Collision – 30 December 2000 – 18.00

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

Me and Mickey walk along the road towards the Radisson. I’ve been sweating in my white, Armani dress all day. I want to have a shower and change before he takes me out to dinner. He’s trying to make me eat more, which is sweet of him really, but I’m not hungry. I never am. Apparently, there’s a sushi restaurant I’m going to love. What I’m most looking forward to is the sake. Mickey says it gets you drunk fast. He also said it’s made from fermented rice, which doesn’t sound particularly nice, but if it gets me drunk and doesn’t taste too bad, that’s all that matters.

I’m feeling the best I’ve felt since I’ve been here. Today with Mickey has been amazing. We haven’t done anything, not even kissed. But he’s held me for hours in the back of his van and not once did I have a flashback. It feels like a real breakthrough. I’m dying to tell Dr Fielding but Mickey’s hungry and I’ve already talked him into stopping off at the hotel so I can freshen up so it’s not fair to make him wait while I call Dr Fielding too. Later tonight, I’ll be too drunk so I’ll need to leave it until tomorrow.

As we approach my hotel, Lorna’s standing opposite on the other side of the street. She looks like a hooker in her red boob tube top and her jean shorts that are so short they show half her arse. I look away, hoping she won’t see me, but I know I’m probably the reason she’s stood there.

“Oi, Nicole!” she screams.

“What do you want?” Mickey shouts back at her.

“Can’t she talk for herself, chicken legs?”

“We’re off out now. Come over on Monday,” I say, because I want to spend the rest of the weekend with Mickey before he’s back to work.

“Just cross the fucking road, Nicole,” Lorna yells. “I won’t take too much of your precious time.”

I run over to the seafront, leaving Mickey outside the Radisson. I kiss Lorna on the cheek, hoping to calm things between us after the lie I told. “Have you got my two-hundred dollars?”

“Forget about your fucking money. Who do you want to be with, me or him?” Lorna shakes my shoulders. “I know you’re fucking him as well.”

I look away from her and turn my head towards the sea. “I really like him, Lorna. I’m sorry.”

“Well you should’ve said before and not led me on.” She digs her nails into the bare skin on my back.

I rip her hands off me. “I didn’t lead you on. Last time, I was gouched out and when I came to you’d taken off my clothes and were all over me. You fucking took advantage and that’s not the first time.”

“You lying fucking bitch.” Lorna slaps me hard on my cheek. My head swings to the side. As I bring it back up, I nut her on the forehead. She falls flat on the pavement.

Mickey comes running over the road. “I told you she was trouble.”

“She’s a dirty little fuck, isn’t she Mickey?” Lorna pushes herself up from the ground. “That’s what you like though. She’s right up your street. A dirty fucking whore.”

“C’mon, let’s go,” Mickey says forcefully.

I stand next to him on the curb, waiting for a gap in the traffic. I’m shoved from behind. I can hear Mickey calling my name as I spin through the air.

Staying Present – 30 December 2000 – 1.25PM

Soul Destruction - Story of a London Call Girl - Mickey
Mickey climbs into the back of the van and I follow. He’s parked up on a side street near where we scored in Narrabeen. It’s a quiet road. All the houses are detached. On the grass verges, there’s trees every few feet that have been planted with the greatest precision. Now, I’m in the back, I can’t see any of it, just the grotty guts of this van. I strategically place a few of the multi-coloured cushions on the floor, so I can lie down without my white dress touching the dirt.

Yesterday was a write-off. I didn’t wake up when Mickey left early for work. I didn’t wake until the afternoon. With my skin painfully sunburnt, there was no point going back out in the sun. I stayed in my hotel room, rationing the gear I had left. Under my breasts, the skin’s stinging. I’m sweating, not from clucking. It’s the heat. This day must be the hottest since I’ve been in Sydney. With no air-conditioning in the van, it’s like a sauna.

Mickey passes me my filled syringe. Finally, I can have a decent hit. To make the smack I had last until this morning, I was only using enough to stave off the aches and sweats. The dodgy vein on the inside of my elbow still isn’t healed. So I inject the hit in my lower arm.

“Can I hold you?” Mickey asks.

“You can try.”

He arranges the spare cushions to make a slim bed next to him. He opens his arms and rolls me over. My head is on his chest as it was the last time, but my eyes are directed at his face. Although it’s a strain, because the heroin makes my eyes close, I force them to stay open. Looking at him helps. It stops other men’s faces entering my head. He’s not like most men. I don’t need to be scared. I repeat that in my head.

“Is there any news on your grandma?” I say.

“She’s doing all right. Dad’s still with her. That’s sweet of you to ask.”

“Is your mother blind?”

“No. Why would my mum be blind?”

“Must’ve been a dream.” I’m feeling so fucked from the gear, I forgot I didn’t want to bring that up. “That morning you left when you had to take your mum shopping, I thought you said she was blind.”

“She doesn’t drive, that’s all.” Mickey chuckles. “You’re a funny one, Nicole.”

“What do you mean by that?” I pull away from him and sit upright.

“Nothing bad, beautiful. I think you’re great. You’re just not like the other girls I know.”

I lie back down with my head on his chest. No, Mickey, I’m not like the other girls you know, but for reasons I don’t think you’re aware of. Or maybe he does know. Maybe Stix has told him what I am. I shut my eyes tight as if that’ll make it all disappear. Hiding the truth is a lie. I don’t want to lie to Mickey, but I don’t want him to reject me.

Edge of Intimacy – 29 December 2000 – 1.15AM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

On the queen-sized bed in my suite at the Radisson, I’m lying face down. My head’s buried in a feather pillow. Mickey’s sitting on my backside. He doesn’t feel heavy. I’m probably not accurate at guessing a man’s weight but I reckon he must be at least ten or eleven stone. He’s about five foot ten or a little under. Though he’s not well built, his body’s toned. Muscle weighs more than fat and he doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him.

He’s rubbing Stix’s mum’s aloe vera gel into my skin. He’s done my front, which cooled the heat and soothed the soreness of the sunburn. Now he’s doing my back, but my back isn’t burnt. I’m not going to stop him though. Being massaged makes a change. I’m always the one giving a massage, for money of course. I like the feeling of his touch on my body. His hands are warm and soft. I don’t feel anxious like I have done when he’s touched me before.

“You’re gonna have to stay out the sun for a few days. Let this heal.” He rubs the gel into my thigh. “Stay away from Lorna. She’s bad news.”

“Yeah, I guess she is.”

“There’s no guessing about it. If this was a little bit worse, you could’ve ended up in hospital.”

Apart from Mickey, Stix, crusty-lips and close-eyes, I don’t know anyone else in Sydney except Lorna. She’s the one I’ve spent most time with. I’ll be lonely without her. Like me, she’s been a hooker. She also had a termination, and she’s had a violent ex-boyfriend. We had stuff in common. She was someone I could talk to. And aside from all that, I’ll have one less connection who can score here.

“Right, that’s you all done.” Mickey climbs off my back and lies down next to me.

“How’s your grandma?” I ask, slipping on my nightdress.

“Looks like she’s going to be okay. She’s out of the coma. My dad’s still there, but.”

So I didn’t dream what I thought he said about his grandma. I wonder if his mother is actually blind. That’s not the kind of thing I can just throw into conversation though.

“I need to get some decent shut-eye tonight. I’ll try not to wake you when I leave.” Mickey flicks the light switches above the bedside table.

I can’t see a thing. We’re in complete darkness. I’m hoping I manage to get some sleep myself. Sharing my bed isn’t something I’m used to. In the dark, it’s worse. I can think it’s another man instead of Mickey lying next to me in this bed. It would better if I could see him. I need to see his face. I turn on the light above the bedside table to the dimmest setting. “Do you mind?” I whisper. “I need a light on.”

“It’s okay, beautiful.” He breathes on my neck.

When he drove me back here and I invited him in, he said there was no expectation of us having sex. He said he was fine with waiting as long as I needed to wait. I felt comfortable with that. It was okay when he was massaging me. I felt relaxed and kind of sleepy. But now he’s lying so close to me in my bed, and feeling his breath on my skin, I’m on edge and more awake. The intensity of how I feel isn’t as powerful as the last time he slept here. But I don’t think I can sleep. I’m a guard on patrol.

Uncovered Lies – 28 December 2000 – 9.45PM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

I’ve been shooting up in Stix’s house in Elanora Heights for the last couple of hours. Me, Stix, crusty-lips and close-eyes are in the lounge. I managed to get a seat to myself on the red leather armchair. It’s a better buzz here on this chair. I hate their bodies touching mine when I’m squashed between them on the sofa.

My sunburnt skin’s looking even worse than it did earlier. Stix’s mum gave me aloe vera gel when we got here. I pick up the bottle from the side of my chair and apply another coat to my face, arms, legs and chest. I’ll have to do my stomach and my thighs when I get back to the hotel.

I’m sure I’ll have missed Lorna now. She won’t be pissed off with me, because she’ll take my share of the heroin. I won’t be pissed off with her, because that’s what I expect. It’s annoying that I’ll have paid twice though. I’ve given Stix a couple of hundred so I’ve got my own stash. I prefer making up my own hits here, and I also wanted to have some to take back to my hotel later.

Crusty-lips passes me a joint. I really need to find out his name and the name of close-eyes too. I’m not feeling as drunk as I was before. I shared the rest of my vodka and coke with the others. They’ve opened some beers but I’ve not drunk anymore. I think I’ve learnt my lesson from the two times I’ve blacked out since I’ve been in Sydney.

Stix’s mum, in her rollers and wearing her pink dress that looks like a negligee, opens the lounge door. “Mickey’s here,” she says.

I want to sink into the armchair. I don’t want him seeing me looking like a bloody lobster. And he’s probably going to be furious with me, or upset, that I didn’t show up to meet him last night – if that’s what the arrangement was. He walks into the room. He’s wearing a royal blue, floral patterned shirt. That must’ve been him outside the cafe this morning.

He kisses me on the cheek. “Up ya get.”

I stand up. He sits on the armchair. He pulls me onto his lap. It feels strange. This is what boyfriends and girlfriends do, I think. I’m used to punters who just want to fuck. This is something different. This is being close. And close in front of other people. This isn’t an act.

“I’m sorry about last night. We were meant to meet, weren’t we?” I say quietly.

“You get a better offer?” He smiles.

“Not really. Not at all.” I pass him the joint. “I saw Lorna and we–”

“Lorna, I might’ve known she’d be involved.”

“What do you mean?”

“I told her yesterday I was seeing you last night. What did she do? Tell you more stories about me?”

“No, she didn’t actually. She was nice.”

“I’ll bet.” He takes a pull on the spliff. “You need to be careful with your skin. The sun’s a killer here.”

“That’s Lorna’s bloody fault. She let me fall asleep in the midday sun…for the whole damn day.”

“You’re lucky that’s all she did.”

Of course, she left me asleep. I told her I was meant to be seeing a punter last night. She knew all along I was lying, that it was Mickey I’d arranged to meet. She let me burn to punish me. And I bet that’s why she took me to Kings Cross. She didn’t want to give me my fifty dollars back. She wanted to keep me away from him.

Passivity – 28 December 2000 – 5.40PM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

“Why the fuck didn’t you wake me?” I yell at Lorna.

“Why would I?”

“Because I’m fucking burnt to cinder, you stupid cow.”

“I didn’t notice.”

“How could you not? Look at me. I’ll have to stay indoors for a week.” I push myself up from my Betty Boop towel. The sand feels like it’s rolling under my feet. I can’t keep my balance. I fall to my knees.

Lorna passes me the large bottle of coke that we mixed with vodka before coming to the beach after breakfast. I gulp it down, knowing I probably shouldn’t because I won’t be able to walk back to the hotel. But my bright red skin is so sore. It’ll help with the pain. What would take the pain away is a fix, but we don’t have any smack. We’re meant to be scoring tonight. I don’t think I’ll bother getting Mickey’s number from Lorna’s phone while she’s gouched out later. Until my skin’s a normal colour again, I don’t want him to see me.

“I’m not going to Kings Cross looking like this. Can you get the Dolomite?” I ask Lorna.

“I’ll try. Gimme your money and I’ll see what I can do.”

I take two hundred dollars from my purse and hand it to her. I pass her back the bottle of vodka and coke.

“You keep that,” she says, refusing the bottle.

In her fluorescent green bikini top and jean shorts, Lorna walks towards the promenade. I hope she can get her ex-boyfriend’s car because the way I feel, I don’t think I could manage the ferry and bus journey to Kings Cross and back again. I don’t know how I’m going to make it to the Radisson. I’m going to have to try. Most people have left the beach now. I can’t stay here all night.

Carrying my beach bag and my handbag, and with my towel tucked under my arm, I trudge across the sand. When I reach the promenade, I slip on my stilettos. Staggering along the pavement, I swig back the vodka and coke. People are staring at me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m obviously drunk, or if it’s because my skin is abnormally red. I don’t like it. I like people looking at me because I look good. That doesn’t happen much anymore.

“Nicole,” a male voice shouts.

I stop outside a surf shop. I look around. The seafront is busy. I can’t see anyone I know. Suddenly, I realise I haven’t changed into my dress. I’m wearing only my black bikini. Teetering in my high heels, I lay my towel and my handbag on the pavement. I take out the long, Yves Saint Laurent dress from my beach bag. Slipping it over my head, my hipbone collides with the ground. It’s agony. I sit in the pain until a hairy hand appears under my nose. I look up. It’s Stix. He pulls me back on my feet.

“Wanna come with us? We’ve just picked up,” Stix says. He’s with crusty-lips and the guy whose eyes are too close together. I’m relieved Mickey’s not with them.

“I don’t know.” I want a hit badly. But I don’t want to be in the company of three men when one or more of them might have fucked me when I was comatose on Christmas Eve.

“Come on, it’ll be a laugh,” crusty-lips says. “We’ve got wheels. It’s not far to Stix’s place…we’ll drop you back later.”

I want a hit now, but Lorna has my two hundred dollars and if I’m not at the hotel when she comes for me, if she’s scored already, she’ll use my share of the smack. If she hasn’t been able to get the Dolomite, then we’ll need to trek to Kings Cross to score. I can’t make the trip to Kings Cross and I can afford to lose the money.

From the Inside Out – 28 December 2000 – 11.50AM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

I’m so angry with myself for falling asleep last night. Now I’ll need to wait until me and Lorna score again, and take another hit, before I can sneak her phone from her handbag to look for Mickey’s number. He might not want to talk to me at all. Not turning up to meet him is bad enough but with the issues I’ve had around him touching me as well, he’s bound to think I’m not interested. I’ve given the opposite impression of what I want him to have.

Lorna isn’t taking me to score until much later. We’re spending today at the beach, but first, we’re having breakfast in the trendy cafe we were at last Sunday. We’re sitting at the same window table as last time. And she’s eating the same mammoth breakfast again – two fried eggs, two rashers of bacon, two sausages, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, chips and toast. When she’s finished, I’m expecting her to do the same as she did on our last visit. She’ll disappear into the ladies’ room for ages then return with the smell of vomit on her breath. It’s a shame she takes her handbag with her.

“You didn’t seem into me last night… You going off me, Nicole?”

I look down at my plate of two fried eggs on toast. I have gone off her sexually but I can’t think of a way to word it without sounding harsh. “It’s the shaven thing. I thought you understood?”

Lorna reaches across the table. She lifts my chin with her finger. “As long as that’s all it is.” She slips the strap of her handbag over her shoulder. “I’ll be right back.” She walks across the chequered floor tiles towards the toilets at the other side of the cafe.

The sun shines directly on me through the full-length window. It’s a beautiful day. Every day since I’ve been in Sydney has been beautiful. I wish I could appreciate it but I can’t, not when I’ve got a habit. Getting my next fix is all that ever matters.

I eat another mouthful of fried egg. As I’m chewing, I look out the window. There’s a man standing outside with his back to me. From behind, he looks like Mickey. He has the same short, brown hair. I try to measure up his shoulders through the royal blue, floral patterned shirt he’s wearing. I haven’t seen Mickey wear that shirt before, but then I haven’t seen him many times.

Eventually, Lorna returns to the table. “Ready to get some rays?” Her breath confirms she’s been vomiting.

Although the plan is to go to the beach, I want to go straight to score again. As well as getting the opportunity to look in Lorna’s phone, I really want to have a hit. “I’d rather go to Kings Cross first.”

She holds out her skinny arm and stares at it. “I’m looking deathly pale, nearly as deathly as you, my dear.”

On the scale of looking deathly, Lorna trumps me. Her track marks are far worse than the three abscess scars that are healing on my arms. “We can go to the beach after.” I pick up the bill from the table.

“It’s our time for the sun. One mad dog,” she says, prodding the centre of her chest. “And one Englishman.” She points at me.

After I’ve paid at the counter, we walk outside into the heat. The man who I think could be Mickey still has his back to me. If I was alone, I’d sneak around to see if it was him. Lorna being with me, I can’t. She takes my hand and we walk down the side street towards Manly Beach. No Mickey, and no heroin for me yet.

Taking Advantage – 28 December 2000 – 1.05AM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

Mickey’s on my mind. Lorna’s in my bed. I didn’t want to have sex with her again but it’s happened. I didn’t realise what was going on until I found her with her head between my legs. She must’ve undressed me while I was gouched out. I don’t want her. I want Mickey. I know she’s not going to give me his number. I’m going to have to wait until she’s gouched out, and then see if it’s stored in her phone.

“Why are you putting that on?” Lorna sits up in the queen-sized bed.

Wearing my nightdress, I slip back under the duvet. “I’m cold.”

“Me too. Turn off the air-con.” She leans over to the bedside table and tips a small heap of white heroin into a spoon.

Reluctantly, I push myself up from the bed. I open the drawer in the bureau and take out my pastel blue nightdress. “Wear this,” I say, holding it in her direction.

“I like being natural.” She drips water from a syringe into the spoon. “It’s what nature intended.”

I’d so much rather we were friends without the sex. The more I’m getting to know her, the less attractive I’m finding her. And I hate it that she’s shaven. I haven’t had a flashback so far tonight, but that’s probably because I haven’t been there yet. I know she’s going to want me to. And I really don’t want to.

“I’m sorry about your punter.” Lorna passes me my filled syringe. She gets up from the bed and walks over to the air conditioning unit on the wall. As she turns the control, the dull humming sound stops resonating in the suite. “At least you got your fifty dollars back.”

“Fifty dollars isn’t compensation for a missed job.” I shouldn’t have said that, but I’m so into the lie, I’m nearly believing it myself. If it was a missed job, I wouldn’t care less. But it was Mickey I missed, and I’m fuming with myself about that.

“If you need work while you’re here, I can set you up.”

“I don’t want to work in a brothel. No offence, but I can’t do that many punters a day, and I don’t work for pittance.”

“It doesn’t have to be a brothel. That guy in the Cross, he knows people.”

Wrapping my tan belt around my arm, I look for a good vein. “He’s a pimp, you mean?”

“Not exactly. I’ll introduce you to him. He can explain what he does.”

“Why don’t you just tell me?”

“I’m not involved. I don’t know. Next time we’re there, you can meet him.” Lorna injects her hit. Her eyes close. She lies down next to me on the bed. Her long, blonde hair splays over the pillow, fanned out like the feathers of a peacock.

I insert the needle into a vein on my lower arm. I need to give the one on the inside of my elbow a rest. It’s not healing and I don’t like the mark there. “What do you do for money?” I ask.

“This and that.”

“Did you make much working in the brothel?”

“Yeah, quite a lot over the years. Put it all in my arm though.”

“Didn’t you–?”

“What?”

“Doesn’t matter.” I don’t want to cause a row, but I’m sure she said before she worked in the brothel for two months. I can’t question her on it again though. Last time I did, she was upset with me for not listening to her properly.

I push down on the plunger. The rush pulsates in my body. Somehow, I need to keep alert. If she gouches out for long enough, I can look in her phone for Mickey’s number.