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"I know I'm sure, and I'll make sure you're sure," Greg Cutler assured his comrade. "Trust me, it's well worth the money." He smiled and shook his head at a pair of young Thai women offering their bodies in broken English and an old man offering tourist trinkets with silent hand gestures.

"Money's not the issue," Bettmann informed the other as they rounded a comer into an even narrower and filthier side street. "How old are these girls?"

"Old enough to know what they're doin', Bud." Cutler rapped on a steel-banded wooden door. "In here."

A steel eyehole opened and shut very briefly, and then the two Americans were out of the filth of the street and in the magnificent opulence of an upscale "massage parlor." A stooped porter with a long, gray beard closed the door behind the two new arrivals with speed surprising for a man his age, then relocked the door and reseated himself on a stool beside it. The madam of the establishment entered the foyer from the adjacent parlor and greeted Cutler by a false surname in thickly-accented English, then welcomed Bettmann by his own false name after he was introduced by it.

"Would you gentlemen like a drink beforehand? If not, I believe both of your girls are ready and waiting."

Cutler and Bettmann glanced at one another, before Cutler replied with, "I think we're ready."

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