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
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."
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
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
"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
"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
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.