Midnight Jazz

Here’s an excerpt from my story, Operation Midnight Jazz. With this story, I got to fulfill many of my obsessions and touch on some bizarre facts and have a kinky love story. It’s set after the closure of a San Francisco Brothel that was operated in the 1960’s for the purpose of testing LSD on non-consenting sex work customers. Sex workers would dose clients with LSD, and question them while the process was recorded by CIA agents. The leader of the operation allegedly drank martinis on a toilet while watching the proceedings.

Operation Midnight Jazz is about a military police officer with latent psychic abilities who is recruited to track a serial killer spawned from the LSD experiment.

I’ve wanted to feature Operation Midnight Climax in a story for a few decades now. I was blocked with it, because the people running the operation were all terrible.


San Francisco, Monday, August 15, 1968

“Can you go to the store for me, baby? We out of eggs and I need a pack of Winstons.” She tried to hand me money, but I stopped her. I hugged her again and hit the street. The store was uphill from here so I leaned into it.

A black Ford Galaxie cruised up real slow and matched pace with me. It was two white dudes in suits in front. A third in back I couldn’t see. The back window came down and redhead man in his thirties leaned out.

“This is a pretty steep hill. Do you want a ride?”

“No sir, officer. I’ll just be on my way.”

I walked faster. In a car like that, and wearing suits, they were likely cops, gangsters, or perverts.

“Staff Sergeant Joe Morgan,” said the redhead, “Can you spare some time for your country?”

Fucking Feds. I stopped, and so did the car. It was that redhead cat from the club. I remembered him from Vietnam, but I couldn’t quite remember where I crossed his path.

“Uncle Sam wants a word with you. Get in.”

If the feds want me, they can find me anywhere. I might as well get in. As I shut the door behind me, I regretted it immediately. The redhead was putting out bad vibrations.


They brought me to a small house. One of the suits, a man with black hair, actually brought me coffee and an ashtray. I had a cigarette while I sat on the couch. The redhead had a bunch of files that he placed on the coffee table.

“You can call me McCurdy, Mr. Morgan.” He said with a cold, empty smile.

“What can I do for you?” I asked, hoping to get to the point.

“The United States government has need of your talents.”

“I played piano at the NCO club a couple times. Y’all having event?” 

The third suit, a blonde man, almost laughed and walked away shaking his head.

McCurdy paused and let the gravity return to the situation. He was about to say something heavy.

“You had a nickname when you served in the Air Police. What did they call you?”

“They called me Bloodhound.”

“Because you can find anyone you’re looking for?” He asked.

“Well, I’m not perfect. I was pretty good at it.”

“Why didn’t you re-enlist? If you stayed, you were going to be Master Sergeant.”

“I just wanted to get back to playing piano. I served my country. Can I go now, or am I under arrest?”

“Just another moment of your time please Mr. Morgan.”

McCurdy took four photographs from his file and laid them out. Each was a graphic, black and white monstrosity. Four young women gutted. With my hangover, my stomach quickly turned.

“Have you heard of the Tarot Killer?” Asked McCurdy.

“Yeah, I heard about him on the radio today.” I said.

“We could use your talents to help locate him. We could put and end to this sicko’s murder spree.”

“Respectfully, no thank you. You said I wasn’t under arrest?”

“You’re not.” 

I got up and backed out of the room quickly. I beat feet and ran to the store. I picked up some extra groceries and my Aunt’s Winstons. I opened the pack and smoked one. She couldn’t blame me. I bought the pack.

San Francisco, Thursday, August 18, 1969

A few days later, I had a gig at the Boom Boom Room on Fillmore. If the government wanted to get me, they could find me. For now, I was playing piano. I was drinking to soothe my headache and smoking so the drink didn’t slow me down. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Michelle in a blue dress, getting a Tom Collins.

I wasn’t sure I was ready to see her. She was great in bed, but she drugged me. Somehow, she was part of all this trouble. I focused on my playing. I would finish up and get the hell out of here.

When my set ended, I grabbed my tips and went straight for the promotor. I just wanted to get paid and beat feet. Michelle intercepted me, standing in my path.

“Can I get you a drink Joe?” She asked. “I just want to talk a little.”

“Fine,” I said, “But I’m not doing drugs with you. I’ll get the drinks and meet you in a booth right there.” I pointed to a booth in a less crowded area.

“Sure,” she said, “Just don’t ditch me.”

I joined her with a Tom Collins and a whiskey and Coke for myself.

“I’ve got a car out back,” she said, “I want you to come with me.”

“Yeah, I’m not going back to that brothel. That place is weird. What kind of place has every room full and doesn’t charge anybody?”

“We can go somewhere else.” She said. She was a little desperate.

“What if I don’t.”

“Look. You walked away before, so now it’s my job to get you back.”

“So you work for that red-haired devil. This a honey pot trap!”

“Please come with me, Joe. People are dying and we can really use your help.” 

I touched her hand and I could sense her fear. I think she was afraid not only of the Tarot Killer, but what would happen if I didn’t leave with her.

“You’re saying I can really help stop the Tarot Killer from killing again?”

“Yes,” she said. “I promise you can use your talent to help stop the Tarot Killer.”

“Fine,” I said. “Let’s get going.”

She didn’t take me to the place on Chestnut, but I’d been to the house she drove me to. McCurdy took me here when he grabbed me off the street. I was worried about being harassed by the redhead and his two goons, but Michelle calmed me, holding my hand and looking into my eyes. I followed her to the dark house, and she let us in with a key. As we sat on the couch, I remembered the disturbing photos of murdered women on this same coffee table.

“So when are we going to get this killer?” I asked, impatiently.

“Tomorrow, we will begin training.”

“I have training,” I said, “I know how to find people.”

“This is more focused. Extensive,” she said.

“What happens tonight?” I asked.

“Whatever we want.” Michelle said, stretching and putting her stocking feet in my lap.

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