“A priest, a rabbi, and a Unitarian Universalist,” said Diana.
“All go into a bar,” said Detective Tillotson. He grinned over his beer. It was his fourth. He had chosen the Poindexter Hotel, but drinks and lunch were on her.
“They could have,” she said. “I had them one after another in the same motel. I could tell you that day was what cured me of religion, but it wouldn’t be true. A priest with hands did that when I was fourteen.”
“So the priest and the rabbi and the whatsit meet at the Pearly Gates, and Saint Peter says to them … I give up. What does he say?”
“Are you working on a standup comedy routine? Why can’t you just go into security like every other retired cop?”
He had sobered up in a second.
“Come by the office and we’ll talk. Today we celebrate.”
She didn’t think he would want to work for her, but he had surprised her in the past. And many ex-cops came to Litvinov Associates looking for second careers.
“Anyway,” he said, “the rabbi kind of leaps out at me.”
She gave him a look. That didn’t sound like him.
“You read the papers. What’s the big story right now?”
“The corruption case. Vintage New Jersey, politicos getting busted all over the state. Plus … oh. A couple of rabbis. No local ones, though.”
“That might change.” He frowned. “I shouldn’t have said that. I must be more wasted than I thought. Maybe you should come pour me through my front door.”
“Let’s just have some coffee.”
The next afternoon she was back at the Poindexter, this time for a meeting. The prospective clients were organizing a fashion week and looking for a firm to provide event security.
Her presentation went well enough. She could only wait and see.
As she crossed the lobby, her eyes locked onto a man who appeared headed for the hotel bar. Eight years after hooking, her radar still warned her about a client who might embarrass her in public. She hadn’t seen this man in over ten years, but she remembered him. Damned if he wasn’t a rabbi. What was his name?
It might become awkward if he recognized her, but she couldn’t resist turning and following the man into the bar. That was something new. As a hooker she had never let herself get curious about clients.
At three in the afternoon the bar was more than half empty, but the former client slid into a booth across from two other men.. She took a seat at a table nearby, just as the client handed one of the men an envelope.
This was way too much like the old life. Diana felt like slapping herself. She got up to go.
Mind your own business, she told herself. What’s wrong with you?
She knew what was wrong She had been spending too much time behind a desk to have the reflexes for this kind of thing anymore.
From deeper in the bar two large men in their fifties approached the other table. They wore identical mustaches, and even in suits they moved as if they wore twenty pounds of equipment on their belts. They held detective shields out to the former client, who popped out of the booth as if someone had cattle-prodded him. He landed on his hands and knees between the two cops. Before he had completely regained his feet, he had broken into the lopsided run of a sedentary middle-aged man.
The cops had played this scene before. They did nothing to stop him, because they knew he had no hope of getting away.
Colliding with her still didn’t help his cause. She landed on her back with him on top of her.
Michael, she thought as she tried to recover her breath. That’s his name.
Seeing him from that familiar angle must have reminded her.
Her head started to ache where it had bounced off the floor. She felt fuzzy and wondered if she might even have a concussion.
One of the cops pulled Michael off her and handcuffed him. She extended a hand to the other detective, who helped her to her feet.
“You all right, Ma’am?”
“Sure. I’ve had rabbis before.”
The cop wore a different look now, one she had seen before. He suspected her of something. He just didn’t know what.
“You have some ID?”
Long habit made her cooperate without thinking about it. She showed him her license and added a business card:
“Litvinov Associates. Security and Personal Protection. Diana Andrews, President.”
“Nice to meet you, Ms. Andrews. I might be seeing you pretty soon.”
BIO:Albert Tucher is the author of thirty published stories and five unpublished novels about prostitute (here, ex-prostitute) Diana Andrews. He also came out recently with a stand-alone, for which Diana will probably kick his ass. He welcomes comments at Alberttucher at aol.