Chapter Seventeen: The Hierarchy
Angel returned when her dance was over. Bishop was still there, talking with Rich. A few of Bishop’s men, obviously guards, stood by, watching the crowd.
Upon approaching, one of the men stopped Angel with a hand in front of her. Naturally she stopped, looking down at his hand, then up at the man. He was bald, with tanned skin that stretched over his muscular arms, which threatened to rip the rolled up sleeves of his black button up shirt. He wore sunglasses that were dark enough to hide his eyes, and Angel wondered how he even saw her in the dimly lit warehouse. Giving the man a good look over, she sidestepped him, trying to get around his outstretched hand.
The man was quick to grab Angel’s arm, holding her tightly. He felt her tense in his grip, and he grabbed her shoulder with his free hand, just in case she got the crazy idea to put up a fight.
“Let her go, she’s with me,” Rich ordered, making both Angel and the guard look in his direction. with me,” he confirmed a second time.
Bishop turned towards Angel and the man holding her, then gave a slight nod to assure the man that it was ok to release Angel.
The man promptly let go, giving Angel’s shoulder a friendly pat to assure her that he was only doing his job, and his manhandling was nothing personal.
Angel gave the man a slight nod. She knew he was just doing his job, and she couldn’t hold that against him. She looked back to Rich, who had seemed to settle down from his outbursting demand moments ago.
She could feel Bishop’s eyes on her, but she paid him no attention. She sat down next to Rich, and he placed a hand on her knee, absent-mindedly. He and Bishop were deep in conversation, over topics Angel paid no attention to.
Angel was too busy looking over the crowd of people in the warehouse. She recognized a few girls, their pimps, some men she had seen here or there at various clubs. She was so busy watching the others in the warehouse, that she didn’t even hear Bishop’s order for Rich and the other girls to leave.
Rich stood, catching Angel’s attention. He was uneasy with Bishop’s request to speak privately with Angel. It wasn’t good that another pimp was interested in his girl. However, he knew better than to object. Objecting could cost him more than the stress of trying to keep Angel out of Bishop’s interests.
Bishop’s eyes were on Angel, and it made her tense. As she watched Rich and the girls leave the VIP booth, she could feel Bishop slide over next to her, getting both intimately and uncomfortably close. She looked towards him, at his chest, knowing better than to look him in the eyes. Her eyes followed the purple and gold paisley pattern of the vest Bishop wore under his suit jacket. The gold glistened in the light, ever so slightly, and the purple looked of crushed velvet.
“You sure do have fire.”
Angel didn’t respond.
“A fire that could get you in a lot of trouble, if you expose it to the wrong person.”
Again, she was silent.
“A fire that could be taken as disrespect. />
Her jaw clenched.
“A fire that, if proven too wild, will be />
Her eyes shot up at him, locking his gaze. She wasn’t sure if his remark was a challenge, a bait, or a threat. No matter what it was, she didn’t like it, and it triggered the cold, icy stare she gave him earlier.
Bishop smirked, the light catching a silver tooth that peaked from between his lips. lucky,” he remarked, leaning back and relaxing, raising one leg to rest his ankle on his other knee. lucky I find you as intriguing as I do.”
Angel lowered her gaze to watch his body movements.
“Even as pig headed as you are, I know what it takes to tame you.”
Again her jaw clenched.
“I could break you. I could make you squirm and cry and beg. I could make you more subservient than a mongrel dog. I could break that stubbornness, harness that wild fire, tame that beast. I could. I could break you into nothing.” He raised his hand, as if wiping it across some invisible wall before them. “A nothing that every girl should know. A nothing that would make you forget your stubborn ways. Extinguish who you are.”
Angel’s stare intensified. Bishop explained this in a way that made it seem like it should be something magical, mystifying. But the fact was, he wanted to break her. He wanted to conquer her. She was a challenge to him, and his only interest was to win. To come out on top, like he always has.
Bishop looked at her, a smirk again on his lips, “why so quiet? You were eager to state your opinion when your pimp was around. You afraid, girl? Now that he’s not here to protect you, you’ve gone quiet as the grave.”
Again with the metaphorical of her.
Angel looked Bishop dead in the eyes, her own were cold, hard, and warning. “Give it your best shot.”
Because of the amount of money he had put into this culture, Dante had received a text message from an unknown number. All it had said was “The Annual” followed by an address that had led him to a large warehouse. He had then been met by a handful of big, muscular guards, each carrying at least an Uzi, who instructed him where to go.
Now, just inside the doors, Dante realized exactly what “the annual” was. It was a party, a gathering, celebrating the underground culture of girls, drugs, and weapons. And he was surrounded by it. The sight was sickening, but Dante had been immersed in this for so long, he was almost immune to it. Almost. The hair on the back of his neck still stood on edge, as he acknowledged that this was a very dangerous situation for an undercover police officer to be in.
He stood there, just inside the doorway, taking it all in. The 360 degree stage, where multiple girls were currently dancing and spinning around poles, the smaller stage, off to one side where naked girls were lined up, chained at the neck, and men were raising their hands, bidding on them to buy for service, the multiple bars, where men and scandalously dressed women were buying drinks, and chatting, the smaller groups of people littered throughout the warehouse, conversing, trading, and comparing their weapons, the booths set up for trading and selling various weapons and drugs, the various beds hanging from the ceiling, where couples could, and were, doing the deed for all to see… It was a lot to take in.
Spotting a bar that didn’t seem too crowded, Dante made his way over and ordered a bottle of beer. Cautiously, he made his way through the crowd, looking around at all the people, the products for sale, and took it all in. That’s when he spotted her. She was watching him, standing in the middle of the crowd, watching him. There was no doubt about it. She just stood there, still as a statue as the rest of the warehouse around her continued to move, her eyes locked on him.
He looked her over. Her black dress, with it’s low cut, showing the curves of her breasts, the leather looking stockings and the black platform heels, her dark make-up and messy hair, and the faint trace of bruising on her face was more noticeable on her pale flesh than she probably wanted. There was a look in her eyes that Dante couldn’t place. She was unusually stubborn for a girl in the lifestyle, but there was a flash of anger in her eyes, a fiery, burning anger deep in her dark eyes.
Was she angry with him?
He was still mauling over the anger in her, when she approached him. She gave him a smile, a very fake smile, but a smile none the less, and grabbed his hand. She led him to a VIP booth where some girls were just picking up their drinks and leaving. Dante wasn’t sure what she was up to, but he wasn’t going to argue.
Angel motioned for him to sit, and when he had situated himself in the booth, she sat next to him, crossing her legs over his lap. He seem surprised, but he did not object. Instead, he simply placed one hand on her legs, and looked about the room.
Angel watched him quietly for a moment, before looking out into the crowed to see what he was looking at. When she spotted the two men who seemed to be uneasy as they talked, constantly looking around themselves, fidgeting and clearly agitated, she looked back and forth between them and Dante, realizing he was watching them.
she whispered in his ear.
His brow furrowed as he turned to look at her.
she repeated, then rolled her eyes as she realized he had no clue what she was talking about. “You really don’t know anything about this life do you?”
His brow remained furrowed.
“I would be lucky enough to get the one cop that doesn’t know shit,” she mumbled more to herself than to Dante. The slight wince he gave in response to her comment almost made her regret saying it. Almost. Dante clearly knew his way around the lifestyle, his mere presence at the annual was proof of that. Not just anyone was invited to the annual, you had to be fairly well known and trustworthy. It was to ensure the safety of those in the life, to ensure that police didn’t just stumble upon the annual, or slip through the front door.
Angel gave Dante a quick look over, and a huff that could easily be mistaken for a chuckle, escaped her lips as she realized the irony of the situation. The annual was set up, and operated in a way to specifically keep people like Dante out, and yet here he was, sitting her with her.
Either Dante was just that good, or the system that controlled the life was just that fragile. Angel would bet money on the latter.
“A roach,” she informed in a voice just above a whisper, the guys who do the dirty work. They collect the girls.”
Dante raised an eyebrow.
“They lure girls into the life by promising them bright futures of lavish living. Or they take in runaways, or foreigners looking for help to cross the />
Dante looked back at the two men, absorbing the information.
“Or they kidnap them.”
Dante’s jaw tightened. It was to be expected in this life, and it was a harsh reality that the majority of these girls were probably taken from their homes and forced into this.
Angel watched him as he nodded, thinking about what she had just told him. She then nodded in the direction of a small cluster of men and women. “Those are merch’s. They buy, sell, and trade the girls. They’re also responsible for the transportation of girls until they are bought up.”
Dante looked over at the group, then towards another group that Angel was now looking at.
trainers. They train girls, usually for other pimps. They’re paid well, but most of them end up running houses as well.”
“Whore houses. />
“Them over there,” she nodded towards a few men by the 360 stage, holding cash out towards the dancers, tennis shoe pimps.”
Dante sounded as if he didn’t believe her.
low pimps. They usually only have one or two girls, and they’re almost all using. They don’t make much, and what they make goes to get their fix.”
Dante looked over the men, they were fairly sickly looking, their drug habits were clearly not kind to them.
“Above them you have players, who usually work for higher up pimps, called macks.”
Again Dante nodded.
a mack” Angel whispered, staring in his direction. “Bishop is the mack.”
Dante looked over at Angel. She seemed to be lost in space, and her voice seemed to trail off.
“He owns this lifestyle. He runs it. It’s his kingdom. And we’re all />
Back at the station, Dante had just finished informing his partner about the annual. He had explained the hierarchy of the men in the lifestyle. It was new information, and it would be critical to know.
John nodded and took notes as he spoke.
“Were Rich and Frank there?”
“Where would they be in this chain of command, Aaron?”
He almost didn’t respond, not recognizing his real name. But John’s second question of made him realize that the question was directed at him.
“Yeah, um,” Dante thought for a moment, then pointed at the pyramid he had drawn on a scrap piece of paper to illustrate the information he was given, “I think Frank falls somewhere between here,” he pondered, pointing back and forth between and />
“So a merch.”
“No,” Dante corrected. “All the information we have on him points to him being a trainer, but I think he has done some work as a roach too.”
“And where’s Rich?”
Dante thought a moment, then shook his head. “He’s not on here.”
“What do you mean, Aaron?”
“I mean he’s not on here. He makes more money than a tennis shoe pimp, and he has multiple girls. None of which are on drugs. He’s got rules, morals.”
John held up his hand, interrupting Dante “a pimp has morals,” he said sarcastically.
“Yeah, he does,” Dante sounded a bit annoyed, but went on to explain, “he’s also not a player. He doesn’t work for anyone. He’s in it for him, but he’s not as high as the macks. He’s got money, but not that kind of money. No one works under him either.”
“So what is he then?”
Dante shrugged, “he’s just a pimp.”
Dante had seemed surprised that Angel opened up to him, that she gave him insight in the life. He had just sat there quietly taking it all in. No doubt he was confused why she told him all that.
But it made sense to Angel. She was sick. Sick of the life, sick of the culture, and the danger, and the fear. She was sick of the pain, and the numbness. She was sick of giving herself, of having everything taken from her. And she was sick of watching more and more girls come into the life, and never leave it. No one ever left the life, and it made her sick.
And on top of it all, she couldn’t get the damn images out of her head. They were haunting her, flooding her thoughts, replaying like a black and white silent movie, on loop. Over and over again.
Bishop had showed her photos. Photos he kept in his wallet along side of those of his kids. Angel almost didn’t recognize the girl, her body thin, pale, and purple with deep, dark bruises. She was naked, and every bone in her body was visible. Her eyes were dead, her hair matted with blood, dirt, and Angel didn’t want to think of what else. The girl’s body was limp, lifeless, and contorted in a gruesome pose. Those photos, the images, she couldn’t get out of her head.
Photos of Emily, the poor underage girl Angel had practically doomed by allowing Rich to ship her off to first Frank, then to who knows where. She hadn’t seen the girl since the day Rich sold her, right after they came home from the motel. She hadn’t seen the girl, until Bishop showed her the photos.
she beautiful? Like a doll,” Bishop had remarked. He assured Angel that the girl was alive, but she could tell it was barely. He wanted to tame her, to shock her so bad she would simply submit to protect either herself from becoming the image in the photos, or to protect the girl already in them from becoming a body in the ground.
But Bishop didn’t know his plan had backfired. Instead of taming the fire within Angel, the photos only fueled it.
Yes, there was a hierarchy in the life. Angel had laid it out as plain as day for Dante. But what she didn’t tell him was how fragile it was. She never told him about the bottom of the hierarchy; the girls. And where Dante assumed it was like a pyramid, with the most important on top, Angel knew it was more like a totem pole, where the bottom was the most important. The bottom held all the weight. The bottom kept the rest from tumbling to the ground. The bottom was where Angel was, and she knew how to burn the totem pole to the ground.
story by: ObedientAngel
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