Crimson Hairs, by the pseudonymous Whidden Graham, is an American original. First published in 1934, it is an erotic mystery tale that is explicitly sexual.
The time is Prohibition and homicide detective Morris Sarnelli, known as Handsome to the girls, takes a personal interest in an unidentified corpse found in the basement of a brownstone in a fashionable neighborhood of Manhattan. Certain aspects of the case, sexual aspects to his mind, cause him to pursue the investigation on his own. Sarnelli is slowly drawn into New York’s sexual underground as he pursues the case. Conducting floor by floor interviews with the occupants of the brownstone, he discovers their erotic proclivities and enters into one strange sexual experience after another. No clue or aspect of human sexual practice is left untried.
Aficionados of 1930s’ detective thrillers should recognize the language and style of the story. The action is fast-paced, the slang true to the times and the mystery is sometimes placed on hold as the characters’ love lives get the better of them. By the time the murder is solved, no one really seems to care the sex has taken precedence. A crimson hair among the victim’s pubes, incidentally, provides the clue with which Sarnelli cracks the case.
Sarnelli woke up the next morning refreshed and unperturbed. The adventure with Rita had disgusted more than stirred him. He had seen too many nude women and they offered themselves to him too easily. To hell with them all. What he was angry about was that he had made no progress whatever in his case. He had to call up the Inspector and tell him about it. It was annoying. The Carr fellow was a clue. He wished he knew more about him. The man was highly intelligent and cagey. Did he really go around with women now or was that just to distract the detective’s attention? There were many who were bisexual. Better have a talk with those girls downstairs. If Carr could release his dark and Oriental passion with females, or into females, then he was not under much suspicion, for he could more easily free himself from the fairies. Rita certainly had nothing to do with the case, and Edna and Bertha had to be eliminated also. They were not persons who would commit a violent deed themselves, nor did they consort with persons of uncontrolled temperaments. The same might be said for the janitress and her friend Francisca.
After breakfast Sarnelli went down to the basement. He searched the premises again and again. All of a sudden, he was startled. Somebody must have been in there. The water was dripping from the faucet. Oh, and there that pile of junk had been touched. Nay, it had been washed, it seemed. In fact, several of the pieces were still a bit wet. What did that mean? The janitress, confronted with those facts, disputed hotly that nobody could have been in the cellar. It was locked now and the keys were in the hands of the detective and herself alone. Her key was hanging on the wall, right over there by the pot, in case any of the police should drop in and want to see the basement again. Sarnelli agreed that he might be seeing things. But he was sure now that somebody connected with the case was living right here in the house and had a reason for tinkering around downstairs. Why? Washing off fingerprints? Prints on things in the junk pile? He went downstairs again and studied the pile. He could not see the connections as yet. Well, patience was the first duty of a sleuth. It was with a mental reservation that he phoned to Inspector McGarven that he was probably right about it being a suicide case. No clues, no. But he would like to stay on a bit longer. That was granted, especially because McGarven said to himself that the boy had something up his sleeve.
Time had passed with all this but it was still too early to call on Paula Eltz. She was a kept girl and slept late. After a walk, though, it was time to see her.
She answered his ring with repeated inquiries of “Who is there?” before she opened the door quite reluctantly. Of course, she would have a talk with him and help him in any way she could, but she did not know anything and her attitude showed that she wanted to be left alone. Intending not to let her get away with it, he sat down for a stay. Paula refused all personal questions with the reply that she would have to see her lawyer as to whether she must answer at all.
Paula was about twenty-three years old, with light brown hair that was probably dyed. She was a good-looking bitch of medium height. Her mouth showed that she had been through plenty and was hard-boiled. But her grey-blue eyes had stamina and temperament. Sarnelli decided to become personal and complimented her on her tasteful pajamas, her lovely complexion, and made a play for her with a charming and boyish grin, which usually took the women in quickly enough. But she remained taciturn and annoyed.
“Well, young lady, I’m sorry you dislike me so much personally, and I hope I haven’t done anything to offend you. I wish you’d help me along a bit…”
“I dislike dicks, that’s all.”
“What have they done to you?”
“Plenty…I mean, nothing nothing at all. I just dislike the whole bunch of them. Any other questions? Or can we end our conversation now?”
Sarnelli made a quick shift in attack: “You know I’m from headquarters and, of course, we looked up everybody before we started this investigation. We looked you up also, of course.”
“Nothing…We know. That’s all. The neighborhood here does not know and you’re just a charming young lady who has a still more charming friend with a pocketbook. You see, that’s something that does not concern us, but…”
Paula became rather hysterical at once. She became pale and squirmed around.
“I have no money and if I had any, I would not give it to you. I wouldn’t. Understand? I wouldn’t.”
Sarnelli pricked his ears. So this dame had a past? Really better look up her record, if she is not living under an assumed name. He smiled: “Lady, that must surprise you. I do not want any money. I do not need it, thank you, and I would not take it from anyone, most certainly not from a woman.”
“That’s what you dicks are after. What else are you living on, you…” She started to cry but caught herself and looked bravely up at him. Sarnelli saw the change in her attitude.
“If I meet a nice young lady like you, I do not take her money. I always like to give her some. See…” And he displayed a small bankroll from his pocket.
“Marked money, eh?”
This time he laughed heartily. Then he explained to her that he had nothing whatever to do with the boys from the vice squad, that he considered the prosecution of prostitution a terrible legal mistake. Prostitution was one of the oldest and most lucrative businesses in the world and, if run in an orderly way, a blessing to men. But when conducted under hypocritical laws, secretly, it was a curse to everyone. She agreed to all this and looked at him. His frank speech and manly looks appealed to her and she offered him a cigarette. This little token was the beginning of the friendship. In the most casual way, he took her hand and drew her onto his lap. Soon enough he knew all there was to know about her.
Rent, food, clothes and about thirty to forty dollars per week was what her friend paid. A decent businessman, easy to handle, never drunk. Only she never knew when she might be wanted. He called her up when he desired to see her and made a date that she had to keep strictly on time. Of course, he collected what he was paying for. She had been steady with him for two years and had been true to him. Yes, she knew different madames who would have liked to have her name on their phone lists, but why jeopardize a comfortable arrangement. She had something on her mind: Supposing a girl had been once in a jam, quite innocently, when she was still dumb, and supposing there was a record of her in the police files, was there no way of getting that record destroyed? He gave her advice and promised to help her. She was really a nice kid, he would say, a decent kid. She warmed up to him. She felt he meant what he said and that he was a swell guy. Before they knew it, they hugged and kissed each other, at first more in the way of play or a joke, but after that, real desire came into the picture. She tickled his ears with kisses, and he started feeling her full breasts, until his hand reached for her pussy. She whispered:
“What’s the use of struggling against it? Come on, let’s have it. I’m going to give you the ‘grand treatment’ and you are going to be a good boy and just keep still and do everything I say. I haven’t done that to anyone for a long, long time. My boyfriend is so decent, you know, and he’d be shocked if he ever learned that his little flower that’s what he always calls me even knows about such things.”
She slipped off his lap, pulled the shades down, ran to the front door and locked it, and dragged him into her bedroom. A cozy bedroom with black silken bed sheets that would appeal to every sensuous woman. Sarnelli hesitated for a moment. It certainly had not been his purpose to have a party now, but that was just his nature. When he felt like it, he forgot whether it was reasonable or not, and why not?
She made him take all his clothes off and lie down on the bed, his hands folded behind his head. She did not allow him to touch her she did not want to be disturbed, as she put it. She quickly removed her pajamas and for a moment looked him over with greedy eyes. His naked form enticed her. Lean and tall, the figure of a sportsman, muscular and strong. She was glad she had captured him for her own pleasure she liked men.
He, also, was quite satisfied. In the dim light her flesh showed white and soft her nipples were very large and deep brown the hair around her pussy was thin and of a blondish color, while the lips of her cunt were open and looked hungry. Her bottom was too small for his taste, but her whole figure seemed soft and mobile. It would be a pleasure to be encircled by her.
She kissed his forehead and his face, took his lips in her mouth and kissed and bit them softly. Her hands stroked his body. It was an exciting massage she gave him first his chest, while sucking his nipples, and then stroking his belly and continuing down over his muscular limbs. She massaged him with both her soft hands, with expert knowledge of the nerves, and already he had difficulty in keeping his buttocks from moving around. She kissed his belly and started to lick it with long strokes of her firm and apt tongue. Meanwhile, her hands played with the curls around his tool and tickled his balls. But she did not touch his love-shaft, which stood full-blown and straight in the air, longing for a resting place. She ignored it entirely and teased him with prolonged appetite.
Then she made him turn over and the same procedure took place along his spine and over his firm ass-cheeks and thighs. Finally she settled down and sucked and licked and kissed him, so that he shivered through his whole body. It was almost torture but he stood it. Finally, she crawled into bed, sat straddle-legged over him and pressed her pussy against his neck. She bent forward and glued her mouth to his tool. She surprised him by giving it a long and passionate sucking. It was a long time since any woman had kissed him there. But this kid certainly was an artist. What a wonderful sensation a well-trained tongue could be! He was thoroughly thrilled and flushed all over.
Now she turned him around, moving his body in such a way that his feet were touching the carpet as he lay across the bed. Already she was kneeling before him. She slung his legs over her shoulders and, taking his prick in one hand, continued her tongue-play over his hairy balls. She inhaled the odor of his body, pressed her own thighs together and moved her bottom around. She was terribly excited herself and put everything she had into the act. At last she moved up a bit and embraced his stiff shaft again with her lips. Her lips closed more firmly than before around his magnificent tool and she sucked it into her mouth until it touched her throat. God, how she loved that! Up and down, up and down went her sucking mouth and he worked softly against her, moving his bottom slightly. Changing the steady movements into circling and screwing movements, she groaned and purred and breathed convulsively.
That went on for a long time, until he could stand it no longer. He bent forward and, almost doubled-up, tried to grab her and get her into the bed. He wanted to fuck her now but she would not let him. She held his prick tightly with one hand, his balls with the other, while her mouth was glued to that precious instrument. His whole body shook.
“I can’t stand it any longer!” he cried.
She released him for a moment. “Then give it to me!” she said. “I want to drink you! Give it to me!” And she was at it again.
He let himself fall back again and began fucking her mouth with strong moves. When he came and shot a mighty gusher, she released him at once. He wanted her to keep up the pressure on his spouting organ. But she had slipped out of the room and closed the door behind her. He shot a few drops into the air, but he was not wholly satisfied.
Presently she came back, cleaned him with a wet towel and slipped into bed with him, covering them both with the black silken sheet. She smiled and mocked him.
“You vixen! But you are an artist.” He stretched himself and drew her very close. “How did you learn it or is it a natural talent with you?”
“I might as well tell you the whole story, especially as I want you to help me get those records out of the files. Probably it is an old story for you, but here it is.” She nestled close and took his prick, now soft and lifeless, caressingly in her hand.
“I was not even nineteen when I came to the big city. Of course, I was not a virgin. I had some boyfriends in my hick town and here in the city, also, when I worked at odd jobs as a salesgirl, model and so on. But I never took any money from my boyfriends. Presents, on the other hand, are always welcome, you know. As it happened, one day I found myself without a job and with very small funds. I had to look for a cheap room. The living quarters this beast never mind her name offered me were lovely and the price was only a couple of bucks. She explained that she was not really renting the room to me but liked to have the company of young girls, a line for which I fell. She was not a madame, but a procurer. I was much too dumb to find that out quick enough. Anyway, she sent me on some jobs to make ‘easy money’ and here and there I went. Why deny it? Mostly I didn’t follow her orders. I mean, from her standpoint, I was utterly unreliable. I can see that now. She and nobody else had me picked up by some dicks, with no evidence against me whatsoever, and they railroaded me by having me plead guilty. The six months in the reformatory were not as bad as everyone supposes, but when I was released my troubles began. No money, no friends, no job…but one of the girls in the big house had given me the address of a madame, the best one in the business, they said, and to her I went, determined that she should take me in.
“I can still picture myself standing in her elegant drawing room, begging her to give me a chance. She did not want to have anything to do with a girl who had a record. She demanded highest ability, clever talk and frank immorality from her girls. She made me strip and felt me over and toyed around with me so that I really blushed. No woman had ever done such things to me. I had at that time very fine breasts they are not so bad now, but then I must have been a morsel and my little pussy was and is quite small. Other girls are much larger down there. Apparently she liked me. She began to praise her clientele, raved about the money I would make, drew fantastic pictures of magnificent clothes, and so on. But she stated that her customers were rich men, perverted and spoiled, and that a girl had to take it on the chin while working for her. I was still very dumb. She knew it and told me so, but she said I had talent and that she would put me through the mill.
“She showed me to one of her marvelously furnished rooms and let me wait there. She kept two or three steady girls in the house the others were on call. A couple of hours later she came back with Carlos, her ‘tough guy,’ a kind of pimp, a swarthy, uncouth and lousy Italian fellow with one feature that was extraordinary: He could raise a hard-on and keep it for many hours. The girls said he was taking some herbs or a medicine that got him hot but hindered him from coming. Anyway, the Madame, who ordered him around as if he were a big animal, told him to put me through the mill. She sat down in an easy chair and smoked a cigarette and instructed me what to do. When I saw this huge, brown-skinned fellow sprawled on the bed, I was bewildered and did not know how to handle it.
“Anyway, when Carlos started to fuck me gee! It was the toughest party I’d ever had. He was a husky, strong fellow and he pushed and pushed and forced me to answer his thrusts. Of course, I came and came and was finally all exhausted. So he took his big tool out of me and I had to kneel over him and suck it. Madame demanded that I make him come and, unaware that he couldn’t, I worked like a fool. When my lips and my tongue were sore, I had to sit straddle-legged over him and ride him and then lick him again until I caved in. He sure put me through the mill. Madame finally ended the session and told me that I would do, but that I should understand that I was entirely under her supervision and that was our agreement. I was much too exhausted to say anything but yes and I did not regret it in the long run.”
“There is lots of faking in those houses, isn’t there?” Sarnelli asked rhetorically.
Somehow that was against Paula’s pride. “Not where I was. Oh no, sir. That was just the difference between my madame and the other bastards. She was in a way very straight. She never put anything over on anybody. She did not allow the girls to get extra money out of the men. She paid us our share. She paid the bulls what was coming to them. And we had to come across and do the right thing by the men. That’s why she stayed so long unmolested in business.
“You see, we had good instructions from our madame. She taught us how to play around with them, especially to massage the prick and the balls with cleverness, so that the customer was half ready before the real act started. That makes it easier, of course. Most men wanted to be Frenched. Now, when a guy is half ready when you take his tool between your lips, it won’t exhaust you.”
“And how did this job end for you?”
“Oh, the madame was tipped off to lay low, so she closed up, went to Florida for her health, and we poor chickens were on our own hook. Mind you, I had saved up more than a thousand dollars, and the other girls were not worse off. I moved to a good hotel and very soon met my present boyfriend. I’m with him already over two years and I’m contented. He is a good man. Of course, I passed as a good girl when I met him, told him a cock-and-bull story, and he still believes it. I think that he’ll marry me some day and that’s why I’m willing to do anything to have those records destroyed. Will you help me?”
Sarnelli said he would.
She was aware that his prick was blown up again to fine dimensions and she calculated that she was soon going to get what she was after. When his tool was safely placed in her longing cunt and she had him well encircled with her arms and legs, she whispered in his ear:
“Keep still, sweetheart. Keep very still only for a moment.”
When he complied, she began her party for herself. She twisted and turned under him, pressed and rubbed her love-nest with strong movements against the hair around his shaft, circled and heaved and threw herself up and down so that he had difficulty keeping his balance. She dug her heels into the firm flesh of his behind, her fingers into his shoulders, and finally she came. But she was not selfish. She stretched her legs under him, closed them firmly and made him spread his apart a bit. Her fingers were busy as she answered his fucking movements with rhythmic thrusts. When she felt him coming, she tightened up her pussy as much as possible around his burning love-shaft. They lay quite a while motionless. Then she said:
“You see now why I did not suck you out entirely before. I wanted something for myself and I have it now, don’t I?” And with that, she was out of the bed.
It was a tired but satisfied detective who left a respectable young lady after a two-hour visit. Satisfied, also, that she was not connected in any way with the matter under investigation, he had some reflections in his mind about that girl. She certainly was on the borderline. If given a chance, she’d become the respectable wife of a middle-class fellow and probably have kids and a home of her own. But if that man would not take her in for good, she’d be on the bum again pretty soon afterward. Then they would term her a “fallen woman.” Life was funny.