Sunday 3 February, 2013:
In the morning, the door to the sleepout is still open, and as I expected – Tau hasn’t come back. I’ve been awake since before 7, but I don’t want to wake Kepaoa. I wait until 9 o’clock then I just tiptoe out through the lounge, into the kitchen, and make a cup of tea. I sit down on the other couch, with the laptop – Kepaoa doesn’t even stir. And that’s where I stay, for a couple of hours. I even put the TV on quietly, after a while. He twitches, but then relaxes again.
At 11, there is a quiet knock on the front door. Not even for one second do I imagine it’s Tau – I actually have no idea who it could be. And when I go out, it’s Leroi.
“Tau’s round at Fitzroy,” he tells me. “I couldn’t find him last night, so I went home. But then he came back after.”
“Did you talk to him?” I ask.
“Yeah, but he didn’t say much. He seemed ok”
“That’s good,” I murmur. “Did he say anything about… what happened?”
“No,” Leroi tells me.
We talk on the deck, leaving Kepaoa to slumber. I figure we both have ‘theories’ about what caused Tau to snap, last night. But neither of us elaborate, or even speculate openly. I think we would feel a bit… disloyal: Tau being so private about his own affairs and all. So we just leave it.
“We’re used to Tau’s, uh… little ways,” I say to Leroi, and he snorts with laughter, saying, “Hard.”
Then we do a bit of ‘restoring’ in the shed (uprighting couches, picking up items from the floor), before Leroi goes home.
Back inside, Kepaoa has woken up. As I come in, he sits up and gives me the once over, saying, “Miss, how are you?” and then, answering himself, “You’re alright, but not… really.”
“I am,” I tell him.
“Yeeeh, but Miss, I can see it in your eyes – you’re still thinking about last night,” he replies.
“I guess so,” I admit.
“So am I,” he says. “Miss, I’ve never seen you like that before, you know.”
“I know,” I say. “I guess I’m just feeling embarrassed, that you saw it all.”
“Embarrassed – why?” says Kepaoa, gently. “You don’t have to be embarrassed, Miss. It’s all good. I know you wanted me to go home, but it was me who wanted to stay.”
“I know – thanks for that, Kepaoa,” I reply.
“It’s all good,” he says again, and then, “I saw the way you looked, I couldn’t leave you, Miss.”
He adds, “I didn’t even want to talk to Teri, really. I kind of had to – after four days. But I was more worried about you than her.”
I sit down on the couch opposite him. “I’m glad you stayed,” I say. “It was just that I felt shamed. I was like, oh… Kepaoa must think I’m, you know; crazy or something.”
“Hell no,” Kepaoa says. “I’ve seen way more dramas than that, Miss. Honestly, I was fine with it, it didn’t kill my buzz at all – I like staying at yours.”
“Well, it killed mine…” I mutter, and he grins at me.
“Miss,” Kepaoa continues. “I know you love Tau and all, but… I can’t let him hurt you. I know it wasn’t your fault, what happened. It’s just that I remember what you told me, about Shae, and I don’t think he really… respects women.”
“Probably not,” I agree.
“Yeah, I could see it,” Kepaoa says. “When he was angry. I mean, I know he cares about you a lot and everything. but I think he’s just used to it – pushing women around.”
“He’s never done that to me,” I say, truthfully.
“I know… but one day he might,” Kepaoa says, and it kind of scares me a little, to hear him say it.
“Tau’s not a bad person, though,” I tell Kepaoa. “He’s going to be shamed as, that he got like that, especially in front of you. He respects you, you know.”
“I’m all good with him, too,” Kepaoa tells me. “But I won’t let anyone hurt you. I won’t, Miss.”
There is a little pause, and Kepaoa says again, “And I’ve never seen you crying before. I wanted… to help.”
“Hmmm,” I say, just thinking about it. “You know – I never cry in front of people, or hardly ever. I hate doing that.”
“Me too, Miss,” Kepaoa replies, quietly. “Do you remember that time you picked me up and took me to training, and I cried in the car.”
“Well, I never cry in front of anyone either. At first I was real embarrassed, and I said to myself, maan, Miss is gonna think – what a little bitch.” He shakes his head, saying, “But then, I just felt alright about it.”
And we look at one another with understanding.
It’s like I’ve said already: you just trust who you trust. And I trust Kepaoa Alesi.
After all that talking, we go get Big Mac combos from the drive through. Come back and we talk some more, and then Kepaoa skypes Teri for a while, and then, just before 3, I drop him off to get ready for church.