Life Does Get Better
by Luke Mason
Tony works in construction in down town Auckland. It's really hard work but
good money. He made the most of the little time and today it was time well spent
feeding the ducks at Western Springs park. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining but
he keeps thinking about working tonight, another twelve hour shift. But this is now
so he takes a deep breath and takes it all in. He sits by the lake watching the world go
by. The geese, ducks and swans are fighting over what little bread he has left. Tony
smiles, this is bliss for him.
Tony's wife and sons are at home, he thinks about them and then about the
looming prospect of another shift. He distances those thoughts and hums 'What a
wonderful world' to himself, he likes Louis Armstrong. Tony looks at his watch, it's
five thirty. His stomach tightens and he takes a deep breath. The clouds cluster
together, they get darker, it changes dramatically as Auckland weather always does.
Tony thinks how ironic this is, the melancholy hits him. He gets up to head for work.
Back home Mary is cooking sausages, the steam hits her face, and she's
counting her blessings for at least tying her hair back as her face reddens. Sam walks
Sam hesitates. 'Is Dad coming to my game tomorrow?'
'No, he's working again'. Mary replies.
Sam looks down and then proceeds to his bedroom and slams the door. He
turns the music up on his stereo and it drives him into a rage and he punches the wall.
Fifteen games this season and Tony hasn't been to one because work had always
gotten in the way.
The sizzle of the sausage gets louder. Mary is too busy thinking about her poor son
Sam to notice the hot oil sparking back and splashing on her hand before it's too late.
She screams out in pain as the spark burns her hand.
Mary takes a seat and takes a deep breath as she rubs her hand. She looks out
of the kitchen into the backyard, it's starting to rain. Michael comes home from
school, he enters the kitchen. 'Hey Mum'. He runs to the fridge and pours himself a
glass of milk.
Tony has a new regime, he wants the boys to help Mary around the house a
little more. Sam has become more difficult to handle since the eldest son, Morgan has
moved out there has been little male influence to guide him.
'Had a good day at school son', Mary asks.
Michael smiles back. Mary feels a little better. Morgan's truck pulls up outside,
Mary's smile livens up even more. Morgan got a new job yesterday as a truck
'Hi Mum'. Morgan kisses her on the cheek and walks over to the oven and
takes over cooking the sausages. Mary looks down by the kitchen floor and notices
that Morgan brought over some beers. Michael looks at them in ore.
'Where's Sam?' asks Morgan.
'In his room stewing.' Mary replies. Morgan nods understandingly.
Tony climbs the long ladder to get to the top floor. Don't look down, he
doesn't really want to do this. But the mortgage has to be paid and his family have to
eat. He's only got steps to go. He hasn't climbed this high before but he's the only
one out of ten men on the shift who has the knowledge to install the technical
As Tony climbs he looks up, he gets a slight tinge of vertigo and his head
starts spinning. He takes a deep breath, only nine hours to go mate and then its home
time. He precedes two more steps but suddenly his foot slips. Tony gaps and grabs
the ladder, his arms wrap around the pole. The lights are out in the central business
district, he's really annoyed. His life is in danger and like most people he doesn't
want to lose it prematurely.
His heart keeps fluttering Man don't do that again, he takes another deep
breath. But that seems to make it worse, he takes another step but he knocks his chin
on the way up. He looks up but his sensation is going down, down all the way down.
'Arggh' he screams, five, ten into a canopy. Fifteen twenty floors into
another canopy and then the ground, there's a cold, muffled echoing thud. But then
there's nothing but a body in the cold dark silent night.
Morgan takes another sip of his beer. Michael watches him closely. Mary
went to bed an hour ago, it's just the two watching TV. Mary had a meal and a few
good laughs with her kids before going to bed.
Michael watches Morgan closely, 'can I have a sip?' he asks.
'No', is the reply.
Michael asks again, 'c'mon, mum's gone to bed'.
'No, you're too young'.
'Please give me a break, gives one'.
Morgan gets annoyed.
'Cripes boy, no!'
'jerk', Michael mutters.
'what did you just call me you little git, come here'.
Michael gets up and runs to his room. Morgan sits back and watches TV. What
Morgan doesn't know is Michael took a six pack of beer with him.
Sam stays in his room looking up at the ceiling, still cooling down. Friday
night usually meant it was time to go out, but not tonight. It's his third beer now,
Michael squirms at the taste but skulls down what his fourteen year old body can
allow him. There is a dribble of beer on the side of his chin, he licks it up. He then
proceeds to crack into another one, as he skulls he coughs some of it up but then
manages to hold the rest down. His head starts spinning, so he has another.
Morgan's watching the wrestling on T.V, he's fixed on it. He gets up and
walks to the fridge for another beer. As he opens the refrigerator he notices that
there's none left. 'Michael!' he yells and proceeds to his room. He opens the door
but all he sees is an empty room, nothing but a couple of posters and an unmade bed
and of course the empty beer bottles. However there is one sign of escape an
unclosed window. Then there's a sound of an ignition, it is Morgan's truck, there
gears rip in and out. Morgan jumps out of the window and runs out onto the front
He sees Michael in tears driving the truck.
The gears rip again. Morgan jumps into the back but he feels his leg muscle
snap, it was a big jump. Michael drives out of the driveway with Morgan grasping
onto the back with dear life.
The ambulance is at the scene. Tony fell a long way, the medic check him.
There is a slight pulse. There is no time, they pack him on a stretcher and put him in
the back of the ambulance and the sirens start.
The phone rings back at home. One o'clock in the morning and it wakes Mary
from her blissful sleep. As she answers the phone she realises it's the new she would
'It's your husband, he's had an accident', the voice said on the other line,
that's all she needed to hear. As she finished the conversation she hung up the phone
and starts to weep, she keeps weeping because soon she'll have to go to the hospital.
The blue and red lights shine in the rear view mirror of the truck. Michael sits
there crying, emotionally stimulated and his intoxication. Morgan limps over to the
drivers side talking to the police, who only make things worse, Michael, is in big
trouble. Morgan hops into the drivers seat and Michael gets out without saying a
thing. He is escorted over the police car too ashamed to look back at his brother.
Morgan is going to follow his brother, after they breath test him as well of course. He
escorts the police and his brother to the police station.
The next morning the sun shines through the clouds and over powers the sky,
it is a beautiful sight. Sam gets up from a good night sleep and cooks his bacon and
eggs, he listens to the radio and he seems to be in a cheerful mood, it is amazing what
a good night's sleep can do to a young man. After breakfast Sam gets his rugby
uniform on, kick off starts in about ninety minutes. He isn't particularly bothered that
no one is home, this was usually the case on a Saturday morning, he suspect that his
mum and Michael maybe down at the market. When Sam gets to the field to meet all
the other in the under eighteen club rugby team he warms up with them all. During
the game most of the team's family have managed to come down and support their
sons. This was after all the finals and an important match. Sam noticed that Morgan
wasn't even there, something was up.
As Sam is looking around at the crowd and proceeds to stick his head in the
scrum, tackle, off-side, Sam is pumped up.
He wipes the mud and sweat from his brow, a hooker with ball comes his way
and he tackles, but unfortunately loses him. As Sam turns his head from the middy
ground he sees that hooker slam the rugby ball on the ground gloating about the try
he's scored for his team and gesturing ride hand motions his way. Sam has had
enough, he gets up enraged and plants a fist into the hooker's face. Seconds later a
couple of the hooker's team mates take exception to it and slam him from behind and
that's the last thing Sam remembers that and the noise, the crowd, the commotion and
the referee's whistle.
Sam wakes up to his mother's voice. 'Sam, wake up.' She smiles at him as
she strokes his hair.
'You had a nasty blow to your head, oh you're a worry'.
Morgan and Michael walk in, the look depressed. They walk up to Sam but
don't say a thing. 'Where's Dad?' Sam asks.
Mary looks down, there's a pause, and she then looks back up at him.
'He's had an accident'
'What's happened, is he all right?' Sam asks but no one answers.
'He fell at work, twenty three floors', Mary replies.
Sam demands, 'Is he all right, tell me!' There is still silence.
'Yeah he's all right, thank god for the canopies', That sound is not the voice of
Mary, Michael or Morgan. It wasn't in the room, but from a wheel chair that emerges
from the door way. A tall nurse wheels in a heavily wrapped man in bandages with
what seems like a leg in cast. It's Tony, Sam is glad to see him. He is wheeled up to
'I was going to turn up to your game son, but as you can see, I had a bit of an
accident.' Sam smiles back at him 'I know dad'. Michael smiles as well. Mary puts
her arm around Sam and Tony. Morgan sighs, 'Boy what a night it has been'. Sam
looks at him curiously, 'Don't worry bro I'll fill you in later'. Morgan explains and
steers at his little brother Michael in a jested sneer. Michael blushes shamefully.
Tony looks at them all, he starts thinking and then there's another pause.
'Well one good thing cam out of this'.
They all look at him bemused. 'What's that dad, Michael asks.
'I'll have more time to spend with my family now won't I?' , Sam smiles
again. Tony starts thinking. Life does get better. Life does get better indeed.