Trev & The Boys Stormbound
An Australian Story
The wipers made an annoying racket as they banged constantly against the corners of the windscreen, in an almost useless effort to force the deluge of water out of Trev’s line of vision. He was certain if it hadn’t been for the taillights of the vehicle in front of him, he would have had to pull off the road, as the headlights on his car didn’t appear to be working. The car veered sideways on the road as the wind caught it, and at times the feeling was that it would lift off the road and fly away.
He cursed the weather that had arrived as a total surprise with no warning. His two canine mates, Dotcom and Data, were on the back seat snuggled close together, but not asleep. Trev knew they would be frightened because of the loud thunder, a noise that had always spooked them since they were puppies. During one extremely loud clap of thunder they jumped into the front seat and on top of Trev. This unnerved him, and they were sternly ordered ‘back’, and sheepishly returned to the back seat. He felt sorry for them as he knew their fear, but there was no way he could drive with two dogs in his lap, as small as they were.
The music blared out as he turned the volume up to try and drown out the noises from the storm raging outside the car, and to hopefully calm his thoughts. Peering out the windscreen constantly he watched the lights in front of him for they were his guides, his only ones. Thoughts of the mud map he had drawn up before leaving home came to mind, and again he cursed softly to himself as there was no way he could possibly see to read a mud map, and no way he could see any landmarks through the pouring rain. He had another problem as out of the corner of his eye he saw the fuel gauge warning light was flickering, which meant he had possibly another seventy kilometres he could travel before the tank was empty. There seemed to be nothing outside the car but bush so his mind began to sort through the options. He decided, after a few minutes of processing his thoughts, that it was perhaps a good time to pull off the road and try and sleep until daylight, when he could hopefully work out where he actually was, or close to it. Whenever he had the opportunity he glanced out the side of the car to try and find either a side road he could pull off into or a wide enough shoulder on the road that he could park the car on safely.
A few minutes after making up his mind to stop for the night, a sign loomed ahead out of the gloom - ‘Truck stop’. Trev veered the car off the road sharply so as not to miss the rather short exit lane. The tyres slid in the rain and once the car hit the shoulder, the steering wheel spun so fast his hands were thrown from it. Only that he had expert driving skills and quick reflexes things could have been extremely dangerous. The boys by this time had clambered over into the front seat and were climbing on top of Trev making the task of stopping the car safely that much more difficult. He pushed the boys away with his arm and yelled at them as he grabbed the steering wheel to control the car. He knew to use the brakes would prove disastrous so he rode the seconds out that it took for the car to slow down enough so he could use the brakes with safety. The car came to a halt and Trev sat for a few moments, hunched over the steering wheel, shaking, thinking how fortunate he had been not to end up in a real mess, while he congratulated himself for knowing a few ‘unsafe’ driving tactics to use in dangerous conditions.
The headlights shone up ahead and because the car was stationary, Trev could actually partially see what was ahead and to the sides. He noticed a short distance further on that the truck stop area widened and appeared to have grassed areas. He drove over slowly and found that the road was sealed and safe to park on without the fear of being bogged.
The only option for sleep was in the car, as there was no way anyone could possibly pitch a tent in the rain and wind. But Trev knew before anyone could sleep both he and the boys would need to get out in the rain and do what boys have to do. Another dilemma to try and overcome as they would all end up soaked through when they returned, and the night was cold. He imagined what the back seat of the car would be like once the boys were wet and climbed back onto it, but there weren’t many options, in fact there weren’t any options.
Trev spied a brick building further up the narrow road and guessed it may be an amenities block, so he cautiously drove on up to the building. It was as he thought, an amenities block, and the gate was unlocked. With a bit of luck he wouldn’t be too wet if he ran into the building and back out to the car. But the boys were still the problem, as they would head for the first thing they could lift a leg on, most likely the car wheels, out in the wet. Trev decided not to waste any time worrying about it and grabbed two towels from the back of the car. He let Dotcom and Data out into the rain and then hurriedly put the towels on the seat before they came bounding back in, soaking wet and with muddy feet. He grabbed another towel, leaned over the seat, and rubbed the boys with the towel to dry them off the best he could. Once this was done it was Trev’s turn to spend a penny and he dived out of the car, slammed the door shut, and ran. He couldn’t believe it when he arrived inside the doorway, shivering and fairly wet, and found there was no roof! It was an outdoor/indoor amenities block; someone had forgotten to put a roof on it, or the Council had run out of funds. Trev cursed loudly, stood in the middle of the room and did what men love to do even in the rain. It amused him to see how far he could pee under duress and he sniggered to himself at the knowledge that a shake wasn’t required as wet was the order of the night. He hurriedly fixed his jeans, realising how difficult it was to make a zipper move up and down on its track when it was wet. He cursed again and raced back to the car with the zipper only half done to the point where it had become stuck fast.
The front seat of the car, covered in thick sheepskin, didn’t take long to become sodden with the water running off Trev. It seemed that nothing was going to go right with this trip and a night spent shivering and wet was his lot. He reached over and picked the wet towel up from the floor that he had used to dry off the boys, and quickly gave his hair a rub. “Total bloody waste of time” he muttered to himself and the dog smell on the towel didn’t make things any better. He remembered his sleeping bag was in the back on the floor and decided that as he didn’t have a change of clothes (which was normal for Trev on his weekends away) he might as well take all his clothes off and climb inside the sleeping bag for the night. Strange how his thoughts didn’t ponder how he would get back into his wet clothes in the morning. He also made a mental note to buy himself some pull on trackies for weekends away, definitely with no zippers.
Clothes were thrown on the floor of the car and Trev was amazed how heavy they all were from the rain. The zipper, how could he have forgotten the zipper? In spite of tugging it endlessly until his fingers hurt, there was no shifting it. Being an intrepid traveller, he had a penknife attachment on his key ring and proceeded to use it to cut the zipper out of his jeans. Fortunately he wore a belt and guessed he may be able to hold the jeans together with a belt in the morning and if not, then he had another problem. He promised himself that next trip he would pack some extra clothes, and thought what a stupid old fart he was for not remembering the adventure in the canoe and the lack of dry clothes.
While all this was going on the boys were in the back shivering as they were still quite wet. The towel Trev used to dry them off with had never been washed and refused to soak up water, so the boys were showing signs of feeling pretty miserable too, and no doubt were hungry. Trev reached over the back of the seat for the sleeping bag and dragged it into the front of the car, and of course found a broken zipper he had managed to destroy on that memorable canoe trip. Feeling like someone was out to get him, he managed to manoeuvre his body into the sleeping bag and pulled it around him. The floor of the car was wet, and of course the sleeping bag hung in the water and soaked it up. It wasn’t long before his feet were cold and wet. He decided to try and lie down across the console with his feet up on the passenger seat so he could draw his legs up and move his feet out of the wet spot. The door handle stuck in his shoulder, the gear stick and the handbrake stuck in his rear, and all in all, Trev was not a happy camper.
He was hungry and thirsty, as were the boys, but there was no way he was leaving the car again to fossick in the boot for supplies. The rain pelted down, the wind shook the car around, and the thunder persisted in booming out after flashes of lightening, that would scare anyone under a bed, came hurtling out of the sky towards the earth. Trev closed his eyes and tried to forget where he was, and gradually he started to warm up, even though he was sitting on a wet car seat that was gradually making the sleeping bag wet as well. Fortunately for Trev his body gave out lots of heat; his girlfriends often told him how hot he was and luckily for him they had told the truth.
Dawn finally broke and Trev opened weary eyes to see the sun rising over the water. He was surprised to see where he had actually ended up stopping the car, and thought he recognised the area, although he wasn’t really sure. He leaned over the seat and opened the back door and let the boys out. They bounded down through the grassed area and onto the beach, and proceeded to lift their legs on everything they possibly could as they ran around chasing each other and nothing in particular. Trev watched them for a few minutes and then decided he had better work out what he was going to do about clothes. He picked up the sodden mess off the floor and again swore at himself and his stupidity. He figured he knew why men kept their wives around, because most of them packed everything but the kitchen sink to go away, even for a weekend. Spare clothes he knew were a high priority for women. However, having a woman around just for dry clothes didn’t seem much of an option for Trev; after all he had a wife once and being wet and cold and hungry was a much preferable option.
The clothes dripped water onto the sleeping bag and there didn’t seem to be an answer. He knew there was no way he could get those clothes on again as wet as they were, and there was no way he was getting out of the car to string them up on a fence to dry. Wearing a sleeping bag and hopping around in it was not how Trev wished to be remembered, should someone stumble upon him. There was only one answer and that was he would have to drive back home in the sleeping bag. Then he remembered the fuel gauge, the close to empty fuel tank. His thoughts became gloomy as all kinds of embarrassing situations arose in his mind; having to stop at a service station that was self serve, breaking down and having to ring for help and being found by the road service crew in his sleeping bag with a broken zipper, or even worse. Then he remembered; the satin boxer shorts he had cut the front out of on the canoeing trip were in the boot! He had thrown them in there to use as a rag for checking the oil level if he needed it. At least he could put his wet shirt on and it would cover the hole in the boxer shorts. He climbed carefully out of the car and hopped in his sleeping bag to the boot, rummaged around until he found the boxers and heaved a sigh of relief. He hopped back to the driver’s door, fell onto the seat, struggled out of the sleeping bag and into the boxers, trying in vain to control the beast that kept poking its head out the hole in the boxers. He gave up and just let it do what it liked, grabbed the dripping shirt off the floor of the passenger side, and proceeded to put if on. He shivered at the coldness of the shirt but he was after all male, and could withstand almost anything, he hoped.
The boys came flying back after a few whistles from Trev and jumped into the car looking much dryer than Trev was. The engine kicked over and the car moved back out onto the highway. There was evidence all around of the fury of the storm with small branches lying on the road and places where water was still running across the road. Trev drove carefully but anxiously as the fuel gauge warning light was on now, and wasn’t flickering, so the tank was close to empty. Up ahead Trev spied a bridge and on the other side of the bridge to his horror, a motel! Now he knew where he was and if the air had been blue during the night now it was black, like his mood. Fortunately the motel had a service station so he drove in slowly to the pumps, alighted from the car and proceeded to fill up the tank. He shivered in the cold wind that had come out of nowhere, like most things in the last twenty-four hours.
A female attendant emerged from the service station doorway, strolled over to Trev and asked if he would like his tyres checked, or the oil, as they still do in the country where old-fashioned service survives. Trev declined the offer, and they discussed the weather while the tank was filling. Trev noticed the attendant staring at him with eyes downcast, and a shocked look on her face. He glanced down as well, and was dismayed, and totally embarrassed, when he saw what she was staring at. His shirt that he hadn’t buttoned up properly had blown apart in the wind, and there in all its glory was Lucky-Bob, not looking so lucky, in fact looking fairly ugly in the cold morning air. Trev moved so fast to try and cover himself that he forgot he was holding the hose and it fell out of the tank onto the driveway, with petrol pouring all over his feet and the attendant’s feet. She swore, he swore, Lucky-Bob retreated, and the boys just hid in fright.
There wasn’t much Trev could say in his own defence. The attendant grabbed Trev’s cash from him and hurried inside telling him not to move or she would call for help. He stood there wondering what he ever did to have such wonderful luck on his trips away. Eventually a male attendant emerged from the service station and walked over with a purposeful stride and look on his face that told Trev he was about to get an earful. After the attendant gave Trev his change, he began to abuse him for exposing himself to the female attendant, who just happened to be his wife! Trev stood there with a guilty look on his face, and when the tirade of angry words had ended, he decided to try to tell his story. He noticed the glimmer of a smile on the attendant’s face as he hurriedly explained what had happened and how he had ended up in boxer shorts with a hole in the front that allowed Lucky-Bob to poke his head out for a look at the world and all its glory. The attendant broke up laughing, slapped Trev on the back and wished him a safe trip home. He headed back to the building still laughing, while Trev climbed into the car and drove out quickly with one thought on his mind – home.
Another disastrous trip for Trev and the boys; well not even a trip this time. There hadn’t been any fishing, the canoe didn’t hit the water, and neither he nor the boys had eaten since the previous lunchtime. Another great story for his mates to guffaw about, or perhaps this time he wondered if he should just keep quiet and not tell anyone. But Trev knew he would tell his mates, and that before long the whole town would know, and laugh, about the latest antics of Trev and the boys. He considered the possibility of one day writing a series of short stories about the city slicker in the bush, and smiled to himself while whistling away to the sounds of his favourite music.
A thought, a good one, came to mind as he drove along, and he found an area where he could safely do a ‘U’ turn and headed back in the direction where he had been intending to go for the weekend. Why waste the days by going home just because of a few wet clothes when the sun was shining and the fish would be biting? He located his mud map in the glove box, glanced at it and realised he was very close to his destination. He whistled louder, and the boys sat up looking out the window. All was well with the world; another adventure was about to unfold.
Would Trev once again be crazy enough to try and make the boys ride in the canoe? Did he buy a floating esky? Had he memorised the code for the key? Knowing Trev, the other priorities in his life would have ensured all the answers were negatives. Some mothers do have them! But, what a boring place the world would be without a Trev for a mate.