"Well," said Bill.
"Yep," I said.
"I guess this is goodbye."
"You've got a few days."
"Yep. And then I'm off."
"And then you're off."
"And then I'm off."
"Well," he said.
We shook hands and he gave me a big smile. I walked to the door, but when I turned to give him a smile and a wave, he was sitting with his head in his hands.
With the trip to Italy coming up, I thought I'd better get a few books to read in the sun, so I asked around Parliament for a good bookstore in town. Everyone said, "You should go to Unity Books on Willis St."
I had a few goodbyes to make so I didn't manage to get there till just after 5pm and I was surprised to see that it was so packed.
I was down the back looking for thrillers when I heard someone say over a microphone, "Please give a warm welcome to Nicky Hager".
That name rang a vague bell.
A thin guy got up and started talking, and he said, "Please give a warm welcome to my co-author, Jon Stephenson."
I'd heard that name before, too, but couldn't quite place it.
It was a bit hard to hear everything they were saying, but the gist of it was that they'd written a book about a daring SAS raid on a village in Afghanistan to avenge the death of one of their men killed by insurgents. The raid involved sharing military intelligence with the US, the use of Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters in the mountains, Apache gunships and explosives.
But things went terribly wrong, and civilians became casualties of war. None of the insurgents were killed.
Then there was another casualty of war - the truth. The civilian deaths were covered up by the military, and reports about what really happened were denied.
I bought a copy on my way out. It sounds exactly like the kind of thriller I love!
After giving my valedictory speech I had a few quiet ones afterwards in the Parliament bar.
David Cunliffe came over and said, "Cheers mate. Good stuff."
I said, "Thanks mate. When's yours?"
"I bet it can't come soon enough."
"You got that right."
We sat and sipped our drinks, and looked out the window. It was starting to rain.
David said, "You packed?"
He said, "That's not something I'm looking forward to. All the memories. This place - it does your head in, doesn't it? You come in with the best of intentions, you want to serve the public good, meanwhile you've got your family waiting back home in Auckland and ... "
We sat and sipped our drinks, and looked out the window. It was raining.
I wandered into Parliament when the sitting was finished just to have one last look around by myself.
I unscrewed my head, and let it float over the grand old debating chamber. I looked down upon all that lovely wood panelling and the plush green seating, and thought back to my maiden speech, on August 29, 2002, when I said, "To those who ask, why am I here? Because I want to rekindle the sense of adventure and pioneering spirit of our forebears."
At the end of the day I think I can say job done.
I couldn't put it off anymore and stepped into my office to pack.
But it only took a couple of minutes to sweep everything into a box.
I turned at the door and took a last look around to see if I'd left anything behind, maybe something of value. But the room was bare. It was like I'd never been there.