Part of me

Saturday 15 February, 2014:

I think about what Mia said last night. She’s been on a couple of dates with a guy called Chris, who she met on ‘Find Someone’. It didn’t really go anywhere, but she said it was alright. And she’s been mailing another guy too, who she might see for coffee.

So I just go on the website for a bit, and look around – and I can tell right off the bat, it’s not for me. For a start, most of the guys look like the stereotypical ‘Kiwi bloke’. Second, there’s all these tabs with headings like Who should pay? and Sexual etiquette, and when you click on them, there’s advice about keeping your sheets clean (like, seriously?) and that it’s nice to make a phone call the day after. And tips for what to say in advance: ‘I believe in equality, so I’d like to share the cost of our dates.’

And I just can’t handle the patter. I think I’ve been spoilt for all that nonsense, by the reality of the the things that have happened in the last five years. It could never compare to the feeling of boldness and confidence which you get from knowing you can pack up at a moment’s notice, and ride out through the narrowest path, with the tightest of time frames. There’s a strong “male” energy – I have it too, somewhere. It isn’t the whole of me, I know that too. But it’s part of me now, and I can never go back to those same old mores and conventions.

 

Later I’m hungry and grumpy when I realize that I’m pretty much out of snacks, thanks to the burglars. Hope they enjoyed those snacks. I wish I could have a bowl of noodles, round about now. Instead I’m starting to make dinner (early, but it’s going to take me a little while to bake the potatoes).

It makes me laugh how I’m starting to cook again – I think that all started when Tau and Kepaoa were here. I wanted them to know for sure it was ok to eat, there wasn’t a shortage. Especially Tau, who’d dealt with conditions of scarcity his whole life. And then it just snuck up on me that I still like cooking. Even though I’d told myself for a long while that I didn’t care about it anymore.

I keep noticing little things gone too, like the margarine… and the hand wash in the bathroom. But in a way, it’s good to free up space. And so I keep on looking appraisingly at my stuff and thinking, ooh, I don’t really need this, is it just going to be back in the cupboard again? I don’t want to do it all at once – but I’m sure there’s things that I could give away or throw out.

Temperamentally, I’m not a hoarder at all – that figures, I guess. So it’s not a big task or anything. It’s just something that’s occurred to me.

 

Sunday 16 February:

It’s been, in the immortal words of Levi – a cunt of a day.

It starts off alright, at the gym. Afterwards I skip off to Municipal for no particular reason. I park out the back of the supermarket (by the bakery), then I walk through the shops and cross Municipal Rd. Pick up a takeout coffee – that takes a bit longer than usual, there’s a big queue of people in the café. I come out, heading back to the car – and there’s Leroi, walking by at exactly the same moment.

Only he doesn’t even notice me. He has this faraway expression in his eyes.

I say, “Leroi?” and I see him gently snap his mind back to the outside world, saying, “Oh!” and then, “Miss…”

“Hey, Leroi,” I say again. “How are you?”

“Algood,” he replies, as a pleasantry I guess.

“What you been up to?”

“Um, not much… um, Miss?” he says, hesitating and then looking at me very searchingly.

“Yeah?” I say.

“Have you heard?”

“No, heard what?” I begin, and then, sensing something is up: “Leroi? No, I haven’t heard anything, why? Has something happened?”

“My dad…” he says, sighing once and deeply. “The stupid cunt hung himself. At the park, on Friday afternoon.”

I just gape at him, I guess.

“It’s alright, Miss. I’m algood. Fuckin stupid cunt, aye Miss.”

“Geez, Leroi,” is all I can manage. And then, “I’m so sorry.

“It’s alright,” he says again. “I’m ok. He’s been on life support, at the hospital. But they’re gonna turn the machine off. My mum and that are already arranging the funeral.”

“Oh my god,” I think I say. It’s a shock, and I just repeat, “I’m so sorry…” and then, thinking of Sheree, “Fuck, your poor mum.”

“She’s doing ok. My Nan’s there,” Leroi tells me.

“Shit…” I say, in the most futile way.

 

“Miss?”

“Mm hmm.”

“Can you… could you get me a sesh?”

“I don’t have any money on me right now,” I begin (which is true).

“Aw, no it’s ok, I got money – I just need you to get it for me, cos I’m under age.”

“Oh, I see,” I say, suddenly realising he’s on his way to High Times (right next to the café). I can’t help laughing, just a little bit. “Aww, you know how much I hate that synthetic shit. But yeah, alright Leroi. I think the occasion probably calls for it, huh.”

“Thanks, Miss,” Leroi says gratefully.

 

We proceed to the store, where Leroi consults the sales assistant as to the available choices, deciding fast on ‘Silver Skunk’. He hands over the money, and the guy looks at the two of us with a passing interest (hesitating only slightly I think, maybe in case I’m part of some kind of media sting).

“It’s ok,” I tell him. “I’m getting it.”

“Sweet,” he says, happy to ring up a sale.

 

Leroi receives his legal high (which is, after all, technically a legal purchase by me), and we walk out, just talking

“So he’s still on life support?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“Leroi, is there any chance your dad could still… make it through?”

“No, the doctors said he’s already brain dead,” Leroi tells me.

We stand outside in the sun. “Do you need to go anywhere?” I ask. “Can I drop you off?”

“Nah, it’s ok Miss, I’m just gonna kick it round here for a bit.”

“Ok,” I say. And we part company.

 

I retrace my steps to the car. My mind is just thinking, thinking, the whole time. And I go take some cash out of the ATM ($200), and put it in an envelope. I’m not sure who I’m going to give it to. First I think, Sheree – then I think, no, Tau. And I don’t know. I just drive round there anyway, telling myself there’s no point in talking myself out of it, even though I haven’t got a clue what I’m going to say.

I get there and walk round the back, and the first person I see is Tau. He’s standing out on the steps, as stoned as fuck. So stoned he can barely stand up. His eyes are half shut, and he says a slow, sleepy, “Heeey, Miss.”

“Hey, Tau,” I say, and then, “I saw Leroi a little while ago.”

He nods.

“He told me what happened…”

Another nod, and a very stoned smile. To be honest, he looks quite approving of my presence there.

“I won’t stay for long, but I just… wanted to come,” I finish, and he says, “Thanks, Miss. Thanks for coming over.”

“No worries, Tau.”

 

Turns out Sheree’s not home, so it’s easy to decide what to do with the money. I simply hand the envelope over to Tau, saying, “This is just to help out.”

“Awww,” he begins, and then, taking it, “Thanks, Miss.”

We stand outside talking. I don’t ask too many questions about what happened, I can see it isn’t the right time. But Tau tells me Scott was taken off life support late last night, it was just Sheree there.

“Me and Leroi were drinking round here, with the boys, Quest and Kost – and then Statik and Rich came over too,” Tau informs me.

“Well, that’s good,” I say. “It’s good they came.”

“We were drinking till 5 this morning,” Tau continues. “I’m really tired – it’s just that I can’t get to sleep.”

“That’s not surprising,” I said. “Algood Tau, just try to get some rest later on.”

“I’ll try,” he tells me.

 

I only stay around half an hour, I keep thinking of how tiring it must be for Tau to have to talk about ‘stuff’ – not Scott exactly, but just anything, really. But like I said, he seems pleased to see me, in his way. He says again, “Oh, thanks for coming, Miss. I really appreciate it.” He smiles, and my heart goes out to him so bad.

When I get home, I can’t settle. I go tidy up in the shed a bit, I think Tau will be ok with that. I just pick shit up (there’s still stuff on the floor from the break in) and then dust a little bit, and you know… just sweep. For some reason it makes me feel a tiny bit better.

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