Life on the RunbyCromagnonman©
I was on the run, legging it, on the toe, whatever way you looked at it I was running for my life. I wasn't fleeing a crime scene, I haven't killed anyone or robbed their bank, I was running from a woman. Mignone was her name and I met her at a party that now I wished that I hadn't gone to, and with each kilometre I put between myself and her I regretted the day that I let my dick do my thinking for me.
She was good, believe me she was one of the best. When I first met her butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, she was so nice, and beautiful and sexy, and she came on to me like I was a powerful magnet and she was a poor helpless piece of steel. Once she attached herself to me there was no letting go, not that I wanted her to detach herself from me. When I look back on those early days I couldn't believe my luck, she had the looks of a model, a personality that attracted attention wherever we went, a cordon bleu chef who could whip up a four course feast at a moment's notice, and then there was bed. What she didn't know about making love you could have written on the head of a pin with a paint roller, and what made it better, she told me that she was only good because of me. Me, I inspired her to greater heights of passion, the same me who had that many first dates he'd lost count and enough second dates to count on one finger.
Of course it was too good to be true. We had just celebrated our three month anniversary and were discussing, she was discussing and I was agreeing, the possibility of her moving in with me. I had just reached for the phone to call a removalist to collect her things when she dropped the bombshell on me from a great height. "Darling, there is one small problem."
"Yes Sweetness, what is it?" I whispered into her ear just before and after I kissed it.
"Darling, here's the thing, I have a husband and he's getting out of gaol in a couple of days, and he doesn't know about us. All I can hope for is that he doesn't find me, us."
"What was he in gaol for?" I was beginning to get a bad feeling about this.
"Murder, he killed my lover."
"And you're still married to him? Why didn't you divorce him while he was inside?"
"That would have made it worse for me, he would have been angry and that anger would have built and built until there would be no stopping him."
"We can always apply for a restraining order."
"That wouldn't stop him, he'd ignore it and take out his anger on me and anyone near me."
"Do you mean that he'd kill you and me?"
"I'm afraid so."
"What can we do?" I was really getting scared.
"What I thought was, I could go and see him before he gets out and tell him that I've moved on with my life and if he made any attempt to see me when he got out he would end up back in gaol." If I hadn't been scared out of my wits and deafened by the alarm bells that were ringing telling me that she was being very brave doing that for me, for us, I'd probably not been in my present situation.
Over the next couple of days I tried hard to keep my mind off my impending demise and focussing on getting Dick Dangler hard enough to make love to her, but to no avail, and then it happened. She had been to see him yesterday and when she got home she told me that he'd been amazingly reasonable, apologising for putting her through all of her troubles, and promising to leave us alone." She looked me in the eye and didn't even blink. "He promised not to contact us for a small consideration, in the form of a contribution to his retirement fund."
"Just how small is this contribution supposed to be?"
"A hundred thousand dollars." She knew I could afford this amount and then some, but something was telling me that I shouldn't do this.
"What's to say that this is all he'd want, I think that he'll just keep returning to the well hoping for more."
"But he promised, surely you'll do this for me, us." She added quickly.
"I need to think about this."
"What's to think about, you do love me don't you? You know that I love you so very much and want to make you the happiest man ever." She kissed me in that way that she knew would have me weak at the knees. "Come on Darling, let's go to bed and I'll show you how much I love you."
It took her some fifteen minutes of hard work before Dick Dangler became Dick Dagger and pierced her pulsating pussy for some satisfyingly lustful sex. As I entered her she was urging me on to greater things. "Come on give it to me, fill me with your monster cock, yes, yes, right there, harder, harder, I want more of you, I want all of you, my god how I want you, I just can't get enough of you, yes, yes, I'm coming, I'm coming, oh god, y-e-e-e-s!" When she gathered her breath she kissed me. "My god Darling, you'd better not leave me, because I'll never find a lover as good as you, ever."
Under normal circumstances these words would have been music to my ears, but I got the feeling that this was a programmed response and that she was merely going through the motions to remove any doubts that I might have regarding her and her husband.
The next morning we went our separate ways to work and I was beginning to calm down and not jump any time there was a loud noise. And then it happened. A loud noise out front announced problems for me. A voice shouting loud enough to be heard a couple of blocks away was screaming at the top of his voice; "Where's that fucking bastard who's been fucking my wife while I've been away? Here I am doing my bit for my country in Afghanistan and while I'm away this bastard's been slipping it to my wife. Where are you Greg or whatever you call yourself, come on out and show yourself or do I have to come in there and drag you out? Come on out you weak cunt! You gutless little shit, get your arse out here like a man!"
It was around then that the words of wisdom that my Grandfather told me years ago rushed into my mind; "You know son," he said as he patted my head, "it's a cowardly pair of legs that'll let your body get hurt." Now me in retreat was a sight to behold, I was off like a bucket of prawns (we don't call them shrimps in Australia) in the hot sun, I took off like a rat up a drain. I make no apology for my cowardice, when the fight or flight reflex kicked in, the fight side told me that I was on my own if I chose to fight, because he wasn't hanging around for anyone.
I've now been on the run for more than a week, stopping at out of the way half star motels and eating at truck stops, avoiding major towns and cities, and slowly getting my head around my problems. This morning I woke up in a cold sweat and realised that I'd been the victim of a ginormous scam, a rather clever one, but a scam nonetheless, but what could I do about it? I heard a noise outside my room and paranoia kicked in, I wrenched the door open to see a frightened woman just straightening up from putting a tray outside the door. I stooped down and took the cover of one of the plates. "What's this?" I asked, trying to recover my composure.
"It's the breakfast that you ordered."
"No it's not, this crap isn't what I ordered."
"Don't look at me mate, I didn't prepare this, I just have to deliver it. If you have a problem with it you'd better take it up with the Manager, although I'd strongly advise against that, he doesn't do complaints very well this early in the morning, you'd better wait until the piss (booze) wears off."
"Look, I'm sorry I got upset with you, it's not your fault and I should have realised that, but the way things have been going with me lately, I guess I over-reacted, please accept my apology."
"Yeah, okay, are you staying around or moving on?"
"I don't know, is there anything exciting around here for me to look at?"
"There's heaps of stuff, we have a swimming pool, although this time of the year it's empty, we have an oval and tennis courts, neither of which have been used for years, and over the other side of town is the rubbish dump. Would you like me to give you the guided tour of our wonderful town?"
"Would you?" I had got the feeling that she was taking the mickey out of me so I thought that I'd call her bluff.
"Sure thing mate, I've got half an hour to spare between tidying up all the rooms in preparation for the next influx of guests, and helping out in the kitchen. I finish in about half an hour, I'll come back and take you around to check us out, who knows you might decide to stay and increase the population by twenty percent." With that she wandered off to do whatever it was that she had to do. I picked up the tray and carried my breakfast inside and put it on the table. Apart from the tea that was almost drinkable I left it untouched and had myself a quick shower and got myself spruced up for my tour.
She returned as promised, and this time she was wearing jeans and a top in place of the pale blue coverall with the badge that had told me that her name was Sandy. "Are you ready? We'd better get a move on or else we'll run out of daylight before you've seen it all." She smiled as she said that so I knew that she was joking.
I took the time to look at her more closely, She was tall and slim, her face was tanned and she wore no make-up, her blonde hair was pulled back and caught at the nape of her neck by a simple clasp, she wore no jewellery, no wedding ring, and I put her age at not much younger than my own and I'd hit forty a couple of months ago. I remember it because Mignone made a big deal of it and I got some of the best sex I'd ever had in my entire life, although that's not saying much. I was what you'd describe as 'unlucky in love'.
"Sure." I grabbed my keys and locked the door behind me. "Let's go." I opened the door for her and she smiled again as she slid in. For some reason I had this thought that modern cars were designed to remove the practise of holding doors for ladies, what with keyless entry and central locking it was no longer necessary to open the passenger's door with a key. I was, for a moment, sad at the thought of not seeing a smile like that when I opened the door. "Where to?" I asked as we left the motel.
"Straight down the road to our intersection and chuck a left."
I reached the intersection, I was glad to see that there were no traffic lights, and turned left onto Main Street and the shopping metropolis that was Dalley. I noticed that almost all of the shopfronts were boarded up. "Not very thriving is it?" As we drove along the road I began to recite a poem that I'd read:
Youth has left this town
Their families no longer owned
their inheritance, their future.
There is nothing left for them here.
Youth has left this town.
Love has left this town.
The endless burden of despair
clouding what remained of love,
dowsing forever the spark.
Love has left this town.
Hope has left this town.
With the loss of youth
and its faith in the future,
the loss of the past.
Hope has left this town.
Life has left this town.
without the spark of love,
without the vibrance of youth,
without hope for the future.
Life has left this town.
The town has left this town.
Skeletons of the past,
the homes, the people,
only the ghosts remain.
This town has left this town.
"That's sad, but true. This used to be a thriving town until the railway was closed. It was just a spur line for the grain harvest but the bulk handling company decided to rationalise its operations. They encouraged 'on farm storage' so it could spread its storage capacity over a longer period, and accept grain when they needed it, rather than all in one go like they had in the past."
"Surely they'd still need silos here?"
"No, they've built a huge silo complex some fifty kilometres away on the main line and the farmers have to truck their grain there now. The worst part is that they pay no more for the grain, but the transport costs come out of the farmers' pockets. The bulk handlers are laughing all the way to the bank because, on top of their savings, they no longer have the cost of maintaining the spur line and these silos. The pigeons have just about finished what remained of the grain and will soon be moving out."
"What keeps you here?" I could see the sadness in her eyes, the loss of hope.
"If it wasn't for my parents I would have been long gone. They are hanging on by running a flock of poor sheep in the hope of making money out of wool, but the quality is poor. The sheep are too old and too tough to be of use for anything other than pet food, they've even stopped slaughtering them for their own use. The General Store is closing soon, so a trip to buy food is now going to be a hundred kilometres longer and, with the cost of fuel these days, people are not going to be able to afford even that, so they'll have to move nearer the shops, if they can get enough for their property to buy elsewhere."
A minute later we had cleared the thriving metropolis of Dalley and were approaching the river that should have been the lifeblood of the town. Years of over-use of the water had resulted in it being a series of stagnant pools more often than running. The town bore that supplied reticulating water for the residents had broken down years ago and the lack of population made it uneconomic to replace and maintain it, so the residents now had to rely on what little rainwater they could trap in household tanks. The Motel had a bore of its own but the water table had dropped to the point that it could no longer be relied on for a steady supply. Every week, on Friday, an old and dilapidated water truck drove into town to replenish the motel tanks. The motel owner had just reached the decision that there was not enough trade to cover operating costs and was in the process of closing down. Within years the skeletal remains of the buildings will be all that is left of Dalley.
I was directed from the road to a small clearing by the dry riverbank. I parked in the shade and we got out. "When I was a girl we used to come here for picnics, Mum and Dad and my brother Bill. We'd have a fire over there," she pointed to a ring of stones on the parched ground, "and Mum would put a billy (a quart sized tin plated container with a handle and lid) of water on it while Dad and us kids would set traps for yabbies. When we had enough we'd toss them in the billy and as soon as they turned red they'd be dumped on the ground and we'd pig out. You'd be lucky to find one yabby in the whole river these days."
"This isn't much of a life for a woman like you, is it?"
"It's the only life that I know. Oh I went into the city once and it scared me so much I left before the day was out."
"I can understand that, but I have often wondered how farmers stand the loneliness and isolation."
"We have our families and our thoughts, and then there's the land, to you city blokes it looks like a whole lot of nothing, but if you get close enough to it you realise that it's all a part of nature's never-ending struggle for survival in this harsh country. I never cease to be amazed at the survival instincts of creatures and plants. We're in the middle of a drought right now and everything looks dead, but wait until it rains, plants and animals emerge from nowhere and the place comes alive. Even the deserts further north are ablaze with wildflowers and, in a matter of weeks the place is crawling with rabbits. And with them come the predators, wedge–tailed eagles soaring on thermals looking for the next feed, dingoes and even foxes, all preying on the rabbits, and you have the snakes, where they come from is anyone's guess but with the abundance of young rabbits in burrows the snakes thrive. Some of the most venomous snakes in the world live just up the track in the desert. And then there's this burrowing frog that, as the watertable disappears, burrows deeper and deeper into the moist sand and as soon as there is new surface water it comes to the surface again to breed."
"I can see why you couldn't stand the city, down there no-one takes the time to marvel at nature."
"What brings you up here?"
"If you must know I was getting away from a woman, and a man."
"A woman and a man, presumably the man is her husband?"
"I believe so, but then I'm not sure, it's all a blur really."
"I've got a few minutes to spare, tell me all." We had sat on the river bank and, if there'd been water in it, our feet would have been getting wet.
"Where do I start. I met Mignone at a party and we hit it off straight away. If I hadn't been so besotted by her I would have had second thoughts, like what was someone so beautiful doing at a party like that on her own? Why did she choose me? But I didn't think that, I didn't have time to think that, everything moved so quickly and I guess that was part of the strategy, to not give me time to rationalise what was happening to me. Then last week she dropped the bombshell. She was married and her husband, who just happened to be in gaol for murdering her former lover, was due to get out of gaol and she was scared for us. Then she volunteered to go and see him and try to get him to leave us alone. . . ."
"Let me guess, he said yes on one condition, and that was for you fork out a large amount of money to guarantee your safety and that of your woman?"
"That was the general idea, yes"
"And you started to have second ideas?"
"Yes, and that was when he lobbed up at my work yelling and screaming abuse in my general direction."
"And you of course went out there and told him to fuck off and leave you alone."
"No, that was when I realised that I was a devout coward and got out of there as fast as I could."
"You legged it out the back door leaving your workmates to cope with this angry man? Good thinking mate, he had no argument with them and when he realised he was yelling at nothing he would have calmed down. Either that, or they'd managed to call the cops, and he'd been arrested."
"Something like that. This morning I decided that I should call my Solicitor and start the ball rolling. I was going to ask him to investigate both of them, she told me that he was in gaol but he told me that he'd been in Afghanistan. It would seem that they were relying heavily on my confusion for the scam to work."
"The chances are that, having failed with you they'll cut and run and try it again somewhere else."
"I don't know, there seemed to have been an arrogance about the whole episode that could only have come from practice, no, I think that she'll go to another party and meet another man and forget all about this failure. I need to make several calls, not the least of which is to the office to let them know that I'm not dead and that they can expect me back soon, although I might just take a short vacation to recover from this trauma. Then I need to talk to George, he's my Solicitor, and get him to hire someone to check on her hand her husband, if indeed he is her husband, and see if they've pulled this scam before, and while he's at it I'll get him to go around to my place and collect the mail and act on anything that needs my attention."
"I hope that you're not going to make those calls from the motel? If you do, be prepared for a hefty phone bill, he charges like a wounded steer for calls made from the motel phones."
"No, I'll need to charge the battery on my mobile and then I can use that."
"Why don't you take me home and you can use the phone there, we won't charge you."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah I'm sure, I needed to get home anyway and this'll save Dad from driving in." I stood and held out my hand for her. She took it and I helped her to her feet. "My you are the gentleman aren't you?"
"You could say that, I was taught to respect women, but I'm afraid that I've been taken advantage of on a number of occasions. You'd think that I'd learn, wouldn't you?"
"I hope that you don't, I'd hate to think what it would be like if you distrusted everyone just because of a few lousy bastards."