Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Tag: jimboomba

Duel 2 : Me versus Truck

Up ahead, in the twilight, two traffic lights turned green. The first traffic light meant that the two cars ahead of me moved forward. Towards the bridge : now single lane as it was under repair. The second traffic light was across that bridge. Waiting to go across was a semi-trailer. I can still hear the sound as it blew its horn. I can still see its searchlights switched on. I can still remember it start to cross the bridge. Against the lights.

I was tired. I had worked back. I had taken the long route home. I had forgotten that the narrow bridge at Maclean, north of Jimboomba in South-East Queensland was being extended. With the only one lane open filled with an oncoming truck.

The two cars ahead quickly pulled off to the side. The cars banked up behind me stopped. The truck sped up towards me. I had perhaps fifteen seconds left.

I couldn’t go forward. I couldn’t move to the side, the two cars had left no room. I couldn’t reverse, the cars behind me were too close. I was in the only space left. I had ten seconds until the truck either went around me or through me.  And he was speeding up. It was me versus truck. I briefly thought of abandoning the car like the movie Duel. Except Dennis Weaver didn’t have an LPG tank in the trunk.

I did the only thing left. I clunked the Holden HQ’s gear into reverse. I remember the whine of the engine. I looked forward for the truck. And backward along the road. I was reversing the car around the queue. On the truck’s side of the road. But that’s where I was now anyway. But I did know that not far behind me, the road widened. Hopefully there would be a space for me. I didn’t know how many seconds I had left.

I can remember thinking, I don’t know why at the time, the word “Angels!” But by then the truck had roared past me. I had found a space.

I had to wait an extra fifteen minutes as I was now at queue’s end. It didn’t bother me. I sang instead. I rather enjoyed it.

Post Script : I wrote about the incident in a letter to the editor to two of the local newspapers. Both published me. I also took the other way home.

That Love of Loves

I still don’t know how that motorcyclist didn’t hit her. And me too I suppose.  Every so often I stop and wonder why. Considering what happened to her later. I just shake my head and muse upon the two memories I have of her.

We were standing at a bus stop. Near the Old Treasury Building in Brisbane. Waiting for the one solitary service that took us to Jimboomba and then Beaudesert. The time was about ten to five. I was early for a change. We were both standing near the edge of the footpath. She was on my right. That was both safe and dangerous.

As I looked to my right, I saw him. The glint of the sun on his helmet. White helmet, black rider, grey bike. He was going way too fast. His intent was to turn the corner to my left. But too late he realised his way was blocked. A car had stopped there. With nowhere to go, he jumped the footpath. And headed straight for us. And before I could reach out to grab her, he was past. He had turned back off the footpath. Back on the road to take the corner.

We just looked at each other. I mumbled something to the effect that I’m sorry I couldn’t get you out of the way. I completely forgot that I would’ve been hit first or been hit trying to save her.  Besides I only knew her vaguely. She had just started taking the bus.  As we had mutual acquaintances on the bus, I knew her name. I’d say hello. I had found out that she had finished school and had started her first job. That’s all I knew about her until that day or the next day, or another day, when she sat next to me.

There was something about her that day. A certain light in her eye. The way she held her smile lightly. How her dark brown hair circled her light face. How her pale skin seemed to shine with a quiet light. Yes she seemed more attractive than ever. Eighteen or nineteen? I wasn’t sure. But I knew it wasn’t me.

Normally, she sat with her friends, but not today. She sat herself down next to me and immediately began or resumed the conversation. She talked about her new job. I heard her enthusiasm and dedication. I thought it’s pleasing to hear someone telling me they loved their job. Just about everyone else I knew complained. But I heard another reason. One that brought it all together.

She told me. The two men in the seat behind me stopped talking. And started to listen too. But they thought she was talking about something else. During our conversation, I could hear the remarks they were making. It has nothing to do with me, I thought. And resisted the temptation to drape my arm over the seat, lean over and set them straight.

For here sitting next to me was a girl in love. For the very first time I thought.  And she was in love with everything now. So it didn’t matter who she told. Or how she told it. For to her it was the real thing. For she was telling me about both sides of this love : the joy and the difficulties too.  Behind me I knew the two watchers could see her moving around as she spoke to me. They thought something else was happening.  But they could not have been more wrong. Here was someone jumping out of her skin with an ultimate joy.

She was infatuated that was true. She spoke extraordinarily highly of her boyfriend. But mentioned how it wasn’t easy to see each other. And how they stayed in touch despite the distance. For this was before smartphones, social media and apps. Call me or don’t call me. Write me or don’t. And they were doing both! I mused to myself, she knows the way ahead isn’t easy but doesn’t care.

And she was in love now with the world. And that is what my backseat companions didn’t realise.  Once in love with love, now all was love. And that brought me joy and comfort in my situation.

And then the light went out. For I never saw her again. And then I heard what happened to her. But she had seen, heard and felt that love of loves.

 

 

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