Kaimoana Tales

by Kiwi

The Malloys

Part 6

"What?" Sarah exclaimed. "Oh, damm! It's the bloody Queen Mother! What's she doing here? It's not her birthday. Don't be too impressed with the car, it's a clapped-out old heap even if it is a roller."

"The Queen Mother?"

"Yeah, Tommy's mother. She's a freaky lady, Nancy's terrified of her. I'd better go and tell Nancy that she's here."

Sarah went inside, Michael sat looking at the car. He couldn't see inside it because of the tinted windows. They called Tommy's mother the Queen Mother and Nancy was terrified of her? She must be REALLY scary.

He was expecting some sort of monster to emerge from the car, but when the door opened it was a tiny, little old white-haired lady who came out of it. She didn't look like any monster he'd ever seen. Tommy's mother? She must be his grandmother. Wow.

The little lady took a cloth out of her huge hand-bag and wiped a couple of, (imaginary?), spots from her shiny car. She folded the cloth, put it back in her bag and stood, waiting, by the front gate. Sarah came rushing out and opened the gate.

"Hello, Grandmother. How nice to see you."

"Of course it is, Dear," she smiled and came in the gate. "It's a nice day to wait in the sunshine, isn't it? Is your mother out of bed yet?"

"Of course she is. Nancy's been up for hours. I think she's just freshening up and getting changed."

"I'm sure she is. She does try to make a good impression, not very hard, but she tries. Where is your father?"

"Tommy's still in bed."

"I wish you wouldn't call him that, Dear. He is your father, you should show him some respect. It is Sunday, I suppose. A working man needs his rest."

"A working man? Tommy? Yeah, sure, Grandmother."

"Of course he is. And who is this young man here? Are his legs broken so he can't stand to show some respect to a lady, or is he an idiot?"

Michael took his feet out of the water and stood up. "Ah, yeah, hello."

"Oh, it can speak then," she smiled sweetly. "Introductions please, Sarah. Hasn't your mother taught you any manners? No, sorry, that was a stupid question, wasn't it?"

"Grandmother!" Sarah sighed. "You know very well who this is. This is Michael, Tommy's other boy. Michael, your grandmother."

"Hello, Grandmother."

"I think 'Mrs. Malloy' will suffice for now, thank you, Michael. We are strangers after all. So you are the bastard. Has your father decided if you can stay here?"

"Well, yeah, I think so. Nancy said I can stay."

"Oh? So Nancy makes the decisions for the head of the house now, does she? Thomas is far too soft on this family. Come along, Sarah - inside. It is common to stand in the street in the view of all the neighbours. When you have finished washing those feet, Boy, I shall be in the lounge."'

She swept into the house. Sarah grimaced and shrugged at him. "Our grandmother," she sighed, and then she followed her inside.

Hori came rushing out, sat on him and cuddled in.

"Scares you, does she, Hori? I'm not surprised, she scares me too. Don't worry, I'll look after you."

Hori nodded against his chest and Michael hugged him. He liked having a little nephew. Even if he was a dummy, he was a nice kid. They sat there for a few minutes, no-one came back so he figured that he'd better do something.

"Hori? I'd better go in and see her. Do you want to come too?"

Hori shook his head vigorously. There was no mistaking a 'no'.

"You don't want to? Can't say I blame you. What now? Come inside and you can show me where your room is. You'll be safe in there."

He stood and lifted the boy to his feet, took his hand and led him inside. Hori towed him to a bedroom at the back and they went in there.

"This is your room, Hori? Very nice. And there's Pooh Bear. Hello Pooh. He's back in bed early, isn't he?"

Hori giggled.

"Okay, Hori? You'll be all right here. I'm going to leave you here and I'll go and see them in the lounge, okay? I don't know why I keep asking you questions. I'll be back soon, wait here for me."

He went out and closed the door, softly. Now, where was the lounge? At the front probably. At the front end of the hallway, there was a closed door on either side. He knocked on the one on the left. There was no answer, so he opened it and looked inside.

It was a darkened bedroom. He wasn't sure, but thought that that was probably Tommy in the bed. He withdrew and closed the door quietly. He was about to knock on the other door when Nancy came up the hallway.

"Ah, Michael. Wait a minute. Do me a favour, take this in to Her Majesty." She handed him a tea-tray. "Thanks. Let her pour the tea, she's the only one who knows how to do it properly."

"Ah, sure, Nancy. Are you not coming in?"

"In there? Not if I don't have to. I'll be in the kitchen."

She opened the door for him, and then retreated rapidly down the hall. Michael shrugged, pushed the door open with the tray and stepped inside. The old lady was sitting there, looking tiny all by herself on the big couch. She was sitting perched straight upright, her feet together on the floor and the handbag in her lap. She looked up.

"Do people not knock and wait to be invited to enter where you came from? What a strange world. Still," she smiled, "you have brought the tea. That's nice and it wasn't an extremely long time to wait, was it? Better late than never, as they say. You can put it down here beside me, that will be nice."

It was crazy the way she made him feel nervous. His hands shook as he lowered the tray on to the low coffee table and the cups rattled. He put it down and stood back.

"There we are then. Thank you. Safely delivered and no nasty accidents. Wasn't that well done? Perhaps you'd like to sit over there so that I don't have to strain my neck to look at you"

He sat in the indicated seat, across the room and directly in front of her. Sarah and a guy he hadn't met were sitting there, uncomfortably.

"There now, isn't this nice?" She started pouring teas. "All good things come to he who waits. You don't think you've made the tea a little weak, Michael?"

"Umm, I wouldn't know. I didn't make it, Nancy did."

"Nancy made the tea! Didn't she do well? And where is Nancy now? Having a little rest, I suppose. It is rather a trial for large people. Everything they do is such an effort for them while they are carrying all that extra weight. Do sit up straight, Michael. It is not seemly to sprawl in a chair, even if it is old and rather uncomfortable."

He sat up and suddenly felt very uncomfortable. He was sure that the real Queen Mother was nicer than this old bat.

"Now then. Have you met all of the family? Sarah you know, of course. Sarah showed such promise as a girl. What a shame that she got herself in the family way - and twice! We must hope that never happens again. This is Thomas Junior. Thomas is my eldest grandson. He was legitimate of course, only just but he was legitimate. You were lucky there, Thomas, weren't you?"

Thomas Junior nodded and grinned. "Hey, Michael."

"Hey, Thomas."

"TJ. Call me TJ, Brother."

"Oh, that is nice of you to acknowledge your bastard brother, Thomas. But TJ? Rather common don't you think?"

"But we are common, Grandmother."

"Some of us are more common than others. You must aspire to rise above your unfortunate beginnings, Thomas. Try to bring out the best in your lineage."

"Yes, Grandmother."

"Don't sigh. That's so unmanly. Speaking of which." She turned her attention back on Michael. "Is it true that you are a homosexual?"

"Well . . yes, it's true. I'm gay," Michael replied.

On the way here, he'd decided he was going to make the most of a new beginning and he was not going to hide who he was. He was gay and so what? So far, it was looking good. The family knew that Big Mike was gay and it didn't worry them. Why should it anyway? If this old lady didn't like it, well, tough! She was nothing to him anyway.

"I see," she nodded. "And are you sexually active?"

'What??' Dammit, it was none of her business! He shot her his best glare, which achieved nothing. She waited, he didn't answer.

"Cat's got your tongue has it? It is difficult when we're ashamed of our misdeeds."

"I'm not ashamed of anything and it's none of your business!" Michael snapped. "No, I'm not sexually active. Happy now?" He was red in the face and he was wild. Who did this old thing think she was?

The old thing in question was, apparently, speechless. She sat quietly staring at him, as did Sarah and TJ. TJ's mouth was hanging open. In his experience, you simply did not talk to the older Mrs. Malloy like that. She pulled herself together and forced a smile.

"Well. You have such a lot to learn, don't you? A course on good manners and civilised behaviour might be a good place to start. Anyway, it is too late for the other Michael, but if you are not sexually active, then there may be hope for you yet. I shall speak to Father O'Reilly. He will know where a cure can be arranged for you."

"A cure? For being gay? You can get lost, Old Lady!" He started for the door.

"Where do you think you're going, Michael Malloy?"

"Going? Anywhere away from here. Anywhere away from you!"

"You will not. We haven't finished here." There was no sign of the smiley old lady now. Her face was as hard as flint."Michael! You come back here and sit down. I am your grandmother, Boy!"

He stopped and looked back. "Grandmother? I've lived this long without one, I don't need a grandmother. I think it would be best if you called me 'Mister Malloy'. We are strangers, after all." He left the room.

Nancy was standing in the hallway outside. He slammed the door and she nodded. "Come with me."

She led the way back to the kitchen, closed the door and looked at him. "Hmmm," she smiled. "You certainly have got spirit. I like it. Would you like a drink? There's beer in the fridge."

"No, no drink, thanks Nancy. I've just had tea."

"Yes. Tea with the Queen Mother - lucky you."

"Or not. I, umm, I've just had a row with her."

"I know you did. I heard every word."

"You don't think I went too far?"

"You didn't. It's time someone stood up to the old bag, she needs it."

"Oh, good. I'm glad you're not upset."

"Upset? I'm proud of you, Boy. It's a delight to have you in our family. Now, go and dig Hori out of his room. Take him for a walk in the sunshine.

There's a park down at the end of the road, he knows where, it's his favourite place. Michael, look after our baby, won't you? Don't let him get hurt. Kids pick on him."

"They'd better not try while he's with me! We'll do that, we'll go for a walk. Thanks, Nancy."

"Thank you, Michael. Now go."

He went to Hori's room and collected him.

"Can we go out by the back-door, Hori? I want us to go to the park, but you'll have to show me where it is. Nancy said that you know."

Hori grinned, nodded and ducked back into his room.

"Hori?" Michael thought that he didn't want to go with him, but then he came back out with a red plastic frisbee. He held it up and grinned. Michael took it from him.

"Cool. You've got a frisbee. Let's go to the park and play with it."

Hori led the way out, around the house and out to the street. Limping up the sidewalk, trying to keep up with the excited kid, Michael was regretting the bare feet. Sarah hadn't had a chance to tie his ankle up again. 'Oh well, too late now.' "Wait up, Hori!"

They reached the park, Hori led the way in there. It was nothing flash, just a small sports-field, some flower beds near the entrance, a small pavillion/club rooms and some bench seats scattered around. A group of kids of various ages, both boys and girls, were playing touch-rugby, kind of. They didn't really have enough players for one team, let alone two. Michael looked around.

"Okay, My Friend. We'd better stay out of their way. We'll play down near this end."

They played outside the end goal-line, throwing the frisbee from side to side across the end of the field and carefully keeping out of the way of the other players. They were evenly matched. Hori couldn't throw as well as Michael, but he was much more agile and quicker to run and catch. Michael was having fun and Hori obviously was too - his beaming smile said it all.

'Damm, Kid, you're going to be a heartbreaker in 10 years or so.'

Their fun ground to a halt when 4 kids left the football game and one of them jumped in and caught the frisbee.

"Hey!" Michael protested. "Throw it here."

The boy looked at him and threw it to one of the others. Hori ran over and tried to grab it, but he threw it on to another, laughing mockingly.

Hori ran after it, but the 3rd one threw it back to the 1st. The boy sneered, "C'mon, Dummy. You want it, you come and get it."

"Come on," Michael said. This is not funny. Give the boy his frisbee back."

"Make me!" The kid threw it on to another.

Hori leapt and missed it, and then he ran at the boy now holding it. He met him with a fist and knocked him to the ground.

"Fuck off, Dummy!"

Hori was roaring and Michael ran over and lifted him up. He turned to the boy.

"This is not on. Give me that fucking frisbee or you'll be sorry."

"Yeah, right." He threw it on to the others.

Michael hit him, he punched him in the guts. The kid was younger than him, probably about 11 or 12, but he didn't care, he was bloody wild. He hit him as hard as he could. The kid hit the ground and lay there moaning, curled around his guts. One of the others ran at him, roaring. Michael met him with a fist and batted him away. He turned on the boy with the frisbee.

"Give it here. Now!"

This one wasn't stupid, he threw it to him. "It was just a bit of fun."

"Fun for you, maybe, but it wasn't for the boy and it's his toy."

"How sad, never mind. Kid's just a fucking dummy anyway."

"And that makes it all right to pick on him? Fuck off and leave him alone!"

Michael took a couple of angry paces towards him. The boy backed-off and ran away. The other two were back on their feet, they retreated as well. One of them stopped and looked back.

"You're the new Malloy in town, aren't you? You'll be sorry, you're gonna pay for this. You don't know who you're messing with."

"Bring it on!" Michael walked at them, they ran away. He went back to Hori and offered the frisbee.

"You okay, My Friend?"

Hori grinned, nodded, swiped at his tears and hugged him. Michael hugged him back.

"Right, Hori. I think we should go home now, okay?"

They left the park and started for home.

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