The channels of communication

Monday 3 October, 2011:

Whoa! Three of my favorite gangstas: Riley, Kepaoa, and of course Tau – going head to head and toe to toe, over a pair of shoes: Leroi’s Chucks, which may (or may not) have been stolen by Kepaoa, but which have now been returned to Leroi’s possession.


It’s a long story. First I hear of it is at 6pm. But actually the whole ‘shoe’ thing goes back further than then, in terms of chains of events.

For earlier I find out, as well, that that match made in heaven – Riley and Kepaoa – has come to pass. Yup, they’re an item. Makes me laugh too, honestly. Two big bosses hooking up like that.

Then, when I got home this evening, there’s an email from Marjorie, saying that Leroi’s Chucks were stolen out of his bag in the gym today, and Kepaoa (whose class had been doing weights in there) was the prime suspect. He was apparently sighted next to the bag, by some year 11 boys – although nothing was proven).

Marjorie obviously wants to know what I think – and that in itself interests me. She says something like, ‘Of course he won’t admit it,’ and implies that I should check it out if I can. So I reply, saying that I know Kepaoa pretty well, and if he’s taken them (which in my opinion isn’t really his style), I can probably find out, and that I’ll talk to him tomorrow.


I intend to wait till then – but then, funnily enough I get a text from Riley, which goes as follows:

tel cluzo kckbck dnt step out my boyfrnd agen, il cm see u at sch tmoro k mis.’

I dont think taurangi even knows who kepaoa is.

‘Ye he stepd out kepaoa, hs cuzn ws txn me sayn stuf bwt kepaoa & sum shoes bt yea, idnt thnk he wuda takn thm bt f hes gt thm hes obviously holdn thm fr smbdy else

I decide to ring Tau, to find out more about what’s going on.


“Tau?” I say, when he answers the phone. “Did you just step somebody out? About Leroi’s shoes?”

“Yeah, I did, Miss… how do you know about that?” Tau enquires, in a friendly way and with some surprise at the channels of communication running so fast.

“Cos Riley’s been texting me…” I begin.

Riley has?” says Tau, even more surprised.

“Yeah, because you stepped out Kepaoa, and –”

“Who’s Kepaoa?” asks Tau. “I don’t know who I stepped out… we just stepped out all of them.”

“Who’s ‘we’?” I ask, with some trepidation.

“Me and my dad and Leroi; we told Leroi to get in the car, and we drove down to find the boys that took his shoes. And when he saw them, we just got out of the car and ran across the road and stepped them all out.”

“Where was this?”

“Down by the mall,”

“Oh, thank goodness it wasn’t at school…” I exhale. “And what happened then?”

“Well, I stepped them out, and… who’s that guy you said?”


“Which one’s he?” asks Tau. “I don’t know any of their names – the senior with the white shirt?”
“Yup, that’s Kepaoa,” I tell him. “He’s Riley’s boyfriend.”

“Fuck,” says Tau, “I didn’t know that. Well, he wasn’t the one who took the shoes… another guy had them.”

“What other guy?”

“This guy who took off – I chased him, and he had the shoes in his bag,” Tau tells me.

“So Leroi’s got the shoes back now?” I check.

“Yup,” Tau says, with some pride.

“Well, I guess that’s something anyway,” I sigh. “Well done then… I guess,” and Tau chuckles.


“So that’s Kepaoa…” Tau muses, thinking about it. “I didn’t know who he was.”

“Yeah, he’s the one I’ve told you about – the boxer. Inia and Noa know him.”

“Oh, that guy.” It makes more sense to Tau now. “Well, he’s a little faggot, anyway,” he concludes.

“No he isn’t, Kepaoa’s alright – honestly Tau, he’s ok.”

“Nah, fuck that little cunt,” Tau replies, with no particular malice.

“And I don’t think he’d take Leroi’s shoes, that’s not how he operates, Tau. I’ve known him this whole year – I don’t think it was him.”

“Well, he didn’t have them…” concedes Tau. “It was that other guy.”

“So, you’re just gonna leave it with Kepaoa now though?” I check. “I mean, you have got the shoes back, and it looks like he didn’t take them in the first place.”

“I dunno…” Tau thinks about this. “I should just smash him in the head, next time I see him.”

“Fuuck, don’t be stupid,” I admonish Tau. “That’s why Riley’s been texting me – she wants you guys to leave it, too.”

“Does she?” asks Tau.

“Yup, she said tell Cluzo to kick back.”

Tau laughs.

“So… I can tell Riley you’re gonna leave it?”

“You can tell her I’ll leave it if he wants to leave it – and if he leaves my cousin alone,” replies Tau. “Otherwise I’ll just shoot the cunt.”

“Oh fuck off, you’re a menace,” I tell him, and he laughs. I add, “So, yup – I’ll tell Riley it’s all good then.”

“It might be; it might not be,” Tau says, even handedly.

“Nah, no Tau, it’s all over and done with now, k? And Leroi’s got his shoes back, so everyone’s sorted.”


And that’s the best I can do.

I text Riley and she replies: ‘Yp swt as. Algd fket nw, aha evrybdys algd ae.’


Tuesday 4 October:

Riley (twice) and Kepaoa both come to see me separately, this morning.

Kepaoa is not really wanting to leave things with Cluzo just yet. I manage to calm him down a bit (I have to leave my year 9’s and just go out and sort it then and there), but later Riley tells me, “Don’t worry, he’ll leave it – I’m working on it.”

She and I have to laugh at the thought of Kepaoa and Tau, both of whom could keep it all going forever: we shall ‘monitor and intervene!’


Thursday 6 October:

I haven’t been up to the office for literally weeks – except to pick up books and stuff. Break times are spent in the ROR at present, with a collection of constituents who vary, but who often include: Zion, Leroi, Teki, Libya, a boy called Lazarus, ‘Little Michael’; sometimes Andre as well, or Skat and Sane. And it touches my heart that Zion often comes in first, on his own, and simply talks to me until the others arrive. He’s not even shy of me anymore – he just says, “Miss-ea” and “Miss-ow,” which reminds me of Alexander, except that Alexander was always so self-assured.

Leroi’s growing up. He’s got a girlfriend, and has also been in not one, but two fights lately (one with Anaru, the guy who really did take the shoes).

“Yeeeh Miss, he’s Kimbo Slice!” the others exult, and Leroi starts to laugh.


Tau isn’t keeping his head down at the moment, either. Leroi and I talk about this today.

“Miss,” says Leroi. “Taurangi’s aggro when he’s drinking – he looks for trouble.”

“I know,” I say. “Tau and alcohol aren’t a good mix”

“No, they’re not,” Leroi agrees. “Did he tell you about how he stepped out this man, down outside the mall at Municipal?”

“Yup,” I sigh (because I’ve just talked to Tau – all of first break on the phone). I say, “I’ve told him he should stick to weed, and give up alcohol…” and Leroi splutters with laughter.

“Weed makes him more mellow, aye Miss,” says Leroi.

“Sure does,” I say. “But he told me he’s hardly got any buds at the moment, he said he was only on one tin a day,” and we can’t help exchanging amused looks.


But it’s true, Tau’s not in the best space right now. Wanting to carry things on with Kepaoa, partly because he’s behind on the latest news on all this, and still thinks Kepaoa wants a one on ones. I put him straight; he listens, but doesn’t fully accept my argument:

“Nah Miss – he’s a cheeky cunt.”

“No he isn’t,” I tell Tau. “If you knew him – I reckon you two would get on pretty well.”

“Nah, Inia says he’s a faggot.”

“No he doesn’t,” I say. “Inia told me he thinks Kepaoa’s a humble guy.”

“Nah, cos at course, I asked Inia, and he said I should smash the cunt.”

“Yes, but that’s just Inia… you know how he always goes for that kind of thing,” I explain, patiently, and Tau laughs, cos he knows I’ve got a point, there.


And that’s when he tells me, “Miss, I stepped out this man, yesterday.”

“Aye?” I say, dismayed. “Was that when you were drunk?”

“Yeah, down Municipal,” Tau admits.

“And, why did you do that?”

“Well, I was drunk, and I called out ‘CP gang!’ cos I saw my mate drive past. But then this guy thought I was yelling at him,  so he got out of his car and stepped me out – and then I pulled out my gun and shot him,” Tau regales me.

“What? You didn’t actually shoot him –” I say, sounding alarmed and trying to keep calm, at this thought.

“Well, I shot… at him, and he sacked it and took off.”

“Oh Tau…” I mutter.

“It’s ok, Miss – then I just went back home and had a sleep.”

“Well, that’s good,” I tell him. “But I don’t like thinking about you running around with a gun when you’re drunk.”


Later on, Leroi tells me, “And Miss, when Tau’s drunk, he just pulls his gun on people – in the alley by our place.” I can see Leroi’s worried, and that’s probably why he’s talking to me about it, though he wouldn’t admit that’s the reason, I’m sure.

And I don’t how this combination of emotional states: love and respect, fear and worry, pain and pride… all co-exist in my heart, but they do. Some days it’s all I can do to just sit with it; carry it. All I can think about is how hard it is, and how it doesn’t make sense, and how it kind of hurts my heart. And then despite all the things that really confuse the fuck out of me, somewhere I still get it, and still understand what it is, and I think – does that make me kind of crazy? Maybe, yet some days it’s all I cling to, the stuff I find in myself that’s real, and not fake.


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