Phil Luciano: In search of Patchy, a one-eyed tavern thief
It's not every day I look for one-eyed, tavern-thieving hookers.
Most days, I avoid them - not from any moral compunction, mind you, but because most of the one-eyed hookers I know tend to bore me to death.
Maybe that sounds weird. Maybe the notion of a one-eyed hooker sounds enchanting, or least adventuresome. If that's the case, all you need is $20 to find out the truth.
And it ain't pretty.
There's this gal, Patchy, which is not her real nickname. Whenever she is on the Peoria Police Department's Web site of Top 10 Whores O' The Month (or whatever), she is wearing her eye patch.
Patchy doesn't always sport the patch. In fact, whenever I've seen her, she has in her glass eye. Maybe I'm special that way: She thinks I'm classy enough to pop in her fake eye whenever I walk into the same tavern as her. But I doubt it. For Patchy, respect begins and ends with cold, hard cash. And I've never given her $20 - or anything else.
I'm not sure how she lost that eye. It's not one of those things that come up easily. You don't ask personal questions of Popeye, just as you don't ask a one-legged pirate why he's named Stumpy.
"One-eye, one-eye ... " coos Bill Scott. " ... the one I love."
He's kidding ... I think. Scott runs the Tartan Inn, a weathered neighborhood tap in West Peoria. There, I've listened to Patchy drone on and on about whatever inanities, mundane and otherwise, run through the minds of crack whores.
Still, Scott has bailed ol' Patchy out of plenty of scrapes. She's been in jail. She's been in other trouble. But she'd never been this desperate.
Tuesday, just before the pub was to open at 11 a.m., a woman - no stranger to the place - popped in. The owner stepped to his upstairs apartment. The woman went for the cash.
She spotted a zippered cash purse near the bar. She snatched it and ran, with $1,000.
A neighbor called owner Scott to report seeing a woman dashing along the alley with the cash purse. Scott said don't worry; he'd take care of things. That's how it is in the bar biz. You want justice but not cops over your shoulder.
Anyway, the police haven't pinpointed the culprit as Patchy. But the Tartan points a tawdry finger of guilt at her.
I hope it's not true. The other streetwalkers shouldn't be painted so broadly with a sordid brush. It takes just one thieving crack whore to make all of the other crack whores look bad. Sad, really.
Maybe she needs a union. Or a better disguise. A one-eyed prostitute/thief isn't unheard-of in or around Peoria. You get what you pay for, right?
Anyway, I've never found crack whores to be entertaining, maybe because the only thing I've shared with them is conversation. And boy, do those crack whores like to chat - endlessly, even more than most women, one eye or no.
Thus, I tend to avoid streetwalkers. Still, in the interest of justice, I staked out the Tartan Inn on Thursday, waiting for crack whores. Owner Scott and I surveilled long and patiently on bar stools, struggling to keep our undercover front as Marlboro-smoking, Budweiser-guzzling regulars. That was quite the stretch of our everyday personas. But I'm willing to assume such a role, for the furtherance of journalism.
That's me: just a public servant. You're welcome, people. You're welcome.
Phil Luciano can be reached email@example.com or (309) 686-3155.