Road Trip to Sydney in the Charger (3)
Crammed in the Charger of No Sleep
We parked in the car park of a closed service station come garage. By this time Cordelia’s request for a doctor had been forgotten. She remained silent and didn’t remind us. I wasn’t going to mention her need. She looked well enough to me when we extracted ourselves from the car and stretched our legs. She was upright and not running off to the nearest public toilet.
After a brief stamp of our legs and rubbing of our arms, Rick said, ‘We’ll need to get some sleep.’
‘How are we going to do that?’ asked Jack.
‘In the car, I guess,’ Rick replied.
Mitch herded us back into the car. ‘Come on, in we go.’
Again, we piled in. Again, Mitch crammed in the middle of us two girls, while Rick and Jack reclined in semi-luxury in the front seats.
I observed that Cordelia had no complaints and her need for a doctor remained a non-urgent issue. For now. She snuggled up to Mitch, who also made no drama of the arrangement. No sleep for me, though. I squashed myself up against the side, putting as much space between me and my cousin as humanly possible. All through the hours of darkness, I sat upright trying to sleep while Mitch twitched, and my brother snored.
In the grey light of pre-dawn, I spied Mitch pacing the gravelly clearing of the carpark. How did he get out? The Charger is only a two-door car. On the other side of the back seat, Cordelia slept soundly. Rick snorted and shifted his weight in the driver’s seat while Jack lay stock still. Looked like a corpse. Then he moved.
In an effort not to disturb the three sleepers, I slowly, gingerly, silently, crawled over Rick. My brother snorted as I landed on his knees.
‘Sorry,’ I whispered. ‘Have to answer the call of nature.’
‘Why didn’t you say so,’ Rick said, smacked his lips and continued snoring.
I pushed open the car door and crept out.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked my cousin.
‘Stretching my legs,’ he said.
‘Weren’t you comfortable?’
‘No,’ Mitch said, ‘sleeping upright and squashed up next to…next to,’ he jerked his head in the direction of the car, ‘I found it very—very…uncomfortable.’
I glanced at Cordelia sleeping like a kitten but decided not to comment on the arrangement. ‘Well, it wasn’t a Sunday School picnic for me, either. I didn’t sleep a wink.’
‘Oh, yes, you did,’ Mitch said. ‘You were snoring.’
‘No, I wasn’t; that was Rick. He always snores. Anyway, I was awake all night.’
But Mitch was adamant that I snored. Just like Rick.
‘What do we do for breakfast?’ I asked.
‘Perhaps there’s a roadhouse around here somewhere,’ I said. ‘I’m starving.’
Mitch though advised that we must wait until the others had risen before we venture into town to find a place to eat.
I gazed in the direction of the main street with the shabby buildings all monochrome, the sun’s rays yet to burst over the horizon. I hoped that there was a place to eat in this sleepy town.
‘Is this Dubbo?’ I asked.
Mitch again shrugged.
‘Looks awfully small for Dubbo.’ I remembered when our family had visited Dubbo on the way back from Canberra three years earlier. We had toured the zoo there at that time. Didn’t take much time to tour the zoo. Rather small, actually and I went away disappointed. Still, my memory of Dubbo was that it was much bigger than this tiny collection of real estate.
‘I think so,’ Mitch replied. ‘We’re on the outskirts.’
‘Lucky I found this garage,’ Rick said while strolling up to us.
Mitch smiled. ‘Well, that’s an answer to prayer. We won’t have to go looking for one.’
‘No, just a place to eat. I’m hungry,’ I said.
By the time the sun had peeped over the horizon, Jack and Cordelia had woken and piled out of the Charger.
While Rick commenced preparatory work on the Charger, the rest of us four, ventured down the main street in search of a roadhouse. We figured that at this early hour of the day, nothing much else would be open. However, the roadhouse remained elusive, and we returned to the Charger at the garage hungry.
Upon our return we noticed Rick and a man standing under the raised bonnet of the car. They were in deep discussion.
As we approached, the man waved at Rick and walked away towards the garage, now open.
‘What’s happening?’ I asked.
‘That’s the owner of the garage,’ Rick replied. ‘He saw our car here and came over to find out what we were doing parked here.’
‘Oh, yeah, and?’
‘He thinks he might have an alternator for us, so I’ll be able to fix the car and then we can be on our way.’
‘That’s good,’ Mitch said. ‘How long will that take?’
‘Oh, not long, just a half an hour once I get the part.’
‘So, we can swing by the roadhouse on the other side of the town on our way out once the car is fixed, then,’ Mitch said all hopeful.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2023
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