The Painted Lady

As the man taps, taps, taps, gray falls away, revealing a roaring orange flame. Footsteps approach as he raises the cigarette to his lips.

Addie takes a seat across from him. She looks down at her hands, caressing each other gently as they rest in her lap, then back up.

The man presses play on the recorder, “This interview is part of an ongoing investigation. All parties acknowledge that they’re speaking on the record. Why don’t you start by stating your name and role?”

“Addie Daniels, Detective in the 13th District.”

“In your own words, describe the nature of the operation.”

“We were on a stakeout, a hardware distributor. I pitched at a motel across the street from their receivables department – a warehouse with a public facing nightclub attached.”

“You were on the job for how long?”

“It was supposed to be two weeks. We got cut short on day 9.”

The man thumbs through his notes, “We have full records on the first three days, partial on the fourth, everything seemed to be running according to protocol until the fifth day, you went dark. What happened?”

“The work,” she swallows, “it became compromised.”

“Was contact made with the suspect?”

“Yes,” she clears her throat.


“And,” her eyelashes flutter as she fashions her mouth to speak, “and it’s like I became complicit in my own consumption, I–”

“Were there narcotics?”

“Yes, but I wasn’t altered by anything other than pure unadulterated lust.”

“Lust?” Confusion colors his expression.

“I willingly let it consume me.”

“What are you talking about?”

“We only stopped to sleep, sometimes to eat.”

“I need you to be more specific.”

He fishes a photograph from his folder and places it on the table in front of Addie.

She swallows.

He remains quiet.

She reaches a hand up and runs her fingers over the image as though touching it helps her see it better. She starts at the top, her fingers moving over the hooded head of the woman in the picture. Red lips and brown eyes are the only discernible facial features.

“I look at this and I can almost feel the metallic cold against my skin,” she says softly.

The woman in the picture is topless with a chain linked leash attached to a leather collar around her neck, the chain resting between her painted blue breasts. Across her tummy, the word “toy” is written in red.

“Detective Daniels, do you recognize the woman in the photo?”

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