THE DIXIE DETECTIVE AGENCY
The man in the navy blue Brooks Brothers looked at the two women sitting on the couch opposite him. “This is a very delicate matter,” he said. “I am not your client, rather I represent him.
Virginia Hamm and Georgia Peach nodded in understanding. Virginia had short brown hair, while Georgia’s chestnut tresses cascaded past her shoulders. “We are very discreet,” Virginia assured him.”
“My name is Dick Peters. I am an aide to Senator Roman Hands. You do know who he is?”
“Yes,” Georgia said. “He and Congressman Groping are co-authors of the Groping-Hands bill.”
“That is correct. But to get back to the subject at hand, this involves a young woman who has disappeared. Her name is Vivian Halter-Topp.”
“If she’s missing, why doesn’t her family looking for her?” Virginia asked.
“Her family lives in England,” Peters said. “She works as a model.”
“I’m familiar with the names of the key names in the fashion world,” Georgia said. “But I’ve never heard of her.”
“Not a fashion model, an artist’s model. She works at the various schools in the area and sometimes poses for professional artists. Here’s a picture.” He handed the detectives an eight by ten portrait of a young woman.
“We’ll need an address,” Virginia said.
“Not to mention a list of known associates and places she frequents,” Georgia added.
“Of course,” Peters said. “I have them right here.”
“All right,” Virginia said as she accepted two slips of paper from Peters. “We can start from here, but we’ll have to speak with the Senator himself.”
“I understand completely. However, you won’t be able to do anything until tomorrow.”
The two detectives stood up, and there was a pronounced difference between the two. Virginia was short and curvey, while Georgia was tall and lean. They watched as Peters left the office.
“You know something, Ginny,” Georgia said. “This case will involve a visit to a place with some of the most depraved sex maniacs in Washington.”
Virginia nodded. “Yeah. Capitol Hill.”
They decided to check Vivian’s apartment first. Neither of her two roommates were home at the time, so they had to rely on her neighbors. They found there was one thing they were not aware of: Vivian sometimes visited a place called Skivvy’s. Georgia had never heard of it, but Virginia had visited on occasion. “What is it?” Georgia asked.
“A bar,” Virginia replied. “There’s more to it than that, there are male strippers there, too.”
“Think we should give it a look-see?”
“I don’t see why not. They’ll be open now, but the floor show won’t start for a few hours.”
True to Virginia’s word, there was little activity at Skivvy’s when they arrived. A few regular customers sat at the tables and ate light meals. Behind the bar, a woman with short blonde hair was rinsing out some glasses. She wore a sleeveless leather top and a serious expression.
“We don’t serve to minors, nobody’s selling drugs out the back room and nobody stuffs his crotch,” she said. “I can vouch for the last one personally.”
“Why are saying all that stuff?” Georgia asked.
“I’ve seen your partner here a few times, and she’s just about the skinniest woman I see in here. You two gotta be cops.”
“Private detectives. We’re looking for her.” Georgia produced the picture.
“If I saw her, I don’t remember her much. Come on in later, you might find her then.”
“Thank you, we just might do that,” Virginia said.
Several hours later, Virginia and Georgia returned to Skivvy’s. They found a table and waited for the show to begin. The first dancer of the evening was introduced as “Derek the Viking” and a muscular young man with long blonde hair and blue eyes came onto the stage clad in a furry loincloth and wearing a Viking helmet with cheesy plastic horns. He started to gyrate wildly as a horde of rotund woman came to the edge of the stage.
“I remember when I went undercover as an exotic dancer,” Georgia said. “Most of the guys at that place were fat, too.”
“Yeah, coming here is a good thing for me. Anybody who thinks I’m fat ought to look at this bunch.”
Derek came to the edge of the stage and removed his helmet, revealing the fact his hair was short in the front, but long in back. “A mullet?” Georgia observed. “I don’t think real Vikings wore them.”
“Subtlety is not exactly a strong point here,” Virginia said.
Derek finished his dance and the next dancer appeared. He was billed as “Samurai Joe” and wore a Sumo wrestler’s loincloth while he waved a sword over his head. His physique was more that of a dancer than a true Sumo wrestler.
“Chinese or Japanese?” Georgia wondered as she recalled the previous dancer.
“Could be Korean,” Virginia said.
Samurai Joe finished his routine and there seemed to an added excitement in the air. A disembodied voice announced “Chocolate Thunder” amid roaring applause a muscular black man in a spandex G-string appeared on stage. “You were right about them not being subtle,” Georgia remarked.
A waitress appeared and asked them what they wanted to drink. She came back moments later with their drinks and an astonished look on her face “Tanya said you could have the first ones for free,” she said.
“Tanya?” Virginia wondered.
“Tanya Hyde. She’s behind the bar. Also one of the owners.”
“Don’t worry you still can get a decent tip,” Georgia said as she produced Vivian’s picture. “Ever seen her before?”
“I have. She’s been here a few times. Real artsy type. She draws pictures of the guys. Good ones.”
“Seen her lately?”
“Can’t help you there.”
By now, the solo acts were over with and there were six dancers doing a mass imitation of Tom Cruise in Risky Business. “That’s a tad dated,” Georgia said. “Even Nicole Kidman’s spoofed it. What do you like about this place?”
“That should be obvious,” Virginia said.
“After a while you’d get bored with it. Certainly the waitresses are used to it.”
“Anyway back to what we came here for, it sounds like we need to get a look at some of Vivian’s etchings.”
“You think she drew something she shouldn’t have seen. That’s a possibility, and one we won’t be able to look into until tomorrow.”
“Unfortunately, that won’t tell us where she is. She could be anywhere.”
“But if what happened to her is connected to this place, she might even be on this property somewhere.”
“So, we look around on the sly.”
They got up and moved around the floor. “Do you think we should get lost on the way to or from the ladies’ room?” Georgia asked.
“One of getting lost would be plausible,” Virginia replied. “But both of us? Backstage wouldn’t be a bad idea.”
“They could have people to prevent that.”
“You’re right. I’ll look ahead to see what’s going on with that.”
Virginia carefully looked for a place where there was somebody acting as a guard in front of a doorway. The guard, presumably what “Chocolate Thunder” would be like with two left feet, let one of the dancers through. That was all the information Virginia needed. She rejoined Georgia and explained the plan.
Virginia walked up to the guard, cocktail napkin in hand. “You can’t go in there,” he said firmly.
Oh, c’mon,” Virginia wailed. “All I want is a few autographs.”
“You can get them out the back door.”
“What harm can it be?”
“Women have tried to come back her and steal the guys’ G-strings. Now leave now before I get physical.”
Virginia tried to squeeze past him. “Okay, that’s enough,” he said and he dragged Virginia toward the door.
As he did so, he failed to take notice of Georgia, who slipped behind him and into the backstage area. “Hey, what are you doing back here?” a voice demanded. Georgia turned and found herself face-to face with Derek the Viking, only this time Derek was in street clothes.
“Just the man I was looking for,” Georgia said without batting an eye. She opened her purse and pulled out a pair of ten-dollar bills. “I couldn’t get up to the stage and give you these.”
“Oh, thanks,” he said and pocketed the cash.
Georgia continued the search for anything that would give her an idea about what may have happened to Vivian. It was easy to keep quiet on the carpeted floor. She ignored the doors for the dressing rooms and looked for the door leading to the offices. With no prior experience in the place and lacking a blueprint of the building, she would try every door that wasn’t marked.
As she reached for one door, she was grabbed from behind. A rough hand was clamped over her mouth and a cloth secured over her eyes. She was pinned to the floor and another cloth replaced the hand. It felt as if somebody were sitting on top of her while her wrists and ankles were tied. Finally, she was lifted on top of somebody’s shoulders and carried. A door was opened and she was taken outside somewhere. Georgia was set down on a paved surface and heard nothing else from those who had grabbed her.