The amazing Patti Abbott announced a flash fiction contest on her website a week or so ago and the moment I saw it I knew I had to enter. The guidelines? An eight hundred or so word story whose only requirement is that it must contain the phrase, "I really don't mind the scars."
The contest deadline is February 28, but since this is a day off for my FINAL VECTOR blog tour and the story is done, I figured I'd go ahead and post it tonight. So here ya go:
I'm not a monster.
Sure, the newspapers paint me as one; so do the TV reporters. Those arrogant fucks from Nightline made me out to be the worst thing to hit the world since frigging Jack the Ripper. But they don't understand. I do what I do to save the girls, not to victimize them. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I know I'm doing the right thing. So I keep doing it.
My latest project is a beauty, too. She's down on Washington Street, dressed in about six ounces of strategically positioned Spandex, stretched over her best body parts like Saran Wrap. Or spraypaint. She struts her stuff for the usual display of desperate losers cruising Washington while I watch from the shadows provided by the entrance to one of those welfare check-cashing places that seem to populate every corner of neighborhoods like this.
A steady drizzle blurs the scene, wrapping it in a translucent gauze but doing nothing to slow the parade. Middle-aged businessmen in family cruisers, old geezers in Buicks, young guys out for some strange; they're all there.
And my girl's working it for all she's worth.
Does it piss me off? You're goddamn right it does. She doesn't belong out here with the diseased, the addicts, the homeless. She's better than that; I can tell. Which is exactly why I'm here, uniformed ironed crisply, pounding the pavement on my night off.
Every so often a dirtbag wanders past my hiding place and jumps, startled by my presence, curious why I'm just standing here doing nothing. But their interest in my business wanes quickly when they get a good look at my blues and I flash my trusty flat-eyed cop stare.
That's one of the many reasons I love being a cop.
Another is that it gives me the freedom to save my girls, which, after all, is why I'm here. I decide it's time to stop observing and start saving. I step out of the shadows and approach the hooker at a brisk pace while her attention is diverted by a minivan full of teenagers hooting and hollering, whipping out my shield when she turns around and placing her under arrest for criminal solicitation.
She sputters and complains that I have no probable cause to make an arrest and of course she's right, but what the fuck do I care? It's not like I'm taking her to jail, anyway. The other pros scatter at my sudden appearance and the pimps melt into the background and the johns disappear like magic and suddenly it's just me and my girl.
Up close, she's even more striking than I had imagined - silky blonde hair, large, surprisingly clear blue eyes, delicate facial bone structure. She's exquisite. Her only visible flaw is a pair of thin ragged blood-red scars, one running diagonally across her forehead, the other winding its way down her right cheek, both undoubtedly the result of punishment from her pimp for some transgression.
But I don't really mind the scars, they stand in stark contrast to her natural beauty, bringing it out with their ugliness and emphasizing it.
I drag her around the corner and down the sidewalk and toss her into the specially customized back seat of my car. By the time she realizes she's not in a real police cruiser it's much too late for her to do anything about it. We're at my home within thirty minutes and I'm able to introduce my latest find to her new digs.
They're pretty comfortable, too, once you get past the iron bars and the grates on the windows, set high up on the concrete walls of my underground bunker. The space is divided into three separate units, giving me the luxury of saving three girls at a time.
Right now, though, my new friend - Crystal, she says is her name, which I know is one of those bogus hooker names but, again, what the fuck do I care? - is the only occupant. I find I'm going through the girls faster and faster; why that is, I'm not really sure. But it doesn't matter, there is an endless supply of girls to be saved.
At the moment Crystal is half angry and half afraid, not fully grasping the particulars of her new reality. I'll let her calm down and come back later. By then I'm sure she will be only too happy to show proper appreciation for being saved from a lifetime of prostitution.
I'll allow her to demonstrate that appreciation for a few days and then I'll use her up and dump her in the woods out back with the rest of the girls I've saved.
Then, in a few days, I'll go out and save another one.