and address. She gave the fake ones from her cover story. A mug shot was taken. She didn’t mind. It had happened before. She knew that the details would be carefully removed from the system. She suspected that no-one here knew that she was a cop. After that she was placed alone in an interview room.
Carol knew that she just had to wait until someone told the officers here that she was to be let go. Maybe they’d never even know that she was a police officer and be left wondering what was so special about her. Sometimes it was like that. But right now, she was alone, with nothing to do except listen to her own thoughts. Which was the last thing Carol wanted to be doing. As time ticked away the words that Copeland had put in her head chased an image of herself round and round in her thoughts, while the vision of herself dressed as a whore urged them on.
“I’m going to be a prostitute, I want to be a prostitute.”
Carol could feel her resolve weakening. Alone, waiting in the interview room there was nothing to distract her. Her bewilderment at what had happened to Janice, what had driven the girl to whore herself, grew. Carol needed this to be over, to get out of here. She felt despair rising as she knew that it could be hours, even days, before Wainwright thought it was safe enough for her to be released.
“I want to be a prostitute. I’m happy to be a prostitute. I love it when men use me. I want to be used sexually. If a man pays me he can do anything he wants.”
To her horror Carol realised that she’d been whispering the words, gently rocking back and forth in her chair. The walls of the room pushed in around her. Unbidden, the memories of her cell on Copeland’s ship returned. This room, like her cell, was plainly furnished, lit by a bare globe. The light seemed to bore a hole in her mind, through which the words crept deeper and deeper. She was trapped again, locked in a room with just her and the words. Only this time she wasn’t sure how much of her wanted to escape.
Carol clung to the idea of her job, her career. She forced herself to say other words. “I love being a policewoman, I want to be a policewoman.” Even if Janice had betrayed herself, she wouldn’t. “I can do what I want to do,” the other girl had said. Well, if what Janice wanted to do was whore herself out, fine. Carol wanted to be a policewoman.
No matter how strongly she clung to those thoughts, whispered those other ideas, they couldn’t keep the words out of her head, didn’t have their strength. Carol’s fear grew as she found herself speaking the words aloud more and more often as the minutes crept by. Images of men and money and sex spilt through her mind like the product of a lurid kaleidoscope.
With the relief of a drowning woman suddenly pulled to the surface of the ocean Carol heard the door of the interview room open. The face of her boss, Wainwright, banished the words to the edges of her mind. Carol allowed herself to relax.
“Hey,” the captain asked, “you okay?”
Carol swallowed, pulling herself together. “Yeah,” she nodded. “Just wondering what was taking so long.”
“Sorry,” Wainwright shrugged. “There were more than we expected. Took a while to process enough so that it was safe to get you and George out. Looks like he and Cal put on quite a scene the other night.”
“Oh, okay,” Carol hesitated. She knew that she didn’t want to ask her question, didn’t want to go where it might lead. But she knew that she head to ask. “What about Janice?” Carol knew that she had to talk to the redhead. There were answers she needed.
Wainwright stood, his shape, all rumpled suit and old cop cynicism, outlined in the doorway. “Yeah,” he frowned, “didn’t expect that. You rescue the girl, and then she goes and turns into a hooker anyway. I wonder if she’s okay in the head.” He shook his head, slightly. “I offered her a shrink but she won’t have one. I could have her committed anyway, but I dunno if it’s worth the bother. Anyway, she’s demanding to talk to you, so if you’re up to it?”
Carol knew that it wasn’t really a question, if she wanted to keep her job on the undercover squad she had to say yes.
“Yeah, sure,” she said, rising from where she’d been sitting, hoping her studied nonchalance wasn’t as transparent as she felt, “but I think I should talk to her alone.” Carol didn’t want anyone else knowing about some of the questions she was going to ask.
Wainwright moved out of her way as she headed for the door. “Fine, that’s what she wants anyway. But don’t start keeping secrets.” The warning tone in Wainwright’s voice was clear.
Janice was waiting in a room similar to the one where Carol had been held, sitting at the table in the middle of the small room.
“Um, hi,” the redhead greeted, her smile obviously forced. Carol could tell how nervous the girl was. She waited until she had closed the door behind her to reply.
“Hi,” Carol eyes didn’t leave the other woman. Someone had given her a jacket, but her makeup was still in place and Carol could see Janice’s revealing outfit beneath the borrowed garment.
“You’re, uh, you probably want to know what I was doing there, hey?” There was a forced brightness about the redhead. The words sounded rehearsed. She’s probably been thinking about this the whole time she’s been locked in here, thought Carol.
“Yeah, I would,” Carol said, trying to keep the rawness, the sense of betrayal that she felt, out of her voice. She sat in a chair opposite Janice, tried to adopt a casual pose, to stop the tension she felt showing through.
“Yeah, well, um, in a minute, but first, like I said I’ve been trying to get a message to you. I think, I think I’ve got a lead for you about where those other two girls are. I left messages for you but they said you couldn’t be reached. I should’ve guessed why.”
“Didn’t you tell anyone what it was about?” Carol asked, too sharply for her own liking.
Janice cringed, slightly and Carol instantly regretted her tone. “No, sorry, I couldn’t cause then I had have to tell them how I knew and, and…”
Carol could see it now. Somehow, as part of, of being a pros…, as part of what she was doing, Janice had stumbled on to something about Laura and Karen, the girls that Copeland had kidnapped that were still missing. But to tell anyone she’d have to admit what she was doing. She could see that Janice was finding it hard enough telling Carol, someone who knew. Who, having been held by Copeland, might understand. Telling someone else would be too much.
“Anyway,” the redhead continued, eager now to fill the space Carol left for her, ”I heard the woman who runs the place where I, I, work,” Janice stumbled over the word, then went on, “talking about two girls she’d been offered, about buying them, but she said she didn’t need them now she had me. About how I was um, about how it was my choice and that made it safe, the other two would be too dangerous. She said they could stay where they were, she didn’t want to touch them.”
Hope that Janice would be able to lead them straight to the other two girls died in Carol. But this was the best lead they had.
“Do you think she knows who has them, where they are?” the policewoman asked, eagerly
“Yeah, I’m sure she does. It sounded like another brothel. So, you going to arrest her?” Janice sounded as if she didn’t like that idea. Carol could see Janice pulling herself into a tight ball underneath the borrowed coat, fingers peeking out, grasping the lapels.
“No,” Carol shook her head, “sounds as if she doesn’t have them. Knowing where they are might count as accessory, but we’d never convince a judge to order a warrant on that.”
“So what are you going to do?” Janice asked.
“Not sure,” Carol replied, then forced the uncertainty out of her voice. “Don’t worry, we’ll think of something. Does she know you overheard her?”
Janice shook her head, “I don’t think so. I was outside her office and the door wasn’t quite closed.”
“Ok, good.” Janice had been lucky, Carol thought, but it wasn’t likely to happen again. They couldn’t count on any more information that way. Carol had run out of questions about Janice’s information. There were other questions to ask now. “But what were you doing there? I mean, after what happened I’d have thought…” Carol let her voice trailed off. It was too close to an accusation. She felt too much kinship to the other woman to do that.
“You’d have thought this was the last thing I’d be doing?” The resignation was plain in Janice’s voice. “Yeah, if you’d asked me, me too.” Janice fingers had released their grip on the lapels of the coat, her arms now wrapped tightly around herself.
Carol couldn’t help herself. She had to know the answer, the words whispered at the edge of her consciousness. She had to know why Janice had done it, then maybe she could save herself. “So, look, I’m sorry, but, why?”
Janice took a deep breath. Her arms unwound from her body, an obvious effort. Her hands appeared, slowly, clasped each other. Janice looked up at Carol. “After you rescued me, they offered me counselling and all that, you know? I did it for a bit, but it didn’t seem to help. The words, it didn’t make them go away. I couldn’t get them out of my head. I went back to college. Kept telling myself that was what I wanted to do. Part of me did, still does. I’m still going to classes.” With that last sentence Janice sat up, straighter. Carol could tell that Janice was wrapping her studies around herself like the borrowed coat, supporting the last shreds of her dignity.
Janice paused, her eyes flicked away from Carol. “But part of me, part of me wanted to do it, to s-sell myself. I know enough psychology to know what Copeland did to me. Conditioned me to want this. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t really me that wanted it. It was just what he’d done to me. But it didn’t help. I felt like I was tearing myself apart. Part of me wanted to be a student, get on with the life I’d planned. But another part, well, it just wanted to be a whore.” Carol could understand what Janice was saying. She could feel the war within herself, as two parts struggled for dominance.
Janice continued, the words flowing from her now as though some dam had broken. Carol realised that this must be the first time Janice had told her story. Carol was used to people running on and on once they started their confession, the feeling of freedom, of relief, it gave them to be able to tell someone the secrets they’d been hoarding. “It might have been different, if I’d been like the other girls. Actually sold off, you know, made to do it, not gotten paid. More a slave than a prostitute. Suffered that. But I wasn’t. I was never in that position. I don’t blame you. How would you know? And if you hadn’t got me out of there I might be like these other girls, still out there somewhere. Let me guess, that other girl, the one you asked about? Still in treatment? I bet she’s the last girl Copeland sold.”
Carol just nodded. It was true. Judy was the last one that had happened to, the last one taken before her and Janice.
“Thought so,” said Janice, obviously pleased at her deduction, “She wasn’t a slave long enough for it to be easy to break down the conditioning that Copeland put us through. Still fresh in her head. The others suffered long enough that all that was left for them was doing what they were told. Told you I knew some psychology.” Carol realised she’d have to tell Mulholland. It might be the last piece they needed to help Judy.
The redhead wasn’t stopping now. “But that never happened to me. What he did, it left me wanting it. Needing it. I was going to fall apart if I didn’t. I thought about the streets. But I couldn’t face that. So I found a place, and they took me and, God help me, I liked it.” Janice’s hands had left her lap, had been moving throughout the last part of her speech. The movements became frantic now, waving about like branches in a strong wind. “I don’t want to stop. I’m not who I was before. I’m a student, and I’m a whore. A hooker. Part of me still hates it. But most of me loves it. And it’s better than trying to tear myself apart. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Tears started to run from Janice’s eyes, her make-up streaming with them. Carol hurried over to the other girl, put her arms around her. “Shh, it’s okay. It’ll be okay.”
Janice wiped the tears away with one hand, frustration clear in the gesture. “No,” the redhead said firmly, “no it isn’t. Like I said I know enough psychology to know how fucked up I am. But you need to want to change before anything will help. And too much of me doesn’t want to change. I like it too much. It’s sick. I know I’m sick. It doesn’t matter who the man is, how old, what he looks like. I know he’s going to pay me and I want it, it’s, it’s so hot, I get turned on and …” Janice stopped, shook her head again. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Carol didn’t know what else to say. The struggle, the war, inside her had blazed as she’d listened to the other girl. Everything Janice had said had found an echo in her own feelings. She knew that she could so easily make the same decision Janice had, try to satisfy both parts of her. But while it was an option, just, for Janice, it wasn’t for Carol. If she went out and whored herself and anyone found out then she’d be thrown off the force. She’d still be left with only one half of her satisfied. She couldn’t see any way out of her dilemma.
“No it’s not,” Janice replied, forcefully, “You rescued me, got me out of there. You don’t deserve this in return.”
“Hey,” Carol said, trying desperately to find something encouraging to say, “if you hadn’t we wouldn’t have any lead on Karen and Laura.”
“I suppose,” said Janice, wiping away another tear.
“But,” Carol continued, cautiously, “you sure you don’t want to stop? Sounds to me like you do. We can get you some help.” She had to believe that there was a way out for Janice. Then there might be one for her, too.
Janice shook her head, “No, I know what’s happening to me. Too much of me doesn’t want to stop. Maybe someday. Maybe when I’ve finished college and I don’t need the money. Maybe when it just wears me down. I don’t know. But right now, I, I just can’t stop. It’s like an addiction, you know? And anyway, you said what I told you wasn’t enough, maybe I can find out more. Ask some questions, you know.”
Carol paused, turned the idea over in her head. They could use Janice as an informant. The force did that with whores. And junkies, and pushers, and anyone else that might have information more important than whatever crimes they were personally responsible for. Could she do that to Janice? Use her, like the men who paid her did? Carol had used informants before, but this time she wasn’t so sure. And anyway, it had been pure chance that Janice had stumbled across that conversation. She’d probably never find anything more unless she went looking. Janice wasn’t trained. If she pushed too hard she’d probably be found out. Then she’d be lucky if all she got was hurt. She’d be more likely dead. What they needed was someone where Janice worked who knew how to ask questions subtly. Who knew how to eavesdrop and not be noticed. They needed a police officer in the brothel.
“Oh God,” Carol whispered, trembling as both images of herself in her head turned and looked at her. Could she? Could she do it? Could she convince Wainwright to let her? She could feel an arousal building in her, dampness growing between her thighs.
“You okay?” asked Janice
Carol forced herself to concentrate. “Yeah, look, no I can’t ask you to do that. Too much chance they’ll realise what you’re trying to do and clam up.”
Janice looked crestfallen. “Oh, okay. Umm, but I know other things too. Most of the guys are just average Joes. But some are crooks, and they tell us things and, and I could let you know. Some of them seem pretty important. Maybe they’re just making it up to impress us, but they seem to have money, and some of it seems like major stuff.”
Carol could tell how eager Janice was to help. And to justify, in some little way, what she was doing. Maybe that wouldn’t help the girl in the long run. But the police could always use whatever information they could get. Carol’s conscience railed at her, telling her not to use Janice like that. A colder part of mind clamped down on the objections. A good cop would do it, she knew, take any source of information she could get. But Carol couldn’t do it, not that coldly, not without giving Janice a chance to back out. However token it was.
“You really want to do that? Give yourself another reason to keep, keep,…,” Carol’s voice trailed off, unable to finish the sentence. She could feel herself falling into somewhere dark. Her willingness to use Janice triggering other images, of herself being used.
“Whoring myself?” Janice finished for her. “Yeah, I know what you mean. You’re worried that if I think I’m doing it as some sort of public service than I’ll have a harder time ever convincing myself to stop. I don’t think it’ll matter. And it’s my decision. You may as well get what you can out of it. But what about those other two girls?”
Carol sighed, trying to summon her courage. “You leave that to me. I need to talk to my boss. You okay here?”
“Yeah,” Janice smiled, finally relaxing. She stretched her legs out, the stockings accentuating their shape. “Cal paid up front for the whole night. I got nowhere else I have to be. But I’m not getting charged with anything am I?”
“No,” Carol replied as she left the room. “Don’t worry, there’s not enough to hold you on anything.”
Wainwright was waiting outside. “Well?” he asked.
“We need to talk, in private,” said Carol.
“Okay” he shrugged and led her to an empty interview room.
“So,” he asked, closing the door, “what’d she have?”
Carol headed over to the table, leant against it. She realised the pose would be showing off her own legs, her skimpy outfit from the casino all she was still wearing. She didn’t care. “The place where she works,” Carol began, trying to keep her voice even. She couldn’t betray any emotion, any hesitation, if she was going to get Wainwright to buy her plan, “She heard the madam talking. She’d been offered two girls that have to be Karen and Laura. Someone wanted to sell them to her.”
Wainwright’s eyes narrowed in anticipation, “So, does Janice know where they are?”
Carol shrugged, shook her head. “No, the madam wouldn’t buy them. Too risky she said. But Janice thinks she must know where they are.”
“Damn,” said Wainwright, frowning.
“We could drag her in, think of something.” Carol knew Wainwright wouldn’t go for this, but she needed to prepare the ground.
Wainwright started to pace back and forth. “Nah, she’d clam up, she’d know we’d have nothing on her if she didn’t have the girls.”
“Well,” Carol continued making herself stay still, “Janice offered to try to find out more, but I told her it’d be too dangerous. Someone’d work out what she was after.”
“Yeah,” Wainwright agreed, pausing to look at Carol, “and we’d never get a warrant on a whore’s word. God, did she tell you why she’s doing it?”
“For the money,” Carol’s hand made a dismissive gesture. It wasn’t a complete lie. Janice had mentioned money.
“Geez,” said Wainwright, shaking his head in disbelief. “Some people.”
“She said she had other stuff, that some of her Johns are crooks and they tell her things.” Carol hoped Wainwright couldn’t see the slight trembling she felt.
“Yeah,” Wainwright said, shrewdly, “I bet they do. That could be useful. How’d it sound?”
“I dunno,” Carol shrugged, trying to be casual, “I didn’t push her about it. Wanted to talk to you about Karen and Laura. But it sounded like some of them might be a bit higher than street-level. Maybe you should have a talk to her. Tomorrow though, she’s a bit shook up tonight.”
“Yeah,” her boss replied. “Good idea. With her profile we want to be real sure before using her as an informant. The commissioner’ll have a fit. But I can talk him around.”
Carol knew he was right. Wainwright almost always got his way. And if he could dangle a few high-profile arrests in front of the commissioner, well, it shouldn’t be that hard to get his agreement. Especially compared to what Carol was about to suggest.
“But where does that leave us with Karen and Laura?” Carol asked. “We can’t expect Janice to get lucky again.”
Wainwright shook his head, a weary resignation clear in his voice. “We’ll probably just have to keep hoping something turns up. At least we know they’re alive and probably still in the city.”
Carol hopped up, sitting on the table, her feet gently swinging back and forth. “If we had someone in there who could ask the right questions we might be able to find out where they are.”
Wainwright frowned, “I thought we already agreed that Janice couldn’t do that.”
Carol paused. Could she do this? She knew that she could think it. She already was thinking about it. So much it was almost filling her mind. It was making her dizzy. She wanted to. It almost seemed as though the words had paused, holding their breath, waiting. She knew that it was that part of her Copeland had put in her head, but she didn’t care any longer. Like Janice had said, she was tired of tearing herself apart. She could only see one way out.
“No, Janice couldn’t,” Carol said, a half-whisper.
“Then who? We’d need someone in there who’d been trained, but how we going to get an officer into a brothel?” Wainwright paused, then looked straight at Carol. “Oh, no, no way detective. I do not believe what I am hearing.” Wainwright wasn’t stupid. Carol knew he’d catch on quick.
“I can do it,” she said, her voice quiet but sure, “I want to do it.” The words echoed in Carol’s head. I want to do it. I want to do it. I want to be a prostitute. She wasn’t sure who was in control any more, her, the words, the image of the whore. It didn’t matter.
“Carol,” Wainwright said, the force of his voice, the use of her name, cutting into her thoughts, “are you serious? You know what you’d have to do?”
“I know,” answered Carol.
“Were you drinking tonight?” Wainwright looked at her, accusingly, “Come on, I know we do stuff, small drug deals, lean on people, what it takes to play the part and get the big guys. But being a hooker? It could take you weeks to get the info on those girls, get the madam or the other girls to trust you enough to talk. You couldn’t pretend to be one. You’d have to close the deal. A lot.”
“I know that, sir,” Carol kept her voice even. She couldn’t risk letting Wainwright see the emotions running through her. The fear, the anticipation. The arousal. She could tell that she was in with a chance. Wainwright hadn’t turned her down flat. She could hear the words urging her on, see the image of herself in head, dressed as whore, laughing wildly. She could feel the two parts of her mind fusing, becoming one. She could be a whore and a cop. She could feel herself getting wet just thinking about it. The images ran around her head. She was losing herself in them. She didn’t care. All she wanted now was for some man to pay her to let him fuck her.
Carol forced herself to draw a breath. She had to keep a hold of herself. She wasn’t there yet.
“Look,” she said, as she realised that Wainwright had fallen silent. “This is the only lead we’ve had, maybe the only chance we’ve got of finding them.”
“You’re too close to this Carol, you don’t know what you’re asking.” Carol could see the disbelief on the captain’s face.
“Yes,” she said, letting some of the force of her emotions how through, “I do. We said we’d find them, no matter what it takes. Well, if this is what it takes, I’ll do it.”
“Damn,” said Wainwright, looking her up and down. “Damn, you will, won’t you? And if I order you not to?”
“I, I,” Carol stumbled, her legs stopping their swinging, freezing, in mid-air. Wainwright wouldn’t do that, would he? Set the whore and the policewoman at war again? When she was so close? “I’d do what you said.”
“Like hell you would,” Wainwright swore. He turned his head away. Carol could till the storm in his eyes. Then he turned back to her, made himself look at her. “You’d just go and do it anyway. I’d have to damn well lock you up to stop this now.” Did Wainwright believe that? Or was he just making excuses to ease his own conscience? Carol knew he wanted the girls found as much as she did. Maybe he just had to tell himself he’d had no choice so he could look at himself in the mirror.
“You could be throwing your career away. If this got out…” Wainwright’s voice trailed off as he shook his head.
“I know,” Carol said, desperately trying to keep her hope in check.
“How you going to get in?” Wainwright asked.
“Janice. The other girl, the blonde one, knows we know each other. I can get Janice to introduce me to the madam. Tell her about how I need the money now George has been arrested.”
Wainwright eyed her suspiciously, “You’ve thought this all out haven’t you?”
Carol nodded, but she knew that she hadn’t. Or maybe that part of her, the words, the whore, had planned it. And they were only now letting her in on the secret.
“So, Janice know this?” Wainwright asked, his suspicion still clear.
“No, but I can go ask her now.”
“Okay,” said Wainwright slowly. “Okay, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but okay. Go talk to Janice. Then go sleep on it. If you can look me in the eye tomorrow and say you’re still willing to do this, then okay. I’ll cover for you as long as I can. But if I say you’re out, you’re getting out, right?”
Carol slipped off the table, eager to get back to Janice. ”Yes, sir.”
“Geez, I can’t believe I’m agreeing to this. This could sink both our careers.” Wainwright turned to go. Then he stopped, looked back at Carol over his shoulder. “I’m going home detective. Soon as you’ve talked to Janice I suggest you do the same.”
Carol couldn’t believe her feeling of elation. She knew that she should be horrified, disgusted. She shouldn’t want this. But she did. She wanted it like she’d never wanted anything in her life. She hurried back to the room where Janice waited.
The redhead looked up as Carol closed the door. “So, you want me as an informant?”
Carol nodded, “Yeah, but there’s something else too.” She pulled another of the chairs close to Janice’s and sat down.
“What?” Janice asked, frowning.
“We need to find the other girls. But we don’t want you trying to get any more information about them. Too risky. But if you get me in there, I can try finding out.” Carol’s voice was soft. She didn’t bother trying to hide her eagerness, she hoped Janice thought it was only her desire to find the missing girls.
Janice looked confused, “What, you mean sneak you in there one night, so you can look around?”
“No,” said Carol, firmly. “Introduce me to the madam, the other girl you were with tonight knows we know each other. Tell them I need the money ’cause my boyfriend’s been arrested.”
“What?” Janice cried, her disbelief plain. “You want to work there? As a whore?”
“I’m an undercover cop, you know that. It’s just another job.” Carol could feel herself trembling, trying to hide her emotions beneath her policewoman façade.
Janice looked at her sharply, disbelief etched on her features. “No, no it’s not. I’m not stupid you know. I know psych. It’s the words, isn’t it? They’re still in your head aren’t they?” Janice pointed a finger at Carol’s head. Emphasising her point. “They’re making you do this. They might have got me, made me give in, but you don’t have to.”
“No, it isn’t, but I can’t think of any other way to find those girls,” Carol replied, an empty feeling growing in her, at the half-truth of the words. Then she stopped. Carol stared the other girl in the eye, all pretence gone. “Yeah, it’s the words, they go round and around my head and they won’t stop. They never stop. You said it, I’m tearing myself apart. I have to, I want to.” She took Janice’s outstretched hand in both of hers. “You know what it’s like. I have to do this, I want to do this.”
Janice tore her gaze from Carol’s. She turned her head as far away as she could. “No, I can’t, I won’t. You rescued me, I can’t let you.”
Carol took the other girl by the shoulders, shaking her. “Janice,” she commanded, “Janice, look at me.”
Trembling, unwilling, Janice turned her head back to look at Carol. Small sounds, muttered refusals, came from her.
“You know the words. They’re in my head, always in my head. I want to be a prostitute. I’m going to be a prostitute. They’re always there. I want to be paid for sex.”
Carol realised that she could hear the words. Janice was echoing them back at her, a distant look in her eyes.
“I want to be paid for sex,” Janice mumbled.
Carol couldn’t stop now “I’m happy to be a prostitute.”
“I’m happy to be a prostitute,” the redhead echoed, her voice clearer now, as she stared into Carol’s eyes.
On and on, Carol recited all the words Copeland had poured into her head.
“I love it when men use me.”
“I want to be used sexually.”
“If a man pays me he can do anything he wants.”
Janice repeated them back, then Carol started up again. Over and over. Carol realised what was happening. They were reinforcing the words in each other. It had never been like this before.
“I want to be paid for sex.”
When had her nipples become this hard? When had her pussy started to drip? She didn’t know, hadn’t noticed. Even now the feelings, the arousal that was running through her, wasn’t what was important. The words were. They were all that mattered.
“I want to be a prostitute.” Their two voices combined into one.
The two women slipped off their chairs until they were kneeling on the floor, facing each other. The coat had fallen from Janice’s shoulders. It lay on the floor, behind her. Their hands were on each other’s shoulders. They kept repeating the words, over and over. The four plain walls of the room, its single light, made Carol think again of the cell on the boat were Copeland had held her. It was as if she was back there again, only now she was locked up with Janice, repeating the words over and over, an endless recital.
“We’ve got to stop,” Janice forced out, “we’re brainwashing ourselves. Reinforcing it.”
“I can’t stop,” Carol felt a tear run down her cheek, “I’m sorry, I can’t. I want to be a prostitute, I’m happy to be a prostitute. I want to be paid for sex.”
Janice wasn’t echoing the words now. They were saying them together. Somehow they both knew which ones came next. Carol’s pussy was on fire. An electric line arced up from her centre, split in the middle of her chest and ended in her nipples. A hand, still resting on Janice’s shoulder, twitched, an urge to rub herself growing. She forced her hand to stay in place. Her pussy was for the men who would pay her. It was for sale, a commodity, nothing else. A whore’s pussy was for her Johns. It was for their pleasure. A whore’s pleasure waited on that. Carol knew that she was a whore, a hooker, a prostitute. She had a whore’s pussy. It ached to be filled. Her breasts yearned to be touched. But she knew that she had to wait, wait for someone to pay her.
Carol realised that they had fallen silent. At some point they had simply stopped. She could feel the words in her head. But they didn’t worry her anymore. They were part of her. They’d seeped into every part of her. The policewoman was still there. She would always be there. But she was the smaller part now, quiet, watching. The two parts of her would have to learn how to live together. But it was the whore that was in control now.
She forced herself to her feet, then offered a hand to Janice, “You, okay?” Carol asked.
“What did we just do?” the redhead asked, her eyes wide as Carol helped her up. Carol could feel Janice trembling slightly, as the other girl leant on her for support. That was fine with Carol, she could bear the weight. And if Janice needed help in doing what had to be done, then Carol would help with that too.
“What we had to do,” Carol said, firmly, “Let’s get you out of here. Go get some sleep. Tomorrow you come see my boss. Then,” Carol could hear the anticipation in her own voice, “we go see your boss.”
Carol sauntered into the office the next morning. She’d been tempted to dress up for her new job. Wondered how much she could tease her colleagues. Would any of them pay her for sex, if she offered them the chance? She’d smiled at herself in the mirror, thinking about it as she readied herself for the day. She bet a lot would. But, she told herself firmly, she couldn’t risk it. She had to keep Wainwright on side. Sure, she could quit her job and just go whore herself. It was tempting, so tempting. But Carol knew that wouldn’t work. Before the whore wouldn’t let the policewoman alone. Now, Carol knew, the policewoman was still there and if the whore tried to run everything her way the policewoman wouldn’t let her alone. She needed to keep that part of herself happy too. But it was the whore that was in control as she sat down in her boss’ office.
Wainwright took a deep breath and looked at Carol as she sat opposite him. The smoke from his cigarette, the piles of paperwork, the clear space on his desk, all seemed so familiar. Yet it was so different too. Carol knew this was the start of her new life. All she had to do was convince Wainwright and she could have what she needed.
“So,” he began, reservation clear in his voice, “you still sure you want to do this?”
Carol looked him straight in the eye. She wanted there to be no doubts, no room for him to think that she wasn’t certain. “Yes, yes I’m sure. We need to find those girls. And if Janice is right, who knows what else we can find?”
Wainwright shook his head, “Carol, think about what you’re doing. I can put you down as in deep cover. If we’re lucky no-one else will ever know what you’re doing. But I can’t promise. And even if it works, will you be able to look at yourself in the mirror after this?”
Carol paused, she was choosing her words carefully. She wanted to say that she that the only way she could live with herself was if she did this, that otherwise she’d fall apart. But she had to phrase it in a way that Wainwright would accept. “I won’t be able to look at myself if I don’t do everything I can to find Karen and Laura.” The policewoman was happy with that. She’d made a promise, to do whatever it took.
“Okay,” Wainwright replied at length. “Okay. Use the identity you had at college. Tell them that’s where you met Janice, but then you dropped out. The records’ll show that if anyone looks. Not likely, but best to be sure. You took up with George, used a fake name to stop anyone finding you, and now he’s under arrest you need the money.”
Carol could see Wainwright’s mind working, immersing itself in the details of the operation. Trying to suppress what she’d be doing. Wainwright knew his job. He laid it all out, the rest of her cover story, how they’d stay in contact, everything. For the duration he’d be her only contact with the police.
Carol let the policewoman pay attention. The whore just sat there, wrapped in anticipation. She couldn’t wait.
“I’ll fill Janice in—send her in as soon as she gets here. I want to talk to her alone.” Carol wanted to protest. She didn’t want anything to ruin her chances. What if Janice said the wrong thing? Told Wainwright about the words, about what had happened last night, how they’d reinforced each other’s brainwashing? What if Wainwright decided Janice couldn’t be trusted to keep Carol’s identity as a policewoman secret from the brothel? She forced herself to stay quiet. She knew that this had to be done Wainwright’s way, or it wouldn’t happen.
After the briefing with Wainwright Carol returned to her desk. Somewhere, a part of her knew that she should be worried about what had happened to her. She knew that Copeland had brainwashed her. That she and Janice had made it worse for themselves last night. Deepened it, made it stronger. But she didn’t care. Carol realised that maybe it was the brainwashing that made her not care. That she was trapped in a circular logic. She was brainwashed to be happy to be a prostitute and so she couldn’t be anything else. She realised, to her surprise, that even knowing that she didn’t care. She wanted this.
Carol quickly filled in the report that had to be filed before the operation could begin. She’d done it dozens of times before. This time felt different. She entered the lies that Wainwright had told her to put about what she’d be doing. Her desk felt strange, a foreign object. She looked at the form, where it said which account to pay her salary into, arrangements for money to be taken out to pay the rent on her apartment, whatever bills needed paying for it. Other than that, the money would just mount up. Wainwright had left the details of her assignment vague. He’d as much as told her she could keep whatever money she earnt. He didn’t want her turning it in and then someone asking questions about how she’d got it. It wasn’t standard, probably wasn’t legal, but Carol didn’t mind. She quivered as she realised she was going to be living off her earnings as a whore.
The minutes seemed to drag as she waited for Janice to arrive. Carol felt parts of her body tighten, low and private, when the redhead finally came into the office, hesitant, like a mouse daring the kitchen when the cat is somewhere close by. Carol waved to her, hustled her into Wainwright’s office. Then went back to fretting at her desk.
She felt her stomach lurch when Wainwright called for her to join them. She forced herself to pay attention as Wainwright went over their plans again. She nodded and made affirmative noises when they were needed. As they were leaving Wainwright asked her one last question. He caught her arm, pitched his voice low so Janice wouldn’t hear “You going to be able to look me in the eye when this is done?”
“I won’t be able to if we don’t.”