Kaimoana Tales

by Kiwi

Part 91 - Cameron

Where instructed, he turned off the main road and went up a narrow, bush-bordered, back-country lane. About a kilometer along there, he turned into an even narrower private driveway.

This one was rough, pot-holed and all-but overgrown in places. It was climbing a steep little hill too - hard work on a fully-laden pushbike! At least there was no wind under the trees, just cold rain. He was bloody freezing!

He was not sure what he expected to find up there, some sort of shack in the bush? He went around the last corner and, wow. It was nothing like that; it was more like a friggin' mansion, perched up there on the crest of the hill.

The house was a big A-frame building, 4 storeys high, at least. The low sidewalls were rough-hewn, horizontal logs. The sloping roof was clad with wooden (cedar?) tiles and the high front-wall, rearing up above the wooden deck, was all tinted glass. It looked great. Maybe these guys weren't mega rich, but they weren't poor either.

The front door slid open and Gabriel and his dad looked down at him. Gabriel was wearing sweat-pants and a loose gray top. A welcoming smile lit up his face when he realised who their visitor was and he came bounding down the steps off the deck.

"Cameron! You made it! It's so great to see you here, but, man! you're wet again. Bring your bike around to the car-port at the back and we'll get out of this rain."

There were 3 levels of balconies protruding from the front wall. At the back, it was the same except that the lower one was a huge car-port roof, wider than the house. It was a relief to get under there and out of the rain at last.

"You've got a great house here."

"Yeah, not too bad, I guess. It's just home, we've lived here for years. It's not big enough though, Dad's thinking about building another house over at the back there."

"Another house? So you'd be moving?"

"No. We'd stay here but a second house would give us more room to move. There's only 3 bedrooms in here."

"Three bedrooms? There's you, your dad and Garth. Who else lives here?"

"No-one. There's just us 3, but we've only got one guestroom and we get a lot of visitors. Have you got dry clothes with you, or do you want some of mine?"

"I've got plenty, thanks. The stuff in my pack should be dry, it's waterproof, hopefully." Cameron dropped his pack and opened it. "Yeah, it's cool."

"Good then. Get some clothes and bring them inside. I'll get you some towels." Gabriel disappeared inside.

When he returned, Cameron said, "Gabriel, tell me to mind my own business if you want, but if there's 3 rooms and one's a guest-room, who shares a room?"

"Dad and Garth do, of course, they always have."

"Always? Are they gay?"

"Yeah, they are. They're like an old married couple."

"You have no problems with that?"

"No. Why should I?"

"No reason at all, I guess. Good for them."

"Yeah, they're happy. Bring your stuff inside. You can dry-off and get changed."

He followed him in and Gabriel waved him into the bathroom on the left while he waited in the kitchen area. "Get changed and I'll make us a drink. Just drop your wet stuff in the laundry basket and we'll get it later."

It was so good to be dry again. He was still cold but getting better, the house was warm. He went back out to the kitchen and Gabriel had coffees ready. He sat next to him at the breakfast bar and Garth came in.

"Oh good. I knew I could smell coffee. Hello, it's the Storm Boy again! How're you doing, Cameron?"

"Good thanks, Garth. Really good."

"Good to see you. How did you get here?"

"He biked," Gabriel grinned. "He was on a push-bike and carrying a huge lot of gear too."

"And in the rain. You'll be getting webbed feet if you're not careful."

"Yeah, well," Cameron shrugged. "The rain wasn't part of the plan. I'm biking up to Nelson, to my granddad's. I'm going to do the circuit up this way and back down the east-coast to home."

"That's quite a ride. Damm, I wish I was young and fit again."

"Young and stupid, more like," Cameron grinned. "You're not so old."

"Don't you believe it. Sometimes I feel ancient. Good to see you anyway. Stay as long as you like. You'll be company for Gabe. Most of his friends have got 4 legs or feathers."

Garth left, with a drink in each hand. Cameron turned back to Gabriel. "Gabe?" he grinned.

"Yes, Cam. It's just short for Gabriel."

"Cam? Okay then. I hope I can meet some of these friends of yours."

"Sure you will, some of them. Some are way too shy to come near people."

"Except you."

"Yeah, except me. Anyway, we can't go out until the weather improves. Only silly beggars are moving around out there."

"Like me."

"You said it. Come and I'll show you around the house."

It was a very cool house. The whole of the ground floor, apart from the kitchen and bathroom areas, was one big living room. A big wood-burner stove stood in the centre with its steel chimney rising up through the floors above. They went up the open, wrought-iron, spiral staircase to the mezzaine floor. It was open in the centre, balconies on each side and bedrooms at the ends.

"That's my room at the back," Gabriel said. "You'll be in the guestroom at the front here."

Oh? Okay. That was not quite what he was hoping for, but okay.

The stairs ended on the next floor.

"Dad and Garth's bedroom. That's their en-suite and the rest is just a work-room. You wouldn't believe how much junk they've got in there. The ladder there goes up to the attic. That's pretty cramped and it's full of junk too."

"This is a great house you've got here. All that black-leather furniture must've cost a fortune."

"Probably. They've got money. Garth used to be in a rock group when he was younger. He was just a guitarist but they had a couple of big hits and he wrote the songs. He still gets paid royalties every time they're played on the radio, or whatever. One of them was a Christmas song too, so it gets dragged out every year. It's not a fortune, but they're good little earners. Dad comes from old money."

"Old money?"

"Yeah, they were aristocrats, back in England. My Great-Granddad was a remittance man. He was the black sheep of the family and they paid him a pension to go away and live in the colonies. His brothers were killed in the First World War and he wound-up inheiriting everything, but he never went back."

"Wow. Does that mean that you're a Lord or something?"

"No, but I could've been, I guess. There was a title, but he refused to take it. He was way off the family, so he took the money but stayed here and told them to shove the title."

"A grudge-bearer then?"

"Bigtime! I think it's a family trait. Dad is one too, so don't upset him or you'll be out forever."

"I'll try not to do that then."

"Might be wise. Okay, we'll go down and put your gear away now and see what needs drying out."

Wow. The more he found out about Gabriel, the more fascinating he was.

They went down and sorted through Cameron's gear. There was nothing that needed drying, apart from the tent. That was saturated, so they hung it to dry on the lines slung under the rafters in the car-port. His pack was mostly loaded with clothes, so he took it up to the guest-room.

It was a great room too. The big end window had a view, or, it would when the weather cleared. It was all mist-shrouded out there, but the window looked out over the bush and up a mountain valley out at the back. There was a small en-suite and a huge king-sized bed.

('More than enough room for two in there!')

Downstairs, they relaxed in the living-area. There was a huge plasma-screen TV and an impressive computer set-up.

"Computer looks good."

"So it should. That cost a fortune too. It's a good set-up, but we're not on-line here, too isolated. Dad's trying to get something done about that, but getting nowhere."

"But how do you get on for your schooling? You said that you do it on-line."

"You don't miss much," Gabriel nodded. "I do. When we're down in town it's not a problem. Out here, I do it on the computer, then load everything onto a USB stick and take it down to Springs Junction. The Tearooms there let me use their computer to send it and get the next assignments."

"I see. A bit awkward."

"A bit, yes. But it's only a couple of times a week and we have to go there for supplies anyway."

"Too organised for me. I'd never keep up."

"Yeah, you would. You get used to it and I've got Dad and Garth watching to see that I do."

"Slavedrivers, are they?"

"They'd like to be. That's one more reason why I like to escape into the widerness."

"I thought this was the wilderness?"

"Well it's not. This is civilsation here. You'll see, I'll take you out and show you when the weather improves."

"I hope you do. Thanks. I'm looking forward to that."

"Me too. How long can you stay here with us?"

"I don't know. A couple of days, I guess."

"That all? Can't you stay longer?"

"I'd like to. I'd really like to, but, I dunno. Granddad's expecting me in Nelson and I've still got a long way to go yet."

"Stay here. Dad could drive you up there, or Garth will. Somebody will."

"Well . . maybe. I did want to do the bike-trip. Is there any chance you could come with me for a holiday?"

"In the city? Not a chance!"

"Nelson's a really cool little city."

"Maybe it is, but it's not home. I've been hanging-out to get back here and I'm not leaving until I have to."

"Not even for me?"

"Not even for you."

('Oh.')

It rained constantly all day. It actually seemed to be getting worse. They hung around in the living-room, watched a DVD movie, played some computer games, ate, sat and talked. Gabriel's dad really was a great cook. Cameron told him so and told him that he should be a chef.

"I used to be one," he replied. "But I gave it away. I like cooking but didn't like the stress. Didn't enjoy that at all."

Garth came down from upstairs and handed him a photo-album. "Here, Cameron. I thought you might like to have a look at these."

"Thanks. What's this about?"

"Not a lot. It's just photos of our Mowgli - my record of our Wild Boy growing up."

"Wow, great! Thank you."

"Enjoy. He was an ugly little beggar, but he's ours and we quite like him."

"Thanks, I think." Gabriel frowned.

He was not ugly at all, he was a handsome little kid. These pics were beautiful. Some of them were real works of art and he looked great. His hair was always straight and dark, it wasn't short now, but he used to wear it much longer. He looked like a little Tarzan. In a lot of the pics, especially the very early ones, the boy was stark naked! ('Wow!')

"Told you he was ugly." Garth looked at where he was up to. "We always had great trouble keeping clothes on him. He couldn't see why he had to wear them when birds and animals don't. It took years to convince him that they had their natural protection and he didn't."

Cameron smiled and nodded, but he was thinking that it was a shame that they'd convinced him. Dammit.

After dinner, they watched another movie, and then went to bed, in separate rooms. Dammit again.

Gabriel said that he always went to bed early. "Early to bed, early to rise, and all that."

Cameron didn't usually, but he was tired. They'd done nothing much all day but he still hadn't caught-up on the big day before - 10 hours biking! His head hit the pillow and he went out like a light.

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