Dickson and Doris agreed there was no point in including their latest conversation in the current report, which the shaggy blond handed to his client. Then the pair rejoined the others in the rear yard.
Cody was somewhat reluctant to join Doris for the drive home so soon after lunch but he consoled himself by announcing that he would join his other mates at the `local' for a surf.
"So what was all that about?" Mick asked when their guests departed.
"You mean our chat on the verandah? Just some background stuff. Listen, Mick, she made me promise not to discuss our convo."
Mick responded with a shrug, then helped his mate clean up the yard and return the various items to their rightful place in the house.
"You're mad at me, right?" Dickson continued. "You're sulking."
"Not mad, just disappointed. I thought we were partners."
"We are partners," Dickson emphasized, "but a promise is a promise. Besides, I think you share the same thoughts as mine about Spiropoulos. I just wanted to check a few things with Doris, that's all."
"If I guess correctly, will you tell me I'm right?"
"Okay, I figure Spiropoulos wants to marry Doris but Doris won't leave Horace on account of his loot. Yeah?" Mick studied his mate's face for a moment. "Ah ha! I'm right! The corners of your mouth turned up a little. I know you too well, mate. Ha ha! Gotcha!"
"You wanna crash here tonight? There's a movie and barbie at the surf club... all you can eat for $12 a head. We can catch up with some of the guys and maybe even meet Miss Right."
"Spare me the Miss Rights, mate, I'm not ready for chains."
Old Bar Surf Club is a several kilometre walk from the beach house, but the boys decided to play it safe and leave their bikes at home. When they arrived about 7:30, the front lawn of the club was already populated by a crowd of boardie and T-shirt clad surfers and their girlfriends, some of whom surrounded two large gas BBQs where patrons cooked their own steaks. To one side stood a large table loaded with salads, potatoes in foil, sauces and bread rolls.
Dickson and Mick headed for the manned counter where they handed over their $12 each and received two large rump steaks. "Keep your docket," they were told, "if you want seconds, you'll need your docket."
"Seconds?" Mick commented as he checked his steak which was as big as the paper dinner plate. "Not bloody likely."
Drinks were on sale inside the clubhouse, so Mick took care of the beers while Dickson threw the steaks on an almost wholly occupied gas BBQ. "Hey, Dickson!" Dickson looked in the direction of the shout and recognized the spiky mop.
"Getting some beers."
"Anyway, this is my girlfriend Steph, and my mate Mark, and his girl Carol. Guys, this is Dickson, the guy I told you about." Just then, Mick arrived and introductions were repeated.
While the group engaged in small talk, Dickson was impressed by Cody's friends, especially the girls. Steph was gorgeous and, for that matter, so too was Carol, which caused Dickson to feel somewhat out of place.
"So you've come to see Big Wednesday?" the mop asked. "Mark and Carol don't surf but they're cool. Carol reckons Mark looks like a young Michael Jan Vincent, hehehe. Are you guys here with your girlfriends?"
"On the prowl, huh?"
During the walk home at almost 1am, Dickson and Mick discussed the movie and the fact that many of the surfing scenes were not shot in California, where the film was set, but at Sunset Beach in Hawaii. "We weren't even born then," Dickson commented. "It's almost sacrilegious to think that we didn't invent surfing--like, you know, it's our culture--know what I mean?"
"Listen to those crickets, mate, thousands of `em."
"Are you listening to me? What the hell do crickets have to do with surfing?"
"They're all chirping for a mate."
"What about the crickets you don't hear? The ones who don't want a mate?"
"All crickets are programmed the same, Dickson, even you must know that."
"How the hell do you know?"
"What did you think of Cody's and Mark's girlfriends?"
"Those guys have damn good taste."
"So do the girls. Do you really think some crickets don't chirp?"
"Sure, why not? Sometime you're unfathomable, Mick. You've had way too many beers."
"Unfathomable? Me? Ha! What a joke! You're the unfathomable one. Gimme a hug."
"GIMME A HUG!" Mick's noisy demand was met by an arm draped over his shoulder. "That's not a hug you moron! THIS is a hug!" And with that, Mick wrapped his arms around his mate and cradled his chin in the nape of Dickson's neck.
Dickson, however, was reluctant to respond, as usual, but remembered Cody's comment during their walk along the beach. "You don't hug your best mate? That is so uncool, man."
Dickson's arms found their way around Mick's torso, and began to squeeze. Then his hand patted Mick's back. "Is that better?"
"You just graduated," Mick smiled as both boys released their grip. "Now... was that so bad?"
"Sometimes I just don't understand you, Mick," Dickson said as the pair resumed their walk along the dirt road.
"There's nothing complicated about me, mate, it's yourself you don't understand."
Unable to sleep, Dickson rose at about 2am and wandered down the sand to the foaming wash where he sat with his arms wrapped around his raised knees. "You guys can't sleep either," he said aloud to the remnants of breakers that whirled and swirled around him. "What's there to understand about me? I don't get it. What's there to understand about you? I bet you guys don't ask questions like that about yourselves."
Dickson found himself singing the words to one of his gran's favorite Irving Berlin songs, "I've got the sun in the morning and the moon at night... got no mansion, got no yacht, still I'm happy with what I got..."
Later, after sunrise, Dickson searched the back yard for the morning paper which he figured must've disappeared behind one of the new shrubs. Then he heard the paperboy's whistle and saw a rolled paper fly through the air. "You're running late today," he said and waved, but the boy responded only by reaching for his breast pocket to adjust some gadget. Dickson figured it was an iPod. He collected the paper and walked to the boy on his bicycle. "All that loud music will send you deaf, mate." Then he noticed the gadget was not an iPod but a hearing aid controller. "Oops! Sorry, mate, I apologize."
"No worries," the boy said in a voice obviously cultivated without the advantage of hearing. "This thing is useless anyway--I prefer sign." The boy's fingers suddenly burst into a flurry of activity, none of which Dickson understood.
"I'll see you again tomorrow morning."
Dickson returned to the house and heard puking noises emanating from the loo. He dumped the paper on the kitchen table and headed for the computer where he accessed a site for the hearing impaired and downloaded the manual alphabet and numerical charts which he pinned to the kitchen wall.
"You got arthritis or something?" Mick asked when he saw his mate making strange shapes with his hands and fingers, then explained that he didn't want breakfast. "I'm going back to bed."
"How many beers did you have last night?"
"Not sure ... less than a hundred, though."
"You look like you were dragged though a hedge."
Dickson settled for a bowl of cereal with fresh fruit, and spent the next two hours practicing sign language by which time it was 9am. Dickson answered his cell phone.
"Dickson? It's Cody. Have you read the paper?"
"Page 4--it's only a small article. Horace Fink's in Auckland hospital with a fractured skull."
"He was attacked and robbed in his hotel room."
"In his hotel room?"
"Yeah, he says he didn't lock the door and someone hit him from behind."
"Do they know who?"
"Horace says he didn't see a thing. But get this, mate, guess who left for Auckland the day before Horace did?"
"That Ajit bloke--Ian."
"How do you know that?"
"Ajit's wife--she's friendly with Mark's mom. Mark overheard them talking about it."
"That doesn't prove a thing, Cody. It's probably coincidental."
"Yeah, right, thanks very much, Code."
"Sorry, mate, that's not how I meant it. I appreciate your information, honest, but... okay, I admit, it's interesting."
"You guys wanna join me and a few mates today? We're hiking Middle Brother national park."
"Some other time, Code, Mick's hung over. I better take care of him. And thanks again for the info."
"What did you think of Steph?"
"A real honey, you've done well, mate."
"Maybe I can fix you up with a blind date sometime--she's got lots of friends. You're a hot looker, Dickson, with an awesome bod--you should have girls beating a path to your door."
"Don't you organize a damn thing without my permission! Hear?"
"Yes, boss, hehehe. Scaredy cat."
"Hang on a tick... you said Mrs. Ajit is friendly with Mark's mom. How much have you told Mark about this?"
"Nothing! We were talking about New Zealand and Mark happened to mention Ajit, that's all. He doesn't know shit about what we're doing."
"Don't open your trap about any of this, Cody, you promised."
Mick rose at 11am and staggered to the loo. Dickson listened, but heard only splashing and not puking. Next stop, bathroom, then the kitchen. "Yeah, you're right, Dicko, must've been a helluva hedge. I need coffee--strong and black. Why do we do these things to ourselves?"
"Don't be a smartass."