Do you have a guest here going by the name Annie Sprinkle?” asked Detective Michaels. Detective Robbins remained silent, eyeing me sternly from the foot of my bed.

“Annie Sprinkle. . .the seventies porn star?” I asked nervously, hoping to god the two men didn’t notice the roaches in my ashtray. Detective Michaels scowled. Robbins nodded approvingly, as afficianados of classic porn often do when they meet their own. Detective or not, he knew the score.

“Not THE Annie Sprinkle,” Robbins answered, slight amusement in his voice. Michaels shot him a disapproving glance, and Robbins returned to silently scowling.

Michales cleared his throat, and continued. “Annie Sprinkle, also known as Jeannie Pepper, Ginger Lynn, Nikki Charm, Christy Canyon, Vanessa Del Rio, Barbara Dare, Nina Hartley, and Gertrude Hansen.”

I let out a laugh. “Yeah, I know all those names, except for Gertrude. They live in my sock drawer.”

Robbins’ face began to crack, and he began giggling madly, clutching his abdomen. “Can it!” snapped Michaels. He turned back to me. “This woman, smartass,” he spat, holding out a mugshot.

The face was bruised, and a bit younger, and the hair was lighter. But it was–

“Grace. Yeah, she lives downstairs. Hooker, I think.” Michaels seemed taken aback by my candor. “She hasn’t been around in a couple days.”

“She’s more than a hooker,” Robbins chimed in. “She’s running a prostitution ring up and down the gulf coast, with girls stationed in shithole motels from here to Biloxi. No offense.”

“None taken. It IS a shithole.”

“We think she’s been using this hotel as a base of operations for weeks, if not months.”

“Probably.”

“So either you can help us, or we can compel–”

“No problem.”

Michaels and Robbins exchanged glances.

“Yeah, no problem. Like I said, she hasn’t been here in days. But our day guy, Dan, has a room right next to hers. She came in with a ton of luggage, and if she had skipped out, he’d have known. I can give you a call when she gets back, and you can send some guys over to collect her. Hell, I can even make sure she stays put until you get here.”

Michaels eyed me uncertainly. “How exactly do you plan on doing that?”

“I’ll have Dan knock on her door with a couple hundred in his hand. They’ll negotiate. Dan’s a stubborn bastard, so that should be plenty of time.”

“How do you know he’ll go along with it?”

“He won’t know about it. I’ll pass him some bills, point to her door, and say ‘Happy Late Birthday, have fun.’ Just promise me you won’t book him, and you have my full cooperation.”

Robbins grinned. “Won’t he be pissed?”

“Fuck him, he’s an asshole.”

Michaels was visibly suspicious. “Sounds like a good plan, but I don’t get why you’re so eager to do this. What’d she do to you, kid?”

I grimaced. “Nothing. Not HER, anyway. . .let’s just say I have my reasons.

“I fucking hate crack whores. Let’s just leave it at that.”

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