2017 David Manoa
The author asserts the moral right to be identified
The author of this work.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
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I remember the first
time I had my heart broken. I was 24 years old living with my Fiancé
Heather Summers who was 21 years old at the time. We lived in a two
bedroom apartment which was a humble start to get on the property
ladder. I had this sense of content and accomplishment having
everything set up for my lady. Ahead of all my peers.
Home bought 'Check.'
Good job 'Check.'
Beautiful and gorgeous woman I want to spend my life
with. Check! Check! check.
Sheesh, little did I
know. Well, very little did I realize that Heather felt trapped
imposing my ambitious life on her. Everything I strived for, a future
for us. So many things went through my mind as a young man at the
time. What I did wrong, what she did wrong. How we could make amends.
I learned that you both have to want to the same things in life. To
share the same dreams and vision
for the future.
I have to admit, it
was the time I cried my eyes out, standing
in the lounge in my apartment with the lights off. No one could see
me cry. I looked at the mirror across me. Bare-chested and hurt. I
would pound my chest hard with a closed
fist to drown out the sorrow and sadness. Spiraling emotions that
The ambient light
from the other apartments illuminated the lounge with a faint
light. The darkness covering one side of my face. Hiding my puffy
eyes and the stream of tears that went down to my chin then dripped
to the floor. I looked at the
ground thinking if I would get over this. When will the friggin pain
in my head stop? I spent years in a cycle of alcohol and depression
reclusing to myself. All hope of meeting someone. Futile.
When I turned 34, I
met Candice my whole life changed. I embraced joy but a sense of
distrust and caution. I always waited for the fall with her... and
bless her heart, she stuck with me with all my insecurities and
jealousy. It was then Candice fell pregnant and gave birth to my
daughter India. That I was able to let go. Seeing this new life, half
of me and half of Candice come into this world.
I had two ladies in
my life to take care of. And five years on, I popped the question to
Candice to marry me. I dreamed of the day we would walk down the
aisle. Harping back to the fantasy I had as a young man. Older now,
wiser I like to think. Deep down this is the time. But I had this
notion something wasn't right. That point when we looked at each
other’s eyes and seeing her hesitate for that split second before
she said I do. I knew Candice had secrets but this one... Damn.... I
guess you will have to ride with me to the end and find out...
Chapter 1: Secrets
and white lies.
I've been coming to
this library ever since my uncle encouraged us to read. Every
Saturday I would wake up to a big hearty breakfast of baked beans and
scrambled eggs on toast then we would walk for 15 minutes here. I was
always a keen reader since I was young. I was of that generation
where Video games started to creep in eroding that joy of books.
There was a fish and chip shop across the
library that had some arcade coin machine
operated games. I use to lie to my parents about my overdue fines to
get money to feed my video game addiction. Now the internet and the
PlayStation has changed all that. I sat in the children's section
sitting on the ridiculously small green plastic chair and the table
built for kids or dwarfs while India browsed for books. I let her
browse the whole library to observe what would interest her. Her
mother was never a reader of books more so magazines, so she always
left these daddy moments for me to do solely. I loved it, though. I
remember reading books to India when she was the womb. Candice
berated me for thinking what I was doing was stupid. Little did she
know it was my bonding time with her as soon as she was born. It was
bizarre when I would speak to her as a little infant my words or tone
of my voice calmed her more than actions of her mother unless if she
hungry or soiled her nappies. India therein became more attached to
India pulled out a book
and ran over to me. Jesus how time flew when you
held this little one in your arm selecting books now she's on her
own. I took out a tissue to wipe her runny nose. India had blonde
hair like her mother, but with my tall, dark and handsome looks, she
got everything else. Heart shaped face. Her innocent looking brown
eyes stare at me.
“What?” I ask.
She reached over to
touch my beard.
“Is there food stuck
in there?” I asked
“No Daddy. There's
heaps of white hairs.”
I laughed, “Daddy's
getting old. Ancient.”
“Umm... no. Not yet.
I can still walk and run.” India pinched my beard, “Ow!”
“I'm taking it out,
Daddy! I don't want you to be old like grandpa.”
I smiled, “Why not?”
“Umm... Because he's
always sick! And he's wearing nappies, and he poos his pants!”
I laughed, “Trust me.
I won't I be wearing nappies anytime soon.” I kissed her forehead,
and she kept examining my beard before her attention went to my hair.
She points, “Your
hairs on ya head are going white too daddy!”
“That's from your
momma!” I laughed.
Her brows furrowed,
“Huh?” she said, “What did mommy do to make your hair white?”
I paused knowing this
might be awkward later when we arrive home. “Oh nothing dear, tell
me what book did you choose?” Sneakily trying to change the subject
as all adults do...
“I got two!” she
smiles, “I got the book mommy reads.”
Underneath her book of
Where the Wild Things Are and a copy of Women's Weekly. The
magazine is plastered with the Paparazzi headlines of sex scandals
and scantily clad women. I pull out the magazine and slide it down on
the table away from her.
She frowns, “I was
reading that one Daddy!”
I sigh, “Not good
for you Hun the words are hard to read.
I raise a brow, “Not
the ones you should be looking at. Besides it’s for grown-ups.”
“I'm gonna be a grown
up one day daddy. I’m gonna be preettty like
those girls in there and have big boobs!”
I raise a brow, “Not
if you read that.” India frowns I kinda guess what she's gonna ask
next. I take the proper book and open up the first page. “Uh...
Let’s read now ok?”
She smiles, “Can you
read to me, daddy?”
“Sure.” I said,
“But can we move to the seats over there, my bum is getting sore.”
India chuckles as she
bolts over to the large red sofa. She clears the
books that were left carelessly there, and she sits as I stagger over
like grandpa with the pins and needles in my
lower half of my body. I drop down stretching my legs out when India
shifts right next to me. I open up the book and begin to read, India
is engaged and enjoying the first half when she falls asleep.
In that quiet moment, I
stare out into the library to all the people coming through from all
walks of life. Being the community library, it
has a leaning to attracting the unemployed and
the odd people with bizarre behavior that come in. There is this one
lady who frequents the romance section with piles of books only to
return the next day again with another large
collection, I’m a fast reader but either this
lady is very lonely or is a savant speed reader.
The computer section
has more people using them than actual readers
in the library. The free wireless a wholesome attraction. The skinny
Indian security guard walks past me playing on his phone oblivious to
his job. I notice the big boned, six foot five bald headed, glass
wearing Librarian, standing over a young mother who is using a
computer. She has a pram beside her, with her baby. The kid is
crying, and with her best attempts is trying to quiet the child.
She is disrupting the group of computer users around her, I see them
turning muttering a string of curses and crossed brows. It is when
the baby screams to the top her lungs that the librarian points to
the door, signaling to her to leave. She points
to her screen perhaps waiting for something to print or a message.
She points over to our area. Taking out a baby bottle. She appears
stressed out, she lifts the baby out of the pram and walks over here.
Nursing the baby in her arms. India wakes up and sees the baby, she
rubs her eyes.
“India, let's go,”
“Why is the baby
crying?” she stated in a loud
I squeeze my eyes when
the young mother catches an earshot of what she said.
She says to India and
me, “I'm so sorry to disturb you both.”
“That's ok,” I
said. I move over one, and the young mother sits
next to me. She tries to feed the baby, but the baby
continues to cry. India turns to me.
“Go, Daddy!” she
“What?” I raise a
India cups her hand to
my ear. “Read to the baby so she can be quiet.”
The young mother smiles
as India starts shushing the little one when the baby begins to
“Hi my name is
Kerryn, and this noisy little one here is Zach.”
“Nico and this little
monster here is India.”
Kerryn smiles, teeth so
straight and white. Brunette hair tied back, she had a slim build.
“Could I ask you a favor and can you hold my son while I finish
using my computer? Be only be a few minutes. I will be so grateful.”
She hands me her son
when I hold him in my arms. Gosh, it reminds me so much of India.
India is curious about the kid. She touches his little hands. Zach
studies us both.
“Is it a boy?” she
asks as Zach starts to cry.
Hun. You use to be this size you know.”
“Uh huh. You didn’t
cry this loud, though.” I muttered.
India smiles, then
frowns “Is the baby sad. Daddy?”
“No, I think he's
hungry. I’ll try and give his milk. See how he's drinking from the
Zach calms, India tries
to hold the bottle. “Yeah.”
I flick my eyes to
Kerryn who is collecting her printed pieces of paper and slots them
in a folder. She walks back over here.
“Thank you so much,
Nico. If I stayed any longer, they would have
booted me out.”
“You seem to be a
natural with kids Zach rarely is ever calm with strangers.”
India blurts “My
daddy is the best!”
I blush, when the young
mother chuckles. “I'm sure he is, your wife and you are very
I flinch when pieces of
paper fall out of the folder. They seem like rental agreements. I try
to read more when Kerryn catches me staring at
“Sorry, it's for a
statehouse I'm applying for.” She said with a flushed face.
“Oh.” I say, “I'm
sorry you are finding things difficult.”
She flinches, her eyes
water slightly. Her arms reach out, and I hand her back Zach. Being
close to Kerryn, I notice her features again. Slim body, brown eyes,
and light brown hair. Kerryn is an attractive young woman. But there
is something you see in the face the compounding
effects of stress that puts tension on the eyes.
A permanent puffiness.
She puts Zach in the
Pram and places a blanket on him, and India
pulls up the blanket slightly.
Kerryn smiles “You
would make a great big sister for Zach. Thank you,
India straightens up
with words of encouragement makes her proud. She smiles her face
lighting up the whole library. Kerryn spears her hair, then threads
her handbag on her shoulder.
She said, “I've seen
you here a lot reading to your daughter. I admire that you invest
your time in your child. I wish I had more time to do those things
instead of having to work.”
I raise a brow, “I
would have thought the Domestic Purposes Benefit would cover that?”
“No. I only get $400
a week. When you take out rent, power, and food. Then there
are the childcare costs. That is $200 a week. Sometimes I
think I'm better off quitting work but what I earn just gets us by.”
It hit my heartstrings
because Kerryn was so beautiful and to see her struggle reminded me
of why I worked my ass off to be financially independent for my
family. I stared at the
ground for a moment thinking the consequences and the life Kerryn is
living when India grabbed my hand and squeezed shifting me back to
I peer up, “I hope
things improve for you and your son.”
She smiles pulling down
the plastic cover over the pram. “Thank you, Nico. I guess I'll be
seeing you around. Appreciate you minding my
son.” We stood as Kerryn pushed her pram out the door when I knelt
to pick up our books. India tried to put the magazine back in when I
raised a brow. She put it back on the table.
“Let's go home.
Mommy's gonna wonder why we are late.”
“Can we buy an
ice-cream from McDonald's daddy?”
I smoothed my jaw when
I remembered the bar and grill next door, which had outdoor chairs
where I can enjoy a beer in the summer sun. I check my phone and its
I nodded, “I'll text
mom and say we going to be slightly delayed.”
“Yay! Mmm Ice cream.”
India screams. We head out and my mouth parched dry in his heat
thought mmmm beer...
The Zookeepers Inn
After grabbing an Oreo
Mc flurry for India, we crossed the zebra crossing to head to the
bar. We sat in the outdoor area next to the main road. Sheltered by
the giant green sun umbrella, sitting back in
the comfy chair. I watched traffic pass while India swirled the
crushed Oreos around in her cup like she was mixing concrete. I
“Do you like it,
Hun?” I asked.
“Yeah, yummy, yummy
for my tummy. Mommy gets the m&m one, and I always choose the
“It looks like dirt.”
“Nooo!” she laughs
dipping her spoon into the ice-cream to feed me. “Here. Have some
“Uh, no thanks ill
have grown up food.”
I signal to the waiter
who brings a tray with my glass of beer. The waiter
lays it down in front of me. Watching the amber liquid bubble.
Condensation falling on the sides of the glass like it's sweating. My
mouth is salivating anticipation the bitter, refreshing liquid.
But before I indulge I take out my phone and take a picture.
#Saturday Arvo Goals!
I Upload it to Facebook
then took the first sip. India is watching, frowning. All my friends
liking my post. 34 and all.
“What?” I ask.
“Mommy says you drink
“C'mon Hun, really?”
says beer makes you fat and stupid!”
“Well so does Oreo
ice creams.” I laughed.
“No!” She screamed.
I take another sip when
India points. My head turns, and its Hemi Porter. My brown brother, I
mean light brown brother from another mother. He's wearing a black
suit with a black tie with his Prada glasses.
Standing 6 feet, slim athletic build he spears
back his salt and pepper hair which is unusual for someone in his
mid-twenties. Must be the same thing I had…
“Ha, Nico! You
motherfuc-” I cringe when I thumb
point to India who lowers her book. “Mother Flutter... Hey, India!”
She smiles, “Hi
Hemi takes a seat,
putting his keys on the table. He fist bumps India. “Of all places
I find you here Nico! How you been?” he asks.
You’re looking extremely dapper today.” I said, “Court
appearance for crimes against humanity?”
Hemi chuckles, “ha-ha
fu- um... f you man.” Looking at India. “Just
been finalizing my side with Nicole. Kinda getting messy.”
“She wanting custody
we're all clear on that. It's the house were
trying sort, it isn't about that 50 /50 these days. You know we
decided to split amicably as they say. And for a few months,
we were living our own lives. Then I met Mary this new girl in my
I sit up. “Wow Damn,
you moved quickly.”
understanding with my kid and all that but Nicole... Oh my god when
she found out... she went all psycho. Like a stalker,
“Dude she was insane
to start with.” I said, “I knew there were
problems when I had to make up excuses so you could come out with me.
I'm glad you're out. You were a prisoner in your own home. Where do I
start with Nicole, texting and calling to check up you? Deciding what
you can and can't wear, she was even asking you to grow a beard!
Dude, straight up you were her house slave!”
Hemi smooths his face,
“No I was her house nigga. That's just the start.” He sighs,
“Sometimes I wish I just stayed with her ass. She's causing a lot
of stress with Mary.”
“What do you mean?”
“Her behavior is
crazy dude! Well because Nicole did the dirty on
me on the house. Mary has been staying with me. So when my turn to
have Milan comes round she's making up shit, I mean ship.” He
flicks his eyes at India who smirks. “That I'm still sleeping with
“Nicole even wanted
to fight her. Cause she growled off Milan!”
“Dude, you need to
call the cops and put a restraining order on Nicole.”
“I don't get it. Why
can't Nicole just leave me be and let me be
“She can't. Because
she's a control freak. Maybe things will change once she gets her own
“Doubt it Nico. She
seems hell bent on messing mine up first. She's even using
Milan to spy on me.” he says, “My own son!”
“Jesus that low?”
“Uh huh. And the odd
thing is Milan doesn’t know he's doing it. Nicole is the most
We pause to admire the
gray Lamborghini drive past when I signal to the
waiter to bring two more beers. I flick my eyes to India who is still
reading her book.
“You ok Hun?” I
She nods, then resumes
Hemi said, “Gosh
she's growing Nico. Last time I saw her, she was as high as my knee.
“Home. Her mother is
here for the day, so they are hanging out.”
Hemi lifts his beer and
takes a sip, “Daddy day care again. Huh?”
“Yeah. Great times.”
“I tell you what. I
dream, well I mean, I wished I had what you have
dude. I knew my gut was telling to break it off with Nicole six
months in when she tried to change me.”
“Well can't be all
bad you were a builder remember getting pittance pay doing 60 hour
Hemi examines rough
hands, scratching at the calluses. “Yeah, I'll give her that
gratitude, for pushing me into doing things that were uncomfortable.
Meeting all her Richie rich friends. Mixing and mingling talking
posh. Learning to eat with a knife and fork properly ha-ha. All of
her networking leading me to the job I’m in now. Selling houses.
Can't say I'm happier in my job, but the good
money I'm making now is because of her.”
“Sweet and sour.”
Hemi grins, “That's
for damn sure.”
“I swear Nicole is
gonna do anything to wreck my relationship. I'm thinking of asking
Mary to be my wife.”
I nearly choked
on my beer. “What! The heck are you crazy?”
“I know. It will get
Nicole off my back, though.”
“Dude I dunno. Sounds
like a bad excuse.”
“What can I do? I
mean I love Mary, and I view her as a long-term girl. So what's the
“Dude if she found
out the only reason was of Nicole. She' be upset. C'mon man there's
gotta be another way.”
“Got any friends who
might be interested in Nicole?”
“Na nor would I want
to introduce them to her either. I don't know what kind of guy would
suit her headstrong personality.”
“Fire with fire.”
“Um... Maybe she
needs those alpha male types, Candice reads in her romance novels.”
Hemi pulls on his suit,
then adjusts his cufflinks. “What! I'm an alpha male.”
I roll my eyes, “Dude
you are an Omega Male when you with her. Your voice changes every
time you talk to her like your balls have dropped to your toes.
Squeak Squeak. Ha-ha!”
“Shut up Nico.”
Hemi face palms when India copies me.
Hemi phone rings and
the name 'psycho bitch face slut' pops up on screen.
“Gosh, that bad huh?”
“All I can say you
are a lucky man to be with Candice. Hey, I gotta go, call me when you
want to have a beer. I promise I won't be needing a late pass now,”
he cuts the air with his hand like a knife.
Hemi stood taking his
ringing phone to answer with swear words that made me cover India's
ears. I guess we better head home and see my wife!
Chapter 2: Happy
Wife, Happy Life?
Hemi was kind enough to
drop us home after our beer. He lingered around the carpark long
enough that he spotted us walking. Even though it was just the one,
there is something about the hot day that makes you light headed. We
lived in a 1940's villa, which I bought when I met my first
girlfriend, Heather. Over the years, I renovated to the point where
there was nothing left to do. Things fell into place when I was
looking for another project to do when Candice got pregnant with
I opened the gate to
see Candice out on the deck smoking a cigarette. She was wearing a
white bathrobe, and her hair was wrapped in
a towel. She blew smoke, shaking her head. The scent drifted across
making India cover her mouth. The thing about her school is the
anti-smoking messages they instilled in India that made her give
Candice her 2c worth. But it's the nature of that addiction, I
remember fighting tooth and nail for her not to smoke while pregnant.
Though I'm sure, she must have snuck in a few.
She stood leaning on
the pillar, hand under elbow. Taking in another
drag when India ran up to her. She hugged her legs before bolting
inside with her books. I approached her, she blew out her held back
smoke, blowing in a downwards direction. I gave her a peck on the
“I can smell beer on
“It was just the
She flicks her eyes up
the driveway waving to Hemi as he reverses out. “Not when you're
with that numbskull Hemi.”
“He spotted us at the
bar then joined us. He's going through a stressful time with his
breakup.” She said nothing, only to take another pull from her
cigarette. “How was your mother?”
she said. “She just left half an hour ago, she wanted to say
goodbye to India.”
“Oh, sorry about that
Hun. You should have called.”
“Where's your phone?”
I took it out and
looked at it, the battery was dead. I showed it
to Candice. She shook her head.
“If there was an
emergency what are you gonna do?” she said, “You gotta be more
“Sorry. The switch
for the charger wasn't on this morning, but it was 50%. Charged.”
“You know how these
phones are with their shitty battery life. Again. It's about being
I sigh, “Jeez Relax
She said nothing
letting the ash build up. The muscles in her jaw
I said, “What's for
Candice stubbed out the
cigarette. “You cook your own fucking dinner.” She walked back
inside, and I stared at the smoke drifting up from the stubbed
cigarette. Sheesh, what the hell is her problem? I plonked my butt on
the deck chair outside knowing Candice is in her moods again. I tried
to think if it was her period but the more I thought about it. Her
bitchiness seemed to revolve so often that it
India ran out with one
of her books, she sat on my lap when she pointed to her page.
what's this word?”
“Hold on a minute.”
I craned my neck to the side, “Hun, what's mommy doing?”
“She's watching TV
and doing her make up.”
“Oh, so no dinner
“She made me coco
pops for dinner. Yummy.”
“I told mommy we had
ice-cream and I said that it makes you fat and stupid.”
I closed my eyes, “Oh!
India it was a secret!”
She shrugged, “I
wanted to ask mommy if it was true.”
I shook my head and
rubbed my eye knowing Candice has more ammunition to shoot me with. I
needed something to dull my brain from the verbal bullets.
“Can you grab me a
beer from the fridge? Don't let mommy see you.”
“Can I take an ice
She smiles and sneaks
I take her book and
examine it. Flicking through the pages of the title Cat in the
Hat... gosh, this book brings back memories. India arrives with a
beer in hand clutching an ice block on the
other. I take the beer and open it as she sat next to me. The shade
from the nectarine tree covered us I looked ahead at the bbq
wondering if I should cook dinner since wifey is angry.
I said. “You want bbq?”
India's eyes light up
“Yeah I want sausage and bread and heaps and heeeaaps
of tomato sauce!”
I winced remembering
the last time we did a bbq. Literally, India’s
sausage was drenched in sauce. I felt like doing marinated chicken
breast with a crisp salad.
“We'll head down to
the supermarket and grab some chicken, you want to come?”
Candice comes out again
with her handbag, she's dressed up. Wearing a black mini skirt. Black
heels and a dousing of fake tan.
“Hun I'm gonna cook a
bbq. Is that ok.”
She opened the car,
rolling her eyes, “Whatever.”
“Where you going?”
“Out. I do have
friends you know, Nico.”
She sat in the car and
started it up pulling out of the driveway. I turned to India.
“Mommy's always angry
daddy.” She says.
“Is she eating too
much ice cream?” she asked.
I kiss her forehead.
“No, mommy is just going through a hard time. I'll talk to her at
bedtime. C'mon lets go to the supermarket.”
We walked 400 meters
down to our local supermarket, the great thing about living here in
Onehunga is the proximity to everything. The airport, the city,
and parks. India rode her tricycle as we crossed the zebra crossing
to head into the supermarket. There was a homeless man outside
dressed in an old army green jacket and torn jeans who sat with a
rusted tin asking for change. He reached out and scared India making
her stop. But he was just waving saying hi. I took the bike chain and
tied it around the pole which had the parking time. I reached out and
gave the man five dollars. India stared at the man who then smiled
with rotten teeth, she hid behind me, and then we went in to buy our
groceries. I took a trolley and lifted her up to put her in
“Gosh, you might be
too big for this now.”
“Nooo!” she said
squirming to fit.
I pushed the trolley,
as went first though the fruit and veggies Isles. The refreshing
scent and air-con made me relaxed.
India said, “Daddy
what did you give the man the money for?”
“Hun, sometimes in
life you gotta show a little kindness for those less fortunate.”
“Is he poor daddy?”
I nod, and India leans
to the side of me to watch him through the window when I reach for
the lettuce and cherry tomatoes. We push on further to the meat
section, and I reach out for the chicken breasts.
“There Daddy get the
I turn to left there
was the selection of the precooked and the fresh ones. I examined the
packaging comparing the rosemary lamb and the precooked.
India pointed to my
left, “Get that one it's on special.”
I smiled, knowing I
taught her well to keep an eye out for the tags “There is a reason.
Sheesh, there is only 60% beef in these. I wonder what the rest is.”
I reach for the lamb
ones and chuck that in the trolley and head to check out. We wait in
line, and I start to put the groceries on the conveyor belt when I
see India lick her lips eyeing the confectionery. “Don't even think
about it. You've had too much sugar today.”
“Aww!” India says
her lips turn inwards.
I give the cashier
cash, and she hands me back a ten dollar note with coins. India in
her cheeky voice told me she would take it and
reached out as the lady placed it in her hands.
“Here give me the
change?” I said.
“Can I keep it,
daddy? I got you the beer!”
She said it in that
cute tone that got the people behind me saying things. Dunno if it
was a great idea she mentioned beer. Lol. I
rolled my eyes, “Ok. C'mon lets go.”
We walk out when we
see the homeless man gone we pass a few shops when India rides
her tricycle ahead and stops in front of the liquor store. I catch up
with her, and I see the homeless man buying single cans of beer
stuffing it in his jacket. I shook my head.
“Sheesh, maybe beer
does make you stupid.” I turn to India, “C'mon.”
We cut through the
upper-level car park when I spot a black van by the stairs that take
you to the road. India rides close to the van.
It’s dented and has rust spots all over. Even the paint
job looks like it’s been sprayed on with spray-paint with
its matt like finish. The passenger door is open, I peer inside to
kitchen utensils a makeshift table. A gas bottle
at the back, I see a mattress laid down with blankets. I see feet and
hands kicking up and the cries of an infant. Then India rides around
the other side when she stops. It's the lady I met from
the library. She in holding a baby bottle and towel around her wrist.
“Oh. Nico!” She
flushed red, she's wearing a faded brown t-shirt and jeans, “We
were here to do some shopping.”
“Oh ok.” I paused,
knowing she is living out her van.
“Excuse me one sec.”
She goes into her van to get her son and feeds him. “Gosh,
how long have you been living out of your van?” I asked.
She pauses saying
nothing for a moment, nursing the bottle to feed Zach. She sighs then
flicks her eyes up to me. “It's only been a week. That's why I was
doing the forms to get emergency housing.”
“Damn what happened
before? You said you were renting.”
“I was. I fell behind
on my rent payments when they raised it. I got kicked out, lost my
bond too. I was too ashamed to tell you I was living on the street.”
“I can't blame the
landlord, there's only so many times. I kept giving her excuses. When
I turned up to find all my stuff outside the door with the locks
changed. I sold what I could and bought this van for my baby and me.”
“Damn don't you have
any family you can stay with?”
She flinched, “No.”
I raised a brow,
puzzled. “Seriously you don't have anyone?”
She said nothing when
he removed her bottle from her son when he drifted off to sleep. She
put him back on the mattress and India and I,
peered into her setup. Looking at the cans of tinned food stacked up
and 2-minute noodles. Jesus who can live in something like this. We
leaned back when she slid the door halfway. She leaned on the van
raking back her hair looking down when India
took out her change and put it in her jeans.
She broke down in
India comforted her by
wrapping her arms around her. She held her palms by her face and
wept. I took out my wallet and took out all the cash I had $300 cash
and all. I reached across and handed it. She refused.
“No.” she sniffled
I can't take it. “Thank you, for your generosity. I shouldn't have
put my sob story on you. Once my forms come through,
I'll be on my feet again. I promise. Everything has been tough.” It
was then the baby cried again when she open the door nursing
him. She sniffled. “I need to change him can you hold him while I
get the nappies?”
“Ok.” I hold the
little one when I slip the cash under Zach’s shirt. I wait till
Kerryn comes around when she
takes him. “It was great to see you. We better
BBQ is on!
Raising a young lady
has it benefits. One she can learn from the number one chef in the
world! Ha-ha. There's this thing about me I like to impress India
with my culinary skills. We at the kitchen table where we start
marinating the chicken breasts. Our kitchen with the bi-fold doors
opens out to the deck. I fire up the bbq to get
it hot before heading back to the bench. I have my apron on, and
India is standing on a chair watching me. She
washes her hands and dries it with the paper towel.
“Ok. Pay close
attention!” I said.
“I'm watching daddy!”
“Cool. Pay attention
cause one day you gonna be cooking for your
I laugh, “That will
be around your 40s.”
Puzzled. “Why 40?”
“Nothing it’s an
inside dad joke. Anyways, ok the first step take
out the chicken and put it in the bowl.”
“Can I do it?”
“Ok.” I take the
knife slice around the plastic. I drain the excess fluid. “Take the
chicken pieces and put it in the bowl.”
India grabs the chicken
breast. “Ew, it's so slimy Daddy.”
“C'mon just put it
She places the pieces
in, and I take out the virgin olive oil.
Himalayan sea salt and black cracked pepper and soy sauce and Manuka
honey and start adding it.
“Now mix it all up
India,” India clucks her tongue and mixes around the ingredients.
“Cool. That's enough. Now wash your hands.”
She examines her hands
and fingers. Her tongue pokes out just about to lick it.
“AH! No! Don't lick
your fingers. The raw chicken can make you sick.”
“Then why we eating
“The bbq will kill
all the germs. Remember when you poke it the juices should run clear
or else you might get a sore stomach.”
“I'm having a sausage
She washes her hands,
and I peer up at the clock to check that Candice isn't back yet. I
cover the bowl and take it out to bbq, to start it on the grill.
“Might be just you and me tonight Hun?”
“Mommy not eating?”
She blinks her eyes,
mouth turns inwards “ok.”
“Hun, can you grab
two plates and set up the table?” India nods when I grab the tongs
to throw the pieces on the grill “Oh and grab me a beer too!”
“Huh? I only got two
hands daddy!” she said hands on hips.
“One at a time then.”
I checked my phone. My
fully charged phone had no messages from Candice. I sent her a
text that I'm doing the bbq now. I put away my phone when India came
up with a beer on hand and knives and forks in the other.
I turned the chicken
breast around there is a nice caramelization happening,
and it smells fantastic. I checked my phone.
Candice: Don't worry
about me going to dinner with the
girls then clubbing. Need to let my hair down a bit. Will be back
late. Make sure India is in bed before 9 pm.
For fucks sakes. I took
a sip from my beer when I hear the familiar rumble of a BMW. I turn
my head, and my boy Hemi is here. He gets out wearing his navy blue
suit, white shirt, and brown shoes. He rubs his
tummy, then licks his lips.
Hemi said, “Hey India!”
“Jesus Hemi, you have
this knack of always turning up at the right time don't you?”
He smiles, “Hey I
just brought back one the books India left in my car. But it looks
like the food gods have drawn me here also.”
“Oh, thanks. Bring
your car into the driveway, it’s not safe to park on the road. I'm
assuming you'll be staying for dinner.”
“If I'm not
intruding.” He grins, “Hey where's Candice?”
“Out for Dinner with
the girls then Clubbing.”
His eyes widen then
shakes her head. “Sounds familiar.”
I sip my beer, “What
“Nothing. I just had
this conflicting internal conversation in my
I roll my eyes. India
comes back with a beer for Hemi. We stand to watch
the chicken finish cooking while she sets up the table.
Hemi said, looking at
India, “Dude I wish my own son could be that well trained. Damn kid
is spoiled now he uses each parent to get his way.” He sips his
beer. “Had to drop him off to her mother just before, and I'm in my
car with Mary and Nicole comes out dressing all sexy and shit.”
“Bizarre, maybe she's
trying to make you think you're missing out on something.”
“Don't get me wrong
Mary is not the most psychically attractive but her heart and
“She is on the big
side.” Hemi chokes on his drink, he pinches his nose. “No
offense. What's that term a bit of junk in the trunk?”
Hemi smiles, “Fuck
you man, I prefer voluptuous.”
I raise a brow, “Big
words for an ex-builder.” I laugh. “I'm glad I met her, though
she's got a good heart.”
“Yeah, she does,”
Hemi said. “Check this out, man.”
Hemi reaches into his
left jacket pocket and takes out a small red velvet jewelry
“Oh man! Don't tell
me you gonna marry her!”
He laughs, “Relax
dude it's a pair of diamond earrings. Ding dong!”
“I just wanted to do
something nice for her. Sticking by me with all my crap and all.
Thought about what you said, marrying her wasn't the best idea.”
“Great to know you're
using your brain Hemi. Choose your moment wisely.”
We turn to India finish
setting up the table, and I put the chicken on a
cooling tray, and we sat down for dinner.
India says, “Where's
“He's at his
“Oh, the crazy lady!”
I nudge her, “India!”
Hemi laughs when I take
off the foil and starts serving the food.
“That's all right
India you have to meet my new girlfriend Mary sometime.”
“New Girlfriend? Are
you allowed to have two?”
“Uh no, dear. I'm not
with the crazy lady anymore.”
India scratches her
head. I'm thinking we better change the subject this might be a bit
too much for my little girl to understand. I take a sausage and slice
of bread wrapping it up. India is holding the tomato sauce itching to
dollop a whole lot of her sausage. I snatch the sauce from her
putting on an adequate amount.
“Go Watch TV India.
Hemi and I gonna have a talk.”
Hemi opens ups the red
box and shows me. The earrings sparkle like
“Wow.” I said
admiring the bling, “I hope you didn't use all your pay on that?”
“Na, that's what
credit cards are for. So check this out it's 18
carats white gold with 1 carat
diamonds, damn when she see these puppies she will be over the moon!
So… Nico tell me what's been happening in your
“Jesus you a shrink
now? Same old apart from the missus getting shitter now. Thinks I'm a
“You still drinking
every day?” Hemi closes the velvet box and slips it into
his jacket pocket.
“It's only the one.”
I pause, “Okay two or three.”
Hemi shakes his head,
“A tiger's stripes never change, do they? I worry for you man. I'm
seeing the signs.”
“Of what?” I said,
“That you're retarded?”
“C'mon don't be so
I take another sip,
“Another word... Jesus, have you been reading books again?”
“Ha. I'm just saying.
I reckon Candice is getting sick of you. It starts with resentment.
The little flake that turns into a giant snowball. “
“It's just a phase. I
will sit down and chat with her, been a while
since we had a one on one.”
Hemi exhales, “Sorry
if I'm cutting deep. But you need to get your snowboard ready dude.”
“It was a metaphor.”
He squeezes his eyes. “Meh, I got my own problems to think about.”
Hemi starts to cut into the chicken and eat.
“For sure Hemi.” I
say, “Where is Mary anyway?”
“Dunno.” He says
mouth full. “Mmm, this is
“Of course it is.”
“What? Isn’t Mary
living with you?”
“Off and on now.”
He presses his lips, wiping the condensation off the beer with his
index finger. “We are taking our time.”
“No nothing like that
as in I'm waiting for my half of the money to come through from the
settlement so I can build a new house.”
I raise a brow, “You
weren't even fricking married with Nicole? What half? You were broke
when you met Nicole. The way I view it is if you
enter the relationship with nothing you leave with nothing.”
He grins, licking his
fingers. “That's not how the government views it.”
relationships take into account the substantial
contribution I made.”
“Huh? Which was
nothing, broke ass.”
“Na man! I built the
house with her money yes. I did all the work myself using all my
contacts saving her thousands of dollars and labor. Even made all the
council approvals and red tape cheaper and quicker. The value of that
house has doubled now over the past three years I'm entitled to
something especially when we are sharing Milan now.”
“Gosh, you have a
point there. How much do you think you going to end with?” I said,
“If you don’t mind me asking?”
“The house will have
to be sold first. But current values make me thinks I'll walk away
with a million. Easy…”
“Ha! Walk? Nicole
will never let you walk with that amount of money. I can understand
why she's trying to rope you back in.”
“Never happen mate. I
swear on my father's grave and the Jedi Knights.
I'll never go back to that bitch. Even if she was the last woman on
I roll my eyes. “Doubt
it. Bet you the moment things start to become complicated
with Mary, you'll be running back into Nicole's arms. One thing about
Nicole she knows how to seduce you.”
He drains his drink,
I open another bottle
of beer and hand to him. “You promise?”
“Yeah. My heart is
with Mary Couthers. My one and only. And my
diamond gift of appreciation will make sure of that!”
“Cheers to that.”
Hemi drains the rest of
bottle. He stands to place the empty bottle in
the bin. “Thanks for the meal, much appreciated. I gotta get back.
Tell Candice I said Hi.”
I sat at the table
watching India as she switched off the TV to read her book when she
drifted off to sleep. I lifted her up and took her to bed tucking her
in as turned on her side. You relish these moments as a father. This
is what life is about. I flicked off the light and leaned against the
window that looked out to the driveway waiting for Candice to come
back. For one she will be drunk as a skunk. And two, in that
state. Perhaps best to go to bed and not engage in a serious
discussion that will lead to an argument.
I'm lying in bed when I
hear Candice’s car pull in. I listen to her heels clicking on the
floor, then the jingle of the keys hitting the porcelain bowl in the
kitchen. I hear the shower turn on, I turn over putting the pillow
over my head to drown out the noise.
Minutes later, I sense
her body slip into the Bed. She moves behind me arm draped across my
body. He starts to kiss the back of my neck. The scent of alcohol
makes my nose twitch. I turn around. Her hand reaches down to stroke
my flaccid cock. With the way she's been treating me, only to now be
in the mood. I felt numb.
I said, “What are you
“What do you think?”
“It's 3 am. It’s
too early, and I’m friggin tired to have sex.
Jesus don’t tell me you drove drunk!”
“No. My friend
drove.” She pulled on my cock, fingers
stroking… “Don’t be so frigid. This hasn't stopped you before.”
“How your night go?”
“Stop trying to
change the subject.” She kissed me again trying to evoke a
response, “Just another night...” the kisses continue. She pulls
at my underwear. “Take your underwear off.” I feel irritated.
Hurt. I pull her hand away.
“What the hell is
“Five nights this
past week when I made advances, you reject me. And now when you're
drunk, now you want to do it?”
I sit up and peel away
the covers, I stand at the end of the bed. Candice sits up at the end
of the bed, arms wrapped around her knees. I walk to the window
sill to lean, my arm draped in the moonlight.
“Candice, I just feel
you’ve been distant with me over last six months. Tell me what am I
doing wrong? Am I drinking too much? What is it? Just be straight up
Candice sighed and
grabbed the pillow. “Nico I'm just not feeling it. In this
marriage. I can't explain, but everything about you repulses me.
Harsh choice of words yes. So many things, the connection and that
I’m not attracted to you.”
The blunt shock of it
hit me, “Bullshit. You were tugging on my dick back then.”
“I felt horny because
this guy in the club hit on me.”
“Every part of being
wanted to go home with him and sleep with him, but I couldn't.
Somewhere in that mind of mine, I realized I am still a married
woman. As much as I want to put my feelings and resentment towards
you. It's not. I finally realized that it's me and I couldn't admit
that. Nico, you are a good father to our
daughter, gosh, India is closer to you than I will ever be. But
there's something I want to tell you some secret I've been keeping
since India was born.”
She sighs, “She's not
“No!” I said, “You
are all fucking bullshit!”
“I'm not. And I have
a paternity test to prove it.”
“Who is the father
“My ex Jake.”
“What the dickhead
who hit you!” I rubbed my jaw, “I don't get it, why are you
telling me this? Why now?”
back her hair, Stares…“Because I want a divorce.”
The sting of the words
made me fall back to the wall. I clutch the chair then sat. I leaned
over elbows on knees, palms covering my eyes. “Can't we talk this
over Candice? We can go to counseling. See a priest even! Sort our
“No.” She said in a
terse tone, “It's a waste of money for something, I'm now
definitely sure of. I’ve been thinking about this for some time,
and it was definite after talking with mom. I have already spoken
with the lawyer. In taking the first steps.”
I swallow upset at how
far she's taken things already. “And what is that?”
“I want to sell this
house and take half.”
“No way? Since when
do you think you are entitled to half? I bought this house even
before I met you! I supported the both of us right
to the point India turned five. Tell me where do you think in your
mind do you think you are entitled to half?”
“It's the law, and my
lawyer said I'm entitled to it.”
I smooth the window
sill, staring out at the inky sky. No stars are
twinkling as if God destroyed the universe.
“Everything I worked so hard for to be taken away. I was a fool not
getting you to sign a prenuptial. I put my trust in you and believed
that this would last. You could have given me a chance.”
She said nothing.
Stared at the floor, like I
was a piece of shit.
“Chances are, things
always go to the inevitable with me. Unavoidable
in the sense that I don’t sit on the fence with my decision. Black
or white, never gray. Grey is taking a chance.
Just be glad that I wanted out now, rather than faking it till I’m
old. I hope you can appreciate that Nico. I don’t want
to be like my mother regretting the chance to be happy rather
than to put up and shut up with the situation, just plodding along
accepting your lot in life. My mom waited till she was 66 before she
had the courage to divorce dad.
I look at the
relationship my mom had with my dad. How she lived a lonely life,
they were two opposites. Dad was stoic, a man of
few words. His way of love was providing working his arse off with
two jobs to put a roof over our heads. Grateful as we all may be. Not
being there with mom made her distant with dad.
“C’mon Candice, you
know I’m not working like that! I put in the hard yards so I can
spend time with you. Our situation is nothing like your parents.”
“I know. But my mom’s
point was, Dad never changed from the time they got married till the
divorce. I’m looking at my lot in life right now,
and I don’t want this.”
“You’re not willing
to make this work for our child?”
“Don’t use India as
an excuse for a chance. This is between you and me. How we relate. A
child should enrich a marriage not be the reason for it.” She
exhales, “It's over Nico.”
I mulled over the
words, I bit my lip. Clenched my fist, looking at the wall to punch a
god damn hole in.
“I'm gonna contact my
lawyer to advise what I can do. I don't think you are entitled to
half, sheesh Candice you are gonna put us out on the street.”
“No, I'm going to
move back to my mothers.”
“Jesus that's why she
was here?” I said, “That's so sneaky doing all this. Why couldn't
you be open with me about your feelings in the first place? Why the
fuck did you just let things build up? Did you ever think about the
welfare of our daughter and how this will affect her? Couldn't you
make this work for the sake of her?”
is not your daughter, and if you don't agree to the home being done
fairly, I'm going to go for full custody.”
“Fuck you, Candice. I
don't believe that. I know she's mine.”
“Candice stands and
starts to get dressed.” She says, “My lawyer says I'm entitled by
every right to this house and India. Gosh, Nico don't
be such a prick and make this worse for yourself. I'm giving you a
chance to do this in a way that is fair by the
law in place.”
I wiped my eyes sensing
the gravity of the situation. “So this is it huh?”
“I'm not letting you
take me to the cleaners to have start again. I'll see you in court.”
I watched as Candice
took her blanket, she said, “I'm sleeping on the couch.”
Chapter 3: The
Beginning of the End
I woke to the sound of
the wardrobes being opened, and drawers pulled as Candice threw her
clothes on the end of my bed. She went out into the hallway to drag
in two suitcases when India bolted in and jumped on my side of the
bed. Sheesh, what am I going to tell our little one? India cuddles up
next to me, and we watch as Candice stuffs all her shoes.
“Where you going,
“I'm going to nana's
house to stay. I'm packing your things too so start getting all the
stuff you want to take.”
I jolt, “Excuse me?
Over my dead body!”
I stand when Candice
waves her finger, “I'm taking her, and that's final.”
“No!” I say.
Candice zips up her
bags and takes it out to the hallway. Her
brother Adrian is there and takes the cases. He
barely makes eye contact he moves downstairs. His stocky frame and
muscles over muscles make me think he could carry the house.
Candice goes, “India
c’mon let's go!”
India stays within the
sheets “No! I don't want to go to nana's she's
mean, and she stinks like cat pee!”
Candice pulls the
covers off and drags her by the ankles, India is clutching the sheets
when I grab Candice’s hand to let go.
screams, “Stop playing around!”
when I tell Candice to let go. She closes her fist got me right in
the nose making my eyes water, She hit me again when I tried to
protect myself when I pushed her. She went back first into the
wardrobe smashing the mirror. Her eyes widened then she touched the
back of her head. There was blood on the back of it.
“Ah! Stop it! Stop
hitting me! Stop hitting me, Nico!” Candice
yelled. She started to grab the lampshade and flung it at me.
Next minute Adrian bust
in the door tackling me, I went back first to
the bed then we rolled off the other side of the
Adrian screams, “You
fuck!” He lays two big hooks one in my stomach then one on the edge
of the face. India is crying screaming at Adrian to stop hitting me.
I squeeze my eyes, the hit brings with it a
shock. I'm bleeding from the forehead when he lifts me up by the
He head-butts me, I
fall to ground I peer up at India holding me. Screaming at Adrian to
go away, he tries to brush her aside to throw another punch. I blank
I heard the sound of
rolling metal doors opening and closing. My eyes are glued shut. I
open them slightly to pick out the sleep in them. I woke up in the
cell, lying on an uncomfortable blue plastic
mattress. I smell sweat and piss, the air stifling and hot. I gander
around at the 4x4 cell painted in white. Scratched graffiti on the
walls and blots of toilet paper on the ceiling,
next to a flickering fluorescent tube light encased in metal mesh. I
see the stainless steel toilet and basin at the top. The tap is
dripping making my headache worse, and I stood staggering over to the
door. I spot an officer throw another guy in a cell. He peered
at his folder and stepped over to me. He pushed the slider over. His
pale skin, a large porno
star mustache, and rancid breath make me wince.
I see his narrowed
eyes, He said, “Nico Joel?”
The officer turns to
the side, then the other then stares back. “The wife beater huh?
You piece of pond scum, of all the criminals we
get in here, it’s your kind that makes me sick higher than the drug
addicts we got in this shithole. Take the crack whore I just threw in
there. People think the problem is her addiction, but it’s not.
It’s the drug dealers, the peddlers who propagate it. The source.
Domestic Violence offenders are the pure form. The source
and the cause.”
“Dude, I was setup!”
“They all say that.”
He unlocks the cell and opens it. “You’re free to go.”
“Collect your stuff
from the office. You’ve been done with a trespass order too from
I said nothing. Being
escorted to processing, I’m given my things, and I walk outside. I
see Hemi waiting for outside sitting on the bonnet of his white five
series BMW. He slid off it, patting the dust off his backside.
“Sheesh, how long you
“As soon as you got
locked up, Candice gave me the call to pick you up. The cop said you
would be few hours, so I waited.”
“What she say?”
“Nothing much that
you both had an argument.”
“Did she say I hit
“No.” he frowned.
“Just said for me to pick you up. C’mon let’s
get you home.”
We took the drive back
home via the southern motorway. I wound down the window, breathing in
healthy air. Deep breaths to purge the lungs.
I’m glad I didn’t have to spend any longer in there.
I said, “If Candice
didn’t tell you. She’s filing for divorce.”