The feeling of being all right, of being at peace, of not being fucked-up, that had grown steadily from when Trinnie had woken up shivering and sweating only a few hours before, was coming to its peak, the peak she knew so well and which was all that made her life worth living.
And then, so suddenly, it was over. An abrupt collapse into a state of sickness and disgust. At which point she sucked out the fluid from her veins back into the syringe.
Soon, and really very soon, she would push open the door of her shitty little room in the huge condemned apartment block, where she lived with only a mattress and a few, too few, possessions. She would padlock the door behind her, not wishing to lose what few things she had to the junkie with the haunted black eyes whose room was next door. She would then run a half mile or so of twisted roads clutching in a plastic sachet the mass of powder she'd reconstituted from the contents of the syringe. And when she got to that padlocked and claustrophobic apartment in the council estate, she would give the sachet to Ken, a thickset guy with a ring through his eyebrow and needle-thin pupils. For this she would be paid twenty, thirty or fifty pounds, depending on how much she'd extracted from her veins since she'd last seen him. A necessary transaction for both life and living.
And then with the money paid to her by Ken, dodging past his savage bull terrier as she squeezed out of his apartment, and with the money she also collected from the shops where she'd returned the food she'd regurgitated in neat parcels and wrapped up neatly, the alcohol she spat back into the bottles or cans before sealing them tightly and the cigarettes she artfully regenerated from the ashes left in her ashtray, she would take all this money, sometimes a great deal of money, and go on to the streets where she would squander it on the entirely unsatisfactory sex to which she was somehow addicted and for which she would sometimes pay six, seven or eight men, in just an hour or so, for the privilege of fucking her.
Trinnie wasn't sure why she insisted on paying for sex. It was, if anything, the least pleasant part of her life; the most meaningful and satisfactory being those moments just before she extracted the fluid from her vein and then, with so much ceremony, undid the poultice around her ankle or arm, or released the pressure on the vein on her neck or crotch, and then by the miracle of the creative energy of her cigarette lighter and that old flame-enamelled spoon, manufacture the powder for which she was paid so well.
However, times were getting better. Things were steadily improving. Now she shared a squalid squat with Juanita, the small girl whose tits always dropped out of her shirt, and Phil, whose front teeth were missing, Although Trinnie's memory was at best hazy, she could still occasionally recall those times, long before she settled in the squat, when she mostly slept in shop doorways and underneath railway bridges. And somewhere in that time she remembered waking up after the most blissful high she could ever remember and soon became aware that everything in life was just shit. Shit, crap and just fucking awful!
Why did she spend so much money paying men to fuck her? Except for the odd few kind words they said when they left, and sometimes, but not always, when they met, it was just fucking. Fuck. Fuck. Fucking. They would push their tiny shrivelled penises into her vagina, cunt, twat, (whatever it was called, it was just a hole between her legs, with no feeling and no sensation), sometimes sheathed in a condom and sometimes, but less frequently, not. Then it would almost suddenly suck up all the fluid that had previously swollen the nipple of the condom or trickled down her inner thighs, and, like a rubber syringe, become stiff and hard. And the pleasure of the fucking would be up against a wall in a dark alley, on the back seat of a car, on the mattress in her squalid room or behind a bush in the park.
For this dubious pleasure, she paid the men sometimes up to fifty pounds a time for the privilege of fucking her. Sometimes she would pay more, perhaps a whole ton, but for this she was paid at least twenty quid for a small room in a seedy hotel, that, despite the many semen stains on the linen, was the nearest to comfort Trinnie ever got to know. And usually before she splashed out on such an expensive fuck, sometimes where her arse was also violated, and on one occasion where she spat out urine from her mouth straight into the penis in front of her, she would stay in that room all night, usually totally smashed, before extracting the fluid from her veins for which Ken so handsomely rewarded her.
But her life was definitely getting better.
Trinnie regarded the skin on her calf muscle through bleary eyes. She remembered she once sported a horrible septic scar there, which got gradually worse and worse until that vicious bull terrier of Ken's pressed his teeth into her and in a few moments effected a miracle surgery that returned her calf to its current state, where only needle scars marred the skin. And there weren't as many parts of her body covered with scars like that as there used to be. In fact, they were gradually healing up, one by one.
She didn't feel as ill as she used to, either. Okay, she still felt pretty much like shit most of the time, but just straight nauseous, not like really, really influenza- or pneumonia-type ill. The horrible spots that had ruined her complexion were getting slightly less swollen. There wasn't nearly as much pus coming out of them nowadays.
But Trinnie had only recently started caring at all about anything much, and her memories of really not that long ago seemed to be increasingly repulsive, whereas at the time she didn't care very much at all. Her life was one round of pulling fluid out of her veins, selling it to Ken and his vicious bull terrier, which Trinnie was much more careful about treading on, and buying men's services.
Of course, Trinnie didn't just pay men to fuck her. Sometimes she paid for a blow job, where she fed the semen from her throat back into the penis's tiny little hole. Sometimes all she did, and this hardly cost her anything, hardly the price of even one fix for which she was paid by Ken, was to take the penis in the palm of her hand, coated with semen that she'd rubbed onto it from a tissue in her pocket, feed it back into the vent, and then pump the shaft until it lost the stiffness it so abruptly began with and fell soft and limp between the man's knees. However, she noticed that as time went by, she was paying more and more for sex, but finding less need for it, while at the same time her business of extracting powder from her veins to sell to Ken was becoming less profitable.
Trinnie wasn't at all sure when it was she somehow gained a kind of lucidity and clarity of thought that had simply not been there until that time. At first, it appeared as a little chink between her passion for sex and her declining, but still lucrative, business in powder extraction. It was probably about the time that she moved out of the squat, leaving behind her companions, some she observed to be in a totally unhealthy condition, and moved into a relatively luxurious, but actually squalid, bedsit, where at least she had a proper bed and a kitchen. She was also surrounded by spoons, razor blades, mirrors, empty bottles of wine and whiskey, crumpled-up newspapers and the remains of take-away food she might later return neatly wrapped and miraculously reconstituted.
She still had plenty of sex, although quite often the men who provided her with it would arrive at her apartment unannounced. Then Trinnie would pay them for the sex they would enjoy for the next five to ten minutes and then escort them back to the street corner where for a short while she would linger smoking cigarettes before returning to her bedsit. Then, after another while, and perhaps a spliff, another unannounced visitor would come to her apartment only for her to have to pay him for sex.
She wasn't so much beginning to enjoy sex as becoming more aware of it actually happening. Her cunt was becoming more sensitive, and yes! now and then, she got a sensation from the penis thrusting into her, usually not long after it was put in place and sucked in its semen, that was very nearly pleasurable. But nothing as much as pleasurable as that sensation she got just before she extracted fluid from her veins and reconstituted it into powder ready to sell to Ken.
After a while, it wasn't Ken at all to whom she was selling powder, although Trinnie knew of his whereabouts. He was now a much less frequent buyer, and one she found rather less appealing as her sensitivity towards her environment grew more acute. In fact, she now only sold powder to Ken once or twice a week. More often, she sold powder to a much nicer couple who were both fairly blitzed out of it all the time, but a lot less prone to irrational acts of violence and didn't keep horrible dogs around their apartment. But as her friendship warmed towards Ally and Pete, as they were called, and she had fewer arguments with them about how they weren't able to afford to buy the powder from her that she'd extracted from her veins, she saw less and less of Ken, and became correspondingly less keen on having sex with strange men.
Just as Trinnie's consciousness and awareness became more coherent, she also became more untidy. For some reason, she stopped steadily removing rubbish from her floor and returning it to the shops where she bought it, and began to deliberately add to it. Maybe, she wasn't that bad to start off with, maybe only once a month or whatever, but just after she'd returned every last bit of rubbish to the shops, and a huge exercise that had been, perhaps taking six months or more to do, she deliberately emptied a whole load of rubbish all over the place. She blew out dust onto the carpet, scattered newspapers about, spilt ashtrays onto the floor and carefully replaced stains and marks to the kitchen and bathroom furniture.
Still, despite this sluttish behaviour, she was actually paying for sex rather less often, though she paid more for it, and, strangely enough, got rather less sex for her money. She was also treated with more kindness by her clients, some of whom she paid to see more than once a week. Perhaps she paid more for sex because she was better looking. Many of the spots on her face had cleared up, some of her needle scars had vanished, and she started applying make-up around her lips and eyes. At first she was rather inexpert, always being in a hurry and not really bothered by the results, but after a while, just after waking up each evening, she washed out of the sink a more attractive face that she so laboriously removed later in the day.
And she was still extracting a lot of fluid from her veins, but now mostly from those in her arm and legs. And she was being paid less, sometimes a lot less, for the paltry amounts she sold to Ally and Pete, who would take the reconstituted powder, carefully weigh it, and replace it into plastic sachets.
It was difficult to tell when Trinnie lost her appetite for sex with strange men. Bit by bit, it became less frequent. Perhaps only one or two a night, usually just before taking them to a hotel where she might buy them a drink or two as a reward.
And then one morning, just before going to bed, she had a blazing row with a tall fair-haired man who stormed angrily into her room. This was Paul, who after this acrimonious and tearful encounter became her most frequent lover. In fact, there were sometimes days on end when the only person Trinnie would fuck was Paul. And she didn't even have to pay him anything to persuade him to do so!
Life was now much better, although Paul was often quite tearful, sometimes angry, sometimes melancholy, and he lived in a flat elsewhere in the city where he increasingly asked Trinnie to live with him. In fact, this seemed to be the general direction of Trinnie's relationship with him. She often wondered whether she would ever live with Paul permanently rather than stay in the bedsit, which incidentally was gradually becoming tidier. She would now empty rubbish onto the floor two, even three times a week, but not nearly in such great quantity. She was drinking less, smoking less, but strangely, although she was extracting fluid from her veins once, sometimes twice, a day she was also now smoking dope, snorting out neat lines of cocaine into neat rows and spitting out neat little pills. As she became more lucid, she also appreciated quite varied new feelings and sensations, some of which intimately related to whatever substance she regurgitated and for which she was paid by Ally and Paul, and also by some other friends of hers.
She wasn't sure when she stopped paying for sex. Not long before she took up this job in an office. Not that she was very good at her job. In fact, she was absolutely useless. From the day she was escorted to her desk by the security guard, she wasn't sure why anyone would tolerate her being there. She'd sit in the toilet, extracting fluid from her veins, and, rather more often, snort powder down her nose through a twenty pound note and onto a glass mirror she carried for the purposes of catching the powder before gathering it into a plastic sachet to sell to Ally and Pete.