What Matters
Bev Vines-Haines
Hayward Fault Line Winner

            Perri Ang came to New Zealand as a backup singer for The Boulders, back in the late eighties.  He believed at that time he had the world by the tail and quite expected to whirl it around his head a few times and then launch it (and himself) straight at the stars.   Young men tend to think that way, especially when they look like Perri.  Who could blame him?  He had a Polynesian mother, a Hawaiian father, and a lithe, tan body capped by a shock of coal black curly hair.  He wore arrogance with the ease some men wear a shirt and tie.           

But every so often the stars fight back.  They spit in the eye of boastful young gods.  The Boulders got caught with drugs coming in to New Zealand.  Auckland experienced a downturn in the job market and Perri couldn’t come up with enough cash to go back home.  No worries, he thought.  He would flex his well oiled muscles, hit the beach and wait for the offers to roll in.  But they didn’t.  The City of Sails had a plethora of handsome young men, almost all out of work.           

Eventually he found a job carrying produce cases into stalls at the Avondale Market on Sundays.   The rest of the week he worked at the farms, loading trucks and hefting boxes.  His body grew more tan, more muscled; his hair longer with a bit more shine.  But there was no one to see it except the other young men and the farmers who couldn’t care less.

The job market picked up in Auckland but by then Perri had come to appreciate the solitude and the lack of pressure in his job.  Most weekend nights he spent swimming at the beach or hiking over on Waiheke Island.  He’d taken a small apartment close to the water and no longer even tried to hook up with wealthy female travelers.           

Tourist based businesses frowned on such encounters and he didn’t want to gum up his job.  His muscles began to sag a little, his middle grew a bit think and his black hair glistened with strands of silver.  Satisfaction and contentment overtook  his arrogance.  He began to hum and sing as he went about his chores.           

One day a guy in a suit tapped him on the shoulder.  “Fabulous voice,” he said.  “I’ve a group coming in from the States.  Need a backup man.  Care to give it a go?”          

Perri smiled.  He shook the man’s hand.  For a moment he felt that old rush.  Then he tipped his hat to the stars.  “No thanks,” he said.   “My veggie people count on me.”

First published: May, 2010
comments to the writer: doorknobsandbodypaint@gmail.com