Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Untitled presently- sequel to Gumbo Justice (draft)

8:00 P.M.

“Do I have too much ass showing?” Twenty-eight-year-old Ryan Murphy glanced at herself in the two-way glass in the interview room of the New Orleans First District police station, tugging her short plaid skirt down as far as it would go over her rear. She made a kissing motion at her reflection, and then frowned.

Her dark, almond-shaped eyes somehow looked less exotic surrounded by magenta eye shadow, and her generous lips were nearly invisible, lined with tan liner nearly the same color as her skin and colored with frosted nude lipstick. The wavy auburn hair she normally fought to keep under control was for once subdued, flattened to her scalp under a long, frizzy blonde wig. She definitely looked more like a hooker than an Assistant District Attorney.

“No such thing as too much ass showing, baby,” Rocky answered, crushing a lit cigarette under his dirty tennis shoe. NO SMOKING was illuminated in red neon above the dirt-smudged door that led into the hallway, but nobody bothered to tell the scruffy detective anything. Paul Rocquefort was not known for being a rule follower.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I’m not totally sure about this outfit,” Ryan commented. “Although I have to say you’ll have no trouble passing for a bum in that getup.”

“What getup?” Rocky asked. In addition to the dirty tennis shoes, he also wore a pair of grungy, frayed jeans and a sweater with holes in it. The odor of stale liquor and cigarettes emanated from him, and Ryan thought she smelled cheese when Rocky scratched his head.

“Sorry,” Ryan said, leaning over slightly in the two-way mirror. The glass ended at the half-way point down the wall, and with her five-foot frame, she had to stand on her toes while trying to bend over to catch a glimpse of the back of the skirt. “I thought that was a costume. But I still don’t know about this skirt.”

Rocky waited a second, apparently listening to the voice coming through a small device in his ear. “Carlson said to bend over a little bit more so he can give his opinion.”

Ryan waved to the glass, only slightly embarrassed that the light-skinned black detective was on the other side catching a peep show. “What’s Monte doing here?”

Monte Carlson was an undercover narcotics detective assigned to the Sixth District, under the command of Ryan’s father, Captain Kelly Murphy. Monte generally conducted undercover buys from street dealers, riding in an undercover car equipped with video cameras. He would wait to be flagged down and then make a purchase, the entire transaction caught on videotape and used for evidence at trial.

Unlike the rest of the police officers, Monte was allowed to cultivate a street look, which in his case included a bald head, multiple piercings, and miscellaneous tattoos running up and down his arms and back.

“Monte said you got just the right amount of ass,” Rocky said, and then looked her up and down for about the hundredth time. “Whatever else I might think about Sparky, he’s one lucky bastard.”

Ryan gave him a look, not amused by Rocky’s intentional habit of calling her boyfriend by the wrong nickname. Anthony Chapetti–Shep– was a detective in the Special Investigations Division in the Sixth District, and Rocky never tired of making fun of him. Not that Rocky didn’t have something bad to say about everyone.

“Shep told me if you called him Sparky one more time to kick you in the right knee,” Ryan answered. “He said it gives out on you sometimes.”

“Sorry, Little Murphy, but your boyfriend looks like a Sparky,” Rocky said with a shrug.

Ryan tugged again at the plaid skirt self-consciously, wondering if she should have worn the full-coverage bathing suit bottoms Shep had suggested instead of the thong underwear suggested by Lt. Jones, the female supervisor in charge of the entire operation.

It was too late now anyway. They were about to go out on the street. And Ryan did want to look like an authentic hooker. Lt. Jones stood next to Ryan now, pressing a fake tattoo onto Ryan’s arm.

Ryan had to admit that Lt. Jones looked pretty authentic herself, her lips and eyelids heavily colored in gold and her short cropped black hair hidden underneath a ten dollar wig from the sale bin at Ebony’s House of Beauty Supplies on Magazine Street. A short tight leather skirt and black half shirt completed Lt. Jones’ prostitute look.

“Monte’s on loan from the Sixth District,” Lt. Jones finally answered, patting Ryan’s arm one last time. She stepped back, and nodded approvingly. The tattoo was a black panther. “Working undercover at the Triangle. Some dope’s being pushed to the kiddies down there and the undercovers here are too well-known to the underage set to be of any use.”

The Triangle consisted of three bars, the Marquis De Sade, the Eight Ball, and Retro; the Marquis de Sade was on Tulane and South Rocheblave, and the Eight Ball and Retro were located a block down South Rocheblave, diagonally across the street from each other. Diverse crowds of bar hoppers and underage drinkers clustered within the perimeter of the informal triangle.

Lt. Jones smudged gel across her cheeks until her mocha skin was illuminated with a glittery, orange glow. “Now, you girls just about ready?”

Ryan tugged the skirt down again and frowned. “I can’t believe I wore this skirt this short in high school.”

“You didn’t,” a thin blonde woman commented, as she walked up with a fake smile on her face. “You’ve just spread out since then.”

Ryan gave Kellie Leblanc a withering look, wondering again whose bright idea it was to pair the two prosecutors together. “Well, I’m sorry my every day clothes weren’t appropriate for dressing up like a hooker. I guess you’re just lucky that way.” And Ryan hadn’t spread out since high school. She was still somewhere in the 105 pound range, although she did have a habit of rounding up when it came to her height, and rounding down when it came to her weight.

Kellie didn’t have a chance to reply before the third of the trio of female prosecutors, Julia Bourbon, cut in. “Ladies, can we at least pretend to play nice tonight?” Julia Bourbon was the chief of the District Attorney’s Office elite prosecutors, the Strike Force, and technically, Ryan and Kellie’s immediate supervisor, although somehow she never came off that way.

While Kellie and Julia were both tall and blonde, no one would ever confuse one for the other. Kellie was always heavily made up, with too much eyeliner around her bright blue eyes and lipstick so bright she could help land a plane. She always wore the trendiest clothes in the smallest size possible for her slight body. As a matter of fact, Ryan thought Kellie’s prostitute look was pretty much the way she looked every other day of her life.

Julia, on the other hand, was usually understated in every way imaginable, wearing classic suits and seeming to do whatever she could to draw attention away from her looks and fuller figure. Not that it worked. Julia was the sort of woman who drew attention in jeans and a ponytail. And tonight, in a laced-up black top with tight leather pants tucked into black thigh-high stiletto boots, she would undoubtedly receive her fair share.

Rocky dug in his ear with his pinkie nail, the only one of his fingers that wasn’t chewed to the nub. “Queenie, I think you should leave these ladies to their own devices. And girls, if you’re gonna start fighting, I respectfully request you rip your tops off first.”

“You wish,” Kellie said, although Ryan doubted if the other woman wouldn’t manage to give the detective some type of peep show of her own before the night was over, now that she knew he was interested.

“Queenie?” Julia asked, raising her eyebrows.

“Yeah, the name seems to fit you,” Rocky answered, looking at a wad of yellow wax on the end of his fingernail.

Julia seemed amused. “Interesting analysis.”

Ryan ignored them. “Lt., honestly, do you think this is too much?”

“Girl, ain’t a lot you can do about it either way. You got yourself an ass, that’s all I can tell you. You sure you ain’t got some sister in you?” Lt. Jones tugged the short leather skirt down over her own ample rear.

Ryan laughed out loud at the thought. Her father would cringe if he heard that question. “I don’t think so,” she answered.

“Although she almost had some brother in her once,” Kellie commented with fake innocence.

Ryan felt her face turn red as Rocky gave her a tobacco-stained smiled and said, “Carlson has
a fascinating perspective on that story.”

Ryan’s cheeks grew hotter. Monte Carlson was the person to whom Kellie was referring.

“It was before Shep,” Ryan said, too quickly. God, she didn’t need this conversation getting back to him. He was still a little insecure when it came to Monte. Not that she had done anything but kiss Monte, and it was before she started dating Shep, but he still imagined that Ryan had unresolved feelings for the other man.

“You almost hooked up with Carlson?” Lt. Jones asked, her eyes if not her tone relaying her surprise. “He seems a little out of your neighborhood.”

Ryan thought briefly about the one encounter she had with the muscular, tattooed man. Neighborhoods had nothing to do with it. She tried to put the memory out of her head as Monte walked into the room, scratching his bald head.

“It was like five minutes before Shep,” Monte said, giving her his own once-over. She fought off another blush, watching his unlikely green eyes light up with interest at her outfit. “And don’t believe for one second this girl don’t have a wild side. I mean, look at the outfit.” She lost the battle with embarrassment as Monte’s gaze lingered a second too long on her breasts, which were spilling out of the tight white tank top. His eyes traveled down to the short plaid skirt, finally ending at Ryan’s shoes. “What do those spike heels tell you?”

“That the girl’s got a lot of money for nice shoes. I bet they’re Prada,” Lt. Jones said. “Trust me, she ain’t from nowhere near your neighborhood, Carlson.”

Ryan didn’t comment. The shoes actually were Prada.

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