Saturday 2 June, 2012:
This morning, Tau arrives on Leroi’s bike. Says he was over the Shore last night; went in someone’s car. “But everyone was drunk as,” he says. “So I drove all the way back.”
“You drove?” I say. “Man, Tau – but you were drunk too, right?”
“Yeah, but I was all good,” Tau informs me casually. “All the boys said I was driving good, I asked them and they said…”
“But everyone was drunk, so how would they know?”
“Nah Miss, I was allgood, I was fine. I was driving slow,” he insists.
“Well, it still makes me feel worried, Tau.”
“I’m ok – I can drive good when I’m drunk.”
“That’s what you think,” I sigh, somewhat unwisely persisting with this line of argument. Tau, after all, has had only a few hours’ sleep, is hungover, and is not particularly open to discussion.
The conversation continues in the shed, as I try to make the increasingly grouchy Tau see reason. He also informs me that he’s going to Mischa’s party after all. Up until now (and considering recent disputes), he hasn’t been planning to go But the residue of a long night of alcohol is back in his system again, and he’s all bravado.
“Nah Miss, I’m not dumb – I’ll be fine.”
“I know you’re not dumb,” I say patiently. “But you said yourself – you don’t wanna get drunk and do something you might regret.”
“Nah, I’m allgood when I’m drunk,” repeats Tau, with scant basis for this opinion. “It’s just Mischa’s dad – and I’ll only step to him if he steps to me first.”
“Ohhyup” I mutter. “Yeah, you’re all good when you’re drunk – yeah right.”
“I am,” Tau says, unconvincingly and grumpily. “You ask my mum and dad – I’m all good when I’m drinking.”
‘I don’t have to ask them – I’ve seen it for myself,” I retort, rather significantly.
Tau puts his head down firmly, and focuses on the laptop. Smashed doors and raised fists and glittering eyes lie quietly in the air between us. It’s obvious he doesn’t want to talk anymore, so I back off tactically, and go do something else.
Later on, the shed door’s still open (which is a promising sign), but Tau’s body language remains closed and huffily offended. In a way, I want to go tell him: Tau, I’m sorry. Not sorry for being worried, of course. Just sorry for reminding him of things… and for wanting to be right.
But the time for that is still some way ahead. With the alcohol back in its accustomed bodily channels again – and no sleep – Tau sits large and implacable on the couch, and gives me the courtesy of a short acknowledgement.
Tuesday 5 June:
Teacher only day. I don’t like it any better than normal, but I handle it better than normal. Why? Because I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Of course, it’s a given – that I don’t like teacher only day. And I feel like I’m onto something, saying that. I’m not mired, or not as mired, in the elements of the dislike. Instead, I want to get out of this game, which I’ve pretty well exhausted. Done it; lived it; given it something, and taken something from it. And now I want more. I want to say more. I want to open up a little corner of this space and lift the lid as high as I can. So that it’s open to see inside.
Tau tells me he can’t sell from Kaiser St anymore, now that Scott’s back in business (sold the van to buy three ounces). So he’s been doing a bit of retail outside the mall again – he stands by the ATM and asks people, “Looking for anything…” while they’re getting their cash out. Telling me this, he demonstrates the tone he uses (kind of casual largesse) – which makes me laugh. I can just imagine the scenario.
And he’s clearly ‘forgiven’ me over the conversation on Saturday: the hard conversation he didn’t want to have. It always touches my heart to have Tau’s trust – that even when things don’t go to his liking, he doesn’t need to cut and run. I know it’s real hard for him to stay put, when he feels under duress.
Friday 8 June:
Tau’s ‘weekend’ starts early. Last night he goes out drinking with Kost, and a boy called Robbie (who I vaguely remember from his MC days). They drive to some new subdivision on the heights, whereupon they set up to drink in a half-built house, while taking in the view. Stoned and drunk, they watch as Robbie goes to move his car off the road. Tau says, idly, “That grass looks slippery,” – just before the car slithers down a hill and crashes into a fence (luckily this also prevents it from dropping over a bank). Robbie tries in vain to start the car and get it back up the hill, while neighbours appear in force, restraining him and calling the cops. Kost and Tau look on from their vantage point in the building site, but, “I just boosted it,” Tau tells me. He scrambles across the back of gardens, then dashes into the streets and away, as the bystanders shout after him, “You won’t get far!”
Tau clutches his bottle (of course) and runs – “Cos I’d only just opened it,” he explains. “I wasn’t gonna leave it behind.” Stopping every now and then to take a brief and reviving sip, he makes it safely home. By which time the other two are at the police station in Municipal, where they’re questioned, charged, and released – eventually to rendezvous with Tau, around 3am.
He looks a bit shaken, to be honest, as he recounts this saga.
Right then, I’m just so glad that nothing has happened to him. “Now can you see why I don’t like it when you drive drunk, Tau?” I ask, but very gently.
“Yes,” replies Tau, simply. He adds, “Miss, if I’d been the one moving the car, I probably would have been going faster. I think I would have gone right through the fence.”
“Oh Tau, I’m so glad it’s made you think, you know,” I say, hoping fervently that the ‘thinking’ part of the equation will kick in more often during such eventful nights.
I give his shoulder a little pat; he’s had only a couple hours sleep, and is coughing. Oh, who knows – maybe he’ll get tired and sleep.
Sunday 10 June:
Thinking about school: the crucible of both my rebellion and my rebirth, I guess you could say. The struggle to survive, in that brutal place, and then – like a kind of magic – to find a meaning and a solidarity right inside it. To learn how to partake of freedom, there in the middle of all constraints. And these things are part of me now. But at the same time, the setting is shifting outwards. I’m not sure I can stay there much longer.
I don’t know exactly what that means, or will mean. Or quite where I should place myself. I think I really don’t know much. But then, there’s nothing much left I want from school, except to say that I was there, and that this is how it was. I don’t know how, but I have to bear witness to it somehow. The feeling grips me so hard that sometimes it feels like it’s carrying me, and I just have to hold on. Will I learn how to control it, or even to direct it?
For now, I’m going to try and remind myself every day – there’s things I can do more of, do better. I just need to find out what they are, and where.
I feel kind of relieved, to write that down, and so to begin (in some sense) the actual process of… not withdrawal, yet but redeployment.