Okarito - Tyler

by Kiwi

Chapter 14

They spent several hours poking around in the nooks and crannies along the lagoon. There was an infinite variety of watery landscapes and tangled rain-forest out there. The snow-capped Southern Alps, rearing up in the distance and gleaming in the sunshine, made a striking back-drop to the scenery.

Tyler took hundreds of photos, focussing on Bevan a lot, and then, when the clouds started gathering, shutting off the sunshine and covering the mountains, they figured it was time to go back.

They went down the lagoon, heading to Cassie and Bevan's home. The return journey was really easy because the tide was going out and the current was with them.

Back at the house, the kayaks and gear were left on the lawn, well above the water-line, and they went inside. Cassie took the camera and downloaded the pics onto the computer in the family-room while Bevan gave Tyler a quick tour around the house.

It was a nice, modern, house with big stone-slabbed decks along the back wall making an outdoor living area complete with chunky wooden furniture, a built-in barbeque and gas heaters. The decks looked down at the water and the open-plan living/kitchen area, the master bedroom and another bedroom all opened out on to it with wide, folding, glass doors.

The long and narrow house was built on several levels and at the top, with their own water-view balconies, were two more bedrooms sharing the en-suite between them.

"That," said Bevan, "is Cassie's room and this in here is mine."

"Oh?" Tyler followed him in. "I thought that that was your messy room downstairs next to your parents'. You haven't got two rooms, have you?"

"No," Bevan laughed. "We've got two boys. That's my brother's room down there. This is my messy room."

"It certainly is!" Tyler shook his head. "You're a slob, Bevan."

"Hey! It's not that bad. I clean it up when it needs it – another week or so and I'll be doing it, when I run out of clean clothes. Again."

"Definitely a slob."

"It's okay. Some things are just not worth stressing about."

"Obviously. I didn't know that you've got a brother?"

"Two brothers actually. Christian lives in Christchurch. He's an eternal student – got 2 degrees and now he's doing his Masters at 'varsity."

"Masters in what?"

"Medieval Literature. Boring or what? But that's Christian."

"And your other brother?"

"Bryce. He's 13 and still at school, obviously. He should be home by now. Goodness knows where he is. Strange child!"

"That's not nice. People probably say the same about you."

"They probably do, but he really is strange."

"What makes him so strange?"

"He's into girls – like really into girls."

"That's fairly normal for a 13 year old."

"Not the way he does it. He's screwing like you wouldn't believe. It's a wonder that he's not a father yet. He definitely will be before he's much older – if he doesn't wear it out first."

"Oh? With birth-control these days, there's not much excuse for that."

"Yeah, well. You know what kids are like – their brains and their dicks don't both work at the same time."

"He must be a hero to other boys his age."

"A hero? Nah. The boy's a slut! Come down to the kitchen and we'll get something to eat now. I'm starving."

Cassie was already there, making sandwiches, when they walked in and she flashed a smile. "About time too. Been working up an appetite, have you?"

"Shut it, Cassie," Bevan replied. "We have not and don't be filthy. I was showing Tyler around the house. He says that your room is even messier than mine."

"It bloody is not!"

"Don't listen to him, Cassie. We didn't even go into your room."

"Yeah, well we all know that Bevan's an artist."

"An artist?"

"A bullshit artist. I'm getting us a snack – soup and toast and sandwiches. Get some soup from the microwave and go look at the computer. The pics are all down-loaded. Now we have to decide which ones to use. There's some good shots, but an awful lot of crap too. Honestly, Tyler, we're not selling Bevan you know."

"I know that. I wouldn't want to anyway."

"There's more pics with him in them than not."

"Maybe I just think he's very nice to look at."

"Get out of here!" Cassie shook her head. "Talk about love is blind!"

The boys took mugs of soup and dry, unbuttered (!) toast – Bevan was amazed. They sat in front of the wide-screen computer and sipped the soup while watching the slideshow of Tyler's pics rolling. There were actually two 27 inch screens – the biggest PC set-up that Tyler had ever seen. It was impressive.

"What a great computer!"

"It is. Dad needs it for his work. He does a lot of his design stuff on here and he can draw-up plans for a house in just a couple of hours."

Casie came over and joined them with a big platter of small sandwiches which were eaten in no time flat.

"Thanks, Cassie," Tyler said when the last sandwich had disappeared. "They were great."

"Glad you liked," she smiled. "I worked for a gourmet catering company when I was at 'varsity. The food is really nothing special, it's all in the presentation. If they look good, they taste good."

"They did look good – really good."

"Well, good! Aha. That'll be Dad ariving home. Come and meet him and we'll see what he's done."

Out in the drive, at the east end of the house, Tyler was introduced to their father, his cousin, Ben. He was a nice guy and good-looking too, for an oldie. It was obvious where Cassie and Bevan got their looks from.

"Okay. You wanted sandwich boards. What do you think of these?"

He lifted two pairs of hinged boards out of the back of his van and stood them up on the ground. They were identical and both a vivid lime-green colour.

"I had some marine-ply left over from a job, so I used that. They'll take anything the weather can throw at them, except maybe the wind."

"Wow! They're great. Thanks. But I didn't expect you to paint them. How did you get them dry so quickly?"

"I cheated. I've got a mate with a panel-beating and paint shop. His workshop's next to mine, so I took them in there, sprayed them, and we ran them through his dryers."

"Well, they're just right. How much do I owe you?"

"Nothing. They're a gift."

"But they cost you for the time and the materials."

"They cost bugger-all. Tyler, you're family. Don't even think about offering me money – I'll be offended. Besides, if you can keep these two busy and out of my hair, it's well worth helping you out."

"Well, thanks. I appreciate it, Ben, and I will find a way to pay you back."

"You'll try. There's no need to anyway. Mum home yet, Cassie?"

"No, not yet."

"Well, I'm not cooking. I need a shower. See you later, Kids. Oh – Tyler, if you want to take them to Bob's place, I'll run you out later."

"Don't worry, Dad," Cassie said. "They can stay here until we've done the sign-writing on them. Is there any dark-green paint in the garage?"

"Yeah, I think so. There's all sorts of bits and pieces in there. Have a look for yourself."

The shelves at the end of the garge were full of paint tins in various sizes and colours – hundreds of them!

Tyler said, "Wow! That's a lot of paint."

"There's a lot of tins," said Bevan. "Some of them haven't got much left in them. They're left over from jobs. Dad's been building for a long time and he throws nothing away."

"Waste not, want not, I guess."

"No. Just waste not – Dad wouldn't know how to. Bless his little Scottish heart."

"Were the Roddens Scottish? I didn't know that."

"Don't know if they were or not, but Dad is. There's some green up here. We can stir black into it if you want it darker."

"No. That looks good like it is. Maybe we should do some of the lettering in red to make them bright and eye-catching?"

"That wouldn't work. Red paint is useless outdoors. It fades and just looks sad. Orange would be better. We can try that."

"We?"

"Yeah, we. I'm a pretty good artist you know."

"You're a lady of many talents, Cassie."

"You better believe it! But, we're not starting on them now. Come back to the 'puter, we'll sort out the pics and I'll have a go at draughting out an advertising brochure and see what you think."

"Is there anything you can't do?"

"Not a lot. Come on."

Cassie also chose a good general shot with the kayak in view to use for advertising in the local paper – it'd be costly, but 'a picture's worth a thousand words'.

From his vast experience, (studying other people's brochures the day before), Tyler had a couple of suggestions to improve the proposed brochure. They e-mailed that, and the request for Friday advertising, to the paper which also had a printing business on the side. Cassie asked how soon they could print it and what the cost of an initial run of 2,000 copies would be?

They had just started drawing-up a map, or – actually, superimposing suggested routes on a map of the lagoon, when the mother and the brother arrived home. She walked into the kitchen, dumped some over-loaded bags of groceries on to the table, looked at the three by the computer and came over, smiling.

"Hello. You must be Tyler. I'm Lorraine and I'm delighted to meet you at last."

"Yeah, that's me." He stood up. "Nice to meet you too, umm . . Mrs. Rodden."

"Don't call me missus, call me Lorraine. I'm your aunty, or cousin, or whatever the hell it is."

"Cousin by marriage, I think. Grandmother would know."

"Kathleen would know. She keeps tabs on everyone. Good to see you all busy here. I hope you haven't been looking at rude pictures."

Bevan said, "Not yet, Mum. We'll do that after you've gone to bed."

"Oh you will, will you? Is Tyler staying the night?"

"He's moving in," Bevan grinned. "He's going to live here now."

"I am not!" Tyler protested. "I'm living in my tent, out at the grandparents' place."

"In a tent?" Lorraine said. "Why aren't you in the house with Bob and Kathleen?"

"Because I like my tent and that's where I'm staying."

"Okay, your choice. But you would be welcome to come and live here you know. We'd fit you in somehow."

"Yeah," said Bevan. "He could sleep with Cassie."

"I don't think so!"

"Neither do I," Cassie agreed.

"Oh well," Bevan shrugged. "I guess it will have to be in with me then."

"Bevan, I am not. I'm going home to my tent. Thanks anyway, Lorraine. I think it's time I was going now."

"Oh no. Don't go yet. At least stay and have dinner with us."

"Well, I . . no. It will be dark if I don't go soon. Bevan might be used to getting around out there in the dark, but I'm not. I'd get lost!"

Bevan said, "Stay here tonight then. You're only going home to sleep, and then you'll be back in the morning. I came and stayed with you the other night, so now you can return the favour."

"The favour? Well, maybe. But where would I sleep?"

"With me of course!"

"Lorraine, is that all right with you?"

"Yes, sure it is. But ring your grandparents first and tell them where you are."

"I'll do that now. I don't want them worrying about me."

"Good," said Cassie. "We'll eat, and then we can talk all night."

"We bloody will not!" Bevan stressed. "You get your own boyfriend."

"Boyfriend?" Ben walked into the room.

Tyler worried, but Bevan just grinned. "Yeah, boyfriend. Got a problem with that?"

"No. No problem," Ben shrugged. "About time you had someone of your own."

"You really don't have any problem?" Tyler said. "Thanks."

Lorraine said, "Bevan needs someone to care for him and keep him under control. If that's you, then that's good."

"It's very good," Bevan agreed.

Tyler was amazed. This was like a different planet from where he used to live.

"And, I'm Bryce," the other boy said. "Looks like no-one's going to introduce me, so that's who I am – Bryce – the brother - me. Hey, Tyler."

"You're Bryce?" Tyler did a double-take. "Sorry, but I thought that you must be someone else."

"No, I'm me. Was last time I looked anyway."

"But you're not at all what I expected."

"Why? Did you think I had two heads or something?"

"No. From the way Bevan talked I thought you'd be, well, older. You look like a little kid!"

"I'm not a kid!" Bryce puffed-up indignantly. "I'm 13. I'm a man – well, nearly. A teenager anyway, and that's not a kid."

"Okay, sorry. But you look so young. And short. You look like you're about 10 – young and innocent."

"Innocent? Bryce?" Bevan snorted. "You got that wrong!"

"I didn't say that he was. I said that he looks it."

Cassie said, "He does look it. That's his secret weapon and he knows how to use it."

Tyler stood and looked down at the boy in front of him. He was way shorter than he was. He had a mop of floppy blond hair – longer, and a bit lighter than his brother's. He had big blue eyes, just like Bevan's. He had similar features too, fine and delicate-looking. A small, snub nose with a dusting of freckles.

Dressed in a short-sleeved gray shirt and short, tight, gray shorts, (probably his school uniform), and bare-footed, his skinny, hairless and golden, arms and legs were well-exposed. He had that same cheeky grin too. Bevan probably looked just like that when he was about 10 or so.

"Nice to meet you, Bryce. Sorry if I offended you."

"I'm not offended," he grinned. "I am stinky though. I'm going to have a shower, Mum. Catch you later."

"You're showering now?" Lorraine protested. "Can't it wait until after dinner? We're going to eat soon."

"I'll only be 5 minutes."

"Okay then. What've you been doing to get dirty? You've only been at school."

"Just stuff. Be back soon."

He left the room and Ben shook his head. "I'm sure he showered this morning. That boy has more showers than all the rest of us put together. I thought that only happened after they discover girls."

Bevan and Cassie grinned at each other and rolled their eyes. "Ah, bless!" said Cassie. "So innocent."

Ben said, "Bryce is innocent?"

Bevan replied, "I don't think she was talking about him, Dad."

Lorraine went back to the kitchen area and Tyler followed her. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

She smiled and said, "No. Thanks, Sweetie, but it's all under control. There's a casserole in the slow-cooker, it's been stewing away all day. I just have to heat some mixed veggies and nuke a bowl of rice and it'll be done. Have you rung your grandmother?"

"Oh. No, I haven't. I got side-tracked."

"Well go and do it before she gets Search and Rescue out looking for you."

"I'm doing it now."

It was just 10 minutes later that they ate – all sitting around the glossy wooden table. Bevan sat next to Tyler and Bryce was opposite them, watching closely and smiling knowingly. He was definitely not as green as he looked.

Afterwards, the parents sat down to watch the evening news on TV, Bryce left in a hurry, (Going to a friend's!"), and Cassie, Bevan and Tyler sat out on the deck, with a laptop, and talked until Bevan stood and stretched.

"Enough of that. I'm bored now. You two can continue tomorrow, I'm going to school. C'mon, Tyler – bath and bed I think."

"Bath?"

"Yeah. We'll have a bubble-bath together. That'll be fun."

"Have fun," said Cassie. "But if you two mess up the en-suite, I'll bang your heads together."

"I'm planning on that too," Bevan grinned. "Little heads."

"Get out of here!" She laughed.

They went through the living-room, said goodnight to the parents and, no, they didn't want any supper. They went upstairs for a bath and bed together.

Next morning, early, Tyler tried to slide out of bed without waking Bevan. He wasn't sure if he suceeded or not – the Boy grumbled, growled, pulled the covers over his head and rolled away.

Tyler dressed quietly and went downstairs. There was no-one up at all, so he sat on the floor next to the glass doors and watched the day dawning.

Bryce appeared out on the deck, peering through the windows. Tyler opened a door and let him in.

"Shush!" he whispered. "Are Mum and Dad up yet?"

"No. There's no-one up yet – just me."

"All good! You haven't seen me, okay?"

"Yeah, okay," Tyler smiled.

Bryce slipped into his room and Tyler was left alone until Lorraine came out. She stood in the kitchen area, filled the electric kettle, turned it on, and then saw Tyler sitting on the floor.

"Oh. Hello. I didn't see you there. Is Bevan up?"

"No. Still in bed, I think. Good Morning."

"Yeah. Come and have a coffee with me."

Everyone got their own breakfast when they came out – toast, cereal, fruit juice and coffee. Bryce emerged with his hair still wet from the shower and dressed in his school uniform, as was Bevan when he came down. There was not a lot of talking, it seemed that they were not morning people there.

The others were soon gone, leaving Cassie and Tyler alone together. She finished loading the dishwasher and turned it on. "Okay, Cousin, Where do we begin?"

"With the signwriting on the boards?"

"Sounds good. We'll finish the map later and put an information blurb on the back. I'll take it downtown, photocopy a dozen copies and get them laminated."

"Sounds good too. Have you got little paintbrushes?"

"Yep. I'll do the outline of the letters and you can come behind me in fill them in."

They finished everything that they were going to do by lunchtime, so Tyler borrowed a piece of rope, tied one kayak behind the other and he paddled home. He said that he needed to get all of the kayaks and the gear out of Bob's shed. He'd check them over and wash the cobwebs and dust off them.

Also, he was running out of clean clothes and there were no handy fast-flowing and clean streams to wash them in. When his grandmother got home, he was going to ask if he could use her laundry. He knew very well that she wouldn't take any money for it, but he was going to offer anyway.

Cassie asked him how he washed himself when he was on the road?

"I've got a Solar Shower – a big, black polythene bag with a tap and shower-head on it. I fill it with water, leave it lying in the sun all day, and then hang it in a tree to shower in the evenings."

"Clever. But how do you get on when it rains for days on end?"

"Sometimes I have a sponge-bath with water heated on the gas stove. Sometimes I stink."

"Eww!"

For her part, Cassie said that she'd have lunch – and didn't he want any? ("No. Thanks.") Later, she'd go back downtown, hurry-up the printing of the brochures, call in at the I-Site, tell the girls there what they were planning, and then get her dad started on making a couple of billboards with stands and supports. Then she was having the rest of the day off.

Once Jeffrey was out of bed, probably about 3pm, they might go out for a ride on his old bike.

"Hard work, but someone's got to keep him happy. 'Bye, Tyler. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

"It's Friday tomorrow, isn't it?"

"Yeah, it is – all day."

"I don't think there's anything else to be done. I'll just bring everything over, behind the boat, on Saturday morning, sit it on the beach at the top of the wharves, and see who comes. "Bye, Cassie. Have a good day."

"I always do!"

When she rang him next morning, Cassie reported that the brochures were ready. She would pick them up and drop some off at the I-Site and other businesses around town. After that, she was going to borrow her mum's car and take brochures to hotels, motels, motor camps and tourist-related businesses in Fox, Franz, and Whataroa. Tyler was going to have to pay for the petrol, which would not be a problem. He didn't want to come with her, so what was he going to do all day?

"Oh, I don't know. Lie around being lazy and worrying, I guess."

"There's nothing to worry about Tyler. Your business is going to be a winner!"

"I hope you're right."

"I know I am."

"I might go and explore for a while too. There's still a lot of the town and around that I haven't seen yet."

"Okay. Stay safe and have a good day."

"You too, and drive carefully."

"I always do. It's the other loonies on the road who are the worry."

"Other Loonies?"

"Goodbye, Tyler."

It was raining when they woke up on Saturday morning – heavy, cold and persistent rain.

Tyler, clad in his best wet-weather gear, came down the lagoon, standing up in the small motor boat and towing a flotilla of kayaks behind him. He tied the boat between two of the old redundant wharf-piles, dragged the kayaks out of the water and up-ended them on the small, muddy, 'beach'. He then opened an umbrella and sat huddled under it, in the rain.

Cassie arrived, also wearing a rain-coat and carrying a big beach-umbrella. She sat down next to him. "Good morning, Cousin! Isn't it a lovely day?"

"It's a bloody awful day! Just horrible. I would've stayed in bed but we advertised the Grand Opening today, so I have to be here."

"For a while anyway. But I doubt if we'll see any customers today."

"Yeah. Who'd want to go out in that?"

"Not me for a start. You've got a motor-boat too. What's that for?"

"Mostly because we might need it to go and rescue people if they get stranded, but it's handy for moving stuff around too."

"Good thinking, but you might want to get one with a roof."

"That's what I was thinking. One day, maybe."

"Dad might be able to fix-up a canopy of some sort, I'll ask him. Also, it'd be good to get one of those portable pergolas and a couple of chairs to sit on, out of the weather.."

"That would be good, but I don't want to keep on spending money until we get some customers."

"Fair enough. Here's Bevan coming, looking like a nut-case. Again."

"Where? Oh."

Bevan walked towards them, wearing nothing but white Speedos and carrying a full, black-plastic, rubbish bag over his shoulder. His saturated hair hung dripping around his face, covering all his features except for the wide smile. "Good morning and good morning! Looks like we might have rain today."

"You think?" Tyler grinned back. "Bevan, what are you doing? You must be freezing!"

"It is a bit fresh, yeah. I didn't want to get my clothes wet. They're in the bag, keeping dry."

"But you're not!"

"Well, Cassie took the good coat. I'll soon get dry."

He pulled a blue-plastic tarpaulin out of the bag and tied it in the scrub at the back of the beach, weighting the bottom edge down with rocks and making a wind-break and sheltering roof.

They all got under that and the other two sat and watched while Bevan dried himself and got dressed. Cassie turned her eyes away when he stepped out of the Speedos and stood totally naked. Tyler didn't. He enjoyed the view – very much.

"Right then." Bevan spread his bag on the wet ground and sat on it. "It's all go here then?"

"Pretty much, yeah. It's a waste of time being here, but I felt that I had to. You two don't have to stay. Why don't you go home where it's warm?"

"And miss all of the excitement? No, I'm staying to keep you company."

"So am I." Cassie agreed.

"Thanks, Guys. But you don't have to."

"We don't, but we want to."

There were no prospective customers at all. They sat there all day, and nothing happened, not even when the weather cleared, a little, later in the day.

There was one minute's excitement, just after 12pm, when a car pulled in and stopped. But it was only Kathleen, carrying a picnic basket.

"Hello, Kids! Having a nice day?"

"No!"

"Not really. What are you doing out in the rain, Grandmother?"

"I had to come to town anyway, so I brought you some hot soup and sandwiches. There's coffee in the flask too."

"Aunty, you're an angel!"

"I've never been called that before. An angel in disguise maybe."

Bevan said, "Pretty good disguise! But thanks, Aunt Kathleen. This is great and real nice of you."

"I thought it might help to take the chill off your bones. It can't be much fun sitting here in the rain. Now I'm getting out of it and going shopping. You make sure that you come in and have a hot shower when you come home, Tyler."

"I'd like that. Thanks, Grandmother."

Jeffrey arrived at about 3.30pm and Cassie gladly got into his car and went off to get warm and dry somewhere. "See you tomorrow, Cuz. Hopefully, it'll be a better day than this."

"Hopefully. It couldn't be much worse."

"Yes it could! Wait 'til the rainy season starts.

"The rainy season? This is not it? Thanks."

"Yeah, 'bye," she laughed and jumped into the car.

Bevan stayed with him until Tyler decided to pack it in. They put the kayaks back in the water and everything else into the boat.

"That's it," said Tyler. "A totally wasted day. I really hope it's better tomorrow, or I might just give up. I must be mad trying something like this in the middle of a rain-forest."

Bevan said, "You can't just give up. There'll be better days. It doesn't rain all of the time."

"No, just most of it. What're you doing now, Bevan?"

"Coming with you."

"With me?"

"Who else? I'm coming to spend the night with you, to keep you warm and stop you getting depressed."

"Thanks. But you don't have to do that."

"But I do have to do that."

"Why do you?"

"Because you're not happy, and because I love you."

"Bevan, you're brilliant!" Tyler beamed. "I love you too – very much."

They went back in the boat and across the lagoon. Kathleen met them and insisted that they come inside and have a shower and a hot meal. She wasn't taking no for an answer.

After that, the Boys cleaned-up the kitchen and said thanks and goodnight.

Bob said, "Goodnight, Boys, and don't worry. The weather forecast is better for tomorrow. They might get it right for a change."

"Bloody hope so! G'night."

They went back to the tent where Bevan worked on cheering him up – and very successfully too! They went to sleep, cuddled-up together.

Bevan woke, alone, in the morning and crawled out of the tent. He stood up and smiled at Tyler who was down by the water, stretching and admiring the beautiful day that had dawned. "Now, this is more like it!" he said.

Tyler turned around and grinned. "Good morning, Gorgeous Boy. What a beautiful day it is!"

"Yeah. We've got another day in Paradise."

"We have!"

They had breakfast – porridge and coffee, then got in the boat and went back to the town-side. There were people standing around by the beach, waiting for them.

A sunny day made a huge difference and they were busy all day. People just kept on coming – some locals, but mostly visitors and lots of family groups. Every time the kayaks returned from a trip, there were others waiting to take them out again. If they'd had them, they could've hired out twice as many kayaks as they had.

Bevan, Cassie, and especially Tyler, had a great day. They made a lot of money and the success of the business and his future in Okarito were assured.

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