Upon Lachlan’s return to Kaikoura, NZ from Africa, he was reunited with his childhood friend, Craig Whibley. Whereas Lachlan had a very loving upbringing, Craig was not a stranger to emotional and physical abuse.
Toddler, little man Craig, had turned into a fine young man. Filled with stories from my Nandy how Craig and I played together as babies, I felt immediately drawn to my laconic neighbor. Always clad in my free-spirited colorful New African shirts and Vans tennis shoes, I was quite the opposite of Craig who wore drab clothing and a withered look across his weathered face. Aged beyond his years, there was nothing youthful about Craig. Abandoned by his mother, Nikki, as a baby, all Craig had known was his borderline abusive father, Tucker. Born with a demeanor more like his deceased Uncle Harrison, Craig took parental “tough love” quite hard. Constant disapproval led to massive doses of shame and disappointment. Upon Tucker’s early death, Craig, with his sensitive continence, felt a prolonged sadness. Yet another heavy burden, Craig’s guilt soon replaced the sluggish depression from his overwhelming relief when his father finally passed. Craig often told me, when he had a son, if he had a son, he would never make him sink to the depths of self-loathing as his father had done to him. Constantly told he was worthless, Craig was content to live an isolated existence running the Whibley farm. Until I arrived and yanked him from his self-imposed prison, human contact had been much too painful. My best friend felt it was of little importance if he never contributed much to the world, at least his animals loved him. That had to be enough. It had to be or Craig might lose his sanity. What I did not discuss with my dear friend was I have made it my secret mission to help my broken friend interact with the opposite sex and innocently stumble into love.