Jordan in Okarito

by Kiwi

Chapter 15 - Mrs Dale -3

Business was insanely busy for a weekday, which is a good problem to have, but still . . . Tyler was wanting to get away all day but didn't manage it until late in the afternoon.

"Cassie," he announced on the way out the door, "we have GOT to get some more help around here!"

"Tell me about it," she replied to his back.

He went out to the street and met Bevan who was on his way in.

"Hiya, Handsome. Where've you been all my life?"

"Working mostly. Bevan, I can't stop. I've got to get to the bank before it closes."

"Going to rob the joint? I'll come with you then."

"Good. I need to talk to you, we can do that on the way. C'mon then – walking."

"Yes, Sir!"

On the way along the road, he asked how Bevan's day had been?

"It's been good, I guess. Yes, I've been behaving, but that's not what you wanted to talk about. So, what?"

"So. . . Do you know Mrs Dale? She's a widow who lives in the Council Flats on Arthur Street."

"No. Should I know her?"

"Probably. She's lived here all her life and so have you."

"So far, yeah. But, what about her?"

"She came to see me this morning and she has offered me shares in her goldmine. Well, her potential goldmine. That's why I going to the bank, to get some cash out for her."

"Oh yes? A little old lady with a goldmine? Tyler, I think you're being conned."

"I'm not. I know it sounds way too good, but it's for real. Mrs Dale has given me all the maps and papers. The early miners never found the mother-lode, where all the gold came from. Her husband searched for it for years and he found it.

But by then he was too old and sick to do anything about it. He sorted all the legal stuff and left it all to her when he died, but she's too old to work it too."

"Why doesn't she just sell it then?"

"I'm not sure, but she doesn't want to. She doesn't want some big business to get the benefit of her hubby's dream. She wants me to get it going and split the profits with her. She's sick of being poor."

"I'm not too keen on it either. But, hold on – you're going to do all the work and she gets half the proceeds?"

"No. I'm going to find someone to do the mining and I'll get 80% of the profits. Mrs Dale will get the rest and she says that that will be plenty."

"She might be right. Do you have any idea how much money a goldmine makes?"

"Quite a bit I imagine. But it's not all profit. Workers have to be paid, tools, machinery, fuel and explosives and stuff have to be bought and paid for, and it will cost to have the mined ore processed."

"There'll be plenty left over. Tyler, goldmines make millions!

"Millions of dollars? No. Maybe great big huge ones do, but this is never going to be like that."

"You don't know that. They all started somewhere."

"They did, mostly with big money to finance them and they're worked-out in a few years. Here's the bank. Are you coming in?"

"Of course I am."

At the ATM machine in the lobby of the bank, he checked on his personal account balance." "Whoah."

"Something wrong? I've got plenty if you need a loan."

"Thanks, Bevan, but no. There's no problem. There's just way more here than I thought there'd be. I'm rich and I didn't know it."

"Rich? Let me see. Okay, you've got a bit, but I wouldn't call you rich. Tyler, you've been working hard and money's coming in. Maybe you should think about spending some of it sometimes."

"I spend some, for food and stuff. I didn't realise that there's this much. Well, I'm spending more now."

He withdrew $800, which made a big dent in the balance. He scribbled a note on the back of the withdrawal notice and put it and the cash in a complimentary envelope, which he wrote Mrs Dale's name on.

They walked around to where she lived. Tyler checked the Flat number on her door and left the envelope in her mailbox. "That's that done," he said. "What'll we do now?"

"You're not going back to work, are you?"

"Don't think so. It's too late in the day now."

"Come for a walk on the beach with me then."

"Sounds good. We'll do that."

'Not a bad little town.' Charlie quite liked it in Okarito. He wouldn't want to live there, it was too quiet for that, but it was a good place to lie low for a time. He hadn't helped himself to too much, not wanting to call attention to himself.

But sometimes – well, sometimes you just have to! If the marks are stupid enough to leave valuable stuff lying around, well – they were asking for it, weren't they? It always pays to make the most of what comes your way.

Some days are better than others. Some are not so good, but some are brilliant. Take today for instance.

"Always be patient. Wait and watch and take your chances when the time is right." That's what his old, not-so-saintly mother used to tell him and he'd always found that to be good advice.

He was quietly minding his own business, admiring some eye-candy actually. The blond boy who was always busy working with the rental kayaks down by the old wharf, was leaving there, for once, and walking with another kid up the road to the main street.

Charlie had nothing better to do, so he followed them and watched where they went. Were they "partners" those two? Who knew? They were both nice-looking kids and seemed to be very comfortable with each other.

He wouldn't mind having a crack at either one of them, but especially the blond – he was a bit of choice stuff!

They went into the bank, to the ATM machine in the foyer and he hung back and watched. That was a fair wad of twenty dollar notes the kid was stuffing into an envelope. What was he planning on doing with it?

He stood and waited patiently. The pair of cuties came out and started back up the sidewalk, so he followed them at a distance.

In Arthur Street, they stopped at the mailboxes outside the Pensioners' Flats. The dark-haired one waited while the blond went over and checked the number on one of the doors. He went back and slid the envelope into one of the mailboxes.

'Interesting. What's he leaving cash for one of those old fogies for?'

The boys exchanged a few words. He'd loved to have known what they were saying but they were too far away to hear them and he couldn't lip-read. The blond draped an arm around the othjer one's shoulders and they started walking back towards him.

He turned around and started walking too -back to where he could get off the street in a tree-lined driveway. They walked past, oblivious to him and went back towards the main street, chattering away like a pair of lovebirds.

'Damm. If they're not screwing, I'll be an innocent virgin.'

Now he was undecided, should he follow them or should he go back to where the money was? Stupid question – always follow the money!

Back at the Pensioners' Flats, he quickly scooped the handful of mail out of box number 4. He went up the street, sorting it and dropping the junk-mail in the gutter.

There were four envelopes addressed to Mrs Dale. Three were obviously bills and who needs them? He discarded them too. He sat on someone's front fence, sheltered by an overhanging tree, and carefully ripped the last envelope open, savouring the moment.

Nice, crisp, new twenty-dollar bills – such pretty little things! He slid them out, crumpled and balled the envelope and held it in his hand while his spit-moistened fingers flipped the notes and he counted them.

Forty of them. Eight hundred dollars and all in ready and untraceable cash! That'd be more than enough to pay for his accomodation at the old pub he was staying at. A happy smile spread across his face, but it faded to a sneer when some old bat came out of her house and yelled at him.

"Hey you! What do you think you're doing? Get off my fence!"

"Ah, fuck off!" He tossed the balled envelope in her direction as he stood up and walked away. Interfering old bag! Did she think his bony butt was going to break her fence? It was made of bricks, for fuck's sake.

He went down by the wharf to sit and have a smoke and a drink from the half-bottle in his coat pocket. If he waited there long enough, he'd probably see the eye-candy coming back. They usually hung-out around the wharf.

Janice Corbett snorted her indignation as she strode out on her freshly-mowed front lawn. That villianous-looking man had thrown something at her when he got up off her front fence and left. The cheek of him! Some people have no respect for private property.

She scooped it up and went inside to throw it in the fire. On the way, she opened the ball a little to make sure that it was nothing valuable she was about to burn, and saw that it was an envelope.

She stopped and opened it fully – it was a torn-open envelope inscribed, 'With the compliments of the National Bank' and hand-written, 'to Mrs Dale, best wishes from Tyler R.'

Mrs Dale was one of the old dears who lived in the Flats up the street. She was the widow of one of Janice's old teachers. Tyler R must be Tyler Rodden, Bob and Kathleen Rodden's new grandson who had the canoe business down at the lagoon.

She'd seen him yesterday, walking in the rain with Mrs Dale and carrying something home for her. He was such a nice boy – you don't see many like that these days. What was he writing to her on bank stationery for? And what was that creature doing with someone else's mail? He must have stolen it!

The envelope was empty, but she opened it right up to check and there was a small slip of paper in there. It was a machine-printed withdrawal receipt with writing on the back of it – 'Mrs Dale, I know you said $80, but that really is not enough. This is not enough either but please accept and enjoy it. With my grateful thanks, Tyler.'

What on earth was he giving Mrs Dale money for? Maybe he'd bought something from her. It was fairly obvious that she didn't have a lot of money, perhaps she was selling something of her husband's. And that . . . that creature, must have stolen it! The withdrawal was for $800 dollars.

'Goodness, that's a lot of money, and he has taken it! Right then. We'll see about this."

She went inside to put her jacket on, slipped her keys into the pocket and went out locking the door behind her. She didn't usually lock her door, but it seemed that there was a thief in the neighbourhood.

She went down the street, with the envelope still in her hand, and knocked on Mrs Dale's door.

Mrs Dale didn't want to make a fuss. She was disappointed that Tyler's very generous gift had gone astray but that was not his fault and she didn't want to worry him about it.

Janice disagreed. "The money, whatever it was for, did not get into your hands so he hasn't paid you, Mrs Dale. The theft was his loss, not yours."

"But, no Dear. It was not his fault. He left it in my mailbox and it was stolen from there – stolen from me not him. Tyler made the payment in good faith, it's just bad luck that that horrible man got it before I did.

It must be the same man who stole my knife yesterday. There's not that many villians around here – very few in fact."

"Yes, but more than enough, obviously. I don't agree, Mrs Dale, but have it your way, it's your money. Are you at least going to report this to the police?"

"Yes, I will be doing that. They have to know, don't they? I'll call in and report it when I go downtown tomorrow morning."

"Tomorrow? It might be too late tomorrow."

"It's getting late in the day and people have got homes to go to. Policemen have families too. I don't want to spoil anyone's evening."

"You . . um. You really are impossible, Mrs Dale! You have to at least ring them. Someone will come around and take your statement. That's their job and they don't all work from 9 to 5, the station is open all night long."

"All night? Whatever for? I can't ring them anyway. I don't have a telephone."

"Maybe you don't," Janice smiled, "but I do." She took her cell out of her pocket and called 111.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead