Brownsville Tales

by Kiwi

Boy Chapter 5

Later in the evening, after dinner but still before dark, Ronnie was sprawled on the couch up in his reading room with his nose in a book.

"Ronnie, you there?" Reggie called on the intercom.

"I'm here. Where else would I be?"

"Well, good! There's a kid here at the cottage door, he wants to talk to you."

"Someone wants to talk? Who is it and what does he want?"

"Come down and find out. I dunno what he wants. It's just some maori kid, I don't know his name."

"A maori kid? Tell him to fuck off! I've had enough of them for one day and I've got nothing to say to any of them."

"All right, I'll tell him but you're being a bit harsh, he came to talk to you."

"Probably just wants to swear at me. Thanks but no thanks. 'Bye Reggie."

In a couple of minutes, Reggie called again. "Ronnie? He says please come down, he wants to thank you for what you did."

"Whatever. I'm not. 'Bye."

"Please yourself. You usually do."

Ronnie turned the intercom off. He really had had enough of those people. He tried to help and all he got was abuse. They were all the same, they were clannish, stuck together and shut everyone else out. Whatever! He was having no more to do with any of them.

He still had to stand up on a chair and have a look out of the side-window though. From there he could see right along the front street and, he wasn't talking to him but he still wanted to know which one it was who'd come to see him.

A figure came around the corner from the side street where the cottage was and, wow! It was Boy Manawatu.

That was different. He'd talk to Boy anyday, he wasn't like all the others. Maybe he wasn't even related? No, he must be. He ran downstairs and opened the front door of the shop before Boy came along past there.

When he did, Boy looked at him, puzzedly.

"Hey Boy!"

"Hey Ronnie. Thought you didn't want to talk to me?"

"I didn't know it was you, I thought it was one of that other lot."

"One of my cousins? Yeah, I don't blame you. I wouldn't either, but I have to sometimes."

"Yeah? Lucky you."

"You think? Ronnie, I'm sorry about the cousins, they're a pack of idiots. I think they're ashamed that they did nothing and you had to save Carrie. It was a really good thing you did. She would've drowned but she didn't because you saved her. You saved her life! Thanks. You're a good guy."

"I'm not you know."

"Yeah, you are."

"Wrong! I was just there, I saw her fall in and I had to do something. No-one else was, so I did. Not a big deal."

"Wrong yourself. It is a big deal - a really big deal. Carrie would've drowned."

"Someone would've done something."

"Someone did - you did and thanks."

"Yeah, well. Thanks for coming around, I feel a whole lot better about the whole thing now. Do you want to come in?"

"Come in?"

"Yeah. Come up and see my room."

Ronnie led the way up the old stairs. "Do you like books?"

"Sometimes, yes".

"Wait 'til you see what I've got!"

"You got around here quick," Boy commented.

"Around here? I was already here."

"But didn't your brother call you in your room when I was at the door around in the other street?"

"Oh, I see. Yeah he did. He called me on the intercom, it's connected to my reading room up here and I've been here for hours."

"The intercom is connected from the other building?"

"It is. It's all one building really, they're joined together."

"No they're not. Reggie was in the yellow cottage in the other street, you're here in this old shop in the main street."

"They're connected underground."

"There's tunnels?"

"Well, corridors. Most of our home is underground, it's an old air-raid shelter."

"And you live down there? Yuck!"

"It's not yuck, it's great. It's all lined and furnished and everything. It's like a big house, but it's all underground so there's no windows. It's really cool. Well, not cool, it's quite warm actually, but it's a great home."

"If you say so. I wouldn't like it - living down in tunnels like a worm or something. Still, you have got this place. A very cool old shop. Why don't you just live up here?"

"It's too small and it's exposed to the weather and everything. It's way better downstairs, warm and dry and lots of space. People did use to live up here, in the old days. This was the kitchen, bathroom is through there and the toilet back there. That was their living-room, Gran uses it for a sewing-room, and there was two bedrooms at the front. Reggie has that one for whatever he does in there and this one is my reading-room. I like to sit up here and read in the daylight and there's a great view down over the street."

"Yeah. You've got a view over the rough end of town. Whoah! You've got a lot of books!"

"These are just some of them," Ronnie grinned proudly. "There's a whole room full of books downstairs at the back. There used to be a private lending-library here, a long time ago. There's hundreds of books, they're old but there's some great stuff amongst them. They're all mine now, no-one else is interested."

"I'm not surprised, but pretty cool, I guess, if you're into books. I'd rather watch a DVD."

"You're not a reader then? I'd rather have a good book any day. When you read you make up your own movie in your head."

"Good for you. I watch real ones."

"They're just someone else's idea of what a story looks like."

"Yeah, okay. So who all lives here? You, your brother and your gran, anyone else?"

"Yes, there's Dad. He's got his workshop around in Adderson Street."

"Is that connected to the tunnels as well?"

"Well it was. It was built on top of one of the entrances."

"Hells Bells! It must be a big place down there."

"Biggish. Do you want to come and have a look? I'll show you around."

"No thanks. Some other time, maybe. I'd hate to live down there, I'd never sleep."

"It's not that bad. It's just like any house except there's no windows - like any house is at nighttime."

"It'd be nighttime all the time down there. That's just weird. What if it caves in on you?"

"That's not going to happen, it's as solid as a rock. It was built for air-raids during the war. Bombs wouldn't collapse it so nothing else will."

"Still could happen. What if there's an earthquake?"

"Hasn't happened yet."

"But it could. It could happen today."

"I guess. A quake that big would probably knock your house down as well."

"Maybe, but at least we wouldn't be buried."

"You will be if it kills you, if you're not cremated."

"Earthquakes don't kill people."

"If they're big enough they do."

"Yeah, okay."

"So how many people live in your house?"

"Seven, sort of. There's Koru, Mum and Dad, my 3 brothers and me, but there's usually other people staying as well. We've got lots of whanau and they come and go all of the time."

"A busy house."

"Yeah, way too busy sometimes. You're lucky having all of this space to yourself."

"I suppose so. I've never known any different. Do you get a room to yourself?" Ronnie sat down on the old sofa.

Boy sat next to him. "A room to myself, not likely! I don't even get a bed to myself."

"You share a bed? Who do you sleep with?"

"With my brothers usually, but sometimes with cousins too. It's bad enough with my little brother, Rangi, snoring and farting all night. Tane's worse, he always wants to do sex stuff."

"You don't want to do that?"

"I don't. I'm sick of it. Bigger boys have been pushing me around for years, well I'm bigger now and I've had enough of it."

"You're not going to do it anymore?"

Ronnie was confused. How could anyone who'd been having sex not want to do it again?

"Maybe, but not with him. He's my brother, he's too big and too rough. All he wants is to get his rocks off and he doesn't think about me at all."

"And you don't want to get your rocks off?"

"With the right person I would, just not with Tane."

"Oh? Who would the right person be?"

"Well, umm - you maybe." Boy blushed! Ronnie didn't know that maori kids could blush.

"Me?" He grinned. "Really?"

"Yeah, really. If you wanted to, I would."

"Wow! Damm right I want to!"

"I knew it," Boy grinned back. He kissed him, briefly, on the cheek..

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