Thursday 31 January, 2013:
Trying to be more realistic, these days. Yet I dreamed about flying last night. I could swear I flew. If you asked, I could describe exactly how to do it, and what it feels like. This morning when I go outside to put out the washing, I feel almost as if I could give one push with the soles of my feet, spring lightly out of the wet grass and simply rise into the air again. As if it would be a quite normal thing to do. Even though I know it isn’t an actual possibility, in this bounded piece of space and time.
Work pretty much sucks, with the teacher only days today and yesterday. But for now, it’s just a matter of patiently trying to remove all vestiges of fear from my heart. Every little left over piece has to be dislodged and shaken off.
The police are looking for Tau, to talk to him about ‘property confiscated during the search warrant’. A detective rings me at school today to ask where he’s residing. Sheree has told them that he’s sometimes at Fitzroy St, sometimes at my place – and I confirm that this is true. But at any rate, they haven’t caught up with him – I see him after school, and there’s been no sign of them yet.
And Tau’s very tired and hungover, after drinking at Clancy last night.
“But Tau, you never get hungover,” I say, somewhat mystified.
“I drank way more than I usually drink,” is his reply. “Leroi spent all his money, bought eight boxes.”
“Fuuuck…” is all I can say, in response.
He also tells me about something else that happened, with the cops – during that big interview he had a couple of weeks ago. They asked him if we were having a sexual relationship. As soon as Tau’s told me this, I can see him breathe easier. It must have been sitting on his mind, and he hasn’t wanted to upset me, or… I don’t know, upset the way things are with us. And then, all of a sudden, he simply comes out with it – just like that.
It gives me a jolt at first, and then I look at him, thinking how it isn’t even a surprise at all, really. It’s just something I hadn’t wanted to think about – the spin that the cops might put on our relationship.
I say, “Tau?” and he just nods, quietly, telling me: “They made me put it all in my statement.”
“And what did you say?” I ask, just real gently.
“I said – No, she helps me,” Tau replies. “With my problems and that. I told them I have family problems. And that you let me stay here, and you get me to do stuff, like go to course, or WINZ. Cos most people can’t even get me to do anything. And I told them – she even helps other kids as well.”
“And they asked me about you too – I think they asked all the boys,” Leroi says. He’s heard us talking, and come to stand next to us. “I had to put it in my statement as well. And I told them – Miss cares about Taurangi. She always looks out for him. And she tries to make him go course and stuff.”
I feel upset all over again. Not even for myself as much as for Tau. It upsets me that the cops asked him and not me – well, not exactly me. They stopped short of asking me. Yet they asked a scared, inarticulate, 18 year old boy who saw his friend shot and killed; who knelt on the ground and held his friend while he died.
Later on, Kepaoa comes over. He’s lost his phone, and texts me from his cousin’s to see if I can pick him up. Tells me the street, but not the number of the house. I get there, can’t see him anywhere, drive up and down the road a couple times – and send a last text to his cousin’s number saying that I’m gonna go past one more time and if he isn’t there I’m leaving.
Next minute he comes running out and jumps in the car, but I’m still cross. I rebuff his attempts to apologize and growl at him anyway (all the usual stuff about not being a taxi service…) and we drive off in silence, which lasts all the way down Carthill Rd, and well into Municipal. It isn’t until we got to Food World (I have to stop and get milk) that I soften towards him, seeing his quiet profile outlined against the evening dusk.
I sigh, noting the little things that make you feel tender towards a person: the slight bump in Kepaoa’s nose; the way he humbly inclines his head, so as to display contrition.
“I’m sorry,” I tell him. “I shouldn’t have got angry with you.”
“It’s ok, Miss,” Kepaoa responds. “I should have waited out there. I went out a couple of times, just looking out for you, and then I went back in to get my shoes, and…” he wriggles his feet, and I see they are bare.
“Didn’t you get them?”
“No – I was just in there talking, then my cousin showed me the text and I ran back out again.”
“Oh,” I say.
“I could see you were mad with me, so I thought I’d better just leave it,” Kepaoa tells me.
“Aw maan, I’m kind of sorry about that,” I say. “I didn’t mean to go overboard with it.”
Kepaoa insists on coming into the supermarket with me and holding the shopping basket all the way round. We start giggling about the items going in: milk… rice… jam.
“Should put this on facebook as my status update,” Kepaoa says, pretending to compose it: “Went… shopping… with my teacher. Got the rice… and some jam.”
We crack up laughing at that, and right then I hear someone call my name – it’s Sheree. She’s at the checkout with Scott and Leroi, so I go over and we give one another a hug and talk for a minute.
“Who’s that you’re with?” asks Sheree, looking at Kepaoa curiously. He’s just standing a little distance away, shoeless and dignified, patiently awaiting my return.
“That’s Kepaoa,” I told her.
“Ohhhh – I wondered if that was Kepaoa,” she replies, with some interest.
Scott is fried – maybe coming down off it. His eyes swim and bulge, but not at the mention of Kepaoa’s name. However I think it best not to make a proper introduction, right now. The first and only time that Scott has met Kepaoa was over the ‘shoe’ incident.
Kepaoa agrees with me, when I got back to the aisle. “Yeah, I thought that was the dad,” he says. “Maan, if he’d said anything, I would have hooked him.”
“Nah, algood – he probably wouldn’t have even recognized you, anyway,” I say. “But it’s probably best to just keep your distance.”
“That’s what I was thinking too,” he says. “Don’t want any trouble with you here.”