Jordan in Okarito

by Kiwi

Chapter 16 - Tyler

Tyler was late in to work next day; Bevan hadn't been home all night either. Cassie didn't ask where they'd been or what they'd been doing. Some things she didn't need to know.

"Morning, Gorgeous," she smiled when he walked in. "I wondered when you'd appear."

"I've been busy," he grinned back. "Are there any bookings this morning?"

"Nothing that you need to worry about. You'll be wanting this." She held out a piece of paper which he took from her.

"What's this? A bank draft for $800.00?"

"Of course. Off you go – get the cash and put it in Mrs Dale's hands this time."

"I will for sure." He looked at it again. "Thanks, Cassie, you're brilliant! I'll pay you back as soon as I can."

"Of course you will. I wouldn't expect anything else. Don't worry, we'll take it out of your wages. A couple of dollars a week should do it."

"I can afford more than a couple. Cassie, how did you know I'd be wanting this?"

"I knew because I know you and Jeffrey told me that Mrs Dale's money had been pinched. He spoke to you about it last night."

"He did, but I didn't think he'd tell you about it. Shouldn't he keep that sort of thing to himself?"

"Jeffrey? Not likely. He tells me everything. He's a cop, Tyler, not a friggin' doctor. Now go and do what you've got to do."

"I will. Thanks, Cassie. You're the best!"

"Yeah, I am, aren't I? Go away now."

He did.

He ran downtown to the bank where he drew the money out, from the teller on the front counter this time, and then he went around to Mrs Dale's home.

She was kneeling, pulling weeds out of the small herb garden by her front door and she smiled when she saw him coming. "Good morning, Tyler. It looks like we're going to have a nice day today."

"Yes – hopefully." He looked around, and then said, "How's that teapot going, Mrs Dale?"

"Teapot? Would you like a cup of tea?"

"I'd love one – thanks."

"Well, we will then."

They went inside, she filled the kettle and switched it on. "Would you like a sandwich, Tyler? I don't have any biscuits."

"No thanks. Just a drink."

"Just a drink. I must get some coffee next time I go shopping. They have it on special now." She got cups and saucers and sugar from the cupboard.

"Mrs Dale, I think your days of worrying about what's on special are just about over now. Jeffrey came to see me last night."

"Constable Jeffrey? I asked him not to bother you."

"He didn't listen. He had to question me, that's his job. So anyway, here's another attempt at paying you." He laid an envelope on the table and pushed it across.

"Tyler, there is no need for this." She pushed it back.

"There is every need for this. I insist that you take it, Mrs Dale. If you don't, we can't be friends anymore."

"I don't want that, but I don't want the money either. You have already paid, very generously, for your shares. It's not your fault that it was stolen."

"More my fault than yours. You are not the one who left cash in an unlocked mailbox."

"True, but . . ."

"But nothing. I'm serious, Mrs Dale. I can afford this and I want you to have it. If you won't take it, then our deal is off and you can find someone else to run your mine for you."

"Then you would be left with nothing."

"Exactly."

"Very well then, Tyler. I will take it but I still don't like this."

"When we've got millions in the bank, we'll look back and laugh at $800."

"Millions? Do you really think so?"

"I think it's possible, yes. Am I still getting a cup of tea?"

"Yes, of course you are."

He finished the drink and stood up. "Thanks for that. Time I was moving – things to do today."

"Oh?"

"Yes. I advertised and I've got several people to follow-up on."

"Miners, do you mean."

"Yep. Experienced goldminers. Actually, there were lots of replies from dreamers who'd had no experience at all. But I've weeded them out and it looks like there's some good ones left."

"That sounds promising. Do keep me informed of what's going on, Tyler. This is all very exciting."

"It is for me too. Now I'd better go. Have a good day, Mrs Dale. Go downtown and waste some money – enjoy yourself."

"I just might do that. A little anyway. Goodbye, Tyler."

"'Bye." He left, running again.

Back at the wharf, he got on the landline and started making calls. Cassie snorted and said it was about time he got himself a cellphone.

The new guy, Martin George, was out with a boatload of tourists and he was late back so there was a crowd of schoolkids milling around, waiting for their turn to go. They were inside and talking up a storm, so he took the phone outside and sat in the sunshine.

The Lady was on her way back in, he could see her in the distance, coming down the lagoon. Which was good – that noisy lot inside would be gone soon.

The first guy he called sounded promising. The second guy was not, he was all bullshit and bluster, so his name was crossed off the list. The next one, if his email was to be believed, was exactly what he was looking for – recently retired after a lifetime in the industry and bored silly and looking for a new challenge. He rang him and talked for a good half-hour.

Cassie was going to have a fit when she saw the phonebill!

While he was sitting there talking, the Lady berthed, people got off, the kids got on and they left.

There was a bush-covered block of land over the road, at the foot of the hill. He could see a shady-looking character lurking around over there – a skinny figure in a long dark coat. Was that Mrs Dale's nemesis? Maybe.

He didn't know everyone in town, far from it, but there weren't that many hanging around and up to no good in the middle of the day. He kept an eye on him while talking on the phone.

After a couple of minutes there, the stranger disappeared up the narrow track into the trees. 'Hmmm?'

Charlie got thrown out of the pub. The bloody cheek of it! He wasn't doing anything wrong, not really. He was just lying on the bed in his room when the old battleaxe of a housekeeper came banging on the door and told him to leave.

What the hell? It was only an old dump anyway, it'd be no great loss if it did burn down. He had the window open. The Old Cow! Stuff them and their 'no smoking in the bedrooms'. He'd paid for the bloody room, didn't he?

He left quietly. It always pays to pick the times for your battles. But they hadn't seen the last of him, not by a long shot. He'd be back, like MacArthur, but when no-one was looking.

The old pub was not exactly a booming business; there were more regular boarders than guests upstairs and the bar was dead quiet, as most of them are these days. But, they'd converted a couple of downstairs rooms into a pizza restaurant and takeaways and that was always busy – they must be making a fortune in there. He'd find a way to get his hands on some of that.

Anyway, he left quietly, for now. They might think they'd seen the last of him, but he'd be back for sure. Maybe late at night when no-one was watching.

He paid at the front-desk, paid with nice, crisp and new twenty dollar notes and he wandered up the street carrying his old black bag full of the good stuff – booze and cash, lots of cash and a change of clothes. What more did a man need? Well, a juicy boy'd be nice, but he didn't have one of those.

It was a nice sunny day for once, but where was he going to go now? There was a couple of other pubs, but he was sick of living by other people's rules. In any case, the old baggage had probably warned them about him. Those people stuck together, like flies on dogshit.

Stuff them all anyway. He'd just about had enough of this one-horse town.

There were plenty of empty buildings around, most of them two-storied. There'd be empty flats up above some of them. He could hole-up in one of them, it'd only take two minutes to break-in somewhere.

But he decided against that. The way they were all jammed-up against each other, he have to keep real quiet if he wasn't going to be noticed and he couldn't be bothered with that.

He needed somewhere where he could relax and not worry about some old bag coming and chucking him out. Ah, yes! There was a line of old shanties, fisherman's cribs, along the riverbank on the side of the lagoon, below the road on the way out of town. They were all sitting empty, it wasn't the season for Whitebait for months yet.

He went up there to check-out the possibilities.

No, there was nothing there that appealed. They were all-but invisible from the road but wide open on the water side. With all the kayaks and boats passing out there, there wasn't enough privacy. He didn't want to have to keep worrying about being seen. He have to find somewhere else.

Back on the road, he saw a narrow but well-used track into the dense bush and no buildings close by. Why was it there and where did it go to? He stood there for a couple of minutes to make sure he wasn't being watched, then quickly ducked off the road and into the scrub.

The track was rough and boggy in places, but it was well-defined and easy enough to follow. It went up the hill to a small terrace – just a big ledge really. There was a little shack there, nestled amongst the trees. A very small creek, a rivulet, ran out from underneath it and there was a funny smell in the air, like someone farted. It wasn't him and there was no-one else around.

The shack was locked, but that didn't slow him down for long. Using a rock, he whacked the lock off the door and looked inside.

It was dark in there. Apart from the door, the only light came from a sheet of novalite on the roof and that was half-covered in old leaves and shit. The hut was as rough as anything he'd ever seen.

It was basically made out of junk – bits and pieces of second-hand iron and mismatched bits of wood. He could do better himself and he was no builder.

But, it was a private spot, dry inside and surprisingly warm. The fart smell was even stronger in there. Was something dead? No, that wouldn't be it, it wasn't that sort of smell.

Rotorua! That's what it reminded him of. Rotorua stinks to high heaven, or maybe the other place – a sulphurous, brimstone smell. You soon get used to it and don't even notice it when you're there. Until you leave and go back again. It smells from all the hot-water springs, geysers and boiling mud in the area.

There was a thought. He backed out, went over and dipped his fingertips in the little creek. It was friggin' hot!

Hot water was bubbling up out of the ground underneath the shack. 'Look at that! This old place has got geothermal central heating!'

The hut was just a single room with nothing in it except a couple of old wooden boxes and an old couch, for a bed – there were two sleeping bags and a pillow on it. There was no other heating in there, but it didn't need it.

On the ground outside the door was a ring of fire-blackened stones around a heap of old ashes and half-burnt bits of wood.

He looked around and smiled. This would do him nicely for a day or two. He dropped his bag on the floor and bounced on the couch to try it out (and to make sure that there were no rats in it!)

Tyler finished his calls and took the phone back inside. That guy hadn't come out of the bush over the road.

"Cassie, there's a track that disappears into the scrub over the road. Do you know where it goes to?"

"Doesn't go anywhere, as far as I know."

"So why is it there?"

"I dunno. Kid's stuff, I suppose. You know Lorne Beynon? - Tall, skinny and with blond hair.He lives way out of town somewhere and hangs around with Logan Green. He owns it."

"Lorne Beynon owns the track?"

"No, he owns the bush-block that it goes into. It's about 10 acres, or something. There's nothing there, just bush – second-growth rubbish."

"Ten acres? That's about 4 hectares. Why would he own a block of land with nothing on it?"

"His granddad owned it. He talked to Dad one time, about building a house in there, but he died and nothing happened. Lorne inherited it. I guess it's an investment for if the town ever needs room to grow. Why are you interested in it all of a sudden?"

"I'm not really. I just saw a shady-looking character going in there and wondered what he's up to? If there's nothing there, then he can't do any harm.

What's the best way to get to Brownsville? I need to go up there to see an old miner. I don't fancy hitch-hiking and biking would take far too long."

"The quickest way there is by flying. The aero-club do charter flights, but it'll cost you."

"That doesn't appeal."

"Didn't think it would. Tell you what, give me a few minutes to get someone to come in and look after this place and I'll take you there."

"You will? That'd be great, but isn't that a waste of your day?"

"Nope. It's only a couple of hours each way and I'll do a brochure drop while you're seeing your miner – time we got some more brochures up there."

"Cool. Thanks. Love you Cassie."

"Love you too!" She picked up the phone.

When her reliever came in, Cassie went home, got her mother's car and filled it with petrol, then came back to collect Tyler.

"You're not bringing Bevan along?"

"Nope. This trip is business and Bevan's at school anyway." He got in and buckled-up.

"He is at school and I've noticed that he doesn't take time off these days. Is that your doing?"

"Partly, I guess." Tyler shrugged. "We've got an arrangement, Bevan and I."

"Which is?"

"He doesn't bunk school and I don't growl at him."

"And that works? He's never listened to anyone before."

"Maybe not, but he listens to me."

"But why does he?"

"Because he loves me."

"He surely does. He's a lucky kid."

"Not as lucky as me."

"Too sweet, my Friend."

They drove straight up to Brownsville and didn't stop until they arrived. They had a late breakfast/early lunch at Maccas, which is always a treat when you don't have one in your hometown.

Then, Cassie dropped Tyler off at his contact's address and she raced around town, dropping brochures off at all the usual places.

He was standing outside, talking to a big middle-aged guy when she came back to pick him up.

"Hey, Tyler. Ready to go home?"

"Yeah, I'm ready. We're all done here. Hack, this is Cassie. She's my right-hand man and I couldn't do without her. Cassie is the boss really, it's easier that way. Cassie, this is Hack – Thomas Hacker. He's coming to work with us, to get the goldmine going."

"Hello, Cassie."

"Hello. Do they really call you Hack?"

"Usually. It's always been like that."

"Okay then. Hey, Hack and welcome on board."

They made a brief stop at the camping ground on the way out of town, dropped some brochures off there, and then carried on south.

"That's a very cool camping ground. Wish we had one like that in Okarito."

"But we don't. Our little campground is pretty crummy. The council won't spend any money on it."

"Maybe they will if the vistor numbers keep going up."

"Maybe pigs will fly too. So you think that Hack is the right man for the job?"

"I do. I think he'll be just right. If he's not, well you'll just have to sack him."

"I will? Why me?"

"Because he doesn't hit girls. Did you see the size of the hands on him? They're like meatplates!"

"Gee, you're so brave Tyler – hiding behind my skirts."

"You haven't got any skirts. I'm not a wimp. I just like to pick my fights."

"And you don't think you'd win against him?"

"Oh, I'd win. I just wouldn't like it. Hopefully, it won't come to that anyhow."

They made a couple of stops in Hoki, where she got rid of the rest of the brochures, then carried on again.

"I always do that," Cassie said.

"You always do what?"

"Run out of brochures. It happens everytime. I think I've got plenty, but it's never enough. Next time, I'll throw a couple more boxes in the boot."

"I guess that everyone likes to think that they're getting something for nothing and you did put that voucher in there for $5 off per person."

"Of course. It's a good scheme, or scam really – it costs us nothing. All I did was put the price up and then offer it back as a discount."

"Sneaky."

"That's business. It's all a game and good when you're winning."

"May you never lose. My granddad used to say, 'It ain't work if it's fun.'"

"He had that right!"

It was early evening by the time they got back to Okarito. The sky was lit-up in a glorious sunset. The kayaks and the Lady had finished for the day and everything was packed away. Cassie dropped Tyler off at the wharf, and drove away home.

He walked up the ramp onto the wharf and stood looking around. It was always good to see a sunset, not just because they looked good, there was also the promise of a fine day coming. It didn't always work out, but it usually did.

Sunsets never lasted long. Even though the air was dead still and the surface of the lagoon was like a mirror, the oranges, yellows, pinks and purples were fading from the sky. He always thought that the town looked at its best like this – Gleaming in the Gloaming.

There were some wisps of woodsmoke hanging around in the trees across the road. That was unusual. Maybe it was just noticeable because the air was so still. Maybe that stranger had lit a fire up in there.

He was about to go inside and get some dinner when he saw someone walking up the road. A long and blond someone. Yeah, that was him – Lorne Beynon, and he was still in his schoolclothes. He turned off the road and onto the track and walked into the bush and out of sight.

What was he doing in town, all alone, at this time of day? How was that any of Tyler's business. It wasn't. He went inside.

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