With all this going on I decided to have a good look at Blue’s caravan, maybe he could rent that out too? But before I could say anything, Tony told me that Nuts was taking it over, he wants to live closer to the beach and Evan’s shop will need him on call.
I guess there’s nothing else for me to organize. Tony left us to organize his new laundry business so I had a chance to talk to Rita.
"Kate and Donk will be here for dinner tonight, she has more money for Evan to bank."
"Good, it’s curry night, I hope she likes it."
"I think she's had it before honey, she's just a little worried about you not charging them, that's all. I know Donk contributes to the breakfasts and coffee, is it enough?"
"More than enough Den, I will have a word to her tonight. It’s all give and take here, you know that and he does pay for more than he eats. It's a no brainer."
"What's happening with Margaret, have you heard anything?"
She started laughing then shook her head.
"It's never going to happen, Riley found out she's been up to her old tricks again and has banned her from seeing them."
"Good, now maybe we will see more of the kids around here again."
"I don't know about that Den, last I heard he was going to take them to China for a year. He has to go and find some new suppliers now he's landed that huge contract with the government."
"What’s going to happen to the kids?"
"He will put them in the English school there for a time, this contract is big Den, it needs him to be there watching the final quality."
"That's why Nuts is moving here isn’t it?"
"Yes Den, he's closing down the warehouse and doesn’t need to travel into Warragul anymore. Everything Riley organizes will be shipped directly to the buyers so there’s no need for any warehouses. I think Nuts just wants to relax and if I know him he will be signing over the new business to Riley by the end of the year."
"Is he rich baby?"
"Of course he is Den, he's even talking about buying some holiday houses down here for something to do."
"Good, then we need a wife for him too." I chuckled.
"Oh Den, stop it, he will find someone again, he's too handsome to be left on the shelf." She picked up the coffee pot to refresh her cup and Ayden was now seated next to us.
"So the, 'anything could happen,' isn’t going to happen then?"
She gave me a confused look.
"You said the other day when I asked you about the hotel that you were saving your money for that, 'anything could happen,' comment."
"Oh that, I meant I'm thinking about extending the business Den and will need my capital to start it up." She grinned.
"And?" I opened my hands, she stared back at me.
"When the new shopping centre opens they will be installing a food court Den; I'm going to organize that."
"Oh, so you are going to open a food shop then?"
"No and yes Den, I'm going to own the whole court then lease the shops out. I will have a food shop in there and Susan’s on board to take one too. I might even con Tush and Bubble to run an eastern take away."
"That’s sounds like a big project honey, will you have time?"
"I think so Den, it's putting it all together that is confusing me, I have to get together with Patrick, Susan and of course Tony, they know more about that sort of thing."
"How many food shops will there be?"
"About fifteen plus a couple of coffee and cake shops will be dotted around the shopping centre baby. I've set aside three shops for us, and the rest I will offer to local cafes and if not I will go to KFC and McDonald's." She chuckled.
"Sounds like a lot of work to me honey."
"Well I hope I'm up for it, I won’t have a say in the shopping centre but the food is mine to do what I please with." She laughed.
We finished our meeting and she whisked Ayden off to the cafe to maybe have a chat to him about his diet. I took another look at the painting and checked it was dry and finished but I really don’t want to give this one to Horse. He looked magnificent in all his gold and red finery, I think I made his bulge bigger too, I must check that it's correct.
I went into our bedroom and found a spare spot to hang it. After I banged another nail into the wall I straightened up the painting. I had placed it next to the window to the right where I would see it every morning. By the afternoon it had been shifted to the wall next to the door and Evan’s bum painting was in its spot. I suppose maybe Evan’s trying to tell me something.
He argued with me, even offered a king’s ransom, he nearly strangled me but he wasn’t going to get that painting. Horse was in love with it and wanted it to hang in his tiny house. I felt like a real bitch for saying no, but I knew somehow I was to have it for now, not him.
Ayden had been showing Andy his dancing fairy and as I watched them they were sort of singing along with her as she swirled around on the plinth, well Ayden was singing, Andy can’t talk yet but he was making baby noises.
His blue eyes were huge as he giggled his way through another tune. Maybe he understands fairy talk already, I know my son does, it's something else to think about but I will do that later.
"Shout out when you’re finished kids." I left them to it.
A not so happy Horse was sitting with Evan and Tony at my table when I returned.
"Did they get her going Den?" Evan asked.
"Yes bub, they are both talking fairy and singing along with her."
Horse looked at me then went inside to see the boys.
"Why didn’t you give that painting to Horse baby?"
"Because I feel it’s not the right time, I have to hang onto it for now. I don’t now why, I just know I have to have it."
"Okay, maybe later on then."
"Sure bubs, it’s his anyway, but for now it’s mine."
"It sure is a magnificent painting Den." Tony got in on the conversation.
I suddenly cramped, a horrible warning that something’s going to happen.
"You okay Den?"
"Yes bub, just a cramp."
Everything was going along beautifully for the next couple of weeks, I even got an afternoon with little Emma, she and Andy played with blocks while I watched them, of course they were trying to see who could eat theirs first.
I looked over at them just as Emma planted a big, sloppy kiss on Andy's mouth, he screamed and giggled then they played kissing games. Anne was busy today sorting out Tiny's files, while Jack was up to his neck in kitchens and Mavis, well who knows what Mavis was up to? Nothing legal I bet. Mike had been dropped off with Emma before he went for a skim with Spud and Ali.
Ayden was down the beach surfing as usual and a calmness came over the bay, the kids had decided they wanted something from the shop so they crawled up to Rita's. I watched them closely as they screamed something out. Rita was on to them and passed two small ice cream cones over, which they decided looked much better dribbling down their singlets.
A sudden gust of air blew up the driveway so while Rita and Bubble were playing with the kids I walked out the back porch. I had a feeling we were in for a freak storm and wanted to make sure Ayden was with me. I walked down to the beach and could hear the waves pounding on the shore. The wind had picked up considerably by the time I got there.
The boys were still surfing and like this weather, Spud had Ayden and was just about to bring him home when I arrived.
"Spud, Ali and Mike, come back to the house, if this turns into a storm you are safer up there."
"Sure Den, I'll just get them."
I picked my son up and started up the track, I know he wanted to do more surfing but it’s too dangerous in a storm.
As we passed Horse’s tiny house I heard an almighty crack and looking around I didn’t see anything unusual so kept going until we were standing on the porch.
"Dah, go room." I listened to my son and we went into his bedroom to look out the window. I saw Evan and the boys coming through the trees then I heard another almighty crack. I looked over at the trees and one was collapsing and falling towards Horse’s house, it destroyed his porch and pushed his front wall all out of shape as it crashed heavily, finally stopping dead in its tracks. The guys ran towards it and started moving some of the debris.
Poor Horse was beside himself and couldn’t go in to look, it was too dangerous, but I knew what he would be thinking as he collapsed on his knees. He was inwardly weeping with fright and loss; I doubt whether his paintings would have survived the onslaught.
Evan pulled him up and he and Nuts brought him inside, Rita and Bubble still had the babies in their arms and she passed Andy over to Horse then went to find her brandy bottle.
The snap storm was pretty normal for down here, like the last one that took our roof off, but within an hour the sun was back and the wind had died down, it was like nothing had even happened.
Donk and Trip arrived with Evan and Nuts and I could hear the chainsaws going. Horse hadn’t said anything because he was still in shock but I think Andy was making him feel a bit better. I had Ayden on my lap and he wasn’t disturbed at all, although I half expected him to be a bit antsy, he just watched Horse and Andy.
Tony, Cyn and Abs flew up the street and Abs darted out the back to help while Tony hugged Horse, telling him everything would be okay. Horse looked at me and mouthed a, 'sorry'.
"They can be replaced, you can’t, we are so lucky you weren’t in there when the tree fell."
"What happened Den?" Cyn wanted answers.
"The freak wind felled a gum tree onto Horse and Tony’s house, the porch was destroyed as it pushed its way into the house. One porch and one wall have to be replaced."
"My paintings, my Blue’s painting," Horse moaned.
I told him they can be replaced and told him, “But you my friend and Tony can’t." I tried to be positive.
He looked at Tony then pulled him in and gave him a huge hug, then passed Andy to him and went through the shop to go help the guys.
We watched from the back porch as splintered wood was stacked over by the shed, the whole little house would have to have an engineer look at it to see if there was more damage than what could be seen with the naked eye.
"Widow makers Den, those gum trees are called that because they have a small root system, they fall randomly," Rita was telling me.
"Well I'll have the other three taken down then, they are too dangerous to be around buildings and the kids."
"I don't know the rules Den, maybe the council will object, they are on their land."
"Well they are in for a fight then." I wasn’t joking either. I don’t know much about our local council, only that one of Tiny’s brother in laws works there. I took some photos of the wreckage just to be on the safe side.
When the last of the tree was hauled away, Horse went inside, a dangerous act on his part, but I guess he has to know. After a few minutes the guys went in too, I think they deemed it safe.
He came out with four of his works all crumpled and twisted. He gently placed them on the ground and then tried to straighten them out. I walked down to have a look because these paintings were more precious to Horse than any house.
The one with Blue surfing had the most damage, I picked it up and surveyed it then put it aside, I will have that restored for him. It did have a big cut through it but the value of that painting outweighs the cost of restoration.
The others weren’t that bad, they needed new frames and a good stretch and any paint damage I can fix with a brush. His sideboard and antique chair we had bought him were a mass of splinters. Tony may try to restore them but I could be wrong, he might decide to chuck them and make new ones; they were in a bad way.
More rubble was cleared and the tarpaulin was secured over the front of the house. Tony was hugging Horse and Blue was rubbing his back as they led him with his destroyed paintings into our house. The first thing I did was to look and see if any more were damaged but the rest were still sitting proudly on the walls, the one I had done of Horse and Blue was unmoved beside the bed in his loft.
I know why I didn’t give him the new one, it would have sat opposite Blue’s painting and surely would have been destroyed, I will give it to him later on when the house is repaired.
Food was provided by Rita's crew and the kids were handed around. Emma ended up snuggling into Mike and I got a little bit shaken Birdie, while Evan had Ayden. I was trying to remember the guy’s name that restores paintings down here, but for the life of me I couldn’t. I had seen his ad at the art suppliers when I was last there. I will go again and see if the shopkeeper has his card, or better still I will ring her.
"Did you get a big fright son?"
"Yes poppa Den, but was more frightened for you."
"I was okay son. I was scared for you too though."
I kissed his head then his food arrived and he hopped over to a vacant seat. He kept looking at me and smiling. Thank god none of my friends were injured, that’s all I could think about for now.
When Jack arrived to collect Emma and Mike he got the whole story from everyone, he went to have a look then they thanked us and left. Abs was talking quietly to Tony who was shaking his head. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but it looked like it was all positive.
"Speak up Abs, I can’t hear you," I moaned.
He stared at me; I get that a lot.
"I was just telling Tony the house is sound, they just have to replace the porch and front wall, maybe polish up the floorboards again because they have been scratched in places."
"Oh, then all they have to do is get Horse’s men onto it."
"Yes Den, four days’ work max." Abs smiled.
"I'll still get in an engineer to confirm it though." Horse actually smiled at Abs.
"No need, I have many certificates and engineering is one of them my friend, the house is sound."
Horse looked him up and down then before he asked Abs said,
"No thank you, I have more work than I can cope with at the moment." I guess Horse was going to offer him some building work.
"Okay, it’s just that we have to get someone from the city, there’s no one down here who can sign off on our work."
"If it's only local and not a fulltime, everyday thing my friend, I would be more than happy to help out. I have been keeping a watchful eye on Alex's place, everything is okay up to this point and with your house it's what it is, just the porch and front wall." He grinned.
"When it’s finished you can have your new painting, I will get Blue’s restored and maybe do you a new house warming one." I grinned.
Horse’s eyes went all glassy.
I didn’t have a clue what I was going to paint for him but I did know I had to paint Blue's Poseidon. Whoever ends up with it is up to them.
I started on Poseidon the very next day, my god Blue was so beautiful, still a young man his skin was like flawless satin. He had a feminine quality to his face, pouty pink lips, shoulder length thick, curly blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Of course there’s nothing girly about Blue, but he was gorgeous, they should have hired him for that movie.
With yesterday’s mess all cleaned up, a team of men helped Abs and Horse start the framing for the new front wall. He and Tony had stayed the night with Blue and Alex and of course little Andy slept in their bed for the night. Horse said it was the best sleep he's had in ages, he also asked me when his new painting is going to be finished. I laughed as I placed the damaged ones in Evan’s car, I was taking them into Warragul to see if the restorer could start work on them. I had his address now because I rang the art shop to get it, he would be home all day and told me to call by anytime.
Leaving my boys at home I hit the freeway and in no time my car was pulling into the driveway of a large shed that was next to a nice old Victorian house. Tim came out to greet me in all his glorious country swagger. I wasn’t prepared for the gorgeous sight standing in front of me. His strawberry blonde hair was long but not nearly as long as Evan’s, and he had the brightest green eyes I have ever seen. I guessed his age was around thirty but I could be wrong, he could have been twenty; well he looked young.
"Den I presume, pleased to meet you at long last." He shook my hand and I felt sparks.
"You too Tim, how long have you been restoring paintings?"
"I look too young to you don’t I?"
"Well it did pass my mind." I chuckled.
"I get that a lot, don’t bother trying to work it out, I'm twenty-seven Den, you can thank my parent’s genes for my youthful looks. Since I was seventeen I have been working at the art centre in Melbourne with my father, he taught me the restoration process. While I got hands on training there I did my Archival and Archaeology degrees at Melbourne University. I set up shop here but still go out on digs and to museums all over the country to restore works of art. At the moment I'm working on some paintings. Come on in and I'll show you some of what I've been doing."
He showed me some old paintings he was cleaning years of dirt off, while some assorted china he was gluing together were placed on the large workbench. It's a long process and by the looks of it he's a master at it, so young to be that talented.
I felt rather than saw it, but there was something he wasn’t showing me and my inquisitive nature got me started as I looked at a small box on his bench. While he was putting the kettle on I flipped the lid and saw what I was being drawn to. A small male fairy in pieces. He was beautiful, all dressed in forest green, he actually looked like Birdy in some ways. I lifted him out gently, his arm was broken off and some of his long white hair was chipped, you could tell he was very old and brittle.
"A present from my grandmother Den and I have had it for years, but for the life of me I can’t find a good bonding agent to fix him. She told me he was fairy folk from Ireland, that may be true because he's impossible to repair; and yes sometimes I fail." He chuckled.
"How long has he been broken Tim?"
"Ever since she got him and I think her mum passed him down to her. She never told me the story but insisted I keep him because one day he would bring me luck."
He had a nervous laugh all of a sudden.
"Did you believe her when she said it was fairy?" He blushed.
"Yes, my gran told me all about them when I was small and I believed every word, as you do when you’re a kid. I haven’t got the heart to toss him out and every now and then I take him out of his box and try a new epoxy on him, but nothing works."
I looked the little fella over, he had the brightest green eyes, very much the same colour as Tim's actually. I didn't know what to say, I couldn’t tell him about Ayden's magic, that might put him into a spin.
"I know someone that can maybe fix him, if you trust me to take him for a few days I reckon my friend could do that little job for you. He's a scientist and has come up with a lot of different inventions, he just might know how to repair this little man."
"Where do you live Den?"
"In Golden Bay mate, my partner and I own the shack there, the one with the cafe and surf shop."
"No!" he almost screamed.
"Yes." I looked at his surprised face but didn’t scream back.
"What's your last name?"
"Oh my god, Millie at the art supplies said you were a beach bum artist, she didn’t think you were all that important, but you are one of her best customers. I know you, well I know all about Den Curtis, I look at your paintings on that auction site all the time. You’re a genius, and these paintings are yours?" He indicated the smashed paintings on the work bench.
"Yes my friend, they belong to a dear friend whose house was damaged by a falling tree, these are his most precious possessions. They were the only ones damaged and the big one is very important to him, it’s one I did of his son Blue, the champion surfer."
"What? I have seen you sitting on the porch there, I watched you do a fairy painting one day along with about a hundred other diners, you’re that Den Curtis, bloody hell Millie is going to be so embarrassed when I tell her. You got over seven million for those fairy paintings. My god they are wonderful." He was gushing now.
"Well don't tell Millie, she will up her prices." I giggled.
"Do you think your friend could fix my little fairy mate?"
"I'm sure, he will have a good crack at it Tim, that’s if you trust me to take him for a few days."
"Of course I do, I would be forever grateful to you if he can."
I had a dirty thought about how he could thank me, his ass was in superb shape, thank God Evan's not around.
We had our coffee and somehow the conversation turned to Evan and Ayden so I told him a little of our story. I had guessed he was gay or bisexual because when he reacted to my news he got gushier, not that it’s a gay thing of course but you don’t see many straight guys doing that.
He looked over the paintings again and said they will take three to four weeks. I asked him if he would do Blue’s first and any touching up to be done I would do it. Then I invited him to join us anytime saying we are always at the big table at any given time of the day or evening. He got excited again.
With my chores out of the way I wanted to start painting Blue’s Poseidon, or should I say Horse’s because Blue won’t get a look in when Horse sees it. I motored down the freeway again with the little box beside me, it's funny you know, I felt excitement coming from it, a good feeling inside. Maybe the little fairy knows he's going home? I don’t know if Ayden can repair him but I know he was fairy folk and needed to be sent back to his lands. I decided the reason he didn’t go with the rest of the fairy Ayden had released is because he was broken, I also wondered how many of them were left in this world?
I didn't have to tell my son about him because when I placed the box on the table he went straight for it. He screamed when he saw the little man and started talking fairy to him. He gently took him out of his box and found the bits that had broken off, then he ran into the bedroom. I didn’t follow him because I didn’t want to know, but I could hear him giggling away when I went to pinch my gorgeous man’s bottom in the shop.
"What's he up to Den?" he asked with a smile on his face; Ayden's giggles do that to him.
"The repair guy Tim, the one I took the damaged paintings to today had a broken fairy statue he had been trying to repair, I told him I knew someone that could do it."
"Is it like the other one Den?"
"Yes, I'm certain of that and I think your son is too, I asked him to repair it."
"Umm Den, do you think the guy will want it back because if Ayden releases the fairy it may disappear for good."
I didn’t think about that, oh shit, maybe I had better talk to my son before he attempts it.
I walked into the bedroom and Ayden was lying on the bed talking to the now perfectly repaired statue; that didn’t take him long.
"Stones dah, my's watch him dance wif my's fairy."
He's already done it and has answered my question, another perfect copy was standing in his place, better get those stones and see if he does dance.
I got Evan to get them out of the safe, and when he placed them on the bedside table both statues started dancing and singing, it was amazing. It was like they were both human and their lithe bodies moved fluidly along with the tempo of their fairy song.
"Did the real one go home baby?"
"Yes pa, very happies now, playing on beach wif friends."
I noticed a small gold coin sitting on the table, another thank you gesture. I let him play with the stones for a half hour then I wanted him to pack them away safely.
I went back onto the porch where nobody was around so I took the cover off Poseidon and started adding the paint. His eyes were blue and his trident was gold to match his crown. I had placed him on a huge surfboard that looked more like it was made out of seaweed but had sparkle to it. Over to one side I put a little boy in red shorts sitting atop of another wave.
My fairies were in it and they got into the spirit by looking more like mermaids and mermen and of course the party was in full swing.
I heard a groan behind me and it was Horse who had snuck up on me.
"For Blue Den?"
"You both can fight it out, and if you can’t come to an agreement I will keep it." I grinned at him. He was trying to figure out where he was going to hang it, me thinks.
"It's beautiful Den, I can almost feel the sheer joy he's feeling in that painting."
"Let your inner self go and maybe you will feel what I feel." I felt butterflies and happiness as my brush stroked the canvas.
Tim was on our doorstep around six, just about everyone was there for Rita's Chinese food night and we had to extend the table to seat them all. Alex and little Andy were sitting down tonight because Spud, Ali, Tush, Apple and Bubble had it all sorted out in the kitchen. They danced around the other diners like they were doing a show, as always there was a constant trail of takeaway customers too. I introduced Tim to everyone and he pulled up a chair next to me, I shoved Evan over a bit so I think he felt a little left out but I did catch him having a good look at Tim at one stage.
Ayden was out and about but when he noticed Tim he stood there and stared at him like he couldn’t believe how handsome he was. I introduced him to my boy and he stared back.
"I feel I know him from somewhere Den."
"He gets around Tim." I giggled.
Ayden let out a huge, 'Wow,' then giggled as he ran off into the shop. When he returned he had the small box with the fairy in it and passed it to Tim. The funny thing about the exchange was Ayden was talking fairy to him, he climbed up on his knees and got into his face and really stared into his eyes. I think poor Tim was embarrassed but when Ayden settled down and snuggled in, he had the opportunity to open the box.
"Who the hell did this Den? That's perfect, not even I could get a result like that."
"A friend who shall remain nameless Tim, he's very shy and somewhat of a recluse."
"It's magic Den, my gran’s magic. No one can fix ceramics that quickly, it takes a lot of patience and time."
"Oh, did your gran have magic Tim?"
"She told me she did, so I believe her, I always believed what she told me, this is fantastic."
Ayden was smiling then he sat up and kissed Tim's cheek but then he wanted Horse. He snuggled in and continued to stare at Tim from across the table.
The food started to come down and it was a fight to get to the crispy appetisers. Horse made a small plate up for Ayden who was looking for the tomato sauce. Blue slipped him a couple of sachets and they both were grinning. Tim had placed the small box on my paintbox stand but kept looking at it, I suppose he's thinking it might fly away.
"So your gran was fairy, does that mean your parents were too?"
"I suppose in gran’s world they were Den, it’s just a story mate like all that hidden fairy gold she said was buried down here." He laughed.
"Well sometimes gold can be a place or a person too Tim, not necessarily actual gold."
"I know what your saying Den, I actually feel things every now and then like magic. But I know in reality it’s not really true."
"Don’t be so eager to make light of it Tim, there is magic in this bay, you should move here and watch your business take off to unbelievable heights, then you will see the buried gold."
"It's strange but I actually feel like I belong here Den. Going home is going to be a hard sell I think." He giggled.
"Well stay the night with us then."
"Den!" Evan's foot nudged mine under the table.
"I meant take a stay and chill for the night, have a little holiday."
Tony started talking to him about his business and we learnt his parents lived in the city now, he lives in their old house because he loves the country. He's never had a girlfriend or boyfriend, but is still looking.