Saturday morning found me driving down a country road to a small seaside town called The Narrows. The road was a single lane of bitumen with a gravel verge on either side; when traffic met, the procedure was for both vehicles to pull over to the side to allow passing. It was not uncommon to see the local cars sporting 'bulls eyes' and cracked windscreens; as they say "It goes with the territory."
The Narrows is surrounded by a National Park with a large lake frontage; it was one of Australia's best kept secrets. No electricity, a shaky telephone line that was often down. Water was from either the rain collected off the roof or iron stained water from bores that were hand dug with augers and pumped to the surface with windmills. A general store cum petrol station cum hardware cum pub was the only commercial establishment in town, it served as a church on Sunday and a meeting place as required. Dense ti tree on uninhabited blocks made the town a high fire risk but the locals loved the place.
I was on my way to visit my old friend and mentor Jack Bell and his lovely wife Margie. Jack had guided me when I was growing up and kept me on the straight and narrow. When they retired Margie and Jack build a home on The Narrows and were living their golden years at peace with nature and the wildlife in the area. I tried to visit as often as I could, enjoying the peace and tranquillity that the village had to offer.
As I pulled into the driveway Margie came out to greet me, I thought it a bit odd that Jack wasn't with her.
"Hello Tony, it's great to see you again, Jack's inside, he's feeling a bit off colour but he's really looking forward to seeing you."
"It's always a pleasure to see you both Margie, you're looking well."
"Thanks love, it's the fresh air that keeps me that way, anyhow come on in and say hello to the man."
When I stepped into the living room I got the shock of my life, Jack was sitting in his chair, rugged up. He was sporting two black eyes and a swollen split lip, his nose also appeared to be broken. "What the hell happened to you Jack, did you smash your car?"
"No Tony, I had a run in with Barry Hall," he lisped through his split lips.
Margie spoke up and told me the whole story. Jack had been driving along the road when a ute closed in on him from behind, Jack pulled over to allow it to pass him, in doing so he showered the other vehicle with gravel. The driver of the other vehicle forced Jack into the scrub on the side of the road, the driver, Barry Hall, pulled Jack out of his car and belted the crap out of him.
"Did you report this to the Police Jack? People can't just go around bashing folk up like that"
"No he didn't Tony, one belting is enough, no need to go looking for more trouble. Just lick the wounds and get on with life."
"I'm not with you Margie, assault is a punishable offence, why would there be more trouble?"
"You remember old Barney Peterson? Hall belted him up a few years back, Barney went to the police and they arrested Hall. His family are big business people with a lot of clout, Barry got off with a caution. That should have been the end of the story, but a few months later 'someone unknown' belted Barney up again, he didn't see his attacker. That's why we don't want to go to the cops."
"Christ Margie, he can't get away with this..."
"Tony, leave it be, please."
I was seething that some arsehole could do this to Jack, it was totally wrong. Margie was upset that I would try to even the score. I didn't want to upset her any more so I dropped the subject but not in my mind. This bastard is going to pay and pay dearly.
"Let's talk of more pleasant things Tony, how are the girls going?"
Margie was referring to my twin daughters, Tess and Tania both aged twelve, whom I had raised single handed since the unfortunate demise of my dear wife several years ago.
"Both well and growing faster than I can keep up with them, if I didn't own my own business I'd be on the road to the poor house. I think females are born with a spending gene."
"And how is your novelty store going these days?"
"Very good, we've just got in a shipment of blow up toys."
"Not them things that dirty old men buy I hope?"
"Not in the novelty shop Margie, we do have them in the adult store the other side of town though. You might be surprised to know that it isn't only men that buy the blow ups, women also buy them too."
"You're having me on Tony, what would a woman want with a blow up doll?"
"Margie, tab A goes into tab B."
Jack gave a pained chuckle and lisped, "He gotcha there Margie."
"Margie, women make up about forty percent of our adult customers. Next time you come to town I'll give you the guided tour."
"NO THANK YOU Tony," we all had a good laugh. While we were talking, a plan was forming in my mind, I put aside for now but intended to give it a lot of thought over the next few days.
"The girls have been pestering me to look around for a weekender down here, they must think I'm made of money. I must admit though the thought has entered my head a few times, they thoroughly enjoy themselves when ever you invite them over. They would have come this time but they had a basketball game lined up."
"There isn't much for sale at the moment, unless you just want a fishing shack, there's a few of them going cheap but hardly the place for young ladies."
"No, I'm more interested in something a bit more substantial, who knows, when the time comes I might retire here like yourselves."
"We'll keep our ears open Tony and let you know if anything comes up."
We sat around gabbing about everything and nothing until it was time for me to head for home.
Driving home I turned my thoughts to the Barry Hall problem, the revenge needs to be meted out in such a way that Jack couldn't possibly be implicated. By the time I reached home I had a rough plan sketched out in my head, the next few days I would fill in the gaps and set it up.
The twins were on a high when the came home from basketball, their team had won, so we celebrated with KFC, ever wonder why they changed their name from Kentucky FRIED chicken to KFC? Still it was only an occasional treat and I'm sure they'll burn most of the fat off by the way they're bouncing around.
Monday morning I opened both stores and got my assistants started. Next on the list was to start preparing for project Barry. The new shipment of novelties had given me an idea, now I needed to dot all the 'Is' and cross all the 'Ts' to tie it together. A trip to the local supermarket to procure a few items, a quick stop at the hardware store and I had everything I needed. Not one to rush things, I let my plan ferment for a several days, running it through my mind and tying up the loose ends.
Thursday evening saw me on the road to The Narrows again. I wanted to arrive in town before the pub closed but with enough time to set up my little trap. I drove past Barry's house and noted his absence, next I headed for the pub and sure enough his ute was sitting outside. Good, so far things were running to plan. Back to Barry's house, I unloaded my 'toys' and then drove to the end of town and parked my car at an uninhabited shack. Walking back to Barry's I didn't encounter anyone, if this continued my plan would meet with success.
Moving into the carport I retrieved my 'toys', first I blew up two inflatable 'alien' dolls, they were quite large and when the base was filled with water they stayed upright, push them over and the sprang back up. I positioned them behind some rubbish but visible to anyone in the carport, next I rigged up a spotlight to focus on them, then with the aid of some fishing line and a few weights I laid them down. Running the fishing line to a spot just behind where the driver would exit the car I gave it a tug, they sprang up and I switched the spot on giving them an eerie glow from their reflective skin.
Resetting my aliens, my next task was to set up an extension speaker to my Walkman. One of the novelties we sold was a voice enhancer, the previous day I had perfected my message and spoke it through the enhancer and recorded it, a quick check to satisfy myself it worked and I was ready for Barry's nightmare to begin.
The damned mozzies were thick tonight, thankfully I had some low perfumed repellent on. After an hour of waiting Barry's ute pulled into the carport, let the show begin. As Barry stepped out of the ute I tripped the fishing line and flipped on the spotlight, up came the 'aliens' and I switched on the Walkman.
"Barry Hall, we have come for you. We need you for our experiments."