I didn’t react. Why would I want to see? This was coming too quick, secrets piled on secrets. When that happens, there’s always a trade lurking close. She got to her feet, walked out of the room. She was back in a minute, holding a slick–paper magazine with a black and white photo of a woman bending over on the cover—there was another person in the photo, but all you could see was the paddle in their hand. I stood up, joined her under the light. She thumbed through rapidly, looking for the ad. It was marked with a red ink star, hand–drawn. I held it close to read the small type:
Next time your kid
has a good one coming, make a
full–size cassette of the chastisement
and send it to me. I pay $50 for
fifteen minutes, more for longer.
Good sound quality a must. I travel
frequently, with my own equipment.
Write to make arrangements.
Only a P.O. box was listed, no name. A new kind of kiddie porn, legal too—I’d never heard of it before. Freaks carefully recording their own children getting whipped. To entertain other maggots. For money. I felt ice–picks of fire in my chest.
“Why did you show me this?” I asked her, my voice flat and level.
“Cherry told me. A long time ago. She said that’s what you do.”
“No. She said you … hunt people like that.”
|—||Down in the Zero (1994), by Andrew Vachss|