Efforts to save migrants and prostitutes appear in fiction, too, and some authors have a fine-tuned sense of irony. In Magdalen Nabb’s Some Bitter Taste, Marshal Guarnaccia helps an Albanian prostitute to escape from her pimp, who is sent to jail. After living for a while with a nice ordinary man, Mario, the woman comes to Guarnaccia’s office to tell him his efforts to help her have failed:
-You’re the only person who’s ever been nice to me . . . so I wanted to tell you because if I don’t somebody else will. You’re bound to find out. I’m going back on the game.
- What? You’re what? And Mario?
- Oh, Mario . . . Jesus . . . I mean, he trotted off every morning at a quarter to eight and I was supposed to clean up his crumbs and wipe the floor over and then he’d come trotting back again and I was supposed to have the water boiling for his pasta and then it was one long whinge – there are no clean shirts, have you seen the fluff under this bed? Where’s the other sock to this? You’ve forgotten to get milk again . . . No, no, I couldn’t stand the boredom. So I upped and offed.
- Back to Ilir?
- Why not? He’s out now and he wants me back. Nobody ever earned him as much as me and he kept me in style. We ate in a restaurant every night. I like a good time and I get clients who give me a good time, you know what I mean? I like champagne and a few presents. I’m not spending the rest of my young life washing the floor of some poky little kitchen for a boring spotty clerk who thinks he’s earned the right to have his socks washed for a lifetime because he’s been good enough to save me from the streets.
- But what about when you’re not young anymore?
- Well, it’s all over then, isn’t it? Get it while you can, I say. I just . . . I wanted to tell you myself. It’s not that I’m not grateful to you. I know you meant well. Are you pissed off with me? You are, aren’t you?
-No, no . . .
- You’ve every right to be. I’d better go. I’m sorry. Because of you, I mean, not that little prick Mario, only because of you. I know you did your best.
Carve it on my tombstone, thought the marshal, watching her leave through a skein of cigarette smoke.