April is my favourite month in Perth, no question. Here in the middle of it, on a mild Tuesday night, I was sitting in my car at the Marracoonda Motel, near Perth airport. Meanwhile Nikki was throwing some poor hapless farmer boy around the room I was parked directly out the front of. Occasional drops of dark rain fell on my windscreen as I shared texts with Lauren. It was the same old, same old:
(1) She wanted me there.
(2) I couldn’t make it.
(3) She was sad about it.
I elected not to think either about her or our issues. When I didn’t have my face eight inches from the windscreen trying to predict the exact timing and location of an individual rain drop from landing on a patch of glass, I was writing in my notebook. Already it was full of enough information to bring down I-don’t-know-how-many marriages, careers and relationships, but tonight I was attempting something else. I was trying desperately to remember all the names of rock bands which had numbers in them and I was disappointed with the brevity of my list:
10,000 Screaming Maniacs
The Jackson 5.
I considered adding the The John Butler Trio but decided against it, at least this was the internal debate I was having when “Blinded By The Light” started playing on the radio. I considered some universal spirit was speaking to me because I was sure it was sung by 10CC. I added it to the list immediately. I wanted to call someone. When it finished the radio announcer informed me it was actually sung by Manfred Mann. I switched over to ABC Radio where they were in the middle of a conversation centred on the state of the Catholic Church. There was some event happening in Europe compelling tens of thousands of pilgrims to gather. I found the whole Catholicism thing hard to swallow. The reason being, in Paris, years earlier, I met a bloke who had handled Pope John Paul II’s bank accounts. He told me the pontiff was a billionaire by the time he died. In my mind then, I presumed the entire Catholic Church to be a front or, at the very least, the theological equivalent of McDonalds. I smiled at the notion of an Italian hooker getting driven to the Vatican by someone like myself. For a few moments I even imagined that a Catholic god existed.
Eventually I flicked stations on my way back to commercial garbage. When Nikki emerged from the booking I asked her if she’d ever had sex with a bishop. She laughed. The highest she’d ever gone in the clergy was a young priest called Benjamin, in Brisbane. He never paid her. She met him at a function and decided to do him simply because he was a priest. She said he came in ten seconds flat and sobbed afterwards. I suggested to Nik he might have considered himself to have been sucked-in by the devil and to this day I can still see her laughing.
After the airport booking there was an engagement in Cloverdale where she was directed to have sex with two men at once – truckies, it seemed to me, based on the vehicles parked out front – and I smiled at what the Catholic hierarchy might make of what I witnessed during the hour.
It was a mild night and the front door of the house was left open. From where I was parked on the street I could see Nikki and the man she was having sex with, as a silhouette on a wall inside the house. Nikki’s shadow suggested she was straddling one of the men who was seated. I couldn’t really make out her breasts or anything, but clearly she was leaning way back. Her hair draped straight and tapered almost to the floor and she was wailing and moaning at the top of her voice, riding the man like a crazy rodeo girl.
In the middle of all of this I got out of my car and stretched my legs, wondering if any of the neighbours had their windows open. Truckie #1 eventually seemed to do his biscuits and after a hiatus of five minutes Nikki started up again as Truckie #2 got to work. Truckie #1 appeared in the front doorway while his mate, inside, started to cop the full bed and breakfast from Nikki, whose earlier vocal form seemed to be just a preamble to the real thing. Anyone might have thought that she was being attacked with a blunt saw. While I munched on an apple, I began to keep an eye out for any lights that might switch on from each of the houses next door or from over the road. Nikki was on fire.
Truckie #1 didn’t seem to care. He’d had his late night supper and was content to stand on the front grass, bare-chested in a pair of jeans, smoking a post-coital fag under a darkened sky. He walked halfway to the letter box to urinate in the garden and from 20 metres away it was obvious he couldn’t care less about the noise emanating from inside the house. He looked up after he’d tucked his well-used schlong back into his trousers. Only then did he spot me. I raised a silent hand in greeting, which he returned with a hand that held a glowing cigarette. Eventually he walked back inside. After some muffled movement, which silenced Nikki, and with roughly 25 minutes to go in the booking, Truckie #1 rejoined the fracas full-throttle. It made for fascinating silhouette-viewing. I had to walk ten or so metres up the road to get the full picture and, while I felt a bit naughty that I was effectively spying on Nik, I didn’t think she’d mind.
Back in the car, Nikki was fresh-faced, revitalized and ready for the next mission – namely Manuel, at the Bentley Motor Inn. After Manuel our night turned sour very quickly.
Trace telephoned to tell me the betting maniac, Little John, and his girl needed some help. Gabriela had apparently forgotten to get her client to sign the credit card slip before her booking took place. With the man’s love juice spilt, however, he was flat-out refusing to sign anything. Trace, who was in my ear on the phone, seemed to think Nikki might be able to help convince him.
‘Oh, great!’ bemoaned the girl in question, after I told her the plan. ‘What am I supposed to do about it and how come we’re going, anyway? Our night was going so well!’
I agreed outright. We eventually arrived at the house and couldn’t do anything – the man was too drunk. More infuriating, however, I arrived back at my car, out on the street, to discover I’d locked my keys in the ignition. And then it began to rain – hard. By the time the cops showed up I was soaked to the bone – they were called earlier by the inebriated client in fear of Little John and I beating him up. The male and female officers were young and friendly, not to mention highly amused at my rather miserable predicament.
Two hours later the man in the yellow roadside-assist vehicle took 19 seconds to open my driver’s side door with a piece of wire.
I was with Nikki once again exactly 21 hours later, having made less than $100 the night before. We were parked up at a deathly-still Kings Park. The view of the city was spectacular as always and bookings-wise we were doing pretty well. Having forgotten the disaster of the previous night, we were in the middle of a discussion about Nikki’s career.
‘Shit, do you know, I’ve never actually thought about it Patrick. I wonder how many?’
‘Well, we can probably work it out.’
‘Oh, okay,’ she said, excitedly. ‘How?’
‘How old were you when you started working?’
‘Oh God,’ she murmured. ‘What was I? 18. No! 17.’
‘How old are you now?’
‘You can’t ask a lady that, Paddo! I’m 33...oh no, hang on. My brother’s 33. I’m 32.’
‘Okay. So you’ve been working consistently, give or take, for about 15 years.’
‘Actually, I didn’t work much for the first two years I was in Europe. I was in love and all that.’
‘Oh, that’s nice,’ I said, genuinely pleased romance still existed out there in the world. ‘So that’s 13 years. And that’s working for most weeks, would you say?’
‘Yeah, I had the odd holiday but I probably worked about five nights a week. Four, maybe?’
‘Fair enough. Let’s say four nights just to be conservative.’
Nikki looked across at me quizzically. ‘But you can’t count all the couples and all the two-girl two-guys, and all the regulars. How are you going to deal with that?’
‘Yeah, shit, you’re right. Okay, well let’s just count the number of bookings.’
Nikki nodded. I contemplated the maths.
‘So that’s 13 years, times 52 weeks, times 4 nights per week. Oh shit, that’s a point,’ I said, arriving at another mathematical impasse.
‘What’s that?’ Nik asked, worried.
‘Well, how many bookings per night would you have done, on average? Five?’
‘Oh, shit no. At least seven.’
‘Seven a night? You averaged seven bookings a night for 13 years? Fuck, that’s impressive, Nik!’
She smiled. ‘Yeah. It is, hey.’
‘Righto, well let’s say seven. So that’s 13 times 52 times 4 times 7. Shit, hang on, I need my notepad.’
I turned the interior light on which took both of us a few seconds to get used to, before I began my sexual mathematics. Nikki leant over towards me and watched. After a minute and thirty seconds, having seen the final number, she sat back in her seat and chuckled quite disbelievingly. I too, was rather stunned.
‘So, you’ve done just under 19,000 bookings, Nik. Congratulations.’
I stuck my hand out and we shook.
‘...But I didn’t sleep with all of them!’ she said, a little frantic. ‘Nowhere near it, probably.’
‘Still,’ I nodded approvingly, ‘they reckon Sting has slept with 5,000 women. He’s a fuckin’ lightweight, sweetheart.’Nik cracked-up.