There are some more little bits in here that I forgot before.
I open my eyes and stare up at the ceiling, trying to remember why I feel so happy; then I remember. I’m on GBI. It’s a beautiful day. Dad’s not here. There’s nothing I have to do today. And I might – just might – have made some friends last night. Excellent. (Widdly widdly scree!) After a while, I get up, eat some spaghetti and look in the mirror; I actually don’t hate what I see there, which is a new experience for me. All my spots seem to have just...gone, I don’t look too hideously fat, and the sunburn’s improved overnight. Alcohol is good for you, I swear. My hair, however, is seriously awful, matted into piss-coloured clumps, and I remember vaguely that people were asking me last night how long I’d been growing my dreadlocks, so I decide I’m going to have to bite the bullet and do what I’ve been putting off for a week and more: Brush my hair. At this point, uncle Bruce reappears from wherever he’s been, grumbling that he’s so sick of our music and that he’s going to get Blue to bring us some more CD’s. I ask him what he did last night.
‘Nothing like what you did, I hear’ he cackles.
‘What’re you talking about?’
‘Well, I didn’t get in at four in the morning, for one thing.....’
So I did wake him up. Blue draws up and yells to us to come down and get music. We head down and find him in his blue 4x4, wearing a brown t-shirt that says, in modest letters on the left breast, ‘Perfect Barrier Bloke 05.’ He gets out a case of CD’s and Bruce picks the ones he wants to borrow; Ozzy and Slipknot are among them, which makes me happy. We run joyfully back upstairs, eject America (we’re so sick of it!) and slam on Ozzy. (We’re gonna do....PARANOOOOOID!’ Classic!) I find my hairbrushes (yes, the job requires two) put on some music, and go out to the balcony to sunblock myself. This takes some time, as I’m quite large. I’m feeling so cheerful that I’ve put on my hideous orange and yellow sundress and denim shorts, so I have to do the majority of my body. Ozzy is fantastic. Uncle Bruce headbangs around while I retreat to the shady table around the side to attack my hair, equipped with the two hairbrushes and a mirror. It takes about two hours, which isn’t nearly as long as I thought it would, to get all the mats and dreds and knots out, and I only cry once. I put it into two little bunches to keep it away from itself, and go back round to the front, where uncle Bruce is sitting smoking a pipe. Presently he gets sick of Ozzy (we’ve listened to the album through about four times now) and puts on something else, Death in Vegas, which is kind of.....funky chilled techno-ish stuff? I don’t really know what it counts as. I get my book out, slump on the sofa (it’s so hot outside) and start to write this. Uncle bru hands me the pipe, saying that there’s only a bit left in there. I smoke it slowly, taking my time; it’s nice, but more than that, even though it’s only a tiny bit, it’s properly knocking me out. Before I know it I’m flat on my back on the sofa, letting the music ooze intoxicatingly around and through me; I think uncle Bruce leaves at some point, but I hardly notice.
I now rediscover the amazing, simple, incredible pleasure that can be had from being very stoned, on your own, in the daytime, lying completely still and listening to music. I’ve missed this. Seriously, it’s one of the best things. Being stoned with people, running around and falling over and giggling, is one thing, but the true brilliance of it is in solitude and observation. I listen to the music and I can hear things in it that really are there, but which ordinarily I would never have noticed; tiny instruments in the background, a grinding noise over the top that starts periodically, runs for a while and then stops again, vague voices in the background....the CD sounds amazing. I now love this band. People say that smoking weed makes you stupid and actually, it’s true. It does make us stupid, and takes us back to a childlike state where we are stripped of our assumptions, and all the things we usually take for granted, everything that ceased to be interesting or even noticeable to us years ago, is suddenly amazing again. They say it makes you boring, and that’s true too; you’re boring to other people because you’re so very interested in everything, and will spend hours staring at the ceiling, seeing the subtle beauty in the curves of manufactured patterns, watching the paths traced by dancing flies, wondering what door-jambs are made of, etc. Right now, everything is so beautiful it hurts; even the dirt on the skylight is blowing me away. I think it’s something everyone should do, regularly, because we all take the world for granted so much and rush around looking for big, spectacular things to impress us, when all the time there are the small, incredible things we never notice. Eventually my eyes close, and I ease off into a peaceful sleep, the light breeze from the door playing on my skin and the music drifting blithely on around me.
I wake up, not too much later, feeling a little less stoned and consequently, more bored. I decide I need to go down to the shop, not for anything in particular, just for the enjoyment of walking and maybe saying hello to Abi and maybe, if I can find any change in my pocket, buying myself a chocolate fish or a lollipop. I re-sunblock myself, notice that from the side, my dress is vaguely obscene, put my black top on underneath and stroll down, smiling in the sun. I feel so completely cheerful; the sun is warm, there’s a breeze whispering through the trees, the vague sound of a motorbike somewhere in the distance, and the tiny wavelets lapping on the yellow sand, and I don’t even care that I’m wearing a ridiculous dress, my hair is in stupid piss-coloured bunches, my legs look like hams in these silly shorts and I’ll probably, despite all my sunblocking, get even more lobster-coloured today. I can’t stop smiling. I’m almost whistling. I hate me just reading this.
The motorbike, now closer, comes roaring round the corner, brakes, wobbles crazily, swerves wildly, and skids, gravel flying and rubber screaming, onto the grass just in front of me, the rider only just managing not to tip it over or hit me/ a bollard. Jesus Christ, I think, I’ve just witnessed an accident! Some kid come round the corner too fast, I suppose, and lost it....I hurry foward to see if he’s ok.
‘Hey’ says TT, flipping up his lid and grinning.
Ah. Not an accident then, just TT’s typically manic driving. We have to stop meeting like this.
‘Oh’ I say stupidly ‘it’s you.’ Like this, helmet hiding his goaty face and burnished golden limbs shining in the sun, (he’s wearing shorts and a singlet and those boots again) he looks ridiculously perfect, like something from a cheap b-movie or crappy women’s magazine. I just about manage to remain upright (ponies, toast, Eddie Izzard, come on) and attempt to make conversation. It doesn’t really work. It’s stilted and awkward and I keep having to remind myself to look at his face instead of his arms or legs or shoulders or the bike. (I really, really like the bike, a big dirty red and blue off-road type thing. I want to touch it.) The part of my brain that does talking seems to have gone on holiday; I’m babbling, saying stupid shit like ‘......you’ve got two helmets.....but you’re only wearing one.....um because two wouldn’t fit haha....your bike is blue.....your helmet isn’t a Nazi helmet....because you’re not a Nazi.....urm...ahh...’ and wishing I wasn’t so sober. He’s telling me what he’s doing today or something, I dunno, I’m not really listening. The bike isn’t his, I register, he’s taking it somewhere to do something or pick up someone or......Like I said, not listening. The conversation keeps getting to places where he should say ‘Sweet, right, see you later’, kick the bike back to life and clatter off, but he just doesn’t, and there’s long periods of us kind of staring at each other with nothing to say. I feel stupid in my bunches. At least I have sunnnies on so he can’t see where I’m looking.
Eventually he does fuck off, howling off round the bay towards the wharf, and I continue on over the soft grass to the shop, where I find uncle Bruce, Mike and the dog people in the loser’s lounge, and plonk myself merrily down next to them. Uncle Bru is determinedly getting drunk, making me come with him to carry out the boxes and bottles he’s buying, the dog people are ensconced in their own world and Mike’s decided some jokes are in order. They’re uniformly awful. Another one of Igor’s progeny turns up; Duncan, the eldest I think, a tall, gingerish, skinny, boss-eyed bloke who’s got something wrong with his legs and has to use a zimmer to walk. He enthusiastically joins in with the awful-joke telling. Some of his are vaguely funny, though. Mike and Bruce obviously love each other very much; they’re sitting here bickering like the bitterest of enemies, putting each other’s names in all the jokes, seeing innuendo in everything and generally flirting like schoolkids.
‘There’s a guy comes to Great Barrier Island’ says Mike, starting another joke ‘Called Michael. Moved there for the first time. On his first night there’s a knock on the door, and a big, maori bushman’s standing there. Says his name’s Bruce and he’s his neighbour.’
We sigh resignedly and wait for the rest.
‘Bruce says he’s having a party at his place the next night and Mike’s invited. Oh yeah? says Mike, fuck thanks! Happy he’s being invited to a party on his first night.
But I have to warn you, says Bruce, at this party there’s going to be a lot of drinking. A lot. Ah that’s all good, says Mike, fuck I can drink with the best of them, that’s all good. Ok says Bruce, I have to warn you that then, there’s going to be some fighting. There’s going to be a lot of fighting. Oh that’s not a problem, says Mike, I can look after myself, dying for a scrap actually. Alright says Bruce, but after that there’s going to be some wild sex. A lot of wild, fucked up sex. Ah sweet says Mike, that’s all good, could do with some action. Ok says Bruce, well as long as that’s all cool. Yup says Mike. I’ll see you tomorrow night bro. Bruce turns to disappear up into the bush again and just as he’s about to leave Mike calls out Oh Bruce how many people do you reckon will be there? Tomorrow? Bruce turns around and he says, just you and me Mike, just you and me.’
Mike looks pleased with himself. We all snigger appropriately. I actually did find it quite funny, I dunno what that says about my sense of humour. Uncle bruce seems annoyed by my lack-of-laughing-at-his-jokes-ness (they aren’t funny, and I’m not in the mood to pretend today) and starts getting raucously grumpy, in a loud way, laughing his machine-gun laugh and insulting everyone. (Uncle Bruce is so lairy when he wants to be.)
‘Ohh’ groans Mike ‘Bruce on a Sunday night. Kill me.’
Like I said, Love. Duncan limps off after a while, we see TT heading back the other way with the asian girl from yesterday on the back of his bike, and eventually Bruce decides to shift from the Loser’s Lounge out to the bench by the sea. I stay and talk to Mike for a while, and then head over as well, reasonably apprehensively; I don’t know who’s there. As I wander along the grass at the edge of the water in the sunlight, TT comes back round on his bike from the direction of the wharf and stops by the little table; I poke my head round the flax bush to assess who’s there. There’s uncle Bruce, a woman I don’t know, a man I don’t know, Blue, and TT sprawled on his back doing something to the bike, still looking all...yeah. I hide behind the flax bush until he goes, just on the off-chance that I might have been called upon to make conversation; I doubt I would have been able to formulate any sounds other than ‘.....Splaugh?’
When he goes I come round, get a beer and sit down on the grass in the shade, trying to avoid burning. The dogs are wary but accept me soon enough, and I try to throw sticks for them, but these furry, wet alsations have a problem; they want to play, but at the last momen they find themselves unable to give you the stick. They find one and bring it to you, pleading ‘throw it for me!’ and go to give it to you, but then instinct kicks in before they manage it and they can’t quite bring themselves to let go of it. The only way to do it, I discover, is to wait, ages, until they’re really lulled into a false sense of security and lying gnawing at it peacefully, and then pounce, rip it from their jaws and throw it as far as you can. This could be seen as somewhat dangerous, but actually they love it; they come frolicking back, begging you to do it again, but still can’t manage to actually give you the stick. I play with them, listening absent-mindedly to the increasingly tipsy conversation. The woman, a handsome Maori lady in dark glasses, is called Kitty. G’n’R kid said his mum was called Kitty....
‘Are you Kitty?’ I ask her cautiously. ‘Because if you are, I think I met one of your sons last night, in Claris.’
She laughs and says that I probably did; his name’s something beginning with T that I can’t pronounce. He’s 12. Blue’s lying propped on his front on the grass, breeze teasing his curls; he doesn’t drink and is therefore a bit left out. Kitty is kind of drunk.
‘Go and lie on him’ she says to me craftily.
‘Just play with him. He’ll love it.’
‘Please!’ she begs. ‘Touch him! Stroke him! Play with his hair, all that girly shit. He’ll love it, honestly.’
She carries on in this vein for a while; I think actually she wants to, or just wants free porn or something. This is weird and I think Blue’s a bit embarrassed, although he’s ignoring this exchange quite convincingly, so I say jokingly ‘He’s got Bruce for that!’ and get up and stroll off in the direction of the toilets. As I cross towards them, I pass the table under the trees where Pete Gibbons is sitting with some others; he yells out that Dad’s hat is still in his car, so after peeing I go over and get it off the back seat of his truck, his big flax one that he’d hate to lose.
‘I don’t think it suits meh’ I say sadly as I walk back past them, tipping it to a funny angle on my head.
‘Henare, you make anything suit you’ laughs an old man (how does he know who I am??!) and the rest of them murmur assent; TT’s there, I notice, but cocooned in a hoodie and trousers, so I reckon he’s safe to talk to. I head back to my flax bush, then change my mind and take the hat up to the house. When I get back someone’s put music on from their truck (Bon Jovi, yay) and I get up and throw sticks for the dogs, out onto the beach into the hot blinding sunset. Kitty and Bruce are having a conversation about the terribleness of white people, casting me dark glances as they do so.
‘Some of my best friends are Pakehas’ says Bruce halfheartedly. I’m getting sunburnt. I go for a run around on the beach with the dogs, down to the sparkling water. When I come back uncle Bruce seems to want to tell me something; he asks me to come for a walk with him, so we set off along the beach wall, he stamping grumpily ahead. Dana and his friends are lounging around on a bench by his new jeep, (he’s been driving around in his shiny new 4x4, looking ridiculously pleased with himself, for some days now) a messy pile of bare lanky sunburnt limbs and silent eyes.
‘EYYY’ they yell out as we approach ‘Black fulluh with a white chick!’ I give them the finger and we sit down to share a smoke, which is nice. Bruce gives me money and sends me to buy him a box of henies, which I do, but almost as soon as I get back with it he stomps off again, leaving me sitting there staring blankly at the bunch of boys, who stare back at me with equal blankosity. I offer them beer but they’ve got some, so I sigh and say I’d better take uncle Bru his box, and heave it back over to his table, where I sit down and try to get in the shade. Kitty swings her attention onto me for the first time.
‘You’re so pale’ she says wonderingly. ‘You’re so pale. What are you doing here?’
I don’t really know how to answer that, apart from ‘I live here.’
‘But look at you!’ she says, drunken eyes wide and uncomprehending. ‘Look at your eyes! They’re....look!’
I don’t know if I should explain to her that without a mirror it’s actually impossible for me to look at my own eyeballs. She’s touching my arms and face, tentatively as if not sure I’m actually real. ‘Who are you?’ she keeps saying, over and over. ‘What are you? Why are you.... why are you here? Who are you?’ (She knows exactly who I am, but she just seems to be having trouble getting her head around me.)
‘You’ll get used to me’ I reassure her cheerfully. I can’t think of anything else to say. She seems to find this very funny.
‘Are you real?’ she says when she’s recovered, still grabbing at me as if I’m going to dissolve into a cloud. ‘Please-’ she’s glancing frantically around at all the random old men present ‘take her home, someone! Just...take her home....’
She really seems to think I’m in need of penis. I dunno where she got that idea. She then changes tack and decides to take me somewhere herself.
‘You have to come to our witches night’ she says suddenly. ‘It’s up at Gael’s. You have to come.’
‘Urm’ I say, imagining bloody chicken-based rituals or, even worse, people in silly wafty kaftans talking about spirituality ‘What are you going to do?’
‘Oh, watch films, girly shit. You have to come! Come!’
‘I can’t just turn up! They won’t know who I am!’
‘It doesn’t matter! Look at you....you're so....’ She’s so drunk. It’s almost dark by now and I need to pee again, so I go, and then instead of going back to uncle Bruce’s grumps and Kitty’s vaguely disturbing pawing I elbow myself some room on Pete’s table and chat for a while. Apparently, the day after we sunk his boat, he blew the engine out on his yacht coming round to get us, and has only just managed to fix it. I apologise again, laughing, for dad’s uselessness and boat-destroying skills, but he’s pretty cheerful about it. Boden, Pete’s 8-year old, is there again (I met him in the pub the other night) and I reintroduce myself. We seem to get on ok. It’s all good.
Darkness has pretty much fallen by now. When I drift back over to Bruce’s table, his grump seems to have swelled a hundredfold. ‘Bub!’ he snaps at me as I reach for a beer. ‘I have to talk to you!’ And he launches into a harsh and drunken lecture about scamming alcohol and not paying my way. ‘I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care!’ he pronounces emphatically. ‘I don’t care where you go or what you do or whatever. You pay your way.’
I agree with him cheerfully, because he’s absolutely right, and I’ve been feeling guilty every time I let someone buy me a drink, but I’ve been trying to teach myself not to worry so much about it. I try to explain this, but he dismisses it scornfully with a wave of his foot.
‘No you don’t’ he says angrily. I realise with a shock that he’s really furious. I have a feeling it’s not really at me, though. ‘No, you’re right’ I say. ‘Or else I’ll end up unpopular.’
‘What?’ he yells, looking as if he’s about to nut me. ‘Or else you’ll end up like me?’
‘No, no! I didn’t say that! You’re putting words in my mouth.’
‘DON’T BLUDGE’ he repeats furiously. ‘It’s not the Nathan way. Your dad and I, we never do that. Don’t bludge!’
He is being rather hypocritical, having lived off the state from a young age, but I’m not about to point that out; nor am I about to shatter his rosy illusions about Dad, who has shamed even me with his drink-begging skills.
‘DON’T BLUDGE!’ he’s still yelling. ‘IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY, DON’T GO OUT! DON’T BLUDGE!’
I agree obediently, because he is right, and shake his foot dutifully, but he carries on yelling at me for ages, and eventually I just wait until he goes off for a piss, still ranting, and sneak away back across the road to the other table.
‘Gah, just got a proper lecture’ I say wearily, plonking myself down next to TT opposite Pete. They laugh and make jokes about uncles, and I feel better. Pete soon sighs that it’s Boden’s bedtime, and shambles off home, and the other guy there follows, and then somehow it’s just me and TT sitting there in the darkness, chatting lazily about nothing. (I literally have no memory of what we were talking about.) We hear Kitty yelling something over by the sea and I tell him, laughing, about her strange fascination with my skin and eyes and general strangeness.
‘Yeah, well, I was getting a bit knocked about by your eyes last night, ey’ he says thoughtfully. I laugh internally. I like that. ‘Knocked about’ by eyes. Sounds like something from some crappy novel. (I keep it in mind for next time I’m writing crappy slash.) He's wearing little wire-rimmed glasses, which I find very amusing.
'I can see fine' he says defensively 'I just have to wear them for my truck license.' I try them on, turn towards him and laugh.
'They just make me see two of you.'
'Well, that's ok' he smirks 'If you're into twins.' (I am, I really am.) I give them back and we sit there probably half an hour longer, talking about fuck all; we seem to have an incredible ability to sit there quite contentedly, talking a lot and saying absolutely nothing. At one point we’re genuinely talking about the moon. (It’s beautiful, just coming up on half full, bright and clear in the black sky.) Shooting stars fling themselves across the sky towards the dark horizon and we watch them with childish delight, standing on the table to see them better. Hitchhiking also comes into it, and the suckyness of not having a car. (‘If you see me on the road’ I grin ‘Pick me up!’ ‘I will’ he reassures me.’) What the hell. Still, I have nothing better to do. I bemoan my lack of boots again.
'What about the other night?' he asks. 'You had awesome boots on then.' I think back, baffled, and realise he must mean Friday, when I was talking to Mike and wearing Bru's cowboy boots. Before he noticed I existed, I thought. Hah, I think now. Super girl-radar eyes, and without ever looking. He's good. Eventually, he sighs and says he has to go, work tomorrow, etc etc. I say goodnight and walk apprehensively back over to Bruce’s table. He’s still there, and as belligerent as ever.
‘I’M GOING TO BEAT ALL YOU CUNTS UP!’ he yells as I sit down opposite him. ‘I can hear you over there, I know what you’re saying! I’m going to beat you all up! And if you’re there bub I’ll beat you up too. I will! Shh! I’ll beat you all up!’ he yells at the imaginary people at the table. I try to explain to him that it was only me and TT over there, and there’s no one there now, but he’s not listening. I sigh, and let him rant. I’m pretty sure he could beat me up despite his lack of arms, but I’m equally confident I can run faster than him, when he’s this drunk anyway. (I hope I can.) An old guy with a ‘tache is still there, and Kitty, again; apparently she went up to Gael’s but they had all passed out, so she’s turned up again. I assume TT’s gone home, but then I see his car start up, pull out, and swing immediately back in beside us, driver’s door next to the end of the table.
‘Hey’ I say gloomily, as he pokes his face apologetically out of the window, still wrapped in his red hoodeh. ‘Bruce is going to beat us up.’
He doesn’t seem too worried. ‘This isn’t my car’ he says irrelevantly. ‘It’s my mum’s. I crashed mine. Rolled it off the cliff at the club. Onto the tennis court. Hit the iron fence, as well.’
‘Retard. How are you alive?’
‘... I thought you were going home, anyway?’ I say, realising he hasn’t.
‘Mmmph’ he says noncommittally.
‘Yep. I’m king of the procrastinators.’
‘Yeah, nah, I know. If you go to bed now it’ll be tomorrow already, right?’
Kitty leaves, Bruce stumps around grumpily somewhere and ‘tache guy, (Tall, soft-spoken, an air of baffled amusment, a neat clipped grey tache that makes him look like an army general or something) TT and I sit there and jabber away about nothing for another hour or so. Hitchhiking again, and how on the mainland or in the UK no-one will pick you up, because they think you're a muuuuuuurderer, and no-one will hitchhike because they're afraid they'll get muuuuuuurdered. ('Fuckin' truckers!' I grin, poking TT. 'Muuuuuuuurderers, all of 'em!') At one point we’ve decided to start a circus, in which I’m the ringmaster and TT and ‘tache do trapezeing, or acrobatics, or be clowns. (Clowns is the last resort when we realise we can’t actually do anything else. None of us can even juggle.) It’s fun. We’re drunk. I’m having a memory blank and I can’t remember who goes home first, uncle Bruce or me, but I know that eventually ‘tache and TT drive off in different directions and we steal home at different times. I sleep well. No rat-noise. It's been a good day. It's All Good.
AN - I do realise that I'm coming across as a total vain whore recently; it's kind of slightly descended into a list of nice stuff people say about me, a bit. Sorry. I just....I'm not used to compliments, so I tend to remember them. I'm not a mary-sue, honestly. People just aren't used to massive purple-haired albinoes here.