The desired response

Sunday 24 March, 2013:

First thought when I open my eyes: Oh, thank God it’s Sunday and not Monday yet.

So I get up, make some toast with peanut butter and jam, and a sizeable cuppa tea. Take it all back to bed – plus the laptop. Check the news and Facebook while I eat breakfast, and see there’s been a big youth brawl on Municipal Rd last night. Boys fighting with bottles and fence palings, then attacking the forty officers (with dogs) who turned up. The cops arrested some, the others took off down side streets and dispersed, scrambling over fences and dissolving into alleyways; swept into corners by the rough broom of a helicopter searchlight.

My mind’s like: Tau? Leroi? Hope you’re alright, and not locked up. And I hope Elroy never made it there last night, two days before rehab down the line.


But there’s nothing I can do. To distract myself, I actually go pull out some weeds in the garden, and it isn’t so bad. I don’t like gardening, but today it’s alright.

Then I fry some eggs. And later, I go out to get coffee with Kuli.. He eats lunch, I just have coffee and pecan pie.

On my way home, I realize I’m a little bit sick: my throat hurts and my nose is running. And then my bad feeling of the last couple days makes more sense, I guess.


I get home, Tau 798’s me, and I ring him back. He tells me more about what happened on Municipal Rd. My first reaction has proved to be correct – he and Leroi were both there. It happened at the other end of Municipal, near Bream. There was a party up there, things got out of control, and then: “Kost and them ditched us and ran off,” Tau tells me, equably.

“And were there really a hundred people fighting out on the middle of the road?” I ask.

“More,” he says. “I got fucked up.”

“Ooh Tau,” I say, mournfully, and I hear him chuckle.

“I’m ok, Miss,” he tells me. “I just got a fat lip. But Leroi macheted someone – I had the machete, and I went down, then he picked it up and macheted the guy who dropped me.”

“And… is Leroi alright?” I ask, in some trepidation.

“Yup, he’s ok, he got home ok,” Tau says. “We both did.”

“Well, that’s a relief, that’s the main thing,” I conclude, aware that it isn’t the only thing, all the same.


“How did you hear about it, Miss?” he asks, then.

“On the news – it’s all over the internet,” I tell him. “And the first thing I thought was…”

Tau laughs, waiting for me to say his name – which I duly do.

“And Elroy,” I continue. “Oh my gosh, I hope he wasn’t there.”

“He wasn’t,” Tau reassures me. “He stayed in Carthill last night.”

“Good job,” I say, and we both can’t help laughing.


Monday 25 March:

It’s only a cold I know, but I feel shivery, stressed and miserable. All I want, honestly – is for someone to just come and take care of me a little bit, and that’s not going to happen. So I have to take care of myself. I’ve emailed the relief coordinator, set my work for tomorrow, and now I’m off home.


Wednesday 27 March:

Just resting, resting… it’s my second day off work.

Tau texts: his benefit still hasn’t gone in. Or, to be more accurate, only half of it has (so ‘sanctions’ are still in place, despite the two phone calls we’ve already made to try and sort this out).

I take a shower, then pick him up from Fitzroy. He gently directs me through one-ways and parking precincts, to find us a park on a side street, and we walk up to WINZ.

“Tau,” I say as we walk. “You’re by far the best person for me to drive with. You’re the only one who sorts it out for me, everyone else just lets me drive round and get lost.”

He grins, striding along, and I keep pace with him.


When we get there, I tell him, “K, just letting you know, if they say they can’t see us, I’m gonna have to make a bit of a… fuss,” I raise my eyebrows, causing Tau to quietly smirk at the thought. “All good Miss,” he says.

But I breathe in, breathe out. Do my best to be polite from the outset, and eventually we are given an appointment with the person who has put the sanctions in place – her name turns out to be Sarsha.

We have to wait half an hour for Sarsha, so we sit quietly in the rows of chairs, like passengers waiting to board our flight. We look around and about, with relative docility.

“Far, I hate WINZ though,” I murmur to Tau

“Me too,” he agrees at once.

“Honestly, I’d be ashamed to work here, straight up,” I add, and Tau snorts, chuckling at me.

It isn’t too bad though, waiting. Tau is in a pliant state of mind, and I’m not seriously grumbling either. At least I don’t have to check the time and worry about missing work. And also, I just have this feeling that we’re gonna get it sorted.


After a bit, Sarsha calls Tau’s name and we go over. Actually, she’s alright. She even recognizes Tau (Hallelujah!) from the seminar Winz have been saying he supposedly hasn’t attended last week. So things get sorted, and Tau fills out one more piece of paper, and then Sarsha apologises for the mix up (which is nice, especially for Tau to hear it said) and reinstates his benefit in full, with back pay due tomorrow.

After that we go to the ATM, where Tau takes out the $80 he’s been paid so far, then shouts me breakfast.

As we drive back to Fitzroy, he stretches out in his seat and says, in a business-like way, “Drinking time…”

“Ohh Tau,” I say, sorrowfully.

He grins, having got the desired response. I don’t know – there’s a script alright. There is… but it doesn’t mean things aren’t hurting my heart.


We’ve had a successful morning though. A good result with Winz, and a good talk… and maan, after all this dang time, and everything that’s happened, there’s this bond between me and Tau that nothing shakes; cos that would be unpossible.

Later, I go to the gym. Even if I’m still kind of sick… Kepaoa says to sweat it out, so I push myself to go. And I really like doing weights, these days.



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