my neighbour is a prostitute.

I live in Sydney, on the fringe of the city, in a huge old building that we picked because – as well as being pet-friendly and close to the city – it’s super secure. There are security guards onsite 24/7, access beyond the foyer is via swipe card only, and our car gets to sleep in a lock-up garage every night. It’s great. Or, so we thought.

Last night my husband was chatting to Ed, the guy that runs the corner store across the road, and Ed remarked how much our building had “cleaned up” recently.

“What do you mean?” my husband asked innocently.

“Well, we can see straight into some of the apartments in your building, and it’s pretty lively. There were a couple of drug dealers on level four, but they seem to have moved out. But the hookers? They’re still there. There must be two or three of them, I’m sure. Can’t be just one girl servicing that many blokes.”

What? This is the building in which our next door neighbour baked us strawberry cream cupcakes as a house-warming gesture, right? The same complex where every second apartment is home to a cute, fluffy shih-tsu-esque puppy, and where I occasionally leave the door unlocked if I’m just ducking out for milk?

While my husband picked his jaw up off the floor and paid for his bread and tomato soup, our night security guard – let’s call him Bob – was dealing with one particular ‘lady of the night’ at that very moment.

He’d received a phone call, he told us on the roof later – when we pressed him for confirmation of the prostitutes in our midst – and a small voice begged: “Help me, help me, help, please come quick,” in broken English, before the line went dead.

He wasn’t sure which apartment had called him but he had a fair idea, so he raced up to the young Asian girl’s flat. He could hear yelling and screaming inside, and knocked a few times, but when he got no response, he used his master key to gain entry. He strode in and saw the prostitute, naked and cowering, with her client – also completely starkers – hunched over her, and beating the living crap of her.

“What’s going on here?” Bob growled.

The guy jumped up, put his hands in the air in mock surrender, and said “Nothing, nothing, I’m just leaving.” Bob waited while the guy got dressed, who – like nothing out of the ordinary was happening – tucked his shirt into his pants and then casually threw a hundred bucks on the dresser, turned to the prostitute, and said “See you tomorrow”.

I shit you not.

It sounds like something out of a bad Aussie cop drama, but it’s not. It’s happening for reals. In. My. Building. A few doors down from my apartment!

It’s so awful to think of this poor young girl going through all of that crap for a few bucks – and it’s unsettling, to say the least, thinking that prostitution patrons are roaming our supposedly secure halls at all hours of the day and night. It’s all a bit gross and icky. At least it makes for interesting dinner party conversation..