Bonfire on the Beach
[Tuesdays with Carol is on hold as a certain virus has accosted a close family member and so, we are in isolation. By the way, Carol, when I informed her, was most thankful her godson (my son), needed my assistance as mum’s taxi for some shopping last Thursday. If he hadn’t, I would’ve visited her that Thursday afternoon potentially putting her at risk.
Anyway, here’s the conclusion of Bonfire on the Beach where the murder mystery begins…]
Hit and Run
With a hip flask between best friends, Fifi and Lillie slipped away, gliding along the shore and up the ramp to the road. Kangaroo-skin blanket wrapped around them, the girls perched on a seat overlooking the miniature party scene. The orange glow of the revived bonfire danced in the cove below them. While they gossiped, topic of conversation focussing on Wally, the crisp air carried the beat of The Doors and Sven’s Ford Falcon XB rumbling up the ramp.
Lillie rubbed notches in the seat. Four lines scratched into the backrest. ‘What does this mean?’
‘Some local stud’s score, I reckon.’ Fifi traced the lines. ‘Fox’s probably.’
‘Not much of a stud, then,’ Lillie scoffed, ‘Geoffrey Fox must’ve had more than four conquests. Surely.’
A roar ripped through their conversation.
‘Excellent! A drag race!’ Fifi said and tore the blanket from Lillie.
Fifi waddled to the empty patch of bitumen.
Shivering, Lillie followed and peered down the peninsula. As the headlights approached, a dull thud and a torso, arms and legs flying, altered their curiosity. One headlight wobbled; its radiance extinguished.
Fifi tottered towards the action. ‘What was that?’
‘Probably just a roo.’
‘And what roo has two legs and arms? I definitely saw two legs and arms. I’m going to have look.’
The girlfriends reached the spot. Motorbike shattered on the pavement. Body tangled around a pole, eyes glassy, staring into eternity.
Lillie’s gaze fixated on the human wreckage; mutilation mingled with man’s frailty into her memory.
Fifi dragged Lillie down the ramp. ‘Come, we can’t just stand here. We better tell the others, someone.’
Fox reclined by the fire hypnotised by the flames.
Jimmy, through a mouthful of crisps, said, ‘A good thing that Wally wasn’t there otherwise he would be raving about the grisly details till morning.’
‘It was Wally,’ Lillie said and wiped her dripping nose.
‘Oh,’ Jimmy said and popped a large curly crisp into his mouth and munched.
Unimpressed Fifi yanked at Lillie’s arm. ‘Come on, Lillie. We better see what we can do for the poor bloke.’
A group of pensioners hovered over the blood-stained sheet. Leaning up against the warped pole, a man with black rimmed glasses and bulging nose wagged his head. ‘There was nothing we could do.’
Wrapped in a lavender quilted dressing gown, a woman, hair in rollers, gawked. ‘Poor fellow. What a waste!’
Blood splatters glinted in the streetlight. Acid brewed in Lillie’s stomach. She held her throat and gulped. ‘I don’t feel so well. Let’s go back down.’
‘If you insist.’ Fifi trailed after her friend, hanging back, stopping as the ambulance arrived, watching as it ferried the latest statistic towards the red glow of Adelaide.
Back at the bonfire, Lillie nestled up to Geoffrey Fox. She didn’t want to be alone.
Later, Fox’s Kombi became the couple’s refuge and passion Lillie’s comfort.
Morning: sea watery blue, translucent. Sven emerged from his Falcon. He leant against the bonnet and nursed a jagged dent in the fender. Lillie watched banter between Sven and Jimmy through her flickering sleep-salted eyes.
‘Guess what!’ Jimmy’s mouth frothed with stale left-over beer.
‘What?’ Sven did not look up but continued to stroke and inspect a cracked headlight.
‘Some hoon killed Wally up there.’
Sven shrugged and then adjusted a pair of chipped Polaroid sunglasses on his fine pointed nose.
Crawling out of the Kombi, Lillie hobbled over to the Falcon. ‘Hey, just wait a minute. What’s Wals – How come you’re wearing Wally’s shades, Sven?’
Sven surveyed the placid blue sea. ‘Dunno, they were there, I s’pose.’ He rubbed the damage to his bonnet, frowning as flecks of red paint floated in the breeze. ‘‘Sides he wrecked mine!’
‘And your car? How did you get that dent?’
‘I dunno. Can’t help it if that stupid fatso gets in the way.’ Sven wiped his faded jeans, blotched greasy and brown, purging his hands of sand. ‘It’s what I do to people like Wally and dirty old men.’
‘What do you mean?’ Lille caught her breath and stepped back. ‘Have you done this before?’
‘Ha! Ha! Fooled you!’ Sven tossed his head back and laughed. ‘Geez, sis, you’re so gullible.’
Her brother then climbed into his Ford, spun the wheels, and flew over the firm damp shore, shrinking into the distance, towards Aldinga beach, then returning.
Lillie kicked sand into the ashes. ‘I feel sick. What are we going to do?’
Fifi squirmed in her sleeping bag. ‘Huh? What do you mean?’
‘Last night. Wally. You know.’
Poking her head from the hood, Fifi faced Lillie and narrowed her eyes. ‘Last night? Nothing happened, okay? Nothing happened. We were at Dee’s party – If anyone asks. Okay?” She turned her head to the others and enunciated each syllable. ‘Isn’t that right.’
Jimmy charged his stubby and nodded.
Fox poked his head out the Kombi’s open window. ‘Yep, Dee’s.’
‘But – but…Dee’s my worst enemy. No one will believe that I would’ve been at Dee’s,’ Lillie said and heaped more sand on the coals. ‘We can’t just – they’ll know. And the old people…up there…they saw us.’
‘Look, Lillie,’ Sven said, ‘the police are up there right now investigating. No one has come down to interview us. So, leave it alone.’
‘Look, Lillie, I’ll figure something out. Okay? Anyway, we didn’t see anything. It’s not our problem.’ Fifi scrambled from her bag and smoothed sand with her foot over the campsite. ‘Now, we better disappear.’
Sven dusted his hands of sand. ‘Best we don’t get involved.’
In silent haste, the group joined Fifi’s efforts to erase all evidence of their existence there.
As the golden orb of sun peeped over the barren slopes, the red Ford Falcon and orange Kombi made a slow procession, tyres treading with respect over the shards of glass, then pelting on the highway North to the city.
A young traffic constable Dan Hooper admired the sleek red Ford Falcon as he made his way down Main South Road towards the fatal accident scene from the previous night. Reminded him of the Mad Max film he had watched on a video player at Dee’s party the previous night.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022
Feature Photo: Fire © L.M. Kling 2008