Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Monsters - Chapter 30 – Not So Sweet Abduction – Part 1 of 2


Monsters
By Karen Singer

Chapter 30 – Not So Sweet Abduction – Part 1 of 2

Ralphie didn’t sleep much.  Worry ate away at him.  On the surface, he knew he should be ecstatic if Brandy had somehow gotten herself killed…even if it was very possible that Vinny might kill him just to keep him quiet.  But it was also possible that Vinny might decide to let him go free.  He knew that running away from someone like Vinny would be difficult.  People like Vinny had ways of knowing far too much.  But the truth was, he wasn’t ecstatic over the situation at all.  The situation ate away at him.  And despite his longing to be free of Brandy and her never-ending tortures, he’d much rather be back on firm footing so he could know where he stood – which of course was at the bottom of whatever pressure-cooking idea Brandy saddled him with.
So far, his one and only lead to what might have happened to Brandy seemed to rest in that hooker.  Sally Sweetlips.  But last night, there were an unprecedented number of men with guns that were guarding not only Sally, but all the girls in that part of town.  Despite trying desperately to talk with Sally, who had been the most enthusiastic, over the top, hooker he had ever seen, he had been thrown out of there.  Forcibly!  It would be a while before he forgot about how hard the man had punched him in the stomach.
For all of his trips through that area in the last week, Ralphie hadn’t seen most of those men there before.  It was like a whole new crew had taken over the girls there.  A big and very well armed crew.  They had made it very difficult, in fact impossible, for him to talk with any of the girls.  He was obviously not customer material, so they had chased him away, every time.
As far as he could see, Ralphie had one and only one option.  He needed help.  And the only person he knew to ask for that help, was Carol.  And the only way he knew of to contact her, was through the Chinese restaurant.  He didn’t even have a direct phone number where he could call her.  As far as Ralphie could see, his one and only option was to go back to that Chinese restaurant and ask them to contact Carol for him.  He would let Carol know what he had and hadn’t found.  And if she wasn’t interested, maybe she could offer him some advice on what to do if Brandy wasn’t found…or was found dead.
The only question now was, what time did that Chinese restaurant open?  Oh, and what dress would be the best one for him to wear, where he would get laughed at the least?
It was late morning when Ralphie, wearing a blue and white print dress and his black stiletto heels stepped out of his hotel door and made his way down to the waiting taxi below.  He prayed the driver would be one he had met before.  When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he was able to see the driver though the windshield.  He thanked his lucky stars that it was a driver he had been picked up by several times now.  He opened the rear door of the taxi and got in.  He had already told the cab company dispatcher where he needed to go.
“That same Chinese restaurant?” the driver asked.
“Yes please,” Ralphie replied.
But the driver didn’t go anywhere.  Instead, Ralphie saw him staring at him through the rearview mirror.  “Is there a problem?”
“Not really,” the driver said.  “I’m just wondering something.”
Uh-oh.  “About me?”
Oh yeah!
“Look,” Ralphie said, “I don’t want to dress like this, but if I don’t my mistress will literally kill me.  And I mean literally!  She’s dangerous!”
The driver chuckled a laugh.  “Sure.”
“That’s my story, whether you believe it or not.  So can we go?”
“I need to know something first.”
“What?”
“How much for you to give me a blow job while I drive you there.”
Ralphie was shocked.  “How…”
“You keep your mouth on my cock the whole way there, and I don’t charge you a dime for the trip.”
“Money isn’t a problem!”
“Maybe for you, but my problem is that I want someone to suck me off.  And I’m betting anything that you’ve had plenty of experience.”
“What if I have?”
“Then I’m guessing you’d be a prime candidate to give me what I want.”
“I have money!  Plenty!”
“And I want a blowjob!  And if you’re good enough, maybe you and me can get together sometime later, in a more private situation.”
Ralphie stared at his face in the rearview mirror.  It had been a while now since he had gotten any relief.  “Would you be willing to fuck my ass?”
The driver laughed.  “Fuck your ass?  Shit!  I’d give my right arm to do it.”
“Promise?”
The driver chuckled another laugh.  “I don’t have to promise.  I’m already looking forward to it.  “Then open the front door.  I’ll be right there.”
The driver couldn’t believe it.  He unlocked the front door and let his fare get in.  “What’s your name.”
“They call me Ralphie.”
“John,” the driver told him.  “Nice dress.”
“Thanks,” Ralphie replied as his hands went to the front of John’s pants.  He started unzipping them.
“Chinese restaurant?” the driver asked, not believing his luck. 
“Just let me know when we get there,” Ralphie replied.  He leaned over and pulled the driver’s cock out of his pants and underwear.  His mouth was already at work before the driver put the car in gear. 
Ralphie’s practiced mouth and tongue went to work.  He kept the driver in a constant state of excitement the entire way to the restaurant.  He didn’t stop until after they had arrived, then he really went to work and a moment later, he was swallowing the entire load of cum the driver could give him.  Ralphie pulled his head up out of the diver’s lap and locked him in a passionate hug and kiss.  “You know where my room is.  I’m not sure what time I’ll be back, but please…call me later.”
“As soon as I get off work,” the driver replied.

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

Both men wore expensive tailored suits.  There was an air about them that spoke power.  They had travelled together many times through the years, this time they were in Las Angeles.  But Las Angeles wasn’t their final destination.
“Over there, boss,” Sammy said as he spotted the Chinese man holding a placard that said “Vinny” on it.”
“Yeah.  That’s gotta be him,” Vinny agreed.
“And why are we taking the time to see this woman again?” Sammy asked.
“Because Wu Enterprises said we should.”
“Sounds dumb.  Like they’re purposely trying to waste our time.  We know people in Vegas.  We can lean on them for help.”
“Yeah.  But I have a feeling that we might want to listen to Wu Enterprises.  At least until they give us reason not to.”
“We’ve gotten along just fine without them in the past,” Sammy pointed out.
“I know.  But to me, being selected as one of their clients, is an honor.  We’ll listen…for now.”
“Mister Vinny?” the Chinese man asked as they walked up to him.
“Yes.  Are you with Wu Enterprises?”
“Instead of replying, the Chinese man smiled and turned.  “Right this way please.  We’ll get your bags and then we have a bit of a drive ahead of us.”
“Where are you taking us?”
“Nevada.”
“Anywhere near Las Vegas?” Sammy asked.
“Several hours away, I’m afraid.  LA is closer.”
After they collected their bags, the man led them to a beautiful black limo.  “At least we travel in style,” Sammy noted.
Once they were on the road, Vinny took the opportunity to question the driver.  “Do you know this Stokley woman we’re supposed to meet?”
“Oh yes,” the Chinese man replied.  “I have had the honor of doing many things for her.  She is a truly great woman.”
“Sounds rich then,” Sammy noted.
“Yes, yes,” the Chinese man told him.  “Very rich.”
“And she wants to see me,” Vinny said.
“That, I do not know.  Mr. Wu gave orders that I should pick you up and bring you to them.  That is all I know.”
Neither Vinny or Sammy replied to that.  Evidently, they had a long drive ahead of them.

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

Susannah knocked softly on the bedroom door.  “Miss Carol,” she called.  “Come on in, Susannah,” Carol replied.
Susannah entered the room and found Carol just getting out of bed.  “Sorry,” Carol told her.  “Late night.”
“You work a lot of late nights,” Susannah noted.
“Part of the job,” Carol replied.
“Miss Susan has asked me to get you.  You’ve had a call from Brandy’s friend Ralphie.  From what I understand, he would like your help with something.”
“Ralphie!  Shit!  Thanks, Susannah.  I can dress myself today.  Tell Susan I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“Yes Miss,” Susannah replied with a smile.  She turned and left.
Ten minutes later, Carol wandered downstairs and found Susan.  “Ralphie called?”
“Yes,” Susan Wu replied.  He thinks he has a lead on Brandy, or at least someone who might know something, but he can’t get close enough to her to talk to her.”
Carol sat down in one of the soft chairs across from Susan.  “While I’ve been trying to find Beastman, Ralphie has been out talking to the hookers.  I told him to specifically talk to the ones that belong to Beastman.”
“Hookers sometimes know more than people think,” Susan replied.
“Yeah.  I’m sure they might.  Where’s Ralphie now?”
“At the restaurant, waiting to hear from you.”
“Will you please pass the word to him that I’ll meet him back at the hotel.  It’s about time I cleared what few things I still have there out of there.  And tell him to pack Brandy’s stuff up too.  Whatever he needs, if it involves Brandy, I’ll help him with.  Then I guess for now, we should bring him back here for a few days.  No use having him up there.”
“We’re going to have a full house here already tonight,” Susan told him.  “You’re mother has invited Brandy’s uncle to stay here.  And I believe he has a travelling companion as well.”
“Ralphie can sleep in the barn for all I care.  Then put him to work with the rest of the staff.”
“Since Brandy’s uncle is coming,” Susan said, “perhaps we can come to some kind of conclusion what should be done with him.”
“Yeah.  Good idea.  If we can’t find Brandy, let him take Ralphie off our hands.  I’ll get dressed and head out to Vegas now to see him.”
“It’s lunchtime,” Susan pointed out.  “You know your mother would much rather have you here.”
“Yeah.  True.  Tell Ralphie I’ll leave here right after lunch.”
A short while later, they were all sitting down to lunch at the big table.  After Janice had said grace, Mr. Wu brought up the subject of the two mercenaries that Carol had captured.  “We still haven’t been able to find Colonel Houghton,” Wu told Carol, but we’re now trying to track his cellphone to see if that can give us a clue.  So far, we havn’t had much success.  We’re fairly sure he has it turned off while he’s working, but if it comes back online again, we’ll be able to narrow down the search area.”
“Sounds good,” Carol nodded.  “And what about those two Bozos I brought in two days ago?”
“We got nothing more that was useful out of either of them.”
“Where are they now?”
“The last I noticed, I think they were doing their best to lay an egg out with the rest of your mother’s…chickens.”
At hearing that, Janice couldn’t help herself.  She laughed.  So did Carol.

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

One minute she was sound asleep, the next, Brandy was chocking as someone’s cock was rudely shoved down her throat.  Her mouth seemed to automatically go to work on the oversized cock.  She had gone from sleeping as best she could despite her pain, and a heartbeat later, she was desperately trying to get the guy off so he would leave her alone. 
It was more than just mere desperation.  It was a desperation born out of pain and fear.  She didn’t know how many times now she had woken up just like this.  One minute she was sleeping, the next, she had no choice but to put her tongue to work, and work it hard!  The cruel slaps she had gotten from past men had her completely on edge.  She never knew when one of those trainers would pay attention to her.  And every one of them had been overly cruel. 
Most of the time, when she was awake, she heard someone coming into the room, and then they would pay all their attention to the other girls.  She always breathed a sigh of relief when they did.  But she dreaded the times when they came in to lavish their cruelty on her. 
And then there were the women who came in to feed and clean her, she never knew when they were there either until they started working on her.  The few times she had tried to say something to them, they had yelled at her to shut up.  One of them had slapped her face too.  None of them now seemed to be like that first woman who had fed and bathed her.
Her life was slowing going from bad to worse, to much worse.  Facing the blank wall like she was, she had no idea what was really going on behind her.  It was getting to the point now where she simply tuned the sounds out.  The one thing she wished she could stop, was the constant never ending pain in her breasts.  The bucket seemed to always feel like it was full, even after they emptied it.  But she knew now that the weight of that bucket would forever be growing and pulling harder on her tortured breasts.  She had no doubt that her breasts were distended now from all that weight and were probably permanently disfigured.
She just wanted the pain to stop.  She just wanted to be able to move…any part of her body just a little.  She was beyond desperate to be able to move again.  She was beyond desperate to do anything at all.
The man finally shot his load down her throat.  She coughed a bit.  At least that was getting easier.  Her eyes watched as he pulled his big cock out of her mouth and put it away in his pants.  And then he was gone.  She breathed a sigh of relief.  At least he hadn’t slapped her face again…whoever he was.  She couldn’t see anyone’s faces anymore.  The wall was too close for that.  Most of the men who came to her now, she only knew them from the look of their cocks.  And the one who had just left her she hated more than any of them.  What a freak!  How did he get a cock that big?
She closed her eyes, and despite not being able to move a muscle, despite all the pain to her breasts, she fell asleep.  It was getting like she had an on-off switch now.  She would be asleep until someone shoved their cock into her mouth, then she turned on and went to work on him.  Her own on-off switch.  Just like a machine.  Another way that she was less human than she had been.  They had turned her into a thing.  A machine.  A decoration.  She wasn’t a person anymore.  She was…a thing.

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

As Carol drover her bike away from the mansion, she passed one of the Wu limousines driving in.  She couldn’t see who was in the backseat because the windows were black, but she wondered if it was Brandy’s uncle arriving.  Unfortunately, she didn’t have time for him now.  She needed to get to Ralphie and his tip about Brandy.  Unfortunately, she had already been delayed too long because her mother wanted her to stay and have lunch.  But if that was Brandy’s uncle arriving now, why hadn’t her mother delayed lunch until they got here.  Of course, the answer to that was easy.  Her mother hated men.  The fewer she had to put up with the better.  Carol was amazed that her mother had invited Brandy’s uncle to stay in the first place.
She put Brandy’s uncle and her mother out of mind as she opened the bike up on the long stretch between the mansion and Las Vegas.  Did Ralphie find Brandy…or at least a clue as to where she might be?  That was a hope she clung to desperately.
The big bike slowed as it reached the outskirts of the city.  The traffic caused her to slow even further.  But the cheap hotel finally came into sight and she parked her bike where she usually did.  She went up to her room first, the room she had barely been in.  She looked around, then left.  Her things looked undisturbed, not that there was anything at all there that she was interested in.  She went to the next door and knocked.  The door was opened quickly.
“Miss Carol,” Ralphie exclaimed. 
“What’s it all about, Ralphie?”
Ralphie backed up and sat on his bed while Carol entered and closed the door.  “You know Miss Brandy has had me going out every night to talk to the hookers.”
“Yes.  You were going to keep talking go them to see if any of them might know where Brandy is.  What did you find?”
“Nothing for sure, but there’s this new hooker in town and I was told by one of the other hookers that she might know.  Nothing definite.  But…it’s the best possibility I’ve gotten so far.  The only problem is, that last night when I went out to talk to the girls, there were a lot of new men around everywhere and they were all armed.  Every time I got close to one of the girls to talk to them, they chased me away.”
“So you didn’t find the one you were looking for, the one with the information about Brandy.”
“No!  I did find her!”
“You did?  What did she say?”
Ralphie shook his head.  “Nothing about what I wanted to know, and before I could ask any more questions, the guy came over and punched me in the stomach and chased me away.  My stomach still hurts.”
“Do you think there’s a chance this girl might really know something?”
“It’s the only thing I’ve been able to dig up so far.  But Miss Carol, I was warned that this hooker was weird.  And I’ve got to tell you, she had to be the most desperate hooker in the world.  When I tried to talk to her, she was all over me, trying to get me to have sex with her, and I mean all over me!  Until that guy punched me and I had to get out of there.”
“What’s her name?”
“Sally Sweetlips?”
Carol rolled her eyes.  “Gorgeous name.”
“Where can we find her?”
“You know they don’t run the hookers like her until late at night.  They only put the cheaper ones out during the day.”
“Yeah.  So we’re stuck waiting.  I don’t suppose you know where they’re keeping her.”
“I don’t know.”
“So we’re waiting.  Alright.  I can handle that.  Pack all of Brandy’s things up.  I’m going next door and I’ll sleep for a while.  We’ll go out tonight and find this…Sally Sweetlips.  And trust me, if there’s any chance at all that she knows where Brandy is, I’ll destroy everyone in the entire damn city to get at her.”
“Uh…Miss Carol?”
“Yeah?”
“Um…I’ve kind of got a date tonight.”
“A date!”
“Uh…just for a little while.  And not late.”
“What do you mean, a date?  Someone is taking you out?”
“Uh…I don’t think so.  He’s a cab driver who’s picked me up a few times.  He’s coming here after work so we could…you know…together.”
“Right here?”
“Uh…I think that was the general idea.”
Carol laughed.  “Fuck Ralphie, if you did find someone who can help me find Brandy, have all the fun you want.  What time do you think we need to leave here to get there when your…Sally Sweetlips starts working?”
“Uh…I’m not sure.  I think if we leave here about nine, that will work.”
“Okay Ralphie.  I don’t care what you do between now and nine o’clock, but I’m going to have a car come by then to take all our things out of here…you too!  Just be damn sure your ready to go by nine.  Got it?”
“Yes Miss Carol,” Ralphie replied excitedly.  “Thank you.”
“Good!  I’m going to get some rest.  Don’t wake me.”

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

Friday, July 3, 2020

Monsters - Chapter 29 – Dead Ends – Part 2 of 2


Monsters
By Karen Singer

Chapter 29 – Dead Ends – Part 2 of 2

Janice gratefully finished off what was left of her glass of cold iced tea as she watched the men leading the first of the mercenaries away.  Mercenaries.  Soldiers.  She had destroyed the minds of dozens of them over the years.  They all thought they were so tough, but in the end, they fell to her methods just like everyone else.  As the man was led away to be questioned by the experts, she set her glass down and headed for the house to take a short breather while they set up the second mercenary in her workroom.
As she approached the back patio, she saw Susan sitting out there just putting her phone down.  She took one of the seats next to the oriental woman.  “How’s business?” Janice asked.
“Business is fine,” Susan replied.  “I just finished talking with Brandy’s uncle.  Carol wanted me to let him know that Brandy was missing.”
“I’m surprised Carol asked you to call him.”
“And I wouldn’t, normally.”
“Carol hates men.”
“I know,” Susan replied.  “Just like you.”
“I’m afraid I made sure of that since the time she was born.  A decision I still don’t regret.  As much as I hate what Carol has become, I’m also quite proud of her.”
“With good reason,” Susan said.  “She’s one of the premier assassins in the world.”
“And evidently, so was Brandy, the woman she loves.”
“Yes.  Just not on the scale that Carol has achieved.  But in many ways, the two of them were very much alike.”
“Danger,” Janice said.  “For many people, no doubt Carol and Brandy as well, danger is a drug.  A drug they can’t do without.”
“And no doubt, they both saw that danger in each other.  It’s probably what attracted them to each other in the first place.”
“Perhaps,” Janice agreed.  “In Carol’s case though, I’m actually glad she found someone she could love.  I was worried that maybe she would go her entire life without feeling that emotion.  Even for as brief a time as it was.”
Susan looked at her and nodded her agreement.  “True, I guess.  When I lost the woman I loved, I sent you after her.  A decision I’ve never regretted.”
“Yes.  My first job for you.  And now look where we are.”
Susan laughed.  “I’m afraid that because of Maria Alverez and her secret empire, you’ve become an entire division for our company.”
“True,” Janice admitted, thinking of all the people and equipment that Wu Enterprises had developed just to back her up.  “Maria has invested a lot of money in my services.  I always wanted to be wealthy, but I never imagined being as wealthy as I am now.”
“And how much has Maria made because of it?” Susan asked.
“Since she now secretly owns all the major drug lords and every politician in South American and beyond, probably far more than even you know about.”
“Exactly.”
“What did Brandy’s uncle say when you told him?”
“He took it rather well.  He’s flying out to Vegas to talk with some of the people he knows.”
“I wish him luck.  If Carol hasn’t turned up anything so far, I’m not sure that he will.”
“I doubt he’ll turn up anything either.  I have no doubt that him coming out here will be a complete waste of time.”
Janice saw one of the Chinese men come out of the barn.  He stopped when he saw her and motioned to her.  “Well, it looks like soldier number two is ready for me now.  Back to work.”
“Good luck,” Susan wished her.
“Huh!  The bigger they are, the harder they fall.  And they all fall down before me.”  Janice walked off the patio and headed for the barn and her next victim.  She turned before she got very far though.  “Susan,” she said.  “Would you do me a favor please and call Brandy’s uncle.  I think I’d like to meet him.  Offer him one of the rooms here to stay in for a night.”
“Here?”  Susan almost fell out of her chair.  Janice hated men. All men.  She barely put up with her father and the men working for them, most of whom were mostly kept away from Janice whenever possible.
“I’ll extend the offer,” Susan replied, still trying to overcome her surprise.
“Thank you,” Janice said before turning and heading toward the barn.
Susan could only wonder why Janice would want to meet…Vinny.

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

Bullet holes.  Scattered around.  Easily missed.  But not if you knew what and where to look for them.
The call had come in last night.  One of several.  Gunfire.  A lot of gunfire.  The police had responded, but by the time they got there, it had all been over.  As Detective Corbin’s practiced eyes searched the buildings in the area, he had to wonder why the police hadn’t gotten there sooner.  He had his suspicions.  Two suspicions.  Either one, or the other, or…both!  Most likely both.  One, the police in the area had been paid to look the other way and to stay away.  And the second and more likely scenario, once they had heard all the gunfire, they had simply gone somewhere else for a while until it was all over with.  As far as Corbin was concerned, it could have easily been a combination of both scenarios.  They police had been paid to look the other way, and once they had gotten near the area, they had simply gone somewhere safer for a while – until it was all over.
There was one building without bullet holes along the front.  But instead of bullet holes, he saw something far more concerning.  Blood.  Several large spots of it staining the sidewalk.  Several places where the front of the building had been splattered with it.  People had gotten shot there.  But unlike the buildings across the street, there were no bullet marks in the front of the building.  Whoever had been shot here, had been shot by someone who knew how to shoot – well!  And the men who had been shot, had returned fire, but their bullets had gone wide and hit the buildings across the street instead.
He pushed his way into the building, and stopped.  It smelled like blood.  It smelled like death.  And it didn’t take him long to find the first body.  Or the second, or the third.  “Shit!” he muttered.  He backed out of the building and pulled out his phone.  As far as he was concerned, the building was too dangerous to simply walk through just then.  He called in a S.W.A.T. unit to search the building for survivors…and further danger.
A block away, Carol sat on her motorcycle and watched as the police wandered around the area.  She saw the one man go into Beastman’s building, and she saw him come out and make a phone call.  Something had happened here.  Most likely it had happened last night while she was messing with the mercenaries in another of Beastman’s locations.  Her mother was now playing with the mercenaries she had captured last night.  It would be later this afternoon before they would have any information out of them.
In the meantime.  Carol had come back into Las Vegas to continue searching for Beastman.  Had he been killed?  She hoped not.  She wanted the pleasure of doing that herself.  She started her bike and left the area.  The police were in her way right now.  And from what little she had seen, she was guessing that there was no one left alive in that building anyway.  So where was Beastman?  She prayed he wasn’t dead yet, because he seemed to be the answer to her more important question.  Where was Brandy?

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

Vince Beastman walked around the suburban house that one of his men had recently purchased.  It sat in one of the worst black neighborhoods just outside of Las Vegas.  There was nothing special about it.  If fact, it was pretty much a dump.  But right now, it was probably the safest place in the city for him to be.  There was no way it could be traced to him so there was no way anyone could know he was staying there.
He had three main buildings left in the city.  All of his people, all of his whores, all of his drugs, everything his organization had was locked up in those places.  Except him and his three closest friends.  He was out away from it all where he could stay safe while he ran operations.  All the buildings he had left were in the process of being turned into fortresses so those damn mercenaries couldn’t get at them.  It was the only move he had left to make.  That…and revenge.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t see a method for revenge just then, but he was determined to find one.
“Boss!” one of his men said as he put his cellphone away.  “All our places are set.”
“Good!” Beastman replied.  “How about the hookers?”
“They’re still going to run some of them, but like you said, we’re going to have lots of men hidden nearby.  If they try anything, our guys will be ready.”
Beastman nodded.  “Good.”
“Boss,” another of his men said.  “What are we gonna do?  He’s wiping us out like he did the Mexican.”
“I know!” Beastman replied, totally frustrated with the situation.  “Trust me, I’m open to any ideas any of you man have.”
None of his friends had any suggestions for the problem at all.

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

It was mid-afternoon when Carol drove her bike into the driveway of her mother’s mansion.  Her maid, Susannah, greeted her at the door.  “Your mother finished a little while ago,” She told Carol.  “I understand that Mr. Wu’s men finished with the first man and are now questioning the second one.  Right now, Miss Wu is out on the patio behind the house with your mother.”
“Thanks,” Susannah,” Carol replied.  She headed for the back of the house.  As she went out the back door, she saw her mother and Susan Wu sitting together.  She also saw Mr. Wu heading from the barn toward the house.
“Carol dear.  You’re back,” Janice called happily.  Come join us?”
Carol went over and hugged her mother briefly before taking one of the seats.  Mr. Wu was just then climbing the steps.
“No luck in the city today?” Janice asked.
“It looks like someone has been doing their best to wipe Beastman off the map.  The place where I grabbed those two mercenaries wasn’t the only place they hit last night.  And from what I’ve seen, it looks like Beastman is doing his best to beef up security as much as possible.”
“That sounds logical,” Susan noted.  “What else would he do?”
“True,” Carol replied.  “But between his security, those mercenaries, and now the police sticking their noses into things, it’s making answers even more difficult to find.”
They all watched as Mr. Wu took another of the seats.
“Any news yet father?” Susan asked.
“So far, it looks like this second man only knows what little the first one did.  Both men were in the military together.  They both came from Michigan.  They both were in Special Forces together.  And now they’re both mercenaries for hire.  They’re all staying at some big ranch, but they don’t know who owns it.  Just that it takes them nearly an hour to get back and forth to the city.  And like the first man said, they’re given specific targets, and then told to take them out.  Right now, their mission is to simply kill everyone inside the buildings they’re being taken to.  And neither of them knows who is ultimately paying their bill.”
Carol shook her head.  “So even the mercenaries are a dead end.”
Mr. Wu smiled.  “Perhaps not quite.”  He noticed everyone’s attention to that detail.  “They’re being led by someone named Colonel Houghton.  The background check our people are running on him right now says he used to be American military before he turned to private contracting.”
“How do we find him?” Carol asked.
“We’re still looking.  It will be several hours yet before we know anymore.”
“Colonel Houghton,” Carol mused.  “I never heard of him.”
“You rarely work in the states,” Mr. Wu reminded her.  “We’ll give you the entire file on him as soon as we have it.”

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

Ralphie strolled down the sidewalk.  Since he had left the cab, he had noticed things in the area were subtly different.  Tonight, he had a far more exacting quest than he had before.  He was on a mission to find Sally Sweetlips with the hope that she would know something about where Brandy might be.
His mind barely registered the pain in his feet from his very high heels.  This pair of shoes seemed to hurt more than some of his other shoes.  But he had worn nothing but very high heels for so long that he barely thought about that irritation anymore.  The dress he was wearing was black with a short skirt that had a slit where his left leg poked even further out of it with each step he took.  The top of the dress was low-cut and tight, prominently displaying is fake boobs.  As always, he was a walking embarrassment.
But would that embarrassing life continue if he couldn’t find Brandy?  He wasn’t even sure why he was still looking for her, except that it might be possible that if Brandy turned up dead, then Vinny might just decide to end his life.  He hopped not, but with mob bosses like Vinny, you never knew.  His bigger worry was Brandy.  If she finally turned up alive, and he wasn’t around, and he wasn’t still doing just what she wanted, then he had no doubt that she would go out of her way to make what remained of his life a total living hell.  Brandy scared him far more than Vinny did.
As he approached the area where he had talked with that one hooker last night, he noticed some changes.  The pimp watching the girls was different.  And another difference he was quick to pick up on.  There were three muscle men watching everything and everyone too.  No, not just three.  More.  He wasn’t sure how many men were casually standing around on the sidewalks, on both sides of the street.  Men who were acting casual, but weren’t.  Why?
He spotted the woman who had suggested he find Sally Sweetlips.  He headed straight for her, well aware of the looks the men in the area were giving him.  They made him far more nervous than he already was.  He walked up to the prostitute.
“Hey you!  Get your flaky ass outa’ here!”
He turned.  One of the goons was heading straight for him.  “Is Sally working tonight?” He quickly asked the prostitute.”
“Yeah,” she’s here,” the prostitute replied.
Ralphie felt the goon grabbing him and pulling him.  In seconds the man shoved him hard.  “Get your ass out of here!” the man ordered as Ralphie fell to the pavement.
Ralphie looked up at the prostitute.  “Where is she?”
“A few blocks further up,” the woman called to him.
“Shut the fuck up and get back to work!” the man yelled at her.  He turned and pointed at Ralphie, still on the ground.  “And you get lost!”
Ralphie picked himself up and hurried away, in the direction he needed to go to find Sally.  He had no idea what she looked like, only that he needed to find her.  He moved two blocks further.  He recognized a few more of Beastman’s prostitutes, as well as a few women who were working the street that he hadn’t seen before.  Was Sally one of them?
He walked up to the first prostitute, one he hadn’t seen before.  “I’m looking for Sally Sweetlips,” he said to her. 
The woman looked him over questioningly.  “Nice dress,” she said.
Ralphie ignored the compliment.  “I need to find Sally Sweetlips.  Is she here?”
“Hey!  You!” another angry male voice yelled.  “Get the hell away from here.”
Ralphie looked up to see another man hurrying toward him.
“Where’s Sally?” he asked the prostitute desperately.
“The other end of the block,” the woman told him.  “She’s the blonde wearing the orange outfit.”
“Thanks,” Ralphie replied before hurrying away from her…in the direction of Sally Sweetlips.  Hurrying that way though, took him right past the man who had yelled.  As he hurried past him, the man reached out and pushed him.  Ralphie stumbled but didn’t fall.
“Get out of here!” the man ordered.  Stay away from our girls!”
Ralphie hurried on…directly toward Sally Sweetlips.  She was easy to find.  She was also the most enthusiastic whore out there.  Ralphie had never seen a woman put so much energy into trying to find customers.  “Sally?” he asked as he walked up to her.
She turned to him.  Ralphie noted how surprised she was to see him.  But that surprise quickly left her face as she came right over to him and put her arms all around him.
“Aren’t you just the sweetest thing, Sister?  Love your outfit.  Bet I can make you feel better than you’ve ever felt in your life.”
She was now running her hands up and down his body.  “Uh…I just need information.”
“What you need sugar, is some of what I can do for you.  I promise, I can do things that make you forget about every woman you’ve ever had before…or man,” she added quickly. 
“Uh…I just need some information,” Ralphie said as the woman dropped to her knees and began running her hand up under his skirt.
“What the fuck are you doing!” and angry voice yelled.  “Yo!  Sally!  Get your ass back to the streets and find a real customer.”
Before Ralphie knew it, he was grabbed and pulled away from Sally by a large black man.  The man pulled Ralphie around, then punched him in the stomach.  Ralphie doubled over in pain, trying to catch his breath.
“Get your ass out of here and stay out of here!” the man yelled.  He kicked Ralphie in the rear end, sending Ralphie down to the sidewalk again.  “Go!” the man yelled.  “Get!”
Ralphie did his best to pick himself up and leave.  He was still bent over, his stomach still in pain from the one punch the man had landed.  He had no choice but to hurry out of the area.
How was he going to get to talk to Sally?  How?