Coming Home to Roost
Elliot Barnard, or Rooster to his mates, is in trouble. He’s already disappointed his family with his choices and his father has sent him off to another city to work for a while with an ex-naval officer, Arnie, who owns a security business. Elliot’s just found his groove in his new life when he hears his punk-rocker, ex-girlfriend, Lena, is trying to track him down — and he knows why.
Being holed up with grumpy Arnie and two cats, suddenly seems a desirable place to be and Elliot keeps a low profile so Lena can’t find him. Some problems are hard to ignore and this particular problem just gets bigger….
In the midst of Elliot’s lonely, down-profile life, he meets Zeya, a girl who is strong and honourable — the polar opposite of Lena. Elliot knows he’s on a collision course but ignores the pleas of his brother, Rick, his best mate, Deeks, and even Arnie to let his parents know what’s ahead. It’s only when there’s an horrific work place accident and Elliot’s parents come to help him that his carefully constructed world of lies becomes blown open.
This story has many interwoven themes, ie young love, racial tensions and acceptances, relationships, honesty, sex but essentially it’s a story of family; the way family loyalty and love always triumph.
The idea for Coming Home to Roost began as a conversation with an old friend. Our lives have crossed many times over the years as between us we have seven sons, who’ve been mates, despite their different year groups. I asked after her family and for once, she didn’t say ‘everything’s fine.’
She told me that one of her boys became increasingly angry and misbehaving over the period of a year. As parents they were at a loss to understand the change.
A letter arrived one day for their son. It was marked private and confidential and it blew the top off his secret. It turned out he had fathered a son.
The part of the story that piqued my interest wasn’t the fact there was a baby, because that’s always a possibility with teenagers, but the way he kept it to himself; or more importantly, he kept it from his parents.
They were left wondering about his mood changes, his misbehaviour and why their boy was hiding away.
The thing about parenting is that we love our children unconditionally. Sometimes we’re pushed in our conditions…. but despite our initial disappointments, we always manage to rally.
I thought about my friend’s son for a month or so. I also thought about the way it feels as a parent to be the last to know when one of your children has been, or is, in trouble. And I remembered the code of silence from the teenagers close to your child and the quiet pity of your not-close friends. I wasn’t exactly sure what the story was going to be, but I wanted to capture the family dynamics that I recognised in my friend’s story. Coming Home to Roost is not the story of my friend’s family and yet, in a way, it’s the story of all our families.
If you wish to buy my book, I encourage you to support your local bookshop.
In Havelock North this is
Otherwise you may buy Coming Home to Roost from Amazon, The Book Depository: