Jane Lovejoy, Patroness on the Strip, The First Day

When Jane Lovejoy’s husband phoned to tell her the news that he had been passed over for the promotion he had been hoping for, and denied the raise he expected, she knew that she would have to do something special to raise his spirits, and she knew that she would have to do the heavy lifting.

In many ways Richard was more fragile and temperamental than their four year old son, and he would need something special to soothe his bruised ego, Jane thought that a trip to Lake Street and an evening of debauchery was just the sort of thing he would need to keep himself calm…though she would enjoy it too, more importantly it would keep him distracted and keep him from turning his resentment and anger against her, or their son.

She sent the boy to her mother’s house in Linden Hills, and had the servants prepare a platter of food they could eat at room temperature, including a roast beef and a chicken that would keep well for hours in the ice box.

After her maid helped her with her hair and dress Jane sent all the servants home, then she poured herself a martini about a half an hour before Richard came home.

It was raining hard by the time he came through the door, but her timing was perfect. He had parked under the port cochere so he was barely damp. She greeted him in the parlor with a lit cigarette in one hand and a Manhattan made just the way he liked it in the other.

Richard came through the door with his shoulders sagging and the air of defeat about him. His face was set in a mean-grimace, but when he saw his wife standing in the light of the Tiffany chandelier, slender and blonde, with her make-up done in her signature sultry-style, his mood began to change.

He only paused for a second, as his sense of failure magnified for the span of a heartbeat before he let it go so that he could extend his imagination to the expectation of what the rest of the night promised.

He understood that his wife was going to spend her money pampering him once again, not to celebrate his success, but to compensate him for his poor performance at the Lumber Exchange.

The sting of shame melted away when he saw the hem of her stockings and garter belt below the fringe of her too-short, emerald-green dress.

She walked toward him with her pale thighs barely rubbing together, handed him the drink and the lit cigarette, and then kissed him lightly on the lips brushing them languidly with the tip of her tongue as he moaned with delight.

The house was quiet. He knew they were alone, and soon they would be headed to the strip, his wife would dope him up and let him smother his woes between the breasts of some immigrant girl, then she would call his boss in the morning and tell him that he was too sick to come in. 

John Fields – Patron on the Strip

John Fields was eager for a night of R&R as his lodge members called it…ribald-revelry.

It was his turn to pick up the girls, visit the apothecary and return to the lodge with enough cocaine and opium to keep a dozen people loose and up all night.

He was eager for it, despite the storm.

It was well before sundown but the sky had darkened as the rain clouds thickened and a genuine deluge had begun soak the city.

John was not deterred.

He navigated Lake Street in bumper to bumper traffic with his windshield wipers working overtime and merged into a line of cars filled with men, and some couples, all looking to do the same thing as he was doing, all hoping a pretty young woman with blonde hair and blue eyes would jump into their car for a night of sex and booze and drugs.

Since the end of prohibition Saint Anthony had become the most licentious city on the northern plains, a destination for those who delighted in the skin trade, and Lake Street was an open-air brothel.

It was the reason John moved here, that and his lucrative job at the grain exchange.

He rolled down his window when he pulled up to the curb in front of the apothecary; a teenage boy soaked to the bone took a handful of bills from John, counting it in a flash before pocketing the money.

“Two balls of cocaine, one opium,” John said to him.

The boy nodded and flashed some hand signs to someone John could not see and seconds later another boy came up to the car with a brown paper bag to hand him.

He pulled away from the street pharmacy and rolled down the strip a little farther looking for his next score.

He was just in front of the Round-Up when he saw a commotion at its front door.

And then a bright flash of lightning appeared to strike the sidewalk twenty-feet in front of him, its thunder shook everything, including him inside his car. He pushed on the brakes and came to a quick halt, and then he was rear ended.

John cursed his bad luck.  

Greta Swenson – Working Girl on Lake Street

Greta felt horrible, sick with fever and chills. It wasn’t the everyday sickness she experienced when she felt the deep-tissue yearning in her body when she needed her daily-fix. It was something else something that came with the end of summer and the rain, but she was working anyway because she didn’t have a choice.

Franky gave her something, a pick me up that burned as it went up her nose. It gave her energy, but it set her nerves on fire. She stood under the rain soaked awning hoping a man would take her somewhere for the night, one of her regulars, hoping that someone would get her out of the weather.

In spite of the downpour there was plenty of business, but nothing had been coming her way.

Greta didn’t have the hustle that night.

She took a spot around the corner from Franky’s Bar, a place where he wouldn’t be able to see her from where he sat, not that it mattered. The beat cops were patrolling and they would keep the girls active as they were paid to do. They would do anything short of beating a girl with a night-stick if she wasn’t turning tricks…or trying.

She had her eye on a young looking fellow by the newsstand. He was tall and had a nice face, though his shoes were a little tattered and his coat was somewhat threadbare.

He wasn’t paying attention to her at all. His eyes were glued to the opposite side of the street, like he was waiting for something to happen.

She watched him walk to the drug store where bough a bottle of brown liquor, and then stood in the doorway to continue his watch.

He had some money in his pocket, Greta thought. That was a good sign.

She was tired of being ignored by the cars on the street, and she was preparing to solicit the nice looking man, when suddenly there was a commotion out in front of the Round-up, the popular saloon across the street.

A giant of a man had been thrown out onto the curb. She had seen him once with Franky, and she knew that Franky was afraid of him. Greta didn’t know exactly who he was but if Franky was scared of him, he was someone to be feared.

The scene in front of the Round-up had the complete attention of the good looking man she had marked. He was watching closely as the bar back came out with the man’s hat in hand…and then there was lightning, a bright-white flash that burned her eyes and rattled every window on the street.

When she recovered from the crack and boom of the lightning bolt everything was in motion. The giant was running down the strip with the handsome young man pursuing him, and the beat cops fast on their heels.

Greta knew enough to know that there was going to be trouble.