Okarito - Tyler
They finished their drinks, and then Tyler stood up. "Can I have a look at your surfboard?"
Bevan stood beside him. "It's a paddleboard, but, yeah, you can have a look."
They went over to where the board was lying on the grass just above the water's edge.
"It must be so fun, getting around the lagoon on that," Tyler said. "I'm really jealous of you now."
"Of me? Sheesh! You don't need to be jealous, but you're not riding on my board. Not today anyway."
"Oh? I wasn't going to ask, but why couldn't I? Don't you like people borrowing it?"
"Don't know. No-one's ever asked. But you're not; Aunt Kathleen said that you haven't seen a paddleboard before, so you wouldn't know to manage it. You might, maybe, be able to get going with the paddle, but I haven't got it here. I used the kite today and you'd never manage that – it takes heaps of practice. I'll come back, with the paddle, late tomorrow. If you're still here, you can have a go then."
"I could? Thanks, but I won't be here tomorrow."
"It's up to you," Bevan shrugged. "No-one's making you go; change your plans and stay a while. Bob and Kathleen would be delighted. If you want to go out on the water before I get back, Bob's got lots of kayaks, a whole shed full of them. Ask him and he'll lend you one. Can you swim?"
"A bit, yes."
"Wear a lifejacket then. He's got lots of them too."
"Well . . okay. I might stay for one day. Does it have to be late tomorrow when you come back? Couldn't you make it earlier?"
"Nope. I've got school tomorrow."
"You're still in school?"
"I am, worse luck – in year 11."
"Why aren't you there today then?"
"Because I'm having a day off."
"But why are you?"
"What is this, twenty questions? I just am, okay. I felt like it,' Bevan grinned widely.
"You just take a day off whenever you feel like it?"
"Sure. Why not? It's not like I'm being paid to be there or anything."
"You still should be there, it's the law. Kids have to go to school and it's good for them."
"Whatever," Bevan shrugged. "Why aren't you in school? You're a kid."
"Oh but I'm not. I'm an adult, so I don't have to go."
"An adult? You? No way!"
"Yes I am. Legally I am anyway."
"You're legally an adult? How did you manage that?"
"It's a long story. Briefly, I went to court and the judge said that I'm an adult now."
"Judges can do that?"
"They can, in the right circumstances. I wasn't planning on leaving school, that was just a bonus."
"What were you planning on?"
"I told you, it's a long story. Basically, I wanted to be declared independent and in control of my own life. I found out later that I could leave school, so I did."
"Lucky! Maybe I should do that too."
"Has your relationship with your parents or caregivers irretrievably broken down, and have you got a lot of money for a lawyer?"
"Well, no, and no."
"So you can't then. Enjoy your schooldays and make the most of them. They're meant to be the best days of your life."
"Listen to who's talking! Why didn't you stay there if you believe that?
"It wasn't true for me. I hated the place. Do you hate your school?"
"Hate? No, not really. I just get bored."
"Bored so you take a day off?"
"Sometimes, yeah. I'd better be going home before the wind drops. It was good to meet you – really good. I'll be back tomorrow, will you be here?"
"Yes, I think I will be here. It was good to meet you too. What time will you come back?"
"Around 4.30 to 5 o'clock. Tell Aunt Kathleen that I'll be here for dinner."
"Sure thing. I'll tell her, I'll look forward to it."
"Yeah, me too. Now I'll get the kite into the air, and then you can watch an expert."
"That's me! Of course, now I've said that I'll probably fall and make a fool of myself – again."
He didn't. He launched the kite, and then the board, and sailed away with ease. Like the Cheshire Cat, the last impression he left Tyler with was his happy smile. He had a great grin.
Tyler so envied him, happily sailing out there. He'd stay for one more day. It'd be worth it to try out the paddleboard, and even more to see Bevan again; he liked him. Why? He didn't know, he just did.
Bevan was thinking much the same thing while he sailed over the water. He liked this new cousin very much. He was nice to look at, but more than that, he was interesting, stimulating and, well, nice. Growing up in a small town where he knew most everyone, and brighter than most of them, Bevan was basically bored. So an interesting stranger was a welcome sight. Plus – he liked him.
Tyler stood and watched until Bevan was out of sight, and then he went back to the tent and tidied up again. He went over to the front of the house and sat on the seat, waiting for his grandparents to come back. They shouldn't be much longer; they said they were only going in to work for a couple of hours.
He wasn't in any great hurry anyway, the seat was comfortable and he'd never get tired of studying the view out there – something about it felt like home. He slept.
He woke with a start when a car pulled in at the baclk of the house and the doors banged shut.
'Damm', he thought. 'Who's this? Not more nosy relatives, I hope.'
The back door opened, and then closed and footsteps came up the bare wooden-floored hall to the front of the house. He, briefly, considered going and hiding around in the next bay again, but decided he wouldn't. He had as much right to be there as anyone did and, if it was not the grandparents, he'd just tell them to get lost. Or, maybe he would. He'd met one other family member so far and was glad that he did.The door opened and Kathleen came out, closely followed by Bob. "Hello Tyler. We're back at last. It took longer than we expected because your granddad was held up. I hope you weren't too bored here alone."
"I wasn't bored at all, thanks, and I wasn't alone either. Bevan came to see me."
"Ah, good. I asked him to and I hoped he would but you can never be sure with Bevan. He basically does what he wants, when he wants and no-one tells him what to do."
"Sounds a bit like me," Tyler grinned.
"Yes," Bob agreed. "We'd already worked that out. So what did you think of Bevan?"
"He's different but I liked him, really liked him. He's coming back again tomorrow after school finishes."
"That is good news," Kathleen beamed. "I knew you two would hit it off. So will you be staying with us for another day?"
"If it's all right with you, yes I'd like to."
Bob said, "It's more than all right, Tyler. It's all good. Stay as long as you like and the longer the better."
"I will then. Thanks, Grandfather. Is there anywhere in town where I can hire a canoe for the day? I'd love to explore the lagoon tomorrow."
"You want to hire a canoe? No, there's nowhere where you can do that and there damm-well should be! There's a whole water-wonderland out there and hardly anyone ever sees it.
Some of the locals have got small boats but no-one hires them to visitors. I've often thought that there's a great business opportunity being missed there. We get a lot of visitors, they come for the surfing, but no-one seems interested in taking their money off them."
Kathleen said, "The sort of visitors we get don't have much money anyway. They're mostly hard-up students and surfers and they're all sleeping in their cars and doing everything on the cheap. There's a camping ground by the beach but most of them don't even use that."
"They're not the only visitors we get," Bob disagreed. "There's quite a few family groups too. They rent out the holiday homes. Mostly in the summer though."
"Right," Kathleen nodded. "Nobody comes in the winter or spring and they generally don't have a lot of money to spend either."
"Everyone on holiday spends some money. Kayaking on the lagoon and waterways wouldn't have to cost mega bucks. Apart from the setting-up costs, it would be a low-maintainance, low-cost business to run. If hiring kayaks was available, more people would be attracted here. Franz Josef township is only 15 kilometers away. Do you have any idea how many tourists they get there?"
"It must be a few."
"A few! According to the tourism people, up to 2700 per day, and that's not counting the through traffic, just the ones who stop and go up to the glacier."
"That many? That's a lot of people."
"It is. There's a huge market there just waiting to be tapped into. Anyway, Lad, you don't have to hire a canoe. We've got a shed full of boats of all shapes and sizes. They're just sitting there gathering dust and you're very welcome to use any that you want to."
"Thanks, Grandfather. I'd like to do that. I could pay you for the use of one."
"You bloody could not! They're toys for the family to use and you are family. We wouldn't dream off taking money off you."
"My other family would; they wouldn't think twice about it."
"Well we're not them. Pay us with a smile. If you enjoy it, that's all the payment we'd need."
"Thanks," Tyler nodded. "I'm really glad to have met you both."
"Not half as glad as we are to have met you," Kathleen said. "By the way, I was talking to Jeffrey in town today. He wanted to know how you were."
"The Cop? That's nice."
"He's a nice guy. He said they've got some old manacles in the station, ball and chain type things. We could borrow them to keep you here if we wanted to. I wouldn't do that, but can't say I wouldn't be tempted if that's what it took."
"That won't be necessary," Tyler grinned. "I like it here. I'll stay a couple of nights anyway."
"Excellent! I'd better get some dinner started. You go with your grandfather and he'll show you the boats. You can choose which one you want. Even better, try them all - one per day would keep you here for a couple of weeks at least.."
"Just one is enough, thank you."
"Oh well," Bob sighed. "It was worth a try. Come on then, come and see what we've got."
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