Levi disobeys a strict rule in order to help his cousin
|The following two Parts come directly from an external hard drive and have only been quickly edited, so any feedback would be
PART THREE - Rendezvous with Ricky
VOM (Levi’s Voice of Mischief) was cynical of VOR (the voice of Rationality) by nature, and often tried to brainwash Levi into believing that VOR
was little more than an oppressive party-pooper, which was not entirely true. VOR guided him like a strict loving guardian, but occasionally allowed
the grace to disobey certain rules if logic dictated.
These graces often left Levi confused by the associated perplexities that they created. For instance Katrina might forbid him not to have any further
contact with Ricky because of an obscure and senseless feud with her sister, Wanda (Ricky’s stepmother), but VOR would strongly advise against
such irrational behaviour, while VOM would advise him to obey, just to irk VOR.
However, sometimes VOM tricked him into disobedience by pretending to be VOR, other times VOR tricked him into obedience by giving bad advice
then pretending to be VOM and urging him into disobeying VOR’s advice. Thus when it came to disobedience, half the time Levi did not know if he
was “Arthur or Martha or two o’clock Friday”, as his Aunt Sally would say (a quaint and curious expression that completely bamboozled him).
Sometimes, though not very often, VOM and VOR actually saw eye to eye and compelled Levi to go with his gut instinct; even if it meant evoking
VOAM (the voice of Angry Mummy) or even TOAF (the dreaded Tone of Angry Fernando), and Ricky’s unexpected text had had all the hallmarks
of such an occurrence. Compulsory avoidance was one thing, but the actual snubbing of friendship in times of distress – well that was a different
Katrina and Fernando had both been fast asleep at the table when he had finally returned home. Prudence advised him to not to wake them and
now it seemed his promised punishment had either been forgotten or rescinded, either way he felt reluctant to discuss the altercation further.
“Have a good time, sweetie” said Katrina, embracing and kissing him like she always did whenever he was going out for the day “Now are you sure
you’ve got everything: Wallet, watch, cellphone, keys and comb?”
“Yes Mum,” grizzled Levi, showing her each of the items in turn.
“And you will be home before five thirty won’t you.”
“Yeah, I’ll be home before five thirty.”
“And what’s going to happen if you are late?”
“I’m going to have to clear the table, and do all the dishes, all by myself.”
“Don’t forget,” she warned, wagging her index finger at his nose “I want you home before five thirty, not to start going home at five thirty.”
“I won’t be late, Mum. I’ll come straight home after the movie…I promise.”
“That’s a good boy…I love you heaps, darling.”
“Love you too, Mummy.”
Fleetwood Mac’s “Tell me lies” song ran through Levi’s mind as he closed the gate after him and started up the street. He was an honest child by
nature and could not feel a little guilty for having lied to her about his destination, but he doubted she would have been willing to let him so much
as put a foot out of the house if she had known the truth.
Eight months had passed since the pool incident and the big argument that had seen the end of his most treasured of all friendships with his cousin
Ricky. It seemed almost inconceivable to him that two intelligent adults could behave so immaturely and fall-out over something so petty. Even with
his upstairs bedroom door shut, he had clearly heard their accusations, insults, curse words, and finally the slamming of the front door.
Katrina's insistence that he no longer associate with his cousin came as somewhat of a shock, but he was confident at the time that she would soon
forgive and seek Wanda’s absolution. Ricky also believed the same of his own mother, but they had been both wrong; the feud was still very much
a going concern and their friendship still remained on official hiatus.
The sky was mostly azure with a few patchy clouds. Levi checked his watch and mentally berated Katrina for delaying him. Time was very much of
the essence and missing the train was not an option. He shoved both hands in the side pockets of his hooded sweat top and quickened his pace.
Levi had all the makings of a dedicated Train-spotter, and had been obsessed with train travel ever since hearing the story “Sparky and the Talking
Train”. As an impressionable four year old he, just like his hero Sparky, believed trains talked, as they did on “Thomas the Tank Engine”. His dream
back then (and still was) was to one day ride both the Orient Express and Trans-Siberian Express, but till then he was happy to settle to cruise
the suburbs on the “Tranz-Metros”.
The platform was crowded when he arrived at the Paraparaumu Railway station and he had to fight his way passed the tide of alighting passengers
before he finally found a way into the third carriage. He slumped down on one of the few remaining seats next to a corpulent middle-aged woman
with a small bulky canvas backpack resting on her lap. She smiled gently at him as the doors closed and train pulled away from the station.
“I’m off to see my Grandson in Wadestown,” she explained.
“Is that right?” he answered. Katrina was constantly warning him not to speak to strangers, but ignoring her would be tantamount to disrespecting
“It’s his seventh birthday today. He’s having a big party and all his playmates are going to be there. He’s a very popular little boy at his school…”
Levi nodded his head feigning interest. He thought back to his own seventh party; some four and a half year ago and how no one had shown up
except Ricky & Wanda, Hannah (his next door neighbour’s daughter), Tristan (a dyslexic orphan with a speech impediment, who sat next to him
in class), and of course his own parents. They had given him presents, played games, popped balloons, and sang happy birthday. It was hardly
the “Debutant Social Event” of the year but he had enjoyed it all the same.
The train picked up speed and rocked slightly as an elderly guard with a scar on his left cheek walked the aisles snipping tickets and giving change.
Mostof Levi’s classmates who regularly commuted by rail knew the guard as Scarface and sniggered at him behind his back, but Levi had always
thought their jibbing as cruel. He knew what it was like to be teased.
Soon they had passed QE2 park and eventually slowed and stopped at Paekakariki (pie-kaka-reek-ee). This was one of his favourite stations
because of the Railway Museum that sat alongside it. Paekakariki, according to the ditty, was where the girls were cheeky, while Wainuiomata
was where the boys were smarter.
“Can’t see any,” affirmed VOM as Levi scanned the platform for cheeky girls “Just a bunch of snaggletooth oldies, well passed their smarty-pants
primes,” and Levi could not help but giggle quietly.
About 5 minutes later the train resumed its journey climbing slightly up the Paekakariki hill and ducking in and out various tunnels as it followed
the coastline. It stopped to pick up and a lighten passengers at Plimmerton, Porirua and by the time it reached Tawa Levi was fast asleep,
dreaming about a most improbable horserace.
All the horses had suddenly stopped galloping and were instead grazing on the home stretch, refusing to budge any further, no matter how hard
the jockey’s lashed them with their crops. The angry crowd rioted and commentator was for the first time in his life stuck for words. No one seemed
to know hat to do about this unprecedented incident so for some reason he and VOR had somehow been assigned the task of trying to talk some
sense into the rebellious nags.
“Come on honey, time to get off,” said the middle-aged woman, gently shaking his shoulder.
Levi opened his eyes and slowly focused on the carriage, which was now stationary and alive with passengers rushing to alight it. He rubbed his
eyes for a few seconds then got to his feet and hastened out the door, joining the mass exodus. The quick pace reminded him of his trip to Sydney,
some years back, where everyone was always in a perpetual rush, whether commuting, shopping or even crossing the road. In Wellington the
locals seemed more inclined to stroll lethargically. He assumed it may have had something to do with the predominately undulating terrain, though
it was just a theory.
Twenty minutes later Levi entered the Botanical Gardens and made his way towards the dell, where his estranged cousin had agreed to rendezvous.
The temperature had dropped further and he felt moisture in the air, it was only a matter of time before rain would fall. He checked his watch again
and was surprised to see that despite the delay he had arrived more or less at the agreed time. Punctuality had never been one of his strong points
and he had lost count of the times his tardiness had been the unwanted focus of attention.
“Levi!” sounded an all too familiar voice.
“Ricky!” replied Levi as his cousin came rushing up towards him.
They embraced for a few seconds then punched one another on the shoulder before engaging in a secret handshake ritual.
“So what’s up Ricketts?”
“Well,” announced Ricky, “I’ve got a really big problem and I need your help.”
“Tell me all about it,” replied Levi, wrapping his arm round his cousin’s shoulders.
“I really don’t know where to start.”
“Try the beginning. It’s always best to start there.”
Part Four Cussy in distress
The sky quickly darkened and rain started bucketing down. Most of the Botanical Garden’s visitors were making a bee line for the gates but Levi
remained on the far left corner of the Sound Shell stage; trying his best to empathise with Ricky’s somewhat complex dilemma. They had already
been discussing it for over quarter of an hour and his mind was starting to drift.
Memories of his late father, Esau had been occupying his mind a lot lately and despite having had over three years to come to grips with the loss
he knew that deep down he was still nowhere over him. Esau frequented his dreams and was never far from his thoughts and he had often
wondered if his father’s spirit or soul still remembered him. At times he mused over the possibilities that Esau may have moved on and settled
down with a new partner in the afterlife.
And why wouldn’t he? If it was good enough for Katrina to search out a new companion, why should he stay lonely and risk the possibility of her
remarrying. By the time she died what guarantee did he have that she would be willing to betray her new husband’s affections? And what of the
new husband, staying loyal for a woman that no longer wished his company?
Somewhere laid the answers but he didn’t have a clue where to start searching. Was he supposed to look deep into his broken little heart,
scour his disturbed mind, or perhaps consult with his parish priest, study the Bible or maybe even hold a séance and ask Esau directly? VOP
(the Voice of Pessimism) alleged that even if the answers were obtainable Levi would still feel just as misreable.
“So what do you reckon?” asked Ricky, snapping Levi out of his melancholy musings.
“I think you were right to discuss it with me, Ricky,” he answered tactfully. “Mum reckons Alexander’s temper is an unknown quantity.”
“What does “unknown quantity” mean?”
“It means you never know when he’s going to go crazy-ape-bonkers. He may seem alright one moment but the next he’ll flip-out for no good reason.”
“So what you’re saying is I should just pay up and shut up?”
“I didn’t say that. I’m just warning you of the risks involved.”
Almost two years his elder Levi looked after, guided and protected Ricky like a big brother. Though short for his age and rather lacking in fighting
skills he nonetheless was always ready to step in whenever he saw anyone picking on his cousin, and quite often he would return home with a
black-eye or bloody nose because of it. In truth he had lost more fights than he had come close to winning but he just could not stand by and do
He tried his best to share his limited wisdom with Ricky, even if it teetered on the bounds of the erroneous; like his theory on the light on-top of the
Carillon. One day they were both walking along Buckle Street when he stopped and tapped Ricky on the shoulder to get his attention and said.
“You see that tall structure on your left, it’s called the Carillon. See the light-bulb thingy sitting way up on top of it?”
“Yeah,” replied Ricky craning his head back “What about it, Levi?”
“Do you know why they put a light up on top of it?"
“So the planes won’t accidently crash into the Carillon at night. They have to fly higher than the light.”
“Do you know why the Carillon’s there?”
“To hold up the light-bulb,”
“Would I lie to you?”
Of course he would, but what harm was there in a little white lie between friends? Well none, but with some people fibbing was an
unforgiveable transgression. People like Delilah, Levi’s older sister who had left home and gone flatting as soon as she turned 17 and as far as
he was concerned her departure had been good riddance to bad rubbish.
Levi suddenly realised that Ricky had ceased talking again and was awaiting his reply. Engrossed in this own thoughts he had not even been aware
that his cousin had actually continued the conversation. He wondered if he should just ask him to repeat himself but thought better of it. His eyes
shifted down to his watch then back to Ricky. It was well past time to wrap things up.
“Look, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to retrieve Dunstan, and keep that stupid thug off your back,” agreed Levi, patting Ricky’s shoulder.
“No-one blackmails my “bestest cuzzy-bro” and gets away with it. Not even a demented dingbat like Alexander.”
“You’re a true friend Levi. I sometimes wonder what I would do without you.”
“I often wonder what you would do without me too.”
When Levi and Ricky grew up they would think and act like grown-ups, but for now they were children and acted and thought like children,
postponing their maturity for the years to come. And acting and thinking like children they jumped off the stage and ran around the Botanical
Gardens, and skylarked in the pouring rain.
“Don’t Levi!” fretted Ricky as Levi climbed over a roped off area. “It’s against the rules.”
“I don’t care about rules,” retorted Levi purposely stomping on a recently planted sapling. “Rules were made to be broken.”
“Ooooooooo! Now you’ve done it. That plant’s Mum’s gunna be really angry when she sees what you did to her poor little baby.”
“I’ll stomp on her too,” he alleged, guffing nefariously like Doctor Evil from Austin Powers.
“You’re dingbats,” giggled Ricky.
“Well it takes a one to know one.”
It was just after 1:30pm when Levi and Ricky stepped off the cable car and made their way down into Lampton Quay. It had ceased raining
and though the sun was peeping through the clouds the chances of another downpour was not completely out of the question. The footpath
was congested with pedestrians and they had to walk briskly to keep up with the adult strides or risk getting trampled.
“One Nun goes with the other Nun to see that Nun gets none,” alleged Levi, still in a slightly silly mood.
“None of what?” inquired Ricky.
“Any hanky-panky; nuns aint suppose to do the hanky-panky.”
“I’ll tell you when you get older.”
“You know everything because you’re an old fart.”
“Are too…bet ya can’t keep up with me,”
Ricky suddenly pushed Levi aside and started running, weaving his way in and out of the pedestrians like an artful-dodger fleeing after picking a
pocket or two and got quite a lead from Levi, who quickly sprang into action but struggled to keep up.
Levi gasped as Ricky veered off the footpath and ran onto the road without bothering to cheek for traffic. His heart chilled at the sight of the
oncoming Holden Station wagon.
“Look out!” warned Levi, then covered his eyes and cringed. Seconds later a gut wrenching screech sounded followed by a loud horn blast
and shrill scream.