King Homeboy

Our bud Toki is a beat-boxer. Beat-boxing is when you make the noise of a drum machine with your mouth and voice. Toki is the national beat-boxing champion. This means he is better at beat-boxing than everyone else in New Zealand. Maybe there are people who are better than he is and are too shy or uninterested to challenge him, but I don’t think there are. I think he is better than everyone else in New Zealand. He also wears the biggest shoes I’ve ever seen.

Our bud Toki beat-boxes in Cuba Mall at nighttime. Drunk guys heckle him a lot and sometimes kids come up and go “Oh, bro, bro, can you do …” and they name a favorite rap song of theirs. Toki goes, “Nah, ’cause I don’t do other people’s stuff, eh,” and then he does the song they asked for and they go, “Oh man, oh man, you’re the man, man! Oh man, you’re the man! You’re so good, man, you’re so good,” and then Toki stops and goes, “And that’s about all I can remember, I don’t know anymore,” and the kids go, “That was the best [whatever the song’s called] I’ve ever heard!”

Our bud Toki says, “I’ve got the winning ticket! I’ve got the winning ticket right here!” and he waves a Big Wednesday ticket, which is part of the lottery, the national lottery. “Nah,” he says, “I haven’t got it, but I might have done, eh, what if I did have it this whole time? I don’t even check the numbers. I don’t even know if I’ve won or not.”

More people walk past and he yells out, “I’ve got the winning ticket! I’ve got the winning ticket right here!”

“It was someone in Martinborough,” they yell back. He’s disappointed. But when someone else walks past, he yells out, “I’ve got the winning ticket! I’ve got the winning ticket right here!”

“You should do a rap about it,” I say: “‘I’ve got the winning ticket and you can all stick it!’”

He says he can’t do that. He pretends to be shy and embarrassed. But then he breaks out a Big Wednesday freestyle and it goes on and on for ages and he has no problems at all rapping about Big Wednesday. He has no problems at all.

Our bud Toki holds the world record for beat-boxing. This means he has beat-boxed for longer than anyone else in the world. This means that no one else has ever beat-boxed for longer than he has. He has beat-boxed for thirty-six hours straight, with only twenty-second breaks at a time to pee and stuff. All his family were there and the news, Channel One or Channel Three, they were filming him the whole time. He couldn’t even stop to sleep. He had to keep going. He doesn’t remember the last few hours. He said he went to sleep beat-boxing. He said he fell asleep for a couple of hours, standing up beat-boxing, and when he woke up he was still going. He started to hallucinate at the end because he was so tired and sleep-deprived.

When people haven’t been able to sleep for a long time, they start to see and hear things that aren’t actually there. Things that aren’t moving look like they’re moving. Toki saw a bright white light and a little child came towards him, beckoning. “Come with me,” the child said, “come with me,” and Toki dropped the microphone and started walking. He was about to follow the child into the bright white light, he was about to go there, but he looked back and he saw all his family and he realized what was happening and he didn’t follow the child, which is very lucky and fortunate for everyone.

“I don’t understand,” says Masha. “Why didn’t you want to follow it?”

“He was about to die!” I say. “If he’d followed it, he would have died.”

“That’s right,” says Toki solemnly. “The bright light’s the end. It’s the end. I was nearly gone.”

We are all silent and solemn for a while. We think about our own mortality.

Anyway, our pal Toki, he’s the champ now, not just in New Zealand, but all over the world and when the next book comes out with all the top things that everyone’s ever done, he’s gonna be there. He’s gonna be in it, under “Longest Time Spent Beat-Boxing Ever in the Whole World Out of All the People who Beat-Box Everywhere.” And it’s a lot longer than the previous world record of 24 hours, but he’s dissatisfied. Next year, he wants to do 40. That’s why he’s training all the time. All the time, he’s training. He’s just beat-boxing. All the time.