Life in lockdown next door to a brothel
Each week, James Weir recaps his life in isolation. This week, he shares the realities of quarantining in an alleyway next to adult parlours.
My house doesn't have ocean views but, a few times a day, water gushes out of one of the brothels next door and a steady stream of murkiness flows past my kitchen window.
If you close your eyes and don't think too hard, it's almost like living by the sea.
Is the erotic parlour still operating during lockdown? Look, I don't know. And I'm not about to go launch a Four Corners investigation because the madam is an intimidating lady. All leopard print tops and smudged makeup, she has the blonde hair and sun damage of the perfect Underbelly matriarch. She even travels with her own orange traffic cones in the back of her Rav 4 and plots them down around the street to save her parking spaces when she has to duck out somewhere.
You don't mess with a woman who travels with her own orange traffic cones.
Despite the lockdown they still hose out the joint. And another venue nearby still washes its towels with potent eucalyptus oil. Why do this in lockdown when no customers are coming? After decades of operation, it's just better to be safe than sorry.
While the murky river splatters down the alleyway, the distinct smell of eucalyptus oil wafts through the crisp Sydney autumn air. Who says the big city is detached from country Australia? It's like a little slice of the outback right here in this rat-infested alleyway.
Speaking of which …
"We got one!" Judith yelled at me from her terrace window this week.
Judith is my elderly neighbour who has just discovered ABC iview. She's obsessed with it. And if she tells you to watch some boring documentary on iview, you better bloody well watch it because she'll sure as hell quiz you about it next time you see her down at the bins.
Anyway, her catch of the day was a rat. They've somehow found their way up four flights of stairs to her attic bedroom and she has been trying to kill them. After finding success, she offered to loan me her trap.
I politely declined because there's no infestation inside my place but severed rat heads have been appearing on the ground outside my door lately and I don't even want to begin thinking about how or why it's happening. It's just one more eerie sign that the world is ending.
Standing on the balcony in the sun while dodging FaceTime calls with my editor, I breath in that fresh smell of eucalyptus and a tiny girl swaggers out the back door of the erotic salon and starts walking down the alley.
Staring up at me and refusing to blink, this has become our daily game of chicken. She leaves before lunch and returns five minutes later, eating hash browns. It happens again at sunset.
"Still working?" I asked, instantly losing the game of chicken.
"Nah, just … living," she mumbled.
She trotted back down the lane and squatted behind a car. Probably the madam's Rav 4.
After a few seconds, she shot back up and wrestled with the buttons on her jeans.
"Have a good night," she smiled as she skipped over the stream of water in the gutter and disappeared inside.
Originally published as Life in lockdown next door to a brothel