Brian Thomas lived in the seaside suburb of Glenelg in Adelaide, South Australia and had been widowed about eighteen months ago when his loved and loving wife of twenty four years Betty had died from a heart attack brought on by a severe asthma attack. She had been an asthmatic since puberty.
Brian was a pretty fit forty seven year old who owned and operated quite a large business which made printed circuit boards for all the Australian and New Zealand white goods manufacturers as well as making hazard systems for Police, Ambulance and Emergency vehicles which were of such high quality that he exported them to most South East Asian countries. He kept himself in shape by walking at least four miles each day and playing squash once a week. His son Steven worked for the company in R&D and his daughter Mel was starting her medical training at the local well credentialed university.
He had decided to take a twelve month sabbatical and as he had excellent staff, he had no qualms about taking off. For travelling he had had custom built a twenty five foot/8 metres campervan or RV as they are also known, with shower, toilet, double bed at the rear and a fold down single bed that doubled as a table. The complete top of the van was covered in solar panels, and there was a one thousand watt nearly silent Honda generator built in to the body, a television set, microwave, gas cooker and refrigerator. It was fitted with long range petrol tanks and a larger than normal water tank. A small eutectic freezer which ran of the 240 volt generator or the batteries charged by the solar cells and/or by the vehicle generator would enable him to have frozen food between shopping stops. He felt that all contingencies were covered for a long comfortable journey. His plan was to travel around Australia, trip of around 13,000 miles/20,000 kilometres, that is without any diversions.
His initial plan was to go from Adelaide cross country to the Gold Coast, a trip of about 2500 kilometres, and spend a while there and then go wherever his whim took him, but he had no actual time table, even the twelve months was not locked in.
Joe and Mary Johnson live in the Dandenong ranges 50 kilometres east of Melbourne and Joe was the chief engineer for a company which designed and built factories and equipped them with machinery to the purchasers wishes. They were involved in operations throughout South East Asia and all Australian states.
His companies headquarters were at Thomastown also about 50 kilometres Northeast of Melbourne, in the opposite direction to home, and consequently when Joe was not away he spent quite a lot of time travelling between home and work so if he did not knock off until late, or had a very early start the next day he took a room at a nearby motel at the companies cost. Their marriage had produced no children in its twenty one years. Joe was not a family orientated person. He was also not a very likeable man whereas Mary was a really lovely woman.
She did volunteer work for a couple of charities and played tennis and did a lot of walking to keep her very nice figure. She was definitely no spring chicken but she carried herself well and was nice on the eyes and had all the bumps and hollows where they should be.
After her having asked Joe for them to have a holiday for several years he finally gave in and they decided to take a month off and travel by car up to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, a tourist area just south of Brisbane, the Queensland capital. He did not really want to have this holiday as he was a fully certificated workaholic who probably did not want to take the risk that the company find out that they could function without him. He put one condition on the trip, and that was for them to first travel the seven hundred odd kilometres to Adelaide to check on one of the companies projects there.
The plan was then to travel from Adelaide north to the Gold Coast cross country.
The day arrived for Brian's departure and he set of with the intention that he would keep to the legal speed limit on the open road so as not to cause other drivers any hassles by causing unnecessary overtaking.
He stopped often to check out little towns and stopped driving each night as close to 5.00pm on finding either a caravan park or somewhere suitable to stop for the night. On day three he was overtaken by a Lexus and a few kilometres down the road a considerable distance from anywhere he saw it stopped with the bonnet up and a man and a woman looking in the engine bay.
He stopped to offer assistance and between them they found that the radiator was holed by a rock and it was out of water. Brian got water from the camper and it poured out the hole as quickly as it went in. The husband started to get shitty and told the woman that it was her fault that they were stuck out in the sticks as he hadn't want come on this "bloody trip anyway".
Brian knew better than to interfere and to calm the husband down he offered to tow the Lexus onto the first place where the radiator could be replaced, knowing full well that Lexus parts are not readily available outside the major cities. Luckily the Lexus is one of the few automatic gearbox cars that do not have to have the tail shaft removed for towing.
About thirty kilometres along the road they came across a twenty four service station/workshop/café where after a short wait, the mechanic informed them that the only solution was a new complete radiator. At Joe's request he rang a Sydney Lexus dealer, Sydney being the closest major city, to enquire about them supplying a radiator and after hearing a few computer key strokes he was told that there was only one radiator for that model in all Australia and that was in Perth Western Australia and that on verifying that the considerable cost would be covered by Joe's Visa card, they agreed to send it by air to Sydney and the arrange for it to be sent on by the daily truck to where they were stranded.
Joe agreed to this and went into a tirade about the cost of the radiator, the cost of the air and truck freight and the fact that he was stuck in a spot with no accommodation or any other facilities other that the service station and also the fact that they would be stuck there for at least two or three days and maybe longer.
Shortly after, at about 2.00pm his cell phone rang and it was his Managing Director telling him that the shit had hit the fan at their project in Thailand where they were building and equipping a huge new car parts and engine plant for one of the world's leading manufacturers and that he was to get there ASAP or the time penalties would cause them to take a substantial loss instead of a handsome profit. Of course Mary was furious at him for not explaining their plight and saying he could not go and to get his second in command to go.
Joe set to work to try to arrange for a ride to Sydney with anyone who was going anywhere near there and was lucky to soon find someone who would get him there. He then rang the Sydney Qantas booking office and was able to book a seat on a direct flight leaving Sydney at midnight.
As the Good Samaritan headed off with Joe, it suddenly hit Brian and Mary also that there was no accommodation anywhere nearby so she was in a bind because she had to wait there until the car was repaired and she could either go on as planned albeit on her own or go back home to Melbourne. The nearest accommodation was a backpacker hostel about 60 kilometres north and that was not even worth considering.
The two of them sat down in the campervan with a cup of coffee and racked their brains to find a solution. The only thing they could think of was to ask the service station people if she could stay with them until the car was ready. They had to turn her down because of the lack of room and the fact that they did not want to establish a precedent. She could understand their reasoning so they went back to scratching their heads.
Mary, eventually, in desperation asked Brian if she could stay in the van with him and sleep on the bed/table if he would not mind staying there while she waited for the car to be repaired as she knew by then that he had no strict schedule.
He could see that this was the only possible solution and he asked the service station people if at least he could park the campervan in the paddock at the rear of the premises because he was a bit reluctant to park at the road side, and at least there would be a bit of security by parking relatively close to a pretty busy building.
They ate at the café and then he moved the van into position and they sat down and talked about their lives and Brian opened a bottle of Shiraz.
They went to their respective beds around 11.00pm and not long after, they heard some dingoes howling. The dingoes made nightly visits to the rear of the café where they foraged for food. Mary was petrified at their howling but contained herself. About an hour later whilst laying only half awake, she heard and felt a huge thump on the side of the van near where she was laying and she screamed and ran into Brian's bedroom and threw herself at him in a frenzy facing him. Brian had been warned that the van could be hit by a kangaroo or emu even whilst parked at night and quickly worked out that this was what had happened. Mary lay on the bed crying and shaking like a leaf so he timidly took her hand to try to calm her down. She moved closer to him until there was some body contact, which did not actually upset him.
He put his arm over and gently rubbed her back and after a short time she turned her back to him and stopped sobbing and started to doze off.
.... There is more of this story ...