Bonfire on the Beach
[I first wrote this story over thirty years ago in response to a newspaper murder mystery competition. Upon completing the story, I never submitted it for scrutiny. Since then, the tale has endured several edits and reworkings, the latest being just last week.
The story is pure fantasy but is based on real life events from my youth. Over the last 30 years the characters have evolved to become on the whole, fictional.
Note, bonfires are no longer permitted on beaches near Adelaide. However, cars are still allowed to drive on the sands of some beaches south of Adelaide, such as Sellicks Beach.]
The five friends huddled in the firelight, reflecting on the ritual burning of Lillie’s matriculation Modern History textbooks and the year past. The Doors boomed in the background.
A sand-splattered blood-red Ford Falcon XB and a bright orange Kombi-van, guarded Geoffrey Fox and Lillie Hughson, Lillie’s older brother Sven and her best friend Fifi Edwards and Fifi’s brother Jimmy from any unwanted intruders.
An old man on the cliff top waved an angry fist, his threats carried away by the sharp November breeze. Sven returned the gesture shaking his fist with menace at the old man.
‘Sven!’ Lillie slapped Sven’s arm. ‘Behave yourself! You might be a brickie, but you don’t need to act like one.’
‘Nothing wrong with brickies, Lillie. Anyway, that old man, he’s probably calling for Wally,’ Fifi said while rubbing her nose. The sea air icy and stung with salt. She had moulded into Sven’s embrace. ‘Hey, Sven, you’re so cool, yet so hot.’
A burst of laughter. The tape came to a climactic end and petered out.
‘Hey, hey, have you heard this?’ Fifi wet her lips. ‘Six o’clock. The whole street was quiet, not a sound was heard. Except the occasional croak of a cricket as night fell.’ Mesmerized by the lapping waves and rhythm of Fifi’s voice, the others listened. ‘All was calm, then out of the darkness, a cry pierced the air.’
Jimmy, Fifi’s older brother shovelled a handful of salt and vinegar chips into his mouth and crunched. Lillie glared at him. He paused, chipmunk cheeked, and glued his attention to his sister Fifi.
“Wally! Wal-Wal-Waaalee! Dinner’s ready!”
The five young people roared. Jimmy’s potato chips sprayed out and fuelled the coals. Fifi pouted mimicking Wally’s mother, Mrs. Katz. Lillie joined her. Jerking her legs as if in a Monty Python sketch, Fifi broke free of Sven’s hold and walked a Wally walk, while Lillie jumped from Geoffrey Fox’s embrace and flailed her arms and danced a Wally dance.
Sounds of puttering filled the cove. ‘Who could that be?’ Lillie craned her neck over Sven’s leather clad shoulder to see bulk roaring wheels.
The girls froze, and in unison uttered, ‘Oh, no! Wally!’
More chips spluttered from Jimmy’s mouth and fuelled the coals. Sven rolled up his sleeves. Admiring his wiry yet powerful form, Fifi preened her blonde perm and sighed. ‘Just when we’re having a good time!’
Sand plopped in the flames and their faces. With a grunt his Kawasaki bike scudded, throwing Wally towards a rocky outcrop.
Wally picked himself up and dusted grains from his blubber. He advanced towards the group laughing, ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’.
With his thumbs inserted in his tight pockets, Sven stepped towards the Wally. ‘Who invited you?’
‘Gate crasher! Gate crasher!’ Lillie and Fifi cried, hurling abuse and wads of sand.
Sven pitched his cider bottle. ‘Go home to your mummy, Wally!’
Wally dodged Sven’s missile. ‘Hey, I just wanna good time.’
‘You are not welcome here. Go away.’ Sven plucked up a rock. ‘Move it!’
‘Why not? I have every right to be here.’
‘Are you thick or something?’ Sven shook his stone-wrapped fist.
‘Did you call me thick? Did you call me thick?’
‘Yes, you moron! Now, go home!’ Sven spat and then hurled the stone, crashing it into Wally’s helmet.
‘Hey! That’s my head you hit!’ Wally raised his fists and leered at Sven. ‘You wanna fight?’
‘Be my guest, fool!’ Sven jabbed Wally’s rounded shoulder with his right fist.
‘Oh, cut it out boys!’ Fifi marched to the stoushing males, splitting the two cocks sparring in the shadows.
Uneasy truce, Wally one side of the fire, in the smoke, Sven and the rest of the group crowded on the other side. Waves crashed, the sea’s beat interrupted by the rare plop and thud of dead conversation.
Fifi nudged Lillie. ‘This is boring!’
Lillie rubbed her hands over the glowing coals. ‘Mmm. Why doesn’t Wally take the hint?’
Jimmy munched through his third bagful of chips. Chicken, this time.
Wally coughed. Wally spluttered. Wally blew his nose into a grimy handkerchief and inspected the contents. Wally sidled out of the smoke, closer to the group.
‘Oh, no you don’t!’ Sven poked the embers emitting brief flames. ‘Too crowded over here with you, Wally.’
‘Why not! I’m choking over here,’ Wally said and then cupped the rag over his mouth and insisted edging to the smokeless side.
‘Are you dense?’ Sven lunged at Wally, forcing his boot into the glowing coals. ‘Go home, Wally.’
Wrestling, the rooster and the sumo teetered at the rim of fire, toppled onto the sand crushing beer cans, steam-rolled one on top of the other singeing leather pants and denim jacket, rising from the ashes in a slow dance of boxing and fists and cuffs, and culminating in Sven’s $50 Reflecto Polaroid sunglasses flying into the fire. They melted on impact.
‘My shades! You’ve destroyed my shades!’ Sven clutched Wally’s throat. ‘Get outa here before I kill you!’
Fox who had been hanging back and watching the action, stepped up to Wally. ‘You better go Wally. Nothing personal. But you better take the hint and go.’
Fifi patted Sven on the back, ‘Come on mate, that’s enough fighting for one night. It’s only sunglasses.’
Sven loosened his grip and sauntered towards the boulders, silhouetted by the cliff-face. Wally skulked back to his bike and with a departing roar, pelted sand over the dying coals.
[continued on Tru-Kling Creations…]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022
Feature Photo: Sellicks Beach, one afternoon in September © L.M. Kling 2015
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