When you’re not supposed to

Thursday 27 September, 2012:

Painting. We’ve run out of board for the moment. As a substitute, we decide to rejuvenate one of the original canvases, Statik and Rich’s ‘CONFIDENCE’ throwy. It’s cool, but was just a quick job, and I think if time had allowed Inia would have done it over again. Anyway, Slade lifts it off the wall, and we put it up ready for painting.

I pretend to cross the hit, making the boys laugh like anything.

“Ohh… can we?” Slade says, with anticipation and slight uncertainty as to whether I’m gonna turn round and growl at him for asking.

“Well, can’t hurt, seeing as you’re just gonna paint over it anyway.”

So Slade gets the can of Placid and marks the throwy with a line from one end to the other.

“Bet you wouldn’t do that if they were here,” Zion says, with joy.

“Fuuck nah ge, I’d say: that’s bad,” Slade replies, and they start to giggle at this transgression.


“Ok, hard and fast…” says Slade.

They pick up their cans and get ready: Zion on the left and Slade on the right.

“You wanna do the C, O, N, F, I? I’ll do the D, E, N, C, E.”

Zion nods.

“K, you go first with your outline then, bro.”

“You know what’s cool?” I remark, watching them take their positions. “It’s cool that Zion’s right handed and you’re left handed. It makes it easy to do half each.”

“Yeah, I know – otherwise we’d have to stand like this,” and Slade demonstrates, swiveling 90 degrees and then re-positioning himself, adding, “It’s all good, having someone to paint with though.”

“Yeah,” agrees Zion. “It’s awguds.” He starts doing his outline as he speaks; the first hiss of spray calms and settles our minds, and the room is still and warm.

Slade mirrors him, and their hands stroke the air in unison, quietly.


Yesterday, Slade says to Zion, “Before I met you, everyone said you were the man. I was like – yeah whatever. That’s cos I didn’t know you,” he explains. “But you are,” he finishes.

“Hah,” laughs Zion, modest and pleased.


Before I got to know Slade, I’d never met anyone at school who could begin to match Zion, painting-wise. It’s good to see them working together, just natural like this. They’re very different, of course. But they appreciate one another now.


Friday 28 September:

Get to school and my phone beeps: ‘Ms u at sch?’  Kepaoa.

Yes im at sch..

Kkk, u ready?.Lastday sch lot kan happen!’

Whats tht sposed to mean? U got plans? Aw no trouble ples tel me evrythngs awgud.

Coming sch ms, that slade just keeps running thru ma head!! Fcuk man, im hypd az!!!


This very much alarms me, knowing Kepaoa as I do. And Slade’s offence: he had once marked a ‘C’ZA’ at Municipal station. In all fairness I had told Kepaoa this myself, when he enquired about Slade (after seeing a photo of him painting). It was funny at the time of telling… but not anymore, obviously. So I reply in haste:

Dnt be an idiot he’s all good kepaoa. And im asking as a favour to me pls. He dnt need anymore dramas right nw and nor do i.. nor do u aye. Awguds?

Then, to my relief: ‘Flip! Ms im just hypd az!! Bt a favor foa yu yhp cweet.’

Turns out Teri is going away for the holidays, and Kepaoa’s stressing about it. Typical hot-headed reaction… and I inwardly sigh with relief that I can call in a favour. Drama avoided.


During break, my room contains: Demet, Nakesha and Lauren (finishing their history assessments), Slade (painting) and Tyler (watching him paint).

“If I give you some money, Miss, can you buy me some spray cans?” asks Tyler, ingenuously (and somewhat gormlessly).

“No,” I tell him, and Slade grins.

“Oh, why not?”

“Cos I can’t buy you cans, don’t be an idiot,” I say, signalling an end to this topic of conversation. Tyler’s a real amateur, not to mention an unknown quantity. Plus the History girls are sitting right there.

But Tyler is not to be deterred. “Should I just get them from the Warehouse?” he enquires.

Slade looks at me, his eyes dancing with amusement. “Yeah bro, Warehouse’s awgud,” he tells Tyler, feigning seriousness.

“I don’t want you to get cans at all,” I intervene.

“Why not?” Tyler asks, again.

“Cos… you don’t need to be getting yourself into… situations…“ I mutter, not at all sure of Tyler’s capabilities.

“I want you to teach me though bro,” he persists, to Slade.

Slade can’t help being slightly flattered by this. “I can get cans… could hook you up ge,” he says. It’s just a throwaway comment, but I send him a warning look all the same, and wisely he shuts up.


The bell’s late, and so Slade and I sit talking for a bit, after Tyler leaves.

“Don’t encourage him,” I say.

“It’s funny though…”

I appeal to reason. “It’s not gonna be funny if he tags all over the school – probably hit up Rook everywhere too – he doesn’t have a clue about things. C’mon, Slade…”

“Yeah, you got a point,” he says. “He’s amo as.”

“So don’t encourage him.”



And then the bell goes, and Slade is straight off to class. He’s actually quite into school at the moment, and is patiently stockpiling his credits. Actually it’s pretty damn amazing to hear him come in and say, “I finished my folio board yesterday,” or “I did one of my responses for English today.”

And it matters that they want to hold on; don’t wanna fall. Oh, I don’t wanna see them fall either. It isn’t ‘school’ that’s so important. I don’t give a fuck about school’s aims for anyone. But I care that they can see they’re good enough to take a run at it, and at the same time keep their integrity. I love seeing that. It’s like a game, and I know we got a shot at it, and I’ll do whatever I can to help.

So I’m feeling alright. Despite all that stuff with Karys (and I haven’t heard back from her yet; give it time). And, if I’m honest… kind of because of that, too. I love how you can take back something when you’re not supposed to.


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