Friday 26 September, 2014:
Kendrick Lamar through the speakers, news on TV, books and lappy out on the kitchen table. I like mornings; going to work and shit.
Get home again to find three DVDs and a note on the table: ‘Miss will you be able to drop these dvd’s off before you go gym plez. MISS wel B N CLANCY THANKS MISS 🙂 an miss we can’t find the pad locks’.
I carry out this request, then hit the gym. Come back and warm up some leftover chicken curry and rice, which has evidently been mined for its chicken, and is now almost vegetarian.
Around 10, Tau texts to see if I can pick them up, they’ll start walking along Carthill Rd. I go collect them and we head back via the shops at Municipal, where Tau does a long and complicated tally of his finances before ordering chicken and chips. They want to buy me takeout as well, and though I keep on explaining I’ve already eaten, this only serves to mystify them (despite the lateness of the hour) and intensify their efforts at persuading me otherwise.
I can’t help but laugh a little bit, despite my worry at their overall state. Both of them are so drunk that it isn’t really funny at all, stumbling around and “m’bro’ing” everyone out on the street.
Back in the car, I’m barely able to engage in the general conversation. I’m just trying to stay one step ahead (thinking of the potential for things go awry) – and I feel slightly resentful, too. Not at coming out to pick them up, but at having to absorb all these rogue energies. I can’t tell them they’re being dicks, even in jest. Tau and Leroi wouldn’t cope with that right now. It would just get them all upset, which is not the way to roll with drunk people.
So I put up with them going on fulsomely about everyone and everything, all the way home. I’m quiet and, I guess, reserved – which only makes them more garrulous in their approach; trying to make me happy, I think.
The minute we get home, Tau realizes he forgot to pick up a foil (which he already paid Kost for) and so out we go to Clancy again – Leroi stays back to make a start on the takeaways. And as soon as Tau’s on his own with me, everything just comes tumbling out. Because he’s so drunk, there is almost no caution in his approach. I can see (and he even says at one point) that he trusts me enough to talk about certain things. So I can’t keep running that ‘polite’ strategy anymore, holding the vibe at arm’s length.
“Well, it’s good you want to tell me, Tau,” I say.” But I’d listen anytime. You don’t have to get drunk first.”
“It’s hard to talk about it,” Tau says. “I don’t like saying things to people.” He thinks about this and reconsiders his words. “Except you, Miss,” he clarifies.
So… all the way to Clancy and back again, Tau talks. First, about the way he wrestles with his conscience. It makes me think of that ‘two wolves’ story, maybe one day I’ll show it to him.
Next he tells me he had another bad day at course today. He and Leroi left early and went home, because Tau was getting aggro with everyone all day long.
“It’s ok, Tau,” I tell him. “If that’s how you were feeling, then you did the right thing going home early.”
And he looks momentarily soothed by this.
Then he confesses he almost hit Maxwell – it was at their last counselling session, when Max mentioned Sheree.
“I know my mum’s doing dumb stuff,” Tau says in frustration. “I know she’s doing the wrong things – no-one has to tell me that, I can see it for myself. I
I nod and he goes on: “I wanted to just hook him. But I didn’t – cos we’re getting paid more to go to counselling.”
“That’s not the only reason,” I suggest.
“Yeah, I know,” Tau agrees reluctantly. He shakes his head, saying, “Max’s taught me heaps. And… I like him. I couldn’t hit him – but I did want to.”
“It’s not unexpected though, Tau,” I say. “Counselling can bring up a lot of uncomfortable feelings. Honestly, Max wouldn’t have been surprised if you felt upset. I’m sure he expected it, and knew what to do.
“I think he felt… scared, for a second,” Tau says. He sounds guilty at the thought. “I think that’s why we finished the session early. He just went all quiet, and then he said, ‘Ok, let’s wind this up.’”
“Yup,” I say, getting it. “That makes sense. But, the thing is, Tau – you didn’t hit him. You did the right thing, and you got through it. I’m glad you’ve told me.”
Tau manages a smile, and I think I understand now why Max seemed more reticent than normal last Sunday, when I went to get those forms signed. He was almost… a touch abrupt when talking about Tau.
By the time we get back, Tau has a slightly jolty expression of relief, to have gotten at least some of these worries off his chest. I think he’s about to say more, too – but for the fact that Leroi arrives straight out of the sleepout, to celebrate the arrival of the foil.
“You both need a sesh,” I sigh. “Go on then, and I’ll go make a cuppa tea.”
They laugh, tickled by this. “Cuppa tea…” echoes Leroi. “Should have a sesh too, Miss.”
“Hell no,” I tell them. “Someone has to stay straight, round here.”
I come back out with my tea, and we talk, Tau circles back and forth, sometimes bestowing a hug upon me as he completes each tour of the sleepout. “I don’t know how to explain it Miss… I just don’t know how to explain it,” he repeats.
“What’s that?” I ask.
“When I see my family, and they say, oh we’re here for you, your family’s here for you, I feel like telling them – that’s nothing compared to this.” He looks at me and shook his head. “I can’t explain it Miss, I don’t know how to say it. But I just don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have anywhere to go; if I didn’t have you, didn’t have… this.” He holds one arm up to demonstrate, then embraces me, saying, “I love you like family, Miss.”
“Me too, Tau,” I tell him. “I’m here for you through thick and thin.”
“If I was rich…” Tau begins again, dreamily. “If I won Lotto, I’d give you a million dollars Miss, straight up.”