Jordan in Okarito
Kim and Jordan - 2
They walked out to the street and Kim pointed. "See that building there, the tallest one with a rusty roof? That's the Royal. One of those windows is my room. I'm not sure which one, but one is."
"You can see the school from your bedroom? Sounds like a nightmare!" Jordan grinned.
"No it's not, it's great," said Bonnie. "When he's bunking school, he'll be able to look down at all us silly beggars. If we're not bunking as well, that is."
"I wouldn't bunk school'" Kim shook his head.
"Why not? Not a goody-goody, are you?"
"No, but if I stayed home, Miss Clayton would want to know why and I don't think I could fool her."
"Probably not," Bonnie agreed.
"Who's Miss Clayton?" Jordan asked.
"She works at the hotel," Kim replied. "She lives there too and she's been there for, like, forever. She's a little old lady, very prim and proper and grumpy too. I think a smile would crack her dial."
Jordan said, "If she works there, then your parents are her bosses. Why worry about what she thinks? Tell her to get lost."
"Ooooh!" Bonnie grinned. "You've both got a lot to learn. No-one tells Miss Clayton to get lost. She can smile, she's got a lovely smile when you see it, just doesn't happen very often. When it does it's like the sun breaking through on a cloudy day. And, she doesn't just work there, Miss Clayton IS the Royal Hotel. The place would fall to bits if she left and the town probably would too."
"Oh, come on! No-one's got that much influence."
"Don't you believe it. Miss Clayton does."
"But how could she?" said Kim. "I mean, she's prim and proper and all, but she doesn't even have a family to boss around."
"Don't you believe it! The town is Miss Clayton's family, she's related to most of them in one way or another. Two of her sisters married Roddens so there's half the town for a start.
She is, what my Gran calls, the 'arbiter of morals and the touchstone of all that's good and proper'. When Miss Clayton talks people listen. The town council, the schools, the churches – everyone listens and no-one wants to upset Miss Clayton."
"But how did she get to be like that? She's just a housekeeper in an old pub."
"Just a housekeeper? Hoo Boy! She's not only related to most of the town, but she taught a lot of them too."
"Taught them? At the school? But she told me that she's worked for the Royal for 57 years."
"She probably has, but she was also a volunteer music and drama teacher, in all of the schools, for something like 40 years and she's been on every committee you could think of, including the council. Everyone's got huge respect for her."
"A music teacher?" said Jordan. "That's cool. Does she still teach."
"She doesn't. She's retired and I don't think she'd think much of Metal anyway. What're you thinking about, Kim?"
"I don't know what to think. Like, Wow! There's so much more to her than I thought there was. I think I'd better be careful."
"Yeah. Music is my life, but I don't think Miss Clayton would approve of me either."
"Why not?" said Jordan. "You into Metal too?"
"No, not so much. I like all sorts but not Metal."
"Keep your door shut." Jordan shrugged. "Time I went home. You coming, Bonnie?"
"I'm coming. 'Bye, Kimbo. See you around."
"Kim! My name is Kim. And, yeah, 'bye people. See you tomorrow, maybe."
"Not if we see you first," Jordan grinned.
They wandered off in one direction and Kim went in the other. Miss Clayton! He'd have to be even more careful around her, she could make a boy's life a misery in this town, especially if that boy was gay as well. Music Teacher for 40 years? He was staying away from the piano in the lounge from now on.
He'd been playing on the piano every evening since they'd arrived at the hotel, but no more. Miss Clayton never seemed to sleep and she was likely to appear anywhere, anytime, quietly making her way around the place.
That night, after dinner, he sat in the lounge, it was a bit lonely away up in his room, but he watched TV and stayed away from the piano.
Miss Clayton saw him there and wondered why he wasn't playing? 'Perhaps he's tired of that God-awful music. A good thing that would be too.' She continued on her rounds.
After a while sitting there, he was getting bored and he had an idea. He turned the TV off , went up to his room, got his acousticguitar and took it to the balcony out at the front. He figured that, if he shut the doors, he could sit there playing quietly and no-one would notice. Also, he could keep a watch on the street in case that kid with all the dogs came walking passed.
That was a failure on both fronts. The boy didn't appear and Miss Clayton, standing on the 2nd floor balcony below him, heard every note he played.
She smiled her approval. The quiet guitar music was pleasant and a vast improvement on what he usually played. It was a shame he was not singing. The boy had talent, as well as poor taste in music.
If he was not going to approach her, she might have to talk to him.
Next morning, Kim went into the kitchen for breakfast. Both of his parents were already there eating, both dressed in paint-splattered overalls.
"Morning All. I see Dad's got you painting again, Mum."
"I will be," she said. "I'm enjoying it actually. The old place needs a lot of sprucing up and there's not much else for me to do around here. Miss Clayton and Mrs Springer have got everything covered and I can't even work in the bar – that's not approved of. I'm not cleaning, so that leaves painting and I'm having fun."
The father smiled. "You could just sit around and be a lady y'know."
"Me? Not likely, I'd be bored stiff! Besides, you need a helper."
"I'm not saying no, just saying that you don't have to do it. What do you think, Miss Clayton? Should the lady of the house be working as a painter's gofer?"
"If that is what she wants to do. An honest day's labour never did anyone any harm. Kimberley, I'd like a word with you when you come home from school today."
"A word with me? Okay, I guess. Sure thing, Miss Clayton." He helped himself to toast and cereal and sat at the table, carefully facing away from her.
It didn't help when Kaylee started teasing him as soon as they'd left the hotel. "Man, you're in trouble, Kimmy! What'd you do? Forget to flush the dunny?"
"No, I did not."
"You must've done something, or more likely forgotten to do something you should've."
"I don't think so. I don't know. I'll just have to wait and see, won't I?"
"Sooner you than me. I wouldn't want to cross Miss Clayton."
"Neither would I! Thanks, Kaylee, I was already worried you know. And don't call me Kimmy. My name is Kim."
"Of course it is. See ya, Kimmy." She skipped away to join some girls and he walked into the Highschool. Jordan and Bonnie were sitting on the steps, checking their phone messages.
"Here you are," Jordan greeted him. "About time too. We want to talk to you. Wait a minute while I see what the Cat's got to say." He looked back at his phone.
Everyone wanted to talk to him today! "Wait," Kim said to Bonnie, "His cat texts him? Clever cat, that."
"Not that sort of cat, Idiot. The Cat's a girl. She was his mate back in Brownsville. Jordan says she's like me, but more so."
"More? What do you want to talk about?"
"Music," said Jordan, putting his phone away. "Bonnie thinks you and me should get together. They don't want you for the school's music and they sure as hell won't want me. Maybe we could play together. What do you think?"
"I don't know. I told you that I'm not into heavy metal and you won't like old rock, so where does that leave us?"
"Somewhere in the middle," said Bonnie. "Come on, it's worth a try, isn't it? You've both got no-one else to play with."
"Okay, I guess, we can try. It might even be fun."
"Yeah, fun's the word," said Jordan. "I play guitar, badly, and xylophone, even worse, and I sing like a frog. What d'you play?"
"Guitar, piano, keys, trumpet, violin, snare drums and bagpipes."
"Seriously? That's a lot. Are you any good?"
"Competent, I think. Oh, except for the bagpipes, I'm totally useless with them."
Bonnie said, "But would anyone notice? You know why pipers walk around when they're playing?"
"Trying to get away from the noise! You two need to get together. How about after school today?"
"Sounds good," said Kim. "But can we go to one of your houses?"
"Why not at the hotel?" said Jordan. "There'd be more room there."
"There would be, but Miss Clayton will be there."
"We'll go to Jordan's house," said Bonnie.
"We can't," Jordan said. "That Steve will be there and I'm not giving him an excuse to moan at me."
Bonnie said, "Well you're not coming to mine. You'd wake the baby up and I'd be in the crapper."
"All right then," Kim sighed. "We'll go to the hotel. We can go up to my room and shut the door and, hopefully, she won't hear us."
"Better than nothing," Jordan shrugged. "We'll do that today, but if this works we've got to find somewhere where we can play loud. I like loud. Meet us here after school. Okay?"
"Okay by me. See you then."
Jordan pulled his phone out again and Kim walked away.
"Kim!" Bonnie called. "Can you sing? Jordan can't."
"I can sing," he grinned.
"But are you any good?"
"I sing like an angel."
"Sure you do. Says who?"
"My Gran. Well, she used to. She'll be listening to real ones now."
"Your gran would have to say that!"
"And, she did. Laters, Guys." He disappeared inside.
"Guys?" Bonnie bristled. "Cheeky Swine! Are you a guy, Jordan?"
"Yeah, of course I am. Aren't you?"
"No I bloody am not. I'm a girl, not a guy!"
"Damm! Here I was thinking that I might have found a boyfriend."
"I'd shut up if I was you, Jordan Houston."
They met at the end of the day and Jordan and Bonnie went with Kim to the Royal Hotel. They went in through the backdoor and headed up the stairs. There was a lot of painting gear, ladders and planks etc, in the hallway. Kim's parents were working inside, in an empty bedroom, because it had been raining earlier in the day. Exterior work was for fine days.
He put his head in the door. "Hey, Mum. Hey, Dad. I'm home."
"You don't say? How has your day been?" his father replied.
"Been good. This is Bonnie and that's Jordan. We're going up to my room to look at some music."
"Hello, Bonnie. Hello, Jordan. Aren't you supposed to listen to music, not look at it?"
"Haha. You know what I mean."
"Have fun, Kids," Kim's mother said. "But keep the noise down or you-know-who will be up to see you."
"We don't want that! We'll be careful. C'mon People."
They went up the other stairs, paused to admire the view out the front, and then went to Kim's room where they spent a couple of hours, sitting around and 'looking at' music.
The rambling old hotel had been subject to many renovations and alterations over the years. Some of them were improvements, some were not. However, it had been built in the town's 19th century heyday when money was no object and it was state of the art for its time.
There was a coal-fired central heating system, with ducts in the ceilings and walls, before the town was lit by electricity, which was cheaper and cleaner. It had been abandonded year ago and most of the equipment ripped-out, but some of the vents still remained.
When standing in certain places, sound carried from room to room when the vents were open. Not many people knew that, but Miss Clayton did. She sometimes used it to follow what was going on in her hotel.
She'd seen the three teenagers heading up to Kimberley's room and was, naturally, suspicious of what they were up to. She paused in her rounds to listen to what they were doing. It didn't take long to hear that they were discussing the boy's music collection. It was all quite innocent and she was about to move on when, she got the shock of her life.
So did Bonnie and Jordan.
They were looking through a box of CD's when she said, "Is this yours or is it your granny's?"
"Funny you should say that. It used to be my gran's, but it's mine now. I love it. Gran used to get me to sing along with the polonaise."
"Polonaise? There's nothing on the cover notes."
"Yes there is. 'Je Suis Titania' is a polonaise – it's a dance in ¾ time. Comes from Polish."
"And you sang it? Kimbo, you've got some weird stuff in here, but this is right over the top. I mean, Mignon, a comic opera, Ambroise Thomas. You really like this?"
"Sure. I love Je Suis Titania, it's a great workout for the vocal chords.
"But is it music?" said Jordan. "Put it on, Bonnie, and let's have a listen."
"Do we have to."
"Yes. You're the one who was saying that it's good to try something new. Can you sing it for us, Kim?"
"Sure I will. Just this once. You won't like it anyway."
Bonnie put the CD on, found the track and started the music. Kim closed his eyes and stood and sang like there was no-one there. She'd never heard anything like it. Jordan thought he had heard it, somewhere, he didn't know where but it was kind-of familiar.
Miss Clayton had heard the tune before, but she was amazed. She'd heard the boy and his preferred music, but this was something else. Incredible! She'd never heard the like before. Something was going to have to be done.
Kim's voice bounced and soared to impossible heights. The other two sat looking around at all the glass in the room and waiting for something to shatter. Voices can do that, can't they? His didn't.
He finished abruptly and stood looking expectantly. Jordan said, "Well,I wouldn't call it music."
"No. Incredible and bloody impossible, but not music. You weren't kidding when you said that it's a workout for the vocal chords. They must be exhausted by now. You don't do that all the time, do you?"
"Just sometimes. Bonnie?"
"I don't know what to think. Jords is right, probably. Thanks. Very impressive, but not what we want to hear. What else have you got?"
Miss Clayton closed the vent and walked away, shaking her head. 'Kids today!'
Jordan and Bonnie didn't stay much longer, they left as soon as the bell rang for dinner. Kim went down to the door with them, and then to the kitchen to eat with his family.
He was disappointed, seemed like they wouldn't be making music together. Oh, well.
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