OFFICER LARRY MICHAELS had been trolling the streets for prostitutes for about an hour, but he hadn’t had much luck. A strong north wind had turned a beautiful late October afternoon into a chilly evening. The girls had gone away, all but one, and she was standing on the corner of 29th and South Robinson outside an auto parts store, hugging her breasts, legs glued together for warmth. She huddled against the wind, wearing a beige halter top beneath a wispy purple blouse, black spandex tights decorated with Mickey Mouse faces, and a pair of white high heels. Her dirty blonde hair betrayed a lack of hygiene, but her face was still young and pretty.
She smiled at Michaels as he drove by in his assigned police van, a great big white whale of a vehicle with a light bar on top and POLICE plastered on the side. It was a Ford E350 with an extra long cargo area big enough to transport up to ten people.
He pulled into the parking lot of the Stop-n-Go across the street. When he walked into the store the latest clerk, a heavy-set Hispanic woman, complained to Michaels, “You see that whore? The little bitch been working the corner all day.”
She wore heavy black eyeliner, thick red lipstick, and layers of makeup, but the pock-marks on her face were still noticeable. She had teased her hair up high, stalagmite bangs bent forward at the ends like a greedy claw springing from her forehead.
“Nice hair…” He read her name tag. “Rosa.”
Rosa wore a low-cut black t-shirt beneath her blue smock, and her large breasts stretched the seams of the thin cotton fabric.
“How you doing, hero?” she chirped, puckering her lips, trying hard to look demure.
She couldn’t quite pull it off, not for Michaels’ taste, anyway. To him, she looked like a cartoon pig dressed in drag, but her overt sexuality excited him unexpectedly. He imagined plunging his face into her milk chocolate cleavage.
“Life’s a bitch, Rosa,” he replied.
He walked over to the soda pop dispenser, filled a 32 ounce cup with ice and Coca-Cola. He grabbed a box of Good-n-Plenty and laid the items on the counter. “How much?”
“You know, it’s on the house,” she said.
Michaels knew it was free, but since Rosa was new, he needed to make sure she was cool about it.
Another customer walked up to the counter with a bag of corn chips and a bottle of Diet Coke. He was a young white guy with slicked back hair wearing a fancy black suit over a dark blue shirt, a matching blue tie with a swirl of intertwined red and white stripes.
“Must be nice,” the guy sassed.
Michaels turned to face him. “What?”
The young man stepped back, maintaining a sneer on his face. “Sorry, officer, I don’t mean to offend. I was just pointing out how great it is to be a police officer in our fair city, all the free stuff you get.”
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