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Rebekah King Rebekah King
Recommendations: 21

On The Road

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For Fools

Tick, tick, tick.

I watched the numbers on the petrol pump slowly go up, feeling bored. I shoved my left hand in my jeans pocket and leant against the car, waiting for the dial to reach fifty. The pump must have been old – I don’t think it could have gone any slower if it tried. I was tired from another restless night and itching to get back on the road. Those six a.m. starts were beginning to kill me.

I sighed and watched my breath puff out in a white cloud. It had to be below ten degrees out this morning – unusually cold for May. The cold didn’t really bother me, though. It was easy to keep warm in the car with the heater on. The thought of the warm car made me shiver at the bite in the air. I started bouncing my leg impatiently, the numbers seeming to slow the closer to fifty they got.

The sound of a tap being turned on to my right drew my attention. Someone was crouched by the tap used to fill the buckets you wash your windows with. Except they were filling up one of those one litre water bottles rather than a bucket. I smiled, amused at some peoples’ free-loading candour. Even more amused when I noticed that it was a girl. She put the bottle to her lips and took a few gulps before putting it back under the tap to refill what she’d just drunk.

“You better hope they don’t catch you,” I said to her.

She looked up at me, startled, but not ashamed in any way. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

She smiled at me and winked and I chuckled. I wouldn’t have cared any further, but the more I looked at her, the more I realised that she probably wasn’t nicking the water for the hell of it. She was a pretty girl with thick dark hair and a nice smile, but her ragged jacket and faded jeans had seen better days. What was she doing way out here by herself?

“Where you headed?” I asked.

“I could ask you the same thing.”

“I asked you first.”

“Yeah, you did,” She smiled at me again, clearly having no intention of telling me where she was going.

I chuckled again and she turned off the tap, screwing the lid back on the bottle.

“Where you from?” I continued.



“Port Augusta.”

“Oh, that Portagutta. In SA, right?”

“Up the Spencer Gulf. You been?”

“Once, a while ago. Nice place.”

“Yeah, for a small city out the middle of Dingo Whoop Whoop.”

“Hey, I’ve lived in Dingo Whoop Whoop, don’t hate on it.”

She laughed once and rolled her eyes. I gave her a friendly smile and turned my head back to the pump just in time to see the number fifty-nine tick over. Startled, I relaxed my grip on the trigger and released it once it got to sixty dollars. I replaced the nozzle in the pump and closed up the petrol cap on my car. The girl stood up and screwed the lid back on her water bottle.

“Well, good luck to you,” She said with a smile.

She started to turn away when I realised that I couldn’t see a car anywhere that might have belonged to her.

“Hey,” I said.

She turned back with her eyebrows raised. “Yeah?”

“How are you getting around?”

“Hitch-hiking mostly. Walking sometimes.”

My eyes widened and I wondered how she hadn’t been murdered or abducted yet. The thought of her travelling all over with strange people had me a bit panicked. Then I realised that I was one of those strange people. But I wasn’t a psycho, and I wanted to see her safely to wherever she was going. It didn’t take me long to decide.

“Well, do you want a ride?”

“Where are you going? Or don’t you know?”

“I’m sort of headed for Melbourne.”

“Sort of?”

“Well, I don’t really know where I’m going when I get there.”

“You on the run?”


“You gonna rape or murder me?”

I chuckled, as she asked this with a light-hearted tone. “No.”

“Okay, then. Sure.”

“Alright, then. Just let me go pay for this.”


She smiled and I headed into the shop to pay for the fuel. While I was there, I grabbed a couple of bottles of coke, two packets of different flavoured Smith’s and a can of oil for my car. I also ordered two coffees, then I payed for everything, put it all in my Woolie’s bag and went back out to my car. The girl was standing at the passenger’s side waiting.

“Hop in,” I said, pressing the open on the remote central locking. “I’m just gonna top up the oil.”


She climbed into the passenger seat while I went around to the front and opened up the bonnet. I refilled the oil, closed the bonnet and jumped into the driver’s seat. I handed the coffees and the Woolie’s bag to the girl.

“Coffee, coke and chips. And there’s a bag of Redskins in the glove box.”

“Oh, cool, I love Redskins. Thanks.”

“No probs. What’s your name, by the way?”

“Jessie. I like Jess.”


“Nice to meet you.”

I smiled and turned on the car, pulling out onto the road. This stretch of highway was pretty much deserted this time of morning, and we were the only ones in sight. Once we were off, Jess picked up her coffee from the cup holder.

“Is there sugar in this?”

“No, there’s sachets there,” I nodded my head at the compartment under the CD player.

“No, that’s alright, no sugar for me.”

“You don’t have sugar in your coffee?”

“I like the bitter taste.”


She took a cautious sip, but it wasn’t too hot. “That’s so good. Thanks.”

“No problem. Thought you could use a hot drink.”

“You thought right.”

I smiled and she took another sip, holding the warm cup tightly in her hands. I remembered the heater then and turned it on low. I picked up my own cup and started on my coffee.

“So, Ryan, what’s your deal?”

“No deal, really. Just trying to get somewhere.”

“Usually pick up homeless girls along the way?”

“So you are homeless.”

“Well, for the moment we both are, aren’t we?”

I laughed. “That’s true. Touché.”

“So where have you come from?”

“Newcastle. You?”

“Suburbs up Brisbane way.”

“You hitch-hiked all the way down here from Brisbane?”


“Weren’t you worried you’d get picked up by some crazy person?”

“Not really. I didn’t get in the car with someone if I didn’t like the look of them.”

“Fair enough, I guess.”

I wasn’t quite sure what else to say to that. The drive continued in silence for a moment as Jess helped herself to a Redskin and sipped away at her coffee.

“You didn’t answer my question, by the way.” She said suddenly.


“How come you decided to give me a ride?”

“Oh. I just wanted to make sure you got around safely. Didn’t want you to hitch a ride with some psycho.”

“Are you a psycho, Ryan?” She grinned.

I laughed. “Not to my knowledge. Though I have been known to have the occasional bout of road rage.”

She laughed and chewed at her Redskin. I turned on the radio, my favourite CD was already in the player. When the sound came on, Jess got a surprised expression on her face that looked like she was about to choke.

“Oh, my God. Are you kidding me?”

I looked at her. “You know AFI?”

“They’re my favourite band.”

“Mine, too.”

We smiled stupidly at the funny coincidence. The track changed, then and “Miss Murder” started playing. Next thing we knew, we were both bopping our heads, dancing like idiots and singing loudly in our out-of-tune voices. At least we both knew all the words, even the screamo parts. I thought it was funny how this one little similarity had suddenly brought us together and made us act like old friends.

When the song finished, we both just looked at each other and laughed, slightly embarrassed, but also riding the high.

“You’re alright, Ryan.” She said, munching on another Redskin.

I turned my head back to the front and smiled to myself.

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