Okarito - The Great Beynon
"Edgar Benyon is perhaps New Zealands most successful Magician. He toured a tented show through New Zealand in the 50s and 60s.
He was awarded the first major trophy of the New Zealand Variety Club in 1969. This has been named after him, the Benny, a lifetime achievement award granted to New Zealand entertainers who, through work in charity, mentoring, and dedication and proficiency in their field have consistently excelled in the industry." (Great what you can find on the internet).
The Great Benyon appeared in my small entertainment-starved hometown when i was about 9 years old - and I fell in love with him! I thought he was the most awesome man alive.
I then devoured every book i could find on conjuring and 'magic'. I could never be an entertainer - far too shy for that, but i did become something of a self-taught expert on magic.
Two years later, i was staying in another small town up North, Atiamuri actually, and the Great Benyon came to town. I was so excited, i was nearly wetting myself!
He appeared in the local hall and i made sure i had a seat in the front row. It was the biggest disappointment of my life to date - he was just a little old man and i knew how he was doing his tricks - I could see the man dressed in black standing in front of a black curtain and lifting chairs etc to make them 'levitate'. I could even see the string attached to his ear that made the magic glitter-ball fly out of its box, around the stage & back in again.
Being a delightful eleven years old and feeling very let-down, i sat there and, very loudly, told everyone how he was doing what he did. He must've wanted to shoot me, but he just carried on and finished his act.
He was a gentleman, an awesome entertainer and i'm sorry about that!
There's more about him here - http://bluesmokebook.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/a-bombardment-of-bewilderment/
(His other trademark was the quick-changes. Between tricks he would walk behind a screen and come out the other side in a different suit,saying, "Same man, different clothes!")
'A new kid in school.' Logan sat, half awake, idly watching the people walking by while waiting for his girl. 'Interesting.'
He really should've been still in bed, asleep. It's not easy on the first day back after 7 weeks of late nights and sleeping until he felt like waking up. That was all over now, worse luck, and he was back in school for yet another year. Summer holidays pass so quickly!
He didn't mind school really, it was pretty cool and it was where his mates were. He just wished that they could start the day at a more civilised time – midday would be early enough.
The new kid came back and went into the locker-room that he'd just come out of not even 2 minutes ago. 'Forgetful, much?' Logan smiled, he knew what that was like.
'Wait a minute!' He whipped around and looked at the doorway that the kid had disappeared into. 'You're not new. You're . . umm. . What's-your-name? That Beynon kid. What the hell's your name? Starts with 'L' – Larry? Loren? Lorne! That's it, Lorne Beynon.'
'Whoah. What's happened to him? He looks so different, like a whole new kid.'
He almost got up and followed him, but, 'No. That'd be sad - stalking or something.'
Stalking Lorne Beynon? Not likely! But . . . what had happened with him? He wasn't new, he'd been around for, like, forever, always quiet, always in the background. He was just an ordinary kid, one of hundreds. There was nothing special about him, except maybe his always-glum face. Did he know how to smile? A grin might crack his face in half.
Well, he knew how to smile now. He came back outside, into the sunshine, glowing with his golden-tan skin and longish white-blond hair, saw Logan looking at him, flashed a dazzling smile, said, "Hey, Logan", and kept walking.
Logan sat, gobsmacked, watching him go. 'Wow, totally wow! Hot.'
Hot? A boy? Lorne Beynon was hot? Beynon?? And yet – he was. That was the only word for it. He was hot. How could someone change so much in just 7 weeks? Was that possible? Apparently, yes.
What exactly had changed? He didn't know. He'd never taken that much notice of him before. He'd never taken any notice of him before, but he was now. Things had changed.
The hair had got longer, and blonder – very blonder. He'd always had nondescript, dirty-blond hair, the sort of hair that wasn't noticed. There was one big change, maybe he'd bleached it? Also, his skin – tanned, smooth and, well, perfect. Had he been photoshopped?
There must've been a change there. He couldn't remember what it was like before, but he was sure he would've noticed a face with skin like that. Wouldn't he? Had he got taller, longer legs, broader shoulders and a slimmer waist? Who knew?
The school clothes were no help, they weren't outgrown or anything. They wouldn't be because they were new by the look of it, like lots of people's were, like Logan's were – new uniform clothes for the start of a new year. Everyone was growing, somewhat.
"Hey! I'm here. Who are you checking out?" Logan's long-time girlfriend, (well since last year, that's a long time when you're 15), sat down and poked him in the ribs.
"Oh. Hey, Ange. How're you? Excited about a new year?"
"Yeah, right! Uber-excited. Don't change the subject, who were you sitting perving on, Logan Greene?"
"Not perving. I'm just sitting here people-watching, seeing what's new and who's hot."
"Like everyone's changed since last year? It's only been a few weeks since we were last stuck here."
"Seven weeks actually, and that's long enough for people to grow and change a bit. Quite a bit for some; look at that kid there – the one talking to Allie Wills and Bonnie Milne."
"The blond boy? What about him?"
"Yeah, the blond boy. Keep looking, Ange."
"Looking at what? He's a looker. Holy Shit! That's what's-is-name – Beynon, Lorne Beynon! Isn't it? He's changed – nice!"
"Told you," Logan grinned. "Some have changed."
"They have. Wow, Lorne Beynon's cute! I'll bet he's still bloody weird though."
"Weird? Why's he weird?"
"Because he is, or was anyway. Think about it, how long has he been around in the same classes as us?"
"Since forever, seems like. Since way back in Primary School anyway."
"Yeah, probably since day one. Ten years! Ever seen him get into trouble? Ever seen him win anything – prizes, races, anything at all?"
"Well, no, but that doesn't make him weird. He's just average."
"Yeah? Ever seen him at any birthday parties? Any dances? No, you haven't because he doesn't go anywhere. He never has. Logan, he's been in school with us for 10 years. Where does he live?"
"Live? I don't know, I wouldn't have a clue."
"Yeah. Neither would I and in a small town like this, that's not normal. Everybody knows where everybody lives, except him."
"Right. That is odd."
"It's weird. Who does he live with? Has he got a family at all? For all we know he could be an alien robot sent here to spy on us."
"Spy on us? Rubbish, Ange! He is not. Anyway, he has got a family, a father anyway. His dad works around town doing odd jobs and people's lawns and gardens and stuff. He drives that old Holden ute and he drops Lorne off at school sometimes.
"Yeah? Where do they come from? The Mother-ship after recharging?
"That's crap, Ange, and you know it. Life's not like that."
"Well that's my theory, have you got a better one?
"So why don't we ask him?"
"Oh sure! That'd work – 'Hey Beynon, are you an alien spy?' - like he'd tell us? No, you're right, of course. You're always right."
Ange sat straighter and stiffened. If she had hackles, they'd be rising. "Just what do you mean by that, Logan Greene?"
"You know. You know exactly what I mean. Every time we talk it's always the same."
"You've always got to have the last word on everything and the only person's opinion that matters is yours."
"Oh, that's what you think?"
"That's what I know. It's what you think too; you know that and so do I."
"You've never talked like this before."
"No, and I think it's time we did."
"Yeah? Okay then, I'll tell you something else I'm thinking – I think it's time we cooled things down a bit."
"Cooled things down?"
"Yep. I like you, Logan, you're a nice guy even if you can be a bit of a doormat, but I don't know if I'm ready for a full-time relationship."
"Are you dumping me?"
"Not dumping, no. Well, not exactly. I still want to be friends, it's just nasty when couples stop talking to each other, but I think it's time we saw other people. Okay?"
Okay? Funny, all he felt was relief, like a weight had lifted and he was free!
"Yeah, okay." He looked up at her, she was looking not at him but straight ahead at Lorne Beynon. "Are you thinking about dating Lorne Beynon?"
"No, Logan, I'm not but I think you might be."
"Yes, you. The whole time I've been sitting here you haven't taken your eyes off him for more than a few seconds."
"Do you think I'm gay?"
"I dunno, maybe, maybe not. Maybe anyone is with the right person. That's what being a teenager is about, checking things out, getting to know different people and finding where we belong. We won't have that if we're stuck together like we're married.
We've been together for months and, face it, things are not as exciting anymore."
"Right – again, they're not. So we're finished but we'll be friends?"
"Yeah. You want that?"
"I think so. Okay, Friend, that's it – over. But remember, Ange, we are friends. If you ever need help or anything, I'll be there and I've got your back."
"Thanks. You really are a good guy you know. You'll make someone a damm-fine partner one day."
"But not you."
"I think not, but – who knows? We might even finish-up back together, that can happen."
"Smile, Logan. You're not dumped, you're free, okay?"
"Okay." He forced a grin. He was really feeling relieved but couldn't say that, she'd explode!
"Okay." Ange kissed him on the cheek, got up and left. "See you around. 'Bye, Sweetie."
"Sweetie?" Logan shuddered. That was one thing he wouldn't miss, for sure. 'So – freedom!' He looked for Beynon, but he'd gone. It was time he was moving too, it wouldn't pay to be late on the first day.
He almost was late, but not quite. He just beat the teacher into the room. Everyone else was there and seated. He glanced around for somewhere to sit and, ('Whoah!'), Lorne Beynon was in the middle of the room with empty seats on both sides of him.
Why was no-one sitting near him? Who knew? He didn't, but that wasn't going to stop him, there was nowhere else he'd rather be. He hurried over and took a seat next to the blond kid.
"Hey, Lorne," he smiled, "mind if I sit here?"
"I don't mind. Be my guest," Lorne smiled back. And what a smile!
Logan's legs turned to rubber and he sat down before he fell down. 'Wow! Wow and double-wow, the kid's friggin' gorgeous! Why haven't I seen that before?'
Mr. Noonan stood up at the front and shushed everybody. He then started on his standard welcoming speech and promised them terrible things in the year ahead – like hard work and lots of it. This would be the most important year that they'd known in their school-lives, maybe the most important that they ever would.
The NCEA national exams were to be sat at the end of the year and their results would set the course for their careers and for the rest of their lives. It was that important!
To him it was, maybe. Logan listened with half an ear and studied the boy next to him. How was he going to get to know him, or even start talking to him? As far as he could remember, they'd never spoken before – ever. That was strange and he was so regretting it now.
Really strange. The kid had been around forever and he'd never noticed him before, and never wanted to, but he did now. What had changed? He was attractive, like some plain ordinary plant had burst forth with a beautiful flower.
'What? Back-up, Logan Greene! What's going on here? He's a boy, like I am, and I'm attracted to him? I'm not queer, never have been until now anyway, so why am I feeling like this? Damm, he's beautiful. Is anyone else seeing it too?'
He scanned around the room but no-one seemed to be taking the slightest interest in the boy next to him. What was wrong with them? It was just him then.
That still didn't tell him why he was attracted. Maybe the pubescent boy was pumping out those sex-attractant things – pheromones? Whatever. Did that make sense? Nothing else was. He felt like he was falling in love, with a boy! With Lorne Beynon! He never saw that coming. Had he cast a magic spell on him?
'Phaw! Get real, Logan Greene. No such thing as magic spells – things are weird enough here without getting into fairy stories. Is that what I am – a fairy?'
Maybe he had been all along and just didn't know it. This was driving him nuts. He tried to focus on the teacher and what he was saying, but that was easier said than done.
He was stuck there, sitting way too close to him and was totally aware of every move he made, even his breathing. He'd be less distracted if he sat somewhere else, like in another room, or another school! Whatever. At the moment he didn't care about school, he liked sitting there close to this intriguing boy.
All morning long they remained together, seated side-by-side. They couldn't talk but communicated in glances and grins. Both of them were grinning.
Communicated what? Logan didn't know – but something. Lorne seemed to be interested in him too. Logan looked forward to recess when, he thought, they'd be able to talk a bit.
But it didn't happen. As soon as everyone trooped outdoors Logan was rushed away to sign-up for the cricket trials – first time he'd ever regretted being popular and good at sports! Lorne was left standing alone, but he soon got talking with a group of 2 boys and 3 girls who all wanted to know what the hell had happened to him?
The same thing happened again at lunchtime. Logan tried to get him to come with him but Lorne said no. He wasn't interested and he had no time for team sports because he couldn't get to out of school games and practices. Why not? Logan wondered, but he had no time to ask him before they were separated – again! Dammit.
He thought that he'd try to catch-up with him after school finished for the day, but that didn't happen either. He missed him because he was held up by a dork – Helen Bennett. She was a teacher actually, a relatively young one and very keen to be involved in her students' lives. But she was still a dork; especially today.
By the time he got away from her and out of the main doors the rapidly-dispersing crowd was well thinned out and he couldn't see any sign of Lorne anywhere. That was 3 times that he'd missed out on talking to him. Wasn't the third time supposed to be lucky? That didn't work.
Walking home, alone, Logan was in a blue funk. He wanted to talk to this new improved version of Lorne Beynon. He knew nothing about him, but he wanted to, he wanted to know everything. He was sure that Lorne was interested in him too. He'd said nothing, he hadn't had a chance to, but from his eyes, his smiles and his whole body-language, Logan was sure that he wanted to be friends too.
Friends and more? He wasn't sure, but he thought so. If he was ever going to have a relationship with a boy, then this was that boy. A Bro-mance?
'Ah well,' he shrugged. Something good had happened today. It hadn't gone as far as he wanted but there'd be plenty more days – the entire school-year had just begun. He went home.
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