Maia Daniels knew she should just ignore the boys. Walk past, don’t listen, she told herself. Don’t talk back.
was ten o’clock on a Saturday night. The gang were sitting on a wall
outside Claydon Pub, passing around a smoke. She’d seen some of them at
high school, when they decided to turn up that is.
and yelling came from the pub. A television blared loudly, no doubt
replaying the All Blacks’ rugby match against the Wallabies. Maia
stopped at the driveway as a purple Holden drove into the car park.
Music blasted from inside the souped-up machine, the bass pumping its
steady beat out into the night.
“Maia, c’mere,” Tama Harris yelled.
gang leader was eighteen, tall and solidly built, with a wide, flat
nose. He’d shaved off his hair recently, replacing it with a curved
pattern called a moko.
Usually, the tattoo adorned the face, a sign of a Maori
warrior—something to be proud of. But Tama was no one to be proud of,
nothing but a dreg who constantly harassed her. Unlike the other boys,
he wore his hoodie tied around his waist, his ripped jeans and muscle
shirt unsuitable for the cold autumn weather. Maia figured he was
probably high on something, either from the weed in his hand or the
empty bottles at his feet—or both.
“Hey, Maia! Are ya a double d?” a podgy boy with spiky blond hair shouted.
“They sure felt like it,” Tama replied, his hand actions eliciting laughter from the gang.
blush ran across Maia’s cheeks. Shit, she hated her breasts. Even in
her oversized sweatshirt they still grabbed attention. She pulled her
hood further over her head, and rounded her shoulders. After another car
passed, she hitched up her track pants and walked across the muddy
Tama hollered, “Oi! I told ja to c’mere.”
looked back, aching to give him the finger, but instead jammed her
hands into her pockets. God, she was a moron for sneaking out, but ...
Ben’s raves were always awesome. Why couldn’t her mum let her go? It
wasn’t like she did drugs, and the boys at the party were just mates.
scowl changed into a grin. He threw his joint onto the ground and
jumped off the stone wall. With a jerk of his head, he indicated for the
gang to follow.
heartbeat picked up. Still concentrating on Tama, she stepped off the
kerb and onto Waiata Crescent. The blast of a horn made her leap back.
The front passenger leaned out of a battered sedan, and swore at her.
Ignoring the pimply git, she scooted around the car and across the side
loud wolf-whistle made her jump. She glanced over her shoulder. Tama’s
eyes were fixated on her, promising things she didn’t want.
He grabbed his crotch. “I like ya from behind, Maia.”
the boys, except for Mikey Thomas, laughed. Tama’s cousin looked away
as though uncomfortable with what was happening. He was fourteen and in
her class at school. She thought he liked her; either that or he had a
staring problem. Yeah, she’d only noticed because she was usually
checking him out too.
wondered if she could lose the gang by cutting across the highway.
Traffic was heavy, making this option just as dangerous as stopping for
Tama. Further up the road, past the tyre yard, the video and liquor
stores’ lights were on. The neon sign of the happy video man was a
welcoming sight. It was maybe a hundred metres away. She thought she had
a chance of outrunning Tama. She was fast, damned fast. If she’d showed
up to school enough, she probably would’ve been on the track team.
“Maia, pretty Maia,” Tama taunted. “I’ve got sumpthin’ to show you.”
wasn’t sure whether it was a knife—or something else in his pants. She
knew he carried a switchblade. He’d stabbed her brother in the arm once
when Nike attacked him with a baseball bat. She’d always wondered
whether this was why Tama harassed her. But she couldn’t blame Nike for
it. Leila, his girlfriend at the time, had caused the fight. The bitch
had cheated on him with Tama, then cried rape after he found out.
me alone, Tama,” she said, remembering the last time he’d approached
her. She’d kicked him in the balls for grabbing her breasts. “Nike said
he’d beat the living snot outta you if you came near me again.”
“I’d love to see him fuckin’ try. Plus, you owe me, bitch.”
knew she should keep her mouth shut; that whenever she spoke it got her
into trouble. Her mother had told her countless times, “You speak too
much, Maia, you should listen more.”
She grinned, unable to help herself. “What do I owe you? More bruised balls?”
She heard a slicing noise behind her, the sound of a switchblade being opened. Shit!
“Get her,” Tama yelled.
took off, her legs pumping hard and fast. Behind her boots pounded the
pavement. The trainers she’d swiped from her brother were too big and
clunky, making it difficult to pick up speed. She could hear someone
getting closer, no doubt Tama. Damn, the prick was fast.
brushed her arm. As she turned sharply, leaping over the bushes on her
left, something metallic clattered onto the pavement behind her. Tama
swore at Mikey.
ran down the little slope and across the driveway, ploughing into the
back of a car as it pulled out of a space. Someone grabbed her hood,
yanking it off. Her thick brown hair spilled out. She screamed and swung
out with her arms, connecting with Mikey. He yelped and let go. She ran
in between cars, almost bashing into someone as they opened up their
door, then shot into the video shop, only stopping once she was in front
of the counter.
twenty-something clerk looked up from his magazine. Short, with a badly
pocked face, he was dressed in a yellow uniform that clashed with his
bright orange hair. He appeared confused, until he glanced over at the
boys entering the shop. Maia could see fear changing his facial
“Can I please use your phone, Mista?” She moved around the side of the counter as the boys stopped at the other end.
The clerk picked up the phone.
Tama pointed his blade at him. “Drop it or I’ll slice you.”
The clerk did as instructed and held up his hands. “I want no trouble, man.”
“Then stay outta my fuckin’ business.”
Tama, Mikey grabbed a packet of chips from the stand in front of the
counter and opened it. He was tall and skinny, dressed in the gang’s
uniform of black boots, jeans, and hoodie. He started to munch on the
chips, his eyes wandering up to the movie playing on the television
screen above Maia’s head.
four other thugs took Mikey’s lead and grabbed a packet each. Maia
couldn’t remember their names, didn’t want to either. A woman and her
young son, no older than eight, quickly exited the store. Maia looked up
the aisle, past the rows of DVDs and videos at a man, her eyes pleading
with him to help her. He was big, with broad shoulders and muscular
arms, possibly a body builder. He looked from her to Tama and shook his
head, backing away down the aisle. She wanted to scream at him, “Help
me,” but decided it would set Tama off.
her left, familiar faces peered back at her from the shelves. Bruce
Willis, Tom Cruise, Jackie Chan, all pretend heroes she wished were
moved behind the candy display. “C’mon, Tama, I wuz only jokin’ ‘bout
the balls comment. You know I can’t help myself...” she gabbled
nervously with a wide grin on her face. Dammit! Why did she always have
to grin when she was scared shitless?
Tama waved her over with his switchblade. “If ya nice to me, I won’t hurt cha.”
bit down on her lip, stopping a derogatory remark from escaping her
mouth. She knew what Tama meant by being nice, and she wasn’t going to
take it lying down—or any other fucking position.
woman screamed on the television behind her, an actress she didn’t
know. Probably another bimbo in a slasher movie, she thought. Maia
wanted to laugh, or cry, at the irony. Outside car doors slammed,
followed by a rowdy bunch of teenagers entering the store. They took one
look at Tama and his gang and left, followed by more doors slamming and
the screech of tyres.
knew she was in for it now. Absolutely no one was willing to help her.
“C’mon, no fair, six against one.” She scanned the shop, weighing up her
options. There was no way she could make it past them and out the front
door. She glanced at the back room. Most places had a back door. Didn’t
police siren came closer. She prayed it was going to stop, but doubted
it. Claydon, the shithole, was one of the most policed areas in
Auckland. The problem was there were never enough police to cover the
sprawling suburb, where poorly built fibrolite houses, factories and
graffiti walls populated the landscape. As she’d guessed, the police car
drove past, the sound of the siren disappearing down the highway to
help some other victim.
Tama smiled lewdly. “I’ll get rid of the others if ya come with me.”
Mikey mumbled something then jerked back as Tama turned on him.
“Fuckin’ shut it, Mikey,” Tama snapped.
saw her opportunity. She took off down the aisle, past the big wimp and
into the backroom, quickly locking the door as Tama bashed into it.
God, she was lucky the door had a lock. Breathing heavily, she switched
on the light and scanned the room. She swore loudly. A bench, sink, a
small table and chair, but no backdoor! She looked up at the window
above the bench, wondering whether she could slip through it. More bangs
sounded on the other side of the door. Well, she’d give it a damn good
pulled herself up onto the bench. Her hand connected with a coffee mug.
It toppled over and fell to the floor, smashing across the lino. She
pushed open the window. Tama continued to thump against the door. It
sounded like he was ramming it with his shoulder. She wished it was his
The noise stopped. “Open the fuckin’ door, Maia!”
“Fuck off,” she yelled back.
thumps started up, along with a litany of swear words that would make
even her stepdad blush. She pushed her head through and gripped onto the
aluminium frame. A welcoming breeze hit her flushed face. She wiggled
through enough to get half of her body out just as the door crashed
open. In a panic, she pushed herself forward, scraping her stomach
against the metal. Someone grabbed one of her feet. She kicked at them
and pushed again. Her shoe came off in their hands as she fell through
hit the ground, landing on her back. Her breath pushed out, winding
her. Stunned, she lay looking up at the sky. “I see stars.” She knew it
wasn’t funny, but like grinning she said the stupidest things when she
was scared or in pain.
attention shifted to Mikey as he tried to fit through the window. He
got halfway and started yelling, “I’m stuck, pull me back ... Ow! That
fuckin’ hurts. Stop yankin’ me.”
still couldn’t believe Mikey was chasing her. She thought he was
different from the others, only hanging out with them because of his
cousin. Even after he tried to grab her, she had hoped he’d change his
mind and help her. Fuck, she was a moron for even thinking that. He was
the same as Tama, wanting a piece of her and not giving a stuff how he
“You bastard,” she shouted. “I can’t believe I liked you.”
stopped wriggling and stared down at her with a stunned expression. He
closed his eyes for a moment, and shook his head, clearly upset. Before
he looked away, she could have sworn he whispered, “I’m sorry.”
pushed herself up and wobbled on her feet. Feeling woozy, and hurting
like hell, she staggered across the concrete towards a wooden fence. The
sound of boots hitting the ground caught her attention. She glanced
over her shoulder, and breathed in sharply as Tama advanced on her.
There was no one else behind him, only a dumpster and a few cars. They were alone, his mates gone like he’d promised.
grabbed the fence and flung a leg over. An arm wrapped around her
waist, dragging her back. Screaming, she struck out with her right
elbow, hitting Tama in the ribs.
He swore, and let go. She lunged for the fence as something hit her back.
Tama spun her around, and flattened his bloodied knife against her left cheek. “Stop fightin’ me or I’ll stick ya again.”
Maia sucked in a breath. He’d stabbed her? But it had felt like a punch.
kissed her roughly, suffocating her with the smell of booze and weed.
Her tears mingled with the blood on her cheek as he tugged at her track
erupted from the other side of the building. A dog barked, followed by
the thud of boots and something scrambling across the concrete.
Tama glanced over his shoulder and hollered, “Fuck!” He pushed her aside and lunged for the fence.
As the large dog leapt at Tama, Maia collapsed in a heap.
Tama sprinted across Batton’s Place. He had a stitch in his side and he felt crook from running so hard.
the police showed up behind the video store he’d hightailed it out of
there. A couple of pigs had given chase, but he was too quick for the
donut swirling brigade. He didn’t appreciate it, though, when that damn
police dog attacked him. Stupid mutt got a boot in the face for his
trouble. He’d never liked German Shepherds. Vicious shits.
headed down his driveway. Shit, the lounge lights were on. Usually his
mother was in bed by now. He didn’t have time to explain things. He
needed to get in and out of the house fast. Grab some cash and clothes
before the pigs showed up. He’d also wanted to do that with Maia. He
would have been in and out in no time, just a regular quickie. She would
have enjoyed it too, but the bloody stupid bitch didn’t know when to
shut up and take it—all ten fucking inches. Well, he didn’t have to
listen to her smart mouth anymore; there were plenty of other pretty
girls he could get. That was, as long as the pigs didn’t get him first.
of breath, he stumbled up the porch steps, knocking over a pile of
rubbish bags. Even before he opened the ranch-slider he could hear his
mother’s voice. She was rambling to one of her spirit guides again,
probably asking advice from the American Indian dude she’d tacked up on
the wall. Pocahontas, or whatever name she called him. Nah, that was a
chick in the cartoon his sister liked.
mother smiled at him from the vinyl couch she thought he’d bought her.
He’d told her countless times that it was from an inorganic collection,
but she never remembered. Her mind hadn’t been right since his dad died
in a car crash eight years ago. Since then, she’d gradually allowed her
obsession with spirits, and other shit he didn’t believe in, to take
over her mind. He had to admit her twice into the psych ward after her
attempts at suicide. Each time he’d tried to reason with her, asking,
“What was the point of havin’ spiritual guides if they didn’t help ya?”
But she never answered the question.
got off the couch, and walked towards him. She had mousy brown hair, a
small nose and was short, only just reaching five-foot. But she was so
proud of that last inch, lording it over her neighbour, Betsy Joy, who
grinned as he pictured Betsy with her husband, big fat Bob the Blob.
He’d always wondered how the hell the fat bastard could find his dick
under all the blubber. Well, since Betsy was still alive he knew who
went on top.
His mother’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts. “What’ve ya done, Son?”
shook his head, trying to clear his mind. The shit he’d taken earlier
was still fucking with his head. He looked back at his mother, who was
staring at his hands and jeans. Her face appeared all puckered and
creased as though she was going to cry.
“Why’s there blood on your hands?”
“Can’t talk now. Gotta get outta here before the pigs show up.”
“Whose blood is that?”
he headed for his bedroom. He couldn’t let her distract him. The sirens
in the distance were growing louder. Although it was the music of his
neighbourhood, he knew the pigs would soon be performing in his dead-end
kicked open his door, and switched on the light. The shit-brown
curtains were closed and the room smelled of BO from the dirty clothes
strewn over the floor. He’d shout at his mother for not cleaning it up
if he wasn’t leaving for good. She worked as a cleaning lady, for
snatched up his backpack off the floor and rifled through the wardrobe,
stuffing clothes and shoes into it, then yanked open a drawer and
grabbed his underwear and condoms. After pulling on his bag, he pushed
past his mother and into her room, going straight for her jewellery box.
He knew she stashed her grocery money there. Every Saturday he’d gotten
into the habit of swiping some for booze.
She followed him. “No, boy, you can’t leave me.”
replying, he took the stash. Shit, he’d forgotten to wash his hands.
Now there was blood on the money. He jammed it into his pocket and
strode out of the room and into the bathroom. Soap and water soon
removed the blood. He gave his face a quick rinse, then headed to his
sister’s room and gave her a kiss. The little girl slept soundlessly
under her pink Barbie duvet, her curly brown hair spread out on her
pillow. Caitlin looked just like their mother; never going to win any
beauty contests, but sweet nonetheless.
His mother grabbed his arm. “Please, Tama, don’t go.”
“Sorry, I hafta...”
started sobbing. For fuck’s sake, she was giving him the guilts. He
didn’t want to leave her alone to raise his half-sister. But then again,
why should he blame himself? Yeah! It was his stepdad’s fault for going
up north. The stupid git got thrown in the slammer. Unlike Seth, there
was no way Tama was going to prison. He wouldn’t let the pigs catch him.
“I’ll visit when I can,” he added.
grip tightened. Dammit, she never listened. He shook her off, strode
through to the dining-room, and yanked open the back ranch-slider. He
could hear the sirens coming along Banks Street, almost at his road. He
had to split. Now!
“Tama, don’t go!”
Mum. Love ya.” He didn’t look back, just leapt over the railing that
ran along the rear porch. He raced up the sloping backyard, clambered
over the wire fence and onto the back of Claydon Primary School. The
sirens were now playing their symphony down his street, the police
lights providing special effects.
I need to piss,” he muttered, now regretting all the booze he’d drunk.
Well, there was no way he’d risk stopping here. He sprinted across the
grass and through a gate that led onto Finley Park.
and slides filled the space behind Tama, while a network of playing
fields lay before him. On his right, Auckland’s Sky Tower poked out from
behind distant hills, the pointy structure bathed in mauve coloured
lights. Beyond the park and a row of houses, the darkened waters of
Manukau harbour merged with the night. Tama loved Finley Park. Ever
since he was four he’d played touch rugby here, but much preferred the
full on contact that came with the rugby matches held on Saturdays. Maia
had ruined all of that for him now. No more rugby games. One stab
wasn’t enough; he should have gutted the bitch.
kept his eyes peeled for cops as he cut across the fields and over the
road, past the Marae—the land where the Maori meeting house stood. Red
stained carvings framed the triangular-shaped building, broken up blue
and green Paua shells used for the eyes of the carved Maori faces. A
naked, carved warrior, with a large head displaying a moko, stood at the apex. Tama ran a hand over his head, proud to show his heritage through his tattoo.
street was dark, with hardly any lamp-posts to light up the night. For
once the council’s cheap arse budget benefitted Tama, allowing him to
take cover in the dark. He could just make out the road leading onto
Jayden Green’s house. Good ole Jay would help him out, possibly giving
him some cash or weed. Man, he wanted something harder to take off the
edge. The cheap weed and beer he’d had earlier wasn’t enough for the
excitement of the night.
he really needed to take a leak now or he’d be adding different bodily
fluids to his jeans. He darted into the bushes, did the business, then
took off down the dimly lit street. He ran past Jayden’s mouldy
picket-fence, up the front steps of the square box his mate called home,
and banged on the front door.
Lights went on, followed by shouting. “You fuckin’ answer it.” “No you.” “You effin’ ho.”
looked at his neon watch. It was just past ten-thirty. Jayden and Leila
were acting like two old farts going to bed so early. He sniggered.
Maybe they hadn’t been sleeping.
A door slammed inside, followed by approaching footsteps. The front door creaked open a fraction.
Tama kicked it. “It’s me, fuckin’ open up.”
slipped the chain off and opened the door. He looked like he’d dressed
hastily. The fly on his jeans was down, and he was shirtless, revealing a
podgy gut and man boobs.
doin’ ‘ere?” Jayden asked. His eyes widened as he looked down at Tama’s
blood stained pants. “Oh, shit, Tama, who’d ja cut?”
Tama pushed past and headed for the kitchen. After all that running, he was thirsty as hell.
grabbed his arm. Tama shook him off and opened the fridge. No matter
how hard Jayden tried to appear tough he always looked comical. Except
for being taller, and two shades lighter, his face looked just like Gary
Coleman, with his wide nose, big lips, and fat cheeks. Tama had thought
it was hilarious after he’d seen a rerun of Different Strokes a few months back, and had taken to teasing Jayden about it. Jayden would get mad and continually repeat, “I dunno who he iz.”
took a can and sat down at the oval dining table. Jayden stood over him
as he downed the beer. His mate looked like he was pouting and about to
say, “What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” It didn’t help Jayden’s case
that his pronunciation was as poor as his pocket.
“For fuck’s sake! Answer me. Who’d ja cut?”
“Nike’s sister. Li’l bitch smart-mouthed me.”
Jayden’s hand swiped out, whacking Tama across the head. “Ya effin’ bastard. She’s just a kid.”
Tama jumped up and slammed him into the wall. “You fuckin’ touch me again, and I’ll waste ya.”
Jayden held his hands up. “Then I won’t help ya.”
“Whatever.” Tama pushed Jayden into the passage. “Just gimme some cash, weed, and a coat hanger, then I’ll shove off.”
Jayden glared at him. “Why should I fuckin’ give ya anything?”
Tama idly stroked the top of his switchblade. “Cos you’re my mate.”
Jayden’s gaze dropped to Tama’s hand. “You ain’t gonna cut me. Anyway, I’m skint. I can only give ya weed.”
Tama frowned. “Of course I ain’t gonna cut ya. Why would ja think that? You’re my mate.”
“You were strokin’ yo blade.”
“So? I stroke my dick too; don’t mean I stick it into every cunt I see.”
Jayden sniggered. “S’pose so.”
Something banged on the other side of the wall. Tama heard Leila’s voice, but couldn’t distinguish her words.
“What ‘bout Leila? She have any dough?” Tama asked.
Jayden grimaced. “Fuck no. She’s the reason I’m skint.”
Tama sighed. The weed would just have to do. He could always sell it if need be. “Gimme what ya got.”
door next to them creaked open and a bleary eyed Leila poked her head
out, her afro out of control. “Will ya shut the fuck up so I can sleep?”
She closed the door without so much as a, “What’s that blood on your
pants?” or “Do ya wanna cuppa?”
never understood why a hot piece like Leila was with Jayden. Even
worse, she married him. Who the hell got hitched at eighteen, other than
the freak Nike? Yeah, Jayden was a nice bloke, but all his mate could
do well was grow weed and fix cars. Everything else he failed miserably
at, including in the bedroom. Tama had heard all about it from Leila
when he popped in for his regular visits while Jayden was at work.
Jayden followed Leila into the bedroom.
“Bloody turn off the light,” Leila yelled.
Jayden countered with a “Bitch” then a moment later he was back, slamming the door shut behind him.
“You ain’t gettin’ any for that,” Leila shouted.
Jayden ignored her and handed Tama the coat hanger and a bag of weed.
Tama stuffed the weed into his backpack. He held onto the coat hanger as he slapped Jayden across the arm. “You’re a good mate.”
Jayden nodded. “Where ya headin’ to?”
rolled his eyes. Although Jayden was big, he was a wimp when it came to
standing up to Maia’s brother. Jayden had made the one mistake of
teasing Nike about his name in ninth grade, calling him, “Sneaker Boy.”
Nike had made him pay for it ever since. Tama remembered walking into
the Men’s once and seeing Nike holding Jayden’s head in the toilet bowl,
flushing it. Both Tama and Nike had left school for good that day with
more than a few bruises.
“I ain’t tellin’ ya that. You’ll spill when Nike comes round.”
Jayden ran a hand over his head. “Shit, he’s gonna do his nut in. Ya better take off before he finds out.”
gave Jayden another friendly slap on the arm and strode towards the
front door. He stepped outside and pumped his fists together in a gang
salute. Jayden returned the gesture.
took off, sprinting up the road. A parked Mazda caught his eye. He bent
the coat hanger, angled it through the top of the window and down to
hook it under the lock. In no time he was in the car working at the
car refused to start. Tama swore, realising it was just a wreck. In the
distance sirens blared. He didn’t have time for this. He wanted to go
to the real north, not some fucking prison.
grabbed his bag and took off running, wishing he’d stabbed Maia’s
brother instead. He hated the bastard! Nike thought he was better than
him, that he wasn’t worth shit. Tama slowed to a stop. Nike would come
after him regardless, whether he went to Kaitaia or Timbuktu. It may
take a while, but Nike would eventually catch up with him. The bastard
was like that, never able to let something go. No, he couldn’t leave
until he’d taken care of Nike. Plus, Nike’s wife was pretty. God, he
liked Jess, always had. She should have been his, not that prick’s.
Yeah, he could also take care of Jess in a totally different way.
glistened across Nike’s chest. He grabbed Jess’s hips, scared that if
she went any faster he’d shoot his load. He didn’t want to come yet; he
wanted to make it last as long as possible. But fuck, she wasn’t
helping. She just kept swaying her hips back and forth making his dick
want to explode.
gazed down at him with hooded eyes, her dark mascara and eyeliner
smeared. He wiped it with a thumb and kissed her lips, loving the taste
of the strawberry gloss. He wondered whether he could put it on her
other lips and lick it off.
His hands moved back to her hips as she picked up speed. “Slower,” he gasped.
“No, I need it now.” Her voice was breathless, needy.
He tightened his grip. “I wanna make it last.”
playful smile spread across her face as her fingers went for his ribs.
Nike let go and grabbed her wrists, pulling her against his chest. She
nuzzled into his neck, her lips working their way up to his left ear. He
groaned as her body rocked against his. No longer able to control
himself, he rolled her onto her back and started pumping fast, pistoning
in and out, harder and harder.
Jess cried out, “Yessss ... fuck, yesssss!”
Her body clamped down, milking him for all he was worth. Nike closed his eyes as bliss overtook his body.
the last pump, he withdrew and flopped onto his back. Jess got up and
gingerly ran off to the shower, cupping herself so that his seed didn’t
spill out. Nike couldn’t be arsed having a shower, he just wanted to
splashed in the next room. He imagined Jess lathering up her gorgeous
tits. His balls tingled. He thought about it running over her plump
arse, more than a handful. His cock began to harden. His baby had back
alright, just the way he liked it. He didn’t like skinny chicks. They
looked too brittle for a good fuck.
started singing. Nike closed his eyes and grinned as she butchered a
Beyoncé song. Jess thought she could sing because she scored well in
Playstation’s karaoke games. He’d told her enough times that the machine
was tone deaf, but she didn’t believe him.
rap music started up from a neighbouring flat followed by a baby’s
cries. Nike’s eyes snapped open, fucked off that the new neighbours had
woken Jake again. He’d spoken to them only an hour ago.
He swung his legs out of bed, snatched up his briefs, and pulled them on. The phone went off. He grabbed it. “What?”
The sound of his mother crying made him straighten, her sobs drowning out her words.
“Mum, calm down. I can’t understand you.”
His stepdad’s raspy voice came over the line. “Maia’s been stabbed,” Rory said. “We’re at the hospital.”
opened his mouth, but nothing came out. In the next room, the shower
turned off followed by cupboards being opened and closed. Who would stab
his li’l sis? She was just a kid.
Rory answered his unspoken question, “Tama did it.”
gripped the phone. That fucker! He was going to kill him. The sick
bastard was always harassing Maia for sex. Nike froze. Oh God, no ...
did Tama rape her?
walked in naked, with her hair wrapped in a towel and growling about
the neighbours. In a daze, Nike watched her pull open a drawer. It
scraped and got stuck halfway. She swore and yanked it open.
“You there, Nike?” Rory asked.
Nike snapped to. “How bad?”
“We don’t know. She’s still in surgery.”
“Did he...” Nike’s voice broke. “Did he rape her?”
“The cops only said she was stabbed.”
head whipped around at Nike’s words. She walked towards him, her heavy
breasts swaying. An uninvited trickle of breast milk glistened on her
caramel-coloured skin. “What’s happened?” she asked.
“I’ll be there soon.” Nike hung up. “Maia’s been stabbed. I’ve gotta go.”
Jess stood still for a moment, her face shocked. “I’m comin’ too.”
you stay with Jakey.” Nike ran into the bathroom. He could hear her
rifling through the wardrobe as he took off his briefs and stepped into
a quick clean, he grabbed fresh briefs and hopped into them, then threw
on a shirt, his black courier jacket, and the jeans off the floor.
“I told ja to stay put,” he snapped as Jess grabbed her purse. He loved her, but shit, the woman never listened.
“I’ll get Jakey.” She ran out of the room.
jammed his feet into his boots and shoved his wallet into his back
pocket. He didn’t have time to argue. Anyway, he knew it would do no
good. Since meeting Jess three years ago, at the age of fifteen, he’d
found out that she was an expert at getting her own way.
strode down the passage and into the small lounge. On the other side of
the wall the rap music blared loudly, shaking the cheap shelves that
Nike had haphazardly nailed up. Jake continued to cry as Jess pulled him
out of his cot.
grabbed his keys off the wall and opened the ranch-slider for Jess and
Jake, then locked up. They headed for the yellow courier van. Jess put
Jake in his car-seat, while Nike revved up the engine. As soon as she
was in he took off towards the hospital.
hospital—Nike hated the place. He’d been in there enough times to know.
Nothing too serious: a broken nose, arm, finger and toe, a stabbed arm,
and when he was four, a piece of Lego stuck up his nose. He’d jammed
the stormtrooper helmet pretty far.
Middleton waiting room was just like any other hospital. There was a
lot of waiting, waiting, and ... more waiting. They’d been there since
eleven and it was now going on midnight. Maia was still in surgery. The
bastard Tama had stabbed her between the shoulder blades. His mother
said Maia had come in without any breathing problems, so it looked like
the knife hadn’t pierced her lungs. The police had left before Nike had
gotten there, asked all the questions they could. Nike didn’t want them
here anyway. They needed to get out there and look for Tama, just like
he would once he knew his sister was going to pull through.
pulled out a 7-up from the vending machine, and sat down next to Jess.
Jake lay snuggled under a baby blanket, suckling from her breast. Nike
opened the can, and took a swig, while he eyeballed the back of Rory’s
bald head. His forty-year-old stepdad was sitting a few seats away, busy
on his iPhone. Rory was addicted to the internet and was on it for most
of the day. Nike didn’t understand why his mother put up with him. What
kind of man sent his woman out to work while he sat on his arse? A
fucking lazy one.
glanced at his mother. She was pacing in front of the nurses’ station,
her gaze following every doctor who walked past. She was overweight and
had bad eczema around her mouth. As usual, he thought she looked
exhausted, much older than her thirty-eight years. At times he worried
that she was going to end up like his nanna, dying before she hit forty.
stuck the can under his seat and went over to her. He knew she was
working herself up, and wanted to calm her down before she brought on an
doctor in blue scrubs came out of the corridor. He had a young face
that contrasted with his short grey hair. He smiled at Nike’s mother.
“The surgery went well. No vital organs were hit. We’d like to keep Maia
in for a few days, and as long as all goes well, she should make a full
recovery in a few weeks. A counsellor will be assigned—”
Rory stood up. “Why does she need a counsellor? You said she’d be fine. I’m not paying for a quack.”
Nike couldn’t believe his stepdad’s nerve. As if Rory paid for jack.
“Sir, it won’t cost you a cent,” the doctor said. “The country has free healthcare.”
“I still don’t want Maia seeing no quack. I don’t trust them after...” He glanced at Nike’s mother with a strained expression.
felt his anger quickly dissolve. He now realised why his stepdad was
getting uptight, and he couldn’t blame him. A counsellor at Claydon High
had upset his mother, telling her she was a bad parent because Maia
skipped school. If that wasn’t bad enough, the prick reported her to
Child Welfare. For three weeks, she worried whether they were going to
take Maia away from her. In the end she received a letter stating that
the case was closed, and a list of counsellors that could “help Maia
with her emotional problems.”
will be assigned a qualified professional,” the doctor said. “With
these sorts of injuries the psychological wound also needs to be looked
at. Quite often they are harder to heal.”
Nike patted Rory’s arm. “The counsellors here are fine. I had one when I wuz stabbed, and she helped me.”
Rory’s gaze shifted from the doctor to Nike. “I just want Maia to be alright.”
His mother gave Rory a hug. “I know you do, love.”
“Can we see her?” Rory asked the doctor.
sleeping at the moment, but you can still go in,” the doctor replied.
“A nurse will take you through.” He indicated towards the reception
desk, then excused himself and left.
Nike called out to Jess. “Babe, we’re gonna see Maia. You comin’?”
She shook her head. “Jakey’s just fallen asleep. I’ll pop in before we leave.”
nodded, and followed the others to the desk. A nurse in a lavender
uniform directed them to his sister’s bedside. Maia was lying on her
side asleep and covered with a blanket, the steady beating of her heart
displayed on the monitor next to her bed.
had been dreading that something like this would happen. Ever since
their dad had moved to Australia a few months back, Maia had been acting
up. His mother had asked him to have a talk with her. He’d tried, but
all Maia did was shrug and grin like she thought everything was funny.
His mother wiped her eyes. “I should’ve taken her to that party,” she whispered.
Both Nike and Rory went to put an arm around her shoulder.
moved his hand down to her waist. “No, love, you did the right thing.
If she’d just listened, and stayed home, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Nike frowned. “She shouldn’t have snuck out, but it’s still Tama’s fault. After I leave I’m gonna—”
His mother looked up. “Please don’t go after him, Son.”
“No buts, Nike!”
Her gaze fell to Maia. His sister continued to sleep, undisturbed by his mother’s sudden outburst.
sorry, I didn’t mean to shout.” She turned to Nike with a worried
expression. “But I know what you’re thinking, and your family needs you
here, not in jail. Please promise me that you won’t go after him.”
Nike knew he couldn’t do that. He gazed down at his sister. For her sake he needed to take care of Tama. And quick.
“Bye, love.” “Bye, babe.” “Bye, Mum.”
the men she loved had eventually said, “Bye.” Gareth, Seth, now Tama.
Janice wanted to weep. She couldn’t do without her boy. He looked after
her and helped out with Caitlin. He was also her only link to her dead
husband. God, she’d loved his father. The police came then too; told her
Gareth had been killed by a drunk driver who’d driven down the wrong
side of the motorway.
men in blue also came for her second husband. Seth had struck Jason
Beadle, a neighbour from across the street. Jason died from that one
punch. Manslaughter they said before locking Seth away. But it wasn’t
his fault. Seth was protecting his family. Jason had called her a
nutter, and had threatened to get Caitlin taken away.
Now the cops wanted Tama.
“Ma’am ... Did you hear me?”
She looked at the male and female officers standing on the other side
of the coffee table. Hadn’t they left? She was sure they’d left.
gaze shifted to the large scar underneath the policeman’s chin. She
remembered him. Hated him. He was the officer who’d taken Seth away.
“Please, Ma’am, we need to know where your son is.”
Janice pressed her lips together.
man sighed and looked at his partner. Janice’s attention shifted to
Tivo. Her spirit guide was standing next to the butch-looking
policewoman, his gaunt face framed by long black hair. Tama would
constantly question her about Tivo, often asking why he was American
Indian, and that it would make more sense if she had “made” him Maori.
But she couldn’t change Tivo’s nationality. He was real.
Clad in a tasselled buckskin shirt and leggings, Tivo’s form wavered, then disappeared.
“Don’t go,” she cried. “Please come back.”
female officer raised an eyebrow. “Ma’am, I’m not leaving.” She walked
around the coffee table and sat down on the couch. “We will find your
son. But you have to help us. Give us his friends’ addresses.”
God the woman had thought she’d spoken to her. After the incident with
Jason Beadle, she had tried so hard not to speak to Tivo in front of
Her hands began to shake.
wiggled on Janice’s lap. She looked confused, her little snubbed-nose
turned up even more. “Mummy, Mummy, why you c-c-c-cold? It’s not-not
stuttering and word repetition was a constant concern for Janice, as
her daughter regularly came home from school in tears. In the past week,
Caitlin had stopped talking at school, too afraid of being bullied.
Janice had an appointment to see her teacher the following day to
discuss it, but didn’t want to go. It terrified her. She could only talk
to her family and Betsy without feeling overwhelmed.
“I just need you to hug me tighter, sweetie,” Janice said.
Caitlin gripped onto Janice’s dressing gown, and squeezed.
“Ma’am, can you please give us his friend’s addresses,” the female officer asked. “It’s imperative that we find Tama.”
away!” Caitlin cried. She leaned into Janice, squashing her teddy bear
between them. Caitlin didn’t like the police, blaming them for taking
Janice smoothed down Caitlin’s hair, and glared at the woman. “You’re upsetting my daughter. Please leave.”
“We need the addresses.”
don’t know them!” Janice didn’t care that it was a lie. The police
weren’t here to help her. They just wanted to hurt Tama, like they did
Seth. Bastards handcuffed Seth in front of his own daughter. Of course
he was going to fight back; no one wants to go to jail.
“I said, leave!” Janice clamped her eyes shut.
heard the policewoman sigh. “We’re sorry that we’ve upset you, Ma’am.
We will be in contact when we have more info on your son.”
receded. Janice opened her eyes as the ranch-slider closed. She leaned
back into the vinyl couch Tama had bought her. The cops were wrong about
her boy. He was a good kid—considerate to a fault. He was always buying
her expensive gifts like the 40-inch flat-screen telly in the corner.
She was shocked when Jayden and Tama carried it in one day. It must have
cost Tama an arm and a leg. But he’d been really modest about it,
saying, “It wuz nuthin’, Mum, just a five finger discount.” Janice
didn’t know what sort of special that was, but it must have been great
as those tellies cost well over two grand.
A rat-a-tat-tat on the ranch-slider made Janice jump. Brown curtains blocked her view of the front porch. Was it the cops again?
She squeezed Caitlin tighter.
“Ow!” Caitlin yelped.
Janice loosened her grip. “Sshh ... Sorry, baby, Mummy didn’t mean to hurt you.”
The rapping grew louder. The door wasn’t locked. Janice started to rock Caitlin back and forth.
couldn’t do this alone. “Tivo, please come back. I need you. Please...”
She sniffled. “I’m sorry that I ignored you before. But they would’ve
put me in the psyche ward. I need to be with Caitlin. Please listen...”
shouldn’t have left her. She didn’t have a choice. Plus, she’d
sacrificed taking her pills for him. Even though her medication calmed
her, they had nasty side effects. They made her sleepy and hungry as
well as vanquishing all her spirit guides. She couldn’t give up Tivo.
Out of all her spirit guides he was her favourite—he kept her sane and
stopped her from feeling lonely.
doctor diagnosed her as schizophrenic. Janice disagreed, saying she
didn’t have different personalities. He explained this was a common
misconception and that schizophrenia caused her memory lapses, paranoia,
anxiety, fear of people, and hallucinations. She had gotten mad with
him when he’d said her spirit guides weren’t real. How would he know? He
didn’t see them.
Betsy’s voice snapped her out of her thoughts. “Jan, open up!”
Caitlin tried to wiggle out of Janice’s grip. “Besy, Besy, Besy...”
Relieved, Janice let go. Caitlin jumped off her lap, ran to the ranch-slider, and opened it.
stepped inside. Her tiny figure was wrapped in a teal dressing gown and
her curly black hair piled high in a tidy bun. She looked much younger
than her thirty-eight years, and showed no signs of having had six
wished she had a large family like Betsy. But with what had happened to
her husbands, she realised that having more children was unlikely.
“Why were the cops here?” Betsy asked.
Caitlin stamped a foot. “Meanies-meanies w-w-want Tama.”
Betsy’s eyes widened. “Why? What did he do?”
Janice slumped further into the couch and covered her face.
Betsy sat down next to her, and hooked an arm over her shoulder. “Tell me what happened.”
“They said he stabbed Maia Daniels.”
Betsy gasped. “Nike’s sister?”
nodded and wiped her nose on the back of her arm. “The Daniels always
cause trouble for Tama. He ran. Poor kid’s probably scared half out of
Betsy hugged Janice. “You should be with someone, Jan. Come over. I’ll make up a bed for you and Caitlin.”
Janice shook her head. “No, I need to stay here. Take Caitlin. I don’t want the cops coming back for her.”
“Why would they take her?”
Caitlin started screaming, “No, No! Pigs b-bad-bad.”
Janice stared at her daughter in surprise, wondering who had taught Caitlin that name. Janice never called the police pigs.
took off outside. Betsy jumped up and rushed after her. Caitlin was
fast. Even though her daughter was only five, Janice still found it hard
to catch her. With Betsy’s small legs, she knew her neighbour would
find it difficult too.
hands began to shake again. Betsy could take care of Caitlin; Janice
desperately needed a drink—even the pills would do—anything to calm her
nerves. She stood up and shuffled over the worn-out carpet and into the
kitchen. On her tiptoes, she opened the cupboard above the bread bin and
sifted through the packets of pills. A few dropped onto the bench in
front of the knife block.
eyes locked onto the knives. Tama liked knives. He whittled wood and
carved. She’d bought him a carving kit for his seventeenth birthday, and
had given him money for his eighteenth for a new knife. She pulled out
her necklace and looked at the koru
he’d made for mother’s day. He’d said that the curled fern symbolised
new life and peace, as well as representing his love for her.
daughter started screaming again. She moved the curtains and peered
through the window. Betsy had Caitlin in a tight embrace. She always
thought Betsy was a good mother. Her friend was a confident lady, always
able to stand up against anyone that upset her children. It didn’t
matter that she was tiny; Betsy would barge into any neighbour’s house
and demand an apology if someone had upset one of her darlings. Betsy
had no fear. Janice had nothing but fear.
continued to watch as Betsy calmed Caitlin down. Caitlin would be
better off with Betsy. She would protect her. If Tama had been Betsy’s
child she would have protected him too.
focused on the knives again. Like Tama, they fascinated her. Although
they hurt, bliss always followed after she passed out. No more thought,
no more pain. She ran a shaky finger across the thick scars on her left
arm, starting from her wrist and running up a few inches. She’d slashed
them twice, but each time Tama had been there for her. He’d wrapped her
wrists with his shirt and called an ambulance. She wished he was here
She pulled out a knife from the block and ran a finger across the metal.
Jayden’s weed was great. It gave him the giggles, like a fucking little
girl. Tama knew he should’ve kept it to sell, but couldn’t hold off
toking the smoke. Or was that smoking the toke? Fuck knows! He just knew
he felt awesome.
continued giggling as he staggered down the road. He’d given up hiding.
No one was looking for him at this time of morning anyway. Plus, Nike
could wait a few hours. Why hurry? He most certainly didn’t want to rush
his plans for Nike’s fucking gorgeous wifey. Ooh ... he liked Jess—a
lot. He was so going to enjoy her. No quickie there. Yeah!
stop ‘til you get enough,” he sang. He grabbed his crotch, did a
Michael Jackson yell, then twirled around and arsed over.
laughed as he pushed himself up off the grass, and headed towards
Mikey’s place. His cuz lived a few blocks from Jayden. The area was
pretty much the same, filled with crappy houses that moulded up during
winter and were toasters during summer. Mikey was the only child of his
dad’s little sister. Though little could hardly describe his Aunty
Trina; instead she was one big mother—
jumped at the blast of a siren. It sounded about a block away. He took
shelter under a tree. “Mofuckin’ pigs, don’t they ever sleep?” he
siren gradually moved away. Tama relaxed and took another hit of his
joint as he squinted up the street. Man, Claydon was dark at night. He’d
been to Remuera, the snobby side of Auckland, and the streets there
were lit up like a Christmas tree. Got a great present too, but almost
got caught when the owners came home. Lucky he and Jayden were on their
way out. Shoved that 40-inch telly into the back of Jayden’s van so fast
they nearly busted the damn thing. But it had been worth the trouble
just to see his mother happy.
would miss her a helluva lot. He felt bad that he didn’t give her a
proper goodbye before the pigs showed up. But he couldn’t risk going to
anal central. Soap was slippery stuff and his arse was way too pretty.
what’s to say he couldn’t visit her every so often. Or she could catch a
bus up north with Caitlin and they could make a nice home in Kaitaia.
He’d support them by selling his carvings and growing a marijuana patch
like his uncle. That would be way cool. All natural living, yeah!
coughed further down the street. Tama watched as a figure holding a
bottle staggered towards him. He’d love some booze. Maybe they also had
pulled out his switchblade. He started giggling then stopped himself.
Didn’t want to warn the dude ... or chick? Wouldn’t it be cool if it was
a chick—booze, cash, and a screw all in one hit.
the figure came closer Tama let out a disappointed grunt. It was no
chick, it was bloody Aroha Summers. He would never dip his wick into
that. Her name meant unconditional love alright; she gave out to too many guys. If he did put it in, no doubt he’d get unconditional disease.
Well, maybe it wasn’t a total loss. She could still have some cash.
Aroha squealed. The bottle slipped out of her hand and smashed on the concrete.
“You stupid bitch, why’d ja do that for?”
“Tama?” Aroha moved closer.
wasn’t half bad looking for an old bird. Forty or so, give or take a
few years. She had nasty-arse hair though, didn’t look like it ever saw a
brush. She smelt too, and not from the piss she’d been drinking either.
Tama covered his nose. “Yeah ... got any cash?”
“Nah, forgot my purse.”
“Well, you’re bloody useless, no cash or alcohol, bugger off.” Tama waved his hand.
stayed rooted to the spot, her eyes taking in every inch of his body.
She licked her lips. Tama cringed and took a step back. No way was he
letting her near him. He didn’t even want to contaminate his knife let
alone his dick. He closed his switchblade and pocketed it.
Aroha coughed and hit her chest. “Heard you cut Nike’s sister.”
Tama perked up. It felt good to be talked about. “Yeah ... who told you?”
“A few guys I know. They also said your boys got nicked.”
face dropped. God, he hoped Mikey wasn’t one of them. He felt bad for
the others, but Mikey was blood. He’d also promised his aunty that he
wouldn’t get him into trouble. Shit, he shouldn’t have split without
making sure the boy was alright first.
“What about Mikey?”
“Heard nuthin’ ‘bout him, but Naf, Corey, and Trey were all pinched by the coppers.”
let out a relieved sigh. The old bird had him going there for a moment.
Mikey must have gotten away with Sledge. The kid made him proud. Fast
like Tama. Plus, the other guys could handle one night in the slammer.
Unlike Mikey, who’d never been arrested, they were used to the rap. As
long as they didn’t do anything too bad they knew they’d be out the next
day, and since they hadn’t touched Maia the pigs had nothing on them.
Aroha smiled. “You wanna come to my place?”
Tama shuddered. He could imagine what it looked like, just as scabby as she was, and probably stunk as well.
“Nah, got places to go.”
“Oh, come on, honeybuns. I won’t tell anyone.” She took a step forward. “You can stay as long as you like.”
He backed up into the tree.
“And I heard you’re real big.” She licked her lips and extended a hand towards his crotch.
“Don’t touch me!” He sidestepped her and took off at a run.
“I’ll pay ya!”
Yeah, with crabs. Tama kept on running.
was annoyed with himself. He should have known Mikey hadn’t gone home.
Hell, why would he? He didn’t stay at his for more than a few minutes.
Plus, if he lived with his Aunty Trina he would have split ages ago. She
was one scary mother. Poor kid was probably more afraid of his mother’s
reaction than being hauled in by the pigs.
his aunty looked like she was going to belt him round the head. He’d
take it too. He deserved it for not taking care of Mikey.
in here now, you little bastard.” Aunty Trina grabbed Tama’s ear and
pulled him inside. She was the same height and twice as wide as him. All
the women on his dad’s side were fat Amazons.
She slammed the door behind her and hauled his sorry arse over to the couch.
clutched her hand to stop her from yanking his bloody ear off. “Ow, ow,
ow... let up, Aunty, I didn’t mean to get Mikey into shit. It wuz that
fuckin’ bitch’s fault.”
hand whipped out so fast that Tama didn’t see it, but sure as hell felt
the result. Bloody stung like fuck. Tama grabbed his left cheek.
“Watch your dirty mouth, boy,” she snapped. “Sit.” She pointed to the couch.
He slumped down onto the flowery cushions. He should have gone straight to Nike’s instead. But no ... he had to get a frigging conscience and want to check that his cuz was alright. Dumbarse.
“The police turned up looking for Michael. Said you stabbed Maia Daniels. Is that true?”
No way did he want another slap. He’d lie through his teeth to get out of it. “I didn’t mean too. She fell on it.”
“Do you think I’m stupid?” Aunty Trina crossed her flabby arms over her bulbous breasts.
“No,” he replied, wishing she’d put on a dressing-gown over her nightie.
shrank into the couch as she raised a hand. She covered her mouth and
yawned. He never liked visiting his aunty. She scared the living crap
out of him. It was probably why Mikey hung out with him so much. It also
made sense why the kid followed instructions without complaining. Get
slapped enough times and you soon learned to shut your mouth.
wuz taunting us. And Mikey’s done nuthin’ wrong. The pigs...” He
hesitated as her eyes narrowed. “I mean, the cops have nuthin’ on him.
He’ll be fine.”
wanting to antagonise her more, he averted his gaze and gave the room a
once over. Although far from delicate, his aunty liked pretty things.
He could easily imagine her stuff fitting right into Buckingham Palace,
from the crystal birds on the mantelpiece to the gilded frames
decorating the walls, and the fancy couch with its curved feet. Plus,
she sure was the queen bitch of Claydon.
“Tamati, look at me!”
He peered up at her.
angry face puckered. “He’s only fourteen. You were supposed to look
after him. I want you to find my boy and bring him back home. I’ll deal with the police.”
scratched his ear. “Sure, Aunty, no probs.” He yawned and glanced at
the clock on the DVD player. Was that one or two o’clock? He couldn’t
tell; his eyes were playing tricks on him. He must have smoked too much
weed. The stuff was also giving him the munchies, and he needed to take a
hungry, Aunty. Can I eat first and take a shi...? I mean, can I use
your toilet...” He swallowed as she glared at him. “Please?”
stared at his jeans with a look of distaste. “Yes, and go have a shower
too. You stink to high heaven. Change your clothes. I’ll give those
jeans a scrub and throw some food together.”
sniffed under his arms. He didn’t think he stunk. It was just a little
BO mixed in with the smell of dried blood and weed. Still, it was nice
of her to offer. More than he expected.
Aunty.” He got up and headed for the bathroom, stripped off his
clothes, and threw them in the passageway for her to clean. He closed
the door, took a crap then got into the shower.
water felt great against his skin. He stood for a while, just soaking
up the warmth. He hadn’t noticed how much his muscles ached before. The
weed should’ve given him a high for a few hours, not wear off so damn
quick. Maybe Jayden’s stuff wasn’t so shit hot.
moved his hand over his cock, giving it more attention than was
required. His mind shifted to Jess, the memory of feeling her up at
school making him hard. She’d put up a good fight, but he’d still
managed to get a hand down her knickers. So moist. Oh God, that did it.
He laughed as he scored the shower door.
cleaning himself up, he dressed and headed into the kitchen. A plate of
sandwiches awaited him on the bench. He dumped his bag and grabbed one,
stuffing the whole thing into his mouth in one hit. He screwed up his
nose. Bloody marmalade. The hoity-toity bitch. Next she’d be serving him
fucking cucumber sandwiches. All he wanted was some decent grub, like
peanut butter or Marmite and chip sandwiches. His stomach growled so he
kept on chewing.
His aunty entered the kitchen and opened up the fridge. She pulled out a Coke and handed it to him.
swallowed down the rest of the disgusting sandwich and pulled the tab
back. “Ta, Aunty.” He gulped it down then let out a belch.
gave him a disgusted look, then walked over to the table and pulled out
a chair. The wood creaked as she sat down. Tama was amazed it could
short burst of noise came from down the road. He knew the sound well.
It was the pigs telling a motorist to get the fuck out of their way.
“You didn’t... Didja?” he asked his aunty.
“You know I wouldn’t call the police, Tamati. You’re my nephew.”
wasn’t sure whether he should believe her. Her face looked more guilty
than indignant, and her voice didn’t sound right either. He pulled his
bag on, unsure whether to bolt or stay. The pigs could just be driving
past; it didn’t mean they were coming here. He moved towards the back
door, his fingers itching, his mind wrestling with him. He’d been in the
shower for far too long—maybe fifteen minutes. That would be enough
time for her to call and get them here. But she was family, why would
she dob him in?
Tama listened carefully. The sound of tyres on gravel came from the front of the house, followed by doors closing.
He opened the back door, jumped down the stairs, and sprinted across
the small backyard, almost tripping up on the garden hose. He threw his
bag over the fence and scaled it. Behind him he could hear boots hitting
the driveway and a dog barking.
“Come back, Tamati. You’re making things worse by running,” Aunty Trina shouted.
felt like absolute crap. How could she do this to him? If their
positions were swapped he would never have done that to her. No matter
how much he disliked his aunty she was still blood—his whānau.
police dog clawed at the fence. The animal’s barks combined with the
policemen’s shouts spurred Tama forward. He grabbed his bag, and
sprinted for holy hell.
female voice yelled at Maia to shut up. Maia stopped screaming and
opened her eyes. Her heart was racing. She tried to focus on what was in
front of her. There was a pale green curtain partially pulled across,
and a basin and cabinet to her left. Where was she and where had Tama
gone? She closed her eyes and quickly reopened them, making sure that
Tama wasn’t there. He’d been forcing himself onto her, his mouth and
hands everywhere. But that hadn’t happened. It was just a dream.
grimaced as she tried to sit up. Her back throbbed, and her stomach
felt even worse. She pushed the covers off to see what was holding her
down. Velcro straps lay across her mid-section. With a quick rip they
were off, and she pushed up with an elbow. Pain hit her between the
shoulder-blades, causing her to holler.
“Don’t you ever shut the fuck up?” a girl snapped.
turned around slowly. Natural light shone through a window at the far
end of the room. Hospital beds filled with female patients were placed
in a row, and a god-awful smell of cleaning fluid was making her want to
chunder. In the next bed, a girl no older than eighteen glared back.
Tufts of blonde hair poked out from the top of her bandaged head, her
face cut up and bruised.
Maia winced. Something was stuck to her back. She wanted to rip it off, but knew it would cause more pain.
“You don’t hafta be a bitch,” Maia snapped.
The girl pointed at her bandages. “I’m not about to thank you for making my head feel worse, am I? Duh.”
A wide grin spread across the girl’s face, replacing her scowl. “How’d ja know my name?”
Maia stared at her. What was the girl’s damage?
The girl continued, undisturbed by Maia’s sour expression. “My boyfriend calls me Bitch, but my name’s Stella. What’s yours?”
“Maia,” she replied, begrudgingly.
Stella pushed off her blankets, and swung two of the skinniest, lily-white legs Maia had ever seen out of bed.
“My man bashed me for cheating on him,” Stella said. “What happened to you?”
not to aggravate her back, Maia slowly moved her feet out. “I...” She
stopped as an image of Tama with his bloodied knife came to mind. God,
he’d actually stabbed her. It just felt so unreal. Yeah, he threatened
her before, but it had been sexual in nature, not an attempt on her
Tears began to form. Embarrassed, she wiped them away.
“It’s alright,” Stella said. “I cried too when I woke up. Did your man do it?”
My man? How old does she think I am?
“Sssshhh,” came from across the room.
“Shuddup, you old cow,” Stella hollered.
glanced at the woman in the opposite bed. She looked about seventy,
with the typical wrinkle and grey hair gig going on that old people
seemed to be good at. She also had a nasty expression directed at them.
Unlike Stella, who had nothing colourful surrounding her, the woman had
vases filled with carnations and roses on her cabinets. Someone loves her, Maia thought.
wondered where her own family was. Did they know she’d been attacked?
No doubt her poor mum would be worried sick that she’d taken off. God,
she was going to be in so much trouble.
Stella sneered at the old woman then turned back to Maia. “Well? What happened?”
“I got stabbed.”
“Shit … whatcha do for that to happen?”
“I didn’t do anything. I wuz attacked cos of my brother.”
“What did your brother do? And, who was the prick that stabbed ya?”
“None of your business.”
“Sheesh, you don’t hafta get shitty ‘bout it.”
sighed. “Yeah, sorry. Just…” She looked down, her mind going to Mikey.
She still couldn’t believe what Tama had done, but what hurt more was
Mikey’s part in it.
“You alright, love?”
Maia shook her head.
“You want me to call a nurse?”
“No.” She didn’t want any medicine. Antibiotics always made her feel sick. She gently lowered herself onto her feet.
don’t look too good,” Stella said. “Nuthin’ some drugs won’t fix
though. You sure you don’t want a nurse? It’s like room service here,
but you get drugs as well as food.”
“No thanks.” Maia stopped, momentarily distracted by the girl’s badly scabbed arms.
Stella jumped out of bed. “Whatcha starin’ at?”
Maia jerked back. Oh God, she was definitely going to puke. She went to leave.
blocked her path, her pixie-like face now aggressive. “Don’t you walk
away from me, I wanna...” She stopped mid-sentence and swore loudly as
Maia threw up on her.
lay asleep with an arm slung across Nike’s chest. Nike carefully moved
it and slipped out of bed, yawning as he headed for the shower. Last
night he’d wanted to search for Tama, but Jess had insisted that he get
some sleep first. In the end he’d relented, because he’d been far too
upset and tired to have argued his point.
a quick clean, he got dressed and headed out to the van. It felt colder
than normal; the first sign that winter was just around the corner. A
breeze picked up, blowing leaves across the driveway. He zipped up his
jacket and unlocked the driver’s side. The neighbour’s chihuahua started
barking and clawing at the wooden fence. Nike hopped in, fired up the
engine, and backed out.
he turned onto Parson’s Road a gull flew past, its loud squawks
breaking the early morning silence. The bird soared over the Maori
meeting house, and towards the calm waters of the harbour. Nike smiled
at the sight of the triangular-shaped building, the elaborate red
framework adding to its appeal. Last month he’d slipped a ring onto
Jess’s finger underneath the entrance’s carved warrior. His mates all
thought he was nuts for getting married so young, but he couldn’t have
been happier with his decision.
steered the van into Cedrick Place and parked alongside Leila’s
box-like house. Except for a red Mazda the road looked deserted. A few
trees brightened up the sidewalk with a colourful array of autumn
leaves. Leila’s silver Suzuki sat underneath her carport, blocked in by a
battered blue van.
knocked on the front door, hoping that his ex didn’t answer. Swearing
started up inside, soon followed by footsteps. The door creaked open and
Leila poked her head out, her afro out of control.
eyes widened. “Whatcha doin’ here?” she hissed. “I told ja to email me
back if you wanted to get together.” She pulled up the strap on her
nightie and glanced over her shoulder. “Gimme fifteen minutes, and I’ll
meet ya at Claydon Beach.”
pissed Nike off that she assumed he was there for sex. He was sick of
her dirty emails, and had told her enough times to quit sending them.
Although Leila obviously didn’t have a problem with cheating on Jayden,
he could never do that to Jess.
jammed his foot into the doorway as Leila went to close it. “I ain’t
here for you,” he said, irritably. “I wanna talk to Jayden.”
Her face dropped. “You’re not gonna tell him about my emails ... are you?”
“No, I need to know where Tama is.”
She looked at him suspiciously. “Why the fuck do ya wanna know that for?”
“He stabbed Maia.”
Leila’s eyebrows shot up. “He what? Is she alright?”
“She will be.”
“Jay didn’t tell me,” she muttered, looking annoyed.
“So ... You gonna let me in?”
“Sure.” Leila opened the door wider.
stepped inside. The lounge looked different from how he remembered
it—better. Although the beige couch was now stained and tatty, the
shelves were no longer lined with bottles, and the smell of beer had
died along with Leila’s mother. He’d heard that liver disease had
finally taken her, no doubt caused by all the booze she’d poured down
her throat. Such a shame. He’d liked Leila’s mum, she’d been a friendly
“Jay, Nike’s here,” Leila shouted.
walked past Leila and headed for her old bedroom. There was no way
Jayden would come out for him. In school he’d made the guy’s life
miserable, pushing his head into toilets and knocking him about. Yeah,
his temper had been bad back then. But the creep deserved it for
knocking up his cousin.
“Nike!” Leila followed. “You can’t go in there.”
Nike opened the door and was greeted with a stunned looking Jayden.
jumped out of bed, wearing nothing but a terrified expression. “No,
mate, I’ll talk...” he gabbled, holding out his hands.
Nike gritted his teeth, annoyed that Jayden knew why he was there. Tama had obviously come around last night.
“Where’s Tama?” Nike asked.
“He ... he wouldn’t tell me ...”
was shaking from more than just the cold. It irritated Nike even more.
Jayden was a few inches taller and wider, but still couldn’t stand up
for himself. He had no balls. No, that wasn’t right, from what Nike
could see Jayden had some, they were just fucking tiny.
“Bullshit!” Nike took a step forward. “Where is he?”
Jayden backed up. “I dunno.”
Nike shoved Jayden into the window. “You’re a bloody liar.”
“Nike! Leave him alone.” Leila grabbed his arm, and yanked him back.
wrenched his arm free. Although he couldn’t stand Jayden, he wasn’t
going to hit the twat. His short fuse had gotten him into enough trouble
in the past; he didn’t need an assault charge added to his failures.
“Tell me, or I’ll smack ya,” he bluffed.
“I-I dunno,” Jayden stuttered. “Honest.”
“Stop lying to me!” Nike shoved him again.
Leila grabbed his arm. “C’mon, Nike, he knows nuthin’. Let’s go to the lounge and talk nice, aye?”
She pulled at him. “No! There’s no need for this.”
“There’s no way I’m leavin’ until he tells me where Tama is.”
Leila let go and pushed herself in between them. Nike instantly stepped back, the contact making him uncomfortable.
isn’t Jay’s fault,” Leila said. “This is between you and Tama. Why the
fuck would Tama tell Jay anything? He would’ve known you’d come straight
grimaced. What Leila said made sense. Jayden always gave up way too
easily. Hell, Tama would have been stupid to tell the giant pussy
“Then tell me what time he showed up, and what you gave him?” Nike asked.
“About one in the morning, and I gave him weed and a coat hanger,” Jayden answered in a rush.
Nike pushed back his hair, knowing what it meant. Tama had probably
stolen a car. How the hell was he supposed to find him now?
“Did he mention any names?” he asked.
“Nah.” Jayden grabbed his briefs and pulled them on.
“Take a guess.”
Mikey’s, possibly Sledge’s. Sledge’s sis likes Tama, and always gives
him cash,” Jayden gabbled as he picked up his jeans. “I’m really sorry
‘bout Maia. I slapped Tama ‘cross the head for it.”
Nike nodded, appreciating the sentiment. “Anything else?”
sighed. Jayden appeared genuine, but it didn’t make him feel any
better, he was still getting jack shit. He already knew about the guys
Jayden had mentioned, and fully intended on paying them a visit later.
“Do ya think he went up north?” Nike asked. “I heard he’s got an uncle up there.”
“Possibly,” Jayden replied.
Jayden shrugged. “Dunno.”
Nike knew Jayden was bullshitting him now. Jayden and Tama were best mates. The two had been tight ever since primary school.
Nike moved Leila aside. “You’re a bloody lousy liar.”
Jayden backed up into the window. “No, I’m not lying.”
“It’s Kaitaia,” Leila said.
Jayden turned on Leila. “You bitch, ya didn’t hafta tell him.”
glared at Jayden for a moment. Christ, he really couldn’t stand him. He
turned and left the room, not wanting to waste any more time.
Footsteps followed close behind. “Wait up, Nike,” Leila said.
Nike stopped in the lounge. “Whatcha want, Leila?”
“Didja get my last email?” she whispered.
Nike blew out a sigh. “Yeah ... you gotta stop sending them. I ain’t leavin’ Jess.”
“But, you said you’d always love me.”
Nike rolled his eyes. “For fuck’s sake, I wuz fourteen and you cheated on me.”
“How many times do I hafta say I’m sorry? Please, Nike, I made one mistake—”
“Two mistakes,” he snapped. “Or have you forgotten about crying rape?”
Leila dropped her gaze. “I panicked. I didn’t want to lose you. I love you, Nike.”
Nike sniffed. “Funny way of showin’ it by sleeping with Tama.”
“I never meant to do it. I wuz drunk.” She glanced over her shoulder then back at him.
“Why the hell should I believe anything you say?” he said.
“Cos I’m tellin’ the truth. Why can’t you see that?”
“Because you’re a liar, just like your bloody husband.”
Leila slapped his face. “I am not!”
Nike closed his eyes and breathed in deep, trying his best to calm down. He felt her hands run over his cheeks.
“Sorry, baby. I didn’t mean to hit ya.”
opened his eyes and pushed her hands away. “I’m not your baby. I’m
married and in case you haven’t noticed so are you.” He pointed at
Jayden, who filled out the passage doorway.
looked devastated. Nike knew the feeling. For once he felt sorry for
the guy ... but then again, maybe he’d finally got some justice for his
Jayden turned and walked away, the bedroom door slammed behind him.
Leila started crying. She looked from the doorway to Nike as though conflicted. “Please, Nike, I need to be with you.”
“Stop it, Leila. This isn’t good for anyone.”
“Then leave Jess.”
He sighed. It was useless. She wasn’t going to let up. He peeled her fingers off his arm.
“I’d leave Jay in a second for you,” she blurted out. “I only married him cos I wuz mad with you for gettin’ hitched.”
Nike stared at her, completely taken aback.
She fidgeted as his silence continued. “Say sumpthin’, please.”
He turned and walked out the door.
waited until Nike was out of sight before she headed back to her room.
Jayden was lying on their bed with a pillow over his face. She sat next
to him and brushed her fingers across his bare chest. “I’m so sorry.”
When he didn’t move she tried to pull the pillow off, but he gripped it tighter.
Jaybaby ... you know Nike and I ‘ave history, but you and me, we’re the
present.” Yeah, she knew it was corny, but he needed it right now.
“Go away,” he said, his voice muffled.
She slipped her hand down the front of his pants hoping makeup sex would bring him round.
Jayden grabbed her hand and yanked it out. “Fuck off!”
slipped her hand down again. Jayden never stayed mad at her for long
once she got him going. He always forgave her. Yeah, he called her bitch a lot, and lately ho, but he never meant anything by it. He was a big softie when she put on the charms.
leaned over and nuzzled his ear. “I didn’t mean to say that to Nike. He
just upsets me so much. But I love you more. I really do.”
Jayden yanked her hand out and sat up so fast she fell off the bed.
Leila landed on her butt. “Whatcha do that for?”
looked up and froze, shocked by his expression. She’d never seen him
look so angry. His usually soft face was hard, his big lips pulled back
into a sneer. This wasn’t her sweet Jaybaby and it frightened the hell
out of her.
Jayden pushed up out of bed. Leila got to her feet and quickly backed up into the wall. He placed his hands either side of her.
“Jaybaby, you’re scaring me.”
glanced at her chest then her face, with a look that she could only
describe as violent. He’d only ever been gentle with her. He wouldn’t
hurt her ... would he?
Jayden’s gaze dropped to her chest again. He went to say something, but stopped, his harsh expression now uncertain.
She slipped off her nightie, wrapped her arms around his waist, and pressed into him.
“Get offa me!” He pushed her away and backhanded her.
felt his ring slice her top lip, and tasted blood as he hit her again. A
punch landed across her jaw, knocking her to the floor. She would have
screamed, but nothing came out. This wasn’t real, Jayden wouldn’t hurt
her. He was romantic, bought her roses on Valentine’s Day, remembered
her birthday and took her to sappy movies. This wasn’t real!
He stood over her, his face furious. “You humiliated me,” he yelled. “Why didja even marry me?”
She couldn’t tell him it was because of Nike, he’d go even more ballistic.
“Answer me!” he yelled.
She jerked back. “Cos I love you.”
“Bullshit! You’re a fuckin’ liar.” He covered his face. “I also know ya fucked Tama when I wuz at work.”
felt sick. She pulled herself up. Her legs were shaking so bad she was
surprised she could stand. She grabbed onto the window ledge. The
curtains were closed. Jayden could do anything and no one would see. In a
panic she yanked one side across and opened the window. Across the
road, in front of a row of brick flats, the Sprat boy was juggling a
soccer ball. He didn’t notice her, his concentration fixed on what he
was doing. Leila wanted to scream out to him, but couldn’t.
pushed her onto the bed and yanked the curtains shut. He turned and
glared at her. “Why didja hafta do it with Tama? He’s like a brother to
“I didn’t ... How didja ... Oh God, I’m so sorry.” She stood up and edged towards the door. “I’m really sorry—”
punch struck her jaw, sending her reeling into the cabinet. She knocked
over the photo of her mother and the phone as she tried to stay
upright, then slid down the side and onto the floor.
Jayden pushed her onto her back. “Aren’t I good enough for you?” he asked.
“No, you’re g-g-good.”
face darkened. “That’s not what I heard. Mikey blabbed. Whenever the
kid saw me he laughed. I wanted to know why, but he wouldn’t talk until I
got him high. Tama told him what ya said ‘bout my dick. Thin like a
finger, too small to feel.” Jayden jammed a finger between her legs,
making her squeal. He sneered. “Ya felt that, didn’t cha?”
Leila started to shake. “Please stop, please.”
“No! I’ve known for a week now and like a retard I did nuthin’.”
Leila stared at him, realising that was when he’d started calling her a
ho. “Why didn’t cha tell me sooner?” she sobbed.
“Tama wuzn’t gonna steal ya. He may fuck ya, but he’s still my mate...”
Leila didn’t see his logic.
“...but Nike is different. If he said yes, you’d leave me in a second.”
“But I never slept with Nike when I wuz with you.”
“Not from want of tryin’.”
Tears ran down her face. “Please stop, Jayden, please...”
He removed his hand and stood up. “Who’s the ugly one now?”
Oh God, he looked like he was going to kill her.
He growled and kicked her stomach.
Leila finally screamed.
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