Didn’t even know she had a son, says Mum. Dad goes upstairs and looks through the binoculars. Says he looks a bit of a hobo, and not surprising really, given the mother.
He doesn’t do much, mostly just sits under a tree, and sleeps outside, in a tent with a little porch. His mother’s dying of cancer. Everyone knows. We hear her moaning and crying sometimes. He keeps a fire going day and night, and sometimes the smoke blows across the street and stinks us out.
Our dog Milly runs over to their place and Dad sends me to get her. She’s lying on her back while he rubs her tummy. He’s made some damper dough and we cook it on sticks, then dip it in honey, delicious. Milly sniffs around their place.
He’s never been to school or anything. He says he’s an explorer. He lives in a tent ‘cos he doesn’t like houses, they can’t come with you. Dad calls me back after a while. Place is a bloody mess, he says.
Mum thinks the old lady ought to go back to the hospice but the community nurse reckons they can’t force her. Some days she lies in the sun, wrapped in an old blanket. One night we saw them doing a dance round the fire. It can’t be much longer, Mum says.
He’s started building a raft out of bamboo. He’s going to take it down the river, all the way to the sea, when she’s gone.