Jordan in Okarito
Jordan - 2
The big truck rumbled slowly through the town streets until they were out on the open road, the traffic thinned and the speed increased. Perched up in the cab, high above the road, it felt like they were going really fast, but the speedo didn't go above 100k all the way. Jordan's enthusiasm soon waned; his attention span was limited.
"How long until we get there?"
"About 4 hours, if we don't stop on the way."
"Why would we do that. I mean, I don't want to be there but we're going now, so why stop?"
"I hope we don't, but this old truck might need a break on the way. Have you ever been to Okarito?"
"No, never. I haven't been south of Hoki."
"Now you will."
"Yeah. Way too south."
"It's not that far down you know... Okarito is actually north of Christchurch."
"Is not! Christchurch is just across the island, over the hill. South Westland is, well, south."
"There's a map in the glovebox, have a look if you don't believe me. When you go over to Christchurch it's not just east, it's south-east and it's way down there."
"Sure it is!"
"It is. Look at the map and you'll see. The country doesn't lie north-south you know. People think it does, but it doesn't – it's skewed to one side. Don't they teach you anything in school?"
"Not a lot. They try, but who's listening?"
"Why go there then?"
"Because I have to. Besides, that's where my mates are, or were I guess. Dunno what the hell I'm going to do now."
"You'll make new friends, Jordie. A bright boy like you will never be without mates for long."
"Thanks, I think, but I don't want new friends, I want to keep my old ones."
"Like the old rhyme says, 'New friends are silver, but old friends are gold. Make new friends, but stick to your old.'"
"Exactly! But how'm I supposed to do that when Mum's shifting us, half the country away. Bitch!"
"Hey! Don't talk about my little sister like that."
"Well she is. Sometimes. How can she do this to me? She doesn't care about me, she just wants to be with that Steve creep."
"Now there's something we can agree on."
"What, that Mum hates me?"
"She doesn't hate you. Of course she doesn't. You're her currant-bun, her number one son."
"Her only son. What do we agree on then? That Steve is a creep?"
"You'll get no arguments from me on that, but it's her life and we can't stop her doing what she's going to do."
"Tell me about it! I tried, I got nowhere, as usual."
"Of course," Dennis chuckled. "Jordan – something else I wanted to talk to you about."
"Those bracelets you're wearing. I'd get rid of them if I was you."
"Just as well you're not me then. Why don't you like my bracelets?"
"I don't like or dislike them; it's what they're signalling that I'm concerned about."
"Come on, Jordan. We both know what that combination of colours is about. Do you really want to be all alone in a new town and wearing a Rainbow Flag on your wrist? That would not be intelligent. Most people wouldn't care much, one way or the other, but for some it'd be like waving a red rag at a bull."
"You might be right. How come an old fella like you knows about the Rainbow Flag?"
"You'd be surprised. Your generation didn't invent everything you know. Matter of fact, you've invented bugger-all. The world was around for a long time before you were."
"There had to be a few trial-runs and some duds before they finally got it right."
"Right. So your lot are the end result of human evolution? Funny, I remember my generation thinking the same thing. One day you'll be older and some snot-nosed kid will be saying the same thing to you."
"Oi! I'm not snot-nosed!" Jordan objected and rubbed his nose with the back of his hand, just to make sure.
"No," Dennis grinned. "Not now you're not. It's just my advice, Jordie, but I hope you'll listen to me about the bracelets. I've only got one nephew, I quite like him and I don't want to lose him just yet."
"Cool. Thanks. There's an idea, I'll come back and live with you in Brownsville. Mum and Sharron can stay in Okar-bloody-rito without me."
"How about, no? That's not going to happen. I'd happily have you to stay with us, but your mum would never agree."
"She wouldn't. Uncle Dennis, are you gay?"
"That, my Young Friend, is absolutely none of your business and I'm not telling you."
"I think you just did. That's cool. How about Uncle Dave?"
"Damm. Not everyone in the family is gay."
"But some of them?"
"Maybe, and that's all I'm saying. Are you hungry? We could stop in Ross and get some food."
"Am I hungry? What a dumbass question. I'm always hungry, I was born hungry."
"You weren't you know. I was there and I remember. You weren't at all interested and they had great trouble getting you to start sucking on your mother's booby."
"Eww! Eww! Eww!" Jordan clapped his hands over his ears. "Stop talking. Stop talking now or I'm out of here!"
"Okay," Dennis laughed. "I'll stop, but it's true. Don't even think about jumping out. If the fall didn't kill you your mother probably would. She's right behind us and she'd run you over."
"She'd like that too."
"She would not. Don't be silly. We'll stop in Ross for food. My mate's got the cafe there, so we'll get a good deal, mates rates maybe."
"Your mate? Is he gay too?"
"No. Are all of your mates gay?"
"No, they're not. Dammit. I did have hopes with Gene for a while, but he's not either."
"Gene? The good-looking, dark-blond and quiet boy?"
"That's him, but he's only quiet sometimes. He gets whakamau. Went and got himself a girlfriend, worse luck."
"Sounds like there's a story there, but I don't think I want to hear it."
"Not telling you anyway. You know that you're paying for lunch? I've got no money because I'm poor."
"Aren't we all? Don't worry, I'll buy lunch."
"I knew you would," Jordan grinned, "because you love me."
"I do, but I'll kick your butt if you need it."
"Thanks, Uncle. Love you too."
They stopped outside Roddy's Cafe in Ross – the home of the 'Honourable Roderick', the largest gold nugget ever found in the world.
Jordan jumped out and ran back to his mother's car to tell them what they were doing, if they didn't already know. He stood next to the driver's door, looking down – bad mistake!
His mother was wearing a loose-fitting, open-necked shirt and he was looking right down at her boobies. He'd probably have to wash his eyes now.
"Well?" she said. "Are you still with us, Jordan?"
""Huh? Yeah, of course I am. Dennis' mate owns this place and we're getting some food. He's paying for mine, I dunno about you lot. Depends on how generous he's feeling, I guess."
"I think that I could buy us all some lunch," she replied. "We've all been working hard after all. Just don't make a pig of yourself, Dave. There's still more work to do when we get there."
"Yeah, and we're looking forward to that, I don't think."
"You should sleep well tonight then."
"For once, and I'm sure I will. Let's eat, coffee'd be good too – might help keep us awake."
"Oh good," Sharron sat up in the backseat. "I'd love a coffee."
Her mother replied, "You will not. You can have a coke and like it. There's enough caffeine in that for you. You too, Jordan."
"I'd rather have a coffee."
"I'd rather you weren't bouncing off the walls – you'll have a coke."
"I'll have a coke," he sighed, then grinned. "A super-sized coke."
"In your dreams. Come on, let's eat."
The cafe was busy, so they bought takeaways and sat in the small park across the road to eat there. Sharron wanted to know if they were halfway there yet? Jordan shrugged and said, "Not even. About a quarter of the way, maybe."
"Only a quarter? Man, it's going to be a long walk back when I run away."
"Don't you start," warned the mother. "I'm having enough problems with your brother. We are going to live in Okarito and nobody will be running away if they know what's good for them!"
They finished eating and they moved on. Sharron wanted to know why she couldn't have a turn at riding in the truck? Jordan grinned down from his perch in the cab. "Uh, uh. No way. I'm in here and I'm staying here. Uncle's telling me all about the facts of life."
"Yeah, right," his mother snorted. "It's more likely that you're telling him. Get in the car, Sharron. We haven't got all day."
They moved on down into the wilds of South Westland. It was a brilliantly sunny day and the road was sun-dappled with the shadows from the towering trees. Some of them were probably growing there before the first settlers arrived.The snow-capped mountains reared up on their left and the Tasman sea was somewhere over on the right, but they never saw it at all after Ross.
There were a few small, very small, towns along the way. Each with a couple of shops and a pub, of course. There were an awful lot of rivers and they were big ones too. Or, they would be when they were in flood – they had big bridges over them.
Finally, they came to the turnoff, turned right and headed down the secondary road to Okarito by the sea.
"Hey, cool!" Jordan read the sign. "You can hire kayaks here. There's a big lagoon, isn't there?"
"Biggest in New Zealand, apparently."
"Must be big then. How far have we got to go?"
"A few more k's. About 13 from the highway, I think."
"It's a long way from home."
"Give it a year or so and this will be your home."
"Doubt it! I belong in Brownsville, always have and always will."
"Maybe you can move back there, after you've finished school."
"No maybe about it, I will be, as soon as I can. I can't wait."
"Give it a chance, Jordan. Okarito's a nice-enough place. I've never lived there but those who do seem to like it."
"We'll see. You think they'll like me?"
"I'm sure they will, once they get to know you."
"Yeah! After all, what's not to like?"
"Your modesty is overwhelming."
"That too. Are you guys staying the night with us?"
"Nope. We'll help you unpack, and then we'll be on the road back home. We've only got the truck for one day."
"Hmmm. Straight back to Brownsville."
"We're not taking any stowaways. I'll check before we leave."
"Spoilsport. How'd you know what I was thinking?"
"I know you."
"Dammit. Look, there's the lagoon. Doesn't look that big to me."
"I think that's just the river. There's a couple of rivers flow into it."
"Lot of bush, isn't there?"
"Of course. We're in National Park country around here. I think this is the town coming now. We'd better let your mother go in front, she knows where to go, I don't. Wave her forward, Jordan."
Jordan leant out of the window and beckoned. His mother pulled in front of them, frowning and waving a finger as she did. He couldn't hear what she was saying – probably just as well he couldn't! He was obviously in trouble, yet again. It didn't take much.
"Sheesh!" He slid back into his seat. "Was she always such a grumpy . . . ah, person?"
"No, she wasn't," Dennis grinned. "Not until she had you."
"Me? It's not my fault. Nothing's ever my fault – I'm a kid."
"When it suits you, you are. Oh, no – Damm!"
"Why? What? What've you broken?"
"Nothing's broken. Not yet anyway. She's leading us down the main street, there's not much room for a big old truck down there."
"They'll all have to get out of the way then," Jordan nodded. "I'll toot the horn again. That'll shift them."
"You will not! Behave yourself. You should start as you mean to go on, so don't arrive in your new town making a big dick of yourself."
"How I'm going to go on? That's easy – turn around and we'll get out of here."
"Out of town?"
"I think not. This is where you'll be living for the forseeable future."
He sat quietly checking it out as they crawled along the short main street area. He tried not to be too negative, but it wasn't easy. The weather didn't help. It was an overcast, gray and dismal day and it was a gray and dismal, worn-down and weatherbeaten old town.
There was some colour in the shop fronts, under the verandahs, but not a lot and up-top they weren't even trying. Some of the old places looked like they hadn't seen a lick of paint since the year dot. How expensive was paint anyway? Way too much, by the look of things.
It all looked like an old run-down gold-mining town, which was really he supposed, after the gold rush was over. Way over. Was he ever going to call this place home? He didn't think so.
One thing grabbed his attention and he sat up for a better look and looked back as they passed. It was a boy, of course – a kid somewhere around his age but much taller, of course. Why wasn't he in school? It wasn't over for the day yet.
He was a nice-looking guy, very tidy, but that wasn't the ineresting part. He was walking along, on the street not the sidewalk, and he was surrounded by dogs – dozens of them! Well, maybe one dozen, give or take a few. A lot anyway. They were all around him, quietly walking along and none of them on a leash or anything. Wow.
How did he do that? Maybe he was the Dog Whisperer, or the Leader of the Pack? The truck followed the car around the corner and he lost sight of him. Oh well, he was sure he'd see him around – couldn't miss him, could he?
Things improved, slightly, once they were out of the downtown area. There were still a lot of old buildings, but the houses generally were newer and better looked after. So, what was their house going to be like? Not great.
They pulled up in the side street, a couple of blocks back, and that bloody Steve was standing there waiting for them.
The house was nothing startling – not old, not new. It looked like a 1960's sort of style – wooden-framed windows, yellow weatherboards and a green roof, all a bit faded, naturally. The lawns needed mowing, the hedges needed clipping and gardens needed weeding,he noticed with a sigh because he knew who'd being doing that.
The house windows were small and high-up, almost touching the eaves under the roof.
"Oh, great!' He thought. 'Unless the floors are high-up too, we're going to be living in a tall person's house. How can she do this to me? I wanna go home!'
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