Ninety Three

Saturday afternoon, Mani races by the table where the others are having tea, “Going to pick up Sarah, back in a few.”
Katja, “What ees dinner?”
“Veal Marsala, roasted vegetables, mashed with the extra Marsala sauce, brownies with fudge topping, vanilla ice cream.”
Katya, “You give me appetite, but I will wait, no snacking. We will be hungry for good dinner.”
Mani returns with her cutie, “Hey Ellen, hi Katya, Katja. Wow, what smells so good?”
“Marsala sauce.”
“Veal Marsala?”
“Ooohhhh, God I love that, thanks for having me over.”
Mani, “Let’s put your stuff up.”
They bounce up to the third, there’s a bit of laughter, then it’s quiet.
Ellen, “I can imagine the scene. Mani has been frenzied all day.”
An hour later, it’s cocktails, the girls come down, Sarah is stuck to Mani, who appears to enjoy being velcro’d. Ellen hands Mani a vodka, glass of Sauvignon Blanc to Sarah.
“Thank you Ellen,” she sips, “yummy, light as air and just a bite of tart.”
Ellen, “Glad you like it, lots of teens want sweet, we don’t buy sweet wine or champagne.”
“Dad would never have that stuff in the house. He’s a surgeon, and surgeons are anal retentive, precise, everything should be a certain way, and wine should not be sweet. I grew up on sips of Cabernet and Pinot Noir, about as light as he gets is Beaujolais. The whites were always Graves, Pinots or Sauvignon, like this one.”
Ellen, “I didn’t say what it was, the bottle is in the refrigerator.”
“I’m pretty good at picking the grape, vintage is another matter.”
“You have the nose.”
“Yes, like I said, pretty good, not an expert.”
Ellen, “Dinner went over well,” Sarah is soaking up the last of the sauce with a hunk of French bread, plates are empty, there’s nothing leftover.
Sarah, “God that was special, cut the veal with a fork.”
Katya, “Thank you Ellen, we are spoiled by your cooking.”
“That’s the idea babies. And brownies for later, with ice cream if you wish.”
Sarah is sitting between Ellen and Mani, she leans to Ellen, rests her hand on bare thigh, kisses her cheek, then neck, “Thank you from me too.”
Ellen smiles, Sarah gives her a peck on the lips, hand travels up, then down to knee.
Ellen, “Cutie.”
Katja, “See ees make flirt wiz Ellen already.”
“Da, not as shy as we thought.”

Sarah squeezes Mani’s hand, “Can we go to your room, watch something on Netflix or whatever?”
Mani, “Soon as I help Ellen clean up.”
Ellen, “Go on, have fun with your guest, I’ve got it.”
They scoot up the steps.
Ellen, “She’s quite the flirt.”
Katja, “She anyway haf good tasting in girls.”
Katja helps clear the table, Katya surfs for entertainment. She settles on Run All Night, an aging Liam Neeson plays an aging hit man caught between his work and saving an estranged son who’s gotten on the wrong side of the mob. Halfway through Mani and Sarah come along looking for brownies, they pause the movie to sugar load.
Mani, “What are you watching?”
Ellen, “It’s good, lots of action, bad guys doing bad guy stuff,” she covers the plot so far.
Sarah, “Let’s finish it with them, sounds simple enough to catch up on.”
Mani and Sarah curl up on an oversize leather chair, practically a loveseat. Katya clicks the remote and the action starts again.
When it’s over Sarah says, “Think they killed enough people?”
Mani, “Well, he was a hitman, and the mob is the mob.”
Sarah, “I think about being a hitman, it sounds sexy, contract killer. Nobody screws with a hitman.”
Mani, “That would be a bad idea, like in the movie.”
Sarah points a finger, makes shooting noises, pow, pow, pow, “Have you ever shot a gun?”
Mani, “Yes.”
“No kidding, where?”
Ellen, “We do a little target practice, just for the experience. Katja was interested, we took a lesson, shot loaner pistols a few times.”
Sarah, “If you ever go again, can I tag along?”
Ellen, “Sure, why not, assume your folks are okay with it.”
“My dad has a gun, but it’s locked up, he let me hold it once, taught me to check the chamber if I ever picked up a gun, make sure it isn’t loaded. That’s the extent of my experience.”
Katya, “Sister and I go to bed, good night everyone. Tomorrow Ellen, we will go maybe to EnVie.”
Ellen, “Sounds good, night honeys.”
Sarah whispers something to Mani, starts up the stairs and turns to look at Ellen, smiles when she sees Ellen checking out long lean legs. Then on to Mani’s room.
Mani, “You know what she wants. Now that she’s had sex, she’s hot for more.”
Ellen, “Then let’s expand her horizons.”
When they get to the bedroom, Sarah is already nude, sitting on the edge of the bed. Ellen walks to her, strips off her t-shirt, all she’s wearing. Sarah looks up, slides off the bed to her knees and dives straight in, foreplay forgotten.
A few minutes later, Ellen has the inevitable, holding the back of Sarah’s head against her until the hormone tsunami ebbs.
“Ahhh, good job angel.”
Sarah is grinning, she laughs, “I love this stuff, Mani’s stuff and now your stuff. I’m stuffing myself.”
Ellen pulls her up, “Lay down, we’re gonna double up on your fine self.”
Sarah, “Oh God.”

Ninety Four

Next morning, to EnVie, they spot Gerard, “Good morning all, I see young Sarah is visiting, I’m just into my opening almond au lait.”
Katja, “We will haf beeger table, you will sit wiz us.”
Michael brings coffee and tea, he remembers Sarah’s café au lait, “Always glad to have you beautify the place on a lovely Sunday morning.”
Katja, “You know order, da?”
“I do, and I’ll give you a bit to enjoy your drinks, then breakfast.”
“Good, thanking you, Michael.”
He says to Gerard, “She is just too adorable, I would kill to marry her, but it is not my destiny.”
Gerard, “Dear boy, no man will be so much as dating these young ladies, you didn’t lose out to a competitor. At least no competitor you had a chance of competing with.”
Katja, “You are still anyway nice person Michael, even eef you are man person.”
Gerard, “High compliment from Katja.”
Michael laughs, “Thank you, back with breakfast shortly.”
Gerard, “Have you seen the news, local news?”
Katya, “Nyet, what is it?”
“Someone apparently takes strong exception to prostitutes, two dead in twenty four hours.”
Sarah, “Where, in the Quarter?”
Gerard, “One, one near the Convention Center. I don’t wish to be gruesome, so let’s leave method out of it before breakfast.”
Katya is tapping her phone, “Throats slit.”
Gerard, “So much for gentility.”
Sarah, “My father is a surgeon, I’ve had detailed surgical stories since I was a kid. Used to drive my mother nuts, she told dad he was going to screw me up. I bugged him for stories anyway. She finally gave up.”
Katya, “Now there will be stories about Jack the Ripper.”
Gerard, “French influence in New Orleans, they’re saying Jacques le Ripper, which isn't even a correct translation..”
Katya rolls her eyes, “Idiots.”
Katja, “Eef prostituting was legal, they would not be een danger from crazy person so much.”
Katya, “Gerard, can you find out about girls? More than just prostitute, about their life? Who do they know, work for pimp, or escort service, independent. Story online does not say.”
Gerard, “Got your antennae up then. Let me make a few inquiries, I’ll call if I’m able to find anything.”
Breakfast arrives, Gerard is a light eater, he’s primarily here for the almond liquor au lait, Michael brings his second, and a poppy seed muffin.
Gerard, “You eat like football players and are all slim and trim, I have no idea how you do it.”
Ellen, “We train hard, treadmill, stationary bike, rowing machine, a heavy bag to punch. When we’re done we’re a sweaty mess. Sarah runs competitively, five thousand meters and has damn good times. We could eat fried buttered Snickers all day.”
Gerard, “Ah, I was wondering. My life has been more sedentary, activity for me is a couple of flights of stairs. I enjoy New Orleans food, but in small portions, an exception when I have one of Ellen’s masterpieces or the odd trip to Galatoire’s.”
“Your acquaintance has had no more problems?”
“None, you cleared that up nicely, he’s his old gregarious self.”
Sarah, “What did Katya do?”
Gerard, “A man I knew socially thought he was having visions of the future, a child dying in a hospital, a woman getting a marriage proposal. He was also experimenting with hallucinogens. Katya figured out the things he thought were predictions had in fact already happened, but the drugs gave him flashbacks. So his future was actually past.”
Sarah, “Gee, must have felt creepy.”
“He was quit distraught. Once he got an explanation, it made sense. He’s not experimenting any longer, life’s back to its ordinarily confusing normal.”
Food’s gone, Katja settles the check, Gerard says, “Thank you, you needn’t pay for me.”
“Ees no problem, you will find out about prosteetoot and call sister.”
“I shall indeed, enjoy your day girls.”
They move along, up Decatur to Jackson Square, circle the square and take in tourists being taken in by tarot readers and moderately talented artists. Picasso doesn’t paint in Jackson Square. Your future isn’t in the cards.
They cross Decatur and up to the Moonwalk, find a bench and park.
Sarah, “I’m always amazed at the river, the water level higher than the city. If the levee breaks, it’s the end.”
Katya, “They take good care of levee, never have a problem. Katrina caused 17th street levee to fail in Lakeview and Industrial Canal because of poor construction planning. Also Gulf outlet canal broke in several spots and flooded St. Bernard. They did not think the water would ever get high enough to run over levee. When it did, it ate away the dirt and the levee broke. Then the flood. Mississippi River does not get pushed high by hurricane.”
Sarah, “You know a lot about it.”
“On the internet, I researched when we thought of moving here. We have good flood insurance, if French Quarter floods, all of New Orleans is lost. French Quarter is highest ground.”
They watch massive grain ships navigate the crescent around Algiers point. An oil tanker chugs slowly upstream against the powerful river current. All ships have to have a qualified river pilot who knows the currents, where the sand bars are, navigate under bridges and past long lines of barges pushed along by tugboats. The river is a busy place. The pilot knows how to navigate upstream against the current which is different from downstream with it. River pilot is one of Louisiana’s most lucrative jobs, a closed community high in nepotism.
Mani, “Do you have any ideas on the killings?”
Katya, “Bad idea to get theory before fact. All the news said was prostitute and throat slashed. They didn’t even say if the killer was right or left handed, or how tall he might be, nothing useful.”
“Gerard ees pal with police person, he will find out more.”
Sarah, “It’s none of my business, but why do you want to know?”
Katya, ‘Curious only. If one girl is killed, could be anything. Two in one day, a couple of miles apart. One is found at midnight, the second an hour later. They did not say midnight was first, just when they were discovered. Could have been hours difference. Maybe still figuring it out.”
Sarah, “I see, Katya likes little puzzles, yes?”
Ellen, “Katya has to have her mind occupied, it’s like an information vacuum sucking up all the surrounding data.”
Sarah giggles, “Then it will be fun to see if she can piece together the crime and find the killer.”
Katya, “Maybe he is not finished.”
Sarah, “Oh, that’s not good. Those women have a difficult life already, now this.”
Ellen, “It’s hard to understand a woman working for a pimp, all the bullshit about love, a few trinkets, then pushed out to pay for his lifestyle. Beaten if they don’t make enough money.”
Mani, “I have no sympathy for them. They claim to hate the job and do it anyway. Must not hate it that bad, or they’re junkies and need cash all the time.”
Sarah, “They don’t see a way out, at least that’s what I’ve read.”
“Get on the bus and ride, pimp has no idea where she goes. When she gets to some town far away, become a hotel maid, waitress, anything. But they don’t. I watched a program called Tricked on Netflix. A documentary. Lots of times, even after an offer of a way out, they return to the pimp. She is too confused to help. If the pimp beats a girl, she can find a gun and shoot him, or do what happened to the two prostitutes, cut his throat. He won’t be beating girls anymore.”
Sarah, “Take a lot of courage, I suppose they don’t have it.”
Mani, “Funny, they go in a car with a guy they don’t know, or to some crap motel room. They must have some courage. I supposes there is a dynamic I don’t understand.”
Katja, “Da, stupid dynamic. Girl ees dumb, dumb person is too stupid to know they are stupid. Figuring out how to sneak away on bus, get a job een hotel ees beyond them.”
Sarah, “You may be onto something there.”
Mani, “That was kind of evident in the documentary, some are educated, but a lot aren’t, not so much as a GED, maybe not eighth grade. They do the thing that requires no skill or brains, just suck and fuck.”
Katya, “Enough sociology, maybe Gerard finds out something, maybe not. We might see more murder or killer was passing though and is long gone by now.”
Sarah, “A tourist?”
“Anything, airline pilot on layover, man at a convention, crew member of ship in port. Maybe he kills all over the world.”
Mani, “That would make a good book. Life on a tanker, different ports, find a prostitute. Probably not hard to find around docks, men at sea for long stretches, randy as rabbits when the ship docks.”

Ninety Five

Girls return home, Ellen makes finger sandwiches at one, then they wander off to read, Mani and Sarah pile up in bed and watch a movie called Whiplash, about a young jazz drummer and his abusive instructor.
Sarah, “Do you think it’s necessary to drive people so hard?”
Mani, “Kind of depends on the person. Some people are self motivated, others need a push to move beyond their limits, some need a push to even move. The conductor had a point. If  a student gives up because they can’t take the pressure, then they can live in mediocrity, or at least not expand their boundaries.”
Mani turns to Sarah, slips her hand between legs, “Somebody’s wet,” she kneels, pulls off panties and releases Sarah’s sexual tension with her tongue.
Sarah is gasping, staring at the ceiling, “Jesus, that was my most violent orgasm ever, I was a volcano waiting to erupt.”
Mani takes a final lick, “I like your lava,” they giggle like seventh graders.
Dress, go downstairs, Sarah she says her goodbyes and thank yous, Mani takes her home.
Ellen, “I think she’s good for Mani, a play buddy.”
Katja, “She ees also like to jump Ellen.”
“She gave me a go, she’s hot and sweet, gotta say. She wants anything else from me, alls she gotta do is ask.”
Katya, “What is dinner?”
Ellen, “Fried chicken, cornbread, with corn, cheese and jalapeno, baked beans and cherry pie.”
Katya, “Then I am for cocktail and anticipating.”
They’re in the courtyard with drinks, Mani returns, pours a Sapporo and joins them.
“Her parents are such nice people. Her dad doesn’t say, but mom made it pretty plain that Sarah’s sexual activity isn’t a problem for them. She’s almost relieved Sarah’s a lesbian. She said it was better than worrying about STDs and pregnancy.”
Katya, “So she let you know that she knows what’s going on and that they are okay with it.”
Mani, “How I read it. I didn’t confirm or deny, just listened. It was a quick conversation, Sarah was in her room.”
The phone dings, Katya answers, it’s Gerard, “Katya or Katja?”
“I have a few details. The women both worked for the same pimp, outrageous name, Delicious. One woman was white, one black, they lived in the same cramped shotgun house with a third. The white woman was at the Convention Center, appears she was murdered first but found last.”
“How many women does he run?”
Gerard, “Six, the others live in the apartment next door. I suppose it is simpler to keep track of them that way.”
Katya, “Any details of killer?”
“Estimated height, six feet, right handed. Neck severed near halfway through. Cuts were identical, appears to be a very sharp instrument, but not surgical. The skin is a bit ragged along both sides of the cut.”
“Strong man with serrated blade then.”
Gerard, “That’s what they think, how did you know?”
“Deep cut, ragged edges, hard to see what else it might be. Where are other girls now?”
“Police picked them up, not as suspects, for their own safety.”
“Someone is killing Delicious string of girls.”
“So it seems.”
“We will see. If there is another woman tonight, will not be from same pimp.”
“You think there will be another?”
“No idea, if there is, maybe first two were coincidental. They are interviewing his competitors?”
“Yes, rounded up all the known players, but they think it’s a long shot. The same guys have been doing this for several years, they know each other. They meet, have drinks, even parties and drag along the women. I’m told that interaction prevents rivalries, even the kind of thing that happened to the two. It’s a closed community in a way. I don’t know much about the upscale sex workers.”
“Escort girls work a different clientele. Call girl gets a lot more money, doesn’t have sex in a car, an alley or a cheap motel. She meets customer at a hotel or restaurant. Sometimes, just dinner, lonely man wants dinner companion who is attractive also. They get hundreds for two hours at dinner, hundreds more to go to hotel, even more to stay all night. In New York, it is more like thousands.”
Gerard, “Good Lord, people actually pay that sort of money?”
“For some people, it is pocket change only. A few thousand for a beautiful woman is nothing.”
She doesn’t mention it would be nothing to them either, but they already have lovely willing intimate partners. Be like buying what you already have three of.
Gerard, “That’s all I have for now.”
Katya, “Thank you for the details.”
“Most welcome,” they click off.
Ellen, “Dinner’s ready.”
At the table, Katya relates what Gerard found out.
Mani, “Gerard seems well connected.”
Soon enough, they will find out just how well connected. In the meantime, they enjoy cold crispy pinot, and crunch hot crispy chicken.
Ellen, “I got a burst of inspiration and made hush puppies.”
Katja picks up the golf ball size delicacy, “What ees?”
“Take a bite, they’re cooled off enough.”
Katja bites half, chews, swallows, “Seester, you must try.”
Katya takes one, “Fried cornbread, ohnyon, what else?”
“Flour mixed with corn flour, buttermilk, touch of sugar.”
Katja, “You will make again, wiz fish fry.”
“You got it baby girl.”
Mani, “I love fried chicken, we had pretty good chicken places in Jackson, my aunt used to get it once a week. Friday was chicken night. She was a pain, but not about food.”
Katja, “Ellen makes best, creespy wizout grease, like she makes feesh fry. Now we haf also hush dog, I am hafing another.”
Mani laughs, “Nobody can eat one hush puppy.”
“Why ees call hushing puppy?”
Ellen, “Hunters and fishermen used to fry cornmeal they used to batter their food and give it the dogs to keep them quiet, to hush the puppies.”
Mani, “I’m glad they figured it out, these things are addictive.”

Ninety Six

Dinner over, Katya says, “We will go to Snug Harbor and listen to jazz. Nice night, do not sit at home and watch movie.”
They hit the street at seven thirty, Snug Harbor is a five minute walk.
Katya, “Ellis Marsalis tonight, he is good musician. Jazz is relaxing.”
Downstairs is pretty full, they opt to sit upstairs, a three sided balcony surrounds the stage and the ground floor. It’s a small space, you can hear the music and see the band from any seat.
A waitress comes along, orders of vodka on ice, Seagram’s VO for Ellen, Mani has a glass of sparkling wine. They settle in and enjoy quality jazz, professionally played. Katya likes it, jazz is soothing, and Ellis Marsalis, unlike some musicians with a captive audience, doesn’t drone on and on before actually playing.
Katya, “Before Mani, we came to hear Charmaine Neville, she is a good singer, but she spends half the time talking, not singing. We don’t come for her anymore.”
Mani, “I’ve heard DJs like that at clubs. Have to run their mouth through the entire song.”
The music starts, for the next hour they’re lifted off to another place, no politics, no action movie, no family drama TV. Katya in particular relates to the music, her internal savage beast hush puppyed for the hour of free flowing rhythm, solos from each of the quartet, Marsalis’ smooth piano.
Ellen, “It’s nice here, basic old style club, wooden chairs, wooden tables, remarkable because nothing is remarkable but the music.”
They move to the bar downstairs for a final drink, the bartender remembers mirror image twins, “Hey ladies, good to see you again, what’ll it be?”
They are left to themselves, it isn’t a hookup kind of place. The times they’ve been it’s a quarter locals, the rest tourists. People tend to come with dates, or groups of four or six. A middle age crowd, the four girls are an anomaly. Young people generally gravitate to dance clubs on Bourbon Street. The twins can’t go there, some sleaze horn dog would wind up hospitalized.
Finish up cocktails, they shove off and stroll along Frenchman, Spotted Cat across the street, then the Blue Nile and Maison. The two block stretch of Frenchman has become home to four jazz clubs, although Blue Nile has a more varied musical mix. As the approach Decatur to take a right towards home, there’s a muffled screech coming from down the street, near the Frenchman Hotel.
Katja, “Ellen, you will stay wiz Mani, sister and I will see.”
Half block away, there’s a scuffle, a woman is being dragged from behind into an alley between the hotel and the house next door.
It’s dark in the alley but they can see a big man with his arm around a woman’s neck and one hand over her mouth. He’s occupied with controlling her, has her facing one wall. He hasn’t seen the twins yet.
He’s clearly choking the woman, takes his hand from her mouth, she’s gagging, can’t scream. Katya spots the gleam of an eight inch serrated bred knife. He removes his arm from the choke, grabs her hair, and the knife comes up.
Katya has her Glock to his head, she clicks back the hammer, “Don’t even think it.”
He hesitates, Katja grabs his wrist, then uses her left hand to snap his elbow, the big blade clatters to the ground. She kicks his feet out from under him, he splats hard to the concrete dazed. Katja kicks the knife to the wall and out of his reach.
Katya is on one knee, which is planted hard between his shoulder blades. The woman, smallish, hefty and black, is coughing, a wheeze, more cough until she catches her breath.
“You done saved my ass girls, donno where you come from, but I am one grateful bitch. You got guts, he ain’t no small fuck,” she’s pissed now, kicks him in the ribs, “motherfucker!”
While the victim is occupied kicking the perp, Katja takes Katya’s gun, goes to Ellen and gives it to her along with the one she’s carrying.
“Take guns home, no guns, no questions, we will be along later, disappear now.”
Katja returns to the alley, calls 911, then calls Gerard.
Cops are everywhere, one is talking to Gerard, another interviewing the twins and the victim. Then two detectives show up, talk to the street cops.
“Ma’am, how about you go over it again.”
Katya does, the woman is going ninety to nothing about how these two girls saved her ass and fucking cops ought to leave them alone.
A patrol officer leads her to the side.
The perpetrator is cuffed despite dislocated elbow and cracked ribs. Detective Two is talking to him as he’s stuffed in the back of the ambulance.
He comes over to the confab with Detective One, “Guy said you have gun.”
Katya, “I have a knuckle, she crinkles her forefinger, he thought it was gun, sticks the knuckle behind Katja’s head. Sister broke elbow and he drops knife, then we put him on ground.”
“Who kicked him?”
“Did not see any kick, maybe he is hurt falling.”
The victim says, “Yeah, nobody kick his murdering ass, shoulda though.”
Detective One, “You see a gun?”
Victim, “Wasn’t no got-damn gun, girl done told you. You see a fucking gun motherfucker?”
Detective Two, “Okay ma’am settle down now.”
“Settle the fuck DOWN? Asshole tried to cut my throat, like he did them whores the otha night. These girls only reason I ain’t the same. They did more than got-damn cops. I settle down when I have my ass on a barstool.”
Katya, “You have knife, you have man, take name, number, we go home, do not anymore talking all night.”
Detective One, “I may have more questions.”
Katya, “That is your problem, we do not have more answers, we will go now.”
She and Katja walk off, the Detectives scurry behind, “Now wait a minute, we have…” Gerard is there.
“Detective Franks, so good to see you.”
“How’d you get…?”
Gerard, “These women are two of my friends, residents of the Quarter. They have stopped a serial murderer in his tracks. You have a significant arrest as a result. It is getting late, young ladies need to be at home. Goodnight Franks, Detective Sullivan.”
Sullivan hasn’t caught on yet, “Hold on..”
Gerard turns, “Franks, explain to the detective who I will call next and where his new beat will be.”
Franks, “Leave it Marty. He’s right, we have the guy wrapped up, three witnesses, if he isn’t the guy who killed the other two, I’ll buy beer for the rest of your life. Let’s fill out the paper and call it a night.”
Sullivan, “Just a couple more…”
Franks glares at the overzealous younger man, “Fill out paper, call it a night.”
The twins walk down Decatur with Gerard.
Katja, “Thanking you for coming.”
Gerard, “No, thank you for calling, I would have been disappointed to miss the action. You will give a formal statement, with an attorney present. Do not deviate one word from tonight’s story. You will be in and out of the interview in less than half an hour. The other girls?”
“We send home.”
Gerard, “Good, they were never here. You and your sister were taking an evening stroll, where were you before?”
“Snug Harbor.”
“Good. Your friends were with you, they went home, you two wanted to walk a bit before retiring for the evening. The rest you know.”
Katya, “Do we wind up in news?”
Gerard, “I assume that is a problem for you, so, no, you do not wind up in the news. Did the victim catch on to twins?”
Katya, “I doubt it, we are dressed differently, hair up, hair down, Katja wears Fedora. Woman was too nervous to pay much attention.”
Gerard, “I’ll have her spoken to, just to make sure. It was dark as death in the alley, you are likely correct.”
It’s Monday when they meet the lawyer, Dominic Gennaro. Gerard referred them to him, he does some criminal work, mostly an all purpose generic attorney. Your kid gets busted for dope, you have a DWI, assault charge, crime light.
Gennaro, “Story is solid, took guts to charging in there with no weapon, but you did.”
Katya, “You will represent victim?”
“Haven’t been asked.”
“You will find out if she needs lawyer, you will help her.”
“She’s a hooker, not a problem for me, but not the type to have a wad of money, her pimp might pay, but he’ll take it out of her earnings.”
“We will pay, just see if she needs you. Maybe murderer has money, you will sue him for her.”
Gennaro, “Okay, I’ll call today. About the retainer….”
“Here is five thousand, you will give me itemized bill, Gerard recommends so I do not expect to see a hundred hours of billable work. If you are fair, maybe more work.”
“Gerard knows me, I have rules, I play by them, first rule is don’t rip off the client.”
“Good to hear. When do we see police?”
Gennaro, “They haven’t contacted you?”
“That’s a good sign. Tell you what, I’ll call them, but not about you, about the victim. When I find her, I’ll tell her what we discussed, she how she wants to handle it.”
“If man pays money, you get a quarter, no more. There will be no forty percent plus expenses. It is good offer, and only offer.”
Gennaro laughs, “Gerard said you are direct. I can work with it, I don’t want misunderstandings either. And I understand your concerns, just know that Gerard would have my head if I try and screw you over, he’s made that plain already.”
“Gerard is a good man. Thank you for your help, if cops do not call, good. Criminal maybe takes a plea and we do not have to testify.”
“My guess is that’s likely, he’s staring at the death penalty.”
The twins take off, nothing to do but wait, Katya calls Gerard.
“Lawyer seems okay, I hired him to find victim and see if she needs help.”
Gerard, “Most kind. I am waiting to hear more about the killer. They had to get his elbow repaired, and he’s got one broken rib and two fractured. He’s down for attempted murder, I don’t know exactly what they have for the other two women, there were no witnesses and dead people don’t testify. I suppose forensics might tell a story, maybe he left DNA, clothing fibers, something.”
“He had open hand on victim’s mouth, not a glove, knife is probably the same one.”
“Good, lucky break, rather stupid not wearing gloves. Considering his crimes, he’s not the brightest star in the sky. Oh, the woman you saved wasn’t one run by Delicious.”
“So maybe first two are coincidence.”
“Seems that way. And now, I wonder if we might have a face to face, I would like to run something by you. Just you and Katja for the moment, if that is possible.”
“They are here, where to you suggest?”
“Just come to my place, an hour from now if you have the time.”
She agrees, they click off.
Katya tells the others,” Gerard has something to talk over, sister and I will go in an hour and find out.”
Ellen, “We have lots of housework, probably done around tea time.”
Katja, “After Gerard, we will pick up sandwich from EnVie and bring home.”
Ellen, “Thank you sweetie, wonder what Gerard wants?”
Our girls are going to get rather busy.

End of Twice as Dead Volume 1