It was Monday morning when I received a message that Mr. Brusco wanted to see me. In no time I was there and knocked at his office door. He said, ‘Come in. Oh, it’s you, Dolores, sit down.’
After I sat down, he continued, ‘I see you are not obeying the rules of the house. You have been away two for full days without notifying anyone and you have missed your dances Saturday.’
‘I needed a rest. It was my first time in over two months, you well know that. Besides I’m an adult and I’m responsible for my own actions, Mr. Brusco.’
“Not exactly, Dolores. I have invested a lot in you, don’t forget that. And it is quite clearly written in the contract you have signed. This time, to make you aware of your responsibilities, you will be penalized by losing two weeks’ wages.’
I was fuming with rage and I couldn’t control myself any longer, ‘Mr. Brusco, I’m not like the other uneducated girls that you have collected at the edges of the Pampas or the Andes Forest. I know well what my rights are in this country. You already owe me so much in retained wages. The contractual laws of Australia speak very clearly on this matter. As soon I’m out of this office, I’ll talk to my lawyer.’
At my words, Mr. Brusco looked at me, not expecting such a direct attack from me. Sweat was running from his brow, and he was visibly pale.
‘I see you are a wicked young woman and you are refusing a marvelous career and fame in the future. I don’t need a stubborn girl creating problems with the others. I believe we are reaching a point where we have to make some mutual decisions. I have an offer for you.’
‘I’m ready to listen to your offer, Mr. Brusco.’
‘Very well, Dolores. Our contract of work will terminate now. You will be paid to the last cent in the way mentioned on our original contract, less, of course, the cost of boarding and the cost of traveling. You will move out of the boarding house immediately once you have a cheque in your hands, and you will not speak to the others about what we have discussed. These are my conditions to terminate our contractual obligations. I hope that is agreeable with you, Dolores.’
‘I think your request is fair. This arrangement will be of mutual interest, Mr. Brusco.’
I soon had a cheque for a few thousand dollars. I needed some advice from my friend, Lee. He would help me to deposit that money in a bank and find proper accommodation.
I also had to think about my future. I still had a valid working visa in this country and had the possibility to earn more money before returning to Brazil.
* * *
I phoned Lee in the afternoon, and he agreed to have dinner with me in the evening in Chinatown. When I gave him the news he was surprised and happy for me.
‘I’ll give you all my support, even though my time is limited. I have to present my thesis two weeks from tomorrow, and my father wants me back in Jakarta soon after.’
‘Thank you, Lee, but mainly I need some advice, and help to find temporary accommodation. I will not disrupt your work. I know how important it is to you.’
‘Until you don’t find something more suitable you can share my room, and that will settle one of the urgent things. My second piece of advice to you is to find the kind of work you want to do next and reply to as many advertisements for work you can find. Time and luck will put you on the right track.’
* * *
It is now two weeks since Lee returned to Indonesia. I miss him. He has been very supportive with words, advice and love. I know I will never see him again. His father will soon find a wife for him.
I’m renting a small room, the cheapest I could find, till better times come along. I have part-time work as a waiter in a popular night restaurant. That also will do until better times. I have called several modeling agencies in the city. They all asked for a portfolio of photos, and a photographer took some good ones of me, particularly one in a bikini, on a terrace overlooking the Opera House. They cost me a fortune, nearly half of the money that Mr. Brusco paid me. But I suppose it is an investment and someone will call me soon.
* * *
It is now six weeks since I left my photos with modeling agencies. Still, my mobile hasn’t received a call from any of them. Should I have saved that money? Should I have returned to Brazil? I won’t return to the States unless I make good money. Mum has to see me as a young wealthy woman, completely in control of my life. I’m patient enough.
I still have a valid visa for the next eighteen months. I’m sure I’ll make it.
* * *
Am I living in the wrong country? It seems that people hardly notice me, even though I’m quite attractive and I dress very well. What is wrong? Is it me or the men of this city?
* * *
I’ll wait two more weeks. If I have not received any inquiries from the modeling agencies, I have to look for some other permanent job, paying more money than I’m earning now. My savings account is getting smaller day by day.
* * *
I am without friends. I spend my free time in Hyde Park, reading books borrowed from the Public Library. I have also visited the Museum and The Art Gallery which are not far from Hyde Park. I also like to walk to The Opera House. From there I love to look at the sailing boats zigzagging across the Harbour.