Okarito - Tyler

by Kiwi

Chapter 10

"Hey, Bevan."

"Hey, Tyler."

(Not the greatest conversationalists).

"Have a good day out there?"

"Oh, yes! It was Ace. Gorgeous places and Cassie is an excellent guide."

"Our Cassie? Really? Where did she take you?"

"Away up there, towards the top end, and then we went up along a creek. I forget the name of it, but it was stunning place – all green and natural and beautiful. I loved it."

"Sounds like it," Bevan grinned. "It was probably the Otatoki Creek. Or, it could've been one of the others, but it sounds like the Otatoki. Shame you'll never see it again., isn't it?"

"Why not? What's going to happen to it?"

"Nothing's going to happen. It's a protected area so it'll stay the same forever and a day."

"Why won't I see it again then. I might go back there, in fact I probably will."

"But you can't because you're not staying here, are you?"

"I might stay, for a bit longer."

"It's already way past the time when you said you'll be leaving. Why don't you get on your bike and bugger off then?"

"Oh? You want me to go now, do you?"

"You said that you were going, or are you a liar too?"

"I don't tell lies. I try not to anyway. Do you want me to go, yes or no?"

"No skin off my nose, is it? It's your life and you're going to do what you want. The sooner you go the better it'll be everyone here – For Bob, Kathleen, Cassie and all the family."

"Why will it be better?"

"The longer you hang around, the more people are getting attached to you and the harder it's going to be when you do go. So, do it quick – like ripping a plaster off. Aunt Kathleen especially is so going to miss you when you go. So get it over and done with."

"A couple of days ago they didn't even know I existed."

"So? They know now."

"What about you, Bevan, will you miss me when I'm gone?"

"You'll never know, will you? Will you miss me?"

"That's not answering my question and, no, I'm not going to miss you."

"Why not?"

"Because I'm not going."

"Not going?"

"I'm not. I've changed my mind. I think I like it here, so I'll hang around for a while. I've got nowhere to go to anyway."

"Stuff you! That's exactly what we don't need! I'm outta here." Bevan stormed away, pushed his paddleboard into the water and straddled it with the paddle in his hands.

"Bevan, wait!" Tyler waded in and grabbed the board to hold him there. "Don't go."

"Get your hands off my board."

"No, not yet. Talk to me; tell me what's wrong. I thought you'd be happy if I stayed. Why aren't you? Why don't you want me to stay? Talk to me, Bevan, I'm begging you here and I don't beg anyone – ever."

"Yeah? I got that impression. Why are you begging me? What makes me any different?"

"I don't know what, but something. I like you, I like you a lot and I thought that you liked me too?

Ah, you know what? Fucking forget it! Go then." Tyler shoved the board out on the water and went back to his campsite outside the barn.

Cassie had joined Bob up on the deck on the house, and the pair of them stood there quietly watching Tyler taking everything out of the tent and start loading the bike trailer.

"Tyler? What're you doing?" Cassie had to ask.

"You know what I'm doing. I'm packing. I'm leaving."

"Right now?"

"Yes. I'll get as far as Franz Josef and find somewhere to sleep before it gets dark."

"But, I thought you were going to stay here?"

"So did I. Wrong, weren't we?" He carried on packing.

Bevan knelt on his board to better manouver the long-handled paddle as he moved out into deeper water. He got up on his feet, pointed the board at his home over the far side of the water, and started moving again. He looked back and saw Tyler dropping the tent flat on the ground and start folding and rolling it up. 'Sleeping in the house, are you? Aunt Kathleen will be pleased.'

He carried on, going home, and glanced back a couple more times.

"Hey! That's not right. You're not moving into the house – you're loading the bike. So, you're leaving now? Good – go!" He dug the paddle into the water again, and again, getting the board moving at a fair clip – almost as fast as when towed by the kite.

'Amazing how much strength anger gives you.'

Anger? Yes, he was angry – bloody angry! Why was he? Well, because Tyler was packing to leave. He wanted him to stay then? Yes! Of course he bloody did!

If Tyler got on his bike and left, they might never see him again. Bevan might never see him again. Never! He circled the board around and headed back to where Tyler was packing while the others watched.

He slid the board up on to the grass, dropped the paddle and walked back to Tyler. He saw him coming and stood waiting.

Bevan stopped in front of him. He looked back at where Cassie and Bob were standing, Kathleen had come out and joined them. Damm. He couldn't do this with an audience. He reached out and took hold of Tyler's hand.

"Come around here with me." He led him around to the side of the barn, facing the water and out of sight of the house.

"We'd better make this quick before they come looking for us. Tyler, I don't want you to leave. Please stay and please be my friend."

"You want me to stay now?"

"Yes, I want you to stay."

"But when I said I would, you got mad and told me to go."

"I got mad because you said you'd stay 'for a while'. I don't want you to stay for a short time, and then go. I want you to stay here for good. Make your home here and live here with us, for always."

"That is what you want? Okay, I will, but it's going to cost you."

"Cost me what?"

"First you have to give me a hug."

"Oh, yeah!"

They embraced and stood hugging each other until Bevan pushed away. "You said a hug was first. What's the second thing?"

"Second. Oh, umm . . oh yeah – second you have to give me another hug."

"We can do that!" They laughed and hugged again.

"Thanks, my beautiful cousin."

"Ditto!" Bevan grinned and kissed his cheek. He took his hand again. "Come on back now. They'll all be dying to know what's going on."

They went back to the house and stepped up onto the deck and Bevan announced, "Aunty, Uncle, Cassie, meet Okarito's newest resident. Tyler's staying and he's going to live here now – permanently."

"You are?" Kathleen said. "Live here always? Tyler, that's wonderful and I'm delighted to hear it."

"We are delighted to hear it." Bob held out his hand. Tyler let go of Bevan's and shook Bob's hand.

"Welcome home, Boy. The next question is, will you live here with us? We've got plenty of room and we'd love to have you."

"Thanks, but no thanks. I don't think I could sleep in a bed now. I'm used to my tent and I'm comfortable there. One day, maybe I'll change my mind, but for now I'm staying in the tent.

It can't stay where it was though, it was blocking the doorway to the barn."

"That's no problem," Bob replied. "We can use the back door."

"But you still couldn't get a vehicle or trailer in there. No, I'm shifting."

"But where are you shifting to?" Kathleen asked.

"Well, if it's all right with you guys, I'd like to set up camp under the trees in the next bay around the corner there. That is still your land, isn't it?"

"Yes, it's our land," Bob replied. "Of course you can camp there. Stay as long as you like. If you won't stay in the house, having you around the corner will be the next best thing. Just one thing though, beware of the livestock."

"The livestock?"

"The chooks, ducks and the sheep."

"They're not going to attack me, are they?"

"No, of course they won't, but they tend to shelter under the trees on rough days and they poo everywhere. Keep the tent closed when you're not in it or they'll mess it up and clean you out of food."

"Right. I'll keep that in mind. I won't stay there forever – just until I sort something out. I might rent a house in town, or I might just keep moving the tent around to different places."

Kathllen said, "Can you afford to rent a house? Boarding would be cheaper you know, especially if you boarded with family."

"Yeah!" Cassie interrupted. "Come and board with us. We've got a spare room and we live on the edge of town, not away out here in the sticks."

"I'm not boarding with anyone," Tyler replied. "I need my own space and I'm not ready to live with anyone. I can't afford to rent, yet. But once I get a job I will be able to get a house, or something."

"Bevan said, "You're getting a job? Doing what?"

"I don't know. Washing dishes, stacking shelves and sweeping floors, something like that. Anything that pays money. Maybe I could milk cows or mow lawns."

"Hell! You're better than that," Bevan protested.

"Better than? Every job is important," Tyler said. "If someone didn't maintain the water-works we'd all be swimming in sewerage."

"Maybe so," said Cassie. "But you belong higher-up the food chain than there. Aim low and all you'll hit is the ground. Aim high and you might hit the stars, so to speak."

"I am aiming high. I'm going to work for myself and I'm going to wake this town up before it dies completely."

"You are?" Bob smiled. "Now that, we'd all like to see."

"You'll see it. When I decide to do something, I do it. First I have to get some money together. I've got an income, but it's barely enough to live on. So I need a job to get started."

"You've got a plan?" said Bob. "That's good. You and I need to have a little talk, when you're ready."

"Yeah – when I'm ready. Thanks, Granddad."

Kathleen said, "Come and have your meals with us. That will save you money for a start."

"Save me and cost you money. No thanks, that's not going to happenn"

"But you are eating here tonight? Dinner's already cooking."

"Yes, tonight, but not regularly, that's all."

Cassie said, "One question, Tyler. What sort of business are you thinking of?"

"The obvious one, where there's money to be made."

"Which is?"

"Tourism, of course. Like Granddad said, there's lots of visitors and tourists passing close by here and they've all got money in their pockets. All we have to do is stop them and get it out."

"Armed robbery?" Bevan grinned. "Cool! I'd be into that."

"No doubt you would," said Bob. "But that won't be happening. Tyler, there are a lot of tourists, but getting money from them will be easier said than done."

"Sure it is, but it's do-able."

"Think about it for a day. Sort out what you'd like to do and we'll talk about it tomorrow night."

"We'll do that. Thanks, Granddad."

Kathleen said, "You are all eating with us tonight, I hope? I've got a roast cooking, it's nearly ready and there's more than enough for everyone."

Bob smiled. "Kathleen's biggest problem is that she learned to cook for a crowd and she still struggles with doing just enough for the two of us."

"Well, I'm here for dinner," said Bevan. "As arranged. How about you, Cassie?"

"Yeah, okay. I've got an appetite."

"We know that," Kathleen nodded.

"Okay, Aunt Cheeky! I mean, I'm a bit hungry tonight. I'll stay, but not for long. I'm going to the movies tonight. The Majestic Theater is back in business."

"Oh?" Bevan grinned. "And who are you going with?"

"Not you anyway, and that's all you need to know."

"How long until dinner will be ready?" Tyler asked.

Kathleen replied, "At least an hour, maybe a bit longer. Why is that?"

"I could start setting my camp up, under the trees."

"Good idea. Get it done while it's still daylight. Take these two with you – they can help you and stay out of my hair."

"I guess I'll unload everything again, if you guys will help carry it all around the corner."

"There's no need for that," said Bob. "Just take your bike and trailer around there. Bring them back when you've unloaded and you can store them in the barn away from the weather."

"That'd be good, thanks. But we'd never get them around there. The wheels are too skinny for beaches and the trailer would bog down. It's heavy."

"Don't go along the beach. There's an access road, use that."

"An access road?" said Cassie. "Where's that?"

"If you go back out of the drive and start on the road back to town, the first gate you come to will take you into the paddock where you want to go. It's grassed over because it's never used, but there's a good solid driveway in there. You'll see where it goes."

"Why have you got a driveway in a paddock?"

"Because, Miss Nosy-Knickers, there used to be a house there, by the trees, for the farm workers, back when we had farm workers. It burnt down years ago."

"Back when you had a farm," Cassie nodded.

"We've still got 15 acres, and that's lots more than we need."

"15 Acres? That's not much – not even 4 hectares."

"It is 60 house sections and that's a lot to look after."

"But you don't look after, Uncle," Cassie grinned. "The sheep and the chooks do that for you."

"We've still got to maintain the fences and what-not. You'd be surprised at how much is involved. By the way, Tyler, make sure you shut the gate after you. The chooks just fly over it, but it keeps the sheep off the road."

"I'll close it. I guess I'll get started then."

"Yes, do that. Cassie and Bevan can come and help you and I'll have a few minutes peace and quiet."

Bevan said, "You're a fraud, Uncle. You love having company. Both of you do."

"Don't get much choice around here, do I?" Bob tried to growl, but smiled instead. "Go on then – away with the lot of you."

Tyler walked with his bike and Cassie and Bevan walked with him. Both of them kept a hand on the trailer to help push it along, which wasn't needed, but the thought was good.

Through the old gate and into the paddock, the driveway led to the old house-site by the trees. All that was left there was a free standing brick chimney with an open fireplace.

"Hey, you could use that!" Bevan pointed. "Fix up a grate of some sort and you can have a fire in there."

"I don't need a fire. I do the cooking and water-heating with gas."

"It'd still be nice to have a fire to sit by after dark."

"I go to bed after dark."

"Damm, Cousin. Stop being awkward. Light a fire – look at all the free firewood lying around."

"Free?" Tyler grinned. "I like that word! Okay, I'll light a fire sometime, but not now. There's too much to do."

They put the tent up – or, Tyler put it up while the other two fussed around trying to be helpful. They weren't, much. The door of the tent faced the water, of course, for the view. He set up his bed, the cooker, candles and food etc., then he closed the tent up and they went back to the house. The trailer was half empty now and Cassie rode on it while Bevan walked behind.

"Tyler?" she said. "What's this business you're thinking about? If it's interesting enough, and it looks like it will work, I might join you."

"Oh? You might, might you? Who said that I wanted you to?"

"Oh, you will, sooner or later. I just thought I'd save you the time. I'm doing nothing and I'm very clever you know. I've got a fancy piece of paper from the University that says that I am."

"There's heaps of educated idiots with pieces of paper," Bevan chipped in.

"Quiet, Brother!" Cassie growled. "I'm doing a job interview here, kind-of."

"Kind-of, yes," Tyler agreed. "It's going to cost money to get it going. How much have you got to invest in it, Cassie?"

"Me? Absolutely nothing. How much have you got?"

"A bit, not enough. That's why I have to get a job first."

"Oh? So when will the business begin?"

"Probably not for a year, maybe two years."

"Two years? Stuff that! I'm not hanging around waiting that long. I'll find something else to do. I might have to marry Jeffrey after all."

Bevan said, "Cassie, you're incorrigible!"

"No I'm not. I can't be. I don't even know what that means."

"Google it!" both boys said at once and they grinned at each other.

Bob sat on the end of the deck, watching as they went passed to the barn. Cassie, sitting on the trailer, gave a stiff-armed wave, trying to look like the Queen in her carriage. She didn't.

They all came back to the back of the house and filed through the wash-up room and into the kitchen. Tyler and Bevan asked Kathleen if they could do anything to help. They were told to stay out of the way, that'd help. Cassie sat at the table, texting.

"What are you plotting, Cassie?" Bob sat down opposite her.

""I'm not plotting. I'm just summoning my ride home. I need to go as soon as we've eaten or we'll be late for the movies."

"I think you mean summonsing, actually," Bevan grinned.

"Yeah? Okay, Genius, I'll take your word for it. I am summonsing my chariot, Uncle."

"Will you be going with your sister, Bevan?"

"Not likely! No, I'll stay a while. I want to talk to Tyler. I'll go home on the board later – when the wind has stopped."

Tyler looked around. "How do you know it's going to stop?"

"Because it always does. Just around nightfall, the wind stops like it's been switched off."

"Always?"

"Yep. Or, mostly anyway. It doesn't work like that when there's a storm or something, but otherwise, yes."

"Oh, okay. What do you want to talk to me about?"

"You really want me to tell you, here in public? I will then - I'm going to chat you up and talk my way into your bed so we can have red-hot, passionate . . . "

"Bevan!" Kathleen waved a wooden spoon at him. "Stop right there. Not another word. We do not want to know!"

"You're all thinking it though, aren't you?" Bevan grinned and Tyler blushed.

"Cassie is not the incorrigible one – you are!"

"Ah, but you love me, Daddy."

"Eh?"

"Sorry. Just a line from a song. It popped into my head."

"Bevan Rodden, you are the most impossible person I've ever known," Kathleen said. "I think . . . Oh, nevermind. Come and get your meals. I'm the cook, not a waitress."

They filed around, collected the plates of food and sat at the table to eat.

"Tyler?" Kathleen sat and looked at him. "You said you're going to stay and I'm delighted to hear it, but can I ask why?"

"Lots of reasons. Ever since I rolled into your sad and sorry-looking, weather-beaten little town I've been finding more reasons to stay and make my home here."

"Well?" Cassie said. "Are you going to tell us the reasons?"

Tyler smiled. "We'd be here all night. But, for a start, there was Jeffery."

"Jeffrey?"

"Yes, Jeffery – the cop who found a stranger outside on a stormy night and was real nice to him. To me. He took me in out of the weather, gave me somewhere to sleep and bought breakfast for me in the morning. There was nothing in it for him, he just did it. He's a nice guy.

I've never met such a nice cop before. He's a good guy, Cassie, and if you let him get away, then you're not as bright as I think you are."

"Well, umm, thanks – I think. Okay, so Jeffrey the good cop is one reason. What else"

"What else?" Tyler grinned. "Jeffrey told me that I should stay here, and then I met the grandparents that I didn't know I had and I liked them – a lot – and they told me that I should stay here. I met you, my pushy cousin. I like you and you told me to stay here. And then, I met Bevan."

Cassie nodded. "We can see the pattern. You met Bevan, you like him and he told you to stay as well."

"No, actually, Bevan told me to get on my bike, bugger off and don't come back, so I'm staying."

"Dammit!" Bevan exclaimed. Tyler looked at him; their eyes met, Bevan winked and they both grinned.

"So that's it," said Bob. "You're staying because you like the people you've met?"

"Yes," Tyler replied. "The people, the place, the area – it all feels like home. There is nowhere else and I think that I belong here."

"So do I," Cassie agreed. "We all belong here. Most of us anyway. What're you going to do when Bevan leaves?"

"Oh? Are you leaving, Bevan?"

"Some day, yes. Probably. There's a big world out there and I've seen none of it yet."

"I have. I've seen all that I want to see. Now I'm ready to settle down."

"Maybe I'm not," Bevan shrugged. "I'm just marking time until I can go away to varsity."

"Cassie did that,' said Kathleen. "She went, and then she came back home."

"Her choice," Bevan said. "I might do that, I might not – who knows?"

Cassie hadn't quite finished eating when a car pulled in outside and tooted. "Whoops," she grinned. "Gotta go. Thanks for dinner, Aunt Kathleen. The boys will help you clean up – I'm gone."

She scooped a couple more mouthfuls into her face and left, in a hurry and waving.

"I don't know where she puts it." Bob shook his head. "The girl should be as big as a house but she's as skinny as a rake."

"She burns it off," said Bevan. "Cassie can't sit still for 5 minutes."

"What are your plans for the evening, Boys?" Kathleen asked.

"Plans? None. I don't do evenings, I sleep," Tyler replied. "I'll help clean-up here and then it'll be bedtime."

"That's what you think," Bevan said. "You and I need to talk, Cousin. Fancy a walk over to the beach?"

"The sea-beach? But it'll be dark soon."

"Soon, but not yet. We'll go over there, walk and talk, and then we'll come back and go to bed. I'd like to sleep in the tent with you, but if you won't have me, I'll stay in the house – if that's okay, Uncle?"

"Of course you can," Bob replied. "You're always welcome here. You know that."

"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind for when the parents throw me out."

Kathleen snorted, "As if they would! Your parents love you, Boy. They're never going to throw you out."

"I hope you're right."

"I'm always right. What do you all want to drink?"

"Tea would be nice," said Bob, getting his pipe out to fill it.

"Nothing for me, thanks," said Tyler. "I'm so full, there's no room for a drink."

"Not even a coke?"

"Not even a coke."

"I won't bother either," Bevan said. "Maybe later."

"Right then. Tea for us and nothing for you two. If you've finished eating, go away and have your talk."

"After we've cleaned-up here." Tyler started stacking the plates in front of him.

"There's no need for that," Kathleen stopped him. "Just go. Bob and I will clean-up. It's time he earned his keep around here."

"Hey!" Bob protested.

"Shush," Kathleen smiled.

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