Guy and Hemi had grown apart as their lives diverged, but they’d grown up together, talked about loads of stuff when they were boys. They had shared the same interests, turns out they now had the same car, but in different colours. They both had a Ford Escort Sport.
‘We’re going to swap cars for a while, bro’.
‘They’ll know your car, they won’t know mine; there’s plenty of cars like this, but they won’t be looking for a Pakeha driving your one, ay? They’ll soon forget about the car; they won’t forget about you, though’.
Hemi frowned. His job was shot, of course— he’d told them where he works. They didn’t know where he lived but word would get around.
‘Nicky, ring mum and tell her there’s a change of plan. I’m going to take Hemi home to ours, because he’s been made redundant and lost his place to live as a result. Hemi can’t go to his house because there’s too many people there, he can crash in my room at home. Tell her we’ll meet her there, she can stay in the motel if she wants, but we’re heading home right now. We can drop you down there on the way’.
Guy advised the duty officer he had a ‘family emergency’ and had to leave camp for a few days. That was easy enough. Nicky decided to stay with her mum. She was still shaken but would make up a story that there was a fight right in front of her in the street and she was almost caught up in it. She didn’t like lying to her mum, but if she told her the truth, she’d never be allowed back for uni here next year. Frankly, that idea scared Nicky a bit as well, but she couldn’t let one incident affect her whole life; she had simply been in the wrong place at the right time, she’d get a radically different haircut or something. The Bros are unlikely to be looking out for that Pakeha sheila.
Guy’s plan was good so far. Well, the first hour or so anyway, while they dropped Nicky off, went round to Hemi’s uncle’s to get his clothes and stuff he might need. Luckily Hemi didn’t have a lot in the way of stuff; he could get everything he owned and needed in a bag, chucked in the boot.
Guy and Hemi drove back to Guy’s little family farm. Another benefit of them not having been in touch was that the gang couldn’t put Guy and Hemi together as contacts, they didn’t know anything about Guy’s existence. While they drove, Guy threw some ideas around. His plan was developing.
‘So, your job is fucked, ay? We have to get you something else. Join the army mate, you’d get in easy, you’d love it’.
‘Fuck yeah, it’s awesome, ay. They have two basics (basic training) a year, doesn’t take long to go through the recruitment process; you could just about disappear’.
Guy had gotten on better with the army after his basic finished. He settled into the routine pretty well, in reality, the army was like a nine to five job a lot of the time, with a uniform.
‘Plus, Dad needs a hand on the fence line. His last bloke has buggered off, didn’t like the work. Dad works pretty hard, but he knows you, we’ll talk to him about it. Dad works out in the sticks all the time; nobody would find you out there. It’s tough work, but the pay is pretty good. Give Dad a hand until your basic starts. The next basic is a summer rather than a winter one. Winter basic sucks in Waiouru; freeze your nuts off all the time’.
Hemi liked Guy’s plan. He liked Guy’s old man; he was a bit of a grumpy old bastard, but he was a good grumpy old bastard. He liked the idea of being in the army, the more he thought about it. He hadn’t even considered it at school, because he didn’t know anyone in the army. Seems he did though.
‘Let’s sort you out with Dad, then we’ll do a roadie up to Napier to the recruiting office. Get the ball rolling’.
‘Aw yeah, choice!’
As they drove up the long driveway through the home paddock, Guy’s dad was working in the shed.
‘Hey, Dad! Guess what?’
‘What are you doing home? Bugger me, is that you Hemi? You’ve grown. What are you boys up to?’
‘Aw, I bumped into Hemi in town. Turns out he’s just been made redundant by the council; he was with the works teams; needs a new job for a while. He’s going to join the army for next intake. Aren’t you looking for a new fencing hand?’
‘That’s bloody good timing. Have you done a lot of fencing, Hemi?’
‘Heaps. I did fencing all the time for the new fulla who took over the farm’.
‘Bloody good, we’ll give you a try, ay? I’ve got plenty of work on, be good to have a trusty hand’.
Guy’s plan was going well so far. Funny how things turn out, sometimes.
‘Can Hemi crash in my room until he joins the army? His place is full of his family—a few cuzzies have basically moved in and taken over the place, plus it’s miles from your jobs, ay? I’m not using my room now’.
His dad was pretty relaxed about it, they’d often have shepherds and drovers staying in the spare bedroom in the old days so he knew that would be okay; mum would be okay with it.
‘Yeah, reckon that would be alright’.
‘Awesome, cheers Dad’.
‘Cheers, Mr A!’
Guy’s old room still had two single beds in it, still had his posters and stuff from school everywhere. Guy didn’t come home much. Hemi made some space for himself on the bed that had been unused. Hemi’s life had been turned upside down again in the space of a few hours, appearing as though it had been turned the right way up this time. He thought it’s amazing how everything can go from okay to shit because of something completely unexpected, then go from great, to fucked, and back again somewhere else, in such a short space of time. Hemi was processing his fortunes, good and bad, as he sat on the edge of the bed. Guy was talking, but Hemi was only part listening. Guy was talking about how stuff worked in the house, how to avoid upsetting mum and getting on the wrong side of dad. Hemi was unlikely to upset either of them; he was quiet and polite. He’d be no trouble.
Richard was away overseas; he’d gone on his big OE. Guy didn’t miss him, although he did go to the airport to see him off. Richard, the dick, took a set of bloody skis with him! What a dick.
Guy and Hemi drove Hemi’s (now Guy’s) Ford Escort Sport up to Napier, to the recruiting office. Hemi signed up, did some tests, took a medical, usual stuff. They said they’d let him know soon. Hemi and Guy talked about what Hemi might do in the army. Hemi said he liked woodworking; Guy told him he could do carpentry in the army. Hemi had never considered the army had carpenters, but why wouldn’t they? Not like they’d get tradies in to build stuff in a war, ay? Seemed obvious when he thought about it now.
Guy’s mum was happy for Hemi to stay with them; she liked Hemi. Luckily, she knew nothing about how his life had been turning out in the city. Nicky was delighted; she only had a few more weeks of school left, and it would be good having someone to help her look after Mum and Dad, as she saw her role, somehow. Nicky knew well the faults of both her parents and saw herself as a voice of reason, and mediator when they often argued. Nicky was very mature for her years. She mothered Hemi; this was a chance for her to repay him for rescuing her. She made him lunches to go to work with when she came home from school at the end of the year. She knitted him a jersey, taught him some table manners, stuff called ‘etiquette’ that she’d learned at school. Hemi thought a lot of that stuff was pretty dumb and pointless, but he’d never say so.
He’d never thought about love much. He was now, he wrinkled up his nose because he was embarrassed to be thinking about shit like that. It occurred to him that Nicky had been kinder to him than anyone else in his life. He did love her, but he didn’t have a crush on her anymore, not in that way. Nah, she was like a sister in his mind now, he’d do anything for Nicky
His acceptance into the army came in the mail early December. He was to attend basic training in Waiouru in early February. Hemi was glad no-one was around to see him well up and sniffle a bit. Nobody had to see him being a bit of a sook. Hemi stood up straighter than he ever had, he was proud as. He hadn’t often felt proud, he’d have to get used to it. He was also a bit scared, but if Guy could hack it, he could, ay?