His father and he had discussed it at length and bearing in mind Kahn’s passion for all things outdoors, it made sense that his move should be to the countryside.
He saw it firstly, as a chance to take a break from life; Kahn could appreciate that he had been doing it tough for, well, for as long as he’d been in the workforce but now, having executed his master plan and achieved his major goal, this was an opportunity for a clean break. In the shade less than three years he’d been landscaping, according to the diary he started on the day his working life had commenced, Kahn had amassed a gross total of $87,435.00, which wasn’t a lot in the scheme of things, but for an entrepreneurial sole trader in the nascent stages of business development, he thought he had done admirably. Decidedly less admirable were the outgoing costs, leaving his net total at a paltry $61,131.40; nevertheless he’d broken through the 60k threshold so he was happy. Moreover it ought to have been sufficient for the next part of his plan.
Kahn Walters moved into his new home, in the rural Canterbury town of Waddington, on the 1st of November, 2013, aged twenty-one. With help from his father, they negotiated the house price to $280,000, and the $55,000 deposit Kahn proffered meant that he was able to secure an affordable repayment plan, with cash left over to cover the inevitable home ownership shortfalls. His father was overcome with emotions the first time he stepped inside his son’s very own house; he was so moved that every attribute regarding financial prowess, regarding forethought and organisational skills; every value and moral fibre that his mother and he had done their best to instil in the boy, had stuck. It made him proud as a father while reassuring him of the inherent goodness in people, and gave strength to Dave’s doctrine about the nature of a child’s mind not so much being born but rather, being developed.
Kahn turned on the TV at six o’clock that evening, excited about watching his first television show in his new house: “In our opening story on Three News tonight,” the TV blared, “it appears the quest for world peace, takes yet another hit, as North Korea continue to intimidate the masses.
“It is widely believed that, since the brutal slaying of Pyongyang’s Chief of Police, Chi Dewar, just last week, with the North Korean capital’s last bastion of incorruptibility now deceased, city, and perhaps even nation-wide, lawlessness, is sure to follow.
“Rumours have today emerged, that the General of the North Korean Army, Kodos Wanton, recently released from prison, oddly, over ten years earlier, than his sentence stipulated, initiated the hit on Dewar, while still behind bars, in nothing more, than a spiteful act, of petulant, vengeance.
“Further revelations came today, as, on returning to his post as General of the Army, Wanton openly called for, additional assassinations, throughout the Pyongyang police force, and in fact, reportedly, killing anyone, who doesn’t share his views, on global colonisation.
“And with the North Korean army continuing to swell, according to sources, with all indigenous males over the age of fourteen, facing indiscriminate conscription, the question, resonating throughout the world, must certainly be, with a megalomaniac of Wantons calibre, at large, for how much longer, are we safe?
“This has been Michael Robertson, reporting from Pyongyang, North Korea.”
The news presenter’s words left him in disbelief. What was so wrong with the world that – global colonisation..? Really? He turned off the TV in disgust and stepped outside, into his backyard. Here, on the southern border of his property, he was surrounded by a sporadic arrangement of giant macrocarpa, eucalyptus, and pinus radiata trees, standing their ground as if for no other reason than that’s where they want to be; along with vast lengths of pine tree hedges, impeccably shaped and trimmed, providing shelter for the livestock which inhabit the expanses of unadulterated grasslands, Kahn felt at peace. There was no substitute for the calming audio of, as he had named it back in Christchurch, ‘the tranquil sounds of nature’. Here, in the countryside, that audio was so much more real and not just with birdlife – there was now sheep, cows, and even horses to add to the lullaby. The best thing though, here, there was no one to tell him what to do; nobody to tell him how to live his life. Not that he would suggest his parents had ever been hard on him as such, life in the city had just felt restricting; oppressing. He took a large gulp of fresh, country air and reflected on how far he’d come since the day he’d stood in the Pyongyang City Square and listened to the address from the Pyongyang Chief of Police – who, apparently, had just been assassinated.
Seriously, he thought to himself, what is happening to the world?
He put this global plight out of his mind and focused on what he had to do. The sky was still light so he decided to do some exploring. He knew the section under his house was roughly a quarter acre, which translated to approximately a thousand square metres – two hundred square metres more than his parents’ – but looking around, it appeared so much bigger than even that; in fact everything appeared bigger: the section and the house. He concluded it must have been the fact that it was an older style design which gave it such a towering and expansive appearance – wide gardens merging into a big backyard; the house with its large eves, chunky guttering, and proudly visible gable ends – also the fact that its timber floored design meant it sat on piles, so it was already half a metre taller than modern, concrete floored, houses. Kahn swelled with pride. What a purchase. The red robin hedges around three sides – the east, the west and the north – of the property were freshly manicured, although the array of large trees to the south were overgrown and in desperate need of maintenance. Behind this copse, which he surmised had been planted as some kind of arboreal division between the house and the road, ran the main thoroughfare to the West Coast. He suspected the trees must have been doing their part in reducing noise pollution, too, as the motorised cacophony he had expected to hear emanating from such a busy road, on the day he first looked at the house, had been rather less disruptive.
Nevertheless, first job: prune trees. It made Kahn smile to think that after three years of doing it for others, the maintenance he was now doing was going towards the upkeep of his own property.
He strolled along the south boundary inspecting the gargantuan trees then around to the west face where to his delight, he could see by the distant mountainous silhouettes, if he stood at the northwest corner of his house a few hours earlier, he would actually be able to watch the sun go down. He was ecstatic about that but adding to this ecstasy, the main selling point of the house had been the conservatory located at that very corner. Now, every evening, Kahn thought, he could sit in his conservatory and just watch the sun go down, and in a month’s time, as the longest day drew nearer, it was going to be even better than it was now! A bounce in his step he walked by his garage, nestled back among the red robins in the northwest corner, then turned to walk along the north face, back down his driveway. Something piqued his attention. Around halfway down the driveway’s verge, in the longer but still trimmed grass, was something he’d overlooked during the initial house inspection. It wasn’t worrying, it was simply curious. It was a wooden trapdoor constructed from, by the look of it, pieces of metre long, four-by-two gauge timber. He took his time in assessing it. It appeared reasonably modern and by the way the lawn grass was growing over it at the sides, it didn’t look as though it was in frequent usage. He bent down and tried to wedge his fingers down the sides; to no avail. He stood and assessed it further. He tried standing on it. Nothing of interest happened. He tried jumping on it. As expected it gave the audio impression of covering something hollow. He gave up, curtailing his excitement, strolling back past the front door and over to the final perimeter fence on the east side. The red robin hedge really was quite spectacular; he walked right up to it and admired its density before lifting his gaze and viewing the narrow road that ran along that length of the property, and which was the house’s only point of access – Kahn especially liked the way his address sounded in his ears: Number one, Walkers Road, Waddington.
This is the most scared I have ever been. Something’s happening. I don’t know what it is but it seems pretty big. I’m hearing sounds I haven’t heard before, engines and that, up and down the road outside. They’re still coming through my house occasionally too, with their heavy boots. Don’t they have any bloody decency? Don’t the yellow monkeys know that its not polite to wear your heavy boots though someones house? I honestly don’t know if I can stay here for too much longer, its getting pretty hairy down here.
Still keeping the pride, K.