Okarito - Tyler
"Okay then. I'm not fretting about it or anything, usually I don't even think about them, but I fell way out with my family. It was over money of course. My other grandparents had some money and several properties around Auckland. There was the family home, in Brown's Bay on the Shore, and a couple of shops, some rental houses and flats. Grandfather knew that he was dying so he drew up a plan and Grandmother followed through on it after he'd gone.
The insurance paid off all the mortgages so all the properties were debt free and she sold them all. Added to their savings and other investments, it came to quite a lot of money and it was all left to me, but put in a trust until I 'attained a legal majority'. Grandmother was a lawyer when she was younger and the lawyer who I later engaged was delighted by that phrase.
This is getting very long-winded. Briefly, Grandmother died too and there was a huge battle over the money. My mother tried to get her hands on it but both of their wills were very specific that she was not to get a cent of it, and she didn't."
"This was their own daughter?" said Mr. Rodden.
"Yes. They knew her well and they knew that she couldn't handle it. She would've blown the lot and probably killed herself while she was doing it. The plan was for me to look after her, but that's not going to happen.
Anyway, she tried and failed to get the money, and then her brothers and sister tried as well. They failed too. I had a very good lawyer and they didn't have a chance. It was a battle but we won, or rather my lawyer did.
I knew that he'd be expensive, you get what you pay for and he was the best. But I never dreamed just how much it was all going to cost – almost half of the entire inheritance. It was legalised theft, but I was stuck with it. Still, you've got to look on the bright side, I had money, I was emancipated with all the status of a legal adult and I was free.
I bought the bike, trailer and camping gear so that I can live cheap and travel around the country. The rest of the money is invested to give me an income. It's not much, but it's enough. So, here I am, travelling light, unencumbered and free."
"And alone," said his grandmother.
"I am, and that's good."
"Where is your mother now?"
"I don't know and I don't care. She was in Auckland, living with some old drunk, last I heard."
"But why did your grandparents want the money to go to you and not to their own daughter?"
"They loved her , gave us a home and looked after her when they could, but she hurt them time and time again. My mother is a drunk with multiple addictions. She's been through recovery heaps of times, always getting just well enough to go back and have another go. If she had money, she'd blow it on drugs and kill herself."
"She sounds like a sad case."
"I guess." Tyler shrugged.
His grandfather frowned at him. "She is your mother. Don't you have any feelings for her at all?"
"I don't. She killed that a long time ago."
"I'm sorry. What do you mean by that?"
"What do I mean?" He looked from one grandparent to the other, and then unbuttoned and pushed back the long sleeve on his left arm. Silently, he showed it to them.
The Roddens looked and looked closer at the row of angry red and round scars, like dots in a line on his inner forearm, from the wrist to the elbow. "Oh, Tyler!" his grandmother sighed. "What happened?"
"Cigarette burns." He pulled the sleeve down to cover his arm again. "They shocked the court too. Did you ever stop stop a child crying by hurting him so much that he was afraid to cry? No? Well some people did."
"Yes." he nodded.
"Okay, I think I can see why you don't want to know family, but I promise you that nothing like that ever happened to any of ours. Your mother was a sick woman."
"Is a sick woman," Tyler agreed. "But it's over now. Can we talk about something else?
"Yes," said his grandmother. "Come inside and we'll eat."
They ate again, sitting around the table in the kitchen. It was great food and very 'more-ish', but, even after just one day, Tyler felt heavier. Just as well he wasn't staying, he'd finish up as big as a house if he lived there.
Finished eating, they cleaned-up, and then went out to sit on the deck at the front of the house. It was a warm and pleasant evening with not a breath of wind. The wide water before them was flat and calm, probably. It was hard to see because it was very dark by then, but the twinkling lights of the town over at the far side were reflected on the surface.
Something was moving on the water, the lights danced on the ripples.
Two matches flared next to him, interfering with his night vision. Both of his grandparents were lighting pipes!
"Grandmother, you smoke a pipe?"
"I do, sometimes. Why does everyone comment on my smoking and not on your grandfather doing exactly the same thing?"
"Men smoke pipes, sometimes, but it's rare for a woman to do it. I don't think I've ever seen it before."
"Well, now you have. I don't smoke a lot, just the occasional pipeful, but it's nice sitting here on a quiet evening. Your grandfather has smoked a pipe ever since I've known him. The smell of it used to annoy me no end, so I thought I'd try it myself and see how he liked it. It didn't worry him at all, but I like it too."
"Good for you," Tyler smiled. "It's got to be better for you than ciggies."
"I take it that you don't smoke at all?" his grandfather asked.
"No way! I need my lungs."
"Good for you too. Don't ever start, it's damm near impossible to stop once you do."
"I won't start. It doesn't interest me at all and I can't afford it anyway."
"Yes. It's an expensive hobby, or addiction or whatever, but it's my only vice, we're getting too old for anything else."
"You're not old, Granddad. Oh, wow! Look at that!"
The patchy clouds broke apart and the full moon shone out in all its silvery glory. The whole scene, the estuary, the town and the bush-clad hills behind it, were lit-up almost as bright as day but without the colours. Everything there was in shades of silver, white and shadowed black.
Awestruck, Tyler rose to his feet and stood staring out across the water. "Who's that?" he whispered.
Silouhetted against the silvery water, a slight figure was coming towards them.
"Who is what?" Bob replied. He turned to where Tyler was staring and sighed. "They just never listen, do they? Sorry, Lad. Don't worry, I'll chase him away."
"But who is it?"
"Just another one of your nosy cousins. Stay there and I'll get rid of him."
"No, don't. Please let him come if he wants to."
"Are you sure? They were all told to stay away and leave you alone for today."
"I'm sure. The day is more-or-less over over now. Thanks for that. I'd like to see this cousin who can walk on the water. Is it shallow enough to walk right across the lagoon?"
"Definitely not!" Bob laughed. "That will be Bevan. If anyone could walk on the water, it would be him, but he's not really, he's got a paddleboard."
"Bevan is a cousin?"
"A kind of a cousin. He's my brother, Len's grandson, so that would make him what?" he looked to his wife.
She replied, "He'd be Tyler's third cousin, I think."
"So he's a distant cousin? How old is he?"
"He's fifteen – fifteen going on fifty. Bevan is an old soul, he was born old."
"How can you be born old?"
"I don't know, but some people are. Bevan is one of them."
"Interesting. I'd like to meet him."
"So you shall then," said Bob. But he didn't.
Bevan didn't stop, he just paddled past them. Bob went down to the water's edge and called out to him, but there was no reply, he just kept going.
"Sorry," he said, coming back up on the deck. "It seems that he doesn't want to meet you right now. Maybe you'll see him tomorrow."
Tyler watched the boy getting ever more distant as he paddled away across the lagoon. "Tomorrow will be too late," he said. "Tomorrow I'll be gone."
"You don't have to you know," said his grandmother. "You said that your time is your own, why don't you stay a few days? You know that you'd be very welcome. Stay here with us, in your tent if you prefer, have a look around and get to know something of your father's background. The weather forecast is not good for the next few days, but it must stop raining eventually."
Tyler looked up at the dark clouds in the silvery sky and nodded. "Sooner or later, yes." He looked down at the now-distant figure out on the water. "Okay, thank you. I will stay here for one or two days, and then I must go."
"Will go then."
"But you'll stay awhile. Will you sleep in the house?"
"I don't think so. My tent has all that I need, thanks."
"As long as you're sure. There's a good big and comfy bed in the house any time you want it."
"I know, thanks. While we're on that subject, I'm going to my bed very soon now."
"Oh? It's dark but it's still early you know."
"Early for you, maybe. I didn't get much sleep last night and I'm used to going to bed early – early to bed, early to rise."
"Makes a man healthy, happy and wise," his grandmother finished the rhyme.
"Well, maybe. It's hard to sleep in the tent after daylight. No, I'm not coming into the house!"
"Stubborn little thing," his grandfather smiled. "How'd you know what I was thinking?"
"Just did. I've learnt to be stubborn, I've had to be."
"Fair enough then. Would you like a drink and some supper before you go?"
"Nope. We've only just eaten. It was a great meal too, thanks Grandmother."
"You're very welcome. It's a pleasure to cook for someone who enjoys his food. Your grandfather is getting harder and harder to satisfy."
"Hey! I'm not fussy, I just can't eat as much as I used to. That happens when you get older."
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