Well, the story of deadly oranges is back after a little hiatus. It still won’t be as regular as it has been previously, at least not until I get my competition story all done and dusted, but we’ll see.
Today’s episode sees some new characters and yet more of the world.
Dockery Street was very popular with the rich and ugly. It was the one place in the whole city you could find prostitutes of any decent calibre, and also the only place where discretion was guaranteed. Sure, the average streetwalker would claim she would keep her mouth shut, but that claim only lasted until the wad of cash was big enough, the Dockery Dames were very good at discretion. This was probably because they were marginally insane.
The Dockery Dames were functional nymphomaniacs, but only just. Most of them had started out as your everyday woman, trying to work her way through life in the usual everyday way. Then, at some point, sex had kicked in and ruined it all. There were rumours that the Dockery Dames had started out as a support group for sexual addiction, but no-one really believed that.
Nowadays, Dockery Street was very nearly a political power. They weren’t violent or vocal, there was merely a sense of universal guilt associated with everyone who availed themselves of the Dames’ services, a guilt that they could easily appease by doing whatever the Dames wanted.
It was this that had attracted Kenya Grove to Dockery Street on this specific day. A captain of industry, Kenya looked like someone who would acid wash his jeans himself, often whilst wearing them. He wasn’t quite ugly, but he was certainly knocking on the door. Today was the latest in a long line of trips to Dockery Street, and also the third in which he hadn’t been coming for the standard treatment.
A simple request from one of the girls had him tailing a very tall, very dangerous looking man. Thankfully his wealth gave him a certain degree of anonymity, being able to pay people to do the following while he hid away in his tower, but the weekly drop-off had to be made in person.
Kenya knocked on the door of one of many houses in the street, all of them looking completely normal while simultaneously telling you they were brothels in some unspoken way. The door was opened by a beautiful blonde who looked about sixteen, although was actually twenty three. Kenya knew her well, she was his preferred Dame, Cassandra. She took great care to look younger than she was, a sort of test to work out exactly how depraved a potential client could be and therefore how useful they would be.
Kenya had fallen quite comfortably into that trap.
‘Kenya! We’ve been waiting for you! Come in, come in!’ Cassandra chirped, and the bottom fell out of Kenya’s stomach.
Cassandra had the capacity to be terrifying whilst also being completely innocent. She was the perfect exemplar for the Dockery Dames as a group, never demanding anything but somehow making you think that she had. The worst thing was, Kenya knew, that every request she made was exactly that, a request. Cassandra would never blackmail or coerce her way into getting anything done, yet the guilt still forced him to agree every time. If he just said no then she would leave it at that.
Kenya followed her into the house, past a few other Dames who were chatting away politely, and into one of the many lounges the house had. The house didn’t have bedrooms, they were too cliché, instead opting for fully customisable lounges which, Kenya had to admit, were better. Cassandra led him to a chair towards the centre of the room, then sat herself across from him on a much more comfortable looking chair.
‘So,’ she said, ‘business or pleasure?’
‘Business today I suppose.’ Kenya said, reaching into his jacket and pulling out a flash drive. ‘This week’s surveillance on that guy. Are you ever going to tell me why you wanted him followed?’
Cassandra smiled. ‘No.’
‘Didn’t think so.’ Kenya couldn’t help but smile back. The damn woman was like a Psiren, now he was just waiting for the rocks.
‘You know we pride ourselves on our discretion, Kenny. We like keeping secrets, it keeps business booming. I don’t think you’d like it if we started talking about you to other clients now, would you?’
Again, her words were completely without threat, but they still managed to put Kenya on edge. She wasn’t even giving him the rope to hang himself, just telling him that a rope shop had opened somewhere nearby.
‘You know I have to ask, I’m just hard-wired that way.’ he said as he handed over the flashdrive. Cassandra took it in dainty fingers and tucked it into her bra, more for the show of it than anything else.
‘Of course you did, that’s how you got to where you are today. Asking questions is what made you rich, especially when you already knew the answers. And not knowing the answer to that question, Kenny? Doesn’t sound like you.’
It didn’t. Kenya had a number of theories as to why he was following this man, especially considering what he had seen, but no solid facts. He didn’t like not knowing, it was something he wasn’t used to.
‘I’ll find out eventually, you know I will.’
‘Yes. But I imagine that by that point you will be ready to know. Besides, it’s not that I don’t want you to know, only that I can’t tell you. I’m rooting for you, baby.’
‘You’re a very confusing woman.’
‘It’s part of the territory, Kenny.’
And it was, it really was, for all women. In Kenya’s experience women never said what they really meant unless it would sound even more cryptic than a lie, although his experience of women was limited to his deceased mother and the Dockery Dames, neither party being particularly straightforward. Cassandra was something else, however. She worked confusion like an art form, weaving it like a pro. Kenya found it incredibly attractive.
Still, there was something he had learned about his target that he felt he had to ask, beautiful confusion or no.
‘Cassandra, this guy you’ve got me following, is his name Eldred Fie?’
For a split second her eyes widened. It was almost imperceptible, but he had shocked her. Kenya guessed he had gotten the name right after all. Her voice quivered briefly.
‘You… You’re not supposed to know that just yet. There’s an arrangement.’
‘What sort of arrangement?’
The answer was not to his liking.