The Heroin Brothel (Katrina)
This brothel seemed to attract those who preferred heroin as their choice of drug. Not all, but a good seventy percent at least, mostly functioning normally. My rules were no drugs allowed on the premises. If they felt unwell or needed to leave they could excuse themselves if they promised to put themselves down on other shifts. If they returned that same day feeling well and wanting to continue working, all good, but only if functional. If heavily under the influence, and it was obvious, then there would be no opportunity of working for the rest of the shift. They could sleep it off in the girls staff room but I wouldn't place them on the floor.
If I'd been totally vigilant there'd have been hardly any staff at all. This brothel was on a very busy brothel strip and competition was fierce. Who was I to judge? I found heroin addicts not that hard to deal with. I'm not condoning, I'm just talking from experience. They were, normally, too tired to argue and when coming down, sad and pathetic. I never felt threatened by them, unlike with those of the crystal meth persuasion.
This brothel had many dramas. Characters that made the job, shall I say interesting, for want of a better word. Katrina was the most interesting of all.
There was the saga of the bank robbery, as told to me by Katrina, or Kat as I came to call her. I knew she'd done time in prison for bank robbery. On a slow night I was to hear of how and why one caper was committed. She was boasting that she was so tough and that she had once robbed a bank without a weapon and got away with it. I reminded her that she had done time for bank robbery, to which she replied, “Oh that. Well, that's because I got cocky and greedy. I'm talking that first time.”
I believe Kat had a death wish, which I understood from her telling me about herself. The most amazing person, not only woman, I got to know. Our introduction wasn't smooth. I'd not long started work at The Heroin Brothel and it was not uncommon for girls to follow managers as they moved employment (more to come about this later). I never encouraged this but I didn't knock them back if they me found me either.
Not long into a shift I get a call. “Hi CeeCee, it's Katrina. Carol told me you were now working there. Can I work tonight? I've got a medical certificate”. (Blood and STI results had to be updated every three months or sex workers were not permitted to work).
“Come in and we'll see”, I respond to her.
“What do you mean? You know me. We've worked together before”.
“Yes. For one night with Carol. She can vouch for me”.
“Come in and we'll talk, that's the best I can do”, I say, as I'm busy and need to get on with other duties. I finish off with “see you when you get here”.
She gets to me quickly. An hour later I hear, “I'm Katrina”.
I look up and breathe a sigh of relief when I see her.
“If you have your medical certificate, you can start straight away”.
She's surprised. “What was that bullshit on the phone?”
“There are at least a couple hundred of you and only one of me”, I reply. “Sorry if you're not in my recall. The last lady ‘recommended’ by Carol had no teeth and was covered in sores. I wouldn't be using her as a reference if I was you”.
“Well, it was only the one night. Way back when…”
I was to spend many nights from then on listening to my new fascinating friend. I was to learn that everyone knew Kat. She was the best raconteur. I'd find myself laughing when I shouldn't. It was like listening to a Tarantino or Guy Ritchie screenplay.
She'd been in the industry as a sex worker since she was eighteen and it was her twentieth year (give or take eight years in prison). Most of the girls liked and highly respected her. She was one tough broad. The queen bee, yet fair with her authority, she was also a functioning heroin addict. She never robbed from the individual but had no problem with taking from corporations to feed her habit.
This one night she's telling me about that first bank robbery. Her accomplice is well versed in bank robberies and known to authorities so she volunteers to do the deed alone, but under his guidance as she wasn’t known to police.
I interrupt her here. “Whatever possessed you to rob a bank?”
“I don't know. Maybe it was coming off all them pills. On top of everything else!”, she snarls in my face.
“I'd have handed over my own money with the bank’s”, I respond.
In the words of Kat, recollected to the best of my memory:
It was the 90’s. We time it for 3.40pm. A city bank, twenty minutes before closing. I'm dressed all dark, a hoodie covering my hair. Sunglasses on. I choose my mark. She's the one. I wait in line. When my turn comes another teller calls next. I hesitate. Long enough for the guy behind to push in. My mark then calls next. I move in quickly. When I approached the counter I pushed a note toward her. My hand in my pocket, aimed in her direction like a gun. The note reads, “don't touch the $5 notes or I'll shoot (that's where the dye bomb is hidden, this knowledge from her accomplice). Only $10 notes and upwards or I'll shoot. Hands anywhere else and I'll shoot”. The note continues with instructions. The teller looks at the note, then back at me and freezes. I whisper threateningly to give me the bloody money! Nothing. She's frozen to the spot.
Another teller comes into her cubicle and stops mid sentence when he sees the situation. He looks down at the note then up at me, turns to the girl, back towards me, nudges the girl and suddenly two pair of hands are filling the bag with money. Now that's more like it! I turn towards the front door. It looks so far away. The building is huge and chosen because it was a major bank containing more loot. The wall clock says 4pm. Closing time. I casually walk across the room. A walk that takes forever.
The guard is standing near the door, the door that needs to open. I don't want to think about it being locked. My hand reaches out, I grasp the knob, it turns for me. The door opens and I step outside. Sunshine and a breeze hit me and I'm in fucking Disneyland!
I walk fast towards where I know my accomplice is waiting just around the corner, stripping my dark outer clothing as I go to reveal white sportswear. I spot him instantly holding an open gym bag into which I throw my darks. My gym bag contains the money.
Sirens can be heard in the distance. I panic, he doesn't. He begins to exercise on the spot and instructs me to quickly do the same. We are doing stretching exercises in our lovely sports whites as the cop cars drive by.
I rang my mum from interstate to give her the good and bad news. Good news, she was coming into some money. Bad news, the girl all over the News was her daughter”.