‘Sherushly’ she slurs ‘Are you a girl or a boy? Becaush if you’re a boy I jusht....wanna....’
She hits me again, this time right in the tits.
‘I’m a girl. Listen, don’t hit me in the chest, yeah?’
She hits me again, harder, looking really inexplicably angry. My chances of ever being able to breastfeed are decreasing rapidly.
‘Come on, stop it.’
She doesn’t, and whacks me again. I’m sick of this.
‘Look’ I snap, shoving her away from me by the shoulder, hard. ‘Stop fucking hitting me in the chest, yeah? Because I will-fucking-’ I fend off her next attack and shove her away from me again, still smiling, but I am serious, ‘-hit you back, ok?’
For the first time ever, I see Jessica Rose looking slightly perturbed. She puts her arm around the drunk girl and gently guides her away, saying worriedly over her shoulder ‘She is really nice when she’s sober....’ They disappear down towards the party. Henry and Leon crow with laughter, and our boisterous conversation resumes. I take off my rasta hat and stick it on Little Henry, and then leap around, doubled up with laughter; he looks like a proper white rasta/scaghead, or perhaps Gary Oldman in True Romance. I can’t bear to take it back, it suits him so much in a really wrong way, so I just take his hat and cram it on my head.
‘HENRY’S WEARING HENRY’S HAT’ we bellow cheerfully. This seems a lot funnier than it should, really. TT reappears out of the shadows with another joint. He sees me this time and hands it to me, saying ‘Oh, so you made it, did you?’ I say, jokingly, that that’s reasonably self-evident, and ask where he’s been; he had to go back for more beer, apparently, and passed me on the way down but didn’t see me on the way back up. (I was in Josh’s jeep by then, I suppose.)
‘Well check you’ I say teasingly, ‘down wiv da kids...’ I’m bold now; I reckon with the local boys and the token drunk girl out of the way, I’m pretty much over the worst. TT’s a pushover compared to that lot.
‘I’m kind of a kid’ he says wistfully, and then disappears again. (I learn around now that his name is actually Tobias, which I will always think of as a name for a hawk, or Toby, but I’ll keep calling him TT cuz it’s shorter.)
‘TOBY, GET US BEER’ we yell after him, but there’s no response. I decide to take matters into my own hands.
‘Right’ I announce ‘I need a beer, bad style, and there isn’t any out here so I am officially crashing this party. You’ I grab Little Henry, who I will refer to as LH from now on because of my own typing laziness, and who is still wearing uncle Bruce’s rastas ‘are coming with me.’ I don’t expect that he actually will, but as I set off through the shadows towards the light of the party, I realise that not only is he following me, but Leon and Kyle are as well. We reach the edge of the trees and I stand by a truck that’s parked there while Leon and Kyle search the back of it quickly for beer, unfortunately drawing a blank. Gradually, I ease myself into the light, until I’m standing reasonably unobtrusively on the outskirts, and I can have a better look at the layout. There’s the house, and then an old wooden garage/woodshed type thing with a barbeque and a sound system in front of it, around which some people are gathered. Then there’s a wide space, and opposite, nearest me, there are several tables, some with food on them, some just covered in bottles, around which people are sitting or standing talking. Between the two at one end is a long, sunken old sofa. I still don’t recognise any of the adults, but some of the younger kids are there, sulkily called to heel by parents, including the Guns ‘n’ Roses kid and his friends. Grumpy Dan’s there, resolutely passed out on the couch and looking incredibly like his father (Koala-ish!), Leon, Kyle and LH seem to have integrated themselves pretty effectively, grinning drunkenly at the adults and swarming round the tables, and Jessica Rose is over the other side with drunk girl. I’m not really sure where to go from here (I’m still sharking for beers) but at that moment Linda grabs me brightly by the arm, crying ‘Henry!’
Linda is the mother of my cousin Renee, who I met in London but is now back on the island (shit, I’ve missed out loads of things, damn) and she’s really nice, I met her in the club last Saturday. She greets me joyfully and I grab at the opportunity. ‘Introduce me to people!’ I demand, and she does; various old men, one of whom the party is jointly for, a lady who the party is also for, and a loud, friendly, grinning woman called Jade, solid and energetic as a tsunami under her white hoodie, who hugs and kisses me and seems genuinely pleased to meet me. The feeling’s mutual.
‘So where can I get a drink around here, anyway?’ I ask casually. They think for a minute, and then Jade grins.
‘Get yourself a glass’ she says ‘and I’ll get you a drink. Do you like rum?’
I do, I really do. I find a wine glass that no one’s using, probably because the stem’s snapped off, and Jade, being the wonderful person that she is, pours me a massive glass of her personal Jamaica rum, topping it off with a tiny bit of coke that really isn’t worth it. I squirm happily and hug her again; I still want a beer, but this’ll do until I find one. I find myself a possie on one of the tables, near the sofa (Dan wakes momentarily, sees me, gives me a spectacular evil and passes out determinedly again) and drink my rum from its broken glass, talking to LH, the small boys, TT, and whoever happens to be there. I want a beer, still; I jam the rum in the table and sneakily search the bottles for a forgotten one, but not sneakily enough, obviously; I’m spotted by an old man with a gratuitous white beard and tache.
‘Looking for a beer?’ he asks, his face unreadable. I nod guiltily. ‘Well, I’ve got more than I need’ he says, smiling suddenly. ‘In the truck. Chilly bin at the back.’ And when I find the chilly bin, at the other end of the truck from where we’d been looking, and lift the lid, I know the evening’s just going to get better; there’s a full bin of cold Waikato, glinting seductively up at me. Fit. I return to my perch on the table, now with a beer in one hand and rum in the other (bliss!) and watch what’s going on.
Away in the corner of the section, a couple of girl-kids have found two wooden cable drums. These are the big oversized cotton-reels they use to wind telephone cable round, about four foot high in the middle with big round wooden ends (like this)
often upended and used as tables. The kids start pushing them around, and before long, clutching the sides and grabbing at each other with giggles and squeals, they’re standing up on them and tentatively rolling them along by walking backwards. I watch them out of the corner of my eye while I prance around yelling and playfighting with LH, who still looks like a total white rasta midget in his borrowed dreds. A tiny part of me wants a go. Little Henry is pretty fun, although it’s annoying me because I can’t figure out who he’s reminding me of; it’s someone so very familiar that I seem to have forgotten them. (Something to do with freckles and laughter.) His face is crinkled up in constant, silent mirth, and when you say something to him his usual response is to whirl around, flailing his limbs and doubling over in laughter, and gasping ‘AH, TRUE!?’
‘Are you actually called Henry’ I ask him ‘or is that just something you made up?’
‘Nah, true! That is my actual name!’
‘It is’ puts in Leon, appearing.
‘And how old are you really?’ (He’s been making some ridiculous claims about his age, and I can’t tell which ones are true.)
‘No! Seventeen, honest!’
‘SHUT UP’ he howls, grinning. ‘I’M SEVENTEEN!’
‘He is’ says Leon again, passing.
I put him down (I’d been swinging him around by the ankles somewhat) and reverse back to my drinks; Leon’s running around getting pissed and Kyle’s with Jessica Rose by the tables. Of the three, Kyle seems the least inclined to talk to me – he’s not unfriendly, but whenever I come near him he shuffles backwards, looking slightly panicked, until he’s at a safe distance again. I ask him about this. (See how few inhibitions I have left? I just don’t seem to give a shit whether people like me or not at the moment.)
‘Hmm’ he says, unfazed. ‘I like my personal space.’
From any angle, that’s fair enough. I make a mental note not to crowd him in future. TT seems bored by the adults here and is mainly hanging around with us, when he’s not disappeared, (he’s said we can help ourselves to his box of heinies, which is nice of him) and the kids, more confident now, are running the cable drums up and down with some skill, trying not to crash into the tables or sofa. It does look kind of fun. I’m pretty sure that I’d fall off if I tried though.
‘I kind of want a go’ I say wistfully to Jessica Rose, who is standing happily beneath a tree. Without a word she takes my hand and leads me over to the where the kids are getting on and off in front of the house. Oh. I guess I’m having a go then. I ask the girl who’s getting off if I can; she says yes, looking terrified, and there in front of the house, in the shadows where people aren’t looking, I hold JR’s hand, hop nervously up onto one of the drums, and roll it over towards the edge of the garden. It’s surprisingly easy; after I get my balance I don’t need JR’s hands any more, and when I get to the end I jump off and back on again, and wheel it back over for another go. This time I don’t even get off at the other end, I just turn around and backstep it back again; I even manage to steer it a bit. This is awesome. I jump off, letting the girl have it back, and run back to find LH.
‘Oi’ I gasp, nearly bowling him over ‘You should have a go on those things, it’s awesome.’
‘Aw, true? It looks hard...’ But I can see he wants to, and before long he’s commandeered one, hopped on, and is rolling it through the middle of the party, flailing various limbs wildly and cackling with laughter. I run and grab the other one, but by the time I’m up there LH has fallen off and been replaced by a grinning Leon, who staggers it quite adeptly round the corner, narrowly missing me coming the other way. (Arms out, ten foot tall, beer in hand, wobbling and giggling.) When I fall off, LH jumps straight on behind me and I run over to replace Leon, who’s now laughing and sitting firmly on the floor. From here, it’s kind of a free-for all up and down the paddock, everyone jumping in when the next person falls off, kids, a couple of adults, anyone who wants to, getting faster and more confident. TT’s there when I tumble off this time.
‘Go on’ I laugh ‘you know you want to.’
He doesn’t even bother arguing, just jumps deftly up there and has a go, grinning as he wheels it across the grass. I jump back on as soon as I can and this time, when LH comes wobbling the other way, still giggling, we just can’t avoid each other, and collide clumsily in the middle of the through-party expressway, grabbing at each other to keep our balance. I look at him. He looks at me. Leon and TT look at both of us. There’s no need for words. The game is on. LH and I back our drums up as far as they’ll go and charge, screaming war-cries, and crash noisily, shoving each other and struggling to keep our balance. (I can’t remember who won that one.) From then on it’s pretty much hard out war, all v all, rocketing our cable drums (all caution forgotten now, we’re handling them like pros, at speed) into each other and slamming into pitched wrestling matches on collision, trying to tip the other person off and if possible, steal their drum. (Cable drum piracy!) Now, as anyone who knows me will be aware, this is the kind of pointless, violent, childish activity that delights me and can keep me happily occupied for hours, and in this case it does. From here on in the party is just dominated by Leon, LH, TT and I in cable-drum warfare, hurling ourselves on and off them in a constant relay of awesome.
Perhaps, I think, watching as Leon and TT slam themselves hard into each other, testosterone frenzy bright in their eyes, perhaps TT isn’t so unremarkable with clothes on; he’s wearing one of those big checked lumberjack shirts, baggy old green combats and boots, really nice high-ankle steel caps with the laces undone and the tongues flopping everywhere. Y’all know how I feel about boots. I skull my beer, grab another one and smile vacantly around; this party has that magic to it that I remember from when I was a kid, a magic that I thought disappeared with childhood. Obviously not. Even Kyle and Dan are having a go on the cable drums now, discreetly, in the corner, just to prove to themselves they can.
‘Whey!’ I smile as they come back. ‘Even Danny’s having a go!’
He gives me the most murderous look I’ve ever seen, sits down on the couch, and closes his eyes. Right, ok. I jump back on the drums. This is too, too fun. Little Henry’s adopted a method where he crouches right down low, hands on the brims for extra steering, and headbutts people in the midriff; it’s pretty effective, especially as Leon now appears to be wasted. Grinning devilishly, he waits until I’m almost off balance from only just managing to unseat TT and then charges, at top speed, towards my drum, crashing into it sideways; by rights I should stack it off backwards into the sound system but somehow, just on impact, I manage to jump into the air. Without me to crash into, his momentum means he pitches off his drum, straight over mine and onto the ground, while I land on his, whooping triumphantly. Everyone watching cheers; they thought I was done for. I put a foot on each drum and take them for a victory lap, feeling like a general with my prize ship, and then jump off; I’ve found the secret to coming out on top in this game is quitting while you’re ahead.
‘You seem to be holding your own’ smiles a woman, amused. I hadn’t really noticed, but everyone is now watching, spectators of this awesome new sport.
‘I try’ I grin happily. This trick seems to have prompted a shift in the dynamics of the game; it becomes more about stunts, who can do the stupidest shit on their drum. One leg, backwards, sideways, standing on the rims, two people on each, three people on each, one person on each rim, sitting down, standing on our hands (that one so didn’t work) using both of them like cogs, dancing, etc. Somehow, whenever I come off, TT seems to be there; I tell him his boots are awesome and he tells me in boring detail where he got them, but otherwise he’s surprisingly easy to talk to, although he clearly thinks he’s the shit. After a while it's almost like I've known him ages; we seem to have struck up one of the easy violence-based relationships I'm quite good at. Then my clothes start falling off. Damn. Why does this never happen when I'm talking to girls? Both my bra straps and the straps on my top choose exactly this moment to all flop off sideways. Joy.
'Steady on, girl' smirks TT 'it's only eleven...'
I thump him, howling 'IT'S NOT MY FAULT IF MY FUCKING CLOTHES DON'T FIT MEH!' but I do wish that hadn't happened; the bra-strap-falling-off trick is one that must be used very carefully, in the right circumstances only, with one, with coy innocence and blushes and speedy reparations, otherwise you just look like a drunken slut. Piss. Not the plan. Oh well.
LH falls off his drum and it rolls on, right over him, and TT and I have the same idea; run at the drum, grab hold of the middle, and roll it right round clinging onto it, without falling off. We spend quite a long time trying to do this; I manage once I think, and TT a few times, but LH is hopeless. And hopelessly drunk. He keeps pitching off and then forgetting to lie his legs down flat, so the drum’s approaching him while he’s lying there, arse in the air and legs over his head, and crashing into him like that; if he was sober he’d be in a lot of pain, but as it is he’s howling with laughter and doing it again and again, and we’re all doubled over watching him. The small G’n’R kid appears at my elbow, grinning.
‘Is that your missus?’ he smirks.
I laugh and cuff him around the head; I love it, I’ve only been here a couple of hours and already people think LH is my bitch. (He isn’t.) TT starts talking about my eyes. Jesus, I didn’t think anyone still used that one. Still, they do say the barrier’s 20 years behind... I catch myself trying to think of ways to get him to take his shirt off, (spill stuff on him? Set it on fire? Tell him I need it for.....a woman who's broken her..pelvis....over there? something) and then mentally slap myself; no. We carry on. (Not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I’m totally winning. Parp. What was that?) We’ve been doing this for hours now, and we just aren’t getting tired of it. I don’t think I’ve done this much exercise in one day for years. Leon is falling about, wasted, happy, and I’m watching TT as Mike Skinner drones on in the background.
‘I’m not trying to pull you’ Mike chirps levelly ‘even though I would like to....
I fink you are really fit, you’re fit but My Gosh Don’t You Know It.’
Yup, I think, that’s his song. Fit but my gosh, don’t he just know it.
Eventually, drunk girl comes up to us and says bitterly that the kids want their drums back. Oops. I suppose we have been kind of monopolising them. We give them back, and they retreat sullenly to their corner.
‘So’ says TT resignedly, as I jump cheerfully down ‘what’s on the end of the string?’
I look down at my pendant (interesting to know where he’s looking, anyway) and yank out my greenstone to show him; he nods, no words needed, and shows me his. It’s a kind of universal symbol of NZ-ness, I think, of being caught; ‘I’ve taken this bit of New Zealand to replace the bit it’s taken from me’ kind of thing. I realise sadly that getting him to take his shirt off would probably be relatively simple, actually, but that would take me into territory I so don’t want to be in. Kyle and Leon are having a hysterical drunken argument, well, Leon is, Kyle’s just laughing embarrassedly, eyes darting nervously from Leon to Jessica Rose and back while Leon hits him and howls ‘HE’S DITCHING ME! I’M NOT TOO DRUNK I’M NOT, KYLE! I LOVE YOU WHY ARE YOU DITCHING ME? I HATE YOU YOU CUNT WHY WOULD YOU DITCH MEEE? DON’T YOU LOVE MEEE?’ etc etc. (Kyle, who’s driving, isn’t nearly as drunk as the rest of us, although still well over the limit.) I drift over to change the music; Mike’s jamming now.
‘Time for the boss, I think’ says TT, appearing behind me and putting on Bruce Springsteen.
‘Ohhhh, Tobey!’ I crow. ‘Springers?! Showing your age now, aren’t you!’ A grey-haired man turns around. I think it might be his house.
‘You are too young’ he says, fixing me with a stern eye ‘to understand the Boss.’ TT nods his agreement. I explain that this isn’t something I’m altogether unhappy about, and point out that however legendary he might be, the disc is badly scratched. They concede this point reluctantly, and let me chose something. Leon and LH are crowding around now, demanding various things, but eventually we find Rage Against the Machine, and it’s all over. We put on bombtrack, and suddenly, I don’t know how, it happens. This always seems to happen to me. It’s probably completely my fault, but I can never remember how it starts; it always just seems to erupt, in the strangest places, with the randomest people, whenever I’m around. I am of course talking about moshing. Somehow, in the middle of this once peaceful 50th birthday party, there is suddenly a moshpit. Sure, it only contains me, LH, Leon, Kyle and TT, but that’s enough people. It’s awesome. I’m home. We hurtle joyfully around, smacking into each other with laughing abandon, falling over and jumping back up, swinging each other round, etc, for the whole of Bombtrack,(I'm having to pretty much constantly hold on to my shoulder-straps to stop them falling down now) and then by some unspoken tacit agreement collapse onto the grass, exhausted. (LH is still wearing the waist-length dreds, and looks hilarious.)
‘Your laces are undone’ says TT quietly when I’ve scrambled to my feet again.
He gives me the weirdest look, I really can’t read it; a lot of it was ‘m’drunk’ (he is), but I really can’t figure out the rest, and then without warning drops to the floor and starts lacing them carefully up for me. I should kick him and tell him to fuck off, I can do up my own laces, but for some reason I don’t, and just let my knees sag into his warm neck and back for a guilty moment. I stop short at letting him do the other one, though. Then Killing in the Name comes on and we all throw ourselves back into the mosh. It’s ridiculously fun. Yeah. ('You need a piece of string, tie those together, don't you?' comments TT on my falling-strap problem; I do.) I later find out that I busted Kyle’s ribs up and he was hurting for days, oops.
By about 2 in the morning almost everyone else has gone; Kyle wants to go and TT’s heading back too. He offers Jessica Rose and I lifts, but we both elect to squash in with Kyle, Leon and LH instead, who apparently are going back over to Tryphena too; I feel I need to put some distance between me and TT actually. He looks vaguely disappointed as I run off into the darkness, but he’ll get over it. Plus, he’s also giving Grumpy Dan a ride, and I’m so not up for being glared at for however long. We find Kyle’s car and pile happily in, Kyle and Leon in the front, LH, JR and I in the back. (I snag the middle, score.) It hasn’t got a back window, so as soon as we roar off we’re almost suffocated by petrol fumes surging into the back; Leon and Kyle are well prepared for this, and automatically tie scarfs and bandannas around their mouths, but LH is gagging all over the place, and I think I’m getting quite high off them. We speed past some dunes, and Leon points out, cackling, the place where Kyle got his car stuck before the party earlier. Leon keeps screaming at Kyle to drive faster, pull brakies, go off the road etc, but Kyle shakes his head stubbornly and says ‘I’m a safe driver.’ (I think I’ve got the dynamic in this little group; Leon’s Dad, Kyle’s Mum, and Henry’s the kid.) As we twist up the hill out of Medlands, we’re all talking in different directions, raucous and happy, arguing and yelling random shit. Jessica Rose wraps her arms around me and puts her head in my lap, whispering ‘I love to snuggle!’ in her tiny voice. I’m getting used to her un-barrier-ish touchy-feelyness; I stroke her hair and let her keep me warm. She’s like a soft, comfy duvet. I can’t remember what the hell we’re all talking about; nothing, I think, we’re just yelling out of the windows, screaming the choruses to random songs and then rolling about laughing, etc etc. I’m happy. I’m so, deliriously happy because I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in years, lots of years, and I’m on the Barrier and nothing really seems to matter too much, and I think tonight was a bit of an acid test and I think I passed, and these kids don’t seem to mind me and it’s a foot in a door. And I know that next time I see them all it won’t be like this; they’ll be back to awkward nods, or eyes averted in an embarrassed pretence that they don’t see me, but for now – right now, as we crest the mountain, LH babbling incoherently away, Leon screaming something out of the window, Kyle smiling to himself, me grinning stupidly to myself and Jessica Rose a warm bundle at my waist – it almost feels as if I’ve got a crew again, and I realise how much I’ve missed this.
Leon and Kyle are discussing something in the front. Kyle screws round to look at us.
‘Are you guys up for partying on?’
‘We’re SO up for partying on’ I grin. JR and LH agree, JR in a contented squeak and LH in enthusiastic cackles. We break out into a raucous chorus of Andrew WK, and it’s settled. We’re going....somewhere. I don’t know where. We rocket past stonewall and over Millers, and turn off somewhere at the end of Mulberry, up a dark road and then round into an even darker metal driveway, then career up a bank and park at a perilous angle. Kyle stops the car and turns off the lights, and then he and Leon turn round to speak to us, faces suddenly serious.
‘Listen’ says Leon ‘When you guys want to leave here, just say. Seriously, don’t be afraid, just shout and we’ll go.’
‘Tony’ snickers LH ‘He’s a bit, ah...’
‘Just don’t make any sudden movements’ says Leon.
‘Or noises’ adds LH.
‘Agree with everything he says...’
‘And whatever you do’ says Kyle tersely ‘Do Not. Ask Him. About. The SAS.’
Fucksake, I think, what the hell have I let myself in for. I agree, staring up at the dark house. It’s three in the morning. I point this out.
‘Ah, no’ says Leon vaguely ‘he won’t care, he never knows what time it is anyway....we’re always turning up at strange hours....ok, lets go. Watch out for the dogs.’
We climb out of the car and approach the high chickenwire fence that surrounds the building. There’s a sliding piece of wood that lifts out a section of it, about three feet off the ground, and we climb through this and head up the path to the house. The dogs, a strange alsation-y thing and another one, sniff soundlessly around us as we climb up onto the deck and creep round the side. It’s still utterly black. Kyle and Leon, giggling, open one of the sliding doors and go inside. JR and I hang on the deck, standing on one foot in fascinated horror. From here, all we can see down to one side of us is hill and bush, sloping away into a steep little valley; a solitary car makes its way up there, lights spiking through the blackness, and Kyle, reappearing, says it must be TT heading home.
About this time, a light comes on in a high hut just up the hill, and presently Tony comes crumbling round the corner towards us. He’s probably not that old really, but the alcohol’s clearly got him, and has had him for some time; he has the look of a once impressively-built man, now flaked and crumpled into a bleary-eyed shell, hands shaking and back hunched. He seems entirely unfazed by our sudden invasion, and greets the boys without surprise. He lets us in; I hang back, unwilling to cross the threshold without an invitation, but he beckons us imperiously in to the bright living room, gives Leon a joint to roll and hobbles off to get something. I plump myself down in a chair. Leon’s hair is almost blinding in the light.
I reclaim my rastas from Henry, feeling strangely naked. I realise that this is the first time they’ve all seen me in harsh electric light; when they realise how sunburnt, freckly, ginger, spotty, squinty, ugly and generally uncool I really am, will they reject me or worse, start taking the piss? I’d hate that, here in this place I don’t know, although I think I remember the way home. Leon’s squinting critically down at me.
‘You got a bit sunburnt, ay?’ he says, without emotion. Here it comes. I nod sadly, not looking at his eyes. There’s a pause.
‘Yeah, I got sunburnt too’ he grins ‘here on my arms, look.’ He starts rolling up his sleeves and I want to jump up and hug him; this small gesture of solidarity suddenly means more than I can express. Tony reappears with a flagon of deadly-looking liquid, and offers us all some of his home brewed beer. Kyle’s shaking his head at me, warnings all over his face, but I take some in a glass anyway and drink it. It’s disgusting. I swig it again. Leon shows me his anarchy tattoo, one he did himself with a pin and some ink (it shows) and I show him my brand and we all smoke the joint. They start inspecting every item of my clothing that is of interest to them, tugging delightedly at my gloves, bracelet, jacket, purple bits of hair (My hair's pretty much completely green from the salt water, but there are bits of purple left), safety pins and shoes. I suppose they don't see new things often.
'Ah buzzy, are those real Chucks?' says Leon, gazing wide-eyed at my shoes.
'Trippy!' (Everything is 'trippy' or 'buzzy' to them.) 'They're awesome!'
'Those are communist shoes' says Little Henry suddenly. 'True! Look, they have red stars on them and everything!'
I giggle. 'Lil' Henry? I think you mean they're, er, Converse? Not Communist?'
Kyle and Leon almost shit themselves laughing.
At this moment, a door slams open, and a woman emerges from a dark room off the living room, clearly having been woken up by our noise, looking as if she’s about to rip all our heads off and spit in them. She’s got bleach blonde hair and basically looks like your typical skinny, prematurely aged smackhead. I smile nervously at her; she stalks over to a chair and jams herself down, and Tony sends Leon and I up to his hut to get some music down. When we return, the woman’s looking a bit happier, and introduces herself as Pete, or Petie. We go and stand outside on the deck in the cool starlight and smoke, drink and chatter while Tony puts on the music, strange celtic/tribalesque trancey stuff. JR dances, and makes herself a crown out of grass. She’s amazing. Petie huddles on the floor in a sleeping bag, and she and I discuss the horrors of having a boy’s name, while the others mill around laughing and joking and being careful around Tony. He seems friendly and polite enough though, at the moment, and only slightly insane. It’s all good. Petie seems perfectly amiable as well; I’d probably give people death stares if they woke me up at three in the morning.
I don’t remember how long we stay; I know I have to go and pee behind the house about three times, so maybe an hour? (Yes, I really do pee that often.) Tony talks about dragons and people’s spirits or some crap, but I don’t care because his home brew is properly strong. Leon is being nice to Petie and Kyle and JR are kind of snuggled on the tables, looking insanely cute, which LH and I snigger about somewhat. By the time Kyle and Leon decide it’s time to go and we stumble off down the path, I’m finding walking somewhat challenging. One glass. I want to know how to make that stuff. Somehow we navigate the fence and find the car and get in and manage to get it down the bank and down the drive and along the road, JR happily sleeping in my lap again, and back to Hapuka. I jump out, yelling goodbyes and smiling, and run up the road towards the house, but as they’re wheelspinning and about to screech off I run back; JR’s beautiful flowery crown, made of grass, lavender and tiny rosebuds, is stuck in my skirt.
‘JR’s crown!’ I yell, leaning in through the window to put it back on her head. ‘Don’t kill her! Niiight!’ She smiles enchantingly at me, and I leg it up the drive, up the stairs – uncle Bruce is asleep on the sofa - and into my bed. No rats tonight; I couldn’t give a shit. All in all, I think that might just have been the Best Night Evarrrr. Well, in the last couple of years anyway. RIP tonight. Roll on tomorrow.