Wednesday 16 January 2013 (contd):
We go out and Tau tells me, “Leroi’s just texted, the police are looking for me. I have to go home now, they want us to go down to the cop station again.”
I can see he’s upset and alarmed. He paces around, saying, “We have to go, Miss. I just need to get this over and done with – I want it to be quick.” He raises his head mournfully, having spent all morning at court, and now with the prospect of an afternoon at the police station. “And I just want to go see Robbie,” he laments.
“Yeah, I know, hold up, I’ll just go talk to that lady and see what’s happening. She asked us to wait, she’s nearly got it sorted.”
“No Miss, I have to go…”
I can see Tau is running out of steam for all this legal stuff. He sits on a bench, looking as if he’s about to bolt and head for Carthill, ignoring both court and police matters.
So I make a quick decision, based on my knowledge of his ways. “Ok, we’ll go. But don’t move a muscle, Tau – I’m gonna be quick, I’ll tell the lady and I’ll be out in two minutes.”
“Ok, ok…” Tau mutters, somewhat unwillingly.
I cast a look at Raphael, saying, “You guys stay right here,” and disappear back indoors.
I go straight up to the desk, ignoring the queue yet again. “Something’s happened,” I tell the registrar, feeling kind of bad, because I can see she’s been doing her very best to assist us. “We have to go – I’m really sorry. But would the people be able to ring us and let us know?”
She looks mystified, and I jerk my head towards the doorway, saying, “Tau’s… upset, something’s happened. He… ah,” Then I decide to tell her the truth. “He was a witness to the shooting; he was right there when it happened – he saw his friend die.
“Oh, the poor kid,” is all she says.
“And the police have just been in contact – they need him to come down to the station now, go over the witness statements. So we have to go.”
“It’s ok,” she tells me. “Go – I’ll ring you personally, as soon as I hear, I’ll let you know straight away.”
“Thank you so much,” I said. “You’ve been so kind to us today.”
“It’s no problem,” she says. “I hope he’s ok.” And then she adds, “It was very brave of him to reach out for help, to come in here today and try to sort it out. A lot of kids would have just not turned up at court.”
“I know, I’m really proud of him too,” I say.
Back at Fitzroy St, two police officers are waiting at the entrance to the driveway, with Leroi. As Tau gets out of the car, Raphael looks very warily at the cops and says quietly to me, “Miss… is it alright if I just leave my bag in the car?”
“Yeah, sure thing,” I tell him. And drive off, with whatever contraband it contains.
Later on, I bring it back round to him, and he looks relieved. He’d had to make a bit of a snap decision to trust me on that one, the poor guy.
Half an hour after that I get a call from the registrar. Tau’s application has been approved (hallelujah) and his hearing has been adjourned until next Thursday. She says again how much Tau’s actions have impressed her; I’m really touched by this. Because honestly, many people just don’t look past Tau’s outward appearance and manner. And he does, truly, look pretty rough this morning: disheveled and hungover and smelling of alcohol. Someone else might have just written him right off.
I go tell Sheree the good news. She’s incredulous, and just shakes her head at me, then calls to Scott, saying, “You’ll never guess what’s happened! They’ve changed Tau’s court date to next week.”
“Aye?” says Scott. “How the fuck did you manage that?”
“I dunno,” I say. “I didn’t really know what I was doing – but the registrar was helpful as.”
“Geez…” says Scott, admiringly. “I didn’t even know you could do that.” He grins at me. “I think we should take you with us every time we go to court.”
Sheree tells me that when the police called, they’d thought Tau was ‘mucking them around’ by being out. “I wish I’d known where he was,” she says. “I would love to have told them – he’s gone to court to sort out his adjournment!”
Complete change of scene this afternoon: I go to the movies with Mia (closing my eyes and drifting off to sleep for the first half hour, gratefully). We have a couple of drinks… I get home round 8, and I’m making myself some noodles when I got a text from Tau:
Miss… I’m still down at the cop station
I dial Tau’s number. He answers, sounding very tired and stressed
“Tau?” I say. “You’re still at the cop station? Why?”
“Umm… cos they’re still talking to us,” he says.
I can hear a voice in the background, and Tau answers someone: “My teacher.” Then more conversation, and Tau tells me wearily. “Miss… can they talk to you? Cos I think they want you to come down.”
And indeed they do. There are some ‘problems’ with Leroi and Tau’s statements (the officer doesn’t elaborate on what these might be), and they’ve been at the station since 12:30 – nearly eight hours.
So I go straight down. First people I see are Scott and Sheree. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here,” says Sheree, with feeling.
“Have you heard from the boys?” I ask, at the same time trying to find a buzzer to push.
“No,” she tells me. “We don’t know what’s happening. So we just walked down, to see if we could find out.” She shrugs, adding, “It’s taking so long, I’m worried.”
“We’ve been here for a while,” Scott says. “No-one’s come out, and we can’t get in.”
“I’ll ring Tau,” I say. “He texted me before – so I think he’s got his phone back now.”
Five minutes later, an officer comes out and ushers me in – Sheree and Scott are left sitting outside. I’m introduced to the detective in charge, and we have a conversation on our own, in one of the interview rooms.
He tells me there has been a difficulty in getting certain points of the witness statements clarified, and this is the reason Tau and Leroi have been detained so long. In particular, there are two ‘matters’ which the boys are reluctant to talk about. These are not to do with the shooting itself, he says. One is an incident that apparently happened prior to the shooting, in Robbie’s car. The other is something to do with ‘threats’ made. More than that he doesn’t say. He just asks if I could speak to them privately, both together – and I agree.
I’m shown into a small side room, where Leroi is stretched out on one of the couches. When he sees me, he sits up and gives me a hug, then makes room for me beside him, saying, “Miss! Are we going home?”
“Soon – it won’t be long,” I tell him, hoping that this is true.
A minute later, Tau is brought in as well. I hug him too, and then we all sit down to talk.
“Faar, I wanna go home, begins Tau. He sighs deeply. “I’m tired – and I never got to see Robbie today, that suucks…”
“Hard,” comments Leroi.
They look towards me, hopefully.
I explain the situation to them, and they are unsurprised.
“Yeah,” they say, in low whispers (fearing the room is monitored – I must admit the thought has occurred to me as well). “The cops are tryna make us say stuff about what happened in the car.”
“And I haven’t said anything,” Tau says, with a very tired yawn. “Fuck that, I ain’t telling them jack.”
“Me too,” Leroi says. “I just said I was too wasted and I can’t remember.”
“And they keep saying they already know about it – they’re all shit,” Tau says, and Leroi nods.
“What are they supposed to know about?” I ask.
“They said when we were in the car, Mischa pulled a gun on someone.”
“And did he?”
They nod. “These boys drove past us and they were all calling out and stuff, then Mischa pointed his gun out the window at them,” Tau says.
“Islanders,” Leroi adds.
“I had my blue rag hanging out the window, that’s probably why they came after us. But I ain’t saying anything about it – cos I don’t wanna make it worse for Mischa,” Tau insists.
I change tack: “Ok, and what’s the other thing; the cop said there’s something else – something about getting threats. What’s that all about?”
“Ohh,” Tau tells me at once. “That’s just something that happened at court the other day. The Blacks came up to us and said that they’ll get us if we say anything against Mischa. But we weren’t going to anyway,” he finishes, with no particular worry.
“Nah, they’re just faggots,” agrees Leroi.
It almost makes me laugh, the way they speak about it so offhandedly. But I feel kind of sick about it too. Because of course the cops want to know this stuff, I understand that. And it’s just one more thing that doesn’t look good. Even though it’s got nothing to do with Mischa… it’s just his dad; loyalty; people thinking they’re ‘helping’ him, for fuck’s sake.
So I just go back out and say they don’t want to change their statements. I say they’ve been reluctant to talk about it at all (not strictly true – but they are definitely reluctant to have it go on record).
The detective just sighs, and he thanks me for trying. He says Mischa has told him different, and the discrepancies are just going to make it more difficult. But he doesn’t blame the boys. He thinks they’re scared. Yeah, I reckon that’s true – and who wouldn’t be scared?
And also, it’s just the code they live by. That’s the honest truth. I know that, and I don’t think it’s wrong. It’s just that things get confused between different ethics, different codes of honour. The message breaks up, somewhere between ‘send’ and ‘receive’. Just like it does at school. Only… this is more serious.
Anyway, Tau and Leroi are allowed to sign their statements, and are released. The detective tells me that they’re witnesses, they’re not being charged with anything. He seems very clear on that.
I go home, eat noodles, make a coffee, go to bed. It’s late by then. I’m exhausted, and maan, if I feel this way – how the fuck does everyone else feel? And tomorrow’s the funeral.