Friday 26 October, 2012:
In the evening, I pick up Kepaoa from the gym. He’s texting me, saying ‘Kum up ms’. When I arrive, he’s in the middle of sparring practice: drenched with sweat; belt and headgear on; mouth guard constricting his tongue. He throws himself onto the ropes for a second and smiles, rolling his eyes in the direction of his sparring partner.
Between rounds, he lounges by my chair, flashing me grins and exaggerating animosity towards his opponent with facials and feigned punches. And I feed off the big male aura of the whole place. I know, it’s dumb. Dumb as they come. But there’s a masculine side to me, and I tiptoe round that feeling – it means both a lot, and nothing at all. It is what it is. Still, being there, unashamed, really makes me happy, today.
Leaving the gym, we make a detour to pick up Elroy, then off we go. To a house in Diplomat Place – near Municipal – to retrieve Kepaoa’s speakers. Some associate of Kepaoa’s bought them on tick for $100, but he hasn’t paid off a cent so far, and Kepaoa wants them back.
Elroy is blued up, stoned out of his mind, and sweetly happy. He sits in the car and talks to me, while Kepaoa goes in. We can hear a band practising in the garage. After a while Kepaoa returns, looking pissed off: the guy’s not there. He tsks a bit, and snorts through his nostrils, but lets himself be carried off in the car, all the same. We drop Elroy off on the way home (outside a primary school, of all places).
“What are you gonna do now?” I ask Elroy.
“Have a wander round,“ is the reply.
“Aye? At the school?”
“Yeah, and then I’ll be a cop, look Miss -” Elroy pulls a police torch from his clothing, and grins.
“Oh my goodness,” I tell him. “You just be careful, walking around all night like this. The real cops might have something to say to you.”
“I’ll be awgud,” he tells me, without the slightest apprehension, and hops out of the car. Even Kepaoa is able to laugh, at the sight of Elroy’s skinny and lackadaisical figure disappearing into the shrubbery. We wave at him, and he raises one hand, gently.
Then we drive on to Carthill.
As we near Montgomery Rd, Kepaoa begins to ruminate on the events at Diplomat Place. He lets out a couple of agitated huffs, and his cheek twitches. When we pull up outside his house, he just stays in his seat, and mutters, “Miss, I’m getting hyped as.”
“Yeah, I know,” I sigh.
“Sorry Miss… but I’m just thinking about my speakers. Dodging me, that little faggot. Feel like going back there and fucking them all up.”
“Nah… nah,” I rebuke him, but calmly. “Just leave it tonight. Talk to him tomorrow.”
“Fuckit, I bet he was there…”
“Yeah, well there’s no point in making trouble until you know for sure.”
“I’m not starting it,” Kepaoa tells me. “He’s the one making trouble – that fuckin fag started it, by not paying me. And if he can’t pay me, he should give back the stuff. Not dodge me.”
“I’m just saying – wait till you talk to him tomorrow,” I persist.
“Fuck, why did he say he was gonna be home, then?” asks Kepaoa, with a rhetorical flourish in his tone.
I answer anyway. “I dunno, it’s like… you could say you were gonna be home tonight too, and then look: you’re out for a bit,” I say. I do think Kepaoa has a point, but I’m trying to calm him down, more than anything else.
“Yeah, you’re right, you’re right…” Kepaoa considers this, and then sighs. “But I’m amped now, Miss. I wanna take my brother’s car and go round there. Take my gatt…” He draws in his breath, saying, “They don’t know what they’re in for.” As he breathes out again, he shakes his head, sorrowfully.
I try a different tack. “But there’s no point in you getting in trouble – not if you wanna go see Teri,” (this is his plan, divulged to me the other day)
Kepaoa sees the sense of this, but there is an internal struggle going on, all the same. “I know, but… right now I don’t care, I don’t give a fuck, I’m amped, Miss…” He makes a fist with his right hand, and bumps it against the dashboard, lightly but over and over. The muscles in his arm pump up hard, and he gives that little hyped up laugh.
“Hey,” I say, and he turns towards me, saying, ‘Sooorry Miss,” But his eyes are kind of swollen and shiny.
“Maan, look like you’re on crack,” I tell him. “Calm down aye.”
“I can’t… I can’t…” he mutters. “Sorry Miss, it’s too late. Gonna go round there.”
“Shit,” I say, aware that he’s battling with his instincts and possibly going to lose. “If you do go, you better take Paki with you.”
“Maybe…” he admits. He reaches forward and hugs me, holding me close the way a boxer holds his opponent. “Aw, Miss… I’m sorry aye,”
“Yeah, I know. I’m just worried,” I say. My voice comes out quiet, and I realise I’m tired. And that there’s nothing I can do; I have to go home.
When I get home, Kepaoa texts. Tells me he’s sorry, he knows I’m worried: ‘ms I could c it ay,’ he writes. ‘I wil try mis.’
And try he does. My phone keeps on beeping: Kepaoa kindly enquiring how my marking is going… what I’m munching on.
But as the night wears on, his communiques change, and begin to contain the usual signifiers: ‘Fcuk!’, ‘Ampd az’, ‘Gota take tha ka, fucck dem uhp’. Though, ‘Sory mis,’ he adds, every now and then.
Things exhaust me. My last text reads, simply:
And it’s then that I lay down on the couch and go to sleep, holding my phone.
Saturday 27 October:
I text just once, to ask if things are alright. I don’t hear back. I try to put it out of my mind.
And then late in the afternoon, I get a reply:
‘Yeap im alryt ms thanks, ha.’
Turned out he didn’t go back round there last night at all. He ‘couldn’t be bothered’, he says; ended up talking to Teri instead. I feel so relieved, and pissed off, and tired – all rolled into one. Relieved that he’s ok, and pissed off that he didn’t tell me any of this last night… even today would have done. And tired out, just plain tired.
I send back one more text. It reads:
‘K wel thts good thn. Yup. Ok tc.’
Rest of the day, I just piss around, feeling like I’m half falling asleep. The whole time I’m fucked off at myself, and at Kepaoa. I think how I have to take a step back from this whole thing. I really care about him, but I can’t squander my energy like this.
And you know, last night, when Kepaoa was all hyped up, hissing and bobbing; eyes swollen and glazed. Well… I felt so tired that I kind of let it happen, if you get what I mean. I don’t mean I caused it, or even that I aided it in any way. What I mean, is that I let it run. That’s all. I let it run, I didn’t try stop it. I didn’t try to counter it with lightness, or buoyancy – the way that sometimes you can do, when you’re feeling strong. And because I let it just go past me, I actually ‘saw’ it as well. And… even though I was as worried as fuck, I felt jolted towards it, drawn in. That’s something that I’m aware of in myself, to be honest. Aw, it isn’t a bad thing to say. I just know I have to be respectful of that feeling, and draw a line somewhere with it. So, yup.
Sunday 28 October:
I cry my eyes out this morning, thinking I’m waiting for the real stuff. But maybe that’s not even true. Maybe the real stuff’s all around me, and I already have access to what I think I’m searching for (this reminds me of a story I read once… I’m trying to remember it now.)
I wish I could be bold; turn this sad, empty feeling on its head and see the real stuff everywhere. Think that way. Actually think that way. I know it’s possible. I feel like I’m sooo close to getting it. Like just one little click’s gonna keep me in the zone, instead of crying and imagining I’m miles away.
Slade and I go get the last five colours for the new canvas. It’s a fun trip – Slade’s never been into the city before. In fact: “I thought this was the city…” he says, in mystified tones, as we drive past the Municipal turn off.
“No – we’re going all the way into the city,” I told him. “Downtown.”
“Ohh, is that with like the Sky Tower and everything!” he exclaims.
“Yeah, the Sky Tower.”
“Ohhh – I’ve never been there before!” he replies, with happiness. He stretches out in his seat, rolling a ciggie, which he has obtained permission to smoke.
“This is buzzy!” says Slade, as we turn into High St. “Faar, this is buzzy shit. It’s like being in another country.”
“Yeah, that’s what I think sometimes too,” I say.
When we drive back to Municipal, it feels like home – the nice smell of weed, drifting in from two guys walking past; the sausage roll which we eat in the car. I come back home and make a coffee. And that’s it, the day so far.