Controlled – 27 December 2000 – 5.25PM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

I take a sip from my bottle of coke. There’s vodka mixed in with it. I need that. I’m anxious. I’m dying for my hit. I’m also worried I’m not going to make it back in time for Mickey. If I didn’t dream the conversation with him, I’m meant to be meeting him at the Radisson at seven o’clock. Me and Lorna have only just got on the ferry from Manly heading to Circular Quay. We need to catch a bus to Kings Cross at the other end, have our hits, and then make the return journey.

“Are you sure we’ll be back in time?”

“You’re doing my head in.” Lorna sits down on a bench on the deck. “Why don’t you just call your punter and rebook him?”

“I told you. His mobile doesn’t work here. It’s a UK phone.”

If I had Mickey’s number, I would call him. And if Mickey was a punter, I wouldn’t care about missing him. I’m so angry with myself for getting on this bloody ferry. I should’ve stayed in Manly. I’ll be lucky to get my hit an hour before I would’ve probably had one with Mickey anyway. I can’t bear being driven by the powder like this. It makes me do things I don’t want to do.

Arriving at Circular Quay, me and Lorna walk to the bus stop and wait. Time is dragging. Unusually, I’m wearing my watch. I keep checking it. Eventually, the bus comes and we take the short ride. When we step off at Kings Cross, I’m infuriated by Lorna’s slow pace. I’m the one wearing high heels, as always, and she’s in flats. She should be walking faster. I can’t even pull her along. I don’t know where we’re going. I came with her once before to score here, but I never paid any attention on the way.

At last, we reach the turquoise door by the side of the barber’s shop. Lorna rings the bell. “Wait here,” she says, as the door is buzzed open. She disappears inside.

Smoking a cigarette, I watch the passersby. There’s a mix of people. I try to avoid focusing on the parents pushing buggies. It makes me sad, thinking about the babies I should have. I take a slug from my vodka and coke. I look at the prostitutes. They’re dressed the same as the streetwalkers back home in London. You can see the suspender straps of the women wearing stockings. They fall below their nearly non-existent skirts.

A young, blonde girl catches my eye. She’s wearing a jean mini-skirt and a black bra. I know I’m staring at her, but I can’t avert my gaze. She looks about fifteen. I ache in my heart for her. I ache for the young girl I was at that age. Fifteen’s when I started working. It was terrible then. I cried all the time. Doing a punter was like being raped. I didn’t have a choice back then. My pimp made me work on the streets. At the time, I thought he was my boyfriend. I was so naive. I thought he loved me. He was evil. So were the paedophile punters who bought me. They fucked a crying child. That is rape.

I stamp my cigarette out on the pavement. Lorna’s taking ages. I hate not having a phone on me. If I was back in London, I’d call her to tell her to hurry the fuck up. I can’t ring the dealer’s doorbell. I don’t think I can. It’s not the done thing when you’re the friend of a dealer’s customer. You’re meant to wait outside discreetly. That’s the rule.

I look at my watch. There’s no way I’m going to make it back in time for Mickey now. I’m not even sure the arrangement was definite. It might’ve been in my dream that I heard him say he was coming back. I can’t check with him though. I don’t have his number. I should have stayed in Manly. Now I’m going to have to get his number from Lorna. Considering she’s trying to keep me away from him, it isn’t going to be easy.

Using People – 27 December 2000 – 2.40PM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

I’m sitting on a rock. It’s not comfortable but the sound of the waves crashing close to me makes me feel more alive and I love my feet dipped into the sea while the sun warms my skin. It’s a hot day, really hot. Although the sun on my body feels good on the outside, the heat makes me feel colder inside.

Mickey left the hotel sometime this morning. I don’t know when. I didn’t look at my watch. I was half-asleep in bed. I don’t think I fell asleep until after 8AM. That was when I last remember seeing the time. He said something about taking his mother shopping. I think he said she was blind but I’m not sure if I dreamt that part. I also think he said that his father usually takes her but he’s flown out to Perth as his mother is ill. I’m not actually sure how much of what I think he said he did in fact say, and how much was my dream. I’m hoping that I didn’t dream he said he was coming back tonight. I feel stupid for feeling it, but I miss him. I want a fix as well, and he might have gear with him.

My bony arse is aching from perching on the rock. I slither down into the sea then wade to the shore. Back on the sand, I lie down on my Betty Boop towel. I close my eyes and think of Mickey. He’s taking over my thoughts. I guess it’s all right though. It makes a change from the bad memories and images that usually play.

“All alone, Nicole. Mickey not with you?” I recognise Lorna’s voice.

I open my eyes and look up at her. “You’re looking better. What happened to you last night?”

Lorna plonks herself down on the sand next to me. Her hair isn’t wild today. It’s neatly pulled back in a ponytail. And she’s not wearing ripped clothes. She’s in a tiny, fluorescent green bikini – a terrible colour on anyone. “I had a fight with some loud mouth bitches. You should see the state of them though. Knocked two teeth out of one of those cunts.”

“And ruined my dress. Don’t ask to borrow my clothes again. They’re all designer. They’re not cheap and they’re not made for fighting.”

“Budge over.” Lorna nudges me with her backside, imposing on my small towel. She lays down next me. Although we’re both anorexically thin, there isn’t room for two on this towel. I’ve got one leg and one arm in the sand. Her body, sticky with sweat, is making my body damp too. “You got a smoke?” she asks.

I take two cigarettes from my packet and rest them both between my lips. I light them then pass one to her. I dig in my handbag for my watch. I never wear it; time drags when I do. Discretely, I check how much longer it is until seven o’clock – the time I think Mickey’s meeting me at the Radisson. I’ve got a little over three hours to get rid of Lorna. I don’t want her knowing I’m seeing him tonight. She’ll only try to stop me. Or if she doesn’t do that, she’ll be wanting to hang out with us. I want it to be just me and him. The pair of them don’t seem to get on with each other anyway. But even if they did, I’d still want him to myself.

“I’m going to the Cross soon. You wanna come?”

“Not today, thanks.” That’s a relief. I won’t need to make up an excuse to get rid of her.

“I’m getting my poison off this guy who owes me. He’ll have your fifty dollars for you too.”

I don’t need the fifty but I do need a fix. I haven’t had one in about twelve hours. “What time will we be back here?”

“Dunno, depends when we head off.” Lorna buries her cigarette butt in the sand. She rolls sideways off the towel then stands up. She walks away towards the sea.

I’m glad to have my towel back to myself. I change position and direction. I lie on my stomach with my head facing the ocean. Lorna’s up to her waist in the sea, talking to a group of male surfers. I hope she hurries up. We’ll need to leave soon. We have to get to Kings Cross, have a hit, get back here, and I need to have gotten rid of her, all in three hours.

Maybe it’s too tight. I’m always late but I don’t want to be late for Mickey. Part of me wants to wait for him. I’d rather see him and have my hit in his company. I prefer being with him than with Lorna. But I’m craving a fix now. Three hours is a long time to hold out. Of course, I understand he has to take his mother shopping and I’m sad his grandma’s ill, but I wish he wasn’t coming back for me so late. That’s if I’ve even remembered rightly that he is coming back. And if he is, he might not have any smack on him. We might have to drive somewhere to score. It could be four or five or six hours until I have a fix. And what if that whole conversation with him was a dream? I’m probably best to go with Lorna.

Intent – 27 December 2000 – 6.15AM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

I run my fingers through Mickey’s short brown hair. It doesn’t wake him. I’ve been doing it intermittently for the last couple of hours while I’ve been watching him sleep. He looks like a roman statue with his straight nose, sharp jaw line, and his toned body. It’s not strange that I find it easier to touch him when he doesn’t know I’m doing it. There’s no danger of a response.

In my head, I’d love to be his girlfriend. He’s completely different from every man I’ve ever known. No man before him has treated me with the consideration and compassion he’s shown. Lorna must have been lying or exaggerating when she said he was dangerous. He doesn’t seem dangerous to me. But even if she did make it up and he is genuine, I don’t do relationships. Working as a call girl, it doesn’t go with the job. And even though I’m not working at the moment, fear explodes in my stomach at the thought of being with a man in that way. Men aren’t to be trusted. They all cheat and lie.

I couldn’t bring myself to trust the last boyfriend I had a few years ago. There was something blocking it. I think it was my intuition, but I didn’t trust that either. I didn’t realise how damaging the relationship with Pete was until I got completely honest with Dr Fielding about what was really going on. He was violent but I didn’t think it was that bad. He never actually left a mark. Well once, he did on the top of my arm, but I’d made him angry. I accused him of being with another woman. When we split up, I found out that he was in fact sleeping with her. I was right all along but he’d made me think it was all in my head – my insecurities because I was a hooker, because my father left us, because I’d been abused. When I used to have flashbacks during sex, he’d get angry and shout at me, “If you can do it with your punters, you can do it with me.” I felt I had to perform. I used to fuck him like I’d fuck a client. I hated it. Every time we had sex, I felt unclean and used, like I’d done a job and not been paid. I started sleeping on the sofa in the lounge to avoid being in bed with him. Maybe that’s why he was sleeping with the other girl. After he’d gone, when my annual statement arrived from the Nationwide, I discovered he’d withdrawn thousands from my savings account. There was nothing I could do. He knew I couldn’t go to the police. Money’s the reason men want to be with a call girl. Like Angel said, if a man really loves you, he doesn’t want you sleeping with other men.

Mickey’s snoring again. I don’t bother telling him to stop. I can’t sleep with the constant stream of thoughts. I return to stroking his hair. He’s a beautiful man. He’s far more handsome than Pete. He’s a lovely distraction. Rather than going over my past with Pete, I imagine the future with Mickey. I picture us walking hand-in-hand in a park, along the shoreline, on the promenade of Manly Beach. In a gothic church, I’m walking down the aisle. I’m standing next to him at the altar. I lift my veil and meet his lightest of light blue eyes with mine.

I shouldn’t let myself dream like this. Although he doesn’t know I’m a call girl, he does think I have a large inheritance. He could be with me for my money. He has been paying his share for the smack so far, and that’s a good sign, but it has only been a couple of days. I’ll need to see if he keeps it up. Not that I think I could get attached, but if I could get attached to a man, he’d be the one.

Disconnect – 27 December 2000 – 3.55AM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

I can’t sleep. Mickey’s snoring, lying next to me in my bed. The noise he’s making isn’t what’s keeping me awake. Although we’ve been shooting smack this evening, the images are still in my head. I felt guilty after I tried to overdose the other day, but right now, I’m back in that place again. I can’t get any peace. I can’t escape the past. I’ve flown to the other side of the world and nothing’s changed. What an idiot I am thinking that would make a difference. I feel compelled to bang my head against the wall. I haven’t done that for years, not since I was a teenager.

I’m crying silently. It’s something I learned to stop the babysitters coming back upstairs after they’d abused me. At first when I used to cry, one or more would come back up. They’d sit on my bed, put me on their lap and hold my body against theirs. I hated it. I hated their hands on me. I thought there was something wrong with me back then, that this is what happens to all the children in the world. They all liked it, but there was something wrong with me because I didn’t. That’s what they told me. That’s why I learned to cry silently.

Who am I fooling here? Me or Mickey? I’m not going to be able to do this. No matter how kind and patient he is, and I’ve already seen that he is, it’s never going to work. Sex is something I do to men I don’t know, men I don’t like, and bar a handful of exceptions, men I don’t find attractive. I do like Mickey and I do find him attractive. I can’t do it to him. That’s not how it works. And even if I could, what happens after he finds out I’m a hooker. He probably won’t be interested then. I can’t take the rejection, not from him and especially after that.

I take a sip from the glass of water on the bedside table. I can’t stay in this bed awake any longer. I can’t fucking do it. I pick up my cigarette packet and my lighter and sneak into the bathroom. I close the door and turn on the light. Standing with my back to the wall, I start rocking. Gently, I’m banging the back of my head against the tiles. As I increase the force, the pain in my head takes over from the pictures.

Then I think of Milly. The bad example I set her. If I hadn’t done it, she wouldn’t be in the state she is now. What that bastard did, it would never have happened, not to her. It’s all my fault. I failed her. I fucking failed her. It should have been me. I throw my head back. I’m losing control. I want to smash it. I want everything to end.

“No, Nicole, don’t.” Mickey grabs my shoulders. “Come here.” He pulls me away from the wall.

“I want to be dead. I don’t deserve to be here.” My crying isn’t silent now. It’s echoing in the bathroom.

He wraps his arms around me. His body is pressing against mine. He holds me tight. I can’t bear being touched. I want to feel close to him. I can trust him. But his hands are on me. His chest is against mine. His hips are against mine. I feel the protrusion at his crotch. His boxer shorts and my nightdress aren’t… This is too close. I shuffle backwards. There’s space between our legs but it’s not enough.

“I’m sorry,” I say. Placing my hands on his chest, I push him away.

“Come in the bedroom and sit down. We can talk. Whatever it is, it’s best to get it out.”

“I can’t.” My body is stiff. I’m stuck to the spot.

“I’ll just hold you then.”

That’s what I want, but when he gets that close, an internal siren blasts the loudest warning.

He takes my hand. “Come in the bedroom. My feet are getting cold.” He smiles.

I realise my feet are cold too. The sensation makes me slightly more present in my body, more like my adult self and less like the child who took me over. The air conditioning must be on too high. I let go of his hand and walk into the suite. I twist the air conditioning control, turning it down.

Mickey sits on the edge of the bed. “Come here. We should talk.” He pats the space next to him.

“I’m too tired,” I say, getting into the other side of the bed. I pull the duvet over me. I know I’m not going to be able to sleep, but I lie down and close my eyes. I’ll have to pretend.

Everybody Has an Agenda – 26 December 2000 – 8.15PM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

I pull myself up onto the high seats in the front of the van. Me and Mickey are heading back to Narrabeen to score more smack. Through the windscreen, I see Lorna walking in the road towards us. She’s making a habit of hanging around my hotel. It was only this morning I saw her here last, but I don’t think she saw me then.

I consider ducking as I did this morning, but it’s too late, I’m sure she’s seen me. I don’t want her to interfere with me and Mickey being together. She told me to stay away from him. But who the hell does she think she is? She isn’t my only connection in Sydney anymore. She was good to me for the first few days but I’m angry and hurt that she told Mickey I was a hooker. He didn’t believe her, but that’s not the point. She had no right to tell him about my business. And I’m still pissed off with her for using the heroin I paid for at the party the other night.

Mickey starts the engine. There’s a knock on my window. Lorna looks terrible. Her long, blonde hair is wild like she slept in a hedge. Her black dress is ripped at the shoulder. I wind down my window. I realise it’s not her black dress. It’s my Moschino dress. The one I leant her to wear to the party in Dee Why. That’s one of my favourite dresses.

“What’s happened? Are you okay?” I ask. Though I’m keener to scold her for ruining my dress, she looks such a state, I’ll have to leave it for another time.

“Never mind me. What are you doing with him?”

“That’s none of your business. You’re not her keeper,” Mickey says.

“Shut up, chicken legs.” Lorna shakes her finger at Mickey. “I need to borrow money,” she tells me.

I don’t want to lend her any money. She’s ruined my dress. And she’s not wearing the Russian wedding ring I gave her the other night. I expect she’s sold it for heroin already. Reluctantly, I take fifty dollars from my purse and pass it to her out the window.

“That’s not enough,” she snaps, tucking the note under her grubby bra strap.

“That’s what she’s giving you. You’re lucky to get that.” Mickey turns the wheel, pulling away from the curb.

“Fuck you!” Lorna screams after us as we drive off.

“Chicken legs.” I giggle. “Why does she call you that?”

“Stupid thing from school.” He looks at me briefly then returns his attention to the road. “It’s not funny. She’s always got an angle. I told you.”

I light a cigarette. “It’s not like I can’t spare fifty dollars.”

“Your inheritance will run out if you give it away like that.”

My inheritance – I’m glad that’s come up in conversation. That means I must have told him the dead, rich aunt story when I was drunk and not that I was a hooker. He said he didn’t believe Lorna when she told him, and it seems he still doesn’t. It’s not going to stop me worrying though. Stix knows what I do for a living. He could tell Mickey at any time. There’s a part of me wants to come clean with it tonight, get it over with and out in the open. But there’s another part fighting to hold back.

Surplus to Requirements – 26 December 2000 – 7.55PM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

Mickey’s waiting outside the Radisson for me. I’m in a phone booth in the lobby. My backside aches from sitting on the lightly padded seat so long. I was on a call to my brother, Enda, for ages, convincing him that I’m okay and looking after myself. He said Milly was doing better. She’s out of hospital now, staying with him, and Susie’s helping to look after her too. I’m pleased and relieved they’re coping without me but I was the mother to my brother and sisters. I feel redundant and I am.

“In the state I’m in, I’m useless to them,” I say to Dr Fielding who I’m on a call to now.

“You’re not useless, Nicole.” Dr Fielding’s voice is gentle and calm, like my mother’s used to be before she started drinking. “How many days clean from heroin are you? It can’t be more than a week.”

“About that,” I say. I don’t usually lie to her, but I don’t want a lecture. I’ve also decided not to tell her about what happened the other night after the party in Dee Why. There’ll be another lecture about drinking too much. Regardless, if I don’t talk about it, it’ll be easier to forget. Although I must remember to get tested at a clinic soon.

“It’s early days. I’d say give yourself a break. Enjoy the holiday. You can’t do anything from the other side of the world.”

“I want to talk to you about something else. That’s why I called. I’ve met someone, a man.”

“And how’s that been for you?”

“Nothing’s happened yet.” I pick at a spot on my chin. “He held me before, like he hugged me when we were lying down, and I went away – that dissociation thing. It took ages to come back. It was awful. ”

“How are you feeling now?”

“I don’t feel like myself but I feel more like me than I did before. I want him to touch me. I want to… How can I stop it happening again?”

“It’ll take time. I’d say take it slowly. You’ll need to build up trust so you feel safe. Remember, that’s been your coping mechanism for most of your life. You might not need it, but it’s become an automatic response. We can work on it more when you come back to London.”

I thank her for her time and end the call. But it’ll be too late when I’m back in London. And anyway, I don’t know when I’m going back. I haven’t decided. I’m not needed in London anymore. Maybe I’ll stay here.

I run across the hotel lobby and out through the automatic doors. When we arrived, it was light outside. I’ve been on the phone so long, now it’s getting dark. Mickey takes my hand. It feels okay. I like it. With my hand in his, we walk to his van parked up the road.

I’m craving a hit and finally, we can go to the dealer. While we were in my suite earlier, I picked up my purse – that’s what we came back for. Although I have enough cash to pay for the gear we’re buying, I’ve told Mickey I need to go to a cash point. I always like having a few hundred pounds on me, or as I’m in Australia, dollars. I feel safer when I’ve got money, like I feel safer when I’m wearing high heels.

Unlike the Rest – 26 December 2000 – 6.10PM

Soul Destruction - Diary of a London Call Girl

I flick my cigarette ash out the window. Me and Mickey are sitting in the front of the van. We were in the back for hours. I was stuck there. I felt frightened. As soon as he held me, that’s when it happened – I went off somewhere in my head.

Dissociation – that’s what Dr Fielding says it is, when I disappear like that. It’s taken a longer time than usual to come back. Piece by piece, it’s happening slowly. I can speak again now and I can move my body. Mickey was patient and understanding. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. I’m used to men criticising and judging me. I’m used to angry men, men who only want one thing from me. Mickey’s different. He’s a good man.

We’re still parked on the side road near where his connection lives in Narrabeen. It’s peaceful here. Cars are parked up but there’s none driving by. The street is lined with trees. The trees in Australia seem brighter shades of green than the trees back in England. I could imagine living here, being near the sea. I like being by the sea. I like the sound of it.

We shot up the last of the heroin before coming to sit in the front. We need to score some more. My money’s at the Radisson. I didn’t put my purse in the white handbag I’m using today. Mickey said he’d drive back to the hotel as soon as I felt ready. I feel ready now. I tell him, and he starts the engine.

He’s been completely hands-off with me since what happened in the back of the van. I’m sure he’s going to keep it up. But there is a part of me that’s scared he’ll do something that makes me disappear again. I can manage him holding my hand. When he did that at the party, it wasn’t a problem. It was okay when I woke up with him this morning as well. It was the expectation of something sexual that caused it.

It’s so strange because if Mickey was a punter, I could’ve acted the part and done the job. Being with a normal man in a normal way isn’t something I’m comfortable with. It fucks up my head that I’m more comfortable being with a client even though I hate it.

Earlier, Mickey said we could just be friends, but I want more than that if it’s possible for me. He said he did too. But it won’t work between us if I keep disappearing. He won’t put up with that. What man would? And I’m sure I can’t cope with it happening either.

I know I’m not cursed but that’s how it feels. I want to be like most other women. But can a woman who’s had a life like mine ever be like other women?