Heather's Story as told to Sam, during her first night aboard Clara
I was fifteen when I first had a joint. I knew that some of my school friends had tried it, but I'd never been offered one before. We, Carol and me, were at a party. It was this girl Ruth's sixteenth. She wasn't really a friend, but everyone was invited. This friend of Carol's and mine was going and so we towed along.
Ruth's parents were away. There was loud rock music playing. I remember somebody kept playing Jimi Hendrix. Carol said she had a joint, that she'd got it from this guy Kevin, who had the hots for her. I thought he was a turd and she should keep away from him. We'd already been drinking. Scotch, of course. Having a joint didn't seem like a big deal. Other kids were toking, and so we just lit up and passed it back and forth. I remember that it burned my bloody throat and made me cough like hell. But other than that I didn't get any real effect other than wobbly legs. Later, I learned that was normal, but at the time I thought what a waste of money it was. Then the laughter started. God, my bloody ribs and face hurt from it. It was whilst we were in pointless hysterics that Voodoo Chile was put on again. I couldn't believe the lyrics, and the images they created in my mind. I was totally sucked into it. It stirred feelings inside me that excited and frightened me. And I wanted more. I wanted stronger and more. I was hooked from that night without knowing it.
I guess there must have been something missing inside me. I needed to feel that way. Whenever I hear Voodoo Chile now, it takes me back to that night, that first feeling of â€¦ I don't know how to say it. But it was like a rush of adrenaline that goes on and on. When I became aware of what was going on around me, I saw Kevin standing too close to Carol with his hand up her skirt. It wasn't long, a few months maybe, before I tried speed for the first time. It had the same effect as when I first tried bud. I just wanted more, longer, stronger.
By the time I was sixteen, I needed to earn money to get high at the weekends. Even back then, it wasn't cheap. Like so many things in life, it started almost by accident. The creep that we bought speed, or occasionally acid, from, had a thing for younger girls. When I was stone-broke one weekend, he gave me two acid tabs, saying I could pay him later. Later, later that night, the payment became a blowjob. By that time I was too far gone to care. Suddenly it was easy to get high; all I needed to do was suck him off. It didn't seem wrong, or dirty. It was just â€¦ part of that scene. I'd seen other girls working the corner of William Street. It had occurred to me that I could do the same thing. What's the difference? A guy I know or a stranger? I thought that in some ways, it would be easier if it were a stranger that I never had to see or speak to again. Never had to look at or be looked at by them again. In some ways it was; in other ways not.
In those days there was a cafÃ© on the corner opposite William St. I sat in there one night, watching what they did. How they would flash their arse or tits as a car slowed and crawled past them. How they would lean in the window. And then how sometimes they would get in. I timed some of them. I wanted to know how many jobs a girl could do in a night. I had no idea how much they were charging, or what they were doing, whether it was sex or just a hand-job. I determined to find out.
About two weeks later, I followed one of the girls, well a woman really. She looked young and sexy from a distance, but up close she was probably ten years older than me. I followed her into a bar on Darlinghurst, then sat at the bar next to her, looking at her when I thought she wouldn't notice. I'm not sure what I was going to say, what I was going to ask her, but before I got the chance she turned round to face me and told me to fuck off, that she wasn't a fuckin' dyke, now piss off. I did, and quickly, but I didn't give up.
I was back at the cafÃ© a couple of nights later. Again, I watched and timed one of them. She was a girl that looked to be about the same age as I was. I had walked slowly past her on the way to the cafÃ©. She was prettier than I was. I remember wondering what such a pretty girl was doing working as a prostitute. Surely, she could have found a good boyfriend. It didn't occur to me that she might need the money for drugs as well.
I'd dressed in a short skirt and low cut top beneath a three-quarter length jacket, thinking that I might fit in better if I tried to talk to one of them. There were two of them on the corner, occasionally talking and passing out cigarettes. I waited until the other one got into a car, and then I walked out of the cafÃ©, across the road and into the night.
Her name was Norma, at least that was the name she used, and the one she told me. It never occurred to me to use a false nameâ€”talk about naive. When I stood near her, watching the stream of cars as if waiting for a job, she barely glanced at me. When she did look, there was distrust, or perhaps hostility in her eyes. I was shaking. Fear, nerves. Eventually she turned and looked at me, looking me up & down.
"New at this?"
All I could do was nod. Her voice was surprisingly soft and gentle. I'd expected an angry snarl.
"First time?" she asked, lifting her chin and shaking back her long red hair.
I nodded again, and made a sound like a frog.
She examined me, appraised me as if she was an agent and I was applying to be a model.
"Pull your skirt up another few inches and pull your top down to show more of your norks."
I did as ordered and she looked me over again, this time nodding with slight approval. "Have you got rubbers and lube?"
"No." I said, finally finding a voice that didn't sound like mine.
"What the bloody hell were you going to do?"
I swallowed hard not knowing what to say.
It was Norma who taught me how to look after myself. What to look for to know who to avoid. It was Norma who picked my first John; got me started on the path to what was to become my career. She wasn't that much older than me, but Christ, she was so much smarter. I found out later, that she had been on the game for over a year when we met. Same reason as me; drugs.
Anyway, almost before I knew what was happening, she was pushing me forward toward a car that I thought had stopped for her.
I was terrified at first, then I noticed that he was at least as nervous as I was. When he shifted gear, I saw that he was wearing a wedding band. He must have been nervous about being caught. Maybe he had the guilts. Both. I remember more about that first trick than any of the others. It's etched into my memory.
So that was my first day working at The Cross. It might not sound like much now, but it left a big dent in me. I made twenty dollars that night, and spent it all on speed. After that, I used to hang out with Norma and a few others on the corner. It became easier as time passed, plus I needed the money more and more. I got smarter in one way, earned more money, but upped the drug intake at the same time, so more stupid in another.
If you enjoyed this first part of Heather's story, bookmark this page and return next month for the second installment.
Until then, happy reading ...