I am a hardworking hooker in a perpetually horny town. I’ve been turning tricks professionally for seven years, working my way up from the Kit Kat Club on Industrial Boulevard ($20 for 20 minutes) to the Mansion on Turtle Creek ($200 an hour from a television joke writer in 1989). In the last few days I’ve seen an Indian, a Taiwanese, a Chinese, an African, a Saudi Arabian, two Greeks, and a German. Whoever thinks Dallas isn’t an international city should talk to me.
Have I ever been in love? That’s usually the first question my tricks ask me in the Motel 6, eager to get the most out of my average $60-an-hour fee. Let’s answer this one right up front. Yes. I fell in love with a trick named Mark Reeves, the Dapper Bandit, the most notorious Texas bank robber since Bonnie and Clyde. I was his steady squeeze for a year and a half without knowing that when he went to work—which often wasn’t enough for me—he traded his jeans and T-shirt for a wig, moustache, sunglasses, gloves, and a gray J.C. Penney suit. That’s why they called him “Dapper.” With a yuppie briefcase in one hand, a .38-caliber stainless steel revolver in the other, and a Browning 9-millimeter pistol tucked in his belt, my lover knocked off banks, vaulting over bank counters in rubber-soled Hush Puppies. He confessed to robbing 25 banks in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Tarrant County from 1978 to 1988. His take? More than half a million dollars. His strategy? He never fired a shot, and he never kept a dollar. No matter how much he made, he would be broke in a few months. I wondered how he got his money, which he brought home either in a shoe box or not at all. I thought he was a dope dealer or a gun runner. That shows how good I am with my serious relationships.
Hooking is a loony way to make a living. But nobody was crazier than Mark Reeves, the Dapper Bandit, the man who wanted to buy me out of the business and make me respectable. What a joke.
I met Mark in September 1984, about two and a half years after I started tricking. He was high on cocaine. I usually stay away from cocaine calls—they’re not my style. A cocaine call is when somebody has drugs and they would love for you to say two magic words: “Gimme some.” Tricks on cocaine offer it to you every five minutes, which is real annoying, especially for a reformed coke junkie like me. Cocaine calls don’t really get into the sex; they just want to work you for twelve hours. They’re just trying to play vampire. Misery loves company. I’ve been there a million times. To these guys, saying, “I’ve got some cocaine” is like saying, “I’ve got the Hope diamond.”
The call was through an escort agency. I didn’t have my own agency then. I had a beeper, and I was working for these people who were ripping me off, lying to me about the money I had coming through MasterCard. It was the old story: Get a green girl, give her one cash call a day so she’ll have gas and hamburger money, then put the rest on credit cards, so the girl gets paid once a month. You work two or three weeks. Call mania. Anything that breathes. Until the agency owes you like $3,000 and won’t pay. When you finally demand your cash, they say, “Well, you didn’t turn those vouchers in” or “The bank has questions.” Finally you have to quit since you can’t take the problem to the police or anything.
One Friday night they told me, “Go see this guy who’s been seen before.” That means it’s a good call, a regular, not a cop. He sees four hookers a week. Pays cash. They gave me his vital statistics: name, telephone number. I had just finished a domination call, tying up an Arlington businessman between two desks. I was a nervous wreck. I called Mark Reeves at four in the morning, just after leaving the pervert in Arlington.
“What’s your description?” he asked.
“Five six, brown hair, brown eyes. 35-24-35. Weigh 120 pounds. I like my work.”
“Come on over,” he said. “Here’s the address.”
I told him it would be $150 cash—$50 for the agency fee, $100 for the tip. When I got there, he looked like a cocaine call. A guy about thirty, living by himself in some boring apartment on Park Lane with rented furniture. Motorcycle by the front door. Shorts. Hawaiian shirt. Good body from daily workouts. A great tan. A guy you’d spot at the pool and feel your sap rising. Cute. Real casual. He was the last guy you’d take for a notorious bank robber. But by the time we met, the police later said, Mark had already knocked off at least eight banks, his latest being Plaza National Bank of Dallas in July and the American State Bank of Fort Worth for $65,000 that February. Like a lot of guys, Mark would get a hooker whenever he had money in his pocket. The minute I saw him, smiling at me from his balcony, I thought, “Not my style.” Dumpy apartments and cocaine—I’ve spent too many years wallowing in both.
We sat on the couch. I told him if he wanted me to stay, I had to collect first. We started making out. He kept going into the bathroom to do more cocaine. After an hour, I got up to go.
“I want you to stay longer,” he said.
“Okay,” I said, “So let’s collect again.”
He was tired. And wired. He kept talking about race car driving. “I spend three thousand dollars a weekend, racing cars,” he said. He showed me some trophies. And he kept doing cocaine. The best thing about him? He didn’t push the coke on me. So he had some manners. Then he started in on his fantasies.
“If I get good enough in racing, it would be really neat if you could come to my races, and we could be in love,” Mark said.
In love? Mark was into this whole fantasy trip. I just said, “Okay.” He told me he liked me. And I said, “Yeah, okay.” A lot of people say that. They go, “Wow, you’ve got a great body. I’m in love.” It’s nothing new to me. I always agree with everything—”Sure, we could live on a desert island, whatever you say.” I’ll go with the fantasy, unless it’s something really morbid.
I stayed with Mark for about three and a half hours. But I told my agency I had gone home after the first hour. So I made about $350 off of the call. He was a good call. I gave him my home phone number when I left. “Call me at home sometime, and we’ll bypass the agency,” I said.
The next Sunday at six in the morning, he called me at home. On my mother’s phone. At that point, I didn’t have my own trick phone yet. I was living with my parents. Sure, they knew I was hooking. They were just thrilled that I was off drugs, proud of me for working. Any career was better than being a junkie. After all, when I was on drugs, I was stealing from them like crazy. Guns. Silverware. Jewelry. I even stole all of my dad’s anniversary pins from the LTV Corporation, prying out the diamonds and trading them for a shot of junk. I figured that my parents had brought me out of the womb and deserved to suffer for their creation. Talk about a twisted mind. But when I became a hooker, I straightened up overnight. I realized what a bitch I’d been. My parents were thrilled. I paid them back every dime I had stolen. My mother dreamed of me marrying a rich trick, who would whisk me off to the land of suburbia, babies, and soap operas.
“Are you on that white stuff again?” I asked Mark.
“Look, let me get my act together, and I’ll come over.”
But then I felt funny about it. I called a girlfriend who was also a hooker. Marilyn talked me out of going. You’re too weak, she said, and if you do cocaine calls, you’re exposing yourself back to that old phase of drug addiction. Mark called again about ten.
“Where are you?” he pleaded.
He sounded sexy, charming. Real nice. And stoned.
“Look, I’m not coming over,” I said. “Leave me alone. I don’t need calls like this. If you call me back, I’ll call the police.”
“What did I do?” he asked.
I hung up. Mark Reeves didn’t call back—for a year.
How did I ever get into this business? That’s another question I get asked, usually between the last kiss and the cigarette. Born and raised in Cockrell Hill—which I have always called Cockroach Hill—I was a bookworm and honor student, a real egghead, until I lost interest in school, dropped out, and became a dedicated rock groupie and champion coke snorter and speed shooter.
I had done the bar scene for years, winding up every night in a different guy’s bed, waking up to find some jerk who refused to talk to me or take me home, a guy who mumbled, “Can’t you call a cab?” before rolling over and getting back to his snoring. I’d done freelance whoring since I was nineteen, working at massage parlors, taking out personal ads, seeing a sugar daddy at a Hilton hotel. I’ve done it all. But I never made enough money to think of hooking as a profession until I followed a friend’s advice: “Pick up the Yellow Pages, and look under ‘Escort Service.'” I got hired over the telephone right off the bat, without even an interview. I was sent to the Wyndham Hotel. Within half an hour, I was drinking champagne and eating shrimp cocktails with some traveling salesman in room 484. Not a bad way to make a quick $50.
A long time ago, I made up my mind: It takes money to live right and eat well. It takes a lot of jing to go to aerobics and the tanning salon every day and to Paul Neinast once a month for a $400 beauty treatment. I’ve always had expensive tastes. These days, at 31, I’m addicted to my career. Total workaholic.
I don’t have a pimp, and I don’t want to stand on the street; I prefer going where I’m invited. So, like everybody else in Dallas, I use a car. My old 1984 Subaru had 100,000 miles in four years of service. I cover the Metroplex. I’m listed in the Yellow Pages under “Escort Service,” and I have two telephones with answering machines. Ten calls an hour, 24 hours a day. Like clockwork. And that’s what turning a trick is: dealing with some nut with a problem.
Dallas men? A good definition would be “hard up for sex.” They do a lot of explaining—about their wives, their girlfriends, the women who won’t do anything except on Easter Sunday. Some of them are just hooked on paying. That was the story of the Dapper Bandit. Mark had a nice bunch of straight, normal, hardworking friends. But when it came to sex, he liked hookers. He figured, why spend all night in a bar talking to some floozy who would soak up $60 in drinks only to eventually tell him, “You don’t get none,” when he could have somebody like me panting on his doorstep in twenty minutes? It’s like calling Domino’s Pizza. Guys like Mark don’t want dates. Either they’re too shy or they feel their date won’t be nasty enough. Some of them are such closet cases with sex that they just lose it. A lot get emotional. Their mother just died or their wife just walked out. I’ve entered a lot of empty houses, just some guy sitting there in the dark with a bottle of Scotch. I’ll ask, “Where’s the furniture?” And he’ll say, “She took it all.”
Sometimes they tell me, “You must have a really neat life. It must be great making money on your back.” I go, “Uh-huh.” And then I’m off to the next call, thinking, “Is this next guy going to rob me? Is he going to be on the level? Is he a vice cop who has a good line of bull and video cameras hidden behind the blinds, trying to get me to tell him what we’re going to do before we do it, so he can flash his badge and ship me off to a $5,000-a-night suite in Lew Sterrett Justice Center (which all of the hookers call Lew’s Place)? Or is he a decoy for some goon in a gas mask, who’s going to leap from the closet, shoot me up with heroin, then sell me for $15,000 to China, where I’ll be the star of a snuff film?” I’m told that actually happened to a hooker friend of mine. Talk about a fatal attraction. Sometimes the cops will run you all the way out to Red Oak, just to jack with you, or a guy will call four hookers at once, then try to short us on the fee. Some of the girls get really P.O.’d when that happens. They’ll call pizzas and cabs on the guy all night or throw a brick through his window. But I always say, “Girls, let’s be civilized.” After all, we’re professionals.
Guys call all the time from all the major hotels and downtown office buildings: 500 Ervay, Southland Life, the Infomart (I call it the Nymphomart). Usually, it’s closing time or lunch hour on an off day. They’ll just lock the door of their office. Airline pilots are another big market sector. The Byron Nelson Golf Classic wears me out. I’ve been with dozens of Dallas Cowboys and practically every rock band that has played Reunion Arena. About a dozen preachers have said grace over me. Once a year I tiptoe through the pup tents at Boy Scout training sessions at the Flagship Inn in Arlington.
I have hundreds of regulars. Sometimes I’m glad when they can’t get me. I get burned out if I see somebody over and over. It just gets old. It’s like I’m his wife. If there’s no hassle, it’s okay. But if he’s on a weird trip or if he puts out love vibes, that’s when I cut him off. I can’t afford to fall in love. I’m a working girl, not a debutante.
I don‘t worry about AIDS. I get four tests a year, and I’m clean. But my tricks put me through mental torture about it—“Are you sure you don’t have anything? Are you sure?”—and I say, “I’m a hooker, not a killer. I practice safe sex.” I’ve made millions for the Trojan company. More than AIDS, I worry about weirdos. Nothing will protect you from them.
I‘ve done tricks in parked airplanes , limousines, $8–an–hour Harry Hines Boulevard motel rooms with porno movies on TV. I’ve done it in the back of a dump truck behind a Tom Thumb with a drunken driver who flagged me down on Fort Worth Avenue. Some guys are too cheap to get a motel room. I’ve had only one who gave me $500 when I asked for only $200. He was a dedicated husband. His wife was dying of leukemia, and he said he didn’t believe in screwing around. But he had a prostate problem, and his doctor told him.”You gotta have sex, or you’re gonna die.” He told me he was seeing me for medical reasons, and he had an extreme guilt trip about his wife.
You don’t get many like that. Most of them want to pay $60. That’s the magic word: “sixty.” Oh, fabulous, they say. Or they’ll try to talk you down further. $52.50 is the lowest I will go. I used to be the only escort service listed in the GTE Yellow Pages in Las Colinas, which brought swarms of realtors , insurance agents, and rock stars. But there are just as many traveling salesmen and truck drivers at some Best Western motel. Like the rig driver I met recently. I pulled up at 6 p.m. on a Sunday and told the guy, “I need to collect first.” He opened up his wallet and shut it. Real weird.
“I pay when I’m done,” he said.
“No, you won’t,” I answered. “I’ll leave.”
He got up off the bed, put his hand against the door. He was a real big stocky guy. And he pulled a knife from a sheath be hind his back. A Rambo knife. He stuck it to my throat.
“You’re not getting out of this room,” he said.
I was sweating, thinking, “I’ve got a real lunatic on my hands.” He told me he‘d been up on speed for days. I cased the room and saw Uzi machine guns. Sawed–off shotguns. Everything. He made me pull my clothes off and do the trick. I was shaking the whole time, kinda crying. When he got off, he fell back on the bed, dazed, real tired. Finally. he said, “Look, my kids love me. But my wife hates me,” and I ran out of the room into the motel parking lot. Buck naked.
My trick phones ring constantly. “This is Joe, Sammy, José, Doug, Bill, Johnny,” they say. “Remember me?” I’ll say no, and they get real insulted. But the names just mean nothing. Every voice sounds the same. “Hi, this is Randy, Craig, Malcolm, Bobby.”
“Who?” I’ll say.
“I can’t believe you don’t remember!”
When Mark Reeves called me again, it was August 1985. I didn‘t know it, but the Dapper Bandit had had a successful spring and summer. He later confessed to five robberies in 1985, including $17,000 from Houston’s Allied Bank in April, $67,000 from the Arlington State Bank in May, $23,000 from Dallas’ Swiss Avenue Bank, and a smaller amount from the Medallion National. But when he called me again, I didn’t know him from the thousands of other voices on the telephone.
“Do you remember me?” he asked.
He called at ten every night for two weeks before I finally went to see him. I was still working my tricks out of my parents‘ home. They were still happy about it. Better hooking than shooting. I was tricking like a madwoman, saving up to buy a house. That was my dream: to own my own home. I had my trick phone, but Mark always called on my parents‘ line. They would be watching Johnny Carson, and my dad would say, “It’s that Mark guy, and he’s drunk again.” But I was always too busy to see him. Finally I thought, “Better go see this Mark guy, get him out of the way.” On the phone he told me that I hadn’t seen him for a while. He gave me an address on Slopes Drive, and I said, “I don’t know you. I remember addresses, and I’ve never been to this one before.” He said he had moved.
“Okay, I’m coming over,” I said, thinking in the back of my head, “Watch for cops. Watch for a weirdo.”
When I got to his apartment, he had one of those security gates that you have to be ‘”buzzed” through . He buzzed me inside, and when I walked to the apartment and saw him standing on the balcony—shorts, T-shirt, Panama hat, big “Hello! How are you?”—I thought to myself, “Oh, no. This is that crazy race car driver, that cocaine addict. Why didn’t I pick up on that when he called?” My first instinct was, get out. But I was already locked inside the apartment gates. So I just thought, “Get a grip. Do the call. Do not do any drugs.”
“Are you on coke?” I yelled up to the balcony.
“No, I quit six months ago,” he said. “Now all I do is drink.”
He was smashed. We sat on the couch. I liked the apartment. It was expensive-looking. Pictures of his race car on the wall. Jacuzzi bathtub. All the modern conveniences. Mark went into this long thing about what he‘d been doing for the last year. He talked on and on about his car racing—he was a car freak! He told me about the trips he’d been taking. He was stuck on Colorado, especially Durango. He went there dozens of times. He said that was where he wanted to live. All during the conversation he kept saying, “Do you remember me? I’m the guy from the other apartment.“
How could I forget?
“I’m racing Formula Fords, and I spend most of my weekends going off racing,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I’ve wanted to see you again.“
He went on for about 45 minutes, until I finally said, “Look. Mark, we‘ve got to do the call, I’ve got other calls to do.” But he didn’t really want sex. He said, “Well, I don’t even know if I can do anything.’‘
“Well, what did you call me for?”
“Okay, okay,” he said. “Let’s go in the other room and do something. But before we do, can you stay the rest of the night?” I told him it was going to cost him. He pulled a $100 bill out from under his clock–radio. But he was real reluctant about the sex. I took him to bed, got him undressed, and afterward he passed out cold. He was just so drunk and tired. But I was getting wider and wider awake. I thought about my phones ringing and how much I needed the money. I looked at him and thought, “This guy is dead to the world.“ I felt something for him, especially when he said he’d been thinking about me for months. He was just so serious and cute and a race car driver! But I couldn’t relax. I wasn’t prepared to do an all–night call, and it‘s not good to sleep with a trick. They might steal their money back, or you might wake up naked, by yourself, not knowing if you’re in Highland Park or Haltom City.
I was ready to work. So I split, did a call at the old Mandalay Four Seasons in Las Colinas, and went home. I started feeling strange vibes about Mark wondering where I went. So I called him and said that I just had to work, that it was my life. He asked when I could see him again.
“As a client or not as a client?” I asked.
“Not as a client,” he said. “I just want to see you.”
I told him I’d see him in two days because I needed to get some work done first. I was attracted to him. But there’s little time for romance when you’re seeing forty johns a week. On the evening of the third day, I went to Mark’s apartment. We got drunk. But then we got off. I’m talking great, passionate, wild, hot sex. Incredibly handsome and romantic, Mark could have qualified for the Grand Prix in the sack. He just had charisma. He was the best I’d ever had. Mark Reeves blew my mind. After that night, I was hooked.
“Remember the first time we met, when I told you we would be in love some day?” Mark said in bed that first dynamite night. He was right: I felt the twang. I felt like I’d been hit with a magic wand. In the weeks to come my clothes accumulated in his apartment, panty by panty. I couldn’t stay away from him. My psychic of fifteen years, David Russo, had told me just before I met Mark that I’d soon be in love. I was skeptical. My girlfriends figured that after doing calls day and night for three years, I needed a change and just didn’t know it.
When Mark came along, I was ready to throw the agency away. I hardly answered my trick phone. I just hung around and watched TV with him—I hadn’t done that in years. I was real happy. I thought I had this exotic race-car-driving boyfriend. I was soaking him up like a sponge: a hooker acting like an SMU girl with this guy who looked like a North Dallas white-trash yuppie.
I even introduced Mark to my parents. One day he took me to the Filling Station, got me drunk on margaritas, and talked me into going camping. “If we don’t go pack this very minute and leave for Colorado, you’ll try and back out,” he said. I said,”Okay, let’s go to my parents’ house and get the gear,” and we drove out drunk to Cockroach Hill. My parents were sitting, as usual, in their twin La–Z–Boy recliners before a booming big-screen TV that’s too large for their living room. When we walked in, Mom‘s eyes went directly from Family Feud to Mark’s legs.
“Boy, he is good looking!” she shouted. “He‘s got great legs!”
Dad just sat there, shaking his head. “Whaddya do, son?” he asked.
Mark told him something like, “Well, I loan money at a high interest rate, and I’m a race car driver.”
I went to get the camping equipment, and Mark tried to get out of talking to my folks. He washed his car. Sat on the front porch. Anything to get out of parental conversation. But Mom still thought he was Mr. Wonderful. “Marry him!” she whispered as I was leaving. “At least he’ll get you off the streets.”
But beneath his great looks, Mark was a walking hunk of problems. He was born on March 4, 1953, in Kassel, West Germany, where his dad was in the service. His problems started when his parents divorced; he never talked about his mother, who later died, and he was estranged from his father. When Mark was four, he was shipped off to Dallas to live with his aunt, who’s just like Granny in The Beverly Hillbillies. She nicknamed him Bucky and raised him until late grade school, when he went to live with his father again. His dad was strict, military-style. He would lock Mark in his room and make him do like two thousand push–ups. Soon Mark was back with his aunt. He felt like he was being dumped all the time.
He was the captain of his high school football team, a pretty good swimmer, and an all-star car thief. He would take his aunt out for lunch in one stolen car, then in another a week later. She got wise and told him to quit. But he kept on doing it. When he finally got busted for the cars and was sitting in his attorney’s office, he said all he could think about was his aunt’s voice, a voice in his head that kept saying, “I’ve never seen a guy be so smart and act so stupid.” That really bothered him.
He went to Huntsville for a year, and he got an extra seven months because guys kept trying to mess with him. They had one dirty magazine, and they would take turns with it. That was sex: magazines or another man. So Mark would fight. And you‘re not allowed to fight in prison. You get more time. He beat one guy up pretty bad because the guy would not leave him alone. Mark didn’t slow down much when he got out. He got probation for a couple of petty thefts, constantly got speeding tickets, and walked away from two motorcycle accidents. Just another handsome Dallas hustler, trying to live life in the fast lane with no visible means of support.
He liked being alone, watching TV, drinking, cooking steaks on a grill, or telling me, “I’m gonna make some macaroni and cheese in my special way.” I would go to the Jacuzzi or swim, and when I came back, dinner would be on the table. Lust was blooming into love.
Every other weekend during racing season, Mark flew to Canada or Colorado to compete in races, returning home like a champion, raving about racing with Paul Newman or somebody. But he was all talk and few trophies. The more I got to know him, the less I liked him. He wasn‘t like a regular guy. He slept late. He drank every night. Tremendous drinking. Gallons of Crown Royal. Tequila straight out of the bottle. He even drank rum straight out of the bottle, and I’ve never seen anybody do that. Every night he’d work out at the AKA Fitness Center on Greenville Avenue, then drink a dozen beers.
We‘d spend the night together, but soon I’d wake up and say, “I really need to be working.” He would say, “Let’s go rent a boat at Lake Lavon.” He’d come up with different options. “We could ride the motorcycle, then go look at new motorcycles, then go jet skiing on Lake Lavon.” He knew how to tap me, and I’d just blow off my work.
We took trips to Hot Springs, then Durango, then Ruidoso, then Cripple Creek. Mark paid cash for everything. And we spent plenty. As much as $8,000 per trip. My motto? Let the good times roll! He kept his cash in the trunk of his Camaro IROC-Z, with personalized license plates that read, “SWIFT 1.”
“You know what’s the most stolen car in America?” he asked me on one trip. “The Camaro. It‘s the easiest to hot–wire.“
Later, the papers said Mark had stolen Camaros to do his bank jobs. But at the beginning of our affair, I didn’t care who he was or where be came from. Love conquers all. After several months I moved into his apartment. I said, “Look, we’re together all the time. I just need to bring some stuff over here and move in or something.”
And he said, “Move in! Move in!” We made this deal: We would live together for a month, see how it went. He signed a contract I wrote, in which he agreed to give me about $20,000 a year for my personal expenses while we were together. In return, I agreed to forget about my trick phones for a while. When I moved in, I said, “I’m going to have to have some money to go to the hairdresser and blah, blah, blah.” He gave me $2,000. You caught me completely off guard,” he said. “I hadn’t planned to have a girlfriend; I’d planned to stay alone. And now my life is going through this big change because I’m going to get married!“
“Why do you love me?“ I asked Mark one day. “Because we’re equals,“ he said. You’re the best at what you do, and I’m the best at what I do.” I assumed be was talking about racing.
He kept bringing up marriage. He had this dream of us moving to Colorado, having a baby, and buying a llama farm. There’s big money in ostriches and llamas, he said, because you can sell the ostrich skins for cowboy boots and the llamas as pets. He kept telling me that I was so smart and that all the other girls he was seeing were so stupid. He was a chick magnet. He had to beat them off at the pool. It was that race car image.
After exactly fourteen days of live-in monogamy, I got drunk, moved out, and started tricking again. Why? Because Mark wasn’t living up to his contract. Yeah, he had given me the $2,000. But besides that, I wasn’t getting a dime. And my motto’s like the old blues song—”If I Can’t Sell It, I’ll Keep Sittin‘ on It.” Mark soon got disgusted with my career, telling me that I was in a sleazy profession and that I was going to die. One night I had just returned from Reunion Arena, and I had this big rug burn on my back from this monster monkey musician. Mark wanted me to quit, but he wouldn’t offer me a better deal. I said, “The man who gets me out of this is going to offer me a better way.“
But I guess I still loved him. Because the day after I moved out, we were back into daily dating. I dragged my clothes back and forth from my parents house to Mark’s apartment, sometimes crashing at his place for several days at a time. While I was tricking during the day, Mark worked out at the health club. By four in the afternoon, I would call him up, and we’d meet at his apartment and start drinking and watching TV. He watched TV constantly: The Andy Griffith Show, Leave It to Beaver, The Munsters, The Real McCoys. He would quote things about Aunt Bee and her pickles or Goober trying to get a date, telling me how he thought those things related to life. But his favorites were Miami Vice and, most of all, Tom Selleck in Magnum, P.I. He loved Magnum. He dressed Like him, and he acted like him. Hawaiian shirts, cut-offs, guns, and fancy cars. Going to gun shows and coming home with two or three Uzis for sport shooting.
Once every two weeks I’d explode, telling him that he was a jerk, that he was keeping me from working, that he was a professional time–waster, that I really liked him a lot but he was nothing but a stud. Our early problems centered on the racing. I was under the impression that he was a professional race car driver. So I thought it odd when he took me with him to meet with a banker on the $40,000 loan he’d taken out for his race car. That was when I started wondering about his financial stability. Mysteriously, money would appear for trips, for dinner, for fun. But you wonder about a guy who says he‘s a professional racer, then comes home from the Dallas Public Library with a copy of something like How to Get a Race Car Sponsor under his arm. He later told the cops that he hung around the library, studying everything from FDIC bank directories and getaway routes in the Mapsco to really heavy books like The Anarchist Cookbook, learning how to make bombs. It turns out that twice in 1988 he hid bombs in banks, planning to demand cash before telling where the bombs were. But both the bombs and the extortions fizzled.
I got wise to his real racing situation when I heard him on the phone one day, asking, “How much is the car gonna cost to be fixed this time?” When he hung up, he said, “God, this is costing me a fortune.”
“I thought that you got paid!” I said, freaking a little.
“Well, I put some money in it,” he said. “How much is this gonna cost?”
“Twelve thousand,” he said. “The car needs a new nose and a new fender.”
I went wild. “You’re spending this kind of money to go racing?” The first year we were together, he had a bad year racing, a horrible year. Plus I was screaming about all the money. I was just throwing fits. Finally I flipped out. I told Mark I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t like sitting around getting drunk every night and not making any money. I said, “Look, either make some money and get me off the street or I’ll show your aunt my escort service ads.” He’d flare his nostrils and start making excuses. “Being involved with you makes it hard for me to work,” he said.
What work? I couldn’t figure out what he did. My psychic told me that Mark’s business was covered in blackness, that he would never reveal his occupation to me, and that he was trouble with a capital T. Just like all men, I figured. Mark and I would have these question-and-answer sessions about his mysterious career, which quickly escalated into knock-down-drag-outs if I didn’t drop the subject.
“Is what you do illegal?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
“Well, if it’s not illegal, why can’t you tell me?”
“I just can’t tell you. I have to be real careful with you because you’re so smart. You’d pick up any clues or evidence I might leave around. You make my life a challenge. All I can say is that when I was twenty–five, I was a construction worker eating off a catering truck, and I came up with a plan and it worked.”
“When do you work?”
“When they call me. I have a boss, and there’s other people involved. The people I work with are guys I would never be seen with outside of work, even in a 7-Eleven. I’m talking thugs!”
“Are you Mafia or CIA? You must be in some secret organization, where you can’t tell anybody. Or are you the Atlanta child murderer?”
”Look, I work, and I have no problem with my job.”
“You must have a problem since you can’t tell anybody what you do.”
“It’s not me with the job problem. It’s you! How can you go from man to man, doing whatever they tell you, degrading yourself with all of these people?”
We went on like that at least once a week. I’d go, “You don’t seem to be working very much. You need to work!” And he’d go, “Yeah, but this thing that I’m doing, it’s just harder and harder to do now that I’ve got you around, and it could affect you if something happened to me.” And I’d say, “Whaddya mean, it could affect me? Am I gonna get shot?”
“No, no, no. You could be affected if something happens to me. You’d be alone and in love.”
One night, while watching Magnum, Mark turned to me and said, “I can’t tell you what I do for a living, but I will tell you this much: If I ever get caught, it’ll be front–page news. Headlines. I’ll be a legend. Like Clint Eastwood. I’m an outlaw, a real outlaw.”
When he left the room, I called one of my girlfriends.
“This guy is retarded,” I said. “He’s walking around acting like Clint Eastwood. Totally living in a dream world.“
When I told my tricks about my mystery man, they’d guess that he was a “mule” for a drug runner. Or a hit man for the Mafia, getting a call and flying across the country to blow somebody’s brains out. A wise guy. But to me, he seemed like just another lunatic, messing with my mind. I remember returning from a trip with him early in our relationship. Mark sat down to count his money. When he was finished, he looked up and said, “Oh, my God, we’ve overspent!”
“Overspent!” I screamed. “I didn’t think we were on any certain travel budget.”
Mark said he had to go to work. This was maybe October 1985. We’d been together for a little over two months.
The next day we went to lunch at the Vickery Feed Store. “I‘ve got a favor to ask you,” he said. “I need to borrow two thousand for a week. The race car just cost more than I thought, and with all the trips, I’m broke. Think about loaning me the money, and I’ll give you my Rolex. If something happens to me, you’ll have the watch, and it’s worth fourteen thousand.” He loved his Rolex. That was his main piece of clothing. He said it was the best one he‘d ever seen. It was a pretty watch, with a blue lapis face. One night he thought he lost it in his apartment, and he became suicidal. Crying. Mumbling. “I’m a worm without that watch. That watch signified my arrival as an important person.” That night he cried that he thought he was functionally insane, somebody who could get up and go to McDonald’s and the library, then come home and barbecue steaks like every other joker, but who‘s really crazy.
“I don’t think you’re crazy, but I do think you’ve got two monkeys on your back—your job and your race car,” I said. When I told Mark I didn’t have the money to loan him, that the $20,000 I had when I met him was down to $5,000 and that was my “bust” money for attorney’s fees, he was flustered, depressed, flushed. I didn’t like the way be looked when he was broke. I went home and told my father that Mark wanted me to loan him money. Dad’s opinion or him went down to zero after that. But Mother still loved Mark and constantly begged me to marry him and move to Colorado.
Many months passed. Mark said he was going to work. But first we had to take one more trip to Ruidoso. We camped out on some mountain, staying four days. He seemed real quiet and clammy, drinking all night, riding rented Jeeps all day.
“You act real weird,” I said finally.
“What I have to do when I get home is just hard,” he said. “I’ll be okay once it’s over.”
When we got back to Dallas, he dropped me off at my parents’ house and said he’d see me when he finished working. A week later he called. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“I just got through turning a trick. How did everything go?”
“Oh, it went great,” he said. “Every thing went down just like it was planned. C’mon over!”
When I got to his apartment, I found a different Mark Reeves. He was naked, with open porno magazines all around him. Very weird. Scratching himself on his head, his arms, everywhere, with a big hairbrush like he bad lice. I looked at him and said, “What the hell’s wrong with you? I’m gonna go work.”
“I’ll get rid of all this,” he said, grinning. “I know I’m kind of a mess.”
He led me to the kitchen counter, where there were two shoe boxes filled with neatly stacked cash. He later confessed to the cops that he had bagged $50,000 from the Republic Bank in San Antonio on February 10, 1986. All I remember is a big wad of cash sitting on his kitchen counter after we got back from Ruidoso.
“On this job, I made over forty thousand dollars,” he said proudly. “I did real good. No problems. I handled everything like a piece of cake.”
He was in such a weird state. Scratching his head, touching himself. I just shook my head and said, “Look, maybe I better leave and come back later.”
“You’re right. I’m still a mess from what I did,” he said.”I’m still kind of shaky. I’ll get it together.”
A couple of hours later he was back to his normal schedule: drink, cook, eat, screw, pass out. That was our routine. After a few days he was ready for another trip.
“What I did was so horrible, so traumatic, so dangerous, that I need a month’s vacation before I even think about working again,” he said. “Let’s go to Durango!”
Mark would cry sometimes, telling me, “I can’t quit my work because I’ll only get a four-dollar–an–hour job. That’s all I’m qualified for.”
I’d go, “Oooh, that does sound bad.”
“You won’t hang around me. You have to have somebody with money around you, with all the things you like.”
“Damn straight there, buddy,” I said. “That four-dollar-an-hour job’s not going to work out very well with me. And you need to get out of debt.”
Soon he returned to a familiar subject: shooting himself. He always told me that he carried a gun and that he’d shoot himself if things ever turned out badly at work.
“Shoot yourself?” I screamed. “Oh, my God! What do you mean, shoot yourself? Here I am, in love with you, and you’re talking suicide! It sounds like whatever you’re doing, you’d get a thousand-year prison term or the electric chair.”
“Nah.” he said. “It’s not that bad. I just don’t want to spend another day in prison. Not one more day.”
Then I shifted the subject back to money, my favorite nag topic. “You‘re a genius at making money, but you don’t have a clue of what to do with it! You’re blowing it, and you’re throwing me out the window too.” I was sick of watching him throw away thousands on lottery tickets, hundreds a week on Crown Royal, $70,000 or more a year on racing. And investing in the stock market! Sometimes he would go down to Charles Schwab and throw his money at those maniacs.
But the racing was the worst. Finally, I demanded. “Quit racing!” I told him that if he quit, we could take more trips. That’s how I got him to stop.
Eventually he consented. He had been racing for seven years. He traded his race car for a red Porsche 911, then sold that for $30,000. With the money from the car and some other cash he had on hand, I had him buy his rented furniture, pay his bills, pay off his bank loan. For once, things were looking up. But then he turned into a trip-aholic! He went from one addiction to another. We were like an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. New Orleans for lunch. Entire months in Colorado, looking at houses, dreaming of moving, hitting sixteen ski resorts on one vacation. Camping in the Ozarks. We were rental freaks: acrobatic airplanes, bikes, jet skis, helicopters and $300 per hour airplanes, gazing down on the elk in the Rockies. Fourteen or fifteen trips in a row. All he wanted to do was travel.
I got sick of the trips. I was going broke. I would get home from another vacation, pay my bills, and I was down to almost nothing. Being a hooker is not cheap, after all. My ad in the Yellow Pages is $3,000 a year. When people ask me if I have a pimp, I say, “Yeah. Southwestern Bell.” And state comptroller Bob Bullock. I pay sales tax on every call I make. Then there’s the rent on my office—a desk in a Mexican mechanic’s shop with a telephone that I forward to my trick phones at home—since you have to have a business address to get an escort-service listing. My business was going down the toilet, and Mark was showing me everything in the world except that he could take care of me. My dad asked me, “How can you keep on living like this?”
I flipped out on a camping trip in the summer of 1986. I got drunk and realized that I was wasting my life on this mysterious schmuck. Reality hit. I pounced on him, beating him up, breaking his glasses, calling him a “worthless lowlife.” I was a screaming banshee bitch. I threw all the wienies and marshmallows in the fire. Then I grabbed the hatchet, slashing everything—the tent, the ice chest, the air mattress Mark was trying to sleep on. I staggered off into the woods, got lost, and eventually had to call the cops from a gas station to take me back to the campsite. When we got there, they made me give them Mark’s I.D. They did a big search on it and told me that although they couldn‘t prove anything, I’d best stay away from Mark Reeves.
When we got home, I told Mark he’d better get serious about earning a regular living. “What do you want to do with your life?” I asked him. He sat for a long time and thought about it.
“A stockbroker,” he said. “I think I can predict the stock market.“
“Well, go for it!” I said, thinking anything would be an improvement over whatever he was doing in his present career. He later confessed to three bank jobs during the summer of 1986: two in Fort Worth and one in San Antonio.
After our first year together, Mark still wanted to get married. Sometimes so did I. Twice I got him in front of the courthouse. But I wouldn’t go in. I’d been married before, to a guy named Mike Brock, whom everybody called Mikey Vee. He was a day laborer and the lead singer for a punk band called the Vomit Pigs. The minute I got him across the threshold, he changed, saying, “I’m gonna quit my job and lay around and do drugs. That‘s the way it’s gonna be. Tough cookies.” He wanted to buy dope with our $1,000 of wedding-gift money. I kicked him out. The marriage lasted two days. A year later, just after he went to sign the divorce papers, Mikey dropped dead from a drug overdose.
The thought of marriage does crazy things to people. So when Mark met me in front of John Neely Bryan‘s cabin, all ready for matrimony, I looked at him and had bad vibes. “He can’t take care of you,” I thought. “You don’t know what he does for a living. This is gonna be another Mikey Vee.” A two–day marriage ending in divorce and death.
“C’mon, get in the car,” I said. ” Let’s go have a drink first.”
“I can’t let you go, or I’ll never have you,” Mark said when I told him I wanted more time. But then we went to the Stoneleigh P, had lunch, and spent the day getting drunk, forgetting all about the wedding. I just felt like I deserved better than this guy who said, “Honey, I’m going off to work, and I may not come back. There’s a will in the mailbox, and you’re in it.” What made me even look at him as a possible husband I’ll never know. Everything I wanted, he didn’t want. He didn’t want to save any money. He didn’t want a home. He kept saying, “I’m going to be the one who takes care of you. I just can’t do it today.” Someday, someday, someday—that’s the mantra of Dallas men.
By now it was November 1986. I’d been tricking hard and had finally bought my dream house, a nice stone gingerbread in Oak Cliff. But instead of moving in, I had leased it out. My girlfriend Marilyn told me the best way to get rid of Mark was to move into my house, which Mark hated. So I left the nut on Slopes Drive for good.
Alone at night in my new house, I’d have nightmares about Mark’s work, seeing him as a cat burglar or a maniac blowing up houses. I’d wake up scared, sweating. Mark had switched roles on me. I had become the trick, the love slave. So one day that November, I decided to reverse the roles to their proper place. When Mark called, I told him, “Look, I’m not taking any more trips. If you want to see me, the price will be a thousand a day.”
“I can’t pay a thousand,” he said, flustered but not shocked. “How about five hundred?”
I’d take the $500 and time him—24 hours. No more. Everything worked out pretty well. We’d shoot guns at the Yello Belly Drag Strip rifle range or fly kites or do a hot–air balloon ride or go to the Dallas Zoo. Lots of day trips. One day a guard caught us screwing in the dinosaur tracks in Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose. I guess I still cared for him because I started getting really P.O.’d that he would pay the $500 only once a week. It bothered me that be could go so long without seeing me. He’d make me jealous, telling me about all the other women he was seeing while we were apart.
But when he called again, I cut him off for good. The next week, he showed up at my front door at six in the morning, carrying flowers and candy and $500 in cash and wearing a three–piece suit. It was the only time I’d ever seen him in a suit, which he apparently reserved for his bank jobs. I came to the door screaming, being a bitch, which was my technique for cutting him off.
“You weren’t invited over here! You’re just jacking with me again! You just want another five-hundred-dollar date, and then you’ll leave me beat up emotionally! You’ll never get serious! You‘re just wasting my time! Leave me alone! I hate you! You’re a lousy lay!”
He started sobbing. Just bawling.
I threw the flowers on the ground, broke the vase, stomped on the Godiva chocolates, then slammed the door in his face. After he’d gone, I took the broken roses, the chocolates, and the $500 and sent it back to him by Federal Express, deducting the shipping charges. He called constantly for the next few weeks, begging me to go traveling. “Please go with me to Yamafest!” Or, “Come to Daytona with me.”
Eventually, in December 1986, I agreed to go with him to Hells Gate in Colorado for old time’s sake. We argued the entire time. The biggest problem? He didn’t seem interested in me sexually. Whenever that happens, I know the party’s over. In a motel room, over an open bottle of Crown Royal, I told him, “My New Year’s resolution for 1987 is to stay away from Mark Ervin Reeves.”
The last time I talked to Mark was in August 1987, nine months before he was arrested. I was in the middle of talking to a trick on the telephone. It was five in the afternoon, happy hour, when the phones ring every two seconds, and a dozen girls can’t handle all the prospective clients. Then Mark’s voice came over the receiver, using the pet name he had for me.
I’m like still sick of the guy, embarrassed that he wasted all my time. I said, “Whaddya need? I told you never to call me.”
“Look, you just have to talk to me for a few minutes, Gloria. I decided I’m gonna kill myself.”
“Kill yourself?” I said, hearing the same talk he blabbered when he lost his Rolex or when I wouldn’t move with him to Colorado. “Why kill yourself?”
“Because you won’t have anything to do with me. Because you won’t date me anymore.”
“Damn right, I won’t date you any more,” I said. “You’re not offering any security for me. And now I’ve got to do millions of tricks, do hard labor, just to get back the money I lost after wasting all that time with you. How are you going to kill yourself?”
“I’m going to shoot myself.”
“Do you have a loaded gun? You do? Well, take the telephone into the bathroom, pull the shower curtain shut, and blow your brains out. I’ll listen.”
He was crying, mumbling, “I think I’ll just go out and work until I get caught. You won’t see me anymore. I have absolutely nothing to live for.”
“You need to be working anyway,” I said. Apparently he took my advice. After we broke up in January 1987, he hit six more banks in Dallas and Arlington in 1987 and 1988.
On May 4, 1988, I was watering the pansies and marigolds in my front yard when Mother called. A couple of months before, she had told me that she thought Mark was the Dapper Bandit. I just laughed at her. “Good grief, Mother,” I said. “Mark couldn’t rob a bank. He can hardly get his next beer open.”
This time Mother said,“You‘re not going to believe this. They caught the guy they think is the Dapper Bandit. The police surrounded his stalled El Camino after he robbed a Bright Banc in North Dallas. I don’t think it’s Mark, after all. But the strangest thing happened. When they caught him, he pulled a pistol and shot himself in the head. But he‘s still alive.”
“He shot himself in the head?” I screamed. “Mother, that is Mark! He told me that’s what he would do if he ever got caught.” I turned on the TV. The story of the Dapper Bandit led the local news. Big time. By the ten o’clock broadcast, they had identified him as Mark. I was talking on the telephone like a chatterbox. “That guy I was dating with the El Camino and the Camaro, remember? He’s the Dapper Bandit!” It was like discovering Jesse James in your bathroom. The most celebrated bank robber in modern times. I kept thinking about what one newspaper article said: “The Dapper Bandit is what legends are made of.”
I think about Mark all the time, whenever I pass a bank or ride by his old place on Park Lane. He lived like an outlaw who thinks, “If you get caught, you blow your head off.“ That’s what he tried to do, but he screwed up, ending up in a wheelchair instead of an outlaw’s grave. He confessed to robbing 7 of his career–total of 25 banks during the year and a half we were together, from September 1985 to January 1987. Now he’s doing 22 years without parole; he is recuperating in the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. His fine was $1.7 million and $750,000 in restitution. Talk about a financial problem. But I gotta hand it to the guy: he went out like Clyde Barrow. His only words in public? “I’m sorry for all this.”
Of course, he spilled his whole story to the police. A friend got his confession and told me what it said. Mark told them that he had stolen at least fifty cars from auto dealerships across Texas, using two getaway cars per robbery. He cased out each job by buying a money order at the bank a day or two before the heist, he said, and he hit only banks insured by the FDIC, so the depositors wouldn’t get hurt. “The idea of working at a job for the rest of my life did not appeal to me,” he said in his confession. “I decided I could finance my lifestyle by robbing banks.” He added, “I have no stolen bank money left. I spent all of the money on my living expenses.” At least that part sounded familiar.
After he shot himself, he had a series of strokes while he was in the hospital. Now he’s partially paralyzed, although he was able to spill his whole story to the cops. I thought about going to see him. But let’s face it: My career severely inhibits my appearances around the authorities. I loved the guy, but what was I going to do—walk in and say, “Hi, honey. You know I’ll be true until you get out”?
Somebody once told me that when you have sex with somebody, you spiritually bond with them and it takes seven years for you to get them out of your system. I guess it will take me an ice age to get over all of my lovers. Sometimes I think I’m still in love with Mark. But then the phone will ring, and I’ll be off on another call, another trick, another crazy guy with a problem.