General Fiction posted July 11, 2018


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A man returns to a home he never knew.

Home

by oliver818


The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

Beads of sweat trickled gently down his forehead, lodging in the small crevices of a twisted scar that ran down from his left earlobe to his throat. He hadn't expected New Zealand to smell like humid vegetation, he had always thought it was a cold, distant place, not somewhere he wanted to visit. A plane thrust up into the air behind him, and he remembered how the muddy inlets ran between dark green, volcanic hills. He had seen them when his own flight, QA334 from Melbourne, had swooped back down towards Auckland airport.. His new home. The immigration officer had looked at his brand new passport, and signaled for him to go through.

No one was waiting for him at arrivals, and when he asked how to get to Auckland city, he was shown a sign pointing to the airport bus. The bus cost eighteen dollars though. He only had a hundred bucks his brother had managed to give him before he flew out, but he needed it to last. He'd have to walk.

The road was long and flat, and cars flashed past. His ears rang with the honking, and he had to cover his eyes to avoid the setting sun from blinding him. That meant he couldn't walk straight and had to be careful not to stumble in front of passing cars. The flashing lights were invisible until they pulled up in front of him.

"Where are you going, son?" a policeman asked, blocking the sun as he got out of the car, finally allowing Danny to see again.

"To the city."

"It's a long way. I don't know how things are done in Australia, mate, but here in New Zealand, it's illegal to walk on the motorway."

"How do you know I'm from Australia?"

"Your accent. And we all know who you are, anyway. Your photo has been on the news for weeks."

"I see."

"How about we give you a lift?"

"That'd be nice," Danny answered, dropping his bag to the ground.

The policeman opened the door and helped him in. The car pulled out onto the motorway and sped off towards the city.

"So Danny, you've been able to keep yourself from killing so far, then?" the cop who had offered him lift aked.

"Shit, Mike," the other said.

"What? It's a simple question."

"I'm not a murderer," Danny said, running his finger along the edge of the door.

"That's not what your file says," answered the first cop.

The car slipped down the off-ramp and drove along long streets lined with palm trees and wooden houses. Thin, white clouds, spread across the sky and children threw balls to each other, shouting and laughing.. The car pulled up outside a white house with a tall, unpainted fence around it.

"Out you get, Danny," the first cop said, stepping out and opening the door for him.

"Where are we?"

"Your aunt's house."

Danny slipped out of the car. Cooking smells poured out from an open window, and a kid was screaming. The gate was tough to undo, and the bolt only snapped back after he gave it a good whack. The front door opened before he was at the steps.

"Danny? What are you doing here?"

"The police brought me," he said, pointing behind me, but the car was gone.

"Sorry, boy, you can't stay here. I've got kids, and this is no place for someone like you."

"Okay," he muttered, turning away.

"Wait, Danny, wait. I'll be back in a minute." She turned and headed into the house.

She came out, her fist scrunched tightly, stomped down the stairs and pushed a couple of notes into his hand.

"Look after yourself, Danny," she said, her other hand lingering on his shoulder.

"Thanks, auntie," he said, heading out to the street.

"Where are you going to stay?" she called out after him.

"Dunno. I'll just head into the city, I guess."

"Take the seventy-five bus, it leaves from over the street," she said, heading back up to the house.

The bus was almost empty as it rolled in towards the city along darkening streets. In the distance, the harbour poked out from between buildings, glistening in a wide, orange sunset. It was nice. He hadn't seen a sunset like this ever, and he hadn't seen one at all while he was in prison. No one cared about beauty in prison. You did your time, made friends if you could but mostly you survived. He'd made one friend. The one person who believed him when he said he wasn't a murderer. He knew he was a drunk, a violent one who hit without thinking, but he wasn't a killer. He knew that he had killed, though, because he had seen the photos, but was that really enough to make him a murderer? He hadn't meant to kill the kid. He didn't even remember his face. But when he woke up, he was told he'd killed someone, and his life changed forever.

The bus pulled up outside Metrocity and everyone got off, so he did too. It was a warm night, fragrant with a cool breeze. The heat was nowhere near as bad as what he had experienced during the summers back home, and he sat for awhile, almost dozing, as the sea breeze rolled over him.

"Hey, mister, you got fifty cents I can have?" a voice asked next to him.

He opened his eyes, and a short, skinny white kid was staring at him

"Who are you?"he asked.

"I'm Murray. I've been watching you. So, have you?"

"Have I what?"

"Got fifty cents I can have."

"No, piss off."

"Yeah, you do."

Danny breathed deeply, and sat up.

"Listen kid, if I give you a dollar, will you go away?"

"Yeah, of course."

Danny tugged a coin out of his pocket, and pushed it into the teenager's hand.

"Thanks, mister," the kid said, and headed off down the road.

Danny stood up, stretched his thick arms high above his head, and walked towards the bright lights of the shop on the opposite side of the road. He came out a few moments later with a six pack of Mac's Gold and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

"Hey mister, can I have one?" a voice said from his left.

"I thought you said you were going to go away if I gave you a dollar."

"I did go away. And now I'm back," the teenager said, his teeth showing in a wide grin.

"Bloody brat," Danny said, crossing back over the road.

"So, can I?" the boy asked again.

"Can you what?"

"Have a beer."

"How old are you?"

"Sixteen."

"You look fourteen."

"Yeah, I'm small, so what? Give me a beer."

"No."

Danny settled onto the bench again, cracked open a beer and sipped deeply. His head twisted around as the sound of a beer opening came from next to him.

"What the hell? Give me back my beer, you little shit," Danny shouted, jumping up.

"Thanks, mister, I'll pay you back when I get another couple of bucks," the teenager yelled, running down the street.

He sat down again, the bench hard against his back. Cheeky brat, he thought to himself, remembering the photos of the dead kid back in Melbourne, dry blood caked on his face and neck.




Danny slammed the receiver of the public down hard into its cradle. Five rejections in as many phone calls. He should have known, no one wanted to hire ex-inmate. He would have to apply for the dole, which could take ages as he didn't know how it worked here. He didn't know what he was going to do for money until then.

The shouts made him turn around. Six burly men were running in the opposite direction to him and someone was on the ground. As he approached he saw blood trickling out from under the body, and then he saw it was Murray. His hands curled around the boy's thin body, and he thrust him up over his shoulder. He had seen the hospital the night before and he ran in that direction.



The door burst open and the same two policemen walked in.

"Up to your old tricks again already, Danny?" the first asked, a pair of silver handcuffs dangling from his left hand.

'No, I was the one who brought him here, after he was beaten up."

"Yeah, I bet you did, after you kicked the shit out of him first. What did he do, cramp your style?" the cop said, moving closer towards Danny, while the other cop blocked the door.

"It wasn't me," he said, his stomach twisting, knowing what would probably happen next.

"Come on Danny, do you think we were born yesterday? A convicted child murderer brings in a badly beaten young boy, and we are supposed to just look the other way?"

Danny moved backwards towards the wall as the cop moved in.

"It wasn't him," a small voice called from the bed.

'What did you say kid?"

"I said, it wasn't him. It was a bunch of guys."

"You know their names, son?" The policeman said, sitting down on the chair next to the sickbed.

"I only know one of them. Martin, Martin Lewis I think."

"You got beaten up by Martin Lewis' gang? They were just arrested an hour ago for beating up another kid. I'll have to call this in," he added, heading out of the room.

"Thanks, Murray," Danny said.

"What did they mean when they said you're a convicted child murderer?" Dany asked, pulling the sheet closer to his neck.

Danny sighed. "When I was twenty four, I beat up a sixteen year old one night after I'd been drinking. I don't remember doing it, but I saw the photos. I didn't mean to do it, I'm not a killer, I'm not," he said, his voice snapping like a violin string.

Murray's hand pressed down on his shoulder. "Why did you come to New Zealand?"

"I spent twenty years in prison, and when I got out, the Australian government decided to expel me from the country because I was born in New Zealand, and never applied for Australian citizenship."

"That sucks," Murray said.

"Yep," Danny said, wiping a long finger under each eye. "I have family here, but they don't want tio see me. And why would they?"

The boy stared at the wall for a minute, his eyes blinking slowly.

"I think I want to go home, Danny."

"Where's home?"

"Rotorua."

"Then why don't you go home?"

"I can't afford it. Plus, I ran away, and my parents must be seriously pissed. If I go home now, I don't even know where I'd begin to explain what happened." His fingers twisted around the edge of the bedsheet.

"How long have you been away for?" Danny asked, staring out the window.

"About two months."

"So why did you run away, in the first place?"

"It's embarrassing."

"I want to know, Murray."

"Okay, this is going to sound really dumb, but I did it because of climate change. My parents did nothing to help the environment. They didn't recycle, they wasted water and electricity. But they were all righteous about being better than everyone else. I couldn't take it anymore, so I ran away. "

"Let me get this straight. You ran away from home because your parents weren't into protecting the environment?"

"Yeah. Well, that and the fact that I heard the drugs were cheaper in Auckland."

"Are they?"

"Nope."

"Dickhead," Danny said, swiping at the boy's grinning head.



The bus roared slightly as it pulled into the Rotorua bus station. Danny followed Murray off the bus, watching him bobbing from side to side, the wounds on his side still bothering him.

"We can get a bus to my place," Murray said, pointing to a glass shelter down the road.

"Let's go then," said Danny.

The bus swung in moments after they arrived, and Danny handed over three dollars to the tattooed driver. He had paid for everything since they had gone to the hospital the evening before, but now he realised he really was in trouble. The hotel near the hospital had cost a lot, and the bus tickets hadn't been cheap either.

"I think my parents will invite you in for dinner," Murray said, turning towards Danny.

"Yeah, maybe."

"Nah, they will, really. I'm sure. I mean, once I explain what you did for me, they'll be so grateful."

Danny nodded softly, his eyes closing in the warm, twisting movements of the bus.

"Hey, wake up, we're here," Murray said, poking him in the ribs.

"Ow, don't do that."

"Come on, slow poke, that's my parent's house over there."

Danny followed the boy over the road, towards the house. It was tall, with large windows and a white fence around the finely trimmed lawn. Murray ran towards the door, and thumped violently at his with his fists. It opened, and a thin, middle-aged lady opened the door.

"Oh my goodness, Murray. Where have you been? David, Murray's home," she yelled, wrapping her hands around the boy.

"Murray? Bloody hell, boy, we've been worried sick about you," said an grey haired man, pulling his son close.

"Mum, Dad, this is Danny. He helped me come home. Can he stay for dinner?" Danny asked.

The couple looked up and Murray could see at once that they knew who he was.

"Come inside, Murray."

"But Dad..."

"I said, get inside." The man looked Danny up and down, and then pulled his wallet out of pocket and handed him a hundred dollar note.

"Thanks for helping my son. I know who you are, though, and I'd prefer you'd just stay away from him in the future," he said, before heading back inside the house.

The door slammed, and Danny turned away. Inside the house something smashed, and shouting began. No wonder the kid had run away. Danny knew now he couldn't really expect much more than this. He hadn't wanted to come here, it wasn't his home. But then would things have really been any better in Australia? He had a home there, but no one wanted him around. He had done what he had done, and now he was ostracised.

The walk back to town was long, but quiet, and that was what he wanted now. Peace and quiet, an escape from his own mind and other people's opinions.

"Hey, that's that fucking Aussie prisoner they sent back over here. He killed a bloody kid, let's go teach him a lesson."

The first punch caught him on the side of the head. His eyes exploded in red, and he felt skin come off his face as he ploughed into the ground. Kicks crashed into his chest, legs and head, and then the world disappeared.



It began with a vague noise like humming, and a bright light behind his eyelids. Danny forced his eyes open and the world began to solidify around him.

"Danny? It's me. You're going to be okay. We saw you on the news, and my Dad helped me find you. You were beaten up pretty badly."

"Where am I?" Danny asked, trying to force his eyes open.

"In hospital. It's my turn to look after you. I told my parents what you did for me. That's why they agreed to let me come here."

"You should just leave. You don't want to be my friend, Murray, trust me." His body shook with a deep, painful cough.

"You mean because of what you did to that boy back in Australia? But you're different now, you've changed. You're nice."

"I can't stay, Murray. As soon as I'm better, I'm going to move on, maybe head down to Wellington, try my luck down there."

"No you won't," a thick voice said from the doorway. "My son has grown very attached to you, and despite what you did back in Australia, I want to help you. As soon as you're better, you can come and work on my construction site. I've got a few other ex-cons there as well, you'll fit right in."

The world twisted in front of Danny's eyes. He had forgotten what it felt like not to be hated. It felt nice.














This was entered for a competition and wasn't accepted.

It's based on a true story about a guy who grew up in Australia but actually had New Zealand nationality, and was sent back to NZ after he was released from prison even though he had never even been there.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by tekayep at FanArtReview.com

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