A young man falls in love with a sex worker in this novella by Harvey Havel.
The story’s narrator, Charlie, is a student at Trinity College in Connecticut. His family hails from New Hampshire, and he describes them as “Protestants and as white as they come.” At the outset, he reveals that the family lives on inherited wealth and that they probably won’t need jobs for the remainder of their lives. Charlie’s college life is far from carefree, however. He had no girlfriend during his first two years there, but after hitting his junior year and becoming “a bit taller, [and] less of nerd,” young women have started to notice him, he says. He’s also a self-described alcoholic, though, who has bad grades—which he describes as “academic concerns.” Charlie falls for Sophia, a sorority sister who initially treats him with disdain; however, they eventually embark on a casual romantic relationship. After Sophia gets pregnant and decides to get an abortion, Charlie gives up studying, and his life spins out of control. After he drops out of college, his parents tell him that he must be financially self-sufficient. He soon finds himself living in squalor in Albany, New York, where he works at a junkyard. His co-worker Cash takes pity on him, and he pays Gypsy, a sex worker, to visit Charlie while posing as a cleaner. Charlie becomes infatuated with Gypsy, who’s intent on fleecing him to fuel her crack addiction. Their relationship leads him into a criminal underworld, the likes of which he’s never encountered before.
“If money were the answer in life, Charlie would have had it made. Raised with wealth, and opportunity, he defied the dreams his family had for him, and abandoned the life he was granted as his birth right.
Join Charlie as he leaves the intellectual life of college, on a journey down a dark road, one that not only defies the family tradition, but stands in direct opposition to everything he had known before.
Charlie lacks emotional substance and maturity, which may account for the rejection he had felt by his peers. It may also be a tribute to his parent's money being poor compensation for real love.
In his new life, Charlie falls for Gypsy, a house cleaner, slash-street-walker he believes he is in love with, but without a solid sense of self, Charlie's love is a futile endeavor. Still, he thinks he can save Gypsy from herself. He is also convinced they will marry and live happily ever after, in his misguided, emotionally bereft perception of love. When drugs, and guns become a routine part of life, Charlie is in over his head. He walks a fine line between reason and despair. A poverty of spirit shines through in both wealth and poverty, in this gritty novel, where morals are not an underpinning of behavior, and the value of life is negligible.