An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories
THERE was a slight tap on my shoulder and I turned around. “Brother, I’m going. I’ll see you,” he said.
I could tell he needed something more than a mere, “OK, ketz, brother, will see you tomorrow.”
To see someone drop so low was heart-breaking. Julius was a great man and colleague. When I left Port Moresby and went to live in Madang for a year I had no idea what would happen.
But when I returned the fun loving person I knew had changed. He was still friendly but looked sloppy and careless.
In our line of work as journalists, we have to look presentable. Julius looked like he couldn’t care less. I could not tell him straight because I respected him too much. I just went along with the ordeal.
“Bro, here’s 20 kina, go and buy something good,” I said, handing over a note.
“Thanks bro, thank you,” he said shaking my hand, and took off with his dirty trousers and battered shoes.
“Julius is a good man, but too much drinking, too much drugs,” Thomas, another friend, told me. “And now he’s a slave to the beer and weed. Hopefully he will turn his life around.”
It was hard to talk to him about his appearance and flaws, as men we would just change the topic and talk about something else.
I had to do something, but what? I was tired of seeing him suffer, turning to drugs and alcohol every chance he had.
Julius had his own ways to make things even. He never forgot the good you did for him. In his little way he would give you something in return.
“Brother for you,” he said, giving me a biscuit to have with my drink. It was only a biscuit but it came from the heart.
As the days went by we noticed our brother had left us. He was not seen around the office.
No word, no announcement by newspaper management, just a string of days when he wasn’t there.
A few weeks later we found out that our brother who could write masterpieces had moved back to his home province of West New Britain.
We all hope he will find it in him to change and become once again the Julius we knew.