Where It Ends.

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When Sam came to it was dark.

He’d been locked in the boot of a car before but this was different.

Modern cars have an internal release mechanism so that people who have been kidnapped and thrown in the boot have a fighting chance of releasing themselves. This brilliant idea came from the Americans who believe that there is a mechanical solution to just about anything.

Sam remembered reading about this automotive development a few years before and at the time he wondered why the kidnappers would not disable the system.

The cramped conditions didn’t make it easy for Sam to feel around for a release lever. He need not have bothered because there wasn’t one.

The bloke driving this car must have been legally blind because it seemed to Sam that he hit everything except the bitumen.

The boot of the car smelt like oil and old boots with a bit of rust and mouldy carpet thrown in.

Sam wished he had not given up smoking because a lighter would have come in handy, but on the other hand, if there was petrol stored in the boot he might have blown himself up.

Sam reasoned that this journey would have to come to an end sooner or later and then he would get his chance. He would pretend to be unconscious and seize his chance when the man [he assumed it was a man] tried to pull him out.

After what seemed like a very long time, the car began to slow down and the crunch of gravel under the tyres told Sam that they had pulled off the road. The driver’s door opened and closed and Sam prepared for his last chance at freedom.

Lying in the darkness does strange things to a man and Sam had an uneasy feeling that if his reflexes were off this might end up being his final resting place. The wound at the back of his head was throbbing and Sam had no way of telling if his vision was off. He grabbed a piece of metal, probably a tyre iron and hid it under his body.

The boot lid did not open and Sam wondered what the driver was doing. The car started to roll forward and Sam heard the driver swear. The car tilted as it rolled and the drivers voice became more frantic. The car gained a bit of speed before rolling on its side and hitting a tree. Now there was screaming instead of swearing. The boot popped open after the impact, but Sam was knocked out for a few moments. When he came to he could feel the cool breeze on his face.

“I think I’ll just lie here for a moment,” he said before realising that he was talking to himself.

Lying still seemed like a good idea. He slowly took stock of his various bits and pieces and when he was satisfied that everything was in working order he scrambled out of the boot still clutching the tyre iron.

He’d been vaguely aware of the screaming but as any good soldier would do, he took stock of his physical condition before taking action.

The car’s headlights were still on so there was some light, which was just as well because they were obviously in the countryside and there were no streetlights.

Standing up proved to be a challenge and not just because of the uneven terrain. Sam’s head was throbbing from the initial blow and the impact of the crash.

The screaming seemed to be coming from the drivers’ side which was now under the car as it lay on that side.

The light wasn’t all that good, but it appeared to Sam that the driver was pinned under the car, which would account for the screaming, but curiously, the driver seemed to be attached to the car door by a rope.

The rope turned out to be a scarf.

“Me mum knitted it,” the driver was to reveal, in what turned out to be a long conversation.

The driver had jammed the scarf in the door when he got out. Being used to driving automatics he had forgotten to pull on the handbrake and gravity set in. The driver stumbled before he could get the door open and the two of them, driver and car, continued down the slope until the car rolled on its side crushing the driver.

The car belonged to his cousin.

“If he owned a bloody automatic this wouldn’t have happened.”

“If you hadn’t hit me on the head, bundled me into the boot and driven me to who knows where, you wouldn’t be in this mess,” Sam succinctly pointed out.

The screaming resumed and went on for quite some time, but there were conversations in between bouts.

Not unsurprisingly, Sam was keen to know what had happened and why this bozo wanted to hurt him.

The cause of the screaming was a severely crushed leg, but more important than that was the gash on his thigh that was pumping blood at a rate that was going to cause a problem.

Sam told the driver to keep pressure on the would and this slowed down the flow rate but Sam had seen enough battlefield casualties to know that this bloke was going to bleed to death if help did not come soon.

It was a bad sign when the screaming stopped and the driver said that he felt sleepy.

“I have to tell you mate that this isn’t good. If someone saw what happened and called for help you might make it if they get here soon, but it is going to have to be real soon.” Sam was telling it straight. “I can go for help, but you have to keep pressure on that wound.”

“Don’t leave me Bennett. I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be alone.”

“I won’t leave you.” Sam had seen men die before, and some of them had been men who had tried to kill him. But in these moments, these things are put to one side. Two men facing death and only one would be alive to tell the tale.

“You seem to know me but for the life of me, I cannot place you. Why would someone I don’t know be trying to kill me?”

“You don’t know me, but I met you once. In court. I told you what I thought of you. You were responsible for putting my brother in prison.”

“I still don’t remember you. What was your brother’s name?”

“John Willy.”

“Okay, I remember him. A real piece of shit. Got exactly what he deserved. Your brother ruined more lives than reality television. You are not seriously going to tell me that you think I fitted him up?”

“No. I know he was no good. He used to beat the shit out of me for no reason, but he was family. Every one of my family either drank themselves to death or got themselves killed, John was all I had left and you got him put away for life.”

“He got himself put away, and he got himself dead. You don’t pick a fight with a crim who is twice your size. Your brother was a bloody idiot. Seriously, did he have a death wish?”

“Probably, he was never very bright and I think he would rather be dead than locked up for rest of his life.”

Sam was now soaked in this blokes blood.

“What’s your name then?”

“Bill.”

“William Willy: your folks had a sense go humour.”

“I don’t know what you mean. I like that name.”

“Fair enough. So I guess it was you in the car that T-boned me a while back?”

“Yes, and I’m pissed that you walked away from it. I planned it for weeks. Just didn’t get up enough speed. Buggered up my knee as well. Got arrested for some shit I pulled months before and I been inside ever since otherwise I would have done for ya before this.”

“Well, neither of us are walking away from this one,” Sam said with just a hint of exhaustion.

Sam was sick of it and now that he knew the pathetic sordid reason for his torment he was, even more, sick of it. “Stupid fucking people living pathetic fucking lives fucking it up for everyone they come in contact with.” These were thoughts, not words said out loud, but either way, it didn’t matter.

Pretty soon this poor excuse for a human being would join his larcenous family in the great hereafter and Sam would go back to piecing his life back together.

If it wasn’t for Scarlett and his dogs he would have been tempted to lie down and drift away with William Willy, the bloke he never knew who had so ineptly tried to kill him.

Sam had to ask, “If you had your life to live over again, would you do it differently?”

“Nah, I’d only fuck it up again.”

The powerful torch lights lit up the bush and it reminded Sam of when he was a kid and they would steal their fathers flashlights and play on the vacant lot in the moonlight. That seemed like a long time ago.

Sam’s head hurt and just for a moment he thought the lights might be aliens.

A big bloke in a uniform was slapping Sam on the side of the face and saying something. “You with us pal?”

“Yes, I am and if you keep hitting me you are going to find out.”

“No need to get pissy.” The ambulance driver had put in a long shift and the drive to the crash scene had taken an hour. Usually, when this happened it was a false alarm and they had to turn around a drive back, but on this occasion they found one unconscious male and one trapped male; deceased. In his report, he stated that although the hand knitted scarf was not the direct cause of death, it had been a contributing factor.

Do You Know Me?

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“Do you know who I am?”

The cab driver nods.

“I’m not dangerous.”

He looks for reassurance in my face, but my determination and anger won’t give him any.

I took my life in my hands getting him to stop.

The first cab I hailed simply sailed around me and into oncoming traffic, causing a lot of hard braking and a certain amount of swearing.

This bloke stopped, and as I piled into his cab, I yelled, “Follow that car.”

He didn’t reply, and he didn’t seem fazed by my command.

Maybe cab drivers get that all the time.

He was young and tall with very dark hair and amazing black eyes. He kept glancing at me in the rearview mirror and, considering my loud request; you may not think that was so strange, but I knew he’d recognised me.

My photo had been on the front page of the Herald-Sun for three days, just above the picture of a disgraced footballer, a coach caught up in a doping scandal and an ‘actress’, I had never heard of, who was outraged that her naked photos had appeared on the web, again.

I have found it relatively easy to keep my naked photos off the web; I don’t take any. I wouldn’t want to ‘frighten the horses’, as my mum used to say.

The twenty-year-old Mercedes with a damaged tail light had a short head start on us, but my dark-eyed cab driver was up to the task. The upside of tailing someone in a taxi is that no one takes any notice of the poor driving that is required to follow someone successfully; all cabs are driven like that.

The old Merc dived into a parking space opposite a vacant bloke of land. The driver got out as we sailed by.

I gave the taxi driver an enormous tip, and he smiled at me. Hopefully, he will take an hour or two before he reports having seen me. If this were a movie, he wouldn’t turn me in at all, but this isn’t a movie, and I’m going to be lucky if I stay one step ahead of the police.

The silver Merc’s driver prized open the security fence that was doing a poor job of protecting the vacant block and disappeared.

I’m only a chartered accountant, but it is amazing what skills you can summon up when your life has been torn apart. The Merc driver did not see me follow him, nor did he notice me see him enter the old house that was hidden behind a massive growth of blackberries. The house must have been empty for a very long time.

I put my hand in my coat pocket and felt the handle of the wood chisel.

One of us was going to come out of that house and live happily ever after.

From the first time since this all started, I considered scribbling my last will and testament on the back of the McDonald’s receipt that I found in the other pocket of my coat, but there wasn’t enough time, and I didn’t have a writing implement.

An accountant without a pen but in possession of a sharp wood chisel. It had been a very strange couple of days, but now it was about to get terminal.

I took a deep breath, and with the hand that wasn’t holding the chisel, I pushed open what had, at one time, been the front door.

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illustration credit: http://johnlovettwatercolorworkshop.com/drawing/

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Big Red Cat.

One of my very bestest WP people asked to see the car mentioned in the Reflection post.

So here she is.

She wasn’t with us for very long but she did get to be a wedding car for a couple of young friends who were saving their pennies.

5.3 litres of pure V12 grunt. Built in 1986 one year after Jaguar stopped making the series Three. The XJ40 that replaced her could not fit the massive V12 engine so they kept on making the Series Threes just for their V12 customers until the XJ40 was updated. The back doors on this model open wider than on previous models to make it easier to get in and out of the back seat [especially in a wedding dress].

She looked magnificent but she had not been well maintained. In short she cost me a lot of money to bring up to scratch.

The air con packed it in on a particularly hot trip back from Adelaide and V12s generate an enormous amount of heat and a lot of it travels under the floor through the exhaust pipes…… it can get unpleasant! The cruise control stopped working on this same trip also.

A couple of days before Christmas I had all of the water hoses replaced [there are a lot of them on a V12]. We got to Ballarat on the way to Adelaide and the Big Cat emptied the contents of her radiator into the carpark at McDonalds. It’s a long ride back to Melbourne on the back of a tow truck. I managed to get the mechanics to repair the brand new burst hose and my son and I tried again. This time we did not get as far as Ballarat. We stopped at a roadhouse to eat and when I put my son behind the wheel he turned the key and engine made a strange noise and dropped a valve.

The cost of rebuilding the engine was close to half of the cost of the car and I had spent a small fortune up till then so I sold it to my mechanic who put a second hand engine in it and sold it to someone else.

A few weeks later I found the Jag I have owned ever since and she has not missed a beat.

I suppose you are wondering why I bought a car with so many expensive faults?

Good question. I know a fair bit about cars so there is really no excuse except that I bought her in haste, which is probably the worst way to buy a car. Also I trusted someone………. don’t say it, I know.

The person who sold her to me also sold my first Jag to me and that had been a very happy event. In my mind I figured that he would work out that if he looked after me I would buy a series of cars from him over time, whereas he was only interested in selling a car.

I was in pain when I bought her having been involved in a high speed freeway accident from which I had not fully recovered. Never buy anything when you are in pain!

It was not all bad, the V12 was an experience to drive. It’s the only car I have ever owned that did not notice if the car was full of people. The gearbox never kicked down because the engine had so much grunt that it didn’t need to.

She was only in my life briefly but she is fondly remembered. Money aside, I loved that car, but all love affairs must end.

BTW she was exactly red, the official name was Cranberry.

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Billy Gest: Hope and a Drive Shaft.

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This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.

Billy Gest had replaced that drive shaft several times and he was getting a bit sick of it.

He drove that little Honda really hard, but you had to.
360cc is tiny for a car, no matter how small that car might be.
Front wheel drive and very little weight was causing most of the problems, but it was a great little car. It tended to conk out in traffic in really hot weather being air cooled but it was so light that he could push start it in traffic to get it going again.
All he had to do was jump out, give it a bit of a shove, jump back in and drop the clutch in second and she would fire up.
It must have been amazing to watch from the car behind!
Spinning the wheels was really easy in the wet or dry and this was what was chewing out the drive shafts.
As time went buy Honda stopped making new ones and the second hand ones ran out fast, as the left one would go more often than the right for a reason no one could explain, so there were less and less of them on the road until one day they were all gone.
Billy would have kept his going for a little longer but he was kinda broke and there was a baby and kids cost, big time.
So it sat in the driveway until some bloke knocked on the door and asked if he could have it.
Reluctantly Billy handed over the keys and watched as it was towed away.
A few years later money started finding it’s way into Billy’s life and he wished that he had kept that little Honda but at the time he had lost hope, so he let her go.
How long do you hang onto things in the hope that fate will supply the funds to fix them up?
Billy could not answer that question and neither can I.
It’s one of life’s little mysteries; it’s up there with why people by water in a bottle when they get it out of a tap.
No one is ever going to be able to explain that one!

LEAF ME ALONE………….

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Leaves don’t stay crisp for long. There is a limited window before they become mushy and lose their colour

9 photos to tell the story.

It’s ‘blowing a gale’ here at the moment. We took our life in our hands walking this morning. There is debris everywhere, so I thought that ‘leaves’ was a good topic for the day.

 

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This sign leads to our favourite laneway. The leaves pile up high in Autumn, and the dogs love to run through them.
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This photo was taken two years ago. The conditions were just right. No wind, and no rain. Last year we missed out on seeing this amazing display due to a storm which blew them away. Fingers crossed for this year although today was not a good start. Very strong winds are blowing stuff everywhere. I have not messed with the colour, this is exactly what it looked like.
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I was very lucky to get this shot. It rained later that day and washed the leaves off the car. A very still day and a slightly damp car allowed me to get this shot while walking the dogs.
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I thought I had lost this photo when my hard drive died a few years back. I lost about 5 years worth of photos, but fortunately, I had put the first few years onto DVDs. They went missing until we were helping my son to pack after he moved in with his lady. His room used to be my office ‘back in the day’, and the discs were in with his. That’s my lady in the shot. She is tiny, so she makes everything look a little bigger than it is. This was taken at the Grant Burge Winery in South Australia.
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This has happened twice over the last couple of years. I go to an appointment, and I come out, and there is a single leaf on my car. It’s almost like someone is trying to tell me something.
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This is another one of those shots that I thought were gone forever. We were at a Christmas breakup party in a very old part of Melbourne. I brought my camera to get some shots, and I could see our car out of the first-floor window. I love the dappled light of the late afternoon.
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I drive past this beautiful tree every time I leave our house. It has an almost mystical effect on me. It has been in our garden for a very long time.
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This is the same tree from the previous shot, but it’s a lot further into Autumn. The Blackbird in the shot was taking a quiet moment, so I was able to get a few shots. We called him Whitey because he had one white feather. We watched him grow up and then have his own family. Blackbirds can live for more than twenty years, but Whitey only made it to four. We have a lot of cats in our area, and the owners do not realise how much damage they do.

Somewhat Better Days…………..

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You may remember the car from ‘Seen Better Days’, well this is the car that replaced it. The dingo (and another one) lives with the cars owner and with the dogs in the car and the top down they literally stop traffic. It’s quite a sight.

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Sadly, these old wrecks, used for spare parts, have been taken away. As the seasons went by and parts got sold off there would be fresh chances for a new perspective.

But, the red ‘Morrie’ still remains but we are rapidly running out of suitable days so soon it’s owner will have her under wraps for the winter.

Seen Better Days

Seen Better Days

My neighbour owned this car for a number of years until she drove it into a creek. It turned on it’s side and she nearly drowned. It was a beautiful old Morris Minor. Early 1950s. Her and her boyfriend had cut the top off it and turned it into a soft top. The wreck sat in her front yard for many years and bits and pieces of it were sold off to restorers. It was removed just recently but fortunately I got this shot a while back. In case you were wondering, yes she did find another one and yes it is a soft top. Late 1940s this time. These ‘Morries’ sound great and the riding experience is visceral. Unfortunately this neighbour is not speaking to me at the moment see here, and here for the reason.

A Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.

He must have hit the road quite hard.

I heard the car hit him and I heard the crowd gasp but by the time I turned my head he was trying to get to his feet. As befits a surreal moment like this, he was looking on the ground for his sunglasses. It was pouring rain, the sun had set but he still had his sunglasses with him. Despite the darkness it was not a lack of light that had contributed to this scene. It happened outside the Forum Cinema; brightly lit as most cinema entrances tend to be. The rain definitely had something to do with it as did impatience and a possible desire to not get too wet.

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To get from the Forum to ACMI* (which you would probably have to do at least once if you are a dedicated MIFF* attendee) you have to walk away from your intended target and navigate two sets of pedestrian lights (both very slow to react) or you could do what many people do and cross the road directly. I’ve done it a couple of times during the festival but in daylight, when it was not raining and not during that vicious time know as ‘peak hour’!

Even in my younger and braver days I would not have attempted this particular crossing under these conditions, but this bloke did and there he was picking himself and his sunglasses off the road.

As he got to his feet I watched his body language to see what condition he was in and I guess the throng of people around me were doing the same.

As he straightened up, sunglasses in hand, he looked a little unsteady. The traffic had stopped but this was ‘peak hour,’ that time of the day when reason and compassion is thrown to the wind.

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As the seconds ticked by he seemed to be trying to make up his mind what he should do next. I wanted him to come back onto the footpath and sit down but he decided to continue his original course! His chances of making it across the first time were slim but now they were non existent. As if to prove the point, one of the cars in the waiting line pulled out onto the tram line and narrowly missed him. Fortunately, he got the point and stopped but now he seemed really confused and it occurred to me that I might have to go and get him but it also occurred to me that the situation was getting more dangerous by the second as the waiting cars were likely to take off without warning and I would have to cross three lanes to get to him. For those few moments he was still safe but it was likely to go pear shaped very quickly.

At this point the guy in the little white car (which I’m assuming is the one that hit him) began gesturing to the pedestrian to get into his car. He got the message and slowly came around to the passenger side and very, very slowly got in.

The watching crowd breathed a mental sigh of relief and we all returned to normal time. I say ‘normal time’ as these things tend to play out in what appears to be slow motion but in fact everything moves at normal speed but in what feels like compressed time.

But at least we had a reasonably happy ending and a large number of people, mostly queueing for cinema tickets, got to see it play out.

Every story needs a good ending with a bit of reality thrown in so here we go.

As the stunned, sunglasses toting pedestrian climbed into the car the car behind him started blowing his horn and he kept blowing it. He was obviously in a hurry, there was no need to worry about a slightly crumpled pedestrian, he needed to get home.

Most likely he was afraid he would miss the beginning of Big Brother.

It seems to me that the media likes to focus on incidents that appear to show that the general public does not respond in an emergency. This hasn’t been my experience, and I was reminded when I read this article in ‘The Age’, my city’s newspaper. http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/quiet-care-that-the-news-misses-20130208-2e3vi.html

* ACMI is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

* MIFF is the Melbourne International Film Festival, it’s also the second oldest established film festival in the world.

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A MYSTERY WRAPPED IN PLASTIC

shapeimage_1A MYSTERY WRAPPED IN PLASTIC

It just lay there.

I noticed it as I was leaving our street for a walk with our dogs.

Normally I’m as curious as the next bloke but on this occasion I could not be bothered. I wish I had.

My mind was elsewhere and I just wanted a relaxing walk and to continue the dog’s re-education.

I seem to remember thinking that it might be a large dog poo that someone had left for later collection, but in hindsight that doesn’t make a lot of sense, why take a ‘poo bag’ and then baulk at carrying it. In any case most ‘poo bags’ tend to be old supermarket bags or those swish blue ‘made for the purpose’ bags. This bag was heavier weight clear plastic.

About an hour later we had completed our walk and were approaching the top of our street when I noticed a small blue sporty looking Peugeot pull up just past the entrance to our street. The driver was a bloke wearing dark glasses and he was illegally parked on a dangerous part of the main road that intersects with ours. Suddenly a female, late twenties maybe, jumped out of the passenger side and ran across the road and collected the plastic bag, got back into the car, and they zoomed off.

The whole thing was just slightly strange and my imagination immediately went into overdrive.

As you probably know I do a bit of writing, mostly non fiction but I have put the occasional bit of fiction on paper and besides, I have watched a lot of movies, so I find it difficult to believe that I cannot come up with a reasonable explanation for what I witnessed.

I have already dismissed the ‘poo bag’ theory. Who comes back by car to collect a poo bag after dumping it on the side of the road?

I know what you are thinking; drugs.

My devious mind went there also but it doesn’t stand up. For starters, they weren’t driving a black Range Rover and everyone knows that drug dealers drive black Range Rovers; or is that Rap singers, I get mixed up sometimes.

A drug minion perhaps? Probably not. There aren’t that many Peugeots out there so you are going to be identified too easily. Some form of Mitsubishi seems to be the go if Underbelly is to be believed.

If it had been drugs it would have been hidden a little more professionally. ‘Hidden in plain sight‘ works for some things but not clear plastic bags.

Whatever it was, someone dropped it off and someone picked it up and I have no way of knowing if they were the same person.

If only I had been a bit more of a sticky beak we would not be having this conversation.

Any thoughts?