THEY WERE WORRIED about the boy so they sent him to me. I needed a job done. You’d think he was eighteen from the way they talked but he was twenty-seven. He turned up with combat boots, shorts, a hard bare chest, those earrings that stretch your lobes into some kind of saucer, and his soft voice. Good teeth; I’ve always treated family for free. His emails had come with exclamation marks and ‘lots of love’ – what is this I thought – this is my grandson? Ha. His dad harbours something against me, but the mother – my daughter-in-law – arranged the deal. She’s a communicator. After she left the island I saw her Xeroxed image up in a café, tear-off strips with her phone number underneath. Her bleached pineapple leaf haircut, her clenched fist. How to communicate effectively.
They came on the ferry and we crossed the lawn towards the cliff, holding our take-out coffees. My daughter-in-law saw the flying birds as a sign of an earthquake coming – I said they were a sign of spring. Kākā, four of them, in one of those tight, fast groups – birds that seem too big to fly so swiftly and so close to one another. Boom, incredible, jostling across my arc of sky. She admired the pohutukawa. I hadn’t told them the plan. Lew was silent, seemed to be happy to go along.
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