Two women with a disability lived next door to him. He kept an eye out of them and did handyman jobs and errands for them. He was a good boy and I was proud that he cared about people in a worse position than he was in. But right now, I could just flog him.
As soon as I saw the Facebook photos of the flood, I rang him. I was furious at him. I yelled, I berated and I pounded the table. A good boy, he silently took my punishment and waited for me to finish.
“It was a calculated risk, Mum. Those girls were scared, had no electricity and no food. I could see them cuddling each other and crying and none of the other neighbours even gave them a thought.”
“You idiot.” I screamed even louder. “You put yourself at grave risk of being taken by a crocodile, just to settle some girls! Their support worker would have reached them and bought in supplies. You could have been taken by a croc. All gone. All over. No more. Dead.”
He laughed his quiet, sarcastic laugh. That laugh was the one that always got right under my fingernails and made my slapping hand twitch. Ohhhhhh! If only I was there with him. I swear to God I would have knocked his head off his shoulder.
Very calmly and in a tone that suggested that I was the idiot, he put me right back into my place.
“You forget, mother, that I never take uncalculated risks and put my life, or anyone else’s in danger. I had seen crocs glide by the front of the house and I had heard them barking. They were there. So was every dog in the neighbourhood. My bitch was on heat so as the flood waters came in several dogs became trapped on the bike jump in my front yard. I knew where the crocs were. They were all eyes on their favourite food: dogs. There was a new take away restaurant in Ingham – take away dog. Do you really think a croc would leave the dogs to come chew on a skinny little white boy like me?”
I laughed at his feeble attempt of using humour to disarm my anger toward him. But, his feeble attempt worked. My anger dissolved and I could appreciate that he read the signs of the flood well.
“From my one action of helping those girls, Mum, all the other neighbours felt shamed into also helping. Sometimes you just need one dick-head to do something stupid to make things better for everyone; to bring people together.”
Yep. He may have been a dickhead but I was proud that he cared enough to help another human being. I had raised a good boy, an empathic and caring lad. If only I could now relate that to him rather than always acting like the angry-crazed-woman of the north.