Story postcard – getting closer (3)

Rudd slips back to the office, as soon as lunch is cleared.

He sits down in front of the computer, and stares at his reflection in the screen. It is vague as a thumbprint, but still accusing. They both know his last chance to warn the guests is slipping away. He runs his fingers through his hair, first one way and then the other, while the machine dares him to turn it on.

Do I really want to know? And if it’s the worst? What then? Nothing man. This is Zim. Heads down. Carry on. Pretend it’s not happening.

He remembers his mother’s caution. Always telling him to put on a lifejacket. To watch out for crocodiles. His father taunting him to take the risk.

You’re not going to learn from the edge boy. Don’t be a wimp.

Rudd knew his mother would board the place up straight away … and then his father would come along, shout a lot, and rip it off.

“Caution? Put it in the bin where it belongs boy. You need to start living.”

Rudd can see them both. His mother blurred, her features vague. His father up close and definite. Eyes full of scorn. Mouth tipped down. Face fleshy and red. And his hands. So big. In his mind he hears them arguing. Shouting. Turning around. Looking for him. Their voices ricochet inside his head. He thumps his fist on the table, and the keyboard jumps.

Right. Decision time.

He reaches around the back of the computer to switch it on. There is a click, but nothing else. No rush of electricity. He tries again. Still nothing. He flicks the light switch on the wall, and the bulb above the desk comes on. He switches it off and tries the computer. Again the click, but there is no life. He looks beneath the table to check whether anything has been unplugged, but the socket is as it should be. He tries once more, but the screen stays dormant.

He pauses, wonders briefly, then relief soars through him, and he pushes his chair away from the table. He jumps to his feet and leaves the office, rattling the door closed behind him. He feels blessed by the Almighties, everywhere, personally rescued, and the threat of danger wiped.

In the distance he sees Father Norman and Katania, walking together towards the grass steps down to the golf course.

That’s a good sight. Perhaps that cyclone’s given way to Katania.

He rounds the corner of the verandah towards the bar, and there, suddenly, his joy falters, dragged back to earth by the flap of white tablecloths, and the breeze that gusts through. The wind licks his skin, then sinks away, unnoticed by the chat of the waiters as they hurry past to add finishing touches. The staff look confident and energised, and the mood sparks nervous hope back into Rudd.

A few paces on, the barmen arrange trays of glinting glasses. Rudd shouts a greeting as he passes, then stops on the edge of the drop down to the golf course, where dresses flutter together, blowing like petals towards the seating under the trees.

Later than I thought. Time to get changed.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

3 thoughts on “Story postcard – getting closer (3)

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