So there I was, a young man … alone … hungry… guts cramping with acidic knives.
Under a bridge on the outskirts of Napier I was, in an old sleeping bag stuffed with my clothes and scrunched up balls of newspaper.
I was staring into the flames of a small smoky fire, which seemed to be my only friend, the only thing that offered me comfort… except buds. Buds I had also and when the “edge” started to come back onto the warm fuzzy world which I inhabited, a cone packed a little more than it would allow, would send me back into that soft warm velvet enclosure.
But the hunger would send me out in the evening into apple orchard to steal sour, pesticide tasting apples which in a short while would turn into a briskly ejected stinging foam.
Only two more days till I can start work so I just slept, only venturing out from under my warm bridge and bag shelter combo to forage for food and roadside cigarette buts which could be coned.
I knew I would be OK, and at some point in the future I would be in a nice warm bed with a good meal in my belly and up to my bag in a good woman.
But for now, sleep, dreams, cramps and cones.
The day came and I packed up my smoky belongings and rode my pink, girl’s mountain bike to the orchid. The kindly boss took one look at me (a hunched shivering weasel with a dribbling nose, matted dreading greasy hair, a month of 18 year old fuzz about my face, unwashed, wearing grimy army pants, boots six t shirts and an unraveling brown cardigan, teeth green and gray with mank … and asked do you need some where to stay?
So I was sleeping on the floor of the office and in the days I worked from dawn to dusk picking as many apples as I could.
I sold a small handful of weed to another weedy looking apple picker and with the 32 dollars rode into town to purchase a 5-dollar K.F.C meal deal (savoring every maggoty, greasy bite).
6 K.F.C meals 2 snickers bars and 75 apples later was payday.
$450 dollars went onto my bank account, which for the last three months had negative money in it.
Joy, pure joy threatened to engulf me. Rationally the most important things were attended to first. Roaring into town on my bike I bought a nine-dollar, nine percent alcohol, three-litre bag of wine (no box needed, just the bag please). Stopping outside K.F.C to wee 700 mls of it into my mouth, with the vile bitter fluid burning in my guts I strode into K.F.C like a king and ordered the $7.95 super special, got bucks, big man now, goin all the way,Meal deal.
The rest of the night gets a bit hazy but I do remember wandering about Napier with the diminishing bag clutched in dirty fist and kneeling on the grass in the park purging my body of all poisons and raising my fist in a devils salute to passing cheering teenagers and saying ” Its OK, I’m a professional.”
Awaking to the sound of children playing I scurried away from the reeking piles of greasy vomit that surrounded me and cured myself of my blindness and pain by stripping off to the waist and immersing my upper body for extended periods of time in the freezing duck pond.
Finding my bike where I stashed it I rode blearily back to the orchard were I lived and went about organizing myself a base of operations.
Two days later I was sitting on the doorstep of my new caravan, coffee in hand, belly full of tofu avocado and peanut butter on toast, looking out across the land, the sky purple and orange with a beautiful sunset, within ever fiber of my body humming with the powerful thrum of possible hope for a probable future.
I had made it… now it was time to initiate sinister phase two of the operation.