Plenty of Cakes, Plenty of Time
[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia… In this episode (9.2) On a Melbourne beach, Letitia has a nap, longer than planned, and wakes up to a nasty surprise …]
Her wee rest and recovery took longer than expected. She reasoned, as she surfaced into consciousness, that she deserved just five more minutes, and then five more minutes after that…
When she resolved to become conscious again, the palm trees cast long shadows and the sun slipped on the downward slide in the West. People and seagulls crowded the beach. Many amongst the human masses appeared weary and unhappy.
Letitia gazed at the discontented crowds and thought, I guess I would have been depressed if I had to put up with the sad excuse for sand that these Melbournians have to tolerate.
Seagulls, also grumpy, squabbled over the occasional chip or tossed burger crust. In every gull group, there was the inevitable one-legged bird, upon whom the picnickers took pity and hurled their unwanted food in their direction. At least the leg-challenged birds were happy.
Letitia dug in her pocket for the comfort of cash. Her heart stopped a beat. She groped harder and deeper into the dusty corners of the pocket. With a sinking feeling, she realised that her money was gone. She swept the pebbles around her in vain hope and desperation.
‘Gone! All my money’s gone!’ she cried, ‘Merd!’
No one else on the beach seemed to care. She felt that she was being punished for the lies she told Frieda concerning Coles Bay. She had visions of trekking by foot, eight hundred kilometres to Adelaide. She imagined giving into hitch-hiking and being murdered by some axe murderer and buried in some shallow grave west of Bordertown.
‘Great!’ she muttered sarcastically as she stiffly rose to her feet and trudged through the gritty sand to the steps leading to the road. She stood gazing hopelessly at the sideshow contemplating her options. Luna Park yawned at her, laughing. Sensing that she was odd, out of place standing there, she ambled up Acland Street to its end. The restaurants were filling fast with mirthful multitudes making the most of the balmy summer evening and work satisfyingly concluded for another day. She glared at the revellers wondering who of them had helped themselves to her pocket in her sleep. Perhaps the spare cash would be used for drugs. She ground her teeth anger rising at the thought.
Letitia walked beyond the business precinct bound for the city. She came to a grinding halt at St Kilda Road and a wall of peak hour traffic. ‘Nah, this is ridiculous!’ she heard her voice rambling as the cars relentlessly whizzed past. She turned and dragged her feet back to the beach. She planned to find her way to the city by following the shoreline. Unfamiliar with Melbourne, she did not know where the roads went. No idea that in that stage in history, all roads lead to Melbourne CBD.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature Photo: Launch of the Seagulls, Brighton Beach South Australia © L.M. Kling 2006