“What do you do for work?” Lorna asks. We’re driving back to Manly after scoring smack in Parramatta. I’ve no idea where we are now. We’ve been driving for around fifteen minutes. There’s bad traffic. I wonder if there’s been an accident. It can’t be rush hour at nearly nine at night.
“I’m a hooker.” I twist a strand of my hair around my forefinger.
“No, really. What do you do for work?”
“Really.” I look at her. “I’m a hooker. A call girl in London.”
“I would never have thought it.” Lorna keeps her focus on the road. “I used to work in a brothel. That’s the lower end though, isn’t it? Not a call girl.”
“It’s all the same, just better money,” I say. “I started streetwalking at fifteen. I had to get away from my pimp so I got into escorts. Then a while after that, when I was seventeen or eighteen, I started working for madams. It’s all a blur now.”
“I know what you mean. Not exactly the things in life you want to remember.”
I enjoy being stuck in the Dolomite for a while. I stop feeling frustrated at the traffic that’s holding us up. My hit is being delayed but I might have found someone in Sydney who could be a proper friend. I’m missing Shelley so much. She couldn’t be replaced. But to have someone to really talk to here, talk to honestly, would be a godsend. The closest I have is my therapist in London, Dr Fielding, over the phone, but she can’t understand like another working girl can.
We’re talking about our experiences of working when we get near to the sight. I know I shouldn’t look because it’ll upset me. Things like that always do. But I look. I can’t not. It’s on our side of the road, a bit further up. Ambulances, paramedics, police cars and police officers are at the scene. Bodies are lying on the grass verge at the side of the road. There’s at least two children – the bodies are small. The others, I can’t tell if they’re men or women. There must be about ten bodies in total. There’s blood on the road mixed in with broken glass. Parts from the cars are strewn across the carriageway – a twisted bumper and some other black, plastic objects that I don’t know the names for. Getting closer, a policeman is diverting the traffic in our lane to the lane on the other side.
“God bless them,” I say as we drive past. I shouldn’t have stared. The image is burned into my mind. Whether my eyes are open or closed, it’s what I see. A bright-red saloon car on its side, a bottle-green hatchback smashed into the back of it and a white four-by-four behind that. The green hatchback is tiny, squashed in the middle of the red and white cars. The people in that car must have died.
Lorna parks the Dolomite down the road from my hotel. As we walk from the car to the Radisson, I pray I don’t have another flashback if we end up having sex tonight. I’ve decided that if I do, I’m going to be honest about it and tell her what’s happening. Because Dr Fielding told me, I know that most working girls have been abused as children. So the chances are that Lorna will understand. Maybe she has flashbacks too. I wonder if she wants to stop using gear. Perhaps I’ll ask her about that. We could help each other. We could be good friends. I need a good friend here.
I see past Lorna’s defects. I have the same – the blemished skin, the proof I’ve been shooting up written all over my arms, the lank hair, the dead eyes and the skinniness. It’s all surface stuff, external. Inside, she’s a good person. I can tell.