Saturday 29 September, 2012:
I’m tired, after a few hours of ‘Kepaoa’ business… there’s a text sometime round midnight. It turns out he’s wasted as fuck and causing havoc out with the boys: Elroy, Aiga, and another guy I haven’t met before. By now, they’re meandering down Municipal Rd – which is where I collect them. Kepaoa is the drunkest; by contrast Elroy looks chirpy and in reasonable control of his faculties. They’ve already been stopped by the cops, and given a warning. However, since then Kepaoa has robbed a guy at the train station (spurred on by the others) for 20 bucks and a phone. He’s looking for trouble, and at the same time making a last ditch effort to avoid it: his text says, ‘plez kum mis i really needu, tbh i wana kill sumwun’.
We plonk him into the front seat, where he wraps his arms around me, saying to the boys (who are all talking at once), “Shut the fuck up fags, show some respect for Miss.” One of them leans forward, and he cuffs the offending figure back, hard.
Back at the station, the other three leap out to check the time of the last train south. Kepaoa remains in the car. “Miss…” he says, despairingly. “Aw fuuuck, I need help.” He goes on, “I know I’m drunk… but I’m telling you the truth.” He shakes his head back and forth in frustrated misery. “I don’t want her to go, it’s fucked up as, I just wanna go to jail or something, go inside till she gets back, I can’t handle it… just wanna smash someone.” As he talks, he eyes up a group of men walking down the road.
I really have no idea what to do with Kepaoa, except to try keep him calm, and hopefully get him home and safe. So I just murmur soothing things like, “It’s gonna be ok,” and “We’ll sort it all out…” This does seem to calm him a little, and he leans against me, saying, “You always got me Miss, you always got me.”
Elroy and the boys return, and there is some discussion about what to do next. The night is young, as far as they’re concerned. But they’re drunk, and making random eye contact from the car window, yelling out indiscriminately as people pass by. Kepaoa lurches out of the car to step to a couple of guys who look back, and we pull him in again, where he bobs around, hyped and still swinging his fists.
“Can I just take you guys home to Carthill?” I ask Elroy.
Elroy thinks about this, saying “Yeah, maybe the night’s overs for Kepaoa, aye.”
“Then… ok, yeah Miss, if you don’t mind. Better we take him home, he’s just gonna make trouble down here.”
“I wanna get out – I’ll come back to yours after, Miss,” protests Kepaoa. “Me and Biz. Can we, Miss?”
“Kepaoa, you know you’re always welcome. But the state you’re in, I think you should probably go back to Carthill right now, keep way away from trouble.”
“Yeah Miss, good idea,” Elroy says.
“Nah, fuck it, ima get out, wanna start things up here first, then I’ll come, Miss… I’ll come later. I’ll stay at yours, ok?”
“Kepaoa,” I tell him. “I don’t think you’ll make it back in one piece. Let’s just go home, ok?”
In response, he jumps out of the car and wanders across the road, hitting a couple of parked cars with his fist, hard.
“Hey!” a woman calls out. “That’s my car… what the fuck?”
Kepaoa raises his hand to her, no doubt with his middle finger up, and then punches her car again.
At that, a few people get off the seats by the bus stop and come towards him. Elroy leaps out of the car and reaches Kepaoa just as he put his fists up. “Come on bro, let’s go… let’s get back in the car with Miss.”
“Nah, fuck off…” Kepaoa pushes Elroy back, swings at him – they exchange a few words in Samoan.
By now, I’ve got out of the car too, and am at Kepaoa’s side. “Kepaoa, come on. Let’s go.”
Kepaoa looks at me, and smiles, kind of sorrowfully. “Miss…” he says, and then “Sorry Miss, gotta stay here.” He turns and walks off fast. Elroy runs after him, calling back to me, “Get the car, Miss, meet us round the corner.”
Meanwhile, I can hear the car owner making a call to the cops. “They’ve just walked off, heading north down Municipal, they got out of a car, the number plate’s…” I don’t blame her, but I’m not staying around to wait for the police, either. I get in, do a U turn, and go to find Kepaoa and Elroy.
They’re walking towards the roundabout at the end of Fitzroy Rd. When Elroy sees me, he manhandles his brother gently into the car, and to my surprise, this time Kepaoa makes no real protest at all. Instead, “Miss…” he says, and falls against me.
“I’m taking you guys home.”
“That lady’s called the cops. So if they stop us, let me do the talking. And don’t get mouthy.”
“Fuck the police…” Kepaoa begins.
“No, we’re just gonna be polite and talk nicely to them, ok?”
“Yeah,” Elroy sensibly agrees. “Cos Miss is all legit, got her full licence and everything.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” I say. “And if the cops stop us, I’ll just tell them the truth, which is that I’m taking you home.”
“Aw, alright,” sighs Kepaoa. To be honest, I think he’s a little bit relieved about it.
And we don’t even see the cops; we get to Montgomery Rd unimpeded, and Elroy takes his brother inside. “Far, Kepaoa… tryna hit me aye,” he says without rancour, as they walk.
“Aye, what the fuck?… I didn’t do that.”
“You did,” I confirm. “But never mind, main thing is that you’re all good now, home safe.”
Kepaoa stumbles towards the gate, then turns around and clings to me. “Miss… I gotchu Miss,” he says. “I promise… I gotchu like that.
“All good, Kepaoa, all good…” I say, just holding him up.
Elroy looked at me and smiles, affectionately. “I’ll make him a feed, Miss,” he says. “Then he can sleep it off.”
“Aww, you’re pretty damn cool, Elroy,” I tell him. “Thanks for getting him back home.”
As I leave Carthill, I get a text from the other two (they got my number when we were with Kepaoa, just in case). Asking if I can take them home as well, the last train’s gone. By now it’s almost 2am, and I feel in two minds about it… I want to go home and sleep, but they’re only 16 or 17, and I don’t want to leave them to walk, either.
So I pick them up, and it starts to feel… weird. It’s the other guy (the one I don’t know), who’s kind of spooking me a bit. He’s very quiet, no emotion on his face. We stop so they can get a feed from the gas station on the way back to Carthill. Aiga goes in and the other guy waits with me in the car, keeps on asking me questions. Am I married, do I have kids, where do I stay? The kind of thing kids always ask… just not with that impassive face. And he says, “If he wants you to drop me off first, tell him you’ll drop him off first.”
“Just drop him off first, Miss.”
“Is his place closer?”
I can’t see any real reason to disagree. But inside, it feels… it still fells a little bit weird, and then I think maybe I’m tired, that’s all.
I drop off Aiga, then the other guy directs me down a few more streets, and we stop in a quiet cul-de-sac. He keeps eating his chicken and chips, slowly and calmly, showing no sign of intending to get out of the car.
“Ok,” I say. “See ya later then.” I hear myself sounding deliberately casual.
“Hang on. I’m just gonna have my feed.”
“Nah, have it inside,” I say, feeling increasingly uncomfortable. “I’m tired… gotta go.”
“Wait,” he instructs me. “I’ll just kick it out here for a bit.”
“Nah, you better go in.”
“Nothing to do in there. Probably no-one awake. Maybe no-one even home.”
“Too bad,” I tell him. “Life’s boring sometimes. People need to sleep.”
“C’mon Miss, let’s just kick it out here a while,” he replies; same way – no expression.
To be honest, it’s starting to freak me out. The houses are all dark, and there isn’t anyone else around. I feel like I don’t have any choice but to stay calm.
“Hey,” I say, just matter of fact as I can. “Um, I’m tired, and you’re not really being that thoughtful anymore.”
He looks at me, not even inquisitively. Just that same expressionless face.
“I want you to go inside now,” I tell him, trying to seem as patient and unworried as I can. “Ok? I need to go home. I’ve dropped you off, and now I got other stuff to do.”
“Nah… we’ll kick it out here a bit first.”
“No,” I repeat. “You need to go in now. I’m going home.”
“Do you wanna go to sleep?” he asks, seeming almost to understand me for the first time.
“Yes, I do.”
“Oh.” He stops eating and puts his chicken down on the bag. “Ok.” And to my intense relief, he gets out of the car.
I drive round the cul-de-sac and away, turning on the central locking as I go. And I’m actually kind of scared, my heart’s beating hard. I think – fuck, what the fuck was that all about? And my next thought… man, Kepaoa would have been pissed off, if he’d seen that. The guy would have got a mean whack.
Weirder and weirder: when I got home, there’s a few more texts from him. Asking me to come back. He’s bored. It’s cold outside. He’ll find a way to warm me up. The last one reads: ‘miss kan we kik it plzzz im bord out side by mi selllffff plllzzzz ‘
So I just go to sleep kind of gratefully, thanking my lucky stars that nothing’s actually happened. And yup, I have to be a bit smarter in the future. Not get myself into situations I can’t handle. Stick to people I know and trust. Good to learn that lesson, anyway.