Chas Adlard, Australian Author

Summer Anniversary

The front of the train loomed closer, as clear from afar as near, the window's dirt hiding the identity of the driver within, front buffers extended with the markings of countless challenge.

The screaming started then, as always, and the ferocious spectacle of oncoming death rode ugly on the face of the train. Now the shape began to change, slowly at first, then gathering continual kinetic energy to merge into a blur of speed and heavy steel. Terrifying pulsations, and then - he saw her. Her face, turned towards him, showed the terror of her impending death. Agonising screams rode on every movement and then suddenly sanity returned, bringing an awareness to his troubled mind.

He lay still, conscious of the soaked and tangled bedclothes, knowing that the screams were his, and too, the sobs of pity in the aftermath of fear. Some minutes passed before he managed to separate himself from his linen bonds. He walked naked towards the open window. As he passed the full length dressing mirror the first shadow of morning threw his image at him, taunting him with a hidden terror. No, in this grey light was realisation, and today, the promise of eventual peace.

The fading night air still reflected the intense heat of the previous day. As he looked out across the city towards Mount Lofty he was thankful to see no sign of any fires. The forecast, promising two more days of unrelenting hot weather, would have fire-fighters nervously monitoring the hills area.

The water pressure was strong as it cascaded warmly down his back, draining away the last remnants of stress. Breakfasting first, on only orange juice and fruit, he left his home just before six o’clock.


Dooley looked up, only to put the damn hook through his finger.
"Some bastards have all the luck."
"Too right."

Except for the distant sleek Mercedes, the two fishermen had the beach to themselves. Waves that flowed with powerful grace across the vast white sand would soon lose their momentum. The early breeze was easing now and the silver crests that bounced on the bigger rollers were few. Dooley and his mate had lost interest in the Mercedes driver - just another weekend tourist beating the rush.

Far from the entry ramp the Mercedes had stopped, facing seawards, the engine still running. The driver, a mature gentleman of kind expression, emerged from the luxurious cabin. His dress would have surprised most, dark lounge suit complete with white shirt, black tie and shoes. He busied himself around the car for some time before draping a tarpaulin over the vehicle's rear. Eventually, satisfied with his work, he crawled under the tarp and into the comfort and shade that the back seat now offered. Secure now, he listened to the CD softly playing the songs she had so enjoyed. As he opened the bottle of Krug, which had sat deep in the reducing ice, he hummed in time to the melody. Both the silver bucket and crystal glasses were significant and for more than thirty years had taken special place during their anniversary of love.

Out beyond the windshield the perfect blue of sky met the sea below in mellow contrast. Both glasses now full, he caressed the rim of the other with his own and with a steady hand sipped the cold champagne in grave salute. The purr of the engine seemed distant and the cabin interior, although stuffy, worried him little. With his eyes closed her vision was so clear, her beauty not marred by the mesh of tortured metal. For three hundred and sixty-five pain-filled days he had been alone. The train had robbed him of her love, a love undying, pledged to eternity.

They'd both enjoyed the beach here at Sellicks. They'd called it an instant holiday. Their children, who now had families of their own, seldom went to any beach. Cars now passed in cavalcade, and loud music rent the day.

"Another champagne, my darling? Why not? And another?"


Hours later children ran past the Mercedes, had second thoughts and turning, came close and peered into the dark interior. The smoky glass allowed no penetration of his secret place and with sudden poke of tongue they were gone. The heat was excessive now, though it mattered little. For he had entered a different world - a peaceful untroubled world. Her world.


Adelaide celebrated the old century just after lunch. The Mercedes engine, although the laborious result of many skilled hands, grumbled and stopped.
"Thank God for that, Bert."
"Yeah. About bloody time." He raised his voice.
"Probably some sort of pervert, Annie."

She shouted for her children to come away from the car, for the umpteenth time.
"Fancy coming to the beach just to sit in airconditioned comfort."
"Hmm", mused Bert. But they were wrong.

Later when the family had gone a group of teenagers threw a ball back and forth across the Mercedes' roof. When they tired of their game, they lounged against the front of the vehicle in light discussion before heading off towards the ramp.


The beach was quieter now, for most had gone and in their wake lay discarded cold drink cans and coloured wrappings. Ten degrees had taken the edge off the day and an offshore wind buffeted the sea into an angry cleansing force. Many would speak of the Mercedes on their journey home, and in time so would more. A lone jogger, who saw the tide closing on the vehicle, thought it unusual but hardly his business. His dog, who was more curious than his master, urinated on a front wheel. Later still, two seagulls left splattered evidence of their visit.


The two fishermen walked around the vehicle, and Dooley tapped on the glass. His mate pulled aside the tarpaulin.
"Look 'ere, mate."

Dooley had seen a piece of plastic hose and tape put to better use.
"Poor bastard."
"Yeah, mate."

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