It’s about an old man, Alfie. A Vietnam veteran. Choosing to live on the streets of Wellington after his wife dies. His life subtly entwining with those he encounters. Unaware he is homeless. Hiding behind a smile. Haunting flashbacks of the forgotten war. It's about a solo mom looking for a better life. And a stuttering delinquent caught up with the wrong people. A cheating wife and a son with no name. Lives become tangled. Knotted. Grimm does what he does best. Michael is there to pick up the pieces. It's complicated...
“Is that all you got?” The outlaw bard cries out to the turbulent forces assaulting him from all sides on the mountain top lookout. The wandering sage had taken himself on high. Not so much to get closer to God, but to rekindle a love affair with an old familiar Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara. Wellington.
The laureate held requiem. Pontificating conjured jagged doggerels towards the heavens. Dark glasses covered hung over eyes, his mind intoxicated by the spirit. Unkempt hair swirled like medusa snakes as a cotton scarf and tired waist coat flapped wildly behind him. Standing fast, the tempest struggled to get hold of the wiry framed bard. Frothing at the lip, raised a bottle of Lyon Rouge. About to challenge the All Mighty. When the All Mighty had read the desperado’s thoughts and catches him with an almighty gust of wind.
“You bastard!” Sam curses back to the violent void. Clutching the rail in time to avoid toppling over.
Suffering heart felt melancholy. Confessing a woeful tale of a journeyman pulled him from her side years before. How he had wandered distant lands in search of the quintessential meaning of life. Sheltering where the ragged people go. Pining for her from distant shores. Suckling the breweries teat on the cold lonely nights. Now seeking to find sanctuary on his lover’s bosoms. But his return was unsolicited.
Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned. And his old familiar not in a mood to rekindle anything but a fight long since harbored. Having plucked her flower and left her wanting more. She cursed a gale and spat thunderous foul insults upon him.
“Perhaps he should have called first?” Mused Sam. Stooping in time to evade a rabid squawking seagull lunging at him.
Turning to look back at the aging grey Vauxhall parked below. Rocking as it was batted by the howling squall and wondered if he had engaged the hand break. It held firm, as did he. Forsaking the temptation of shelter looks down at his black and white faithful league sheltering firmly beside his side. His eyes as bright as the day he got him as a pup. An obedient servant anyone could ever wish for. Howling in unison with his master at an unseen moon. Wondering what had caused his master to lament so feverously?
“Good boy Minstrel...” Sam strokes the dog’s head, “…Good boy.”
Stirred by his Master’s howling, Minstrel barked to the heavens.
Wellington had stirred up a storm. An assault on the city not seen since the Wahine had sunk on its shores a half century before. Storm clouds had gathered on the distant hills of Khandallah. As though they had caught themselves on ridges and could not break free. The day had dimmed staining the vibrant city in sepia. Transforming it into a ghost town. Dull red trolley buses rolled like silent tumble weeds along barren wind swept streets.
A flash of sheet lightning ignites the grey heavens soon followed by a sonic boom of thunder angered back at him.
“Got your attention did I?” He barked looking to the threatening sky.
On high, a red speckled hawk flies majestically, swept along by the currents beneath its wings. The smell of déjà vu held in his nostrils. Holding out arms as though to mimic the bird’s flight Sam reminisces of a time when on a Rangitikei sheep farm another hawk that had caught his inspiration to capture the awe and wonder in verse.
Shaking the hawk’s talons free. Only to grip his own talons to the cold wet iron railing of the lookout. The wind howled relentlessly. A maelstrom of stinging rain suddenly pelts him and he leans into the frenzied squall to hold his ground. Nothing could shake this impresario from the stage.
Sam surveyed the emerald jewel of Aotearoa. An enclave harbor city enclosed by hills rimmed by soiled container wharves and rusting railway yards. An ominous looking cake tin had planted itself in between the hills and the railway yards. Crushing anything that laid beneath.
Bankers and politicians and businessmen had appropriated the prime inner city. Natives retreated to the surrounding hillsides. Etched with narrow roads and impossible inclines and dyslexic turns. Colorfully painted villas, as though compensating for their age and diminutiveness, clung perilously to the hillsides. Inert to the earthly tremors that had yet to shake them from their perches.
Looking South to Newtown and Island Bay. Dull swat houses. There was no pretense. Dreary working class houses for dreary working class working for The Man. It is what it was. Endless suburbs partitioned by endless streets with endless names. That ended up at a dead end to fall into the sea.
To the North the Hutt Valley. A grubby gorge torn open like a zipper. At the foreshore Petone. Flushing effluent into the harbor. Spying the Inter-Islander pushing its snub nose bow against the croppy surf on its way to the open waters of Cook Straight. The Mainland stood resolute in the distance. Inching ever closer.
Khandallah sat like a wall flower on the far side of the dance floor. The haves in a city of so many have-nots. Inhaling a lungful of the salty sea air heaved up from the harbor below. Casting eyes East through the haze of mist and rain could make out Eastbourne. Completing the city’s diverse cast of theatrical characters. Distantly insulated from the city’s daily grime. A rocky outcrop of bungalows and wealth that clung like a polyp to the bowel of the harbor. Roughed stone swept beaches exposed to the chilled gales sweeping over the distant Southern Alps.