In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
September 8, 1993
Violet Mendoza ran her highly profitable brothel in a section of Troy that had long ago lost the struggle against crime and decay. The brownstone's windows were painted shut, the front and back doors were metal with twin deadbolts. Thanks to her connections with Hector Aznar none of her customers or their cars ever suffered any harassment from the locals, and, thanks to the ten armed men in her employ, no one ever messed with her whores. Her operation was admired and imitated by many, but her competitors never lasted long because they always allowed their girls to come into possession of a dangerous commodity- hope.
There was no hope for any Violet's whores. Usually they came to her starving for crack, a condition that made their 'initiation' into their new lives all the more nightmarish. In the basement, while either working out at her Nautilus set or relaxing in a reclining chair, Violet supervised the new arrival's degradation. After forcing the new girl to undress, Violet would explain in no uncertain terms that the world she had known before was lost forever, that there was no way to earn back her freedom or to escape, that she would never step outside these walls again. Then she would order the new arrival raped by three or more of her off-duty guards. For the next few hours, as she is put through a brutal reinterpretation of the Karma Sutra, she learns what it means to be one of Violet Mendoza's whores and she is left to recover as best she can on the cold basement floor.
The next morning Violet gives her new whore a taste of the kinds of discipline she will suffer when she doesn't listen or fucks up. The tortures are a kind that never leave a mark, at least not in the places johns will notice. A half-dozen needles under the fingernails and a few smacks across the bottoms of their feet with a pipe was usually all it took to make them eager to start earning their keep.
From that point on every aspect of their life was under Violet's control- when they worked, when they slept, when they ate. The whores lived on the top floor, where they slept on bare mattresses and shared a squalid bathroom. A black and white TV sat in one corner, showing the world through a veil of snow. The bedrooms on the third floor were better furnished, but they were for entertaining customers only. The second floor was divided into the four rooms that made up Violet's living quarters, the largest was where she used her freeweights and rowing machine while watching ESPN on her widescreen TV. Her bathroom was wide enough to accommodate a small Jacuzzi and a shower. A combination kitchen and pantry was the smallest of the four, Violet usually cooked for herself on the small electric stove and ate off paper plates. Her bedroom held a simple iron frame bed that was wide enough for two, but even on those rare occasions when she took someone to bed, Violet always slept alone.
The first floor was sparsely furnished, there was a laundry room near the back. There was a waiting room for the johns near the front door, it was crowded with couches and chairs. Two of her guards and all the unoccupied whores were here, waiting to be picked out. The high quotas Violet set for her whores was all the encouragement they needed to mingle and flirt with potential customers.
Football blared from her widescreen TV, as Violet forced herself through more reps on her rowing machine. She’d been at it for hours. Her shoulders and calves where screaming for mercy, she let them scream and kept working. There was a knock at her door. “What?” she called.
The door opened one of her guards stepped inside, “There's some old man here, he wants to talk to you.”
She stopped rowing, “Why?”
“He won't say, he jus' says he wants to talk to you.”
“You check him for a wire?”
“Uh-huh, he's clean. And he's got a wad of cash he's lookin' to spend.”
“He showed you?”
“He's showin' everybody.”
She stood, “All right, give me a few minutes and I'll be down.”
The guard retreated, closing the door behind him.
Ordinarily, she wouldn't have bothered with the old man, but it was a slow night. Slipping out of her sweatpants and shirt she went into the bathroom to splash water on her face and armpits. After drying off Violet paused to admire herself in the mirror, she'd worked long and hard to have this body. She looked from her thickly muscled legs to her chiseled abs. Playfully she flexed her hulking arms, admiring the sinewy mass of her biceps and the bulging veins of her wide, athletic shoulders. In another life she could have competed with this body, and landed her face on the covers of every bodybuilding magazine. Smiling at the thought Violet slipped into shorts and a T-shirt and headed downstairs.
She found him sitting at the foot of the stairs. Violet placed his age at somewhere between sixty and seventy and guessed him to be retired from the military, he had all the earmarks- everything from posture, to his shaved-bald head, and a body that told of her of muscle recently given way to fat. Military types were the easiest to deal with, their desires always vacillated between domination or being dominated.
“You must be Violet.”
She didn't return the old man's wary smile, “Are you a cop?”
He laughed, “No.”
“You wearing a wire?”
“So,” she put her massive hands on her hips, she couldn't understand why he wasn't cowed by her presence, “what was so important that you had to speak to me personally?”
“I like the redhead,” he leaned forward unsteadily, a conspiratorial leer on his face, “the scrawny one.”
“Yeah, Angel.” using the wall for balance, he raised himself up. He was only a few inches shorter than Violet, “I want her.”
“So?” one of the girls and her latest trick shouldered past them and headed upstairs.
“No, I want her. I want to take her home with me.”
“What? This ain't a pet store old man.”
“What do you care?”
“None of my girls ever leave, that's the rules. With the money you got you can get yourself one of those high class escorts.”
“My money ain't good enough for you? You can name your price.”
“None of my girls ever leave here, that's the rules.”
He locked his gaze into hers, “Rules are made to be broken.”
The old man was wasting her time and she was growing tired of it, “So are legs.”
“I'm sorry if I pissed you off.”
“This ain't a friggin' Chinese take out.”
“I just thought I'd make the offer and give you the chance...” he shrugged, “...to make some extra money.”
“You want Angel, you can have her all night, you can kill her for all I friggin' care- but she stays here when you're done with her.” Violet turned and marched back upstairs, hoping she that she hadn’t missed much of the game. This wasn't the first time she'd seen something like this, it was just another example of the male propensity for letting their hormones do their thinking.
Halfway up the stairs Violet paused, and turned.
The old man was still at the foot of the stairs, watching her. He looked furious, like he wanted to charge up the stairs after her. But as far as Violet was concerned he could throw a goddamn temper tantrum for all she cared- Angel wasn't going anywhere.
None of her whores had ever left here alive, and none ever would.