Jason and Tatua came to the shop and paused. The road was dusty even though
there had been some rain earlier that morning. The sun was beating down,brightly,
reflecting on the white stone war memorial opposite the shop with its peelingweatherboard,
coke and winfield signs and long wooden bench on the verandah in front
of it.Ruatangi was a small town - just small enough so that everybody knew
each other, even if only slightly.
Tatua marched up to the counter.
"Hey, I want some glue."
"What sort of glue." The lady of the shop looked at Tatua and Jason closely
"Yeh - just some glue - y'know?"
"We've got all sorts of glue."
Tatua glanced at Jason and shrugged. "Just glue," he said to the lady.
"We've got some elephant glue...."
"Hey whaddya think I am, an elephant?" Tatua looked at the woman
indignantly, thrust his hands deep into his shortened denims, torn off
at the knees.
"Let's go, man." said Jason, tugging at Tatua's bright red shirtsleeve.
They went out into the bright sunlight again. There was a kid they
didn't know standing on the footpath - pointing at them wildly.
"Hee He He he hee he he he....." the kid went, nose jammed deep
into his paper bag, eyes wide, stumbling and stepping back involuntarily.
"HEE HEE HEE HE HE he he.................."
"Piss off....." Tatua looked at Jason, "Let's go, Jace." The two boys went
on down the road, kicking up the dust on the road, taking turns kicking
stones across the surface of the road metal and hearing them clunk
into the fence, or anything else, opposite.
"Hey, we'll have to score some hooter." said Jason.
"Where? We'll need some bread, man."
Rounding the corner, they came within sight of a group of houses - broken
down villas, shimmering in the sun.
"Hey, isn't that John Stilton on the roof?" asked Tatua. It was. John was
partly lying down right near where the chimney joined the top of the roof,
holding a camera with one hand, holding on to the ridge with the other,
his big boots scrakking and clumping against the warm tin of the roof.
"Let's move over here." Tatua dragged Jason over to the fence where they
could get a view of what was happening on the roof, unseen .
John Stilton lived alone now. He treated himself as a victim of the seven
year itch - now at the old age of 32 - or so it seemed to him. Genny, his
wife had shoved off with their kid, Shane, taking the Mitsubishi and precisely
half of whatever wasn't bolted to the floor or walls. He'd kept the '74
Holden ute though - needed that so's he could get to and from his crop.
Just as he'd done just that morning, harvesting some really nice plants
with good heads.
Genny Stilton had left Ruatangi, as well she should. Everybody knew everybody.
Well, almost everybody. There could only be trouble of one sort or another
if she had stayed. Today was the day to fix the dammed antennae.
It was an inverted di-pole. There were wires all over the place and it
was a matter of getting the right ones off the pole to connect up
with the right ones from the coaxial cable jammed up between the spouting
and roofing iron. He daren't cut any more off the cable otherwise
it would stuff up his transmissions, causing feedback into his ham
rig from the untuned length.
Genny didn't leave much behind, but what she had, included his ham radio
rig. Maybe, John fancified, that's why she had gone away, and it
wasn't the Rastafarians after all. Who cared? She'd taken the damn ladder
though. He'd got up on to the roof by parking the Holden ute close to the
house wall, down the driveway, and had clambered up from the roof of the