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[Sex workers] can’t be slandered, apparently, because our status is THAT low.  –  Mistress Matisse

Out of Control

This was obvious to anyone who’s actually known any actual men, and whose mind is not fouled entirely with “social construction” dogma:

Priests’ vows of celibacy may have led to paedophilia, the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has said…A group advising the…Church on how to deal with thousands of cases of child sex abuse said celibacy may be psychologically damaging for some priests…The…conclusions were quickly dismissed by the Vatican…

Think of the Children! 

The statute under which these people were arrested defines “near” as 100 feet:  “Eleven people…were arrested and charged with prostitution near a school…[in] Memphis…the…arrests were all within a mile and a half from [any of several schools]…Thierry Schaffauser

Lack of Evidence

On December 16th…Thierry Schaffauser, founding member of STRASS, was distributing leaflets and condoms when he was arrested [in]…Paris…He was accused of having spoken to a sex worker.  Two plainclothes police officers then committed acts of violence against him including strangulation…He was handcuffed …and taken to the police station…without being able to request…a lawyer.  The sex worker he was talking to…was also arrested…Homophobic and racist remarks were made during the arrest, incl. “it is because of people like you that mamas bring in African women for prostitution in France”…

Welcome To Our World

Not the late actor, but rather the president of a fundamentalist Christian group:

…Tony Perkins [claims]…his fight against gay rights is necessary to prevent an economic crash and [is] no different than saving someone from a burning building…the Family Research Council president…told [the Faith & Liberty podcast]…that gay rights present such a grave “threat to religious liberty” that the movement for LGBT equality will inevitably lead to “a rapid downward spiral of our nation, including our economy”…Perkins insisted that his anti-gay activism is motivated by love for the gay community.  Just as an onlooker would try to wake up a person sleeping inside of a burning building, Perkins explained, he is simply trying to tell gay people about homosexuality’s destructive nature…

Whores know all about people who “love” us and want to “help” us by denying our basic human rights, criminalizing our lives and locking us up in state brainwashing centers.

The Pro-Rape Coalition

In which David Horsey un-ironically uses the phrase “women performing like whores” in a fact-free anti-porn rant:

…Thanks to the Internet, Americans have been pushed, unwittingly, into a vast social experiment testing whether unfettered access to the most freakish and foul pornography will warp sexual relations for generations to come…Raunchy actually does not begin to describe the things that any kid can find with a few search words and a couple of clicks…It’s a quick descent into an endless display of photographs and videos…dominated by perverse male fantasies of women performing like whores for men whose sexual techniques appear to have been learned in a prison cell…This is soul-disturbing stuff most human beings have never seen or experienced before…

Because obviously whores aren’t women.  Would-be censors are fond of claiming that online porn is “dominated” by extreme stuff, and that it’s easy to find, but try it yourself sometime.

Imaginary Crises

Women who tell outlandish rape tales undermine the credibility of all women:

In a now-infamous…story in Rolling Stone, disgraced journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely asserted that at least five members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity gang-raped a freshman named Jackie at a frat house party…The Washington Post’s reporting now suggests that Jackie fabricated huge swathes of her gory rape tale, and that Erdely abrogated her duty to properly investigate it…the number of completely fraudulent rape allegations made by women on American college campuses is far from trivial.  With very little effort at all, The Daily Caller has found eight twisted, totally false and especially astonishing rape hoaxes proffered over the years by female college students.  In each case, the cruel hoaxes were initially accepted as true.  In some cases, real lives were ruined…

Surplus Women 

A man obsessed with the Yorkshire Ripper brutally attacked a prostitute and planned to carry out more murders than his idol…David Parsons, 21, bought a claw hammer because it was Peter Sutcliffe’s weapon of choice and used it to repeatedly bludgeon a…call girl he lured to his flat…he was spooked by her screams and fled…[then] told police:  “I have just tried to kill someone”…The victim…suffered head injuries and…psychological damage…Parsons pleaded guilty to attempted murder…[but] showed no empathy or remorse…[saying] “She is a prostitute, I am not even bothered”…

Profit from Panic 

The Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW) recently released its annual peer reviewed publication, the Anti-Trafficking Review…[this year’s] theme…is “Following the Money: Spending on Anti-Trafficking“…The majority of funding dedicated to anti-trafficking initiatives is spent in either prevention or prosecution…there has been little research undertaken into the…effectiveness of funded anti-trafficking initiatives…whether a person is recognised as a “victim” or “migrant” is defined by the media, who are influenced by…political expediency…

Above the Law 

A Louisiana [cop]…has been arrested…[for groping] a woman during a traffic stop…Michael Dayne Selders…touched her breasts…and private areas and tried to kiss her lips…Selders let her leave, saying “don’t tell anyone about this”…Selders [pretended that]…the woman initiated a hug, but denied wrongdoing…he’s [been rewarded with] paid [vacation]…

Meanwhile, in Tennessee:

…Nashville [cop Jonathan Mays] was arrested…for raping a prostitute…The victim had gone to police in June…[and they]…constructed a [sting] to catch Mays in the act…Once confronted, Mays tried to deny having any previous involvement with the woman, but later confessed to the [previous] incident…

The Naked Emperor

Chase Madar’s article about the horrific consequences of the US obsession with policing sex is quite good on issues like “sex offender” registration and the War on Whores…yet breathes not one word about “sex trafficking” hysteria, despite its condemnation of the Satanic panic.

Shift in the Wind

A TED talk about sex worker rights is definitely a step forward:

The Public Eye

Changing the narrative about sex work and battling the stigma  associated with the adult industry are among the primary goals behind a series of events [last weekend]…the Seattle chapter of the Sex Worker Outreach Project…[held] a three-day sex-work symposium to educate the public about consensual sex work, advocate for sex-worker rights and build community among a diverse group of practitioners.  “I hope people who have heard that all sex workers are victims and all sex work is exploitative will see…the adult industry is vast, complex, diverse and not inherently exploitative,” said Savannah Sly…

Property of the State

a…Wisconsin…woman [was] arrested for drug use…brought to court and twice refused lawyers (even though her fetus was given one), and then sent to jail for 17 days, where she was placed in solitary confinement, denied prenatal care even as she began cramping, and not given her thyroid medication for two days…Tamara Loertscher…refused to submit to in-patient treatment because…she…had stopped using drugs.  She was then jailed for contempt of court…the state of Wisconsin then informed her that it considered her a child abuser, which will prevent Loertscher from ever working again in her profession, as a certified nurse’s aide…

Bread and Circuses

They must have threatened him with decades in prison to secure this deal:

[Eric “Red” Omuro]…pleaded guilty…to facilitating prostitution by running a website that allowed sex workers to advertise services…it was the first federal conviction of a website operator for facilitation of prostitution…MyRedbook…allowed users to post and respond to ads offering services including massage, stripping, domination and sex in San Francisco and throughout the West Coast…the website generated more than $5.4 million in revenue…Omuro…agreed to forfeit $1.28 million in cash and property and the domain names…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #429) 

At long last, Seattle’s The Stranger owns up to its part in promoting Chong Kim’s lies and the movie based on them:

…Mistress Matisse, a professional dominatrix and longtime Stranger contributor…sent an e-mail to her editors here in late June referring to a potential lawsuit.  “You’re getting this e-mail from me because I want some answers,” Matisse began. “I believe that…filmmakers Colin Plank and Megan Griffiths”—the producer and the director—”have perpetrated a fraud in their movie called Eden. Allegations have been made, and it’s time for them to either double down—or fess up.  And as The Stranger played a role in promoting the film, it’s appropriate that The Stranger play a part [in] the truth being told about it”…She [discussed] with a lawyer “the possibility of a class-action lawsuit against the makers of Eden“…[but his]  opinion was that “it would be difficult to prove damages, because the prevailing sentiment of the legal system more or less goes along with us being either helpless victims, as in the movie, or just plain criminals”…

The article debunks Kim’s tragedy porn in great detail, but that wasn’t actually very hard because her own published narratives of her supposed “exploitation” in sex work have grown dramatically in the past decade; had the filmmakers bothered to do even the slightest bit of research they would’ve known she was lying from square one.  But hey, the lies are only about whores and our clients, so it’s all good.

Surplus Women (TW3 #445)

Hong Kong was shocked by another brutal murder [of a sex worker]…as the half-naked body of a 15-year-old girl was discovered bound and gagged at a local dump – just weeks after a British banker was charged with the killing of two escorts…Kwok Wai-ming…had hands and legs bound together with plastic strips and adhesive tape and might have died during a sex game…the girl was involved in compensated dating…and also posed for nude pictures for money…Police have arrested a 34-year-old former clerical worker after analysing security camera footage from buildings in the area…

The Public Eye (TW3 #450)

Nick Clegg today backed Liberal Democrat MPs who are opposing a ban on a list of erotic acts being shown in porn because they have been judged “harmful”.  Three days after a face-sitting protest outside Parliament against new curbs on what can be shown in internet video porn, the Deputy Prime Minister said…the state should not invade the privacy of people’s bedrooms…

A Year Later

The headline makes it sound like “heavily regulated” rhetoric, but what they’re actually calling for is decriminalization:

The Canadian Public Health Association is calling on the government to regulate the sex industry…under existing occupational health and safety regulations…The testimony [leading up to the new law] laid bare a bitter divide…over whether prostitutes are victims or whether they are making a free and valid career choice.  The government considers prostitution a crime against women, and [pretends it can be] stamped out entirely…

That bit about a “bitter divide” is more prohibitionist nonsense; virtually no actual sex workers support client criminalization, and the ones who claim to are a tiny minority of ex-whores paid by prohibitionists to be human sock puppets.

A Year Later

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on December 14th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Canadian Supreme CourtA year ago tomorrow, the Supreme Court of Canada decriminalized prostitution in every part of the country with its ruling in Bedford vs. Canada, which struck down the criminal laws (very similar to those in the UK) which attempted to “control” and “discourage” the sale of sex by making it more difficult and dangerous.  Unfortunately, though the judges ruled the only way they could ethically rule under the circumstances, they still allowed themselves to be swayed by prudishness and deference to busybody ideas about government control of the personal lives of individuals:  they voluntarily stayed their own decision for one year to give the government time to cobble together some new, equally-indefensible, equally-vile law to replace those the court was striking down.  There’s little doubt that the resulting hot mess, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (or if you prefer something a bit less Orwellian, Bill C36), is merely a ridiculous rephrase of the rejected laws, combined with new, even more oppressive statutes, with the whole smothered in popular tinned Swedish sauce.  The government knows the law will never stand constitutional muster, and has known from the beginning; it simply didn’t care. The sole purpose of C36 was to delay the issue and “send a message”; even though it will certainly be struck down, that may take years, and the Conservatives will be out of power by then. In other words, they know they’ve lost and have now switched to a “long game” strategy, minimizing the political fallout by trying to ensure that the hot prostitution potato is in some other party’s lap next time the Supreme Court stops the music.  But Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne may have derailed that plan:

Just one day after a new and controversial federal prostitution law came into effect, the premier of Ontario is calling on her attorney general to look at the “constitutional validity” of the law…Kathleen Wynne said she is gravely concerned the new law will not protect sex workers or communities.  Wynne has asked Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur to advise her on the options available to the province, should it be found that the legislation’s constitutionality is in question…Wynne’s comments come as more than 60 organizations, including the Canadian AIDS Society and John Howard Society, demand the new laws be scrapped.  Now Magazine, an alternative publication in Toronto, has also said it will defy the new law, and continue to run advertisements by sex workers…Supporters of the new rules [pretend] the law will help reduce demand for prostitution…

Chronicle Herald editorial cartoon 7-9-14 by Bruce McKinnonBut even police state functionaries know that it will do no such thing; one cop interviewed in the Edmonton Sun said, “At best, it’ll be useless…at worst, it will make things worse than the old law.”  Politicians like Joy Smith are either entirely dishonest or entirely delusional when they call for the censorship and suppression of those who reveal the facts about prohibition and debunk prohibitionists’ propaganda and outright lies; fortunately, however, they are in the minority.  Most of the Canadian media and academia, and a large fraction of the population, understand that threatening people with violence and caging for consensual behavior is an abomination, and it’s inevitable that laws that enable such tyranny eventually go the same way as laws criminalizing BDSM, homosexuality, masturbation and other private sexual behaviors in which the government has no legitimate interest.

Up to Date

screening“Sex trafficking” hysteria has given cops and prosecutors a rationale for harassing the screening services sex workers use to protect themselves, often obliterating them in the process, and it won’t end anytime soon; even after the moral panic subsides in another two to three years, the laws and procedures it spawned will continue to exist and will be used to justify pogroms for years to come.  So a friend of mine (the escort who wrote “Something in the Milk“) has decided to start a new screening service, not just for escorts but for anyone who wants to meet someone she only knows from the internet.  It’s called “Up 2 Date” and it will be just a screening service; it will never carry escort ads or reviews, because those things give official busybodies excuses derived from “pandering” or “trafficking” laws.  Up 2 Date doesn’t know or care why anyone needs to check up on somebody else; that’s their business as consenting adults.  All we do is monitor members’ reputations to ensure that they are who they claim to be.  Yes, I said “we”; I’ll be making a share of the profits, and since my reputation will be affected you can be sure I’ll be keeping a close eye on things.  Here’s the explanation I wrote for the site:

The internet has created a revolution in the ability to meet new people for friendship, dating and business.  Websites, online forums and other tools allow people to meet up with like-minded others they would previously have had to rely on introductions, chance meetings, conventions and print ads to reach, with a dramatic increase in privacy and convenience.  Unfortunately, some of the people who use these resources are not what they pretend to be; they may intentionally deceive others in order to stalk them, harm them, ruin their lives or draw them into other dangerous situations.  The key to avoiding this is screening, which is to say examining a potential contact’s reputation before deciding whether to meet him in real life; expert screening consists of piecing together bits of information to view the whole picture that they create.  Sometimes just noticing little details can turn out to be what helps you to identify a dangerous situation.  There are a number of services which check out their members’ online backgrounds in order to declare them OK; some even maintain a roster of other members who have met each individual and found nothing to cause alarm.  But any defense which can be designed, can also be subverted; unscrupulous and unprincipled individuals (such as members of law enforcement agencies looking for people to harass for consensual adult activities) may expend considerable effort to create false profiles and establish false reputations before moving in to harvest anyone who innocently meets up with the false member under the mistaken impression that he is someone looking for a mutually-beneficial arrangement, when actually he is a predator out to inflict harm on anyone he can trick.

Up2Date performs background checks upon members upon joining, just as other reputation services do; what makes us different is that we periodically re-check as long as they remain members to ensure that no new information has cropped up to tarnish that reputation.  When faced with difficult situations, some people might succumb to pressure and wind up doing desperate things to improve their immediate circumstances; for example, a person who has been arrested may be inclined to inform on others or even cooperate in a scheme to entrap people who trust them.  It is our mission to allow our members to maintain their privacy by providing a secure background check and screening system to help them protect themselves from potentially embarrassing or even dangerous situations; our unique series of screening techniques provide the safest, most up to date and reliable estimation of safety when taking online interactions to the next level with real-life meetings.  Up2Date is ideal for MeetUp groups, swingers, escorts, clients, online dating or any other situation; simply message admin privately, or reply here for help.

So, there you are.  The site should be fully active by the time you read this, and ready to enroll members; we hope it becomes a staple in the toolkits sex workers, clients, kinksters and even vanilla daters use to keep themselves safe.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.  –  Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

red umbrella, rainy streetMost sex worker gatherings are either celebratory (such as our conventions and June 2nd events) or vehement (such as our protests and March 3rd events); many partake of both.  But on this one day a year they are more solemn, for it is the day we honor our dead.  Whether we would like to or not it is something we must do, because in places which would prefer to pretend we don’t exist, or places (like the US) where our very existence is criminalized, there is no one else to do it; were whores to fail to remember our dead, they would be forgotten entirely…and we refuse to let that happen.  Some prohibitionists say we bring violence upon ourselves by our choice to live outside of the sexual restrictions that repressive cultural norms have imposed on women for the past several millennia; others try to rob us of our agency, claiming that the violence comes from imaginary “pimps” and demonized clients.  But the truth these would-be social engineers don’t want you to know is that the majority of violence against whores is inflicted by the police, either with the blessings of the state (in the name of “fighting prostitution” or “rescuing victims”) or in the shadow created by the state’s definition of harlots as creatures outside the bounds of humane treatment.  The state, Western religions, and carceral “feminists” teach that a woman who has sex for practical reasons rather than emotional ones is robbed of her “purity”, and that an “impure” woman would be better off dead.  Furthermore, since they only value women for our sexual characteristics, they teach that a woman who sells sex “sells her body” or even “sells herself”; a person without a body is a ghost, and a person without a self is nothing at all.  Given these beliefs, is it any wonder those who adhere to them think dead hookers are of no great import?  As far as they’re concerned we were dead already, or worse than dead.  And if we are, is it any surprise that violent, weak-minded thugs in or out of uniform believe they can rape, rob, brutalize or even kill us with impunity?

Exactly one month ago tonight, I sat in a room with three of my sisters; we ate together, talked about our lives, swapped war stories, laughed and hugged and shared a kind of intimacy I’ve never felt with any group of amateur women.  That intimacy was itself one of the topics of conversation, and we understood that one of the reasons for its existence is that, in the eyes of the state, we are all outlaws – career criminals – fallen women whom the state has to use violence to cage lest we infect others with our dangerous notions about freedom, independence and self-ownership.  That was a night of celebration and joy, but I wish that tonight I could be with that same group again to mourn others who were not as fortunate in escaping doom as we have been.  Just as nobody else can understand our bonds of camaraderie in life, so too can they not understand how we can care so deeply for departed sisters we never met while they were still alive.  The answer to both is the same: we must love and care for each other so, because none of the “good”, “righteous”, “upstanding” members of “law-abiding” society will.

Diary #233

I’m slowly getting my head back into the necessary space for catching up on my work, but it hasn’t been easy; Monday and Tuesday last week were largely occupied with car-buying tasks, Wednesday was dominated by shopping and Thursday and Friday involved a lot of long-overdue house cleaning in preparation for company.  One rather nice thing about the latter task is that I keep running into things I had either misplaced or forgotten about, including my long-lost nested screwdriver set, a nice coil of poly rope and a brand-new corset still in the bag from the lingerie shop (and purchased how long ago, I have no idea).  Maybe this will inspire me to clean up more often…but somehow, I doubt it.

Last Tuesday brought me two great pleasures:  the first was being my friend Rachel Mills‘ guest* on the very first episode of her brand-new podcast, Liberty After Dark; the second was discovering (after I got off the phone) a rather large donation from the ever-generous Dan O’Connell, enough to pay the taxes on my touring car and also have it fully checked out and tuned up by my mechanic.  Given that I had depleted my account completely, it was a great relief!  I also received two Christmas presents already; Kevin Wilson sent me The Kingdom (series one) and Daz sent The Omega Factor (which I want to see due to the presence of Louise Jameson, who played one of my favorite companions in Doctor Who).  Some of my readers have gently chided me for letting my Amazon wishlist become depleted; they’ll be glad to know I’ve restocked it a bit.  But if you’d rather not try to figure out which thing to get me for Christmas, a donation to my activist work is always nice!  Just PayPal any amount you like to maggiemcneill@earthlink.net, or you can subscribe using the buttons at right to make small, regular donations.

*I was Rachel’s guest in person when I visited North Carolina; it was she who took the cheesecake pictures I’ve been sharing in this feature lately.

Every December, I present a different kind of story; they’re usually light, and some contain puzzles.  This one certainly isn’t light, but it’s…well, you’ll see.  It also contains a number of in-jokes and veiled references, and partakes of the ancient holiday custom of reversal:  it treats as serious a topic I spend considerable time ridiculing.  This really isn’t as odd as it may at first appear; one of the defining characteristics of myths and legends is that they are interesting (which is why people tell and retell them).  A dull myth would soon fade, and the human mind has a congenital preference for fascinating nonsense over dull fact…which, of course, explains the persistence of urban legends and moral panics no matter how often and thoroughly their elements are debunked.  And as generations of science fiction and fantasy writers have discovered, this makes stuff like Atlantis, ancient astronauts, the hollow Earth, etc wonderful subjects for stories, even if the author doesn’t actually believe a word of them.  Keep that in mind when you read this tale, which is intentionally ambiguous:  is what appears to be going on herein what is actually going on?  Does our protagonist have a highly overactive imagination?    Or is her antagonist just enjoying a cruel joke at her expense?

buildingThe doorman glowered at her as though he were the personification of the grim building itself, which had been the tallest one in town for over 30 years but was now humbled by the titans which had recently grown up around it.  Jane imagined it must be indignant at this development, and that its frowning façade was silently telling her, “Go away, you have no business here.”  But if she was going to make it as a reporter, she could let neither unfriendly employees nor gloomy old buildings stop her…and besides, her coat was really much too thin for this weather, and it had begun to snow; she went up to the door and tried to ignore the unpleasant expression on its keeper’s face.

Once within, she walked directly to the desk and announced that she was there to see Miss Morelli.  “Do you have an appointment?” asked the attendant, in a tone of voice that seemed to add “I know you don’t.”

“No, but please tell her Miss Louis from the Archdiocese is here to ask for her support in providing Christmas dinners for the poor.”  It was a terrible lie, but Margo Morelli was known to be even more generous with Catholic charities than her late father had been; Jane hoped it would be enough.

The attendant sighed, “You don’t have to talk to Miss Morelli herself about that; just see her personal assistant, Miss Angelo.  Go on up to the eleventh floor,” he said, gesturing toward the elevator with the phone receiver, “and I’ll let her know you’re on the way.”

“God bless you!” said Jane, feeling even more ashamed about her deception.  “Still,” she thought, “a girl has to eat, and jobs are scarce these days.  I’ll just have to go to confession this weekend.”  She involuntarily started at the ornate décor of the elevator doors, which seemed somehow menacing to her.  But she only paused for a moment; it was too late to turn back now, and there was only one more obstacle between her and the interview she wanted.  As she expected, the public elevator did not even go to the twelfth floor, so even if she had somehow been able to bribe the operator he could not have granted her request.  Correction:  she actually was going to the twelfth floor, though the number said eleven; the building was numbered in the European style, so that the first floor was the one above ground level.  But the Italians consider thirteen a lucky number, don’t they?  So it made sense that the boss’s office should be on that floor even if the number said twelve.

Miss Angelo turned out to be a tiny lady in late middle age with the hawk-like demeanor of a strict nun, and Jane felt her heart sink; there was no way she could even lie convincingly to this woman, much less prevail upon her to shirk her duty and let Jane through.  So there was only one choice:  the naked truth.  “Miss Angelo, I feel terribly about having to tell a fib to get in here, but I’m desperate to talk to Miss Morelli.  You see, I haven’t got a job or any family in town, and my rent is long overdue, but I’m a good writer so I just know I can get a job as a reporter if I can get a scoop.  Ever since Miss Morelli’s father passed on she’s been unwilling to talk to any reporters, but I thought maybe because she and I are both women trying to make it in businesses dominated by men, that she’d have pity on me.”  Jane’s tears were real; she was desperate, and lacked even the money to wire her family out West for help.

Miss Angelo regarded her with a penetrating but not-unkind gaze for agonizingly-long moments, then directed her back into the waiting room with, “I’ll see what I can do.”  Jane’s heart was pounding, but the fact that she hadn’t been instantly thrown out on her ear gave her some hope; she obediently returned to the anteroom and tried to calm herself.  It was no use; she got more and more nervous, and when Miss Angelo suddenly appeared in the doorway Jane almost screamed.  “Miss Morelli will see you.  Come this way, and mind your manners.”

She led Jane down a hall to what seemed the back of the building, where they entered an elevator that did indeed go all the way to twelve.  But when the doors opened on the floor above, Jane was taken aback by what met her eyes.  She had expected a well-lit outer office with a secretary who would usher her into the inner sanctum, but instead she found herself in a sort of vestibule opening to a large, luxuriously-appointed space only dimly lit by lamps, as one might illuminate a bedroom.  She heard the doors close behind her, and Miss Angelo was gone; Jane was apparently all alone.  Nervously, she crept forward into the vast office; the huge mahogany desk was topped with some kind of green, patterned stone, the walls behind the desk were lined with books, and the tall windows showed her that the snow flurry had become a storm.  Though it was only mid-afternoon the gloom outside did little to alleviate the shadow within; most of the light was coming from another room to her right, and she gasped as she realized that there was a woman standing in that doorway watching her.  She was breathtakingly beautiful, and the light streaming past her seemed to envelop her in a kind of aura which intensified the effect.  But at the same time Jane was terrified, not just by her reputation but by something less definable.

whiskey“Good afternoon, Miss Louis; I’m Margo Morelli.  May I get you a drink?”

“A…a drink?” she asked stupidly.  Jane’s parents were teetotalers, and even after leaving home she had been too timid to risk breaking the law, even if anyone had invited her to a party (which nobody had anyway).

The older woman smiled warmly.  “Yes.  It’s even legal again now, you know.”

“Um…yes,” stammered Jane.  “Actually, that’s what I came to talk to you about.”

“Oh?” she asked, then “What will you have?”

“Uh, whatever you’re having is fine.”  Jane couldn’t tell Bourbon from Bordeaux or brandy from beer, so it hardly mattered.  She accepted the much-too-large drink, and took a sip; its taste was strange and unpleasant to her, and she couldn’t hide the face she made when she swallowed it.  Her hostess pretended not to notice, and seated herself on the other side of the desk.

“So what can I do for you?”

“Well,” Jane said, “with the passage of the 21st Amendment last week, Prohibition is over; that means it’s legal to sell liquor again, which means your organization won’t be making any money from, ah, irregular imports any more…”

“Well put, and exactly correct.”  If Miss Morelli was annoyed with the topic, she didn’t show it.

“…so even though you have plenty of other business interests, both…ummm…regular and irregular, you stand to lose a lot of income.  You don’t strike me as the kind of woman who will take that lying down.”

“Again, exactly correct.”  Still no sign of anger, but she wasn’t helping either; Jane’s vision had now fully adjusted to the dim lighting, and she could clearly see those deep black eyes fixed upon her in a way she did not like at all.  She took another long sip, and despite the awful taste she had to admit it did seem to calm her nerves somewhat.

“So…what do you plan to do about it?”

Miss Morelli leaned back slightly in her chair and laughed, a genuine laugh in which Jane nonetheless thought she detected considerable menace.  “You are a charmingly naïve little bird, do you realize that?  It’s why I agreed to see you.  That, and the fact that both Miss Angelo and the downstairs attendant told me you were quite fetching.  They were not wrong.”

Jane felt herself blush furiously, and hoped the light was too dim for it to show.  She took a gulp.  “I…that is…um…”

“Listen, little bird.  Surely you didn’t think I’d be fool enough to go on the record answering such a ridiculous question?  Until someone invents a recording device small enough to fit in a purse, nothing I tell you would be admissible in federal court; however, my father taught me never to stir up hornets’ nests without reason.  It’s why our family has run this city since you were in pigtails.  Had you been a professional reporter instead of a little girl playing at it, you’d never have been let through the front door.”

Jane was so totally mortified she couldn’t speak, but the lovely contralto continued.  “Still, it amuses me to humor you, so I’ll answer your question.  Yes, I’m already planning to expand another of my ‘irregular’ businesses, as you so charmingly put it.  Would you like me to tell you which one?”  Perhaps it was because of the bird metaphor, but she now had the distinct mental image of her hostess as a beautiful serpent, holding her fascinated as it moved in for the kill.  Her head was gently spinning from the unfamiliar effect of the liquor, and she felt unable to speak, let alone flee.  “Have you ever heard of white slavery?”

“Oh, no,” Jane said weakly.  “You wouldn’t!”

“Does anyone know where you are right now?”

As if she had no control over it, her own mouth betrayed her.  “No.”  Her equally-traitorous body refused to move as the other woman slid across the green stone desktop and began to stroke her hair, and to her total horror something deep inside her responded to the caress.  Finally, she was able to regain enough self-control to drain the tumbler and ask, “What if I refused to go quietly?  Would you pull a gun on me, or call one of your thugs to manhandle me?”

“Nothing so crude, I assure you.”  The voice was gentle now, almost reassuring, as she took the empty glass from Jane’s trembling fingers.

“What, then?” the girl asked, fighting a wave of drowsiness that was slowly engulfing her.

“I’d simply drug your drink.”

Links #232

For every action there’s a reaction.  –  Javier Ortiz

Here we are mid-month, and still few Christmas links worth repeating despite the fact that decorations have been up since before Thanksgiving.  So to counterbalance the first video (in which a cop stupidly admits on record that he’s going to file false charges against a cop’s daughter who was uploading the whole incident to the internet as it transpired), I present more heavy metal Christmas music from Christopher Lee (courtesy of Michael Whiteacre).  Nobody contributed more than one link, so I’ve collected the unattributed ones above the first video; those between the videos were provided by CliteratiJillian Keenan,  Mike Siegel, Eric Barry, Rick Horowitz, Radley Balko, and Clarissa (in that order).

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