View Full Version : Loveless, she stumbled
06-12-2005, 02:18 AM
Loveless, she stumbled
Ya stick the tube at the bottom, ya close the top of the bag, ya hold it for a bit till the fumes build up, then ya stick ya face in and breathe. Then Toot snapped his fingers -- wasted. Ya way-sted then, G. Grace giggling and pulling the blanket higher over her and Toot goin, Oi! Ya wannit all? But laughing. Then telling her, But you ain't gettin non a it. Aw, Toot! I said, Ya ain't gettin no glue. But what if I want to do it? Don't care. Ya ain't tryin it with me. And that's final. Grace going, Awww, Toot, snuggling against her friend, and he coughing, then sighed, then wiggled a bit to make out he wasn't cool about this, you know, being snuggled up with a girl sposed to be his friend, and the trouble she had a while back there with bein... you know, messed with her private parts by some arsehole cunt, but thinking oh well, guess she needs it and so puttin an arm around her.
Toot smiling shyly ater in the light spilled from the upstairs window of them, his olds, finally gone ta fuckin bed forgot to turn the fuckin light off too fuckin drunk as fuckin usual; Toot hopin one of em'd left a smoke burning and that it'd catch their bed on fire, burnem all up cos, man, I sure won't be yellin Fire! Fire! no way. I'll be off down the street laughin my fuckin head off, man and - Oh, and I'd grab G here, a course I would, she's my only real close friend - and we'll find somewhere where we can sit down and laugh our heads off at them up there burning, burning...
But I'll let ya have a smoke with me ya want. Oh choice! Ain't that good, G. Ya reckon! Ya tried it before, G? Yeh, of course, man. Ya haven't, have ya? I have. When? Oh a long time ago. Long time ago? Well, you ain't 'xactly old now girl, so ya musta been wha', bout fuckin six when ya tried it? Chuckling at Grace, as he fiddled around rolling a joint in the dark.
And the smoke began it's work. And it was good. And it got better. So gooood. (I don't want this to end.) Toot? Wha? I never want this, you know, this feeling to end. Never. Yeow, G. Never. Never, never, never (never, never...) And time seemed to have stopped. And pain had ceased to exist. Well, maybe just a niggle there, why she asked Toot: Toot? Does glue getya more wasted than this? Yep. Honest? Too wasted, G. Ya don't wanna try it, I'm tellin ya. I might, Toot. Nah, it sucks. So how come you -- To get wasted, G, but y'know.... it ain't a good way to go... but does it take you out of it more than this smoke, Toot? Take ya right out, enda fuckin story, for some ofem. What, like in -- I mean dead, G.
Then the darkness returned, and it was funny: ya head clears and it gets darker. In ya heart. Saying to Toot, Member when I told you bout, you know...? Yep. Oh don't say yep like that Toot, like it's sumpthin happens like every damn day, like it's sumpthin normal. Or like it was me did it. G, I never said I -- Well, it sounded like it. Sorry, G. That's alright. (My it's dark. So dark everywhere.) Well, Toot...? Yeow? It's, uh, it's been happening again. Oh, Grace!
And the silence of the old car wreck so complete, like the dark inside and out. Toot saying how he c'd kill people like that, and no more because, well, we're only young, we don't have words only feelings, and we sposed ta have dreams, you know, like the white kids, most ofem anyway. But we're just Pine Block Maoris, there must be Pine Blocks all over this rotten country, ya see it on the TV, hear it at school, read about it how we're the ones doing all the bad things, ending up in jail and places like that: Boys Homes, Girls Homes, Borstals, Youth Detention, Youth Prison, Mount Eden, Paremoremo, Mount Crawford., Waikeria, see, even a thirteen-year-old knows this. Ah, but what to do, to do, to do....?
...can't tell my mother, I just can't, Toot. But why, G? She's a choice mother, int she? Yeh, she's alright I spose. But I can't seem to get through to he, I can't kinda like talk to her... (I can't I can't... I can't go on like this)... as for him, he's the worst old man in the fuckin world, I had a gun I'd shoot him stone fuckin dead I would, Toot. I know ya would, G. And I'd help ya. Would ya, Toot? Course I would, G. You're my best friend aren'tcha? Oh, Toot.
... had some more a that smoke. Yeah, me too. You got any glue, Toot? Told ya, no. And I did ya wouldn't be gettin none. We could really get wasted then, Toot. No way, G. Oh, maybe ya right, Toot. And spose it wears off, eh? Just like this smoke. And, you know, fuckin life comes back stinkin as usual. Gotta go now. Shrugging out of the blanket. See ya, G. See ya, Toot. Hey! Whatcha doin? Gonna give ya a kiss, Toot. No way, Hosay. Aw, c'mon, Toot. Just a little kiss good night. Nope. See ya when I see ya. Yeah, bye, Toot.
Standing there... in the middle of Trambert's paddock, the one backing onto the back of Rimu Street; hardly any lights left on in Pine Block, the Trambert place in darkness. Not sure where she was. Yes, I am sure, but I'm not. The two opposing thoughts feeling quite natural. Grass damp with dew between her toes. No shoes: wanna be quiet. So quiet they won't know I exist. Cloud crossed over and covering the slice of moon some time ago. So hardly any light. No breeze. I can't hear the shape of the wind, the noise of the obstacles it'd have to move around and over and under. But plenty of stars up there, in between patches of clearing from the cloud. A guitar playing clear as clear, yet the voices accompanying it muffled, deep, tired-sounding. Must be four or five or six in the morning. Am I still stoned? Oh, I wish I was. Grace centring on her head, her brain sensations for any lingering effects of the smoke. Nothing. Gone. Like everything in this life that's nice or pleasurable or, you know, has meaning -- gone. Then she began walking.
Toward that dark shape of house and tree outline sitting like a huge ship anchored in the night.
06-12-2005, 02:19 AM
She'd been over this same ground before; earlier, when she'd walked home, left her siblings to take themselves to the pictures. Depressed. I felt depressed. She'd dreaded them having got a dog this time. But they hadn't. She'd climbed a tree. She'd watched them, the Tramberts, from her perch like they were a film, a TV show; the eatings and goings-on of the other species. Ten ofem there were. If you don't include her, the girl. The fuckin self-assured has-to-be-a-smartarse girl who can't be any older than me. The pianist. Eleven if you do. And they sure had counted her as one a them. Consumed a girl with jealousy she had, that Trambert kid. The way she, you know conducted herself amongst all those people. Daring to not only talk but converse withem, as if she was not only a confident child but their equal. Not only that, she seemed to think it was such a big yawn.
For hours this show went on: each person seeming to take a turn at talking (tawking) how they do, holding court as they'd say in English at school, then someone replying or responding or no one saying anything at all, just resuming their eating, their wine sipping, their dabdabs at their mouths with serviette, which a Pine Block girl knows're called sumpthin, except she doesn't know precisely what.
And the woman, she musta been Mrs Trambert, with her shining lovely hair getting up every so often but not before givin em a beautiful smile with the tiniest of nods, and sometimes her daughter had got up after her and they came back after a bit carrying plates of food and wearing smiles, handin em around ever so graciously, and everyone not touchin their grub like a Pine Blocker would, not till the Mum and her spoilt little bitch'd sat down. Oh and there woulda been five -- five -- courses. Compare with Pine Block where it's one course and it lasts as long as the food does, not a moment longer or sooner.
Nibble-nibble-nibble, then down'd go their knife and fork or whatever it was they were eating the course with, V-ed points in on the plate, dabdab with that bit of cloth at their dainty mouths, picking up their glass of wine, which'd started off as white adn then the mother and her husband'd come along and filled more glasses with red wine; it had to be red wine unless it was sumpthin else a Pine Block girl didn't know about, just as she didn't about red or white wine, only that she'd figured it from TV. Each course takin an age to eat.
And she could see the lights of her world from her tree perch. And she'd look through the foliage at the row of lights of home - back into the room of other species, so nicely dressed: the women with, oh, just indescribable dresses, outfits, and the men with a tie and a nice jacket. Grace looking back again, at home. Then down into that room. The feeling that something, someone had done this to her; this sense of having been not deprived, but robbed of a life, growing stronger in her more and more tormented mind.
Ideas, notions, concepts kept zinging back and forth across her vision of thoughts, like flashes of light trailing a message but going too fast to catch the words. So it was just the row of lights and faint sounds of a car revving a snatch of group singing. A real-life TV scene down there, n that sitting room or dining room or whatever the hell they call it. I don't know, I'm just a... (Pine Block girl.)
The departure of the people, the visitors. Mrs and Mr coming outside withem; the front door, the big woodpanelled thing it coulda been the courthouse - light flooding the area, the cars, the suited men, the smiling laughing women, the girl-bitch so fuckin confident in herself; their goodnights, their we must do this more oftens, their oh yes we musts, ringing so clearly to a trespasser in a tree. Their accents, their demeanours, their soberness, their every communication so different.
The red eyes of taillights disappearing into the night and a girl betting those cars wouldn't have to be returned in the morning, lights disappearing like everything disappearing: stars, moon, a day, picnic, mother, hope.
A girl thinking, what if you people came over to our world, joined out party? What'd happen? Imagining the novelty of having not just Pakehas in their midst, but posh ones at that; all over em, breathin beer fumes over em, gettin over-friendly the way they do when they're drunk, askin stupid questions, rude questions, insulting questions. Eyein em up, the men, for trouble to pick. The women for what they -- Oh, can't even think about it. Then sure as shit someone'd walk up to one ofem and ask: The fuck're you lookin at, cunt? Then, Tramberts and friends, theyll punch the shit out of you, kick hell out of you, spit on you, scream abuse on your bloodied heads. Then they'll party on, inspired, spurred on by the beating they had given you. For they know it's the only taste of victory they'll get in life.
Feet freezing. Solid blocks of ice. Oh, but what does it matter? And she climbed her shivering form, step by painful barefooted step up that tree (The girl, the Trambert kid, had done the act: just that simple kissing of her mother, her father, goodnight).
This high enough? Looking down, hard to tell in the dark and no moon up there. No, I'll go higher. (And the mother and father they'd gone back to that big room with the big table. Sat down. Sipped at their red wines, she smiling lipsticked lips at him, this nice complimentary scarlet: everything fitted. Everything. They'd talked a bit. Grace couldn't hear a word, only see her lips moving and his profile in animation but mostly still. Controlled, see?)
She stopped. She bounced her weight to test the strength. This'll do. She unwound the rope from her arm (They stood up, she stretching, and seeming to giggle at him smiling funny at her She had her arms up and he walked over to her and they started pashing. Wow. As old as that and pashing. Then they broke away and they left the room, holding hands. Pop! they went like that in a disappearnce of love stepped into the dark. And Grace left there. Lonely -- lonelier than ever.) She tied the knots with a practised skill, jerking on each one as she went. (And the front entrance light went out. Then an edging of light speared alight on her lift. Stayed on for some time. Then it too popped out.) Wow. Just me now. Me and the dark. Me and the r...
Felt so strange, around her neck. Tickly against her throat. Strange and this calmness. As if it wasn't really going to happen, that it couldn't possibly. And yet... nothing there, in the background of vague thoughts and blurry pictures and this odd buzzing sound, to say this is not going to happen. Because it was happening.... I'm testing the rope.
Potential. It popped up into her head, an old familiar word, concept she'd latched onto. From a magazine it was, about everyone having the right - the right, it said - to realise their potential. POTENTIAL.
It sat there in her mind as clear as a neon sign. Like the McCLUTCHY'S one. No need for on/off blinking. Not when it was what everyone knew. No need to blink on and off.
Then her breathing quickened. In and out, in and out, rapider and rapider.
Then she jumped.
06-12-2005, 02:33 AM
I love you for posting this. It's about as touching and awesome as the first one.
06-12-2005, 02:53 AM
You're welcome, m'lady.
Alan Duff is a genius.
06-12-2005, 03:00 AM
I concur. Love the way he writes.
You know I was thinking the title is as if suggesting it, this anticipation was then dragging me across the story in the back of my mind. Like the terrible silence before a storm. Awful sad as well and sounded very real.
06-12-2005, 06:08 AM
Suggested... the ending?
06-12-2005, 06:20 AM
Yeah, a bit. At least that's the way I perceived it. Although maybe not all along.
06-12-2005, 06:27 AM
43 views and one person has any thoughts. Why do I get the feeling this is wasted on the illiterate masses here?
the author must've grown up on the hard streets of Papillon, Nebraska to come up with a story like that.
06-12-2005, 06:35 AM
omfg! If only punkangel had the attention span to actually read through this and see that comment.
06-12-2005, 06:36 AM
Yeah, probably know it very well to make it sound so real and awesome.
Kia ora. Now there's three literate people. Yay.
06-12-2005, 06:37 AM
Kia ora, sistah.
*gives a Maori kiss*
06-12-2005, 06:38 AM
Yay, so cute!
06-12-2005, 07:00 AM
A woman in pine block
Bastard, she'd think, looking out her back kitchen window. Lucky white bastard, at that glimpse of two-story house through its surround of big old trees and its oh so secure greater surround of rolling green pastureland, while she -- Clicking her tongue, Oh to hell with him. Or good luck to him, if she wasn't in too bad a mood.
Good luck to you, white man, for being born into your sweet world, and bad luck to you, Beth Heke (who used to be a Ransfield, but not that life was so much better then), for being married to an arsehole. And yet I love him. Just can't help myself, I love the black, fist-happy bastard. And she'd light another smoke, and always went ahh in her mind and sometimes aloud because she liked that first hit against the back of her throat, and she'd squint through the drifts. And wonder.
And sometimes she'd be upstairs, looking out of her bedroom window at the view on the other side if the house, the front. If you could call it a view; just a mirror reflection across the street of her house and the half next door and the whole fuckin street of exact same state dwellings. A mile-long picture of the same thing; all the same, just two-story, side-by-side misery boxes. Only thing differant was the colour of the paint-job, and even then you hardly noticed it. And your neighbour through a few inches of wall.
And Beth'd watch the kids; the scab-kneed, snot-nosed, ragamuffin-clothed kids of the area doing their various things out there. Beth wondering, all the time wondering. At them. The kids. The unkept, ill-directioned, neglected kids. At her own kids. How were they going to fare? How were they faring now? If you could call living in this Pine Block state-housing area faring. For hours at a time, sometimes, she'd watch the mirrors of her existence outside, down there below her and Jake's bedroom window. And feel like a spy. Spying on my own people. Them out there. Us. The going-nowhere nobodies who populate this state-owned, half of us state-fed slum. The Maoris. Or most ofem are.
Feeling like a traitor in her own midst because her thoughts so often turned to digust, disapproval, shame, and sometimes to anger, even hate. Of them, her own people. And how they carried on. At the restrictions they put on themselves (and so their choiceless children) of assuming life to be this daily struggle, this acceptance that they were a lesser people; and boozing away their lives and the booze making things all distorted and warped and violent.
And not having dreams. Like him out back there, Trambert; of dreaming of one day owning a house like him, and a farm, Mr fuckin white Trambert with the big stately dwelling (Oh very funny, Beth) and the endless green paddocks that backed onto the line of miserable state boxes erected on land he'd once owned but sold to them, the government, so they could house another lot of brown nobodies. To dream; of being like him, with acres and acres of land to feel under your feet, and hundreds of hundreds of sheep growing fat and woolly to add to your thousands and thousands in the fuckin bank. To dream. Of peace in the world; like Trambert must have peace in his nice white world. While here, down there on the street below, are kids practising to be the nothing nobody, but violent, adults of the future. Jesus, Beth, any wonder you feel you need a drink?
06-12-2005, 07:01 AM
The footpath: it began life as a tarsealed walkway, then cracks started to appear, and then little sags. And a hole'd develop. And the kids, the mindless kids even in them days, they found you could pick away at a crack and soon you'd have a section of footpath, and they'd dash these biscuits of walkway to the ground, smashem to smithereens, playing like Samson because he was all the rage in those days. Wasn't long before there wasn't much footpath to walk on. A woman had to walk on the road. But she hardly noticed then. Not in them days, a newly married girl moved into a spanking new state house (her and Jake's half of it, that is) provided by a kind government who didn't charge much rent.
She had dreams then. But they got lost along the way. Sixteen years is a long time. For dreams to stay alive. And it wasn't as if the dream was to be a Trambert, a Mrs Trambert, no. Just to have a whole house with her own bit of land under her feet that she and Jake and the kids could call their own. But nothing like a few hidings -- from the man sposed to be part of the dream -- to reduce life and its dreams to thoughts that grow to disbelief, how the mind went: Come on, Beth, don't kid yourself. You ain't goin nowhere but Pine Block. Trying to fight it -- at first -- lying in wait like some cunning animal for Jake to be in a good mood and then swooping in on him: Ah Jake... I was thinking, you know, about us and, oh just, you know, life in general, and where it's taking us. But you think he'd listen?
Even in his better moments he just looked at a woman, gave her one of those smiles. Of dismissal. Telling her she was kidding herself. And he'd ask her why she wanted to be differant from everyone else, wasn't she satisfied and who'd she think she was anyway? Ah, dreams.
Sixteen years is a long time. To live in hell. Well, maybe not hell, she wouldn't go that far. There's been good times, and not a few either. Wasn't as if the flames'd been licking at her feet all these years, now be fair, Beth. Hahaha, laughing at herself. Oh Beth, you're a one at times. But then again, it sure ain't heaven neither, or what is Jake doing here? Hahaha, have to laugh, eh girl. Better'n cryin about it (Though a woman did have her moments.)
Or she'd be watching the TV. An afternoon soapie. Young and the Restless. Time-killing, time-passing stuff if a woman was too broke to go join a card school somewhere or her face too beat up to go anywhere -- (I ain't having em lookin at me sniggerin to emselves, whisperin their told-you-so's to each other as if they got Husbands of the Year, laughing at a woman for marrying Jake when everyone knew what he was like, with his fists, how fist-happy he was. But so did she: I just thought I could see the, you know, potential in him. And anyrate, not as if he's his whole life punching me up. Only when he's drunk, and then not every time, not even half the time, what would they know, those s******ing whispering bitches out there? AS if they can talk) -- and she'd spot something: something right out of kilter, not related to the programme, not properly. Something, someone in the background.
A passing truck and she'd catch the flash of its sign on the door and might read something or other Seafoods, and she'd sit there thinking about what kind of seafood those Yanks ate, while the Yanks she was sposed to be watching were doing their usual drama stuff, beautiful people being nasty to each other, rich white bitches and bastards not satisfied with life bein kind to em, they have to go and hurt each other. Or it might be a waiter in one of their flash resteraunts the stars were always having dinner and lunch in, and Beth sitting there thinking how she'd feel having to wait on some flash bitch dripping with jewellry and silk all over and treating her like shit. I'd probably slap the bitch's face. But I'd make sure I'd been paid up my wages first, laughing at that, at herself, her peculiar thoughts.
One day it was a bookcase. Fulla books of course. Of course; what bookcases are for, aren't they? Oh come on, Beth, at herself for being stupid in her mind. Silly. Like a teenager. Like Grace. Her daughter. My thirteen-year going on fifty-year-old. Hardly like her. She smiled, her face'd crack. And it occurred to Beth that her own house -- no, not just her own house but every house she'd ever been in -- was bookless. The thought struck her like one of Jake's punches, dunno why. So much she had to get up and walk around; paced up and down the downstairs passage, smoking, unable to ease her agitation. Bookless. Bookless. We're a bookless society. It kept hammering and hammering home. Soon it was like a sense of loss, almost grief. And she thinking, Jesus, what's wrong with me? So what if this house has no books, what's the big deal about books? But it kept nagging away at her.
She took her mind over dwelling after dwelling she'd been to, relations' homes, her own childhood home, friends. But no. It was bookless. She thought why? Almost in anguish. Why are Maoris not interested in books? Well, they didn't have a written language before the white man arrived, maybe that was it. But still it bothered her. And she began to think that it was because a bookless society didn't stand a show in this modern world, not a damn show. And I live in it, don't I? And my kids.
06-12-2005, 07:07 AM
She went upstairs, went through the kids' rooms, trying to find a book and finding only comics and magazines, karate mags, boxing and rugby mags under the two older boys' beds, and -- (Oh, what's this? A Penthouse snucked right away underneath Nig's bed. The eldest. Her favourite. My Nig. Flicking through the pages -- good God. What's this? Recoiling in horror at the sight of a woman in full-colour naked glory with her -- her fanny explosed for the whole wide world to see. Slamming it shut. Staring at the ceiling, at the door, she didn't know where to look; at the poster-covered walls deceptively adorned with pictures of males in fighting poses, boxers, karate jokers, thinking: well, well, well. My boy's growing up. Not having seen a Penthouse before. Thirty-four years old and I haven't seen or even known of a magazine like this. Finding herself opening the mag again, discovering several sections of glossy photographs of women stark naked and looking pretty, you know, sexy for it despite their brazenness. Beth's heart thumping just a little more than normal. And a tingle, just a little one, down there, of sex. Of wanting sex. Oh wow. Far out, girl. You're thirty-four and you're getting turned on by a few photos of naked women. Are you around the twist? But it wasn't a latent lesbian desire suddenly brought out of her, she knew that. Just sex. She quite liked sex. With my husband. When he feels like it, and I don't mean feels like doing it for himself.) -- and after she was recovered she searched on, in the girls room. Grace and Polly's. Mags and comics. No books. Teenage girl mags with pages and pages of prissy white girls dolled up, or in skimpy swimming outfits, why would a Maori girl with dark skin even for a Maori want to look at stuff like this when she had no chance of looking like them? No chance. Then Beth realised she was thinking like Jake about her thirteen-year-old daughter's prospects, her future. Oh, let her read this kind of stuff if that's what turns her on. But no books. And Polly, she was ten and her school reports had her getting poor grades for reading so she wasn't likely to have books under her bed, though Beth did check just in case Polly surprised her. So she went downstairs and it wasn't necessary to go into the sitting room cause sure weren't no books in there, up to the kitchen where she sat down feeling quite drained. Thinking over and over again: bookless. We're bloody bookless, all of us.
Then the council came along ith men and machines, and they laid a concrete footpath in place of the ruined old. Fixed the vandalising little kids right up. So they, the kids, painting things on it, with old paint from backyard sheds, or stolen from somewhere; obscenities, hearts with arrows through them and initials inside of who loved who, and hearts with who hated who and the heart dripping with blood; they marked out hopscotch squares, noughts and crosses grids, with paint and lipstick and from spraycans (till they discovered, this new generation, the high to be got from sniffing the fumes from a can of spraypaint) for years the kids put their marks on the footpath. So it looked no differant to the area, the tone of Pine Block: neglected, run-down, abused. And, you know (a woman'd have to think hard to find the right word), prideless.
Made her want to weep sometimes. And not so much for her as for her kids. Their future. If you could call it that.
Walking along the street, not just Rimu Street but any of the nine or ten that crisscrossed each other in this perfect pattern, the car wrecks. More and more car wrecks appeared on front lawns, down the side of a place (and out back) and stayed there. Sat out on front lawns, up on wooden blocks or bald tyres, promising to be fixed, done up (Tomorrow man. Gonna start on it tomorrow.), rusting away, making the place look more and more like a wreckers yard, stead of a place you were meant to raise your kids, send em out as decent citizens. Rusting monuments to these people, their apathy, their couldn't give a fuck bout nothin or no one attitude.
Ooo, made a woman so wild sometimes. Had her wanting to march up to some ofem ask em, didn't they have any fuckin pride, doesn't it occur to you to do something? But of course she couldn't. Not in Pine Block. Not as one Maori to another. They'd lynch her. And anyway, who'm I to talk? Way I carry on myself at times, specially when I've had a few. Not as if I'm some angel living amongst the heathens. These are my people. I love em. Or so she forced upon herself.
The kids played in the car wrecks. Used em as playhouses. You could see em at any time of day wriggling and crawling and wrestling away in there, or just sprawled out amongst the cobwebs and the spders and exposed seat springs and the rusty jagged metal edges that added to their infected, half the time pus-oozing wounds, and the steering wheels sucked on by every mouth that ever sat in a wreck, because they must be suckable, you only have to watch the kids. As Beth might find herself doing without even knowing she was half the time.
And there was one house had an old wringer washing machine stuck right outside the front door, bold as you will, it'd been there for years, ever since Beth could remember. And the grass -- sposed to be the bitch's front lawn -- grown halfway up its fat, chipped girth, weeds sticking out its belly and a slimy moss formed all over the rubber wringer rollers like a disease. God. Even some of the people looked upon that Barton woman's pridelessness as a standard to which they'd never fall. Not that far.
A woman'd come home from town -- in a taxi, feeling like Lady Muck for a chance, steada Lady Blues who ain't got no money -- her supermarket shopping filling the taxi boot and she, Lady Muck, in the back not wanting the ride to end, as if she was a princess. And she'd be looking out the window and she'd notice the Pakeha houses, how most of em had well-kept lawns and nice gardens with flowers and shrub arrangements and some with established trees and others with the foresight to have young ones planted, and Lady Muck'd start feeling depressed. Then the vacant lot of land seperating Two Lakes from Pine Block that no one, not in sixteen years, had ever built on it'd flil a woman's vision with its ugly overgrown look, remind her of what was to come. Pine fuckin Block. And she'd feel like whatshername. Cindarella, in her taxi, waiting for it to turn into a pumpkin at the sight of her residential reality, and the rotten little kids everywhere, and the mean-faced teenagers, and the gang members sauntering around like they owned the place. No gardens here. Not trees, nor plant arrangements, not nothing.
And she'd pay the driver, and she'd be stood there, on the soiled concrete footpath, with her eight or nine plastic shopping bags at her feet, thinking of the six mouths she had to feed as well as his, Jake's, the animal, and his fuckin boozing mates coming around drinking all night and then wanting to be fed, and she'd trudge up her footpath feeling old.
An old woman at thirty-four.
And she'd come back for the other bags, careful not to take each load inside or there wouldn't be anything to come back to. And she'd turn and there'd be her through-the-wall neighbour, Jill, just happened to have come outside to sit on her front doorstep the wayt they do, wanting to know everything, to see some action, something they could wag their tongues over. But Beth having to smile through her teeth, Hi Jill, to the woman because she and her husband were good to borrow from, especially beer. And smokes. Fixem up on payday, Thursdays, out of what Jake gives her from his unemployment, which was half. The other half was his. And you forgot to add an extra bottle or two as a thanks, they didn't talk to you for a month.
Inside, in the kitchen, slumping in a chair, it was usually the kitchen for what use a sitting room with hardly any furniture to speak of and what is there you wouldn't get two bob from the second-hand shop for, only the TV down there, oh, and my good old record player, but I wish I could afford one of these flash stereos they have these days even the kids've gotem. I do love my music, and the TV hardly worth watching, those soaps didn't fool a woman, inspire her to wanting to be like them, the nasty vicious unhappy beautiful creatures. Jesus Christ, if they're real then who wants to be a Yank whitey?
And her mood'd feel like this heavy weight pressing down on her, a kind of blackness with it. But I'm a fighter, I ain't the type to lie down and let people, life, roll over me. Even him, the fucking animal, I don't exactly crack up shaking to death or screaming when I know it's coming, a hiding. To hell withem, there's been times when a woman laughed in his face, with her blood pouring from it, and toldim: You go right on, mister. You're still an arsehole. O life, but sometimes I wonder about you, what I did to deserve what you threw at me.
When it rained, the rubbish in the gutters'd block up the drains, have the street awash with its own gunge, its own discarded filth -- oo, we Pine Blockers are our own worst enemies -- and it might rain for days and so it'd rise up, the flooding, and creepy up over the front lawns -- if you could call some ofem lawns -- form little lakes, ponds, puddles, and the kids -- always the kids in Pine Block, the place is teeming withem, we're shit breeding shit faster than the sewers can handle -- the kids'd turn up.
They'd turn the lawns to sludge pits, quagmires, traipse mud and dirt around withem. Even to bed. Even beds with no sheets. Bloody animals -- not the kids, it ain't their fault -- the parents. Catch one of mine going to bed without at least a wash and there'd be trouble. And as for no sheets...
06-12-2005, 07:09 AM
Parents too drunk, or half the time missing, boozing up somewhere, at the pub, in another blimmin town someofem, where they'd ended up in their drunken state and with a whole tribe of kids left at home with not a brass razoo to feed emselves on. Jesus Christ, but a woman'd never done that, as drunk as she'd been. I make sure my kids come first. Their food, anyrate. What can a woman do about their future, their education? It ain't in my hands. Not on my own. Not living here, in Pine Block, Two Lake's dumping ground for its human rubbish. It's all of us; we need to get together -- talk and try to sort ourselves out. Before it's too late. If we haven't already missed the bus.
And when the rain'd stopped and the lawns'd dried out and the council'd come (late, as usual) and unblocked the drains, the mud patches became deserts: little deserts and dustbowls that the horrible untamed kids could come back to and sit by, twiddle, and scratching with their mindless, hardened little toes that'd hardly known a shoe between em, using implements, a stick, a nail, anything, scraping scratching digging gouging at the earth till dust filled the air and clogged up their flared, wild little nostrils. Then, satisfied they'd done some damage, they moved elsewhere to wreck ruin something else.
And when the rain came back and filled the craters they'd made, the kids came back and sailed blocks of wood with a nail hammered centre and scissored (if a pair could be found) sails made from plastic shopping bag or pierced cardboard or newspaper, down there on their hardened little knees blowing like crazy, urging their vessels on, swearing and cursing at the things as they practised being rough and tough. You could hear em from upstairs, the little buggers. Then, bored, they'd move off to another place.
Might be a car wreck; in there amongst the cobwebs and rusty, dangerous protrusions and springs shot out like broken Jack-in-the-boxes, and oasis patches of upholstery, and soil marks, and dried food scraps, and the smell of piss, and sperm stains -- (once Beth'd watched a kid -- oh, the poor little bugger -- one rainy afternoon out her bedroom window, a wreck across the street, and knew from the jerking movements the poor little fucker was masturbating. Made her weep. Turn her eyes away and weep. Love, she thought. That's all the kid is wanting, love. And having to take it from himself cause there ain't no other source, Beth instincted out. Made her feel like rushing down there and bringing the youth back to her bed and giving him, you know, a real good rooting. Just to make him feel good.) -- And for some, the car wrecks were home.
You could go past of an evening and see em huddled up in there with some old blanket or nothing at all, just this pathetic shape cringed in the frozen outline of a broken-down car. And the strains of music coming from inside the house it was sat outside of. May as well have been a gravestone. And those arseholes in there, drinking up large, having a ball thank you very much and fuck the kid out there huddled up and dying, his heart anyway, he got sent out there because he was bad, he done something we didn't like, or he exists and we can't stand his existance, he's such a, oh, we don't know, we just don't like him. Even though he's of their loins. Jesus. Any wonder some of em grow up wanting to join the gang that'd won the struggle in Pine Block, the Brown Fists. Though there were kids who joined with their archrivals, the Black Hawks, across town, and so got to do battle, often fatal, with their Pine Block brothers and cousins and childhood friends. Maori against Maori. And thousands ofem each side across the country. And hardly a one workin; the government, the good old government, payin em to do crimes against each other and society.
Beth'd heard a whisper from her children that her eldest, Nig (My Nig), was looking to joining up. Had a woman confronting her seventeen-year-old, asking him outright, and he saying, None of your business, how they do these kids they don't remember nothin of what you did forem. And she warning him, you better not be joining up with no Brown Fists, mista, or you and me are through. She didn't mean it. Only wanted to scare him; Beth assuming that the intensity of her love for her son was matched by an equal reciprocating love. Nig just looking at her that way he did (oo, he knows how to hurt me), saying nothing, just looking with those glistening brown eyes looking hurt, those handsome features so much like his father, but Nig's more refined, more handsome. Just looking. So Beth conceding, giving a little: Well, alright, I didn't actually mean finished, kaput. But son, you got to think of the future.
Nig saying, what future? No future for a Maori. And walking off. Rocked a woman to the core.
And her other children, they were coming up to the same troublesome age as Nig. Abe, fifteen. Is he next? Boogie, fourteen, and already getting into more and more trouble in school. Grace -- well, I don't know about her. I never could get through to her. Something about her, I dunno. But she's growing up all the time, she's even got hairs on her whatsit. And her period. Polly, only ten and she stll sleeps with her doll, and Huata, he's only seven, so a mothers got those two at least for a few more years. Though the years go by. And all too soon. Why, I can remember like yesterday being a teenager myself. Now I'm double the age. And about five times the misery! Hahaha! A woman has to laugh or she'd cry. And Beth nee Ransfield, she was no weepy weakling. Just confounded, that's all.
Funny place, this Pine Block: you could predict it, the moods of the people, tell what day it was by the signs. Thursday to Sunday, the clink of beer bottles in their crates, the wafts of takeaway food aromas from Kentucky Fried to Chinese to burgers and, the staple diet of Pine Block kids, fishnchips.
Mondays, starting to go on the cadge, some ofem.
Tuesdays, hide your surplus you got any or someone'll break your heart and your cupboards while they're at it with a sad story.
Wednesdays, broke. The lot of us. Or nearly the lot. Even those with jobs, they're only workers on a worker's wage. So Wednesdays, they dreamed...
Tomorrow, man, gonna get my dole money and buy me some Chinese. Gonna buy me lotsa Chinese. And fuck the power bill. Spare ribs, man, oh far out. And a loafa bread. And butter thick, man, gonna dip it in that sauce they do and gonna stuff myself. I am, man. Yeow, brother, you dream away. Ain't dreamin, man. Tomorrow, gonna do. And after I've had the ribs I'm gonna buy me a cooked chicken from the Hindu's. The Hindu's? Man, they ain't chickens, they chooks. Y'c'd string a tennis racket withem, man. Aw, c'mon man, they ain't that bad. They fuckin are. Well, I like em. You like anything. So what, man? So you gotta have the bread, brother. The bread to pay for the stuff. Well like I said, man, tomorrow I'll have the bread. Ah, man, you call what they give you on the dole bread? Well it ain't fuckin porridge. And it ain't bread, neither. Less'n a hundred bucks a week if you're single, you call that bread? Well it beats havin to work for it, man. I mean, work... just the thought of it makes me tired. I'd rather have a job that earns decent bread, man, steada this hangin out all fuckin week for a lousy less'n a hundred bucks. How long does it last? Brother, it ain't gonna last me one day by the time I'm finished tomorrow. Buyin pork bones, too. I'll be waitin for his truck to come, the Pork Bone Man. Gonna be waitin with that look, y'know, real cool, casual, eh, like I just won a big trifecta or sumpthin. Or this Lotto. Man, what wouldn't I do to win that. Million bucks first prize. But hey, what would I be doin standin in the middle of Pine Block waitin for some cunt to arrive with overpriced pork bones? Eh brother? You wouldn't see me for dust. So where would you be then, man? I'd... I'd -- a frown creasing the brow, having to think about that one, really think about it -- Well, not Pine Block, thaz for sure. Maybe, brother, but you'd be back. Back what? Back here, where you started. Come on.... When the bread ran out you'd be back. Ran out? Man, how's a fuckin cool million gonna run out? Same way as it run in, bro -- luck. When it's in, it's in. But it always goes. And half the time don't come back. What we all count on in this shit joint. Pine Block -- luck. No wonder a man's getting himself drunk all the time; it's the -- the -- the. No word for it. Not even so simple a word as frustration. It's being what we are, man, that's what'll bring you back. That's what keeps us drunk. Luck.
Luck. Beth! Beth! The hell is she? Jake that day had come striding out to Beth hanging out yet another load of washing. I got lucky, Beth! Carrying an armful of something, looking like he'd just won that new craze, Lotto. But not first prize. Despite Jake's tone, despite that armload of parcels. That'd be wishing for the impossible. So Beth turning her back, back to the washing and that ever-reminding view of lucky Trambert's acreage, his big old house half hidden in the trees over there. And Jake standing there saying, Beth, Beth, listen to me. Look what I got for us. And for you.
All six foot three inches of hard-muscled towering man of him, and Beth playing it cool, and just a little bit coy because you never knew his being lucky might run into her being lucky (he hasn't touched me in ages) and smiling at him making an appearance between a shirt of his and a pair of Grace's underpants. I got lucky. Smiling all over. But Beth sighing, what kind of luck? The kind that you can bank? And him grinning, Maybe. Her heart doing a little leap at that: What, you mean no worries about where the next meal is coming from? Surely not!
06-12-2005, 07:11 AM
So she stopped her doings. Looked up at him, his head poking over the washing line wire. No foolin around, Jake. I ain't in the mood. What luck? And him doing a sway, with a sexy grin, or maybe he was just being stupid and drawling, Guess what I got for you? And her thinking, it can be anything. Don't care what. Because it'll be the first time in years. Playing along with his game, thinking he'd finally had a win on the horses that he spent half his dough on. Come over here.
Beckoning her to step away from the washing, he doing so first, going down on his haunches on the long grass of back lawn it took him all his time to borrow next-door's mower, cut the damn thing, having to spread with his big mits an area flat where he laid out his newspaper-wrapped parcels. Couldn't be much of anything flash, not in newspaper. But Beth feeling sort of excited about it. So tell me, she sat herself down beside the parcels, counting em, four, five, six. Six surprises. Must be something good.
Jake opening the first, taking his sweet time, doing it page by page, and Beth being able to read last year's local news about the mayor presenting someone before the contents finally revealed itself. A crayfish. Crayfish? Jake, you haven't been up to nothing bad, have you? Nah, don't be stupid. Grinning. Alright? Beth brushing her forehead. Wow. Course it's alright. She hadn't had crayfish in so long it wasn't worth trying to remember. And the bees buzzing away in the background (and fat blowflies too, don't forget them, Beth) and someone with a motor mower going, and a plane humming around up there somewhere in the nice summer blue, oh but this is a nice change. Crayfish.
For us? And Jake unwrapping another of the lovely red beasts. I don't even have to cook em. Jake stroking -- stroking -- the things, and oh, it must be big for his mit not to dwarf it. Jake laughing. Her starting to believe it, that he'd been lucky.
Another parcel, this time a whole snapper. Big. Two more in another parcel. Oh, but this is a food-lovers dream. This is what a Pine Blocker has a Wednesday wet dream over. What next?
Mussels. Dozens of the sweet little creatures. Greenlips, the farmed jobs. They'd be fat as anything. Fill the shell from edge to edge those farmed mussels. And what's he got in those plastic pottles, not what I'm thinking, surely? He must've won big at something. Jake, what'd you win? Come on, stop teasing now. (And wondering what was in the sixth and last parcel. For me. For Beth Heke, who's had to put up with this man for sixteen years and don't remember getting anything for me like this, let alone with a feast to boot.) Can I do the last parcel? -- but Jake was already doing it. Grinning.
Jake...? In that girlish, come-onish, you-can-have-me-if-you-like tone. Remembering the pottles: What you got in these? Oh them? Jake making out he was so cool. Oh, juss some oysters. A pause then erupting in laughter. Making a woman warm all over for her man. (Why, I can't help loving him.) Oh, juss ten dozen little ole oysters, dear. And laughing again. Oh, why can't life always be like this? Beth thinking. Why can't we have a few more wins? A bit more of this luck, whatever it is.
Last parcel. (Oh, don't tell me, I can't look. I can't look.) Beth closing her eyes, wanting to near squeal with excitement -- no, not so much excitement as happiness. At just being happy because he, her man, is happy. And how it must be near all the time for some (like him over there, Trambert) because life keeps throwing you winners, a bit of luck for a change.
Sea-eggs. Your favourate, Beth. She looking at him, with grateful eyes but thinking he must have her present hidden on him. But of course you don't ask, you wait till he's ready. May as well enjoy the feast beforehand, Beth told herself. And sea-eggs were a favourite of hers, she loved em. (Funny thing, Jake being a Maori, and near a full-blood at that, unlike Beth, being about half with white blood on both sides of her parentage, Jake didn't like sea-eggs, kina the Maori called em. Look like little hedgehogs, Jake described em. Did too, but the roe inside was sweet, even if it was a black purply gooey mess to get at the tasty part.) She had one right there, cracking it open against the steel pole of the clothes-line, delicately removing the inner slivers of yellow roe, letting em slide down her throat just barely broken by her teeth to release the taste. Mmm-uh! Let life stay like this. And Jake, he started on one of the crayfish.
Ah, the two ofem out there, eating like a king and queen; chuckling at each other, shooing away the flies that came rushing, feeling greedy, selfish about it: the delicious food, the shared moment. Of just me and him. My and my man pigging out on a fine summer's day.
Jake winking at her. Beth hoping it meant what she thought it did. Careful not to wink back because he didn't like the woman to be the instigator of that particular activity, nosiree he didn't. Sex was a man's choice first and foremost; in fact, a woman was careful she didn't show she enjoyed it too much or it made Jake wild, he'd start asking questions, or sulk, not touch her for another month. But she had ways of reaching her objective without Jake knowing she'd reached such a height.
Then she asked about the luck, what it was, how much. And he laughed and laughed. Rolled about on the grass, a crayfish front horn in his hand cracked with his teeth and ready for eating. I got the sack! Laughing. The sack? From your job? And he was laughing? Aw, come on, Jake, you're joking. Not joking, woman. Laughing again, telling her it was last week, his firing from his job as a labourer in a quarry where he'd been for fourteen of the sixteen years he was married to her. Sacked? Last week? So why tell me now? And why all this food? You mad, Jake Heke? Feeling angry with him. About to give him a piece of her mind -- and to hell with the consequences and to hell with this food and to hell with whatever else he's got for me... personally -- but Jake explained: I got granted the benefit. What benefit? The unemployment. The unem-ployment! Beth wanted to slap his face. You got it, lady. I'm on the dole as from now. Got the letter today. And the sent a cheque with it. And you've eaten some of it! Laughing.
Telling her it worked out at only seventeen bucks less than what he was paid at the quarry, and to think, all them years of working it was for nothing (Beth quickly calculating her half of Jake's income to meaning half of seventeen bucks less a week. Not the end of the world. And Jake'd find something soon.)
That was over two years ago. Jake just another of the longterm unemployed of Two Lakes. The country suffering its worst-ever unemployment figures. Why, half of Pine Block was out of work. Thos a person had to be blind and deaf not to see the figures published in the papers, on the TV, about Maori unemployment being much higer than their white counterparts. It was because they were less skilled. And now, Beth knew, a damn sight less motivated if Jake and a good many of his cronies were examples. And to think, he was so proud of himself, as if he'd had it over not only his former boss who'd sacked him (for absenteeism) but the rest of the world for thinking they were better than Jake Heke. Luck. A woman wasn't so sure about this luck business that it was really and not just plain hard work, self-motivation. Luck.
As for the present Jake had for Beth, he'd meant the sea-eggs. Sea-eggs for chrissake. Call that luck?
- Alan Duff
06-12-2005, 08:57 AM
In the gheeeeeeeettooooooo!
06-12-2005, 08:59 AM
I was going to reply to this earlier but forgot.
I loved it, essentially. I'm a terrible critic so I won't write an explanation of why I loved it. I just did; extremely moving.
06-12-2005, 10:57 AM
134 views and I bet no more than five people read it. Fucking illiterate trash on this bbs, tsk.
06-12-2005, 11:01 AM
That's because reading isn't punk rock and this is a punk rock forum. OFFSPRING PUNX 4 LIFE!!@!
06-12-2005, 11:02 AM
Sniffing glue is punk rock, yet the board's members aren't dead enough for my liking. Explain that.
06-13-2005, 08:28 AM
This thread deserves to be up. Don't disappoint us kids and read.
06-13-2005, 08:38 AM
i want to read it but i tried and couldn't understand anything, my english isn't good enough.
06-13-2005, 09:51 PM
This board is populated by illiterate peasants.
06-13-2005, 11:14 PM
I read the first five paragraph and then skimmed the rest of the post. It's pretty bad.
06-14-2005, 12:04 AM
I'm gonna have to owe you some genuine feedback sometime. I started reading and wanted to finish, but then realized that I'm way too tired to digest the material.
So far though, I can say that I was really getting into the way the whole thing is crafted; the voices being developed so quickly and effectively, for example.
The punkangel references later on made my fucking life though.
Where mah Pap-Town Killaz at? Nebraska gangsta, word.
09-08-2005, 09:40 PM
I'm gonna have to owe you some genuine feedback sometime.
And he never did.
09-08-2005, 09:55 PM
I liked the original posts - but the successive ones just put me off. I couldn't get to reading them. The way the first ones were written dragged me in - I don't know what it is about the others, they threw me off.
Then again, maybe I've just haven't exactly been reading books that constitute mentally challenging literature. I'm out of practice at reading past whether I like the writing style or not.
So basically - sorry, I can't give a very good critical evaluation of what was posted.
09-08-2005, 10:10 PM
I'd like to read it, but there's too much slang lenguage that i don't understand. I can't enjoy it properly.
09-08-2005, 10:19 PM
It's paptown ghetto shiz, yo.
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