Sitting at this dining table with four men, knowing there’s a chance that one of them fucked me last night, is filling me with rage. If the hit I just injected was stronger, I might not feel as bad. The rage is cooking with the dirty feeling inside my body, under my skin, on my skin, in my blood. I’m a forgotten kettle on a stove that’s been left to boil over. I want to scream. I want to ask if it was one of them. But what’s the point? If the man responsible is here, he’s not going to admit it. Then there are the others who stayed here last night and who’ve since left. I want to know the truth. But it doesn’t seem likely I will.
“How long are you here for, Nicole?” Stix’s mum asks. She’s the only other female at the table. Her pink dress looks like a negligee.
“She doesn’t know. She’s got an open ticket,” says crusty-lip man. I don’t even know his name. How does he know that about me? He lowers his face towards his plate and tucks his long, greasy hair behind his ears.
“And you’re from London?” Stix’s mum says.
“Yes,” I say, chopping a slice of turkey.
The sun is streaming through the window opposite me. I squint, staring down at my plate. I cut tiny chunks of turkey and build a pile behind the roast potatoes. I’m trying to make what I’m going to leave look less than what it is. As a heroin addict, I don’t eat often. Eating straight after a hit is unheard of for me.
I eat three to four peas at a time. Peas aren’t too bad. They’re the petite pois type. They’re overcooked. I’m squashing them on the roof of my mouth with my tongue. That makes them turn to mush. They go down quite easily like that. The pork and the stodgy potatoes are more likely to come back up.
Mickey looks at me across the table. He’s sitting diagonal to me. “Do you need dropping back somewhere?”
I swallow the pea-mush in my mouth. “I’m still at the Radisson.” Back to your house, I’d say if I had the confidence. I remember the other day when I saw him outside my hotel. I’d hoped after that night we’d hook up. But he never showed at the beach the next day.
“I’ll take her,” says the other man I don’t know. He has a thin face, a pointy nose and his eyes are too close together. Never trust a man whose eyes are too close together. Or is that whose eyes are too far apart? I don’t know. I know I don’t want him to take me though. I don’t want to get in a car with a man who might have fucked me while I was out of it. Adrenalin is pumping through my body. He might try it again.
“I’m going that way, mate. She can hop in with me,” Mickey says. Then he looks at me. “If that’s all right with you?”
“Thank you. I’d appreciate that.” More than you know, Mickey, because you’re the only man I’m nearly sure didn’t fuck me last night.
Christmas dinner goes slowly. It’s obvious I’ve hardly touched my food. Stix has left much of his meal too. I don’t feel so bad. I’m not the only one.
When we’re finished eating, me and the blokes return to the lounge. I want to leave, but I need to make sure I get Stix’s phone number before I do. Somehow, I need to get him on his own. If Lorna won’t score for me anymore, Stix is the only connection I have in Sydney. I don’t want to ask for his number in front of the others, especially Mickey as he’s recently off the smack.
Cramped between Stix and crusty-lips on the red leather sofa, I smoke a joint. They’ve been rolling them, and passing them round, for a while now. They’re drinking beer too. So am I. I need to change how I feel and the heroin hit I had earlier wasn’t strong enough. I feel quite stoned. I’m struggling to sit upright. The alcohol’s made the room spin. I need to be careful. I don’t want a repeat of last night.