Kaimoana Tales

by Kiwi

Part 99, Andrew

Mrs. Townsend drove north and dropped Cameron and Andrew off at the Black's back-door. They got out, took their bags out, said thanks and goodbye and waved as she left.

"Here we are then. Home sweet home."

"For some people, yes. It's a cool house you've got here."

"Yeah, it's not too foul. Dad's a builder. Needs painting though, everything needs painting around here. Right, My Friend, let's do it. Come inside and we'll see who's at home."

"Fuck, Cameron. I'm so nervous now."

"Yeah? So am I. Don't worry, my parents are good guys, they haven't thrown me out yet. Come on, what's the worst that could happen?"

"They could say no and send me packing, and they probably will."

"They won't."

"You don't know that. I guess I'll be no worse off than I was when you found me. Let's get it over with."

"Yeah. Follow me into battle."

The kitchen was empty, Mrs. Black was in the living-room, watching TV, which was unusual for a Sunday afternoon. Cameron walked in with Andrew following nervously.

"Hey, Mum. I'm home! Look what followed me home from Christchurch. Can I keep him?"

"Hello Cameron. Don't be silly, of course you can't keep him. Who are you, Boy, and where are you from?"

"Umm. Hello, Mrs. Black. I'm Andrew and I'm from Winton, down in Southland."

"Winton? You're a long way from home."

"He hasn't got a home, Mum. His parents kicked him out and he's got nowhere to go."

"Nowhere? What would your parents throw you out for?"

"Because . . well, because I'm gay."

"Gay?" She looked at Cameron and sighed. "Of course you are." She sat studying the nervous-looking boy standing there with one foot off the floor, almost crying and obviously wishing that he was somewhere else. He looked so young and vulnerable, lost and pathetic. And he was on crutches! All of her mothering instincts went into hyper-drive. "Oh, you poor little bugger. What's wrong with your leg?"

"Umm, nothing. It's my foot, a car ran over it and there's broken bones."

"That must've hurt."

"It did! It was agony and I couldn't walk, I couldn't stand on it. Cameron saved me."

"Really? Good for Cameron. I think you'd better sit down and tell me what's going on."

Cameron began. "His parents found out that Andrew was gay, somehow. They wouldn't accept him and they kicked him out."

"They did," Andrew nodded. "Out of their family, out of their house and out of their town. It's a small town and my father's an important person there. He's just a painter, but he's on the local council, Deputy Mayor actually, so I couldn't stay there, I had to leave."

Mrs. Black said, "Sounds like you haven't lost much."

"Just my whole life," Andrew replied.

"Was it worth it?"

He shrugged," I don't know. I am who I am."

"As are we all. How old are you, Andrew?"

"Nearly 16."

"Nearly 16. So you are 15 and all alone. That's tragic. Okay, so you left town, what then?"

"I got on a bus and went to Christchurch. It's a big place and a long way away. I thought I'd get a job there and start again. I arrived, checked into the cheapest place I could find and paid for a room for a week. That left me with about $200 in the bank and $10 in my pocket, so I spent the $10 on some food, and then I went for a walk and a look around.

I was halfway across the road, in Cambridge Terrace, by the Avon River, when the lights changed. The traffic rushed forward and a car hit me before I could get out of the way. Well, it ran over my foot and broke it. The car didn't even stop, nobody did, so I crawled across to the park by the river. I couldn't walk."

Cameron couldn't stay quiet. "He was sitting there, in the park, in the dark, alone and friendless, nearly broke and with a busted foot so he couldn't get a job and get any money. He was wondering if he could drown himself in the Avon."

"In the Avon? You'd be lucky. A rat could wade across it. What happened next?"

"I was just sitting there, minding my own business and really, really hurting. I had not much money left, and my foot was broken so I'd never be able to get a job to earn some more. I had no family, no friends and nowhere to go. I'd never been so low and I thought it couldn't get any worse, and then it did. A group of street-toughs came up and demanded money. I told them that I didn't have any and they started hitting and kicking me.

Cameron and his friends were sitting on a bench up above us. They saw what was happening and they came down and stopped them. Cameron's mates left, but he didn't. He stayed with me and when I told him what had happened, he carried me across to a cafe over the river, got a taxi and took me to the hospital where they fixed me up, sort of. He waited there for hours, and then he took me back to my hotel.

I'll never forget what you did, Cameron, and I'll always be grateful. Thank you."

"You've already said that a hundred times," Cameron smiled.

"I can never say it enough."

Mrs. Black sat watching the pair of them. Was this a courtship, or something else? He seemed like a nice-enough boy, so that was a start.

"Well done, Cameron. How did you get from the hotel to here?"

"It was Giles' idea," Cameron answered. "When we were at the League, I told him about this broken boy and Giles said that I should take him home."

"Because?"

"Well, because he had nowhere to go and because you and Dad are good guys and you wouldn't turn him away."

"So you and Giles just assumed that we would take in a stranger who we've never met and give him a home? You assume a lot, Camerron."

"I thought we could ask." Cameron was all red in the face and he dropped his head.

Mrs. Black turned back to Andrew who was fumbling with his crutches as he struggled to his feet. "What are you doing, Andrew?"

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Black. I knew it was a dumb idea. Just forget you ever saw me, okay?"

"And where do you think you're going? Cameron said that you've got nowhere."

"I . . . I'll find somewhere. You don't have to worry, I'll be fine. I'll leave now. Goodbye, Cameron."

"Hey! Wait a minute," Cameron protested. He stood up and his mother snapped at him.

"Cameron, sit down and shut up!"

"But, Mum."

"I said shut up, Cameron."

Andrew left the room. Cameron and his mother sat where they were. Cameron appealed to her again, but she wasn't listening. "I'll go with him."

"Don't be ridiculous. Stay where you are. Look, wait a minute, will you?"

They sat and watched Andrew struggling down the drive, past the house and out to the highway, carrying his bags as well as his crutches. Cameron felt like crying at the sorry sight. How could his mother be so hard-hearted? Andrew reached the highway and turned towards town.

"Okay," Mrs. Black said. "That's far enough. Come on."

Puzzled, he followed her outside and they got into the car. She drove out of the drive and stopped ahead of the boy on the road. They got out, she stood there with her arms folded and waiting. Andrew stopped and looked, and then carried on, his head hung low. When he was about to pass them, Mrs. Black opened the back-door and said, "Get in the car, Andrew."

"No, thank you. I'll walk."

"Get in the bloody car!"

He looked at Cameron who tried to smile and nodded. He got into the car, with his bags and crutches. Cameron and his mum got back in and she started going towards town. She turned into the first farm driveway, turned around and went back home.

She stopped behind the house, turned and looked at him. "Okay, here's the deal. I don't like people taking me for granted, but I don't think you were. You were leaving, weren't you?"

"I'm leaving. I'm not staying where I'm not wanted."

"And going where? I think you are wanted here. You might be just what we need. Have you ever done any painting?"

"House-painting? I've done some. I used to help my father, when I had a father."

"So you can paint and we've got a house and out-buildings badly in need of painting. I think you've just got yourself a job, Andrew. And a home too if you want it."

"I have? Oh, thank you! I'll work hard and do the best I can."

"I know you will. I'll make bloody sure of it." Her smile softened the words, but Cameron knew she meant it.

"Okay, come inside, have a drink and something to eat, and then Cameron will help you move into the old worker's cottage out at the back. That will be your room and Cameron will stay in his, where he belongs. All right?"

"Very all right. Thank you."

"Thanks, Mum. You really are the greatest."

"And don't you ever forget it! Come on then, I need a cuppa."

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