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Leslie Blackwell Leslie Blackwell
Recommendations: 21

Rendezvous with Ricky AFM3 part 5

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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

Part Five of And Fernanado Makes Three starts the following morning after Levi has returned from the beach. You may wish to re read part three for a recap but hopefully there is enough back story to see you through.

VOM (Levi’s Voice of Mischief) was cynical of VOR (the voice of Rationality) by nature, and often tried to brainwash Levi into believing that VOR was little more than an oppressive party-pooper, which was not entirely true.  VOR guided him like a strict loving guardian, but occasionally allowed the grace to disobey certain rules if logic dictated.  

These graces often left Levi confused by the associated perplexities that they created. For instance Katrina might forbid him not to have any further contact with Ricky because of an obscure and senseless feud with her sister, Wanda (Ricky’s stepmother), but VOR would strongly advise against such irrational behaviour, while VOM would advise him to obey, just to irk VOR.

However, sometimes VOM tricked him into disobedience by pretending to be VOR, other times VOR tricked him into obedience by giving bad advice then pretending to be VOM and urging him into disobeying VOR’s advice. Thus when it came to disobedience, half the time Levi did not know if he was “Arthur or Martha or two o’clock Friday”, as his Aunt Sally would say (a quaint and curious expression that completely bamboozled him).  

Sometimes, though not very often, VOM and VOR actually saw eye to eye and compelled Levi to go with his gut instinct; even if it meant evoking VOAM (the voice of Angry Mummy) or even TOAF (the dreaded Tone of Angry Fernando), and Ricky’s unexpected text had had all the hallmarks of such an occurrence.  Compulsory avoidance was one thing, but the actual snubbing of friendship in times of distress – well that was a different matter entirely.

“Have a good time, sweetie” said Katrina, embracing and kissing him like she always did whenever he was going out for the day “Now are you sure you’ve got everything: Wallet, watch, cellphone, keys and comb?”  

“Yes Mum,” grizzled Levi, showing her each of the items in turn.  

“And you will be home before five thirty won’t you.”

“Yeah, I’ll be home before five thirty.”

“And what’s going to happen if you are late?”

“I’m going to have to clear the table, and do all the dishes, all by myself.”

“Don’t forget,” she warned, wagging her index finger at his nose “I want you home before five thirty, not to start going home at five thirty.”

“I won’t be late, Mum. I’ll come straight home after the movie…I promise.”

“That’s a good boy…I love you heaps, darling.”

“Love you too, Mummy.”

Fleetwood Mac’s “Tell me lies” song ran through Levi’s mind as he closed the gate after him and started up the street. He was an honest child by nature and could not feel a little guilty for having lied to her about his destination, but he doubted she would have been willing to let him so much as put a foot out of the house if she had known the truth.

Eight months had passed since the pool incident and the big argument that had seen the end of his most treasured of all friendships with his cousin Ricky. It seemed almost inconceivable to him that two intelligent adults could behave so immaturely and fall-out over something so petty. Even with his upstairs bedroom door shut, he had clearly heard their accusations, insults, curse words, and finally the slamming of the front door.

Katrina's insistence that he no longer associate with his cousin came as somewhat of a shock, but he was confident at the time that she would soon forgive and seek Wanda’s absolution. Ricky also believed the same of his own mother, but they had been both wrong; the feud was still very much a going concern and their friendship still remained on official hiatus.      

The sky was mostly azure with a few patchy clouds and the southerly chill he had felt on the beach the previous night seemed to be tailing him. Levi checked his watch and mentally berated Katrina for delaying him. Time was very much of the essence and missing the train was not an option.  He shoved both hands in the side pockets of his hooded sweat top and quickened his pace.

Levi had all the makings of a dedicated Train-spotter, and had been obsessed with train travel ever since hearing the story “Sparky and the Talking Train”.  As an impressionable four year old he, just like his hero Sparky, believed trains talked, as they did on “Thomas the Tank Engine”. His dream back then (and still was) was to one day ride both the Orient Express and Trans-Siberian Express, but till then he was happy to settle to cruise the suburbs on the “Tranz-Metros”.

The platform was crowded when he arrived at the Paraparaumu Railway station and he had to fight his way passed the tide of alighting passengers before he finally found a way into the third carriage. He slumped down on one of the few remaining seats next to a corpulent middle-aged woman with a small bulky canvas backpack resting on her lap. She smiled gently at him as the doors closed and train pulled away from the station.

“I’m off to see my Grandson in Wadestown,” she explained.

“Is that right?” he answered. Katrina was constantly warning him not to speak to strangers, but ignoring her would be tantamount to disrespecting his elders.

“It’s his seventh birthday today. He’s having a big party and all his playmates are going to be there. He’s a very popular little boy at his school…”

Levi nodded his head feigning interest. He thought back to his own seventh party; no one had shown up except Ricky & Wanda, Hannah (his next door neighbour’s daughter), Tristan (a dyslexic orphan with a speech impediment, who sat next to him in class), and of course his own parents. They had given him presents, played games, popped balloons, and sang happy birthday. It was hardly the “Debutant Social Event” of the year but he had enjoyed it all the same.  

The train picked up speed and rocked slightly as an elderly guard with a scar on his left cheek walked the aisles snipping tickets and giving change. Most of Levi’s classmates who regularly commuted by rail knew the guard as Scarface and sniggered at him behind his back, but Levi had always thought their jibbing as cruel. He knew what it was like to be teased.          

Soon they had passed QE2 park and eventually slowed and stopped at Paekakariki (pie-kaka-reek-ee). This was one of his favourite stations because of the Railway Museum that sat alongside it. Paekakariki, according to the ditty, was where the girls were cheeky, while Wainuiomata was where the boys were smarter.

“Can’t see any,” affirmed VOM as Levi scanned the platform for cheeky girls “Just a bunch of snaggletooth oldies, well passed their smarty-pants primes,” and Levi could not help but giggle quietly.

About 5 minutes later the train resumed its journey climbing slightly up the Paekakariki hill and ducking in and out various tunnels as it followed the coastline. It stopped to pick up and a lighten passengers at Plimmerton, Porirua and by the time it reached Tawa Levi was fast asleep, dreaming about a most improbable horserace.

All the horses had suddenly stopped galloping and were instead grazing on the home stretch, refusing to budge any further, no matter how hard the jockey’s lashed them with their crops. The angry crowd rioted and commentator was for the first time in his life stuck for words. No one seemed to know what to do about this unprecedented incident so for some reason he and VOR had somehow been assigned the task of trying to talk some sense into the rebellious nags.  

“Come on honey, time to get off,” said the middle-aged woman, gently shaking his shoulder.

Levi opened his eyes and slowly focused on the carriage, which was now stationary and alive with passengers rushing to alight it. He rubbed his eyes for a few seconds then got to his feet and hastened out the door, joining the mass exodus. The quick pace reminded him of his trip to Sydney, some years back, where everyone was always in a perpetual rush, whether commuting, shopping or even crossing the road. In Wellington the locals seemed more inclined to stroll lethargically. He assumed it may have had something to do with the predominately undulating terrain, though it was just a theory.  

Twenty minutes later Levi entered the Botanical Gardens and made his way towards the dell, where his estranged cousin had agreed to rendezvous. The temperature had dropped further and he felt moisture in the air, it was only a matter of time before rain would fall. He checked his watch again and was surprised to see that despite the delay he had arrived more or less at the agreed time. Punctuality had never been one of his strong points and he had lost count of the times his tardiness had been the unwanted focus of attention.

“Levi!” sounded an all too familiar voice.

“Ricky!” replied Levi as his cousin came rushing up towards him.

They embraced for a few seconds then punched one another on the shoulder before engaging in a secret handshake ritual.

“So what’s up Ricketts?”

“Well,” announced Ricky, “I’ve got a really big problem and I need your help.”

“Tell me all about it,” replied Levi, wrapping his arm round his cousin’s shoulders.

“I really don’t know where to start.”

“Try the beginning. It’s always best to start there.”

Next Part 6 Cuzzy in Distress

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