When the front door slammed shut, Pamela opened her eyes. Much too agitated to find sleep, she listened to the distant sound of the elevator descending with John into the underground car park. Pamela sat up and brushed the tangled strands of hair from her exhausted face. That night had been damned exhausting for her too. Now she could only hope that her preparatory work would bear fruit.
Wearily, she reached into the drawer of her bedside table and took out a full pack of Camel and a cheap lighter.
John hated smoking in bed. When she first slept with him, she wanted to light a cigarette, just like she was used to after sex. Even though John smoked himself, he had made it clear to her that he absolutely couldn't stand a bedroom that smelled of smoke. Since then, Pamela had given up the cigarette afterwards. But her little, nasty habit would no longer be an issue. If all went well, John would never forbid her again.
Pamela put a cigarette between her lips and lit it. The first move was always the best. She inhaled the warm, spicy smoke deep into her lungs and then let it escape quickly through her half-open mouth.
Pamela still felt the affectionate kiss goodbye, just as she could smell the aftershave mixed with his sweat on her skin. Pamela raised her bare arm and let her sniffing nose slide over it with her eyes closed. She wanted to memorize his now so familiar smell and keep it in the farthest corner of her heart.
It had not been empty words when she asked him not to drive. At that moment Pamela wished nothing more than that he would have stayed with her. But a machine was running that it couldn't stop .......
As she stared through the semi-dark room, Pamela felt an emptiness and melancholy that she was uncomfortably familiar with. More than 20 years ago she had felt a similar bitter feeling of abandonment in her soul.
Pamela opened the drawer of her bedside table once more and began to rummage under the condoms, paper tissues and the clinical thermometer until she finally found the photo. It was a bad Polaroid, the shades of color way too dull. But it was the only thing she had from her mother and father. The picture was taken in the 1980s at Vancouver's harbor pier, where two young people smiled at the camera in love. Her mother looked like a beautiful Snow White on it, while her father was an Irish colossus with Titian red hair. Was she pregnant then?
Pamela sighed and leaned back and drew greedily on her cigarette, as if she could have held onto it. Out of sheer self-protection, Pamela had forbidden to think of her unstable and spineless mother. But now the last memory of her pushed back into her consciousness with unexpected intensity.
Pamela was hardly more than five years old at the time. But she could still damn well remember that fateful day. For once, her mother hadn't smelled of her best friends gin and bourbon, but of cheap soap. She'd even washed her hair and put on a clean dress that had nothing in common with her normal whore outfits.
They had taken the train from Toronto to Vancouver. There she had put her mother in a taxi and handed the taxi driver the money and the address of the Canettis. Then she hugged Pamela very tightly and with bitter tears promised her that she would come soon and pick her up from her grandparents. That was the last time Pamela had seen her mother.
Pamela carelessly tossed the butt of her cigarette into the half-full champagne glass, where the embers hissed briefly and then went out in a small cloud of smoke. Pamela got up and put on her dressing gown. Then she opened the wide door and went out onto the terrace in the still quiet morning. A cool breeze hit her, but she hardly noticed it. Pamela looked over the stone balustrade into the still glittering sea of lights of Vancouver and with a bitter smile called out into the now slowly receding night sky: "Nothing has turned out as you promised me mother, absolutely nothing."
In the house of the honorable Canettis, Pamela was received anything but gracious. The grandparents refused to accept this child of sin, leaving Maria's older brother Ernesto with no choice but to bring his niece into his family. Aunt Emilia wasn't exactly enthusiastic about the uninvited addition to the family. But as a god-fearing Catholic and as a lady of Vancouver society, she had no choice but to make a good face to the bad game and to show Christian charity and mercy.
It had now started to be a tough time for Pamela. In the Canettis' house there was no talk about Maria. It almost seemed as if this family member would never have existed had it not been for their bastard of an Irish sailor who made a girl happy in every town. But who liked to talk about the black sheep in the family? And it was precisely the venerable and highly respected Canettis who were correct norm addressees in this regard. Maria Canetti's deep fall had given the immaculate white vest of the enterprising and highly respected Canettis a neat black blob, which, with Pamela's permanent presence, was hard to miss.
Pamela's questions about her mother were deliberately ignored until she was finally forbidden to talk about her. For many months, she drowned her despair and longing for her in a sea of tears. At some point, Pamela had given up hope that her mother would come and pick her up. With the loss of that hope, her tears had run dry too. And from that point on, Pamela had ceased to be a child.
While Aunt Emilia had to be blamed for not wanting Pamela for anything, Uncle Ernesto totally ignored his niece. Had it not been for Pamela's two-year-old cousin Pedro, who showed her the lack of affection and attention, Pamela would certainly have been utterly desperate.
It soon turned out that Pamela was an extremely intelligent and alert child. She was able to grasp and combine connections in a flash. In addition, she was a good observer and immediately recognized the weaknesses of others, which she knew how to use for herself. The redhead was extremely hardworking at school and a pretty good athlete too. But no matter how hard she tried, Pamela never received any affection or love from her foster parents. In order not to fall by the wayside mentally, Pamela had to learn at a very young age to suppress or even switch off her emotions. If she was not to experience warmth, at least she wanted to be accepted and respected.