“Well, who’d-a thunk it?” The voice came through the steam from around the other side of my raised bonnet. Peering through the mist of my ill-fated escape plan I saw the owner of the voice approaching with a swagger, and sighed.
“Junior, what are you doing here? Did you follow me?” I was furious. Of all the people to catch me sneaking out of town…
“Of course I did. Didn’t expect to catch you so soon though, and definitely not on the side of the road with steam spewing from your engine! Thought you’d-a known better how to keep a car on the road after all these years with your fella.” By now my disappointed resignation was turning into frustration. Junior was good at getting me riled.
“Mick tell you to follow me? Or’d you just figure this would be a good way to score some points? ‘Catch the runaway missus, and maybe the boss’ll give me a reward.’ That what you were thinkin’?”
Really cranky now, I knew I was going to have to think fast to get away from this guy and back on the road before my belligerent-abuser-of-a-husband himself caught up with me.
“Come on Stacey, you know me better than that. After all, we were mates before Mick Murphy was ever on the scene.” Now he had me curious…but I wasn’t going to let him see that. I just wanted to get outta there.
“Yeah, Junior- and there’s the reason I don’t trust you- we were mates BEFORE Mick was on the scene. Since then you’ve been like his little lapdog, and never once stood up for me when he was bashing the life out of me. Why should I trust you, Junior? Why?”
Looking at my watch, seeing how much time had already slipped away, I suddenly no longer cared to know why I should trust Junior, or anybody. Mick would be getting tired of waiting soon, give up on Junior (if he had sent him) and come looking for me himself. I wasn’t keen for that to happen, not at all.
“Stace, okay look- I’m in trouble too. Mick busted me last night, swipin’ some of his beer-”
Snorting (despite myself), I doubted it. “Yeah right, Junior. As if you’d be in trouble over a few beers. Mick knows he needs you. I still don’t trust you.”
“No wait, he caught me nicking his beer, and getting into the convertible. I was making my escape, too.”
Although I found it difficult to believe that my crime-boss husband’s chief henchman would be wanting to escape him, I couldn’t resist glancing towards the vehicle he’s stepped out of. For the first time I realised, it was Mick’s “baby”- his little red MG convertible. He never let anyone drive that car. Still suspicious, I asked,
“So if he caught you, how come you’re here, now, with his car?”
“I hit him, knocked him out cold. He’s probably still there, on the garage floor with a nice juicy shiner to show for it. We could go back and check if you like, or we could get going. I’ve got a buyer for the car- rendezvous is fifteen minutes away. Whattaya say? Wanna go on a little car trip?”
Stealing one last glance at my watch, growing more anxious by the minute, I realised this was my only real option. No way could I get my heap back on the road, and no way would I be able to escape Junior if I tried. I decided to cut my losses, and together we jumped into the MG.
Having closed my eyes in an effort to regain my composure and settle my frazzled nerves, too late I noticed the direction Junior was driving.
“Junior what are you- what- NOOOOO! You scammed me! You-! I can’t believe this- you even used our friendship-”
“Now now Stace,” my smirking captor said in a mock-soothing tone… “You know it’s for your own good. We can’t have you out there on your own! Mick couldn’t live with himself if he knew you’d gotten away. It’s best you stay here, where it’s- er- safe.”
As tears of sheer frustration, and not a little fear, blurred my view of the house that had become my prison, I steeled myself for my husband’s rebuke. I knew it would come, and it would be accompanied by a sound thrashing. But he would never beat the spirit out of me. Already I was planning my next escape…
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