Mary arrives early for her one o'clock, a promising sign since half of Chris Butler's prospective job applicants never show. He ushers the 26-year-old into the room. Everything about her is larger-than-life beautiful. The wide, blush-brushed cheekbones. The pillowy lips. The long, toned legs that carry her to the wooden conference table, where she nervously exchanges greetings with the two attractive older women already seated. They're sympathetic. They were in her shoes not long ago.
The applicant shrugs out of her stylish leather coat and reaches down to smooth the pleated black miniskirt ruffling against her bare thighs. The neckline of her striped top dives through her cleavage. She must be six feet tall in the heels. Mary sits. "Can you tell me why you were looking in the TV and Film section of Craigslist?" Butler asks in a friendly tone.
"I've been working in corporate recruiting for a Fortune 500 company since college," Mary explains. "I quit a week ago today, actually. I've been exploring new options." Butler nods. He's heard all sorts of replies. After describing the basics of the job, he throws a few curveballs.
"Do you drink?"
She purses her lips. "I do," she replies carefully, unsure of the right answer.
"I ask you this because men will be buying you drinks, so it's important for me to know how you handle yourself around alcohol," Butler says. He recounts a tale of near-disastrous on-the-job inebriation.
Mary laughs. "I have a high tolerance," she says.
If she didn't drink, one of the women interjects, that'd be okay, too. They'd work around it.
"How would you handle a guy whose attention you didn't want?" Butler asks. Mary considers this. "I'd make it clear that I'm not interested, probably just through my body language," she says. "I'm a pretty big person, so I'm not easily intimidated."
"Good." Butler bobs his head. "I see that you're married?" A diamond glints on Mary's left ring finger.
"Yes, for two years now."
Had she discussed the job with her husband?
"Yes, and he's fine with it. My husband and I don't have a jealous bone in our bodies," she says.
Butler asks for her résumé. The document is impressive. She'd long worked for the Fortune 500 company, had attended a well-known Midwestern university. "Conversational French," Butler recites. "Are you fluent?" She isn't.
"How about speaking English with a French accent?" Nope.
"I think you're a good fit for us," Butler concludes after a few more questions. Mary beams.
"I think so, too," says one of the women. "I'd want to work with you. That's what's so great about this job we all work together. Chris and us girls really watch out for one another, support one another."
Butler pulls out a camera and snaps two photos of Mary for the book he shows to clients. After she leaves, he's pumped. Mary had the look, he says, and seemed remarkably bright. His colleagues concur. "That's why I ask them to bring résumés," he explains. "I want to know what they've got in their educational backgrounds. Say they speak a language well, that's a great twist."
It turns out Butler had asked Mary to dress in nightclub garb. "We want to see what she'd look like on a sting," he explains.
And that's that. Chris Butler, private investigator, has gained another freelance employee. He may never use her as a decoy on a case. Then again, the very next client who requests a sting operation may decide she's the ideal bait to snare her cheating husband.
The perfect honeytrapper.