Monday, July 23, 2012

Ingrained Behaviour - 21 December 2000 - 5.25PM

I’m late as I walk downstairs to the hotel lobby. It took me longer to get ready than I anticipated. I’m a regular latecomer. All the time now. I never used to be. I was famously punctual before heroin. Not that I’ve had a sneaky fix today. Of course, I haven’t. I haven’t seen Lorna yet. Heroin has somehow changed who I am.

I study the lobby. Lorna’s not here. I check the sofas around the corner. She’s not there either. I look outside the hotel. She’s nowhere to be seen. By the clock in reception, it’s nearly five-thirty. I’m more than slightly late. But if she was here earlier, then surely she would have come to my room. She knows the number. It was only last night she spent the night.

I walk outside. The air isn’t much cooler than it was earlier in the day. That’s Australia in December. I light a cigarette. I have to do something. I could do with a drink as well. Perhaps I’ll go to the bar. No, I'd better wait. If I want a hit, I have to wait. I don’t know anyone else who can get smack over here. Mickey looked like he would know, but Mickey never came back for me.

Suddenly, hands are covering my eyes. “Guess who,” a male voice says.

Who the hell is it? I rip the hands from my face and turn around. “Hello love! What are you doing here?”

“I’m here on business.” Greg straightens the collar of his white shirt. “Are you?”

“No. I’m purely here for pleasure.” I share a smile.

“I’ll buy you drink. Come to the bar.”

“I’ll have to decline. I’m meeting a friend now. Another time though. How long are you here for?”

“I’m flying back on the twenty-third. I wanted to see in the New Year here but the battle-axe wouldn’t permit it.”

“You are naughty.” I give him a wink. “Do you want to see me properly? I’ll be free tomorrow night.”

“Eight o’clock, meet here. Dinner, dancing, then some rampant lovemaking. How does that sound, sexy?” Greg turns on the spot. He’s a wanker, but he pays well.

“Sounds perfect. I’m looking forward to it.” I have to do it. I don’t need the money. I have enough money to last for years, but I have to work when I can. I can’t not. I’m not capable.

Greg dances his way up the street. I am good. He knows it. But what he doesn’t know is why. I am good because I see through him, through all of them. I know what they want to hear and I say it. I know what they want me to do so I do it. I know what they don’t want said and I never utter a word. I know what they don't want done so I don’t venture anywhere near it. No surprises how I picked up that skill and learnt the behaviour. Another present from my past.

Lorna is walking towards me. I've decided that together we must look like a pair of defectives Barbie dolls. The blonde hair is there but it’s lank. We have the blue eyes but they’re empty. We both have blemishes covering our faces. I have abscess scars on my arms. She has track marks on hers. The only thing that’s right is our height, our slim figures and our large breasts.

Lorna kisses my lips. “Sorry I’m late.”

“I was late too, but you’re something else.” I grin. She’s cute.

“How much do you want?”

“Same as last night, please.”

“We’ll need to go to Parramatta. My man in Kings Cross isn’t holding.” She takes my hand and walks me down the street.

“How do we get there?” I ask.

She waves a set of keys. “I’m driving.”

She wraps her arm around my waist and gives me squeeze. I foresee a repeat of last night.
Ruth Jacobs              

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