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About Face

"Will you please just come and help me?" the voice from the corner of the service station pleads into the payphone.

Standing at the counter, an impatient sigh escapes my lips. My rigid fingers drum roll service, and the mercy of a swift escape.

"I’m stranded here! Moana’s gone – she slapped me, called me a bitch and drove off without me. No, I don’t have money for a taxi…"

Her eyes are drawn to mine. The phone cord twists and coils through stubby fingers; dark hair enfolds an oval face atop a squat, wide frame. She wears a moko. Dark green lines slither up and around her chin.

The attendant shuffles through our line of sight, curtailing my fascinated stare. He rolls his eyes and bangs the hinged counter up. Impact sways the garish bags of fruit bursts wildly on the wall. Pendulum candy waves.

Leaning towards me, spittle flicks from lips that purse and hiss.

"We’re always getting lowlife in here."

The moko woman turns her back and lowers her tone. The Shell sign on the forecourt casts a yellow haze through the plate glass window. She slumps alone in her neon aura.

"The gas station at the beach, yeah near the roundabout. I really appreciate it. Couple of hours? S’pose I’ll just have to wait. Soon as you can please babe. See you when you get here."

Hanging up, her glance darts past our eyes. Tears erupt as she cringes by, and flees towards the anonymous night. Neon seems to pulse as she passes through the door.

I pay the attendant for my cigarettes and linger at the magazine rack. Air brushed pornography obscured by the wide expanse of celebrity cellulite.

My Volvo is parked beside the air hose that spits compressed contempt. The moko woman stands forlornly at the kerb. Her head is bowed, as if in prayer as she waits for her rescuer.

A tattooed Maori knight will eventually charge to the rescue of wahine fair.

Neon glows through her tears. Iridescent snail trails trickle down a burnished complexion, snaking down to the green lines chiselled to her chin.

She feels my stare - hesitates, then walks towards me.

I grasp for keys to flee and avoid the impact of her world on mine.

The moko has changed colour – tears have darkened the bold green brush strokes to create a deep translucent glow. It moves as her mouth moves, the emerald serpent dances.

"Any chance of a smoke, mate?" her tear filled eyes do not meet mine.

"Sure." I reply, offering the packet out.

The moko woman’s head stays down, fixated by the swirling oil stains patterned to the forecourt. Her profile framed by golden light.

Her aura suddenly glows with an intensity that dwarfs my very existence. I feel empty and withered, shed reptilian skin - a papery remnant of humanity lost.

"Sorry, but I couldn’t help but overhear your phone call. I was wondering if you needed a lift somewhere?"

Copyright 2005 Brian Fitzgerald

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Bobby & Rose - a love story.

Bobby came to her in the night. Not every night but often enough. No one else in the house heard of course, they made sure of that. After all they wouldn't approve, they wouldn't understand.

On the nights when he didn't come Rose felt like the loneliest girl in the world, curled up in her starched cold sheets. On the nights he did come, she felt warm and loved.

Often, after he had left her room in the early hours before dawn, a few tears would escape her teary, puffy eyes as she sadly contemplated their plight. During the day they kept up the pretence. It wasn't easy - he didn't always understand why she couldn't return his affections in front of the others. Their eyes would meet across the room and Rose would smile knowingly at him.

But it couldn't last; their luck was bound to run out. One night in her room they were in a full embrace, Rose nuzzling up to Bobby's warm neck, when the door burst open. Mother, angry eyes glinting, her face tight and lips pursed, yelled,

"Rose! What are you doing? You know that dog isn't allowed on the bed! Bobby, get down. Out! I'm going to have to wash all your bedding again". She sighed, "Why did Father have to go and buy you a puppy, when he knows you react badly to dog fur".

Mother started to brush dog fur off the pristine white sheets and looked closely at Rose. "Why, just look at your eyes Rose, they'll need some drops".

Rose looked sadly at Bobby, gave him a big kiss and ruffled his fur.

"You'd better do as she says boy". And then softly, so Mother wouldn't hear "Don't worry, we'll work out a new plan, I promise. One day you'll be allowed to sleep on my bed".

She knew pleading with her Mother and pouting wouldn't work; she'd tried it plenty of times before.

Bobby padded away to his cold and lonely basket in the laundry. Rose lay awake in her lonely bed, still feeling the warmth where Bobby had been, determined that one day she would be allowed to have her darling dog stay in her room at night, every night.

Copyright 2005 Christine Hurst

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Thanks and kia ora ki te website www.maori.org.nz for the paua and kowhaiwhai dividers used on this site.  Want to know more about Maori in Aotearoa? Click on the link for a fascinating and educative site.
 
Tuhituhi mai tou purakau i te reo rangatrira...
ki kiwiwriterscafe@yahoo.co.nz   Kia Ora.

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