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Darlene Damita stood in the doorway, her svelte, firm figure outlined unnecessarily through a sheer white set of baby dolls. Unnecessarily, because the man facing her could see right through the translucent nylon anyway — see every bit of peach hued flesh and pink tipped mound, every seductive curve that even now moved rapturously against him with the goodnight kiss.
“I see you tomorrow, my darling,” she breathed in his ear with just a trace of South American accent.
She pushed against the aging man's tall body again, then grimaced-in disgust when her head was on the shoulder, her repulsed expression out of his view.
“I...I have an appointment tomorrow night... business,” he twitched nervously, the wrinkled lines of his sixty year old face casting grotesque little shadows over the sallow cheeks, “But... let me buy you a present... something to show my appreciation for this wonderful evening.”
“No... no, my darling, I loved every minute of it,” Darlene Damita protested, a puckish smile on her clear-lined features, as she pushed back the long black hair to reveal dark, upswept lashes and full, sensuous lips.
“I'm not a fool, you know?” the man smiled slightly, casting a quick glance down the long hallway of the apartment building, “A girl like you can't go out with an old codger like me for nothing. Here... buy something with this... and remember it's from me.”
The man peeled off five twenties and pressed them into her hand, slipping his other arm around the slim waist to bring her closer again. He was satisfied now, even a bit weak. But the pulsating contact made him feel young once more.
“You think I do something like this for money?” Darlene asked, a look of deep hurt settling into the sophisticated face as she rubbed the palm of his hand sensuously with her fingers, “I like you, Mr. Fremont. And if I like somebody, I do anything for them.”
“My God, Darlene!” the old man shuddered, pulling her body closer, “I'll...I'll break the appointment tomorrow... I'll...”
“Call me first. All right, my sweet?” she posed with a provocative twist of her long body, the full legs swaying in a denuded dance of subtle eroticism.
“Tomorrow, Darlene. Good... night,” he blew a kiss on departing.
The distinguished gentleman whistled contentedly as he walked toward the elevator. He felt much more like an elated young college boy after his first boudoir conquest, rather than the Chief Counsel for the Congressional Committee on Wagering Legislation and Control — Lester E. Fremont.
Darlene Damita stamped her slippered feet on the floor! She cursed loudly and obscenely at the top of her husky voice! She spat toward the bedroom! Kicked over a stool at her dim-lit, mirrored bar! Raised a Pernod bottle to heave it at the glass!
Then suddenly, Darlene Damita, 131 pounds of pure sex rounded out at 38-24-38 in a five foot five frame, began to laugh with uproarious self amusement. She yanked off the top of the baby dolls, tossing them across a table. She paraded in front of the big mirror at the bar, eking narcissistic pleasure in observing the youthfully jouncy undulation of her projecting anatomy.
“You fool! You goddam stinking old man fool!” she mouthed out in a hysterical laugh to the vacant room, still twisting and contorting, “You like this, don't you... didn't you, you old fool?”
Still laughing, Darlene grabbed a bottle of Scotch from the shelf and filled a fruit juice glass with it, tossing off a hefty toast to her own ability and attributes as she continued to look in the glass.
“Johnny baby! We did it, baby!” she called out to the four walls in a spasm of sudden delight, dropping the glass to the floor and racing to the telephone.
Darlene became determined, more serious now, dialing the seven digits of Johnny DeFranco's private number, groping through the telephone table drawer for a gold tipped cigarette and smudging it with deep red lipstick when she pressed it to her lips.
“I got him, Johnny! I got him!” she announced excitably over the phone, bubbing joyously over the quick conquest, “He's a beast. I hate him. He makes me want to throw up on the floor he's so filthy. But we got pictures, Johnny. Twelve pictures at least. Just like my sweetheart wants.”
FIFTEEN minutes later, at 1:30 a.m., Johnny DeFranco drove his sleek Mercedes into the all-night garage of the swank Connecticut Avenue apartment building.
“Hey, Willy!” he yelled out like a man used to quick service, standing by his car and tapping his foot impatiently.
Johnny DeFranco looked both handsome and menacing as he stood there stolidly in the icy windswept driveway. Raw January gusts blew his trenchcoat collar up against his face, buffeting the set, square jawed features. With a casualness that denied the wind was there, Johnny pulled out a comb and smoothed back the curly black hair into a semblance of order. He appeared a steadfast, clean-cut young man in his mid-thirties. But a closer inspection would reveal his real youth —a 29 year old with that ageless type of robust manhood. Johnny's appearance was little different now than when he first tasted the delights of maturity at eighteen, would probably be much the same when he was fifty.
“Yas suh?” Willy, the slouch faced Negro attendant finally acknowledged, emerging from the bowels of the cavernous underground garage, where Johnny correctly surmised he was cuddled up in somebody's Cadillac with one of his sepia beauties, “I comin', Missa DeFranky.”
“Don't park it,” Johnny directed firmly, tossing him the keys wrapped in two single bills, “And by God, be somewhere close when I come back. This won't take long.”
“Yassuh,” he smiled brightly at the sight of the cash, rolling his big eyes joyously, “You an' Miss D'eeta goin' out t'night, huh?”
“Get back to your broad,” Johnny half-sneered, looking at the man chidingly, “And zip your fly next time you come up.”
“Ha ha,” Willy laughed at his own expense, unabashed as he complied, “Dam if folks don' fuhgit them things sometime. Jus' like when Miss D'eeta got outta the cah las' summer wif no skirt on. Ha ha.”
“Go to hell!” Johnny shot at him, turning toward the elevator.
Johnny unbuttoned his coat and fished for a cigarette, the handsome face set in a deliberative pose. He had waited a long time to get Lester E. Fremont in his clutches. And now it was done. The big Congressional Crime committee was carefully stacked with some of the most incorruptible souls in Congress. But Chief Counsel Fremont, administration party big-wig with more influence than the actual blue-nose congressmen on the committee, was another story. Johnny had caught the spark in his eyes at the Paris Boheme Club one night, observing shrewdly the unmistakable arousement caused by Honey Newgott's palpitating peeling act. Lester E. Fremont was a lecher.
The automatic elevator halted at the eighth floor and Johnny flicked his ashes with unconcern along the plush carpeted hallway. It had all been so easy after that night, he mused to himself, proud of the native shrewdness which had transformed a former mail clerk and bellhop into Washington's most corrupting and vicious blackmailer. He had sent Darlene Damita out to make the snare. Not that Honey Newgott, the redheaded stripper who tantalized Fremont so, was not available. But because Fremont was too hep for a silly, fun loving wanton like Honey. Although Darlene was cursed with an eccentric temper like a tempestuous hellion, she could always be depended upon to master her emotions at work.
Johnny tapped on the door to apartment 824 with his $2800 diamond ring. He recalled how smoothly the deal had worked, just like every Johnny De-Franco operation. Darlene had followed Fremont away from the night club that evening in her own car. Then bang! She hit the lawyer's car gently from the rear. With a neat show of leg, a friendly smile, as they got out to inspect the nominal damage, the mission was begun. And now, three days later, it was neatly wrapped up.
“Sugar babeeee!” Darlene bubbled with wild enthusiasm, throwing her naked arms around Johnny's big shoulders and kissing him wetly down to his shirt collar, “We make big whoopee tonight! I get the old fathead all booze up an' he was crazy... upside down an' inside out. Oh, babeee we get such good pictures tonight. He got to do anything for you.”
Darlene stood back in her brazen nakedness while Johnny closed the door. She wore nothing now, even the brief remnants of the baby doll were gone.
“Later,” Johnny announced succinctly, rebuffing her body tease and pursed lips, “Let's get the film over to Ben first.”
“Then you take me to Raul's Club... then we make love, huh?” she asked, picking up her slip and panties from the disheveled bed while Johnny walked to the dresser, “It's nearly two o'clock, my sweet. Raul's is the only place open now. But I feel like crazy fun all night.”
“You deserve it, I guess,” Johnny allowed with a sardonic smile, about the nearest he ever got to the real thing.
While Darlene busied herself with perfume spray and clothing, Johnny took down the huge mirror that hung behind her cologne laden dresser across from the bed. Setting the mirror along the wall, he removed a box apparatus with two lenses from the wall behind. Flower and petal design on the wallpaper showed clearly through the reversed looking glass now —it was a diachronic mirror, the one-way variety.
“You trip the cameras as soon as you came in here with the guy?” Johnny asked, all businesslike as he unhooked the top of the box and wound the two knobs simultaneously.
“Everything like you said,” Darlene answered with a warm smile, walking up to him in a sheer net bra and stockinged underpinnings, “It's okay, huh?”
“We'll have to wait until Ben develops it,” Johnny answered, taking out two spools of film and pocketing them, “Come on, Darlene. Get dressed if you're going with me.”
“Oh, Johnny, you are so mean, and I love it,” she quivered ecstatically at his unconcern, moving against him with a feeling she wanted reciprocated.
“Later, baby,” he snarled, running his fingers over the crest of the flimsy bra and laughing at her responsive surge of heavy breathing.
The black Mercedes gunned out the wide, apartment lined boulevard that is Washington's swank Connecticut Avenue, a clear road ahead this time of night.
“You hadda wake up Ben?” Darlene asked, snuggling close to Johnny as he slowed to pass a police cruiser.
“Yeah... I woke him up,” Johnny laughed, signaling for a right turn when they reached the row of high rise apartments near Kindle Drive, “So what if I wake up the bugger? Before he went to jail for selling dirty pictures he was lucky to make six... seven grand a year.”
“He makes big money on this, I bet,” Darlene enthused, puzzling as Johnny turned onto Illingham Street, “How much I make this time?”
“Good gosh, baby, the corpse isn't even dry, and the undertaker's got to put in a bid yet,” Johnny analogized, pushing away her clinging arm as he slowed down, “Micko Zlacko should pay plenty for those little photos. But I got to contact him first. I can't proposition without the goods. And I can't hit the mark until I get a proposition. Right now, I'd guess there's a good three grand apiece for you and Ben.”
“Why you drive through here now?” Darlene asked, frowning as Johnny cruised slowly through a big parking lot, “Every time we go anywhere, you gotta look for a new mark. You ain't gonna find nobody here tonight. It's Monday. No big wheel gets laid on Monday.”
“Fremont did,” Johnny smirked, observing each license plate in the Arvo Towers parking lot, “It's the best night in the world for a married cat to sneak out. Nobody suspects.”
Johnny continued the slow cruise down each line of parked vehicles. The Arvo Towers was a monstrous complex of four 12 story buildings, with over 1500 apartments. It was not an extremely expensive place like the buildings closer to town, but served adequately as living and play quarters for the more party loving element of Washington's greatest commodity— the Government Girl.
Those like Johnny, who had studied the situation with a cynical eye, estimated that over half of the visitor's cars on any given night at the Arvo Towers belonged to married men. And while the bulk of these philanderers held little interest for Johnny DeFranco, there was sometimes among them a prominent lawmaker or politician, and occasionally an out of town millionaire.
“Say, that's a hot looking Caddie over there!” Darlene observed, craning her neck to see the big DeVille parked back in the shadows.
“Good girl, Darlene,” Johnny praised her, swinging around, “I nearly missed it.”
“Oh well,” she shrugged, getting closer as Johnny pulled over by the dark blue hardtop, “It's prob'ly mortgaged up to here by some dope's trying to make himself a big deal with a girl. I think...”
“Bingo!” Johnny let out jubilantly when he caught the low number tag from a Midwestern state, “It's Congressman Wittlmaier's buggy. He's had the same tag ever since he became senior man from his state.”
“What's he do?” Darlene asked naively, wishing Johnny would take more interest in her, “He a big deal? He gonna make you a million bucks or something?”
“He'll help, baby,” Johnny enthused, reaching into his glove compartment for a copy of the Congressional Register, “This bird's top man on the Rocketry subcommittee, I think. They've got the...”
“Kiss me, lover. Kiss me hard,” Darlene broke in, breathing heavier, showing how demanding she could be when disappointed, “You gotta wait for this guy here. Okay, you make love to me now.”
“Easy, baby,” Johnny edged away, nipping through the booklet.
“Put that goddam thing away, and make me!” Darlene yelled, squirming in the seat as she probed and groped brazenly at Johnny, “Throw it away! I wanna get laid! I wanna get laid now!”
“You go home...right now!” Johnny corrected firmly, grabbing both her excited hands at the wrists to push them back, “I'll get you a cab up the A venue... and you go home! Understand?”
“You big swine! I make all that goddam mush with the old goat! I make big money for you, Johnny!” she began screaming, fighting back at his pushes, “Fifteen men I go to bed with for you last year... fifteen men you take all those naked pictures with me! Goddam you love me now! You gotta love me now!”
“You're a whore, Darlene,” Johnny cursed, the handsome sneer curling his tight lips, smashing his hand across her right cheek, backhanding the left, “This is work, you crazy broad. I can't plot a mark with your bitching and sulking around me. Get out! Get out an walk up to the goddam Avenue!”
“No... no, Johnny!” she screamed fearfully, fright welling up in her big bright eyes, “No... I get beaten out here by myself. Three women get attacked last week...only one block from here. There was a man on the corner when we drive in. For God's sake, Johnny... don't—”
“You scare easy, baby,” he scoffed, pushing across the protests to open the door, then shoving her screaming out of the car.
“No... no, Johnny! No...!” her voice trailed off as he gunned the car in the direction of the nearest building.
A pair of elevators was conveniently located just inside the back entrance to Arvo Towers Number Four. This was the entrance to the sub-basement actually, the terraced grounds sloping up two stories to the front of the modernistic building. But Johnny often mused that it was built this way on purpose, to provide wayward husbands a means to slip in and out of the young girls apartments with little risk.
Johnny positioned himself inside a janitor's closet across from the elevators, leaving a crack just wide enough to see the indicator above each door. As the elevators would start a trip, he made a note of the floor or origin, a system he had used with success previously in trapping a mark.
It was 3:20 a.m. when a start from 12th floor ended with the stentorian sounds of a familiar voice when the carriage neared the basement. Congressman Paul Montague Wittlmaier was telling someone about the important vote to be taken this month on the billion dollar rocket contract. But Johnny was already familiar with this aspect of Wittlmaier's vital role in the nation's defense. And something kept buzzing through his head about there being two different companies vying for it.
“I'll try to make it tomorrow, Maria,” the authoritative tones resonated through the hallway as the elevator door opened.
“I'll fix some steak if you're hungry,” a fascinatingly low keyed voice with an undertone of sensual charm addressed the Congressman.
Wittlmaier stood with his back to Johnny, the long mane of pure white hair combed back to sleek perfection and contrasting sharply with the black overcoat he wore. Johnny couldn't see the girl who had ridden down with him for a prolonged goodnight. He only knew she was there from the voice. And the fact that Wittlemaier's arms were stretched out in front of him in what must be a farewell embrace.
Then it happened!
Just as Wittlmaier moved away, and in the instant before the automatic doors were fully closed, Johnny got a fleeting glimpse of the girl. She was a young blonde of about twenty in a loose brunch coat. There was no artificiality, no painted highlights to the radiant face, only the natural resplendence of healthy, vitalic beauty and life. There was nothing sexy about the fashionable, quilted, light blue brunch coat, but even its loose fit left little doubt as to the voluptuous containment. The top jutted out angularly over a youthfully firm shelf of fully developed bosom, dropping down straight from the tipped crest to a position right below the knees. The slippered feet were small and well formed, the half visible calves so perfectly shaped they telegraphed a mental picture of pulchritudinous curves for what went with them, to even the most sterile imagination.
But Johnny DeFranco's visions were far from impotent as he waited there in the closet for a full minute after the cage ascended. Just one look at this girl, whoever she was, introduced a new experience into his already girl-glutted life. The slim, soft nose and facial lines, framed by the pert, bubble hair style of golden blonde, was embossed in his memory.
Quickly now, Johnny bounded from the closet, stepped inside the vacant cage and pressed the button for the twelfth floor. His confidence began to falter. Could she be the Congressman's daughter?... a granddaughter?... a niece?... the daughter of a friend?
Johnny lit a cigarette as he stepped cautiously out on the twelfth floor, glancing to each side. Men Wittlmaier's age didn't kiss their nieces like that at 3:30 in the morning...or their friend's wives or daughters. And he remembered now... Wittlmaier had no daughter, only a grown son. Neither were there any grandchildren, Paul Jr. being one of Washington's most eligible bachelors.
Johnny stalked confidently down the hallway now, listening briefly by each door. He had hit the real big time with this one: Paul Montague Wittlmaier, revered senior Congressman on the Military Rocketry Subcommittee, had a love nest at the Arvo Towers with a near nymphet of a gorgeous blonde.
Taking out his notebook, Johnny quickly penciled the names and numbers on the apartment doors, marking an X by the ones with a trace of noise. These were the girls he would try first, using the same trial and error telephone method which had worked so well before.
At 3:35, Johnny De Franco closed his notepad and left the building. The perpetual half-sneer curled his lip a little higher, a subconscious expression of his contempt for people who were so indiscreet with their public trust. The curl then smoothed out again, and the face became the same stoic symbol of intriguingly handsome impassivity it usually maintained. Inwardly, Johnny was recalling the girl again —the honey blonde with the bubble cut and supple body, whose name he didn't know —whose name was somewhere among the 23 feminine callings he had copied down in the little book.
Tooling his powerful Mercedes out into the Avenue again, Johnny shrugged off the feeling. Women were a dime a dozen to him, always had been. And he was sleepy now after this very long and productive day.
“Son of a bitch!” Johnny swore angrily, tossing off his coat when he walked in the bedroom of his apartment at 4:00 a.m.
“Hi, sexy...” the sultry voice of cabaret stripper Honey Newgott flowed from between her full, heavily painted lips.
That was all Honey said, but all she needed to say. For six years now all 137 pounds of this voluptuously formed girl had been trained in the arts of pleasing men's visions, exciting their rabid imaginations. There was no subtlety of vicarious sex from the most emotion-arousing whisper to the height of erotic undulation and orgasmic body grind, which Honey Newgott had not mastered. And now she was lying in Johnny's bed stark naked, her firmly curved figure curled in a wildly suggestive succubic form, the torso barely moving in a subtly teasing rhythm.
Honey shifted her position just slightly, allowing Johnny the full front view of her magnificently proportioned 39-22-37 body, stretching out every pulsating inch of her flawlessly smooth 5 foot 7 frame, and emitting a low heaving moan through the full lips.
“What the hell are you trying to do? Prove you're a real redhead?” Johnny asked sarcastically, tossing his overcoat over her. “And how the devil did you get in here?”
“Don't get mad, Johneeeee,” she cooed at him, pouting the sexy lips as she grabbed for a huge teddy bear beside her, “Willy and I just had to come see you... about something real important.”
“I asked who let you in?” Johnny raged, grabbing the stuffed toy and flinging it through the bathroom door.
“Johnny! Johnny! You hurt Willy! You hurt my sweet little Willy!” Honey cried out, jumping from under his coat and trotting barefoot across the rug.
“Who let you in?” Johnny riled up madder, blocking her way.
“I... I used an old key I had... remember?” she posed, trying to grapple past him, her jouncing breasts bouncing against him in a fretful fury.
“I had the lock changed three months ago,” he let her know, pushing at the firm fleshed stomach and ducking into the bathroom, “I told you to keep away from here unless you got a damn good mark for me.”
“But I do... I do, Johnny,” she protested, looking on with wide-eyed, frightful dismay when he picked up Willy, “I know we're through, Johnny. You've got Darlene... and... that's that. I just want....”
“I know what you want, Angeline Ptrovsky,” he called the Chicago garbageman's daughter by the real name she hated, “But I want to know who let you in here? Tell me!”
“No... no, Johnny!” she screamed, trying to push her jiggling anatomy past him, “My God... don't do that to Willy!”
Johnny had thrown the big teddy bear, the distraught and mixed-up girl's backtrack to juvenile security, into the shower stall. His hand was poised on the hot water handle.
“Who let you in, Angeline Ptrovsky?” he growled, grabbing the creamy smooth neck to hold her back, “You tell me or Willy gets a hot bath!”
“The... the boy at the desk, Johnny,” Honey admitted tearfully, dropping to her knees as Johnny eased the pressure and let her go, “But... please don't hurt him. He... he's just a kid. I... he knew who I was. He'd seen... the show. He...”
“So you give him a free feel, a private peek at the famous Newgott privates... and he's all hot to commit murder for you,” Johnny surmised correctly, pulling open the shower curtain, “You get just about anything you want with that body of yours, don't you?”
“I... I been trying to call you all day, Johnny,” she started to explain, a pitiful look of relieved admiration on the sophisticated face as she retrieved her beloved Willy, “I got a deal for you. He took me out last night... General Renshaw from the Pentagon. He's real crazy for me, Johnny. I let him have me last night and he'll be back for more...”
“How many pictures you get?” Johnny snapped the question, his business interest taking over as he handed Honey a cigarette and led the way back into his bedroom, “This Renshaw's only a Brigather, but he's on the Quartermaster Purchasing Board. Maybe we can corner the market on toilet paper or GI jock straps.”
“It was in the car,” Honey admitted sheepishly, smiling gratefully for the cigarette, ”...but tomorrow I can get him in the apartment. The camera's still there. I remember how to use it, Johnny. I know...”
“In the car?” Johnny yelled incredulously, yanking back the sheet and pulling it over Honey's nakedness when she lay down again, “You got a piece of brass from the Pentagon and laid him in the car? What a stupid kook you are, baby. You got three thousand bucks worth of the most precision photographic equipment money can buy in your bedroom, and you waste a lay on the guy in his buggy. You think this is high school making out or something? This is money, baby! Money!”
“I'm sorry, Johnny,” Honey pouted once more, caressing Willy needfully, “But give me some credit too, huh? I knew this guy's type. If he hadn't connected last night, he would have given up. It's never the real thing in a car...it's like a sample— you give an alky a shot of whiskey he goes for the whole bottle.”
“Okay. Okay,” Johnny was reasonable, walking toward his living room, “Get the pictures tomorrow night and we can talk business. But get some clothes on and beat it now. I got two big deals going and I need sleep.”
“Sure, Johnny,” she answered immediately, then added coyly, “Can... can I have a nightcap, Johnny? One for the road?”