Okay, in this chapter we meet Wheelchair Wanda, the woman we’ve been waiting around a hundred pages to meet. The chapter is two pages long.
I am fed up of these insanely short chapters.
I think we’re supposed to like Wanda, because she’s described very generously. She’s pretty and tanned, and is actually wearing a lot of clothes compared to the other prostitutes we’ve met in this book. Clothes and nice description = you’re meant to be sympathetic.
Anita is unsure about how one approaches a prostitute as it’s something she’s never had to do before. JC walks up and Wanda smiles at him. Yes, he’s so attractive prostitutes will forget that they’re working and need money.
Jean-Claude whispered, ‘Is that a prostitute?’
‘Yes,’ I said.
‘In a wheelchair?’ he asked.
‘My,’ was all he said. I think Jean-Claude was shocked. Nice to know he could be.
Yes, I’m sure the man who lived through widespread syphilis epidemics is shocked by a woman in a wheelchair. Please. The historian in me is just screaming and hacking away at this book at how ridiculous this is. I don’t know how old JC is, but I’m guessing a few hundred years. Right. Okay. Is a woman in a wheelchair working as a prostitute going to be really shocking? He’ll have seen hundreds of prostitutes in his time, ones with limbs missing, disfigured by smallpox, riddled with venereal disease, with open wounds and with degeneration caused by addiction to opium and gin. Oh, and phossy jaw, where your jaw rots from the inside due to phosphorus matches. He’ll have seen rotting corpses in the streets in his time, children with warped limbs starving on street corners, and the horrible effects of cholera. A woman in a wheelchair is not going to shock him. AT ALL.
‘You are the one they refer to as Wheelchair Wanda?’
She grinned suddenly, and her face looked real. Behind all those lovely but fake smiles was a real person.
Yup, we’re meant to like her. She’s a ‘real’ person, unlike the rest of the prostitutes. Anita says that they just want to talk and they’ll pay her the going rate. The going rate is implied to be a lot but the fact we’re not told a specific amount implies that Hamilton doesn’t really know much about prostitution. It doesn’t matter because she’s going to charge it all to expenses anyway.
Tomorrow’s chapter better be more interesting. I don’t want to yell about syphilis again.