Monday 21 October, 2013:
Ezekiel seems ok, quiet. Asks me for a pencil, does some work, then draws on his diary a little bit. He slips out at the end of class without saying a word about the phone.
“Think he needs another talk…” says Slade at interval, in a significant way. “Fuckin sketchy fulla.”
But I tell him to leave it.
It’s funny, because ‘sketchy’ is exactly the right word to describe Ezekiel, in a way (not in the exact way Slade means it, but there’s a link there all the same). It’s like I’ve only got an outline of him, and more than that I don’t know, at present
Tuesday 22 October:
Slade’s in my room most of the day, working on his art board. It’s all legit, he’s signed out of class – the board has to be done by tomorrow. Together we create a work space at the back table, and I provide some fine markers and earphones, and then go make him a coffee.
I’m going to miss Slade so much at school, it’s one of those happy-sad feelings right now. There’s a kind of tenderness in the air between us, with the knowledge that something’s almost over. Oh, it’s not ‘everything’ that’s over. But, you know, it’s a time and a place, and it’s been an honour to share that with him.
Today the two of us talk quietly, but very freely, about a lot of things. Sometimes the vibe just makes everyone else in the room go quiet too, I can sense it.
I really have a lot of love for Slade today. Much aroha.
After school, I call round and see Nio, taking some leftover cans (he wants to do some throwies in their shed).
I also feel a lot of love for Nio today. Ohh, fatherhood suits Nio. I’ve never seen him so happy, and settled, and so dang positive about the world and everything in it. He doesn’t say a bad word about a soul, the entire time I’m there, just holds his son and feeds him his bottle, and we talk.
Wednesday 23 October:
Slade and I set up in my room again. Before I go to the staff meeting, I write down my logon and password on a sticky note, and give it to him in case the laptop times out.
It’s kind of a big deal, and though I don’t say as much, Slade knows it. I never give my password out to anyone at school, not since Tau was there. Slade folds the small piece of paper and slips it into his pocket, saying, “Shot, Miss.”
When I get back from the meeting, he looks at me triumphantly. “Finished, Miss!” he says. “I’ve finished my board – the whole thing!”
Big grins on both our faces, as he continues, “I just took it over to my art teacher, and she’s put the number on it and everything, and it’s going down to Wellington!”
“Ohh…” I say, and then, “Wow, you’ve really done it!” I glory.
“I know!” he says in elation.
We have fifteen minutes before my first class, so I go upstairs and make us coffees. We kick back and share a piece of banana cake which I got on the way to school.
“Shot, Miss,” Slade says again. He looks super-content, which almost brings tears to my eyes. “Where did you get this from?”
“Bakery,” I tell him.
Slade’s going up north this afternoon, for his uncle’s unveiling. “I have to,” he tells me matter of factly, but with a worried look all the same, not wanting to miss out on his last few assessments: PE and Hospitality. He can’t get back until sometime next week, soon as he can hook up a ride.
I email the teachers concerned. They say he can finish off the assessments when he returns.
At interval, I drop him home (hard and fast, because of the short break). We share a quick cig outside, and I get back just in time for tutor. Have to piss around opening the bollards at the gate, then sign myself in at reception, and cruise into the block like it’s no thing.
After that, the day is just its usual busyness, one class after another. I take the path of least resistance, much as I can and wherever I can. The only person I’ve put myself out for today is Slade.
Ezekiel comes to see me at the end of lunch. He has some story all prepared about the phone, and telling his parents, and them locking it away, and him needing to apologize… but I still don’t get the phone, and I don’t really believe his story (which in any case is confusing).
Lucky for him Slade’s left by then. I, on the other hand, am reasonably unperturbed at Ezekiel’s tale, and his (feigned?) remorse. I just tell him I’ll talk to him after class about it – 9 Social is about to start.
He works ultra hard in class, too. Keeps coming over and asking me “learning related” questions. So it’s easy to just shelve the whole business, for the time being.
But after class, he doesn’t wait back.
I don’t really know what to think about the phone. I’m reminded of what Alexander said once, about that DVD: “I think you might have to let it go, Miss.” In my mind, I’d let it go already. And that’s how I feel about the phone, too.
As for Ezekiel, although I don’t believe him, I can’t help feeling for him, all the same.
Thursday 24 October:
Without Slade, how do I cope with the sheer banality of school. Ohh it’s brutal, too, but it’s… blunted, it’s normalized for its citizens (including me – because how else do I stand it?)
And just the happy and resilient ‘everydayness’ of having one real friend in this stupid place, I’m going to miss that like crazy. Just writing it down makes my eyes sting with a couple of tears.
I get home, fix something to eat. I’m just sitting on the couch, and I get this feeling… like something is about to happen. I’d had that same intuitive sensation this morning as well. Actually took a peek out of the blinds to check whether anyone was there. No-one was, and I laughed at myself.
But then, tonight… I hear a lot of thumping and bumping at the front door. I know it’s Tau, before I even open it. He has obviously been running, and he’s panting heavily – and drunk.
Tau gasps, “Miss… is it algood to get a lift, would that be ok?”
“Yeah, yeah,” I murmur. “You ok, Tau?”
He nods, but his eyes have that glazed-over, amped look.
In the car, he settles just a little bit.
“You ok… Tau?” I say again.
He takes some deep lungfuls of air, and his head and eyes swivel, and he just nods again.
“It’s ok Tau…” I say. “I’ll just drive, kay.”
As we drive, he tells me bits and pieces: someone is after him, over something that happened ‘ages ago’. The worry in my heart causes my driving to suffer somewhat, and we can’t help laughing at this, despite ourselves. Tau wants to stop at the liquor store (but of course) and I do a hasty U-turn into an angle park.
“Sorry Tau,” I say, unable not to smirk at myself.
“Algood Miss,” Tau says. He has gained a slight amount of equilibrium, the danger of my driving being comparatively much less than whatever has caused him to flee to my door.
A couple of minutes later, he’s back with a box of Cody’s. I don’t bat an eyelid, of course. And as we drive on to Rutherford Rd, he tells me that Scott is getting out of jail on Wednesday.
“Oh,” I say, and then, “Where’s he, um… gonna stay?”
“I wouldn’t have a fuckin clue,” Tau replies, rather wearily. And the thought of Scott being out, and possibly at home, despite what doubtlessly are everyone’s doubts and fears, makes my heart kind of sink.
Tau directs me to pull up next to a ‘Give Way’ sign, saying, “That’s it, Miss. This is our house.”
It’s a friendly looking house with a white picket fence, and I coo, “Ohh Tau… that is a nice house. It’s nice as.” And I really mean it.
Although Tau has already told me it was only ‘ok, better than nothing…’ he still looks pleased. And to my surprise, he just reaches across and gives me a great big hug.
Then he goes in, with his cans.
I come home, and for some reason I have this urge to clean up my wardrobe. I pick out few shirts and some shoes, and a couple other things that I don’t really wear anymore. Fold them in a bag to take to the charity skip tomorrow.
And then I just make a cup of tea.
There’s no-one else quite like Tau, I think. I can’t not love Tau. It would be unpossible. I just wish he was happy and safe.