In this second instalment of Flash Corner, I’d like to present my Hit the Road mini series.
This consists of two pieces of Flash Fiction loosely based around one of my own travelling experiences. Essentially, both tell the same tale but from two different perspectives:
It was rocky on the road to Dunedin.
I sat cramped in the rear corner of the campervan amongst two American tourists, two travel companions, six bags, three guitars and one overzealous German Shepherd; it was getting warm.
The day was bright and prosperous, as were the blue and emerald blurs of the South Island buzzing by the window. We had been chatting and singing, but as the temperature grew and our thoughts became our own, an exhausted, almost paranoid atmosphere began to linger in the air – we were no longer a bunch of happy campers.
Before long, the Americans were dropped off on their merry way, leaving myself and my two friends at the mercy of the German Shepherd’s sloppy embrace. Twilight set in above us and we were heading for the sticks. The friendly man with the bushy beard driving us became less jovial and more subdued as we trawled along barren land which showed no sign of the city lights.
Nerves grew; sweat steamed the passenger windows and our fists began to tighten as we looked at each other in disbelief.
Someone had to do something. We had to find out where this hill dweller was taking us.
“Excuse me friend, how far are we from Dunedin?”
“Far enough not to see it” replied our bearded driver as he grinned and showed tombstone teeth.
I like company on the way back from the North Island, even with the dog it gets lonely.
It’s not even so much being able to prod and probe someone for information, it’s just the ambient sound of crowd noise and sing songs in the background that keeps me entertained; you know like when you leave the telly on to do the dishes.
That’s why I pick ‘em up and cram ‘em in. There are lots of backpackers hustling for a free ride on the road from Christchurch to Dunedin so I’m rarely ride on my own these days – the wife tells me not to trust people and their unpredictable ways, but she’s one to talk.
Occasionally they’re chatty, sometimes they’re silent and other times they just talk and joke amongst themselves as if I’m not even there; they’re the best ones.
Last week I picked up a bunch like that. When the two American guys went on their merry way it went a bit quiet, so I cranked up the radio and ploughed on into evening. After some rustling and bustling in the back one of them asked me how far we were from their destination, to which I replied “far enough not to see it”.
They didn’t like that too much and firmly requested that I pull them over on the most desolate country road they’d probably ever seen. They even tried to take Shep hostage: I couldn’t help but chuckle.
Just as things started to get real heated, we pulled into my driveway where my full beams glistened on the faces of my wife and children and things were instantly diffused.
Hours prior to our little funny little face-off, I overheard them saying that they’d blown most of their dosh in Wellington and hadn’t eaten properly for a while, which was plainly obvious due to their pale complexions and the tent-like sweaters that swayed from their coat hanger shoulders.
That’s why I took a detour: to invite them in to for a feed and allow them to book accommodation with my internet facilities. Yes, even a hill-billy like me surfs the web sometimes!
After a hearty meal, a few smiles and some friendly banter I dropped them at the pub up the road so they could grab a pint and pick up a local connection into the city.
They returned to my doorstep beaten, bloody and potless less than an hour later. The three of them had been turned over by the locals, so I let them to stay the night and then drove them to the British Embassy in Dunedin the following morning.
I went down that pub today and collected one third of their bags, coats, passports and wallets. Well, there’s no such thing as a free ride, is there?
Next year I’ll be relocating the blog, and launching my literary publication. In the meantime, if you’re a keen writer of fiction and would like to be published as part of Flash Corner, please drop me a line.