A few weeks after his encounter with the Bros, Hemi and a mate were walking in town at lunch time. School kids often went downtown in the lunch hour. You had to be quick though, as it took about quarter of an hour to walk to town. Hemi and his mate had been getting some lollies because it was pocket money day. Hemi’s mum gave him $5 pocket money each week. Hemi had a sweet tooth and each week he’d go to town to buy lollies from the dairy, he’d get Jet Planes, or Wine Gums, sometimes Pineapple Lumps. Occasionally he’d get a couple of packs of chuddy (chewing gum), he always got Juicy Fruit when he bought some chuddy.
The two boys were wandering aimlessly, sharing the bag, talking shit as boys do. Making stuff up, exaggerating and making pointless boasts about stuff they hadn’t done yet. Each knows the other was full of shit, so trying to come up with bigger bullshit. A bullshitting competition which teenage boys like to engage in.
‘Old Algar reckons I’ll get in the 1st XV next year’.
‘Bullshit you will’.
‘Yeah, he ‘reckons I’ll be an All Black one day for sure’.
‘Fuck off, if you’re so good, why aren’t you in the 1st XV now then dickhead?’
‘I’m biding my time’.
‘Reckon I’ll get a pash off that hot chick in science’.
‘Fucken get a smash off her, more like’.
‘Nah, she’s always giving me the eye, reckon she’s into me ay?
‘Giving you the fucken cross eye, she must be blind then’.
‘Yeah nah, you’ll never get a pash though, not with your ugly face’.
And so, it went on…
Hemi heard the engine coming from behind them but didn’t think much of it. He liked the sound of a big V8 and there were plenty of V8’s in town, he just waited for the car to come past so he could admire it. It’s not cool, to look around of course. Except the car didn’t go past. It was slowing down and pulled up ahead of them, front and rear windows down, denim and leather clad arms hanging out the window. It was the Bros from when his mum had forgotten him after the footy.
‘Fuck man, what the fuck do they want?’ Hemi’s little mate asked him as they froze.
Hemi’s mate, Tim, was smaller and skinnier than Hemi. They had matching mops of unruly black hair though. Tim was missing his little finger on his left hand because he’d chopped it off when he was cutting firewood. He used it to freak people out for fun.
‘Hey look!’ said Toots from the front passenger seat. ‘It’s our mate, the Maori V8! What’s up, bro?’
‘Ah fuck, do you know them, Hemi? What the fuck, man?’ Hemi’s mate whispered sharply to him.
‘Yeah nah, they’re alright. They’re the ones from when my mum was late, remember I told you?’
‘Hey bro! Hop in bro, we’ll give you a lift back to school!’
‘Ah, yeah nah, we’re all good, ay?’
‘Bullshit, bro, get in the fucken car, we’ll give you a lift. Don’t make us wait around, ay? Can’t knock back a bro’s kind offer, ay?’
The back door was pushed open, Bung Ear got out and motioned for Hemi and his mate to get in. There were only three in the car, so there were two spare spaces on the back seat. The boys got in, reluctantly. The car rumbled off; the Bros were nodding along to some reggae on the stereo. The car smelt of dope.
‘See, not so hard, ay? Better than walking. Who wants to fucken walk when you can have a ride, ay?’ What’s your name, bro?’
‘Tim,’ Hemi’s mate replied.
The three Bros started giggling again.
‘Tim? Tim, okay, Tim’, More giggles. Tim was not given an explanation about why they found his name so funny. It clearly tickled them.
The trip was mercifully short for Hemi and Tim. The gang car rumbled up to the school bus stop. A group of kids were hanging around, but quickly made themselves scarce as they clocked the occupants of the car. Hemi and Tim got out the other side of the car. They were seen by enough school kids for Hemi to figure this was not a good look, and the news would spread around the school, which was precisely what Hemi was scared of.
Hemi was no fool; he knew the term ‘gang associate’. He knew the community was small. He knew people talked. What he didn’t know was what to do about it. He needn’t have worried though, because that would take care of itself.
Over the next few weeks, Hemi had another couple of lifts back to school with the Bros. They just talked shit and dropped him off. They didn’t ask him to do anything. He was wondering about that; he was in a real dilemma. He couldn’t say to them he didn’t want a lift. You don’t refuse hospitality or favours from the Bros if you know what’s good for you. But he also didn’t want to get involved in any of their gang shit. They just seemed to drive around during the day though. Hemi decided they must actually be pretty harmless. Unlike the constant threat of violence and the fine line he had to walk in his own home. They called him bro, not boy. Hemi never had a big brother, only big sisters. They hung out with gangs in the city now. Hemi thought if he did have a big brother, if he lived in town instead of in the sticks, he’d probably be like one of these fullas.
Hemi was lost in his thoughts, in the back of the Impala, tunes on the stereo, the Bros talking shit. He didn’t notice the police car following them. He heard the quick shriek of the siren though. ‘What the fuck?’ Toots looked in the rear vision mirror.
‘Shall we give him a run?’
‘Nah, fuck, pull over bro, we’ve done fuck all. Old Dresser doesn’t know shit’.
The Bros hadn’t been on the piss yet, only a few tokes. So,they were all good, no hassle, cops often pulled them over because it’s a known gang car. Hard to miss it. Plus, not much happens during the day in country towns. Constable Dresser was just looking to kill some time. He approached the driver’s door, saw Toots and greeted him.
‘G’day Toots, what are you fellas up to?’
‘Aw just cruising, ay? Giving our young mate here a lift, you know, doing a good deed is what we’re all about, ay?’Laughter from the rest of the car. Hemi tried to shrink into the seat.
‘What young mate? Who’s that in the back?’ Dresser peered through the open back window, getting a nose full of marijuana smoke. ‘Bit early in the day for the dope, isn’t it?’
‘That’s not dope, that’s just some smokes, ay. We don’t touch illegal drugs’. More laughter
‘What are you doing with these blokes, Hemi? Can you get out of the car please, come on boy, get out of there now’.
‘Aw fucken leave him, ay? We’re only giving him a lift’.
Hemi got out of the car.
The car rumbled off slowly, gang salutes out the back windows. The gang salute is a raised clenched fist, but with your thumb and little finger sticking out.
‘What are you doing with them, Hemi?’ Constable Dresser stood tall over Hemi with his hands on his hips.
‘They’re bloody trouble, boy, you don’t hang out with them. What’s your mum going to say? Does she know you hang out with them? I bet she bloody doesn’t?’
Even the cops called him boy. Hemi looked at the ground, then he sniffed and shrugged his shoulders.
‘Don’t let me see you anywhere near those blokes again. They’re nothing but trouble, you don’t want to go down that path. Now get back to school, you’ll be late, better hurry’.