Thursday, April 26, 2012

The River Always Flows---Chapter 3

      We all sat in the front room facing the driveway. Mrs Carver and MIck’s missus were making tea, sandwiches and biscuits; orange cordial for the Tania and me. From the laughs coming out of the little kitchen, it sounded like the ladies were getting on well. I was a bit annoyed----hey---- hadn’t we just had a funeral for my mum? I suppose they didn’t know her so it was more my business. Come to think of it--- wasn’t I supposed to feel down or something? Maybe when I had first heard it I felt---I’m not sure now; things just happened so fast. One minute, Tania and I were living with Mum, and then the next, bundled off to the Carvers.
     ‘Right--- time for a feed eh,’ Mrs Carver said. ‘Then I think we need to have a chat. Someone is coming from the welfare lot in an hour or two, so perhaps we can have a plan before they come.’ She glanced at MIck, who didn’t seem to notice, but I could tell that he did.
     ‘These look nice love,’ Mr Carver muttered while shoving a whole sandwich into his mouth. He received a disapproving look from his wife.
     ‘Make sure the kids get some dear.’
     I didn’t need encouraging. I was bloody hungry. Breakfast felt like it was last century. ‘What’s in these?’ I asked.
     ‘Asparagus--- do you like it, Tom?
     ‘Never had it before Mrs Carver.’
     ‘I bet there’s lots of things you haven’t tried, eh Tom,’ Mick said.
     ‘Don’t you go getting all suggestive like you usually do Mick,’ his wife said with a slightly angry tone. He ignored her and took a loud slurp of his tea. I thought the lady was gonna reply but the sound of a car coming in the drive interrupted the conversation.
     ‘Oh--- I think they’re here early. Better go and top up the pot then,’ Mrs Carver said. She this strange look on her face; one of those looks that said she knew something I didn’t. She winkled at Mick. Mick, do you wanna tell them before that lot get in here?’
     Mick took the hint. ‘No point in beating about the bush eh? You know we are family---so hows about you two live with us? The missus and me have had a bit of a chat--- we don’t have any kids of our own---- it just didn’t happen.’ When I looked at his wife (I still didn’t even know her name) she had this teary look, but she sat up straighter in her chair and said. ‘It’s true. We would love to have you. By the way, this rude sod hasn’t even properly introduced us. I’m your Aunty Emma, by marriage of course. Our house is pretty damn empty I must say. I reckon it’s just waiting for a couple of kids like you.’
     Tania’s eyes widened as she tried to make sense of the offer. I think that she had been a bit like me—everything happening too quickly. She settled her attention on Mick. Unlike me, she hadn’t taken a shine to him. His laid back, funny ways; even in the short time we had known him had made a mark on me. We didn’t get a chance to reply, because the visitors were on the porch, knocking.
    Mrs Carver put her tea down and stood up, smoothing her dress and glancing briefly in the mirror above the fireplace. I took the chance to stuff a couple of sausage rolls into my mouth. If Mum had been there, I would have got ‘what for.’ Mick just grinned and whispered---‘Go for it boy.’ I decided I liked this guy.
     Mrs Carver came back into the room, accompanied by two serious looking people, a middle aged guy and a young woman. The guy introduced himself. ‘I’m John and this is Penny. ‘
     ‘Do take a seat,’ Mrs Carver said nervously, indicating that Tania and I should move from the couch. We both relocated to the chairs at the table, where the teapot sat alongside the food. John didn’t need much encouragement and soon had a plate of sausage rolls and cakes balanced on his lap. The lady made do with a cup of tea. I bet she was watching her weight. Mrs Carver took charge.
     ‘Thank you for coming---ah--- John and Penny. The children have been through a lot in the past few days and I suspect a fair bit before then. If we had more room, we would have liked them to stay longer, but we have family arriving from Australia.’ That was the first I had heard of that. I stayed silent, looking towards John and Mick. Tania carried on gnawing at a piece of cake, but there was a subtle change in her demeanour. She kept glancing at the open door. I had a feeling that things weren’t well with her. She had hardly talked to any of us since the funeral.
     John spoke first. ‘That is of course why we have come. Thank you for taking care of the children. We always have difficulty getting placements at such short notice and now that you have said you can’t continue, we will need to discuss some other options. We can’t find any relatives in New Zealand--- apparently there are some in Aussie, but until we can find them--- well that’s not an option.’
     Mick nodded his head when Mrs Carver looked towards him. ‘Well you can’t have looked very hard, cause we’re related--- on the Mum’s side. We saw the death notice is the paper. I know it’s still fresh for these kids, but Emma and myself have had a quick talk about all this and we reckon the best thing is for the kids to stay with us until long term plans are made. Maybe they would even like to stay permanently,’ he added with a hopeful look towards Tania.
     Tania didn’t look like she was listening. I had seen that far away glaze in her eyes many times and once she’s at that place---well, it’s anyone’s guess about what comes next. Penny noticed Tania’s mood too. She attempted to break the ice.
     ‘Tania----what do you think about Mick’s offer? I’m sure that once we do all the normal checks and get a signed agreement, you’ll be able to stay with these nice people.’ As the lady spoke, she almost seemed to reach out to me, seeking my support. Finally after a lack of response from Tania, or me, she turned towards Mrs Carver, her friendly bearing, turning a little ‘south.’
     ‘Look--- let’s get this sorted out--- we have to get back to the office for another urgent case. If you are all in agreement, I suggest you gather the childrens’ things together, while John and I complete the formalities. The agreement will be good for twenty eight days and in that time we shall complete the checks and finalize the placement.’
     Her last statement felt like it didn’t include Tania and me, in the ‘agreement.’ I was beginning to approach that place Tania had hidden in. It wasn’t that I disliked Mick and his lady—as I said before, I liked Mick--- but she was an unknown quantity. I simply had no feelings, one way or the other for her. Tania did though.
     She dropped the cake she was nibbling and leapt to her feet. Oh no, I thought--- here she goes again. This girl was a runner. I could have grabbed her, but I didn’t. Something inside me related to how she was acting. I mean--- had we been anything more than ‘told’ about the plan? Sure they had asked, ---all too quickly. Didn’t they know that kids, even big ones like me, need to think a bit? Hell, they were always telling us to think before we act and then, when it comes to something as important as deciding where we were going to live---well it felt like all bets were off.
     Tania was out the front door like a scared filly. This time, Mick made no move to follow her. He sat, looking stupid, while the other adults turned their attention to me.
     ‘She’s your sister Tom, Penny said. Don’t you think you should go after her? I’m sure she’s just a bit confused. We know what’s best in these cases. We’ve been dealing with kids like you for many years.’
     ‘I don’t think you know Jack shit miss! If you were so good at your job, maybe you wouldn’t fuck it up like this.’ I was on a roll. ‘I’m out of here!’
     Mrs Carver looked like she had been struck down by a raging bull; one of those at the back of our old place, near the river. Suddenly, I knew where Tania was heading, but I wasn’t about to let on. I followed her and as I left the front gate behind, sort of in one piece after I had slammed it shut, I ran until I caught up with her. ‘Stop—where the hell do you think you’re going Tania?’
     Tania had a determined look on her face. I knew from experience, that I wasn’t about to hear anything sensible in the way of explanation. It was one of those times, when I followed along and made sure that nothing too bad happened to her. One time, it had taken about three hours of keeping up with her, until she was totally stuffed. School did that to her sometimes, especially when the other kids were bullying her.
     Gradually her pace slackened and she slowed to a walk, breathing heavily. Still, she remained in her little world. I often wondered if she was aware of my presence when she was like this. There was another worry. Tania often had asthma attacks when she got overwrought. I was pretty certain that she didn’t have her puffer with her. It was time to intervene, rather than wait for her to come back to earth.
     ‘Tania, for Christ’s sake, stop. I don’t want to carry on forever. Let’s sit under that tree there in the drivers’ rest stop. Anyway, I reckon they would soon figure out where you’re headed. They’ll be at the old place waiting.’
     I had a growing feeling that I was about to do something stupid--- joining my sister in her mad run for--- what?  She slowed to a slow waddle, heeding my suggestion and plonking herself down at a picnic table that had seen better days.
     After a few minutes her breathing returned to normal. Come to think of it, I reckon her last asthma attack had been months ago. Did people really grow out of it? I thought.
     ‘Hey Tania---this is all a bit fast for me. What the hell do you think you’re doing? We have to go back.’
     ‘No--- they’re mean. I’m not—‘
     ‘Tania--- we have to--- stop being so stubborn. It’s not just about you. They will blame me.’
     ‘No---I’m---not-----going --- back----got it?!
     ‘Oh--- for fucks sake Tania!’
     ‘I’m gonna tell Mum you said that----‘She stopped and suddenly I was swamped by a tidal wave of a little girl crying like everything came back at her at once. All I could do was hold her. I t was then that a large truck bearing the name of one of the well-known brands of frozen foods pulled into the parking area, causing dust to spread like a gritty brown sea.
    The door opened and a man in his less than thirties jumped from the truck. If my sister had done that, she would have caused serious injury. He looked at us; appearing to be struggling with some sort of response to finding two kids alone in the park. My mind was in turmoil. What the hell was I to do about Tania—and me?

Talk To Me---A quick 'promo.'

‘Talk to Me’ is being released chapter by chapter. What’s it all about?
Firstly, don’t take it too seriously. Why would you? Hell, it is a total figment of my imagination, although there is a lot of Perdy (Alias Spot) in the book. It is also a tongue-in-cheek,’ blow by blow, imaginary account of how low a “talk back Radio station can go in order to achieve the Holy Grail or increased ratings.
The book explores the darker side of business and when things get out of control, the innocent suffer. But all is not lost, because human nature is resilient and solutions are always possible.
Laugh along and get pissed off at the same time.
Enjoy the book. Don’t forget to click!

A word about 'Roskill,'--available here as a blog-- chapter by chapter.

Methamphetamine goes by different names around the world. Here in New Zealand we call it ‘P.’ Whatever the name, it is a scourge on society, being responsible breaking up families and ruining businesses. Much of the crime against individuals is fuelled by the ‘need’ to feed the habit of the burglar or mugger. They see only the cash that will help them to their next hit.
This is the background for the family featured in ‘Roskill.’
Read it as I release it, chapter by chapter. Get your kids to read it, because it is written in a style, more appropriate for teenagers. Of course many adults are enjoying the book, knowing that it tells the story, sim ply and not without humour. The online version may differ a little from the printed version that I no longer have control of. If enough people wish to buy a copy, I will process a new release.
Please hit on and use the adverts. That is what allows me to continue to release my books in this manner. Pass the link on to as many of your friends as you can.

With thanks
Neil Coleman

'Boy Scouts of America--get your sh---together!

The Boys Scouts Association of America has a ‘standard’ that leaders should be ‘morally straight.’ It seems that they have left a word out when they suspended or threw out a lesbian leader of a group of Tiger Scouts. I assume that the members were all boys. Even if they won’t, the same report from Ohio sates that the par nets knew that the leader was lesbian.
I can’t wait to hear the justification for this narrow minded act. I know that most of my friends who read my blogs in the USA will be angry at this act of senseless stupidity. I am trying to find out what the stance of the ‘sister’ organization is in NZ. I think I may be embarrassed at what I find out.
There have been many gains over the years around the issues, central to this blog, both here and in many other countries, but when something like this happens, it makes one wonder if it is indeed two steps forward and three back.
Wake up Scout movements all over the world. The few cases of real abuse of our wonderful children should not stop gay/lesbian leaders contributing what so many children lack at home--- boundaries, fun ad a sense of belonging.
I now await the clarion calls to ‘save us from this scourge of liberal social engineers’---- from whom? --- The ‘voices of decency,’ of course.

I think I am in one of those 'reflective' moods.

I feel a little ‘reflective ‘today. I am at home because of the events I described in my last blog, so go and check it if you want the full picture. I don’t want to sit around all day, even if I could but going to work is also uncomfortable too. Oh well. Thank goodness it’s Friday so I have the weekend to mend.
Maybe I shall read my kindle, but Perdy is already sizing me up with one of her looks, soon to be matched by her nudging me or licking me as is to say---hey--- you have had enough rest--- get off your ass. The spelling is for my American friends.
I want to stand---no I don’t---I want to sit---no---how about laying on the bed—buggered if my body knows what it wants to do.
Ah----I could watch one of the movies I reordered, and then I keep thinking about work. I have had a text already and I have left a message or two about some things that needed doing.
Look at those dishes on the sink. I keep saying that if we don’t do them immediately after we eat, they tend to stack up like something you see on TV about student flats. I threaten to buy another dishwasher but every time I save the money for one, another expense appears; usually for a more serious option--- hey bills are not options are they?
Perdy--- for God’s sake--- stop looking at me like I’m gonna jump up and take you out---- no it ain’t gonna happen----yet. Maybe this afternoon, I can take you to the bay and let you out to run and play with the other dogs--- but don’t expect much from me, and you better come back when I call. Oops--- you will either have to pick up your own poo or do it on the sly, where no one can see.
At this rate I will end up going into work---there goes the phone--- lucky my mouth isn’t injured.

Sorry Perdy, you have to stay home today.

God and the devil had a battle today, so I had to stay home! I took the rubbish out last night and the steep drive was a little slippery from the drizzling rain. You can guess what’s coming. Yes my feet pointed towards heaven and my butt aimed at the devil. Great, you may say--- that’s how it should be; a sort of natural equilibrium.
But I want to go to school!
Well, God and the devil battled it out and I was the looser. I picked myself up and dragged myself back to the house. Today, I feel like one of the new double-decker busses Auckland are about to get, ran over me.
Sorry Perdy, you will have to stay home today. I shall write you a note.

Very interesting timing, SkyCity.

In the end; who pays? Look in the mirror. How can one be anything but sceptical when SkyCity announces moves to introduce systems to limit the damage for ‘problem’ gamblers’? SkyCity and the government are involved in negotiating a deal whereby SkyCity build a National Convention Centre in return for an increase in the number of pokies they are allowed.
Give me a break from such sanctimonious positioning on the part of SkyCity. Why don’t they just admit that the bottom line is their profit margins and that they will do anything it takes to ‘soften’ their public profile so that they can continue to wreak havoc on a naive public?
I know there are many examples out there of similar situations, where companies suck us in with platitudes disguising either bad service or damaging practices.