The lives of pimps, hustlers and other “deviant” denizens crisscross and eventually intersect on the mean streets of Washington, D.C.
Jonathan Seede, reporter for the Washington Herald, wakes up one morning to find his wife and infant son have fled, perhaps because for him fatherhood has never been a high priority. To a friend he rants about his wife’s expectations that he be supportive: “ What about my needs, you know what I’m saying?...There’s no me anymore. I have ceased to exist in my own house.” Seede tries to find meaning by getting down and dirty in the drug culture of D.C. His work on a freelance piece brings him in contact with the inhabitants of the Fourteenth Street Strip. These include the Pope of Pot, who is as intellectually brilliant as he is socially maladapted (he passes out joints to those waiting in line to tour the White House); prostitutes with names like China Doll, Razor Sally and Titty Bitty; a gay social activist; a gorgeous teenage runaway (a “Korean-Lithuanian-African-American-French-Native Indian Jew with no mother”); an eccentric billionaire preoccupied with philosophical answers only a Mayan crystal skull can provide; and a cop who, refreshingly, is not cynical. Seede eventually gets rather too close to his work and begins freebasing cocaine, so you might say that his objectivity as a reporter becomes compromised. Just when he’s strung out to the max, his wife and kid reappear, and he tries to justify his behavior by claiming how “prohibition and sublimation are detrimental to a healthy life. How, if you don’t satisfy your needs…you end up with big problems.”
Sager (Revenge of the Donut Boys, 2007, etc.) bounces readers from one subnarrative to another, and his attempt to wring a happy ending from these materials ultimately strikes a false note.