Act Five Chapter forty nine
Bye bye Maxie Moon
-‘Flocks of dunlin and starlings, wheeling as one soul’-
When the tide is high, which looks like nearly always here, flocks of wader birds arrive in circling swarms. Criminal immigrants, like me, in the waterlogged parks. Illegally colonizing the earth, between the sandbanked middle class suburb, the decrepit blocks of flats, and the ex industrial estate.
Flocks of dunlin and starlings, wheeling as one soul.
Flights of curlew with their wonky beaks.
Leaning out the gaping window, I listen long for their lonely whistles.
I’ve been waiting in this ninth floor flat for five hours.
Being a terrorist is no fun.
Anyway I didn’t kill any stupid soldiers. Okay I blew up two bridges, like, it was me who pressed the button. Only coz we happened to be there on patrol, at the wrong moment.
Only coz Macker couldn’t work the phone.
Actually it was the PIF soldiers killed my baby, and got Macker and almost killed me, and they had no right to do that. Or even to be there at all.
Macker would have come if he could. We need each other now. We’re like the two lost wheels of a broken bicycle. Why doesn’t he come?
Because they got him..
Okay if they had asked me to blow up those soldiers I would’ve pressed the button. Even before they attacked us. So really I AM a terrorist, just a hopeless failed one.
I failed in everything actually, not that it matters. My ex family, my ex friends, ex school, ex work….Only thing I did right was shaming Killian Bate out of our school.. and helping to make the CoOp Pool work..
There’s ten floors here I think, I’m on the ninth, it’s mostly empty or legalized squats. This is the flat of a Chechenian refugee, she went to pick up her kids and didn’t come back. Something like that. There are seven or eight more big blocks, further away.
The only good thing about this flat is you can see the sea. Not close but not so far away. You can see the boats and the white tops of the waves behind the dike.
Looking at the sea is therapy for me.
And there are always gulls. Soaring up over the roof.
Or flapping past in a line, intent on mysterious missions.
The boat was fun at first, but then it was much too long. Like being on a roller-coaster that goes on and on and you can’t get off. Especially as I was ill and depressed. Christy, or should I say ……., was nice to me, like a nurse. He’d do anything for you.
But he got arrested, and coming here at all was a ‘total no-no’.
We arrived in the middle of a police crack-down in the whole area, on top of the normal repression which they say is bad..
Another crackdown on ‘criminele illegalen’.
Everyone is being watched. Every phone controlled.
We are criminals for subsisting and for doing petty scams, oppressed for just existing.
Janneke says they get power by false attacks, like, murdering their own supporters. To set off and then exploit the fascist feelings. They send the police on these ‘Clean-Ups’ and Razzias, just to keep the pot bubbling, and have a crack at the autonomous movements as well.
There’s food here in the kitchen, all her stuff is here. But eating makes me vomit.
I’m having a ‘psychotic episode’, as Maggie would say. I can’t hardly sleep or eat, though I’m bored here waiting.
Well, I’ve decided not to let them arrest me. I’ve done too many bad things already. And I happen to know a couple of secrets I would tell, if they really tortured me. Then they’d get my friends whose names I won’t put here..
I won’t let them arrest me. I’ll take my own life. I can do it.
I would’ve done it before, when they got Maggie, only Sol stopped me and gave me something else to keep me busy.
There’s nothing to stop me here.
The front window is over a patio where hardly anyone passes. That window is open.
If they start to smash the front door lock, I’ll just hop out.
I don’t think I’m seriously crazy at all. I mean, I don’t really want to live anyway, without Maggie or Macker or my baby. So why would I let those mentally sick bastards have my living body?
If anyone reads this and can do it for me. I’d like my ashes to be sprinkled in the sea..
I’ve spotted three squat apartment blocks in the middle of the sea, up north. That’s what Christy was going on about. Joining the Orca Occupy pirates!
Someone is knocking, it’s Janneke come back!
-‘Look here comes Sol and Bernie on a double bike.’-
There was a bicycle and skate way that came down directly from the hills. Much shorter than the road, and skirting the first eco lake.
They were zooming down on one of those air assisted tandems, with Bernie pedaling on the high back seat and little Sol filming below. They came straight towards us. Yipping as they skidded to a stop on the wet grass.
–‘We’ve got a clue! Maybe we found Christy Peters.’-
-‘We convinced his Estonian relations of our good intentions. One of them rang him two days before he left.’-
Bernie paused, panting, hands on her knees.
-‘He used the name William Slighman. With an I, a G, and an H. That’s it. Put that in your search engines and click em.’-
-‘We already have six pseudonyms.’– said James, wearily.
-‘But this is hot, my baby. This is the bizz!’- said Sol. Melodramatically swinging his arms.
-‘It seems he did have the idea of using that name on his next, er, adventure.’– Bernie explained.
James had entered ‘SLIGHMAN’ and…Yes! ..Bingo.. There were results.
A William Slighman had been arrested for illegal entry the day before. His small ammonia power boat, De Zwarte Kat, had got away… Aha! He’d been changing the name of the boat.
Just him. So what happened to Maxie? Had she escaped? Had she never been with him?
Soon they were milling with laptops.. Yes, he was in prison.. Charged with Illegal Entry and Abetting Criminal Immigrants.. Had an Orca lawyer, no statements.. Bail money to be arranged.. No mention of a second person on board..
Yes there was a big Occupy movement there. But right now a security sweep, a police operation, was underway..
That could be why she hadn’t phoned. But where was she? And how had the boat disappeared?
Contact between our lawyers and Christy’s. Infoshop bulletins, English version.. Sporadic rioting. Demonstration today.
‘Migrant Rescue’ activist Suzie Peersoen arrested the day before.. No bail.. Series of pickets in her favour.. Occupied factories still threatened with eviction.. Recent Clan Eagle, Free Union and Immigrant Rescue activity..
Nothing about Maxie. But of course refugee arrivals wouldn’t be public news.
And now there were loads of leads, instead of none. Normal contacts were cut off, due to the police blitz. But soon they could do a coded echo routing search. Thanks to the German Wizards. In the local version of a CoOp Pool they found a branch of Migrant Rescue, and were granted member access to an internal daily log.
And just a few seconds later we knew that Maxie was ALIVE.
One new arrival.. ‘Minnie Pijper.. Eén nieuwe gast’..
A sudden rush of joy went tingling through me.
Maxie ..Minnie..had to be her!
-‘YeeeeeeeeeHA.’- I yelled, believing it. -‘She’s there with the Pool.’-
They’d found the only cure for me. Like being upgraded into a new person.
I couldn’t stand still, I was jigging for joy.
Maxie was there alright! Minnie Pijper.. Refugee, arrived yesterday morning. Christy Peters must have put her ashore before he was detained. Or had she escaped with the boat?
-‘Yes. Yes. We found her!‘- The searchers were punching the air. And now they had details in English..
–‘Minnie Pijper: 19..
Needs: urgent medical attention..
-‘Distressed. Shit. Shit. I’m going there now. James, can you get me on a plane?’- I said.
-‘I’ll go with you then .’- said Lucy. -‘You don’t speak Dutch or French.’-
We couldn’t get on a plane that day, so we took a ‘fast’ ferry. Which turned out to be the snailboat. Leaving Moonbeam with Bernie and Josie, again, Barney was still hospitalized. The boat was half empty so we got a luxury cabin, courtesy of the company. And both of us slept..
I woke up thinking I was on a long long swing. We had a wide view of a cold grey sea, but the cabin was high up and swayed like crazy.
Between the incredible weather, the impossible price of diesel, and the tragedy of the year before, the ferry company was bankrupt. Now it was more or less part of the Free Pools, a workers CoOp. It’s creditors had been bought out by the Credit Union, who had socialized it.
Which explained the star treatment and the happy staff.
The ships would get sail assisted power, they said. They were already converted to green ammonia, made locally with wind and air and water. Plus new safety features, i.e. unsinkable lifeboats. But that would be in the Spring, weather permitting. These were the last runs of the season.
Lucia is fun to travel with, and now I was in fine form, refusing to think about sinking or arriving too late. Subjecting her to the latest mad stories I’d been recording. Her English wasn’t up to all the local jokes, but she laughed obediently when they were explained.
We went out on deck that evening, exhilarated by the wind and spray, and ate our sandwiches. Huddled behind the big funnel, plunging and leaping. Passing the bottle of plum wine and yelling in each other’s ears. Only when we went in did we see the notice prohibiting all deck access. The door wasn’t locked.
We had the penthouse cabin, and James had given Lucy a good portable with satellite net access. Better connected than the captain, we could watch Pools TV, or a billion other possibilities, and chat with our families and friends.
An alarm woke us at three a.m. So she could take part in an Asian Net TV show for Women’s Rescue. Actually I was awake already, my head was hopping about non-stop.
Lucy is a therapist or really a healer, as well as an activist, and this was much more than an online agony aunt show. I managed to shine two lights on her, adjust the little camera on her face and position the mike.
She had come prepared, and dressed up in a spectacular yellow and scarlet cloth, like a sari shirt.
With a violet headband that hid her lack of hair.
She was on this show every week. It was mid morning in Karachi or Mumbai.
A good time, with husbands and keepers and children out of the house.
Millions of women now have the chance, open or clandestine, of watching or copying Free-Net TV. Including this show.
Real life solutions to common misogynist horrors.
Millions of women suffering physical, economic, cultural and religious semi slavery.
I had taped the camera down, and she tried to sit relatively straight. Though they might see her leaning strangely into the lurching swell. I’d adjusted the mike to cut wind noise.
She had me massaging her head and neck, while we watched the first part.
Lucia’s skin is smooth and dark chocolate brown, and slippery as warm silk.
We heard news from local groups all over.
They do have money and lawyers, and I never knew that Doctor Lucy was so famous.
She was sipping from the flask of maté, herb tea, to perk herself up, massaging herself under her flowing robes, shuddering like the ship, eyes closed and sucking her lips, while I fiddled with the settings.
Then she was being connected.
Lucia was a smash hit. They loved her. And I’m sure she saved one woman’s life. Guessing the root of her persecution straight away, and persuading her to seek refuge.
It was a dowry dispute over ownership of herself. With an accusation of attempted adultery.
Lucy’s voice infiltrated vibrations of healing.
A sister link.. I’m vulnerable like you.
A shared assumption..Of course I’m safe here and they help me.
And an assertion, implied but repeating, that..:
In my real world,
outside the nightmares you’re trapped in,
of course we share and are cared for.
I’m already in that real world.
Here are the keys!
All that with a few odd words, inflections, tones. Intimate female body language, touching and reaching. All mixed into her answers on the show.
And more I couldn’t understand…I’m a magician and a clown, I know about the arts of public communication, but I could learn a lot from Lucy, she’s an ace.
They had her answering problems where she really could help. I thought I heard a million voices saying ‘thank you Lucy’.
Sure it was the wind.
I imagined secret copies of the show.
Discs or tapes or memory sticks swap hands,
invisible and powerful, in the immense thronging markets of Asia.
What I saw, that dawn, on that yawing ferry: Those women would dynamite patriarchy. Really undermine and replace horrible outdated customs and laws. Slavery and brutality and unfair privilege. And not just to benefit some State or God or Corporation.
They had a small studio audience who applauded like crazy. Then they were gone… and I was cheering and clapping and being embraced, a public of one.
Our ship let a mighty blast, real close. We ducked in shock and laughed.
The sea was calmer now, we must be arriving.
-‘Let’s hope we find Maxie fast.’- I said. Peeping out the porthole.
We were coming safely into the harbour.
I woke up still in the Clinic, with the phone ringing. My fever had gone, the infection was controlled, and I’d just been sleeping. Hours and more hours. The phone had been disconnected of course, but now it was ringing.
There were curtains round my bed, with a sliver of dawn sun beaming through, shining specks of dust moved lazily round the suspended drip bottle. That phone should not be ringing.
I groaned and stretched and picked it up.
-‘Hey Barney? Barney you waking out already?-‘ It was Sol. I might’ve guessed.
-‘Waking up. Yeah you just woke me you bastard. How did you get through?’-
-‘Remember I telephoned you on the night of the Glorious Revolution?’-
-‘Because Maxie was suicidal..’-
-‘It’s happening again. Lucy and Macker take the ferry to get her. But we are thinking they arrive too late. We can’t phone her for she is hiding from the police.’-
-‘Oh bloody shite. What do I have to do this time?’-
-‘I just got a plane ticket. It takes up in fifty minutes. Me or Bernie will go. But we think you would be good, er, better.’-
-‘Oh God. But I’m attached to a drip.. I got shot in the leg.. Okay I suppose I have to go!’-
-‘We are in a taxi now. We are coming to the clinic so early in some minutes.’-
-‘Listen Sol. I feel okay to go. But I need to see my daughter.’-
-‘She is here with us now, and Bernie. Moonbeam is here in the taxi!’-
-‘Oh Moonie Moonie.. how are YOU?!’-
I had to go. I understand what makes Maxie like that, it’s like her ace card. –‘If you push me too far.’- she’s saying –‘There’s a limit. I’ll just self destruct.’- It scares me because she does have a strong will. She has done things sometimes, for no reason, for the reason that she decided to do it. Now she did have a good reason. She’s well capable of suicide in my opinion, and that’s a real reason why I need to reach her now.
It’s calm and sunny now, but this morning we had another deluge. The very top of this window is badly fitted and the fierce wind squeezed the water right up and squirted it inside.
I felt the whole block move, and Henni says it’s tilted a bit worse.
The birds know what’s coming.
A whole flock came in today, sea dwelling birds, fulmar, petrels, kittiwakes…
Did I spot a female guillemot?
They’ve taken up residence now, without an original, stamped, legalized, sworn translation of a birth certificate between them, paddling about on the flooded hockey pitch.
–‘Com op Meeny, we gaan nu naar de doctor ..Come on we’re off to see the doctor.’-
Janneke speaks English. Maybe better than me, but forgets to sometimes. She took me by bus to the Health Center. They’d gotten me a priority appointment with the gynecologist. A check up, their doctor had already seen me in the flat. Pretty good in two days with no papers, and I paid nothing. These people are on our side and they’re friendly.
When we got there the square opposite was filling up with riot police vans. The Crackdown, we got in just in time. There was shouting outside, while we were waiting my turn on a bench. They were going to suppress the ‘demonstratie’, Janneke said.
Next thing they had closed all access to the Health Center, and were controlling all those leaving. Only then Janneke told me she was wanted by the police, on both sides of the border, just for helping out illegals like me.
And I was a terrorist with no papers. We were trapped.
–‘The last time this happened they finally came in and captured some migrants left inside.’- she explained. –‘But this time I bet we all escape.’-
-‘Oh Yanny, um, you wouldn’t have a gun or a long sharp knife on you by any chance?’- I asked politely.
It would be better all round if I weren’t taken alive. In the flat I could just step out the window, if it came to it. Here it would be much more complicated.
Janneke understood my idea, she already suspected.
But straight away she got stupidly upset for no reason.
She started embracing me and stammering something to the woman next to us.
While I was trying in vain, to explain I deserved to be dead.
The strip lights went off, then came flickering on. Two boys came dashing through. The immigrants in the queues all snapped their heads around, eye whites flashing with panic.
-‘Minnie Pijper, komt u binnen alstublieft.’– The specialist was calling me in, right on time! Janneke came in with me, holding my hand firmly, as if I would commit suicide in front of the gynecologist.
She prodded me with a long cold instrument, checked my insides on the screen. Then surprised me with a hug and kiss. I was clean inside, she said, and the infection was going.
–‘She’s right,’– I thought. -‘I no longer feel maggoty.’–
She spoke fast. Gesturing to Janneke in Dutch or Flemish.
Trying to ignore the louder echoing bangs.
And now even louder, tear gas or baton rounds. A flurry of shouts and yelling, the background shriek of demonstrators’ whistles.
Outside a battle was shaping up, over a woman called Suzie who got arrested the day before. The health staff and even the local cops, they said, were on our side, against the Security Police, who were drafted in from elsewhere.
In the hall they were gathering illegals, mainly black and brown faces. This had all happened before. Escorting us through the adjoining hospital to a supplies yard, which stank with rubbish containers. Then some of the others were clapping.
Peeping through cracks in the high gates We saw the riot police contingent..
We saw them running away!…Hurray..hurray!
Getting poked with shocking cattle prods. Powered from battery packs.
Squealing and scattering as they flashed and sparked and crackled.
Ignominiously, they fled the charging ‘krakers’.
The jubilant anti fascists with their electric swords.
Squirting spray and punching -‘YES’-in the air.
Some in black body socks. Others in jump suits.
Whirling and leaping in their sexy black capes.
We were all cheering and palming the metal gates, which were suddenly swinging open.
A whole raft of cyclists was arriving, this was a coordinated escape.
Tandems, powered air-bikes, a bakfiets, cyclists pushing second bikes.
In two minutes we were all mounted, one way or another, and rapidly disappearing, into the maze of cycle lanes, that laced the side streets of the ancient city.
I was presented with a really fast bicycle by a fella called Hans. Wide smiling mouth and spiky blond hair. He spoke English as well, cocking his head and trying to figure me out. Shooting off but pausing on the corners. We’d lost Janneke. I was fine at first, but I just got hotter and hotter.
Till I felt like a steaming beetroot, but on wheels.
We were in Zeezandijk in just twenty minutes. Which was much quicker than taking the bus. There was a traffic jam of police vans here as well. But we arrived through the back of the middle class streets, straight to my block, no problem.
Handsome Hans squeezed my two hands and handed me a handy ‘fietsslot’.
Then he locked the bike to a lamp post. It was mine to use.
An armoured police van was cruising our way. Side doors open. So we said goodbye.
I wanted to ask him in, and after I realized that he wanted to come up with me.
We were both of us awkward and missed the moment, and actually I needed a friend.
I hate when that happens. Still it was lucky for Hans, that he didn’t fall in with a suicidal terrorist like me!
So that’s about all, I’ll finish up now… Okay the lifts were turned off again so I plod plodded heavily upstairs. Two stories up and I stop.
I should NEVER have gone against my Dad or the Church.
That’s why the visions began. Because I need to be punished hard.
For making those shaming videos. For shaming Killian Bate.
It was my fault…they got Maggie as well. Really I killed her, with my premonition.
I did it to punish myself.. I dreamed her dead and she died.
Coz she was involved with fornication, just like me.
My father was cruel, to torture me for fun. But I was just as bad, I mean….
I dreamed Macker dead as well, and even Kazoo had to go.
To pay off my sins.
That’s it! That explains a lot. Though I know it’s really bullshit.
Plodding to the fifth floor. Why bother going up?
Of course. I would be safe in the flat. When the torturers come for me the window is open.
In fact I need not wait! Now I can be really free. I don’t have to wait.
Maggie used to say she was deleting my corrupt files. But copies would creep back.
She was lying to herself of course, she had no choice.
The only sure way is just to delete yourself.
There’s even more birds here now. Gathering as if for an important assembly on the hockey pitch.
A spaniel ran out, flopping his ears, and they flew up, like a huge leaf, rolling down behind him again.
Maybe when I jump out they’ll all fly up, like a thousand wing salute. That’d be so cool.
I’m finished writing, at the window. Here I’m safe…LOL…Ha ha.
I would just like to thank everyone who has helped me. Please don’t feel guilty about me. I’m not saying you’re doing bad, okay. I got my own crazy reasons that’s all.
This morning I wrote goodbye notes to my friends and family. I used up all the envelopes and I’ve given them to Henni just in case.
I’m sorry if I left you off the list. Really I’m not well and I ran out of envelopes. And the phones are still off.
Henni has been in three times, even makes me herb tea. She’s a Jill in the Box! There’s great activity upstairs and on the roof.
She says they’ve heard the cops really will take this block next. They get the police radio so they know.
They’re flying out anyone dodgy in the double training suits. I’m on their list. Anyway I know how to use those suits. But I don’t see any point moving to another block.
Why mess up more people who have nothing to do with my problems?
More and more easily I’m clicking the links.
Of course Macker died, to punish an evil person. And Moonbeam is cursed for sure..
Conceived by a trick and born out of wedlock, I mean!.
Naively I used to think Barney was a good person. Ha!
I was too infatuated to see he was in league with my dad.
The proof was staring me in the face!
I wound up Killian Bate by mocking him. Then he cut up other girls in place of me.
The puzzle of my life is clicking together, like crazy religious pieces that join it all up. Hurting me but calming my anguish..
That’s enough writing. End of story.
The police down there are getting ready, banging on their shields.
I don’t have to wait, for sure they’ve traced me now.
I bet that Killian himself comes up with the cops.
P.S. Of course I did it on purpose, I deliberately spewed on Sister Bernadette.
How could I have deluded myself so long? Bye bye.
Me and Lucia were met in the Ferryport by a woman called Kimi from Womens Rescue, and she drove us across, to the local Occupy Center, in Zeezandijk where we knew Maxie was hiding out..
They were doing a police operation, on both sides of the frontier. Yet we walked straight through immigration. Seems they didn’t want to catch anyone.
We were waved courteously past the security check at the port gates.
While Lucy was trying to hide her portable, under the back seat.
Almost a pity, I felt, as I had rehearsed my cover story and memorized my false ID. I thought this was too easy to be true and I was right.
We expected disbelief and suspicion, but at the Center they were happy to tell us Maxie’s address.
She was in a tower block on an estate in the middle of the Security Operation.
About to be stormed, certainly, by the ‘Speciale Politie’. We’d surely be arrested if we went there right then, they said.
I was demanding a solution and starting to shout. But just then Barney rang. On Lucy’s notebook, the phones were off. He was here! He’d just got off a plane, with Moonbeam, no less. So I gave him the address, in my thickest of Traveller accents and warned him about the police.
A woman called Janneke showed up, who actually knew Maxie and had been to the doctor with her that same morning!
She offered to take us there immediately in a CoOp bread and veggie van, if we could rendezvous in time.
Perfect for me as I was a bundle of nerves. This Janneke admitted that Maxie asked her for a gun or a sharp knife!
The phones were all cut, but she could send a message to the neighbours in Clan Eagle, to check she was okay.
So it was that me and Lucy arrived at the estate in Zeezandijk with Janneke. All wearing black and gold caps and aprons of the ‘Bakkerscollektief’, the ‘Bakers Collective’.
Sailing slowly past a line of riot vans and whirling clouds of sea birds. Getting dropped off directly at Maxie’s block. T
There was a message.. We weren’t sure if Barney had already arrived…
There were no lights in the lobby. The lifts were dead.
So we had to climb up all nine floors.
It was a really expensive one way flight, I’d almost forgotten about using money. I was physically not too bad, considering.
My leg didn’t bother me too much, but I was flustered and stressed out.
Attempting to manipulate my crutches and my daughter.
And feeling like this was all too late.
Moonbeam wasn’t affected by my worries. She’d been neglected, now she was on a flying adventure to find her Auntie Maxie, and she was having a ball!
She is already endearingly or unbearably precocious. Depending on your point of view.
-‘Josie says Aunty Lucy’s my new mama.’– says she.
Belted on my lap, after bossing our way to a window seat.
-‘What! Er sorry?’- I hadn’t assimilated being Lucy’s partner myself.
-‘And Aunty Lucy says Duna will be my sister.’-
-‘Yeah well. Would you like that?’-
-‘Oh all right then.’-
She shrugged and sighed like an old lady.
-‘But not Paco he’s boring. Can I have Auntie Maxie for my mama as well?’-
-‘Two mamas?’- I gulped. -‘Nobody has two mamas.’-
-‘Please papa please. Why can’t I have Maxie as well, she plays with me.’-
-‘Oof. You’ll have to ask her about that. How do I know what she’ll say?’-
-‘Please papa pleeese.’-
I couldn’t tell Moonie of course, that we thought her chosen mum was about to top herself.
If she hadn’t already done so.
-‘How about a few more papas?’-
She considered this carefully, biting one finger. While I wished fervently I hadn’t spoken.
Just then we hit fatal turbulence. The plane shot down about fifty meters in one second.
Then jerked violently up again. Showering bags from the lockers.
I was terrified. Everyone was screaming.
Moonbeam was ecstatic.
Nobody would be surprised if another of the last flights of the season disappeared.
-‘You’re the best papa coz you take me flying.’- said Moonie.
Craning at the window as we plunged sideways into a thundercloud.
Then we landed safely and below it wasn’t stormy at all. Air travel goes on, another triumph for NH3 fuel, though too late to stop runaway climate chaos.
My mobile tootled when I switched it on. A message. Local number..-‘Bye bye Pardy Brown.’– Must be Maxie. Shit shit. I was trying and trying the number… nothing. The message was old.
-‘There’s a phone blackout today.’- said a man in the security queue. –‘Operation Catch a Criminal Scrounger.’-
-‘Me. Me. Let me press the buttons.’– Moonbeam demanded.
But now somehow the phone did ring. It was Bernie in Dab Abbey, with Danny and Damo and Tessa and Duna and Lila and Paco. Or some of them, plus others.
They’d had similar messages. Maxie had been texting suicide notes!
The taxi driver spoke English, but baulked at the address they gave me for Maxie.
The housing estate, he noted, was full of dirty squatters and stinking immigrants.
So I had to flash the cash. Explaining that our auntie was ill and we were in a hurry.
His ABS started instructing us in English, -‘take the first turn right..’-
Moonie started shouting ‘Left’ or ‘Right’, often wrongly, and pointing dramatically. Driving the driver bananas. We came to the first canal.
-‘Look look Moonie. There’s houses floating on the water.’-
-‘I see ducks. Ducks in the water. Stop here. Now papa, ducks!’-
The driver loosened up a bit. He said the whole country is CO2-free, just wind and sun, waves and NH3 cars. Still everyone expects the sea to flood them, it’s too late.
On the ‘snelweg’ highway it was less than half an hour. ‘Snel’ means ‘fast’, not ‘snail’ it seems. Zeezandijk was more like a police camp. But they waved the taxi through. The driver shrugged.
-‘Dank je wel. They stop the CoOp taxis, the green ones.’- h
By luck we’d taken a yellow taxi. Rightwing friends of the police. And we glided straight through.
-‘Hello. Hello Lucy I’m arriving.’- I could speak through her laptop.
-‘Us too, we’ll wait at the door.’-
-‘No no. Go straight up quick as you can. ..Okay bye bye.’-
I’d already paid the taximan. We were robbed.
I swung out onto my crutches and me and Moonie went for the door.
It was dim in there and smelled of piss. The lifts were obviously dead.
I’d left hospital that morning. Unhooking my own drip. Now all I had to do was throw down my crutches and heroically hop up nine stories. Oh, and with Moonie on my shoulders. It was totally unfeasible.
-‘Hey Moonie let’s run up the stairs okay.’-
But Moonie was running for the lift. The lights had come blinking on at that moment.
And the doors slid open for her.
Like she were a mini magic super witch.
The Eagles or ‘Adelaars’ on the roof had switched it on.
So it was that we passed Lucy and Macker on the stairs. I saw them from the little window in the lift.
Puffing and blowing on the sixth floor.
The door slid open and I swung out on my crutches.
As a Womens Rescue clanner called Janneke ran past, wheezing. She was the champion runner.
The lift had stopped at floor eight and a half. I’d have to hop one flight.
-‘Run up Moonie. Run up to Maxie quick.‘-
And up she went, with me clattering after her..
When Janneke arrived at the apartment Maxie was still alive.
She had heard the racket on the stairs.
Had scrambled out onto the concrete windowsill.
Where she sat, her bare legs dangling, eight floors up.
Her plan was not to be arrested. She’d jump first.
-‘Break the door and I jump!’- she yelled, in English.
But clever Janneke had the key in her hand.
When Maxie saw the door open she twisted violently around.
And slid out over the edge.
I was hopping up the last steps, using the metal banister as a crutch.
And Moonie trotted into the flat ahead of me.
Maxie had seen it was only Janneke . But it was too late.
She slid out off the sill. Facing each other. Mouth open.
The sharp windowsill jammed up painfully under her breasts.
Her hands fell on a ledge that shouldn’t be there..
She hung there a moment. Grimacing with pain.
-‘B-Bye’- she mouthed.
As Janneke grabbed her arm and Moonbeam ran in the door.
-‘Auntie Maxie will you be my mama?‘- she was yelling.
Maxie’s eyes were popping.
Her sweaty fingers were slipping off Janneke’s arm.
Her breasts plopped under the ledge. One, two.
As I came hopping in the door.
Full tilt and falling forwards.
Grabbing her other arm in my two hands as I fell.
Whopping my head off the floor.
I had to let go but I couldn’t let go but I had to let go but…..
And I didn’t let go. Second best achievement of my life.
Macker and then Lucy rushed in next. Like we were queuing up to save Maxie. The ‘Adelaars’ were arriving from upstairs. All of us yipping or shrieking, or sobbing with relief and delight.
We hauled her back in like a record fish. And helped her onto the sofa.
Where Moonie scrambled up on her lap. Chatting like nothing had happened.
Maxie and Macker were cuddling, and I pulled back,
Melting into a sweaty, panting Lucia, who embraced me from behind.
The room was still trying to turn, I was dizzy with a lump coming up on the side of my forehead. I turned, shaking and crying in her arms.
-‘I didn’t let go! Hey Maxie we saved your life!’-
-‘We’ve saved you, let’s all go home.’- said Lucy.
As we all tried to hug each other.
But Lucy spoke too soon.