Casey had learnt to take Benzodiazepines before the night’s work and painkillers when she was done, finish a cigarette between rounds and leave her necklaces at home.
The johns – the clients – could get dangerous; they never stole, but when they were red hot, they’d grab hold of anything to choke you and watch you turn a shade darker.
Most of the clients were lonely. Some were into different things that they couldn’t get away with doing to their wives or girlfriends.
A client once asked Casey to hang me from some wooden stocks.
There was another who just wanted to be held as he cried as if there were no safer place for him to do it.
Casey nearly died when someone choked her, but it was when a client refused to pay that it hurt the most.
It seemed that they thought she did it for fun.
“You love it, don’t you? That pleasure was real,” they said, “you seem to really love doing it.”
She had no memories of doing it at all. They were all weighed down by a rehearsed, well-practiced performance.
Every client she saw put her at risk.
When they pay their money and want a certain service, they’re only happy until they finish.
Then they feel ashamed and embarrassed and hate themselves – that’s when they want their money back.
It was a guessing game for which client would break down into a psychotic rage.
“I have kids, you know! I have a wife, too. You think I wanna come here. It’s wrong! All wrong!”
She persisted. The client wouldn’t listen. When she pulled him back, he reached into his back pocket and pistol-whipped her.
This was the first time she’d been hurt on the job. It was also the first night she snorted cocaine.
Cocaine was the late-comer to the party of drugs which entertained her system.
The money she made from clients was spent only on the gear which kept her on her toes and away from the nasty thoughts.
Soon she started selling herself to pay for the drugs, but now she needed the drugs to keep selling herself – it was the only way to live through everything she had to do.
She thought about quitting, but it was too early.
I’m going to stop when I’m thirty-five, she’d tell herself, then after that you quit and live out your life.
Live for the good memories, not the good money, someone once told her.
That was bullshit. A part of her wanted to be rich.
She had glimpses of the luxury life: grand holidays, branded clothes and Michelin star food.
Each client closed the distance to that goal.
Casey received a call from a new client at three in the morning.
He wanted her to meet him at his car. It was the black Toyota parked outside the corner shop on West Street.
She got ready in four minutes.
Casey looked in the mirror and admired the gaudy dress.
Before leaving the apartment, she grabbed a bottle of Benzodiazepines and washed them down with tap water she scooped up in her hand.
The car’s air-con blew out a musty smell and the carpets were wet with what she hoped was water.
They drove to an empty carpark.
She sat at the passenger seat and the man pulled out some cash.
He didn’t speak much. His eyes were nervous and constantly avoided all contact.
They stayed at the front of the car the whole time; Casey didn’t take her eyes off the ‘Pussy Wagon’ keychain which dangled from the ceiling.
“I love you,” he said.
She heard it many times before, either ‘we have a connection’ or ‘you’re my soulmate.’
Casey learnt the value of deep connection that occurred between the other women in the business. It was a haven for love, trust and support that a group of women could give each other, not the false words uttered in a moment of ecstasy from the foul mouth of a man who clambered off her, leaving behind a smell that crinkled her nose.
He sat in the driver’s seat without speaking a word. She looked at him and tried to understand what he was thinking, whether or not he’d drop her home or kick her out of the car into the night.
Casey had the money which she slipped into the strap of her heels. She didn’t care for a goodbye, but it was always nice to hear something.
“Do I get a ride home?”
The silence was a fair answer. She reached for the door handle, but the man pulled back her arm. Casey met his eyes that were bulging and filled with anger.
“Give me my money back, bitch!”
His trousers were only up to his knees, yet it didn’t stop him from grabbing her legs and reaching for her shoes.
A rookie mistake; don’t let the client see where you stash the cash.
She let out a frightened cry and started hammering his leg as his upper body was lost in the footwell.
His clammy hands gripped her ankle and she felt her shoe come off.
“Stop, please!” she said. He grunted in frustration and she dropped her elbow onto his exposed neck.
The man’s body jerked and spasmed; a burning pain shot from her calf as the man sank his teeth into her flesh.
She kicked out in a desperate attempt to hurt him. His body sprang upright and his mouth was a dark red.
He pushed her back against the seat, opened the door and kicked her out of the car, his foot landing square in her ribs.
Her shoe was still in the car along with the money by the seat. Before she had the chance, the door was slammed in her face and the engine purred.
The tyres span and grit flew out from behind them. She banged on the door.
“Give me my money ass- “
Her body was dragged away from the spot before her mind knew what happened.
The gravel cut across her skin as she was slung around, wakeboarding using her body and the tarmac.
The bottom of the dress was trapped in the car door. She tried her best to set it free, but the vehicle shot out of the carpark and set towards the speed-bumps which led into the town.
Casey’s body hit the first bump.
She screamed and the hard floor took out three of her front teeth.
The second bump came fast, taking away the skin off her right cheek.
She wasn’t conscious for the third.
Neither was she aware that she had been strung along for five blocks before the dress gave way and left her body limp on the side of the road.
No one was there to see anything.
The road was filled with potholes and everything that goes with them like an exurban asteroid belt: curbs lined with discarded beer bottles, unsalvageable cars left on the block and a woman’s body that was left for the early birds to find.
A veil of darkness shrouded the light.
There were noises, muffled sounds that came from beyond its fine material.
Casey was inside her mind.
It was dark in there, empty at first glance.
She walked several steps into the blackness and stumbled across a body.
It was mangled and twisted at unnatural angles – it was her.
It was alive.
The noises loudened.
Casey fell to her knees and wept.
What had she done to herself? In this moment, she felt a greater understanding.
Let me wake up. Let me wake up!
I’ll quit, work on myself and find happiness.
I can’t keep doing this for the rest of my life, it’ll kill me.
Forget the money.
She looked down at the body one last time – please.
The veil opened.
Her eyes closed tight at the brightness of the light.
She was lying in a hospital bed, the voices around her growing clearer.
“She was found on the side of the road by a passer-by.”
Casey opened her eyes.
No one took notice.
There was a policeman in her ward; he gave one look and snorted.
“She’s a hooker,” he said, “probably deserves it.”
The nurse laughed.