Excerpt for Live by Light by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

This page may contain adult content. If you are under age 18, or you arrived by accident, please do not read further.



Live by Light



~~~



David Manoa




Copyright 2017 David Manoa

Smashwords Edition

v.2.1


~~~~



The author asserts the moral right to be identified as

the author of this work.



All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including photocopying, recording, information storage and retrieval systems, or otherwise, without prior permission in writing from the author, with the exception of a book reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.


~~~~~~







Max Paratai


Auckland, New Zealand.

Home.

10:00pm


Tonight was supposed to be my night off, for tonight is my birthday. I can’t count how many times I’ve disappointed her. I get a text mid-way through our dinner from Constable Johnny Sluiters that something big is going down tonight. A massive drug deal. It gets to that point where you just have to lie to the ones you love to make things easier.

I was born forty-one years ago at approximately 7:17pm. Forty-one. Twenty years from today. I started on a journey as a new recruit as a police officer. So many memories... most of them dark. Not even this glass filled to the brim with Jim Beam and Coke can null out the fucking pain I'm feeling. I used to believe in something. Ideology, a purpose. God. To think these twenty years counted for something. That I made a difference. Only the world never changes, evil manifests itself over and over.

I've seen things. Done things. I've killed in the line of duty. Everything compounded gave me a cynical view of the world. I watch the ice in the glass melt, the diluted bourbon rising to the top bursting at the seams before spilling over. Coating the glass coffee table. I've almost had enough of this fractured life and if it wasn't for my beautiful wife, Patricia. I don't know if I would still be here. If I would still be sane.

In the lounge, I sit on the coffee table across from her, while she sleeps. Her chest rising and falling like the tide. I think about the secrets I keep. She always wanted me to be truthful to her. To be straight up. Only I know telling her would cause her so much worry and anxiety.

Secrets and lies.

It's almost the start of my shift. I'm dressed in sneakers, black jeans, and a black t-shirt, awaiting pickup from my colleague, Johnny Sluiters. Bright light from Johnny's car spears into my driveway and into my living room. I lean over and kiss Patricia, she wakes. Her brunette locks cover her heart-shaped face, she brushes it back. Her hazel colored eyes blink. My girl is such a light sleeper. She sits up and yawns rubbing her eyes before squinting at the light. She ties back her hair and stands. I hold her.

“I gotta go, sweetie.”

Patricia frowns, “How come? You said you had the night off?”

“Yeah. I thought so too. It’s only for a few hours baby.”

She's dressed so seductively in her white nighty, I hated leaving her like this. Another night in bed we won't get to share. Gone forever.

“Keep safe.” She whispers.

“I will.” Kissing her goodbye on the forehead.


I open the door and head out to see Johnny Sluiters adjusting his earpiece. He's nodding, the six foot five behemoth then spears back his blonde hair, then pulls on his beard. He’s a dead ringer for Dolph Lundgren. I pop open the trunk putting my bag next to the gun safe.

“Max.” He says, voice croaky.

“Yeah.”

“You sure you want to retire from the police force completely? Forty is still too young. You work your ass off to become detective constable only to throw it away after a couple of years. Maybe ask the captain for a desk job. Think about the mortgage you got to pay on your place?”

Johnny exhales, staring at my house. A tidy two storied six-bedroom home, I bought three years ago from my divorce with Candice. A bargain at the time and a freehold home, once I cash out from my police trust fund. Another reason why I want to retire.

I say, “I’m just done with the job, the whole machine. I just want to live.”


We head north to the suburb of Northcote. I sift through my notes as Johnny takes the northern motorway. The night is humid, typical for Auckland summer in the middle of January. There's this swirling feeling in my stomach, anticipation, and fear to get the job done. I put away my notes then switch off the air-con. I wind down the windows, as we approach the Auckland harbor bridge. I want to acclimatize to the weather. I can see city skyline to my right. The water is choppy, boats and yachts rock from the waves. A flock of seagulls heads inland. The Sky Tower lit up with tones of green at the bottom and red at the top. I wipe the sweat from my brow, the cool breeze blows in.

Johnny says, “How's Patricia.”

“She's good, she's still badgering me to have kids.”

Johnny chuckles, “C'mon man, you should.”

“Nah man. I went through that shit with my ex-wife Candice, not keen to repeat things. Especially when your daughter from the last marriage hates your guts.”

“Sucks... Patricia is a kind woman dude. She'd be a great mother.”

“Mother... kids... babies... I tell you what man. It's all I been hearing about for the last year. I just don't want kids. Full stop.”

It went silent, Johnny shook his head and said, “I love my little Taylor dude. I love being a dad.”

“Bask in the experience Johnny, it goes like a flash in the pan. I wish… I wish, I did fewer hours when my daughter was born. Damn... I can't believe your daughter is two months already.”

“I know dude, it's going quick. I regret not taking the month off when she was born.”

“You still can take time off.” I say, “Fuck this job.”

Johnny laughs, “I'll save it for Christmas, with the way time is going, it will be here before you know it.”


We exited the bridge, taking Akoranga Rd then left via College Rd to enter a block of statehouses on Cadness St in Northcote. We park up two houses down from the state home. It's a timber weatherboard two-story place, painted white on the second level, blue on the first. The grass in the front yard and the berm is overgrown like a cornfield. There are two windows one each side of the front door which is closed. One window is boarded up the other is open with a prospect looking out. He's brown skinned wearing a grey hoodie. He strikes his lighter to smoke a joint. We get glimpses of his tattooed face, one ugly motherfucker.

The second level of the statehouse, both windows are intact, but the black curtains are drawn. I know from the construction of these state homes are boilerplate there is a balcony at the back with a sliding door to the main bedroom. The back door leading into the hallway.

Johnny says, “What a shithole. If North Korea decides to fire a nuke, it should be here. I'm glad they are going to wreck all down to the new housing developments.”

“Be interesting what they will do with the current tenants?”

“Do you need to ask? Obvious really. They will relocate the unwanted and get in people who can pay the higher rent. Look at all this shit. These are government homes they are getting for free, the least they could do is mow the fucking lawns.”

“Social engineering? Or gentrification?” I say.

“Who cares? The problem is scum shouldn't be allowed to accumulate in a pond. You spread it out it's less of a problem.”

“Interesting metaphor. Before your time, it made our jobs easier. We only had to come to one place to find crime.” I say, “What's the time?”

“Build a wall Trump says… makes sense here, huh?” Johnny switches off the ignition. He takes out a pack of gum. He peers out.

“The lights just switched on at the second level,” he says. “Time is 12:25.”

“In my notes, they have a courier who drops off the cash and picks up around 1am.”

“Yeah, so we wait, I know that fucker is coming,” Johnny says pulling out another stick of gum. “I feel sorry for Patricia, you know. She really wanted a kid.”

“I told her straight up from the start. Even before we married that I didn't want children. I gave her the chance to leave me if that was her priority.”

“Whoa, I didn't know. I guess with her being in her forties, Patricia’s maternal clock is ticking down. She's acting on instinct perhaps. Don't you think it's kinda selfish and harsh to put her on the spot? If you want kids, you have to find someone else?”

“Depends on the perspective. When put so much love, attention all that shiet into your daughter from a past marriage. Only to find out at my age to have it reversed on you. What kind of fucked up karma is that?”

Johnny goes silent, chewing loudly he nods. “Yeah, the bad kind. I can see your point of view. With us, we both wanted Taylor. I guess with Patricia having a child in her forties, you run the high risk of your kid having downs syndrome and other complications. I don't think I could handle having a disabled child. Fuck that.” Johnny spits his gum out the window. He fingers drum on the steering wheel.

I exhaled, “I always find it stupid when people wish or even pray what sex the baby should be. People spending frivolous money on boy or girls clothes. When Candice found out we were having a daughter, she went overboard on the weekends of buying girls clothes, toys and money spent. I was just relieved our kid wasn't retarded.”

Johnny flinches. “Yeah. I didn't think of it that way. I admit I got caught up with our arrival of the baby.”

“But we got out ok.”

“We did.” Johnny takes his cross out and kisses it. “Thank god. So… is Patricia on the pill? Or did you get a vasectomy.”

I raised a brow, “Neither, Patricia got one of those IED things.”

“You mean IUD, Intra Uterine Device.” he laughed.

“Whatever. Same thing.”

“Uh no. One prevents babies, the other blows ya ass up. Sarah got one those things done after we had Taylor. Can't blame her after the excruciating eight-hour labor,” he says. “Maybe Sarah anticipated how much of a horny guy I'd be, after not having sex when she got heavily pregnant. That last trimester... blue balls city...”

“What you never had sex?” I frown, “Bullshit…”

“Na man, it just felt weird you know. With the baby in there and all. Wouldn’t want my baby to have dent of my penis on her head.”

I cracked up, “I’ve seen your dick buddy, and it wouldn’t go anywhere near. Explains all the box of tissues at your house.”

“Very funny... that labor though. Maybe that’s where Taylor gets her screams from. Never again.”

“Yeah, I remember we were on a stakeout, and she was face timing you.”

Johnny shakes his head, “I should have turned my phone off huh?”

“It was a bit disconcerting. Hearing your woman scream while looking through a set of binoculars awaiting another bust of a drug house. You could have just left, you know.”

“You crazy? You couldn't have handled those two big bastards who tried to jump us. You wouldn't be here.”

“Yeah, your right.”

Johnny smirks, “You know though there is one percent chance they can become pregnant though, with that thing inside her.”

“I know, but she's had the IUD inside her for two years, so the ninety-nine percent is working right so far.”

He laughs, “Or maybe you're a master at your pull out method.”

Johnny can be a funny bastard at times but our chuckles ceased when we saw a gang member of the Copperheads pull up in his Harley and he is carrying two black bags into the house...

***

Patricia Paratai


3am.


Why is it after dating a lifetime of losers I find someone who I really love, to know he doesn't want a child. I couldn't sleep after Max left. I stared at his glass on the table untouched after receiving a text that disrupted the rest of his birthday dinner.

I sat up and switched off the TV and went to bed. I receive a message from Max that he's on his way home in the next half hour. A couple of hours he said… become five. Some things never change.

Lying there in bed, thinking about my life. I'm in a better place now, after a massive regret, I feel, I can move on. But my maternal instincts or FOMO is festering in my mind. I didn't tell Max that two months ago I removed the IUD before he left for Houston. I just felt if I were to bring a child into this world, he would change his mind. I saw the way Max held Johnny’s baby girl, Taylor. How natural he was with her. The way she would calm when she cried. Holding Taylor myself, sent emotions through me, which at that point, that I will never have a baby.

That was not to be.

My period came late and although I didn't have a pregnancy test or a visit to the doctor. I knew. My life at this point compounded on me with family and friends saying I should have one. I know deep down Max will adapt and come to love the situation I will be in. He has to…


Half an hour passes, and I hear Max come in, I listen to the shower run. His silent curses, from whatever ailed him. Moments after, I hear him come into our bedroom. I switch on the light to see him with the white towel around his waist. He's prodding a few bruises on his shoulder and forearms. His face all messed up.

“Oh my god!” I say, “What happened?”

“We went into a meth house when we spotted the exchange. Bastards were waiting for us with baseball bats as soon as we went through the back door. They were lucky we didn't shoot them.”

Max sat on the bed and exhaled. He smoothed his hair back and looked at me. Breathing a sigh of relief.

“Are you ok?” I asked.

“Are you ok?” he replied with a smirk.

“You’re late…”

Max smiles, “Out of all the drug busts I've been in. I have never had those moments where you popped into my mind. You see these bruises on my forearms that would have been all on my forehead if I didn't react. I would have been out cold.”

I shook my head and held Max. “I think you should stop being a detective. Do something safer.”

Max kissed my hand, “Like traffic?” he says, “No... Hell no.”

I flinched, “Hey, did Johnny make it out?”

“He did. He saved my life again.”

“Gosh Max, you're really getting too old for this stuff.”

“I know.”

Max held me and kissed my forehead. “Hey, I'm not going to leave you as a widow. You know that right?”

“I know.” I say, “I hope not!”

“I have this last assignment then I'm done, baby. I'm quitting.”

“What!” I sat up straight. So much went through my mind. “I'm glad to hear it. But what are you going to do, for a job?”

“Bank security.”

“No!” I say shocked. “That's beneath you. “

“Kidding Hun.” I want to take a few months off, really take my mind off things. Re-access. Then find a new challenge.”

“Like having a baby?”

Max raised a brow. I couldn't help myself.

“Uh…No.” he smiles. “Another job with weekends off. A job, to spend more time with you. I’m guilty of that, I realize it’s all been about me and my needs when it came to this bloody job.

“Hey, it provided us with all these things we have. I am grateful that we have a home. The financial security. I’m in a position that I don’t have to work because of you. That I can focus on my writing. I guess I’ll have to get a job now?”

Max holds my waist and kisses me deeply. “No, Course not. I’m happy that you can pursue your writing and take care of things at home. Do you want to return to work?

I wrestled with the notion before replying. “I have good momentum with some of my novels so far. They are selling. Maybe one day we could retire off the books income.”

Max kissed my hand, “You could write crime novels you know. I have so many stories, I could tell you. Inspired by true events, to play it safe if you write it though. I don’t know why you write these god-damned romance novels.”

“I can’t help it. I love the genre.”

Max chuckles, “I’m not hating, but I can’t read your novels. Some of these men you describe make me jealous. The sex scenes whoa! I could never be like them.”

“Yeah, I can only fantasize along with eleven thousands of my Facebook fans.”

“What!” Max says, “Show me.”

I take out my phone and show him.

Max nods. “Impressive… I give you something to write about…” He reaches over and kisses my neck, my collarbone then my lips. I never tire of his affection... I wish there were more. He releases his hold, lifting me up to take me to bed...

***

Max Paratai


Anticipation... After almost losing my life. Things that are most important to you come into perspective. I lower Patricia by the door, and she turns so seductively and heads to bed. Damn that butt of hers… with her dark grey panties. Her curvy body, her skin so flawless. Hair so silky smooth. She's now lying on the bed, back on the mattress, head propped up by the pillows.

I sit on the edge of the bed. Grateful to be back with my woman. My hand smoothed her left thigh. I notice my knuckles bruised, and skin peeling. Here I am a symbol of pain and this woman I'm touching is my pleasure. Patricia reached out, her hand holding my forearm for a moment. Her gentle strokes, her energy. All the emotions of today hit me. They hit my brain in flashes, I can’t ignore the trauma… or the pain.

I wept.

Patricia sat up and cuddled me. I couldn't lie to her.

“Johnny's in hospital.”

“What!”

I wiped my eyes, “It went to shit at the drug bust.”

“What happened?”

I squeezed my eyes... “He’s stable. He’ll make it through. I don't want to talk about it right now. Is that ok?” Patricia nodded and slid back into bed.

“C'mon on. Get some sleep, it will all be better in the morning.

I slid back into bed and turned to my side. Patricia cuddled me, arm around me was little comfort to what happened tonight.


***

4 hours earlier.

Northcote

Cadness Rd


I lifted the receiver to call back up, once I saw the guy with two bags at the front door. He is a fat fuck that barely fit his Copperhead vest. He turned looking in our direction then another. His are movements erratic. Paranoid. Johnny took my arm. I let go of the receiver.

“What?”

Johnny shakes his head. “By the time we wait for backup to come, they will be long gone. You know we can't catch up to the bike he has. Even if we get the Eagle Helicopter to pursue, they will just head to the airport and disappear.”

“Cut the fuel lines on the bike then?”

“Too risky they’ll see us coming.” He says, “The back door. Through the neighbor’s house, that’s our in.”

I take the receiver calling it in, and I put it back on the hook. “Let’s go.”


We jump the neighbor's fence and head to the backyard. From the way, the lawns looked impeccable and some flower gardens. It gave me a sense of a widow or an older couple. We peeked over the fence to see the back door open with a patched gang member looking in. He’s whirling around a baseball bat like there were nunchucks. He's white, as in albino white about 6 foot 4, long ginger dreadlocks. He has a goatee that is tied in a knot at the bottom. Same Copperhead vest. Solid build and ugly as fuck to boot. I notice the pistol tucked behind his back. He steps outside and teases the Bulldogs, prodding his bat into their faces.

I peered up to the second floor, through the sliding door, the gang member who arrived on the bike earlier. He lifts the bags and places it on the table. I turn to my side when Johnny jumps the fence and bolts to the albino gang member with his back turned. He grabs him.

Shit! The fuck are you doing Johnny!

Shots fired from within the house. Striking the gang member in the chest, the other hitting Johnny in the shoulder. He grimaces as the bulldog's bark, launching from their post only to be held back by the thick chain. Multiple shots fire again from inside. I see the sliding door open up above, and the gang member who carried the bag spots me, bolts, while the other bald-headed gang member, he was trading with takes out his Uzi and lays on fire on me.

“Johnny!”

Bullets rain down on me. The ground around me spurts up dirt and grass. I sprint back as the red wooden fence gets shredded by incoming fire. Splinters hit me, I take cover from behind the neighbor’s car. I hear the onset of sirens and gunfire stops briefly. The gang members curse, screaming to everyone to split. I look over to see Johnny back against the wall holding his pistol. I look up again to see no one upstairs. I jump through the shredded fence and take point on the opposite side of the back door. The sensor light switches off as we are under it. I glance across to Johnny who is sweating. His shoulder doesn't look as bad I thought.

He nods. My ears strain as I hear someone coming down the stairs. I go in. It's a long hallway. The floor is of a white linoleum with holes and tears. The walls have holes, the wallpaper all but torn, the white ceiling stained with cigarette and weed smoke. There are four doors to adjacent rooms all of them open. I look up to see the single light bulb dangling from the long wire swaying. Light flickering, shadows leaping all over the place.

I raise my pistol and stepping in the hallway cautiously. It stinks in here. I spot the stairs between the two rooms and the front door at the far end. Whoever came down wouldn't have time to head to the front door, the distance too far that we would have been able to spot him. He’s lurking in one of the rooms. Like Russian roulette, we approach the first two doors, Johnny takes the room on the left and me on the right.

We enter the rooms at the same time. I held my breath as I enter. Fluid pooled in my mouth. The room I cover is pitch black. I switch on my torch to see needles and stained mattress. The walls are plastered with pornographic images of women. There is foil everywhere, utensils used to smoke meth. All clear. I step back out and turn to Johnny who whispers the same thing.

We come up to stairs. The floorboards creak, and I hear a commotion from the room on the left.

ARGH!

In a flash, a man jumps out from the room on the right. I see a steel baseball bat hit my hand my pistol drops. The guy is striking me. I hold up my forearms to protect my face. He gets one good hit on my forehead before Johnny clips him on the back of the neck with the butt of his pistol. He’s out cold.

We hear more noise, Johnny reacts steeping in front of me and heads into the room on the left. I hear a grunt, and a knock like there is a struggle. I try to get up, but I feel so concussed that I slip. I wiggle to the wall and prop myself up. I squeeze my eyes, blood is dripping over my eyelids. I grit my teeth to fight the pain.

Shots fired. Two shots than one. I stumble in to see Johnny the foot of the door. He's been shot to the side of the head. His forehead is bleeding. I scan across to the gang member who is shot in the head and sternum, he's gone. I call for the paramedic.

***


Saturday Morning

8am


The patter of rain hits the corrugated roof. After last night. I slept pretty deep. The kind where you lose your bearings as if it was an outer body experience. Like everything that happened last night didn’t exist. I turn to see the other side of our bed empty. I pull the duvet across to see the blood stains on my pillow and sheet. I glance at my phone to see the queue of messages. One after the other. Work never stops or sleeps.

Shit,” I say, tired as fuck.

“What is it?” Patricia says as her voice echoes in the hallway.

“The Captain. He's at the hospital, I gotta head over.”

“Now?” she says holding a tray of breakfast.

“Yeah.”

Patricia places the tray on the bed and takes my phone. “Well, it says a debriefing at 10am, so you have time for breakfast. Eat you need to keep your energy up.”

I kiss her forehead then look at the scrambled eggs, she has cooked me, season with black cracked pepper and sea salt. I dig in.

“Why couldn't tell me what really happened?”

“I didn't want you to worry.” I say, “That's all.”

“Will Johnny be alright?”

“I know he will make it. He's a tough buggar.”

“Gosh Max, I can't wait for you to quit. It can't come soon enough.”

“I know. 9 months.... and counting.”

“Can I come with you to see how Johnny is doing?”

“Yeah, I think Sarah and Taylor will be there too.”

I zoned out, watching as Patricia poured milk into my black coffee. The swirl of milk changing the color and taste. Changing... Changes. Change.

“Hey,” Patricia says as she takes the coffee out my hand. “You alright?”

“I'm fine. C'mon lets get ready and head to the hospital.

***

Middlemore Hospital


Anxiety hit me as Patricia, and I stood in the elevator going up to the intensive care ward. Patricia took my hand, and the ding sound of the lift made me jolt. My senses are assaulted by the disinfectant hospital smell, it gets me every time. I hate it, and every time I come here, it always is for a wrong reason. Death.

I turned to Patricia who tied her brunette hair back. She wore jeans and white tunic with her brown leather jacket and black flats.

She pointed ahead. I see Sarah holding Taylor with her mother Joan, hovering behind her. Sarah hands Taylor to her, and she bolts to me. She raises her hand and hits me. Again and again. She clenches her fist and lays a good one on my lip.

“You son of a bitch!” Sarah cried, “Why didn't you protect him!”

Emotions hit me as Patricia held her back. I see Captain Rodgers come out of Johnny’s room. He smoothes his bald head, then scratches his mustache. His steely blue eyes widen as he runs over, his gut jugging as he ran. The 6 foot 6 big bastard gets in between us, and we head out to the lobby.

***

Patricia Paratai


“Calm down Sarah!” I held her as she cried into my arms. Sarah wiped her eyes and settled. “You know Max would put himself before anyone else.”

Sarah lifted her arms hands on her head. Stands of her blonde hair fell in front of her face. Her eyes puffy, she blinked more tears.

She says, “As a precaution, they put Johnny into an induced coma. They were concerned about slight swelling in the brain.”

Joan comes over holding Taylor she’s crying. Sarah takes her and nurses her.

“Johnny will make it Sarah, I know he will.”

“Have you seen him in there?” she says, “How messed up he looks?”

I said nothing.

Sarah exhales, “Sorry, I'm taking out my frustration and anger on everyone.” She shakes her head, her voice lowers to a whisper as Taylor closes her eyes. “When I met Johnny, he was fresh out of Police College. He told me his job was dangerous at times and I was naive to think nothing bad would happen. Three years as a cop, not a scratch, bump or bruise. I never worried about him till he had this obsessive aspiration of becoming a detective like Max.

Once we had Taylor, it was a blessing and a curse. Johnny worked closer with Max on these drug cases, and I see less of him now.”

“Everything will be alright Sarah, you gotta be positive.”

Sarah raises her head and takes a deep breath.

She says, “I do. I have to for Taylor's sake. I know Johnny will fight for his recovery. He won't want to leave his girls behind.”

I paused as Sarah pulled up the blanket on Taylor. Joan took her and left for the lounge.

Sarah says, “I envy the position you are in with Max retiring in nine months’ time. I know why Johnny is working his butt off to take his spot. Argh… but I don't know if he should take it. We need the money but to get all this drama?”

“Life sucks like that doesn't it? We want things to go our way, and if we are lucky, we get half or a quarter of our needs and desires. Even when we get it, there's always a catch twenty-two. I thought I was lucky that I didn’t have to work. But the flipside was the loneliness that comes with Max being married to his job and the sheer boredom.”

“Tell me about it. With maternity leave and Johnny, being out all the time, I understand fully.”

Sarah flicks her eyes to the door when Max and the captain talk briefly before he heads to the elevator to take a call.

I say, “Give Max a chance to explain what happened. At least give him that.”

***


We all sat in the cafeteria as Max went over the details of what happened that night. Johnny acted in a gung-ho manner trying to be a hero. I guess he wanted to shine to make himself a definite candidate for Max's successor. We stayed a short while in Johnny's room watching over him, the reality of Max's job hit me.

We left and head for the cafeteria when we passed the maternity wards. Passing them to know I will be here in nine months… The moment of happiness is dulled by the fact, I haven't told Max yet. I stop by the next door to another mother talking with her newborn. The sight captivates me. Mother smiling, whispering to her child, wrapped up so snug... I know this will complete me as a person, and I can truly be happy.

“C'mon... let's go,” Max says, as he grabs my arm.

We exit out of the doors of the hospital. Max has his hands on hips, taking a big gasp of air, he exhales then heads to the car where he is standing on the passenger side looking to the hospital. We drive back home taking the motorway. Its 1pm and the skies are overcast to the point where it's hard to tell if it's going to rain. Max is on his tablet, reading a report. He shakes his head and curses.

“Fuck!”

“What is it?”

“I have the IPCA on my ass for what happened.”

“Who are they?”

“The Internal Police Complaints Authority.”

“Why?”

“When procedures aren't followed, these pricks come in.”

“You have nothing to hide, you should be fine.”

“I don't know that.”

“What do you mean?”

“They are very meticulous, they will want to see if I broke any rule. But the way they move like oil tankers. Hopefully, I'll be already out of this friggin job.”

I placed my palm on Max's hand. In my mind, I needed to tell him I was pregnant and soon.

I said, “I was thinking of fish and chips tonight. Netflix and chill? How does that night sound?”

Max licked his lips. His hand smoothed my thigh.

He said, “fish and chips are great ideas.”

I shook my head, cracking up laughing for the moment when the anxiety of telling him the truth kicked in.

***

Max Paratai

Barack Road Takeaways

7pm.


Netflix and chill... After today, chilling out with Patricia is what I need right now. After getting my ass roasted by Captain Rodgers. He gave me two weeks off to recover, even gave me details of a shrink I should see. I sat staring at menu board with the scent of food around me. My phone rings, and it is Johnny.

“Johnny?”

“Yeah man, it's me.”

“What the heck? You were out cold when we saw you. You ok?”

“I am Max.” he says, “I'm good. I don’t know why they gave me the drugs to put me under, I was fine. I argued with the cunts not to give me that crap.”

“I'm just getting dinner, I'll drop it off and head right over.”

“No. No.” he coughs. “Don't do that man. I'm here with Sarah and Taylor, I think we all need time with our families.”

“Ok.” I say, “I'm glad to know you are alive mate, you had me worried.”

“Hey, Max… I'm sorry about Sarah's behavior before. Everything that's happened is my fault. I shouldn't have tried to be Superman. I fucked up.”

“Forget about it, all that matters is you are alive for the Sarah and the baby.”

I hear Johnny sob over the phone. It hit me because I knew my recommendation for my position is gonna be Johnny. Even the captain has him earmarked.

“Sorry, Max, damn when you lie helpless, and I see my girls. I couldn't help it. Fucking drugs they gave made me feel like it was worse than it was. Like I was a cripple or something.”

“No need to apologize. I'll come by and talk to you tomorrow, I need to talk to you about what the Captain said to me.”

“Ok.”

I hung up, clenching my fists over the events of the last couple of days before the lady a counter shouted out my order. I grabbed the food and headed out I wondered what Patricia want to talk about.

***

Plates lay on the dining room table, with three tea lights burning. Patricia went to a lot of effort to set out the table. She started to dish everything out.

I said, “What did you want to tell me?”

“Dig in, first.”

My curiosity halted seeing the steaming Chicken Chow Mein. Patricia had this blank look watching me eat.

I said, “Johnny rang me while I was at the takeaway shop. He's finally come out of his coma.”

“Thank god for that, how is he?”

“He's good. He sounds coherent, he wanted to apologize for Sarah's behavior.”

“Should we go after dinner and visit him?”

“No. Johnny wanted time with his family. We can go tomorrow.”

“Ok.”

I polished off my food pretty quickly when Patricia barely touched hers.

“You not hungry, Hun.”

“I'm alright.”


I put the knife and fork in the middle of the plate and lean back.

“Well? Tell me what's going on?” I asked.

Patricia tied back her hair, looking at the ground.

She said, “I'm pregnant.”

“What!” I say shocked. “How?”

“I took the IUD out, two months ago.”

I stood looking at her, “Jesus Patricia, you didn't want to talk about it huh?”

“Why? I knew you would say no.”

“So you go behind my back and force me to accept this decision. I told you countless times if you want a fucking baby then there is the door.”

Patricia wept, “Don't be like that Max, this will be hard to accept at first, but you'll warm to it.”

I clenched my fists, slamming them on the table. I flung the dishes to the side, smashing to the ground. “For fucks sakes what part of no. Don't you understand? Are you thick?”

“Max. What's done is done. I only ask for your support in raising this child.”

“How many weeks pregnant are you?”

“Six, I think.”

“You are going to get an abortion.” I say, “I’m fucking taking you tomorrow.”

“No!” she says, “If you don't want this child, I will raise it on my own then.”

I smooth my face, so much going through my mind.

“I can't even look you, Patricia... what you did is up there with cheating. If not worse.”

“Max please, I'm sorry but I... I really wanted this child. C'mon it won't be this bad.”

I stood and took my jacket off the hook. “I need some time to clear my head. I'm off to see Johnny.”

***


Middlemore Hospital


The drive to the hospital was riddled with frustration and anger. Patricia pissed me off majorly, my mind is torn between her and our new situation. I took the elevator up and bumped into Captain Rodgers waiting impatiently by the way his foot is tapping to take the lift down.

“Max?” he says, “what are you doing here?”

I step out to the side to let people in, and we drift across to the window. The captain arches his back and groans. “Ah, fuck my back is killing me. Sitting on my ass in the chair while being interrogated by Simmons from the IPCA.”

I think it’s your overhanging stomach that’s making your back ache.

“Stop will ya! I get enough from the wife.”

“The IPCA.” I raise a brow, “They were here?”

“Ah huh, they came as soon as they found out Johnny was awake. Disrespectful bastards didn’t even give time for Johnny’s wife and child to talk. Him and his blondie offsider Cooke,” he says, his hands on hips. “The two roaches have it in for us.”

“Why they interview you two and not me?”

“Believe me, son, you will be next. Its Simmons strategy to isolate people.”

“To catch us out...”

He nods.

“Well, he will be pleasantly surprised when both our statements match up.”

Pleasantly... That word is never in Simmons vernacular. He is all about finding a scalp to add on his mantelpiece. Bloody glory hunter.”

I said nothing.

“You should expect a call from Simmons soon. I want to be there at the meeting he sets up.”

“And if he says just me only?”

Captain Rodgers smooths his mustache. “Then do what he says. But call me after to debrief.”

“Do we have to be worried about anything?”

“No, from what Johnny told him, he may just get a slap on the wrist for insubordination for not following procedure.”

“I can't remember saying he went against my order not to go in.”

“Well, you two better your stories straight. I don't want Simmons going any deeper looking for small shit to ping us on.”

“Ok.” I say, “How is Johnny?”

“He's fine. Go on in, Sarah's gone home for the night, because the baby is so restless so it's just him. That kid can scream I can tell you that.”


The Captain walks back to the elevator and presses the button. I head into Johnny's ward, and I see him on a cell phone. I knock on the door, and he sees me. He hangs up the phone.

He sits up, “What are you doing here Max?”

“Coming to see you. So much for the family night?”

Johnny exhales then tousles his blonde hair. “Simmons and the Captain were here, bastards turned up pretty much when I woke up. Waking up to dry and cottony mouth while two large men are breathing down my neck is not my kind of foreplay.”

I smiled, handing him a glass of water. “Yeah, the captain told me. I spoke with him before I came up here.”

Johnny shakes his head. “I'm worried they might lay charges man. I can't afford to be suspended without pay or the worst case scenario... dismissed... Argh... I don't want to think about work right now dude. How's Patricia?”

“Well, I don't want to think about home right now either...”

“We are on the same end of the spectrum huh? What happened?”

I paused. Shaking my head.

“Max…”

I said, “She's Pregnant.”

Johnny jolts and sits up, even more, his legs shift to the side of the bed. “What!” he frowns, “wow man... congratulations?”

“I don't know what to do man.”

“What can you do? From everything we talked about, it's kinda messed up how it happens.”

“Like God himself listening to my conversation, deciding to make my life a whole lot shitter.”

“C'mon man don't say that. You should take the pregnancy as a miracle. That one percent chance we talked about. Maybe it was God that made her pregnant.”

I head to the window to see night sky clear. Stars barely could be seen from the street lights below. Everything faded...

I said, “God had nothing to do with it. This isn’t no Virgin Mary Bullshit. Patricia pulled out her IUD thing a couple of months ago.”

Johnny's eyes widen. “What the heck? She didn't tell you?”

“No.”

Johnny is frozen, thirty seconds later he breaks his deep trance and exhales. “Wow... that is some real calculated shit right there... damn, I… never thought she would go to that extreme.” He paused, “Two months right?”

“Yep. I don't want the baby...”

“But she does. C'mon man it can't be that bad? I think you need to take you out of the picture and support Patricia. If it's something that would make her happy, why not?”

“I can't help being disappointed.”

“Give it time mate, you'll warm to the idea.” Johnny smooths his jaw, staring at the ground, he licks his lips. “Any idea how many weeks in?”

“Maybe seven or eight weeks pregnant? We had sex like the day, I got back from Houston. As in the airport carpark.”

“Thanks for specifics. Too much info for my fogged mind. With you retiring, how does that change things, are you gonna reconsider now?”

“No way, I’m not sticking to the job for the sake of the child. Just when I want to take it easy, I get this shit.”

“C'mon don't be so negative. Give it time. Imprint those three words in your brain. Bet ya ass 9 months from now when the baby comes. You'll be eating your own words.”

Johnny puts his hand out to shake.

I say, “How much?”

Johnny chuckles and slaps my hand. “Get outta here.”

I take a seat, mulling over the argument with Patricia. The reality that I am going to be a father again.

I say, “Everything was right the first time, in my previous marriage. Maybe I'm selfish, but I wanted to start a family on my own terms. House. Job. Then a baby. Three things that hit in succession...”

Johnny takes a glass of water to sip. He says, “Did you ever see the signs back then that your marriage would go up shit creek? Or did the experience of having your daughter strengthen it?”

“You are asking two different questions.”

He shrugged, “I'm curious.”

“It was this job, which cost me my marriage. I went all in thinking because I had the house had my wife and child the only thing eluding me was this fucking detective badge. My mistake… treating life like goalposts.”

“Nothing wrong with that mate. We all need to strive to achieve. Gives our life purpose. Direction.”

“You're not listening properly. I mean, I fucked up because I didn't pay attention to those brief moments or to enjoy them. I was always looking for that next step. I became Number One detective in Auckland thinking if there was something higher than that. That was my problem I was self-absorbed. Never satisfied,”

“You still are.”

I flick my eyes up to Johnny who gives a wry smile.

“Ha. Maybe, how it go with Simmons? The captain said they will be interviewing me soon.”

Johnny shook his head. “I might be up for misconduct that may go on my record. The guy had the radio transcripts, had to explain everything word for word. What are you going to say to Simmons when he sees you?”

“The truth. I don't see anything that would get you suspended.” I stand, “Anyways I got to get to Patricia and talk our shit out more. It was good to see you, Johnny.”

“You too buddy.”

***

Patricia Paratai


In the bathroom. I flicked the tap on, dousing cold water on my puffy eyes. I didn't expect Max to react as angrily as he did. Saying the hurtful things that made me feel so sad. That abortion comment hurt… it really did. Threatening an abortion! I look at my reflection and take a hand placing it on my tummy. The life inside me growing, the life that I wanted, to be rejected by the other.

I hear the front door open, and the sound of footsteps head down the hallway. Max stands by the door. I turn to him, he takes off his tie. His eyes are sunken, his clean-shaven face replaced by stubble.

He squeezes his eyes, “I'm so, so sorry Patricia. I said some things I shouldn't have said.”

“You were being brutally honest. I can’t believe what you said before.” I say, “Max, I'm having this baby whether you like it or not. If I have to raise it on my own, I will do that. If we have to divorce I will do that too.”

Max wrapped his arms around me, “Hey. I don't want a divorce. I want you.”

“Why can't you accept this situation?”

“I will baby, it's a lot for me to process especially with the way you went about it. You can’t blame me for being angry.”

“And I'm sorry about that.”

“No, you are not...” he says, “sorry not sorry...”


I shook and frowned at Max. He kissed me on the forehead.

“Damn, you know it changes everything now?” he whispers.

“How so?”

“The dynamics of our relationship. Things will be different.”

“Sounds vague, are you speaking from experience?”

“Maybe...”

“Will we end up like your previous marriage?”

Max holds the sides of my face, he leans in, and I close my eyes. The muscles in my eyelids relaxed and comforted more when his soft kisses touch each eye. I open my eyes to see Max, his expression the same look he had when he went down on one knee to ask me to marry me.

He says, “I won't let that happen, baby. We... Won't let that happen. I guess I was against the idea of having a child because I was burned in my previous marriage, but I realize now, that was my younger self. A different time. A completely different woman. I want to be with you Patricia, and the baby. That’s what’s in my heart.”

My heart skipped a beat, tears spilled. Max held the sides of my face again and kissed me deeply.

He said, “I'm so sorry about before. I needed the moment to vent out the anger.”

“I'm sorry, you're sorry, so we cancel each other out.”

Max kissed me again. “And we start again... Together.”


***

Max Paratai


Together...

Together.

Together in bed.


I couldn't hold my anger against Patricia because I loved her more than anything. For me, it dissipates with her, unlike anyone else who walked the planet. After deep reflection, with the totality of the situation. I would be torn apart without her. And with her being pregnant we have a life inside her that is an extension of us…

Like any heated argument we have. It quelled after discussion and comforted with sex... Patricia stood in front of me as I sat on the edge of the bed. I removed her blue blouse, till she stood in her bra and panties.

My hands swept down from her shoulders to her hips. I smiled, “You know this slim body of yours will change...”

Patricia started to remove her bra, her wholesome breasts exposed. She pushed me back further into the bed and sat on my thighs. My fingers circled her nipples. Palms cupping the arc of her breasts.

I whispered, “These will get bigger, and soon they will start producing milk.”

She moaned, “Will you find me attractive still when I put all this weight on?”

“Of course. I'm looking forward to all those luscious curves. The way a pregnant woman glows. I kissed the valley of her breasts, hands massaging the lower arc. Patricia leaned back into the bed. My cock twitched as I slid off her panties. Naked on the bed, my hands smoothed her inner thighs. Feeling soft skin, fingers closing in on her clit. Closer and closer, till my gentle touches made Patricia moan.

I removed my clothes, pressing my body against her. Patricia's hands held my chest feeling her hands smooth over my muscles. Her touches made my cock thicken, and the need to be inside her overtook everything.

I nudged her legs apart, sliding inside her. Deep...Deeper… In and out… Her eyes rolled to the back of her head. Her palms on my chest, her touches making me want her more. I lowered my head, kissing her neck, thrusting again and again... harder and faster till the urge to come overtook me, I lifted my head, releasing as I stared into her eyes. That intricate moment, magic happens a flow that overwhelms your soul and your soulmate.

I love this woman so much...

***

Interview with Simmons

Onehunga Community Centre.


Of all places, a community center. Is where the questioning began. Neutral ground. The room we’re in is more than what is needed. A single table in the middle of the room. The room twenty meters long and wide. The roofline was almost as high. On a hot afternoon, the windows were closed. No air-con. Not even a glass of water on the table. My footsteps echoed from the hardwood floor.

Simmons stood up from the table. I’ve seen him from time to time in my career. Popping in like a bloodhound at the police station. A man in his late 50's early 60's. His hair is steely gray, cut short on the sides and the top, like an army cut. He had a build of a powerlifter, you could tell he had muscle, but years of sitting at his desk, sipping coffee and donuts piled on the kilos. Clean shaven with grey eyes, thick eyebrows. He smiled, very briefly to let me know he means business.

His voice, baritone and weathered. He says, “Max Paratai... thank you for coming in. This is my partner here, Bobby Cooke. We would like to ask you some questions about that night.”

“Sure.”

We sat down, and Bobby took out his phone and pressed the record button. I raised a brow.

I said, “I made a statement, and you guys have a copy of the radio transcript of the night. You interviewed Johnny and now me. May I ask what are we going to be charged with?”

“Relax Max, we want to ask you about your relationship with Johnny first.”

“The fuck does that have to do with anything?”

Bobby says impatiently, “Just answer the questions ok?”

I looked at the lanky, wiry prick with combed back blonde hair in his black suit. The amount of grease he put in it, I should have brought some bread to spread on my toast. His tone of voice irritated me, he sounded like a squirrel. He takes out a few pieces of paper from a manila folder. I recognize that it's the radio transcript for the night.

Simmons says, “Bobby put that away.” Simmons leans forward, his breath reeking of cigarettes and bourbon. “First question how long have you known Johnny Sluiters?”

“Day one. He joined the force straight out of Police College known him for about seven years now.”

“Did you know of Johnny Sluiters before he joined your department?”

“No.”

“Were you aware of his record?”

“Yeah, he mentioned he did time in juvi for boosting cars. He was thirteen or fourteen at the time. What does that have to do with anything?”

Simmons opens up his jacket pocket and pulls out the pack of cigarettes. I look up at the smoke alarms and point. Simmons stands, to usher me to the window.

“Smoke?” he says as he opens the window. I look out to see the view of the Manukau harbor. The sun setting behind the hills. Orange light smeared across Simmons' face, he lights up then takes a deep pull then blows downward out the window.

“No thanks. Filthy habit if you ask me.”

“I didn’t ask for your opinion, just an offer yes or no. Kinda like the questions I have for you.”

I say, “Is there a point to all this or you guys digging deep to find something to ping Johnny and me on.”

Simmons flicks the ash out the window. Then puts out his smoke. Bobby ball sack is still at his desk typing on his laptop.


“Johnny Sluiters was a prospect for the Copperheads Gang. Did you know that?”

“No.” I say, “What does that have to do with anything. He stole cars when he was young and stupid, he turned his life around. He's a family man now and an upstanding officer who is in line to succeed me when I retire. I trust him.”

“You understand the connection though.”

“Yeah, which has served well with the informants he knows.”

Simmons scratches his jaw and calls Bobby to bring him a file. The one with the transcript. He asks Bobby for the highlighter and highlights the words. Gang member carrying two bags.

Bobby says, “There was only one bag found at the scene.”

“So what? The other gang members fled with the bag when they fired on us.”

“How many gang members did you see?”

“Two on the second level. One at the back door and two possibly in the hallway. I only got a glimpse of one when we went in. but I heard two distinctive voices in the hallway.”

Simmons blinks and nods and opens up the file, and there is a photo of two gang members fleeing the house. It looked like screenshots taken from CCTV footage on the corner of Cadness Rd and.

Simmons says, “Did you see them carrying bags.”

“No.”

“You visually ID two bags as per the transcript right?”

“Yes. I saw two black duffel bags when the guy went in.”

“And one bag was found in the house.”

“That’s correct on the second floor, the bag was full of meth.”

“And the second bag?”

“I searched the whole house, I couldn't find any other bags.”

Bobby ball sack stares at me for a moment. Trying to see if I'm lying.

“Where was Johnny at this time?”

“On a stretcher receiving medical attention.”

“And the Captain?”

“He was with Johnny, talking with him.”

I say, “Following the logic of your questioning are you accusing Johnny of being dirty?”

Simmons blinks, “No we are following procedure. No further questions. Thank you for your time, Max. We should have our report done in a couple of weeks.”

***


After the meeting with those two dickheads, I headed home. The time was 8pm, and Patricia messages me to say that she’s at Johnny’s house. I arrived inside saw Johnny, Sarah, and Taylor in the lounge. Mugs and biscuits filled the coffee table. Johnny stood by the fireplace, his head wrapped around with bandages like a mummy. He is holding Taylor, who is crying, the kinda scream that would make you question why you would ever want children.

“Hey Johnny, when did you get discharged?” I asked.

“Today man. I'm glad to get out of that coffin. Hey, you want a hold?”

Johnny handed over Taylor who calmed completely as she looked at my face. Her hand reaches out, and she touches my face. Which is a polar opposite of Johnny’s beard. He raised a brow when I start making high pitched noises she began to giggle.

I sing, “B.I.N.GO, B.I.N.GO. B.I.N.G.O and Bingo was his name o!” Taylor smiles, then chuckles. I kiss her on the forehead. Won’t be long before I sing this song to my own.

“Gosh, she's growing quick Johnny. Getting real tall.”

Johnny's finger combs Taylor's hair to the side. Then kisses her cheek. “She's looking more like her mother every day.”

“That's a good thing huh?”

Johnny chuckles, and Taylor starts to cry. I hand her back to Johnny, and she calms again then eventually drifts off to sleep. Like changing tides, this brings back a lot of memories. Sarah stands and takes Taylor to go to her room. We all follow as Sarah lays her into the bassinet. Patricia grabs my hand, and we watch on. Johnny grabs the blanket.

Patricia says, “That will be us soon....”

“I know... Johnny has a nice nursery huh?”

“Which room are we going to convert at home?”

“Definitely not my office, that’s for damn sure.”

“It would be the best choice, Max. It’s north facing with the nice sun during the whole day making it very warm at night.”

“No way! I spent ages making the custom shelving. It has all my files.”

Johnny smiles and Sarah motions us to be quiet since Taylor is a light sleeper. We shift out to the lounge, and Sarah brings in the champagne.

I raised a brow. Sarah takes out the glasses from her glass cabinet.

She says “Johnny told me. Well… congratulations to you both!”

I turn to Patricia, who flushes red. Sarah turns to grab the cork opener, and Patricia pinches my arm.

“What?”

“I didn't want you to tell them yet!”

“I thought it popped up already, during the conversation before I arrived?”

“No, you idiot. We were talking about Johnny the whole time.”


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-33 show above.)