Wyant in Whangarei!
The Fairytale Life of Happy Valley
I answered the knock at the door to find a young fresh-faced chap in a pristine black suit. A slim laptop computer hung from his hand like a briefcase. He had ‘Government’ written all over him.
In the background I saw the regulation unmarked van, stealth-black, straight from the fourth level laboratory of Amadeus Khan.
"Inland Revenue," he said. "The Department sent me."
Outwardly I kept calm, but inside I felt the old thrill, and with a deft move I grabbed my pitchfork from behind the door and nailed him to a veranda post with a swift and powerful jab. Don’t worry; he didn’t suffer much.
Nearby a neighbour stuck her head out the window and yelled, "What the devil’s going on over there, Carl?"
It was Mrs McPherson, a solid patriot and Presbyterian.
I shrugged a dismissive shrug. "Taxman," I said.
Mrs McPherson waved back with a kindly smile. "OK then," she yelled, "but if you see any of these new-fangled charismatic fundamentalists send them over here and I’ll take them out with the 12 gauge."
"No worries," I said.
You’d like our neighbourhood. Nice lawns, sturdy high-gabled houses with picket fences edged with tulips and crocuses, tasteful but unpretentious cars parked in the cobblestone driveways.
What sets Happy Valley apart from other communities, however, is that we believe in keeping a firm grip on our various public servants.
For instance, a couple of years ago local government tried to foist a rates increase on us, a grotesque and intolerable burden that worried us sorely.
At first we wrote letters, saying "Please, please don’t increase our taxes," but they were disregarded.
We then sent our emissary, the venerable Hodsworthy, who spoke earnestly on our behalf, but alas, his words fell on the ears of a donkey.
Indeed, the clerk in charge told Hodsworthy that if he wanted to take it further he would have to fill out an application for a permit to protest, at a cost of $2000 for the application and $50 for the permit.
We were musing over this problem with considerable solemnity, when Erasmus Brightside up and strides out the door, climbs to the roof of his house with a portable missile launcher, and blows the whole city council to smithereens.
Sadly, survivors were found among the rubble, but between the phosphorous burns and smoke inhalation they were now quite agreeable on the rates question.
Anyway, I had this dead IRD body to get rid of. I thought of just leaving him there for others to see, but it was messy, so I tossed him in his van and drove out to Deadman’s Leap and rolled it over the edge into the sea, wherein it sank and disappeared.
I was prepared for a long walk home, but luck was with me and I got a lift with Joe Bloggs, a fine family man, who had been up in the hills burning a heap of metre maid carcasses.
We at Happy Valley don’t take kindly to permits. Indeed, just the other day a couple of lads with clip-boards came to harass Mrs. Bloom, a poor 80- year-old, for building a chicken coop with a permit.
She managed to kill one of them with a spade, but the other made a break for the woods and headed for the main road. But we set the dogs on him and….well, perhaps we shouldn’t dwell on it.
We chuckle about it now, of course….but still, when the midnight wind moans through the trees and the moon rides low in the heavens, we wonder how long we can hold out; how long we can keep the cursed mitts of The Commanders off our property and out of our lives.
But in the meantime we try to be of good cheer. We have done our best. What more can one ask of himself?
Doing Good Deeds
One day Slasher and I decided there wasn’t enough brightness and light in the world so we set forth in the city to do good deeds.
We looked good, but then, we always do. Slasher, a big Nordic guy with long blonde hair slicked straight back into a ponytail, wore his Harley leathers and black shades; and I wore my usual black shoes, black Levis, black shirt, black jacket, and black shades. By God, if anyone could bring brightness and light into the world it was us.
Presently we came upon a blessed old lady, timid and undecided about crossing the busy street. So we went and offered our assistance.
She seemed a little shy at first, so Slasher took hold of her arm to add some extra encouragement and propulsion, at which point she became SO shy that she clung onto the lamp post with her other arm and began to kick up a heck of a ruckus.
I tried to pry her arm loose from the lamp post, but she was a tough little blighter. One of those, wirey, stringy types, with a loud shrill voice.
In fact so loud and shrill was her voice that I finally tried to gag her with a bandana, but she was too quick for me, and in the meantime she bit my thumb and kicked Slasher in the privates. Now that’s gratitude for you.
For a while there I thought it was a lost cause. But finally Slasher let go of her arm and somehow managed to get a rope around her ankle. Then I came around and took the rope, and Slasher, who’s bigger than me, went back to pry her wizened little mitts off the lamp post.
We wrestled the thankless old bat a third of the way across the street when the signals changed and a million tons of rush-hour traffic came roaring towards us, so we dragged her back to the curb.
It was a nuisance, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because as we were dragging her back an articulated petrol tanker swerved out of the way and barrelled diagonally across the intersection and plowed into the Bank of New Zealand and exploded, which brought the traffic to a standstill and gave us free rein to get the cursed weasel across the street.
Or so we thought.
By now the old lady was making such a godawful amount of racket that bystanders began to move in, as if to hijack our good deed and take her across the street themselves and rob us of all credit.
Thinking and moving swiftly Slasher slapped a pair of handcuffs on the old lady, took the cuffed hands in his left and drew a 44 magnum semi with his right, keeping the troublemakers at bay.
By now Slasher had that cold glint of unyielding determination in his eye that I had seen many times before. In the mines of Australia; the jungles of Malay; Cathedral Square on Saturday night. Yes, I knew that look, and I now knew that we really would get that old lady across the street.
It was a beautiful and touching scene.
In the background half a block of buildings went up in flames as dazed panic-stricken survivors ran screaming and yelling, some so thoroughly caught up in the gaiety of the occasion that they themselves were on fire.
Out on the crosswalk Slasher and I slowly escorted the old lady across the street, Slasher keeping a firm grip on her cuffs with one hand and deftly pivoting this way and that with the 44 to keep the crowds back, while I kept hold of the rope on her ankle, because by this point she was beginning to get downright bad-tempered, God knows why, after all the trouble we’d gone to. But that’s people for you – totally irrational.
But at last Hell’s grandmother was delivered. And can you believe it? She scurried away without a word of thanks. I tell you, had we been anything less than saints it might have weakened our faith in humanity.
Then we came up with an idea for good deeds that could well blossom into a veritable goldmine of brightness and light – getting people in wheelchairs up escalators!
We haven’t tried it yet, but as soon as we finish these last fifteen jugs of beer we will. And seriously, if we aren’t made official Vaisnava sadhus for this one, well, there’s something haywire in the zodiac.
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