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Prowler Blues

Love, like, justice is often blind. Sure, that sounds about right.

And when it's payback time in the Gutter, that just may be the best deal you can hope for.

Prowler Blues by Marie S. Crosswell

She was one hell of an actress. Nobody could’ve guessed that Genesis was asexual, not her clients or the other strippers who all worked overtime in the rented rooms across the street at The Coop. Women didn’t audition at The Black Orchid because they wanted to dance, and she was no exception. If anybody would’ve asked her why she chose to get into the sex industry, she would’ve shrugged and said, “It beats the chicken factory.”

She didn’t have to turn tricks every night she worked. Sometimes, she went straight home. Sometimes, she agreed to a hand job or a blow job for a man who only had time for a quickie after close. Sometimes, she warmed a john up, before another woman took over. 

That night, she wasn’t in the mood to fuck.

“Come on,” he said, “I waited for you all night.”

And it was true—he sat at her platform for three hours, drinking whiskey and slipping her green.

She decided that if she had to wait around fifteen minutes for her ride, she might as well make an extra hundred bucks. 

“I’ll suck your dick,” she told him. “That’s it.”


She was still dressed when she kneeled on the floor in room 423. He sat on the bed with his pants around his ankles, belt in the loops, and she stroked his legs like a concert harpist as she blew him. She cupped her hands around his trim waist, squeezing to egg him on.

He told her to stop, and she did. He stood and pulled her up with him. Kissed her hard on the mouth and started to take her coat off, attacked the buttons on her blouse. 

She stepped back, the heel of her pump against the fabric of her coat. “I told you, I’m not doing this tonight.” 

“You can have every cent on me,” he said, and reached for her again. 

“I don’t want your money.”

He seized her with both hands, gripping her upper arms too tight, and threw her down on the bed. Hiked up her skirt, revealing black garters and sheer stockings, pinned her wrists to the mattress and fucked her, breathing heavy into her neck. 

She didn’t scream or struggle. She had been with enough men to recognize when she was beat.  


Virgo doesn’t take shit from anyone. Something she decided when she was twelve years old, watching a man who wasn’t her father shake and slap her mother. She’s been boxing the last ten years, and most of her opponents are men, not women. She’s used to people looking at her like she’s dangerous. She’s a black woman the color of chimney soot, five foot eight and thick with muscle, her head shaved. She rarely smiles. 

She knows what she’s going to do, the minute Genesis tells her about the rape. The plan takes shape in her mind as she picks up the phone on the night table and calls the female ex-Marine medic that all the Black Orchid hookers pay for medical attention.

“This is why I don’t want you doin’ this shit,” Virgo says, after she hangs up. “Can’t even go to the fucking cops. Can’t get any justice.” 

“What justice?” says Genesis in a hoarse voice, her Puerto Rican accent coming out thick as she smokes a cigarette in bed. “They could hang him, and it wouldn’t change anything.”

Virgo sits behind her, wrapping strong arms around the lighter woman’s waist and resting her chin on Genesis’s bare shoulder. “You can’t let a man believe he can do whatever he wants.” 

She sweeps Genesis’s long, highlighted waves over the front of her right shoulder, then plants a chaste kiss on the back of the other woman’s neck. 

They fell in love slow, after years of friendship. Both homoromantic asexuals with a string of ex-lovers, they understand each other in ways no one else does. 

Genesis working at the Black Orchid is the only thing that divides them. 


He has the gall to show up at the strip joint a second time. He orders a drink at the bar and smiles at Genesis from across the room, shining with a guiltless halo. She plays it cool all night, dancing for him as if he’s just another customer. She doesn’t even shiver when his fingers brush her bare hips as he sticks bills into her g-string.  

She slips him a Black Orchid business card with an address written on the back and tells him to meet her at three a.m. if he wants round two. 

Virgo’s waiting for him in the empty warehouse, where she does business with men who pay her to beat the shit out of them. Men who salivate as they watch her box other men. Men who get hard as they beg her: “Hurt me good, mama. Hurt me so good.” 

She hides in the shadows and watches the rapist stand in the light. 

“Where are you, baby?” he calls out. 

Virgo comes up behind him with a jump rope she uses to train, slides it over his head, around his neck. “She ain’t your baby, motherfucker,” she whispers in his ear. 

She chokes him until his knees buckle. He slumps to the floor unconscious, and she rolls him onto his belly, cuffing his wrists behind him. 

The belt is five feet long and three inches wide, faded black leather. She hits him until her shoulders burn, until he groans like a bitch, until sweat shimmers across her upper lip. She’s heaving for breath when she finally stops, hauling him to his knees and grabbing the hair at the back of his head with one hand so she can punch him in the face. 

Virgo feels a primal satisfaction as she watches him turn to pulp and bloody her fingers. She drops him when she’s had enough and looks up to see Genesis watching her, still dressed in show room lingerie, some kind of sad gratitude in her eyes. 

Marie S. Crosswell is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. She writes fiction and poetry. Her short stories have previously appeared in Thuglit and Plots with Guns, and her novella Sex Brood is available on Amazon. She is currently working on her first novel. She lives in Phoenix.