Excerpt from Patient Women (Nora at 22)
When it was slow, Nora told Billy the plots of Russian novels. They had
just finished The Brothers Karamazov, which Billy enjoyed, and were now
starting Anna Karenina.
a brilliant woman, “Nora told Billy, who was lying on the floor with a
bottle of bourbon between her knees. “Most people don’t realize that.
She can do anything, except speak up for herself.” Nora reached over and
filled her tumbler from Billy’s bottle. “While she’s
shacked up with Vronsky, she writes children’s books, she studies
architecture, follows local politics; anything Count Vronsky does, she
does too, and better. She even handles horses better.”
The phone rang. Billy sat up.
“Friends with Style”, Nora answered. She listened into the receiver for
a few moments, then hung up. “Breather,” she told Billy. Billy lay back
“So, why can’t she talk about herself?” Billy asked.
shrugged “Never learned. The men in the book do it for her. At one
point, Dolly—that’s Stiva’s wife—tries to talk to her about what’s
happening in her life and Anna just blanks. She starts to talk a little
but then it gets onto abortion.”
“They had abortions then?” Billy asked.
“What do you think?” Nora replied. “Anna may have had one by this point
in the novel, or may be planning to; it’s very strongly suggested. The
thing is, she can’t talk about any of this stuff, not Vronsky, not
leaving her husband; she just shuts down.”
“So what happened to her?” Billy asked.
Before Nora could answer, the doorbell rang.
“Coming,” Billy called gaily. She looked through the peep-hole.
But instead of a trick, a woman entered. She was about thirty years
old, tall, big-boned and ungainly. She was wearing a plaid dress trimmed
with lace and velvet; she had patent leather flats with bows on her
too-large feet, with straps bracing the shoes. She looked, Nora thought,
like a giant child going to a birthday party.
“I’m here for a job,” the woman said.
Billy and Nora exchanged looks.
“The ad said you needed models,” the woman insisted.
Nora sat her down to wait for the pimp and told her the rates: one
hundred dollars for suck and fuck, two hundred for Greek, three hundred
for dominance, no equipment. The women took half.
“I’m working now,” the woman interrupted. “I have a job now.” She was rocking slightly, as if she needed to pee.
“That’s nice,” Nora answered automatically.
The woman smiled. “I know how to work,” she said proudly.
“How much do you make now?” Nora asked, expecting her to double her take.
“Five dollars,” the woman replied.
“How much?” Nora asked in disbelief.
The woman rocked harder. “I know how to work,” she said. “I make two
hundred dollars a day. Two hundred dollars a day.” She looked at Nora.
“I know how to work,” she repeated, “I know how to work, I know how to
work, I know how to work. I know how to work, I know how to work . . .
Patient Women on Amazon
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