14 Mart 2023

First Day in the Caribbean – DiveShop 01


Here’s a story about some of the people in https://www..com/s/first-day-in-the-caribbean. They appear about in the last chapter. I spent a year writing the main First Day in the Caribbean then posted it a chapter a day. This and other stories about characters in the main story I’ll post as I get them done. They won’t be as polished.


Rick surveyed the island through the circular window as the plane lined up with the runway. Small, but the geography didn’t look too different from home, and the climate was supposed to be pretty similar. It would be nice to have at least something familiar while he decided if it had been a good idea to move about as far away from New Zealand as it was possible to get. Why do things halfway, eh?

The plane touched down and he walked toward the little terminal. The flight attendant had given him a couple brochures, so he perused them on the way. One had a map of the island on one side and a couple “city” maps on the back. The airport was at the edge of the biggest town; a place called Easthaven on the other side of the island was second, and that not much more than a village. This town had two cruise ship terminals, though, and the north one looked like it had a nice little industrial area. Should be able to find work without too much trouble. He absently traced a tattoo for luck.

The jitney driver had almost as many tattoos as Rick did, though they were Caribbean instead of Maori, and the driver didn’t have any on his face. He was pretty friendly, and Rick learned some useful things. “They’re always hiring good mechanics over in the north boatyard, and the farther back from the shore, the lower the rents are. Try Bayview apartments. The neighborhood’s a little run down, but the landlord seems to keep the apartments in good repair and I happen to know he’s a good guy, ’cause I live there.”

He headed for the north terminal and knocked on a few doors. One place, a boat repair shop, was run by a wrinkled old guy who hired him on the spot after Rick answered a few questions about boat construction and operation, and because they both had been in the Navy, though for different countries. Armed with proof of a job, he located an efficiency to rent. By midafternoon he had a job and a place to stay.

He decided to walk around town for a while, maybe look at the other terminal just for grins. He probably wouldn’t be getting down that way very often. About halfway there he came upon a short, well-built, well-tanned brunette in a crop top and shorts struggling with a ladder just inside the door of a shop that looked to be under construction.

“Here, let me give you a hand,” he said, taking the upper end and directing it where she appeared to be aiming.

She averted her head but started up the ladder, and fastened some fishing net to the ceiling. Rick steadied the ladder while she screwed in a hook. Finally she looked down, and did a double-take. “Oof! I don’t know you! You’re not that creep next door! Thanks for the help! Are you dangerous?” She kind of grinned and looked anxious at the same time.

“Lots of people run screaming when they see me, but, no, I’m not dangerous. Except to some fish. Rick Kahurangi, at your service.” He held out his hand, grinning.

She shook his hand and studied his face. “Karen Janks rhymes with tanks. Those are Maori, aren’t they? Is that where you’re from? Been here long? Plan to stick around? Have you been to the Great Barrier Reef? Fish, eh? Are you a fisherman?”

Rick grinned. “Only spearfishing. I was the New Zealand equivalent of a navy seal. Since retired. I’m here to escape the stereotyping we Maori tend to experience back home.” He paused “Though I suppose it’ll be pretty hard to avoid being noticed, even way out here.”

“Well, you’re certainly easy to spot in a crowd,” she kidded. “Um, you willing to keep helping? I could use a hand, and I’ll buy supper.”

“Deal! I don’t know my way around yet, so I could use some guiding. And I can pay my own way. It’ll be enough payment to have the company of a friend for my first meal here.”

“You didn’t say ‘attractive young lady’ ” she pretended to rebuke him.

“Well, I thought it, but I didn’t want to come on too strong. These tattoos are scary enough.” He made a ferocious face.

“Hmm. Maybe I’ll act scared after I get all my work out of you. Let’s see. I need to fasten this net in the middle of the ceiling-“

“I don’t see a chair. Why don’t you just climb the ladder?” He got under the ladder and pushed the top against the ceiling, nodding to her to suggest she start climbing.

Karen shrugged, “Well, I hope I’m not too heavy,” she took a tentative couple steps. The ladder felt solid as a rock, so she went up enough to reach the ceiling comfortably.

The climb placed her exposed navel directly in front of Rick’s face. Considering the short shorts she was wearing, he was pretty much forced to enjoy the view. Her T-shirt was short, so Rick didn’t dare look up.

“Think here is a good spot?” She asked the makanai cooking for the maiko house izle innocently.

Reflexively, Rick looked up to see what she was referring to, and couldn’t help but see up under her shirt. Especially since her arms were up, the view was spectacular. Rick tore his eyes away to look at the ceiling where she was pointing. She was also looking down, and their eyes met. The look was too innocent, and Rick realized she knew good and well what he could see, and was enjoying it. “Um, yeah, looks just right.” He couldn’t keep from wincing as if he had been caught, and she gave him a smug look.

She screwed a cup hook into the ceiling to hang the net from, and Rick watched, um, everything. He felt his body start to respond.

Finished with the hook, Karen climbed down almost to the bottom of the ladder so she was eye to eye with him. “Thank you. Got enough oompf to do that a couple more times? There’s a lot of ceiling.” She said it with a straight face, but there was a twinkle in her eye.

“Oh yeah! You’re easy. I mean light! Light!”

She smirked and pointed to the next location. They repeated the process another half dozen times, view and all. Rick was having a good time, and maybe Karen was, too. When they were done, she put her forearm against his shoulder and leaned into him companionably as they surveyed the ceiling. “Looks pretty good, eh?”

“Yup. Everything looks great. What do you want to do next?”

Karen tilted her head back and raised an eyebrow, “Wellll… Um, what say we go eat and get acquainted? I know a good place over on the next block.”

“Sounds like a fine idea, but let me treat. I already got my treat.”

“You are such a gentleman,” she replied.

He laid the ladder on the floor against a wall and she locked up.

Over supper he learned that she was opening a scuba store after having spent several years as student, then instructor at a dive shop on another island. Things were okay at first, then deteriorated as the owner’s wife’s health began to fail and the owner started to take an interest in her. She decided she didn’t need either the guilt or the drama. The other two dive shops on this island weren’t hiring, so she decided to open her own.

She learned that he had decided to get away from the cultural stereotypes back home and seek his fortune elsewhere. He was pleased to have landed a job and found a room to rent his first day here. They both loved the sea, scuba, conservation, and teaching. They both disapproved of big oil, litter, and being obese.

“So you got a boyfriend or anything?” He asked.

“No, not yet anyway. You? In New Zealand maybe? Flight attendant? Landlady?”

“Ha I’ve been on the island one day, and I’ve already figured out that the men here must be blind, but no, no girlfriend. Yet.” He gave her a direct look.

She glanced down. “Well good. That gives me a chance.” She looked up. “Did I just say that out loud?”

He smiled. “I’ve heard lots worse. Care for dessert?”

“I know a good ice cream shop down a ways. What say we go there?

“Sounds good. Wouldn’t hurt for me to walk off some of this meal. I’d kind of like to do a little more exploring before I hit the sack. Especially after my exploring was so delightfully interrupted.”

He paid and they headed out, toward the beach. The sun was just above the horizon, and Rick couldn’t help admiring how Karen looked in the mellow light. They found the ice cream parlor and both ordered plain old vanilla. “You got good taste in ice cream,” he remarked while they looked at a large seashell display.

“I got good taste in volunteer helpers, too. You have no idea how good this evening has been for my morale. Starting the store has been a lot more work and expense than I figured on, and it’s getting a little discouraging.” She sighed.

“Well, I enjoyed the evening, too, and I don’t really have much to do yet except my job and my laundry. Suppose I stop by tomorrow? It’ll give me something to do.”

“You come by tomorrow and I’ll do your laundry!”

Rick chuckled. “You’re looking at my laundry. But I get off work about 4:00, and I can get to your place in maybe 15 minutes. Save some heavy lifting for me.”

He walked her back to the store, where she had a bedroom set up, and he headed to his room. They both felt horny and frustrated.


“Anybody home?” Rick stuck his head in the door.

“In the back. You’re just in time.”

The store was L-shaped; a left turn from the door and then off to the right he found the door to the shop. Two large shipping crates occupied the center of attention, Karen, next to them attracted some attention herself. Rick thought she looked delicious in pretty much the same outfit as yesterday except for smudges of dirt on her face.

“Compressors just arrived. We need to unpack them and hook them up. Water tanks are over there. I want to the midnight club izle put in a workbench sometime where the tanks are now, What say we put the compressors over here?” She gestured to the area under some stairs.

“Looks good. I recommend we move the tanks before we fill them with water, though.” He made a face to look like a dumb guy with a sudden insight, and she snorted.

Rick got to work with a crowbar and Karen carried off the mostly undamaged lumber as it came free. Rick managed to walk the compressors against the wall, and together they muscled the iron water tanks next to them.

They were both sweating. “Got the tanks as salvage, otherwise I’da bought plastic ones. They’re heavy, but I couldn’t beat the price.”

“FIll ’em with water and I don’t think either kind’d go anywhere anyway. It’s good to save money, though. That’s worth this small amount of exercise.” He wiped his forehead, leaving a dark streak over some tattoo yellow.

“Y’know, I’m getting to like those tattoos. Let me clean you off so I can still see them.” She reached into a pocket and pulled out a hanky then reached for him.

Obediently he lowered his head and she started to scrub. “You really don’t mind them? I’m used to being treated rather derisively by the ladies because of my appearance. I wish I’d never listened to my buddies back when I was 14.”

She paused and leaned back, surveying his face. “They take some getting used to, but I’ve been looking at you a lot, watching, and I’m starting to see the person instead of the marks. And you’re a pretty good looking guy underneath the camouflage. Besides nice and a hard worker.”

In spite of himself, he smiled. “Don’t take this wrong, but it didn’t take me long to decide you were pretty good looking, too. And I have figured out that you’re a pretty nice, hard-working person underneath all those good looks.”

“Then you’re more perceptive than most guys. They stop looking after they see my outside.” She smiled, “Don’t take this wrong, but you’re different.”

He snickered. “It’s late enough to eat. Let’s go do that. I want to share a couple thoughts about that workbench you want me to build.”

“You to build! Well, actually…” She looked thoughtful, then looked up at him. “What’s it like to give someone a thank-you kiss if they have tattoos?”

“I have no idea. I’ve never kissed someone with tattoos. Maybe you could tell me?” He leaned over and their lips met. Her arms went around his neck and the kiss became several, soft and unhurried.

Finally she stepped back, breathing a little heavily. “Hmm, not sure. Lemme try that again.” And she put her arms around him again and kissed him again, harder.

He put his hands gently on her back and pulled her into him. The feel of her breasts against his chest nearly drove him crazy with desire.

Finally they separated, and she looked at him smiling. “I’d say it’s not half bad.” She heaved a breast-enhancing sigh. “Let’s go do supper.”

He talked about the workbench, she talked about floorplanning, a way to finance retail inventory.

Afterwards, at the store door, she turned to him. “Can I thank you again?”

“I was hoping you’d ask. I’m afraid I’m too timid to assume anything.” So they exchanged some nice kisses, and they both went to their beds even hornier and more frustrated.

The next day was Saturday and Rick showed up with a bag of fast food breakfast sandwiches; he banged on the still-locked door about six. Karen let him in without question but a bit bleary-eyed. She adjusted a spaghetti strap on her top, then noticed the food. “I’m glad you have this excuse to get me up,” she said, taking the bag. “It’s still night. Do you ever sleep? Are these all the same? What kind are they?”

“Hey the morning’s half over at six!” He said with altogether too much cheeriness to her retreating back. He followed her to the back of the store, where she had a small table.

She plopped into the chair and looked inside the bag. “Oo! Steak and egg! Maybe I’ll forgive you after all. And coffee! Y’know, maybe you’re okay,” and she tucked into a sandwich.

Rick pulled up a stool and sat across from her. “Do I get one? I got a couple kinds ’cause I wasn’t sure what you liked.”

She hugged the bag protectively, then scowled and shoved the bag toward him. “I guess you can have one.”

Rick took one with sausage and egg and started munching. “Do I perceive correctly that you are an evening person, not a morning person?”

“You got that right, buster, though I admit I’m famished, and that makes me even grouchier.”

“Duly noted. Throw the food into the cave before entering.”

“Hmpf.” She took a slug of coffee and another sandwich. “I assume you’re here to help out, not deflower a fair maiden, right? I liked your suggestions about that workbench. If you want to work on that, I can do some arranging and cleaning in here. Could you bring out those cans of paint? I gotta do some tromp the midwich cuckoos izle loeil in the entry. I may as well start on that, too.” She took another swig of coffee and brightened. “You should see what I have planned for the unnetted part of the ceiling!”

“I’ll be eager to see it. How do you plan to reach the ceiling?” He didn’t think he’d be able to hold the ladder with her on it for the hours she would need, regardless of the incentive.

“Oh, I’ll stand on this table. It’s just tall enough. That’s how I got the blue up there in the first place.”

Rick didn’t say anything, but it occurred to him that she could have used the table to reach the middle of the ceiling the first day. “Ah.”

“What???” She asked, looking at him with offended innocence.

Rick smiled a little. “Nothing. I think I enjoy working with you is all.”

“Hmpf. Well, bring out that paint.” She grabbed the last sandwich. “I’m gonna go look at the wall and think.”

Rick brought out several cans of paint, as many brushes, and some paint trays. “Here you go!”

She popped the last bite into her mouth. “Chank ‘oo,” and gave him a big smile and threw him a kiss.

Rick saluted and retreated to the back room. He found a few hand tools and got to work. The lumber from the two shipping crates made a pretty good frame, and a large piece of plywood out back worked for the top. He reflected that he had seen some unused pegboard at work that he could ask about. He heard conversation out front and paused. He couldn’t make out the words, but he got the impression that Karen’s tone of voice was tense. He slowly walked toward the front, swaying rather like the tall monster he had seen in a TV show about a comedy-horror family. “Hnngh,” he rumbled. “What you want next?”

The man who had been standing too close to Karen jumped back. “Ah!” He peeped, frightened.

Rick slowly fixed his eyes on the man. “Who you?” He rumbled again. “Need help?”

“No, no. I was just leaving!” And he beat a hasty retreat.

Karen looked at him and stifled laughter. “Rick, that was perfect! You are a stitch. Thanks for getting rid of him.”

Rick swayed again. “Hnngh. Monster like little girl. Protect.”

Karen chuckled and smiled.

Smiling, he turned to look at the wall and returned to normal. Karen had painted a pretty convincing reef scene. He surveyed the images of fish and coral. “I’m impressed. Too bad I didn’t know you when I got my tattoos. I might have looked a lot more artistic.”

She tossed her brush onto a paint tray and adjusted the spaghetti strap. “I could still do you. Got any place that isn’t tattooed?”

“Only one.”

Karen chuckled. “Hmm, yes, well.” She cleared her throat. “Time for a break? It must be noon.”

“More like 1:00, but a break would be nice. I have the workbench almost done.”

He treated her to lunch at a tavern down the street.

“Rick, I hate to keep getting all these free meals, well actually, I love getting them. I’m embarrassed to confess this to someone I’ve known only three days, but I’ve eaten better since you came along than I have in weeks. All my money goes into the store.”

“Your company is well worth the expense. I’ve got some reserves, partly because I found a job so quickly, so it’s not a financial sacrifice. I even found something to do in my spare time, and that’s worth something.” He paused. “Now. Tell me about the guy I scared off. Is this the ‘creep from next door’ that you mentioned when we first met?”

She snickered. “Yup, it was him, and you were marvelous. You think pretty fast. I suspect the tattoos didn’t hurt, either. I’m getting to like them more and more. But anyway, he runs a trinket store selling souvenirs made in China no offence to China. He stopped by the day I took ownership and pokes his head in about twice a week. Could be worse, I guess. He hasn’t done anything, but he gives me the creeps. Stands too close, smells funny, stares, stuff like that.”

“Maybe I’ll stop by and introduce myself if he becomes bothersome.”

“Well, don’t overdo it. I’d rather have someone next door who’s civil and not someone out for revenge.”

“Hmm. Some people are like that, so I’ll be careful. Change of subject. I see you have a store bathroom. Do you have an apartment someplace? Like with a shower and kitchen? You mentioned laundry once…”

Karen blushed a little. “I got rid of my apartment when I took over the store. When I get too gross I sneak into the women’s locker room at the college. And mostly I get stuff that’s easy to fix. I wasn’t thinking when I offered to do your laundry,” she brightened. “But I could do it with mine-I use the sink in the restroom.”

Rick ate for a while in silence. “I don’t want to seem too forward, but I have an efficiency with a kitchenette and a bathroom. I don’t mind if you come over whenever you need either of those. The laundry room is right down the hall, so that’s available too. Especially if you do mine while you’re at it.” He grinned a little.

“Thank you, but I’d hate to invade your privacy. It’s very kind of you to offer, though.”

“Well, let me know if you change your mind.” He smiled, but his heart sank a little.

They went back to work. He worked in the shop area, she cleaned and arranged the retail area. At one point he stuck his head out. “Is there a hardware store in town? I need to go pick up some stuff.”

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