Kaimoana Tales

by Kiwi

Gary

Part 41

Mrs. Tanner left, closing the door after her. Gary decided against having another shower. He didn't need one and he wasn't cold anymore. He took the towel off and dried himself with it.

He didn't really need to do that either. He was, mostly, dry now. The weather outside was still foul, so he closed the drapes and crawled into bed to watch cartoons for a while.

However, he didn't turn the TV on, he relaxed in the bed, closed his eyes for a minute and went straight to sleep. He woke with a start, hours later, when a door slammed somewhere.

The weather cleared later in the day; the clouds drifted away and the sun shone in a clear blue sky. Gary lay on his bed, watching TV as he'd done for most of the day. The blue sky outside was beckoning to him. Should he risk it? He'd gone out once today and got soaked when the rain caught him.

"Ah, whatever. Doesn't look like it's going to rain again and I've been cooped-up here all day. I'll be going stir-crazy and talking to myself soon. Oh, right! I already am. Time I got outta here and went for a walk."

He put his sneaker, a hoodie and a wind-cheater jacket on. He didn't know how long he was going to be and didn't want to get cold and wet again. He headed down to the beach at the end of the street.

'Not much of a beach - all stones and not much sand.'

He wandered along the Esplanade, going around the bay in the direction of the seal colony, but he wasn't going there. He didn't know what the tides were and, apparently, the best time to see the seals was at low-tide. It'd be just his luck to get all the way out there and find that it was high-tide.

A short way along the road, there was a finger-post promising a look-out up on the hills behind the town, so he went that way to check that out. The sheer, rock-faced cliffs weren't really high, they just seemed like it.

He found the track which zig-zagged up the hill to join the road at the top. Another sign showed the way, so he went up the road until he found the look-out. There was a wooden viewing platform up on top of a huge, round, concrete water tank.

A couple of cars were in the small parking area, but the people in them weren't interested in him; they were busy necking. This must be the local 'lovers lane', every town seems to have one. He wished that he had someone to neck with, or even just to talk to. He felt very alone.

He needed to stop this aimless drifting around the country and settle down somewhere - somewhere where he could meet some people and maybe build some relationships. This town, Kaimoana, seemed to be a nice-enough town. It was in a spectacular setting, hemmed between the sea and the snow-clad mountains to the west.

There seemed to be quite a lot of teenagers around, but nobody was very interested in him. They just looked and looked away as he walked past. How did he go about meeting someone? He didn't have a clue. He had pots of money and no friends. He'd rather have friends.

He climbed the steps to the lookout and stood there admiring the view - spectacular! The mountains, the sea, the little town nestled between them, and the coastal strip of lush green farmland. Nice.

He didn't know why, but there was something about this town that called to him. What? It was just a little town, miles away from anywhere else. So? Looking around at the pleasant scene, he racked his brains, and then it struck him. Of course!

Last summer, a year ago, back in the old days when he had a family, they'd gone on a holiday trip, touring and camping around the South Island, and his gorgeous cousin had gone with them. His cousin was a couple of years older than him, but way less experienced.

The two of them shared a small tent, every night for 3 weeks, and they had a short-lived, but very intense, all-on affair. It was awesome! Best sex he'd ever had.

This was the place, the town, where his cousin, Joel, was planning on living as soon as he could leave home. He was going to work for his uncle here.

That was a year ago. He wondered if Joel's plans had worked out? If they had, he'd be living and working somewhere around here by now. He hadn't heard from Joel in ages, they'd lost touch during all the upheavals and troubles in his life. How could he find him?

That'd be so cool if he did and he was living around here. There might be no sex involved, unfortunately. The last time he'd heard from Joel he was very keen on this other kid in Tiroroa.

What was his name? Yeah - Virgil, or something like that. He met him once, when they were on holiday, at the carnival in Timaru. He was a rather cute boy with a spectacular mane of long, long hair.

Even then, Gary had sensed some spark between the two of them. He didn't like him much because Joel obviously did and he was supposed to be with him. He wondered how that had turned out? If it had, were they together now?

But they wouldn't be together if Joel was living here, Virgil belonged in Tiroroa. That'd be so cool if Joel was here and alone again. He had to find him to find out.

How to find him? Well, there was his g-mail account. He hadn't checked that in ages, it was about time he did. Also, he could just ring old Uncle Dick and ask him. He didn't have to know where he was ringing from.

Uncle Dick was his father's brother, and he didn't want his family to find him. They didn't want him but they'd like to get their hands on his money. That was not going to happen.

Anyway, even if Joel was in a relationship with someone else, they could still be friends. They were cousins, and always would be. They had a history and some great memories. Oh yes!

The first step was to get on the 'net. The hotel might have the internet, of course they would. If he couldn't use theirs, they'd know where he could go to connect. He forgot all about the great views and the town and everything and hurried back to start the search for his cousin.

His email account was no help at all. There was nothing from Joel there, just a whole lot of junk that the spam filters had missed and a couple from people that he didn't want to hear from. He deleted the lot of them and sent a message to Joel's address. He wasn't sure it that would still work, his cell didn't, but it sent anyway, so that was hopeful.

Next, he tried to ring Joel's father, but had no joy there. The number he had didn't work anymore. That was Uncle Dick's land-line, he didn't know his cell. Dammit.

He found the number for Tiroroa Area School, but didn't waste his time emailing them, he'd ring them in the morning and see if they'd tell him how to contact his uncle.

None of the hotel staff knew of a boy named Joel Stafford, but the boss' wife had a ray of hope for him. He should ask Patsy, the cleaner. Patsy was a great gossip and she knew everybody and all about them. Even if she didn't know, she could probably find out, she had teenage kids and it was a small town.

There was no reply from Patsy's number so, dammit, he'd wait to see her in the morning. Back up in his room, he turned the TV on. It was boring, but it was something to do. When he'd had enough of that, he shut down and went to bed for the night.

Next morning he was waiting for Mrs. Tanner and he waylaid her as soon as she arrived at work.

"Yes, sure I know Joel Stafford. I know who he is anyway. He's a cousin of my son's friends, Stephen and Dougie Griffin. Do you know those two?"

"No, I've never heard of them."

"Good, because you wouldn't want to anyway. They're a couple of horrible little shits. I don't know why my Dennis bothers with them, but he does. How do you know Joel?"

"He's my cousin and my friend. I haven't seen him in, like, forever and I really want to. How can I find him, Patsy?"

"I'm sure I don't know. I'll ask my Dennis, he'll probably know, but it won't be until tonight. His class is going on a field trip, up Mount Fife, today. What's your number? I'll ring you when I find out."

They exchanged numbers, then, as he was about to go back to his room, she stopped him.

"Actually, Gary, there's another one. The Griffins have got a sister, Sally, and she's a good kid. She's got an after-school job in the Foodmarket. You could ask her."

"Sally Griffin in the Supermarket? Choice. I'll ask her. I'll go and see her this afternoon."

"Yea, you do that. Good luck, Boy. Have a good day now."

"You too. Thanks again."

Things were looking up. Joel was around here somewhere and he should find him by tonight. He couldn't wait. Joel wouldn't reject him for being gay - not likely! So he should have one family member who still wanted to know him.

He knew Joel well, very well, intimately! He hoped that he didn't have a boyfriend now.

The sun was still shining. It was too nice a day to be stuck inside all day, so he went out for a walk, to scope-out the town. There weren't many kids around; hardly any in fact. They'd all be in school. He should be there himself, but wasn't - he was finished with school.

He didn't need the money, but maybe he should get a job of some sort? It would help to fill-up his empty days and be a way of meeting people. Maybe. First he'd have to decide if he was staying in this town. He didn't know.

The I-Site, information centre, had some excellent large-scale maps of the town and surroundings. It was only a small town, but there was more to it than appeared at first glance. There were several areas, sub-divisions, tucked away in amongst, and on top of, the hills.

There was quite a large suburb over at the south side of the hill; there was even a race-course out there. There were two separate business districts in the town, one here, where the I-Site was, and one strung-out along the highway at the north end.

What was the main industry around here? Tourism, he supposed. There were a lot of accommodation and eating places. Plus, there was the fish-processing factory and it'd be a service town, there were no other towns for miles around.

He tried to remember what work Joel had said he'd be doing, but couldn't. He hadn't been paying much attention at the time, he had other things on his mind, like sex!

Sex was great and sex with Joel was the greatest - he'd never had better, probably never would. Maybe if Joel's job wasn't working out, he could hire him to be his full-time rent boy. He could afford it and that'd be ace! That would fill up his days, and nights, quite nicely.

He kept walking and found the Highschool up a side street, at the back of the hill. It was quite a large school. It all seemed quite newish and there were lots of buildings. This must be a growing, and breeding, town. There was a primary school up there too, across the road. There were two primary schools, this one, which was the Catholic one, and another, bigger, one behind the Esplanade.

He walked and walked for hours, he must've seen the whole town. He bought a coffee and sat on the balcony outside the Craypot Café in the main street, and watched the world go by. His feet were sore, he'd done so much walking! But, the day was passing, slowly.

He was on his second coffee when school uniforms started to appear in the street. At last. He sat watching them pass in the street below. Little kids, from the primary school, were passing in one direction, and Highschool kids in the other. The lucky ones got to ride in cars.

When the parade thinned-out, he got up and went across to the small supermarket at the other side of the street. He walked around in there until he saw a girl, down on her knees, replenishing the stock in the shelves. He walked up to her, she looked up and smiled at him.

"Hi. Can I help you?"

"Hey. I'm not shopping, I'm looking for someone - Sally Griffin, do you know her?"

"Yes, I know Sally Griffin, what do you want her for?"

"I have to ask her something. Is she here?"

"Oh, she's here," she smiled. "I'm Sally. What do you want to ask me?"

"You are Sally? Sorry, I didn't know. I'm looking for Joel Stafford. They tell me that you'd know where to find him. Where is he?"

"You're looking for my cousin? What do you want him for?"

"He's my cousin as well. I'm Gary Stafford and I just want to find him. I haven't seen him in ages."

"No, you haven't, and I'd know - he lived with us. You're not going to give him grief are you?"

"Of course I'm not. Joel's not just my cousin, he's my friend too."

"Okay', she nodded. "Sorry if I'm being a bit sensitive. Joel's been getting grief from my idiot brothers lately and he doesn't need any more. Wait a minute."

She took out her cell and pressed a number on the speed-dial.

"Hey, Joel. Sally. Are you still at work? There's a kid here at the Foodmarket. He says that he's your friend and he's looking for you. Who? Gary Stafford, he says. Okay? Cool. I'll tell him. See you, Cus, 'bye."

She closed the phone and slipped it back into her pocket.

"Right, Gary Stafford. Sounds like you're good news. Go and stand outside the front door there, he's on his way, it'll take him a few minutes."

"He is? Oh, that's great - really great. Thanks, Sally." He was halfway to the door before he finished speaking.

"Hey," Sally smiled. "Any friend of Joel's - " She was speaking to herself, he had gone.

Gary stood on the sidewalk outside the Foodmarket door, jigging up and down in his excitement. He was excited, anxious and impatient. A few minutes, she said - bloody long minutes! It had been so long since he'd seen a friendly face, way too long. He should've done this months ago.

He studied every approaching face, but none of them was Joel. A few cars, and a couple of trucks, went past. He spared them a glance, but he didn't expect that Joel would be driving.

But he was! When he finally arrived, Joel was driving a big old Chevy. He pulled in, parked, got out and came around in front of the car.

"Joel!!" Gary flew at him and wrapped around him. "Joel," he sobbed. "Oh, Joel! It's so good to see you."

"Hey, hey, Little Cousin!" Joel pushed him back and looked, smiling, into his teary eyes. "It's good to see you too, really good. It's been far too long. Where've you been?"

"Been? I've been everywhere. So much has happened; I've got so much to tell you - so very much!"

"Yeah? I've got stuff to tell you too, but not here. Jump in the car and we'll go for a drive."

"Oh, yes! Thanks, Joel."

They got into the Chevy and buckled-up. Joel drove up the street, along the Esplanade and around the bay, out of town, towards the seal colony on the Peninsular. He didn't go all the way out there, he stopped and parked, facing a sandy beach, next to a concrete-block changing shed.

"Public toilets and changing-shed, away out here?" Gary broke the silence.

"That's the one," Joel replied. "This is Taylor's Beach. It's not huge, but it's the best swimming beach for miles around. No good for surfing though, it's too sheltered for that. The surf beaches are all to the north of the town.

This is a popular place for the kids to hang-out. There's parties out here most weekends."

"Parties? The best parties I've ever been to were just two people - you and me."

"Parties in your tent? They were good times, Gary, very good times, but they're over now. I can't do that anymore."

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