‘Hello, ---- anyone home?’
Moana was having an early morning coffee and watching TV in the lounge. She enjoyed these times to herself. The previous night had been stressful and her sleep had been punctuated by disturbing dreams, leaving her a little jaded. She remembered that she had opened the back door after making her coffee. She was a little wary as to who would be calling at seven in the morning. A lady was standing on the back porch with a plate of freshly baked scones.
‘I’m Kathleen, your neighbour,’ she said, indicating the house to the left.
‘Come in Kathleen. I’m Moana----sorry about my appearance,’ Moana replied. She was still in her dressing gown and was about to get some breakfast for the sleeping family. ‘I’ll put the kettle on and we can have a chat. No doubt you heard the kafuffle here last night---.not a very good neighbourly act for our first night eh?’
‘Well I should have come over last night, but I was at my sisters till late,’ Kathleen said as she sat at the kitchen table.
‘I have to say that we got quite a fright last night, especially with the threats those guys made as they were taken away,’ Moana said.
The kettle bubbled away as Moana put out some of the rinsed cups from the night before.
‘Mmmm----we don’t even have the fridge on yet, so there’s no milk,’ Moana said apologetically.
‘That’s OK--- I don’t take it anyway, but I’ll nick across and get you some for the family’s breakfast,’ Kathleen replied and disappeared for a few moments out the door and along the side path.
When Kathleen returned, Moana had the tea pot ready and waiting, along with some sugar she had found in one of the boxes stacked around the wall.
‘I’ll be glad when this lot’s packed away,’ Moana said. 'Hopefully another day will see it all done.
‘Well I will just have to stay and help you after we’ve had our cuppa and fed your family,’ Kathleen offered.
‘I’m beginning to change my mind about last night already,’ Moana replied laughing.
By the time the rest of the family wandered into the kitchen, looking like they had partied all night, Moana and Kathleen had the kitchen organized and another pot of tea on the table. The scones were re heated and Kathleen had returned to her house for more jam.
‘This is yummy, Mum,’ James said as he munched away on his third scone.
The subject of the broken window and attack came up.
‘There are always young ones out there,’ Kathleen said angrily. ‘You’d be surprised at how young some of them are too. I’d like to deal to their bloody parents’
‘What gets me is that nothing really happens to change things for those families,’ John added. ‘The same thing happens in Christchurch too.’
‘Well you two just make sure you keep away from them,’ Moana said to her two children. ‘We’re going shopping later, so we can stock up for the kitchen. If you want, you can come too. We’re going to St Luke’s.’
‘OK, I’ll drop you off there and then I can check in with my new boss,’ John suggested. ‘I don’t start officially until next week. Just text me when you are ready for me to pick you up. Take your time----why don’t you go to the movies first? Then I will have plenty of time with the boss.’
‘Well,----sounds like your day’s organized, so I’ll be off. Don’t be strangers now,’ Kathleen said as she left.
‘Right,----- you two-----be ready in an hour. I’m having the first shower,’ John said, pre-empting James’s usual attempt to commandeer the bathroom.
‘Here will be fine dear,’ Moana said as John slowed down outside the mall.
‘I bet it’s not as good as the big one in Christchurch,’ Lucy said in the tone that usually got James going. It didn’t; he ignored her instead, looking intently in the direction of three hooded youths, who were sitting in the bus shelter. What drew his attention initially was the obvious discomfort of the other commuters waiting for their buses. Even though there was room for some of them to sit in the shelter, they chose to stay well away from the youths. When John dropped his family off a few metres away, the youths watched closely, and then began to talk animatedly, gesturing towards James.
'I think that’s those guys who broke our window last night,' James whispered to his Mum.
'Oh My God,' Moana responded. 'It’s too late to get back in the car.'
'Just ignore them Mum------surely they can’t do anything here. It’s pretty public yeah?' James reassured his Mum.
'I hope so,' Moana said, not at all confident. 'I just don’t understand that they can do all that damage and be wandering around here a few hours later----so much for Alex’s support.'
When James and his Mum and sister, headed towards the mall entrance, the youths waited for a moment then followed. As James passed Farmers on the ground floor, one of the youths brushed menacingly against him.
'You better watch your back punk,' he said threateningly. 'Your sister looks kinda nice-----maybe she wants a bit of fun eh.'
'You stay away from her, you filthy bastard,' James yelled, more than loud enough for his mother to hear.
The youth immediately swung a punch at James’s head; missed then drew a screw driver from his pocket and poised to strike. His actions did not go unnoticed by a security guard, who ran towards the scene, which had now attracted many shoppers. Moana felt a sense of desperation as the youths continued to taunt her children.
'Help! ------ these are the creeps that attacked our house last night and now they’re threatening my kids.'
The three youths took off, knowing that the guard had barred them from the mall only a few months previously for similar behaviour.
'Are you OK lady?' he asked as he watched the youths disappearing towards the entrance. 'Those guys shouldn’t be in here. The cops are coming so they may get picked up'. He broke off for a moment and spoke into his radio, hoping his colleagues would catch the youths before they got too far.
Two policemen approached Moana and her children. After a quick discussion with the security guard, they too used their radios and soon after, the sound of sirens could be heard outside the mall.
'We know who they are,’ the younger policeman told Moana. 'Unfortunately, they just don’t get it. There are several charges pending against them in the Youth Court but in the meantime they continue to create havoc.'
'I’d call what they are doing to my family a little more than havoc,' Moana said angrily. 'Why can’t you lock the sods up?'
I know, but it takes so damned long to get anyone to do anything,' the policeman said. 'I’ll get a statement from you and you can be on your way.'
'This is the second statement we have made in the last twelve hours. How much more do we have to put up with before they are seriously dealt to?' Moana asked.
'I know how you feel----actually very much like we do,' the policeman said sympathetically.
'We arrest them, involve CYFS, maybe attend a Family Group Conference, then next thing we know-----they are back to their old tricks.'
'These street gangs we see round and about, doing nothing useful-----they just sit around planning their next robbery or whatever they get up to?' Moana pleaded. 'Now they seem to have it in for my boy. It’s just not fair.'
The two officers left, confident that the family was safe for now. Moana and her two children wandered off to the movies to see what was showing. For Moana, the time just passed in a blur. She hardly took note of the movie and if anyone had asked about the story, she would have been hard pressed to remember anything. Later, they ate at the food hall, before heading to Foodtown, where they needed two shopping trolleys to get all they needed to stock up. Even then, Moana said that they would have to return in a few days.
When Moana texted John he didn’t reply.
'Damn------he must have his phone turned off,' she said. 'Oh well----we shall have to get a taxi then.'
The taxi driver wasn’t too pleased when he saw the size of the shopping Moana loaded into his boot, but once he had delivered the family back to the Mt Roskill home, he was pleased enough to receive a little extra for his trouble. On the way home, they had driven past the same boys who had tried to assault James in the mall; Moana told him what had happened.
'I’m not surprised; nothing is ever really done,' the taxi driver said. He too had reason to dislike the gangs, as several of his colleagues had been on the receiving end of their attention.
'I think you are going to need to be really careful when you are out and about, James------you too for that matter,' Moana said to Lucy.
'I wouldn’t be sacred of them if it was one on one, ' James said almost boastfully, 'but they don’t seem to play by any fair rules.'
'Don’t you go trying to play the hero. I don’t need you getting injured or worse by those boys,' Moana countered.
James and Lucy helped Moana to unpack, and they organized dinner, hoping to surprise John with one of his favourites when he returned; roast lamb with all the trimmings. They even made an apple crumble with custard. At six thirty, John had still not arrived home and he hadn’t rang or sent a text message.
'If he’s not here by seven, we are going eat without him and he can take his chances,' Moana said in a slightly angry tone. The time passed and they started without him. Just as they were finishing their pudding, they heard the sound of the car, coming up the drive.
'About time,' Moana said, whilst not happy, she was relieved at least John was home. She went out to meet him.
From inside, James and Lucy heard the sound of their mother arguing with John. She seemed to be angry and a few seconds later she pushed the door open, almost cracking the glass.
'Go to your rooms-----now! Don’t argue--- just do it!' Moana shouted in a tone that indicated that any complaints would not be well received.
'Shit------ what the hell’s going on?' James said anxiously. 'I think Dad’s in trouble.
In the kitchen, Moana faced John.
'What on earth are you trying to do? -------Kill yourself? --------driving in that state. You’ve been drinking,' Moana accused.
'Come on Moana-------no harm done. What’s your problem? Can’t a man have a little fun with his new work mates?' he whined.
'You’re not some young man in his first job,' Moana retorted. 'Look at yourself in the mirror. I’ve never seen you this bad.'
'Just shut the hell up woman------just give me some peace,' he replied.
'Oh forget it! You can get your own meal. I’m going to bed. I don’t want you anywhere near me tonight!'
Moana stormed from the kitchen, tears streaming down her face. She headed for her bedroom, where she fell on the bed, her body shaking with anger and hurt. John had never spoken to her like that in all the years of their marriage. Something wasn't right. Then she realized what it was. She would have expected to smell alcohol on his breath, but there was a distinct lack of any wine, beer or anything else that would have indicated he had been drinking.
'God-----I hope the stupid bastard isn’t smoking weed,' she thought. She would face him in the morning when he was in a more coherent state.