Bonfire on the Beach (2)

Bonfire on the Beach

Part 2

[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

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Free till Thursday April 21

In the mid-nineteenth century, a village of Wends, on their way to Australia, mysteriously disappeared…

Who was responsible? How did they vanish?

Want to know more about the trials and tribulations of these missing people from Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe?

Click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends   

School Daze–Teacher Training

[School’s back today in Australia. With that, a break from my travel missives and a journey back in time to my teaching days…]

The Trials and Tribulations of a Student Teacher

Part 1

[Note: Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.]

To Miss Without Much Love

They struck on Thursday afternoon. This was after the Year 9 English class had lulled me into a sense of security, which was false. Students do that, I learnt. They go easy on a new teacher for a week or two. Seasoned teachers call it “the honeymoon period”; usually the first two weeks of the new school year are the “honeymoon period”. And for the novice teacher, teaching looks like it’s going to be a breeze. How wrong they are. Come Week 3 and the students, having sussed out the chinks in the new teacher’s armour, strike with a vengeance of gale-force winds. So seasoned teachers such as my dad, advised that an educator must be tough, from Day 1, and remain tough for at least Term 1. Students need to learn who’s boss.

Coming from polite society, and not much older than the students who sat before me in their crooked rows of ratty desks, I failed to get my head around what exactly it means to be tough. Besides, up until that fateful Thursday, the students had been so docile.

‘Keep an eye on Luke,’ Mrs S, my supervising teacher had warned.

I clocked the so-called menace. Way back at the far left of the class room, he reclined on his plastic chair and sniggered with the girl, Maria who sat next to him. Her skin was so caked with make-up, she looked as if her face were made of pastry. And yes, in true 1980’s style, Luke sported a mullet-hairstyle and, when not leaning back on his chair at the back of the classroom acting the joker, he strutted about like a prize rooster, surrounded by three or four “chicks”.

Luke’s minions, Mick and Danny, as if rooks in the game of class-sized chess, guarded the right end of the back row. They sat silently presiding over this vantage point, waiting.

That Thursday, we moved to Room 18 for the video of “To Sir With Love”. Ironic, really, that I should be teaching on that particular novel and film. The 1960’s values put forward in that film didn’t work for me in the 1980’s.

Darkness, and the move, permitted Luke to slink out of hiding and band with his partners in “crime’, ready for the “kill”. Luke’s harem also emerged out of obscurity, surrounding him as they watched the video. Or should I say, rather than watching, this band of nasties, wriggled, squirmed and nattered.

As the film progressed, I shifted to stand near the clutch of unrest. The group giggled and shuffled. Chairs scraped.

I glared at Luke.

He curled his lip and leered at me. ‘Wot you lookin’ at miss?’

‘Silence!’ I snapped.

‘I woz doin’ nuthink.’

His chicks tittered.

‘Hey!’ Bill, turned his scrawny body. ‘Stop that!’

‘Stop jabbing me!’ Ben raised a skinny arm. ‘Miss, Danny’s jabbing me!’

Laughing, Luke rocked on his chair and shoved Bill with his foot. Bill catapulted onto the girls in front of him. They screamed and peeled away from the scrawny boy flailing on the floor.  Good boy George leapt out of his seat. Ben turned and slapped Danny. And the girls sitting at the front cried, ‘We can’t hear!’

All the while, as waves of chaos continued to roll, Luke lurked at the back, glancing at me and gloating. Had to be him who started this fiasco, I thought.

I pointed at Luke. ‘Right! Luke! Out!’

‘Oh, but, why? Wot did I do?’

‘You started it. So, out, you go!’

‘Oh, but…’

‘Don’t argue with me! Now, go!’ I pointed at the door. ‘Go to…to the principal’s office!’

Luke shrugged. ‘I dun nuthink wrong.’ And then slunk from Room 18. His minions narrowed their eyes at me. Chief chick, Maria snarled, ‘Not fair!’

[continued next week…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018; updated 2022

Feature Photo: Full of anticipation, hope and mischief; First Day of School—my brother looking bored already, and me with pigeon toes on purpose © M.E. Trudinger 1975

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Still in travel-mode?

Check out my travel memoir:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

Available on Amazon…