Fiction: Short Story.
The old bloke blew up and I’m on the run.
Not that I blew him up, not directly that is, but there seems to be a consensus of opinion that I had something to do with it. It’s a consensus of one, but despite the statistically small sample, I’m inclined to agree.
An old photograph started it all.
My dad loved photography and I grew up surrounded by chemicals, photographic paper and drying prints. I even learned the lingo and I was mixing precise amounts of appropriate chemicals before I learned my times tables. I knew about paper grades and apertures and long lenses well before I knew why girls were put on this earth. When I did work out why girls were here it did me no end of good to be able to take portraits that flattered.
I didn’t own a motorcycle but I did have a camera.
It was a photo that got me into this mess; whatever this mess is.
That’s the largest part of the problem; I’m on the run, trying to stay alive and I haven’t got the faintest idea why someone wants to kill us.
Yes, there is an ‘us’; my friend Malcolm.
He’s not very happy with me at the moment because these same mysterious ‘someones’ are trying to kill him as well.
Personally I think he should be very happy.
He’s been mixed up in conspiracy theories all his adult life and he’s never seen any action.
Now he is in the middle of a real life, do-or-die conspiracy.
Isn’t that what he has longed for?
File it under ‘careful what you wish for because you just might get it’.
It’s true that Malcolm is mad at me but he didn’t have much time to really get going because we really needed to ‘get going’.
We both knew, without saying it out loud, that running was probably a waste of time.
These people find people for a living ——- then they kill them for a living; but a few days freedom was not to be scoffed at.
We knew that there was a good chance that they would catch at least one of us so we made a pact; if they got one of us we would give up the other one’s location.
I know that sounds a bit strange but we are both basically cowards and not enamoured with pain so it seemed easier to just cough up the information.
I was heading North and Malcolm was heading West, and that was as much as we knew of each other’s destination.
It seemed reasonable to assume that they would pit one of us against the other so we devised a plan.
If Malcolm got caught first he would include the word ‘pineapple’ in any email he sent me and I would use the word ‘mining’ if they had me. If they demanded that we lure the other one out into the open, these code words would not seem out-of-place in an email, because both of these words have a direct relationship to the areas we were headed to.
I always have a heap of cash on hand but it is a long way to Queensland and my old car is heavy on petrol, so a lot of my reserves will disappear into the pocket of an oil company.
Not using my credit card made sense but my car being recognised presented a different problem.
I like this car and I don’t want to dump it so I took my collection of old number plates that I have assembled over the years and put two of them on the car at my first stop.
They don’t match but as long as I don’t get stopped for speeding I should be okay.
Numberplate Recognition Software is a bitch but with a bit of luck, if I don’t draw attention to myself, I should be able to hang on to my car.
I love this car.
I stopped to change the plates at Seymour, not far from the Army base.
I’m not sure why, but my next stop was at Violet Town, the scene of a terrible train crash back in 1969.
One of the drivers died of a heart attack a few miles before he crashed head on into a train coming the other way.
It was a huge story when I was a kid.
Being late in the day, I decided to check into a caravan park and stay the night.
As it turned out, I stayed three nights.
I just wanted to be off the road for a while.
The caravan park was nice enough, situated near a stream with lots of mature Red Gums, growing on the banks.
A couple of the residents looked as though they were permanent.
One bloke in particular caught my eye.
He was two spaces down from mine and he owned a big brown dog named ‘Boof’.
He treated that dog very badly and I made a mental note to kick him in the head if I ever found him lying somewhere drunk; which was a district possibility.
In the end, I did the next best thing.
After spending three pleasant days sitting and eating in the Violet Town cafe I decided it was time to hit the road again.
I paid my bill and when I got back from the office Boof was sitting next to my car with a look on his face that said, “Please take me with you”. What was I supposed to do, leave him there to be abused by that half-wit?
Boof rode ‘shotgun’ and didn’t even glance as we drove past his old home.
He took to traveling like he had been at it his whole life.
I got the feeling that he had been practicing for this for a long time. He was patiently waiting for the right person to come along so he could escape his miserable existence.
Now there were two escapees heading north, and one of them had more sense than the other.