cover

 

THE FIRST FEW FRAMES

 

By G.B.Davies

 

THE FIRST FEW FRAMES

By G.B.Davies

 

 

copyright © 2013 by G.B.Davies

Edition 2

 

 

 

 

All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion may not be reproduced, transmitted or used in any manner whatsoever without the express prior written permission of the author.

 

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, brands, places, businesses and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, places or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

Author’s Agent: TheFirstFewFrames@squawkpr.com

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty One

Chapter Twenty Two

Chapter Twenty Three

Chapter Twenty Four

Chapter Twenty Five

Chapter Twenty Six

Chapter Twenty Seven

Chapter Twenty Eight

Chapter Twenty Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty One

Chapter Thirty Two

Chapter Thirty Three

Chapter Thirty Four

Chapter Thirty Five

Chapter Thirty Six

Chapter Thirty Seven

Chapter Thirty Eight

Chapter Thirty Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty One

Chapter Forty Two

Chapter Forty Three

Author Contact Detail

Chapter One


1985

The truck rolled relentlessly across the high desert, tyres thrumming on the tarmac. The night was freezing. The frost was so hard that all the surface water had been turned to ice, leaving the thin air exceptionally clear, providing the driver with a spectacular view from his windows. The hard frost combined with the moonlight illuminating the landscape with soft white light made the frost covered ground gleam as if it was luminous. The Desert Road looked surreal. At least that’s what the driver thought as he drove onward.

 

The road shimmered, like a pewter ribbon in the moonlight, on and on to the hills at the end of the straight where it snaked up toward the heavens. The driver’s head was heavy, occasionally losing the battle with gravity, only to be jerked back up by a vicious shake. Once again he stretched and shook himself, eventually feeling more awake. He reached for the green thermos flask sitting on the passenger’s seat, and poured a full cup of coffee into the mug in the cup holder on the dashboard. After closing the thermos he returned to the mug and drank deeply, finally exhaling with a satisfied “aaah...”

 

The driver glanced up at the stars twinkling in the night sky above, the Milky Way directly above his windscreen shining brightly. He looked again at the road, at the pencil beams of his truck lights, thinking how insignificant his presence in the galaxy was. The sight of the stars gleaming brightly in the heavens both hurt and comforted him, prompting him to think about his beautiful wife and his equally beautiful daughter.

 

The stars reminded him of just how lonely he was without his wife. Her loss still hurt, despite the fact that two years had elapsed since her death. She had been his rock, and somehow being with her had made each day brighter, more fun and more tolerable. His wife had helped him build up their transport company from just one utility to ten trucks in the space of fifteen years. The company had flourished as government regulations allowed for long haul trucking, and the business had become very profitable. For once in their married lives they were flush with cash. The bliss however didn’t last long, for just when their life had seemed to be perfect his beloved wife came home from the doctor one evening and said in a matter of fact way over dinner that she had a lump in her breast. He remembered how panicked he’d felt at the announcement. It felt like the walls of his life were closing in as he’d realized the lump could be very serious.

 

Only a few days later his fears had come to fruition when he saw the tear stained pale face of his wife at the door of his office. He didn’t need to hear her words confirming the lump was indeed cancer.

 

His wife had been stoic, and believed she’d be able to beat the awful disease but, despite putting up a valiant fight she succumbed to her illness in just over a year.

He remembered that special night, the warm summer evening on the slopes of the mountain. The breeze had blown gently over their nakedness with a gentle caress, the feeling of her lips on his set his heart racing. He reveled in the feeling of fire in his belly, instantly ignited by her touch. He remembered the warmth, wetness and softness of her kiss, and being wrapped in the blanket after their loving, staring up at the glare of the Milky Way. How he missed the intense warmth and passion of their love. God he missed her so much, it still hurt to think of her. Sometimes he thought he could smell her scent, triggering his memories; the brush and the touch of her hair on his chest as she gently rose and fell to his rhythm on the night they had spent outside under the stars. The intense orgasm they had shared the night their daughter Jane was conceived. His eyes gently closed...

 

Damnit! Holy shit! I MUST stay awake!

 

He punched the steering wheel with his free hand as he screamed to himself, knowing he couldn’t sleep yet.

 

He turned up the radio and cracked the window open, hoping the fresh air would help to keep him alert. At the very least his shivering should stop him nodding off…..

A bump in the road jarred his conscience, sending a warning of the road conditions. His mind was now firmly in the present, he felt like hell. His entire life was going down the toilet because his company was in deep trouble. He was driving double shifts in an attempt to make extra money without the costs of paying additional wages. He knew he couldn’t go on like this for ever. The back taxes he owed weighed heavily on his mind, and he wasn’t sure that cutting the maintenance of the fleet would be enough to afford the extra payments to the tax department.

 

The truck belched smoke into the night as he changed down through the gears. It grumbled a deep growl as it struggled to climb the steep hill while dragging its load of heavy steel pipes. Glancing again at the stars above he said a silent prayer. He believed that one of the stars twinkling in the sky held the spirit of his beloved wife.

His daughter Jane was still coming to terms with her mother’s death, and despite his attempts to shield her from the pain, she was hurting badly. He struggled to get close to her but couldn’t break through her teenage defenses. He really didn’t understand how she felt or what she was going through. He simply didn’t know what to do for her.

 

As the truck struggled up the hill he thought about the conversation he needed to have with her. He hated the thought that his daughter wanted to join the trucking business and take over her mother’s role in the company. He could hardly believe that his daughter had turned out as an almost carbon copy of her mother, and not just in a physical resemblance. Mentally too, she had the same drive, determination and intelligence. The mental toughness she displayed was almost painful at times, he could never convince her that a different perspective or path was better. She should go to university, get a degree, go out and see the world the way kids do. Have some fun, come back home and settle down with a great bloke and raise a family ….

 

“When I get home I’ll talk to her after dinner tomorrow evening…….” the driver muttered to himself. He knew that convincing Jane would be very difficult; she was so stubborn and determined.

 

The truck, a massive Freightliner shuddered as it rolled over a hump in the road. The driver snapped out of his trance, instantly back to reality. He rubbed his hand over the stubble on his chin, then slapped himself hard to shake off any further temptation to sleep.

 

“Christ its cold in here,” he muttered as he shivered. He knew however that the cold would help keep him alert.

 

The rig made the top of the hill. Suddenly the huge truck shuddered again, and rendered a painful screeching sound. It was obviously more serious this time, clearly not caused by a bump in the road.

 

The driver looked desperately at the dashboard but noticed nothing amiss. He pushed the brake pedal to check the brake pressure; it seemed OK. He checked the mirrors, nothing amiss. He had no idea what could have caused the noise or shaking, but the fact that the screeching stopped, and the shuddering lessened made him think it might have been a rock wedged in his wheel or something he’d hit on the road. Still on edge he resolved to stop at the next lay-by and check the rig. The driver wriggled in his seat, placed his hand back on the gear lever, ready to tackle the long descent ahead of him.

 

Suddenly the cab shook violently and the truck lurched and slewed towards the bank. Fighting desperately to hold the truck on course the driver mashed his foot down hard on the brake.

 

The pedal went straight to the floor without any resistance. “Nothing there! FUCK!” he exclaimed.

 

The truck was now out of control, gathering speed down the slope of the hill. It swerved all over the road, taking up both lanes while the driver struggled valiantly to control the runaway beast. The truck hit the bank with a massive crunch, but such was the momentum generated by the impact that it bounced back onto the road and headed for a ninety degree corner with a large drop on the far side of the barrier.

 

The driver realized that it was now impossible to control the truck. He looked desperately for a place to jump out of the cab, to escape from the massive monster now heading for certain destruction. He opened the door, hesitated a moment ready to jump as, at the same instant, a large section of the crash barrier speared off its post, slamming into the driver’s door with such force that the driver was instantly rendered unconscious. The truck continued on its path to oblivion, its momentum undiminished by the thin metal barrier. It plunged over the cliff and plummeted to the bottom of the ravine hundreds of metres below.

 

The only visible evidence the truck or driver had ever existed was a missing section of the barrier, gaping like a missing tooth in a perfect mouth.

Chapter Two


Waiouru is a desolate town, a town with a military base, a few gas stations, a truck stop and a couple of shops supporting the tourist buses that pass through. Blink and you miss it, the town is only about one block in any direction. It straddles a road aptly named State Highway One because it’s the only highway running the length of New Zealand. The road itself is nothing remarkable, a two lane tar seal strip with minimal areas for passing; the opposing traffic optimistically separated by a painted line. What is remarkable is the countryside the road travels through, ranging from verdant lakeside to high desert plateau some fifteen hundred meters in altitude in the space of only fifty kilometres.

 

While known as the Desert Road, the countryside is not as barren and sandy as one might expect to find in somewhere like New Mexico, but rather a contrast in hues of brown and fawn, with tussock grasses standing on dark rocky volcanic soil. The landscape is fanned by an almost constant wind, blurring the vista into a myriad of colours without boundaries. The scene more reminiscent of a painted movie backdrop, one of magnificent high jagged volcanic peaks capped in crisp white snow rising straight from the desert floor. The rushing cold air, best described as bracing, deters all but the most determined and fit, and few stop to explore the rugged landscape.

 

The Ministry of Transport officer was bored out of his skull. He’d been patrolling the same road for many hours. Sometimes, when the sun shone, the light was so stark that everything stood out as if exposed to the bright lights of a movie set. He’d thought many times about how beautiful it was.

 

Not today however. Right now the place was just grey, grey and more grey. The thick mist clung to the mountains, stopping to hover fifteen meters or so above the desert floor. Here the mist particles seemed to separate and fly away, leaving space for a thin murky light to penetrate and provide about five car lengths visibility at road level.

 

Luckily he was nearing the end of his shift. The sky was lightening. Soon he could go home to his breakfast, and sit in front of a warm fire to watch the replay of the weekend rugby he’d recorded on his VCR. His job today consisted of driving about fifty five kilometres as far as the next town, doing a U turn and driving the same road in the reverse direction. The only potential break in the monotony was the occasional speedster or breakdown. Today however the speedsters had stayed at home and the vehicles traveling the road had been uncharacteristically reliable.

 

He scratched his head, then adjusted the heater controls in an effort to crank out a little more warmth. As he peered out the windscreen he couldn’t help but feel somewhat moody.

 

His focus snapped back to the road, pushing all thoughts of hot soup and rugby out of his mind.

 

The unrolling scene before his eyes made him feel about as sombre as a mourner. He longed to be transferred back to his home town of Auckland and get the hell out of this remote and rugged region.

 

Fucking grey on grey!

 

As the Ministry of Transport Highway Patrol car cruised up the hill through the swirling tendrils of mist the patrolman swigged his coffee, distracted once more. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t help but think about rugby, hot soup, warmer climates, beaches and bikini clad babes. Suddenly the mist cleared and he noticed a portion of barrier missing.

 

Damn! How did I miss that!

 

He pulled the patrol car onto the left shoulder of the road, straddling the solid white line that warned of the steep gutter beyond. He turned on the patrol cars twin flashing red lights and climbed out. Opening the boot he grabbed the ‘ACCIDENT’ signs, then walked and jogged three hundred meters back down the road to place the warning sign where oncoming motorists would see it and be made aware of the possible accident ahead. Returning to the car he approached the cliff edge cautiously, looking carefully down the vertical slope to try to establish exactly what had caused the barrier to disappear.

 

“Christ” he said as his eyes were assaulted by the scene at the bottom of the ravine. He could see what looked like the cab of a truck and two trailers. They were identifiable only by the upturned wheels, buried loosely beneath a tangled mess of pipes, the whole lot smashed, twisted and tangled like a game of pickup sticks after the drop.

 

As he moved along the ridge and peered further over the steep cliff edge he noticed what appeared to be the body of a man hanging in the upper branches of a tree about halfway down the slope. The man looked very, very dead.

 

A door which had been torn from the truck leant against another tree about ten metres down the slope. The white lettering on the door stood out in stark relief against the dark paint;

 

‘JT Freight Limited - Driver: Jack Tillhurst’

 

“Christ! It’s Jacks truck!” he muttered, “Damn! It must be Jack down there too!”

 

He peered at the twisted corpse tangled in the tree some hundred metres below the gap in the guard rail, and even though he strained his eyes he couldn’t identify the face. He figured it would be a difficult job to recover the body and any identification would have to wait for later.

 

He walked back to his patrol car in an even darker mood, realizing he probably knew the dead man. He reached inside the car, grabbed the radio microphone and called the accident in, requesting a fire crew, ambulance and police to attend. It looked like it was going to be an even longer shift than he thought.

Chapter Three


The day in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city was no better. Auckland was dark and gloomy. So gloomy in fact that one needed the lights on inside the house to see anything at all. The rain was torrential, and somehow jammed in between the raindrops was a mist that hung like smoke, further decreasing the available light. The noise on the corrugated iron roof was deafening, the constant barrage drowning out all other sounds. The water streamed from the overflowing gutters and pooled on the flat land around the house then ran off down the driveway forming a small and shallow rapid.

 

Jane didn’t notice the white car slowly pull into her driveway and stop outside the front door. The car had blue lights on the roof and the markings ‘POLICE’ in blue lettering down its flanks.

 

Jane walked over to the stereo and turned up the volume because the din on the roof threatened to outplay her favourite song, then danced carelessly around the dining room with her hand forming a grip on an imaginary microphone. She sang as loud as she could, safe in the knowledge that no one could hear her over the rain drumming on the roof.

 

“Harvey I can’t do this. You’ll have to. I know the girl, um, and the dead guy too … You do it eh?”

 

“Damn you! You think I enjoy these kinds of calls? I don’t want to do this either! I know them too! The girl’s all alone now. We should have a policewoman with us, you know the rules. It’s going to be a fucking hard one. She’ll probably freak out!”

 

“Come on man! I can’t, so you’ll just have to!”

 

“Damn it! Guess if you can’t then I will! You know you’re a fucking wimp. You need to grow some balls mate!”

 

Harvey struggled to get out of the car, he was heavyset and close to retirement. With his moustache, several chins, and pot belly he shuffled toward the house, feeling too old and unfit for the heavy burden he was carrying. The other Policeman got out of the car without a struggle. He was slimmer, younger, in his mid-thirties. He was clean shaven with alert green eyes but he too looked as if a heavy weight was on his shoulders.

 

Both men clutched their waterproof jackets close as they splashed toward the porch and the front door of the house. Harvey looked in distain at the level of the water on his shiny black boots, he shook one foot then the other like a cat as they stepped out of the torrent and made their way up the steps and on to the wide wooden veranda, finally stopping in front of the large glass paned door of the old wooden house. The building was easily a hundred years old with large double hung bay windows. The once proud house now looked sadly faded, the white paint grey, and once bright blue trimmings a former shadow of their previous splendour, powdery now and peeling off the timber below. The entire house had dark blotches of damp and mildew lurking in the shadowed crevices and corners.

 

The two policemen stood on the huge veranda with the remnants of water cascading off their uniforms and the plastic cover on their hats. They hesitated a moment and looked reluctantly at each other. The younger gave a shrug, and without a word Harvey stepped forward and knocked on the door.

 

They stood anxiously waiting for a response.

 

No one came to the door, and after what seemed like an hour they both looked at each other. “Guess we have to go round back,” the younger cop said with another shrug to Harvey.

 

“Who’s the ‘We’ Buddy? Why don’t you go and I’ll wait here in case she opens this door first.”

 

The younger cop looked chastened, then glancing out to the incessant rain grumbled almost under his breath, “Why the fuck don’t you go out back?”

 

Harvey shot him a daggers look and, there being no need for further words, the younger policeman shrugged, turned on his heel and reluctantly made his way out into the downpour, heading for the rear of the house.

 

Jane continued to sing her favorite song at the top of her voice “Hear the DJ say love's a game of easy come and easy ……”

 

Suddenly the sound died on her lips and her smile froze momentarily before melting away, her face reforming into a mask of terror. She had noticed the Police car sitting in her driveway.

 

Jane raced into the hallway. She stopped facing the door as if frozen to the spot screaming “Oh No! Oh No! No, No, No!”

 

The terrible memories flooded back of that fateful day in January when she arrived home from school as the Police drove into the driveway, bringing her Father home from the hospital to tell her of her mother’s death.

 

Jane was shaking, the initial scream fading to a murmur... “No, No, No,” she repeated as she walked reluctantly down the hallway. She could clearly see the outline of the policeman through the frosted glass pane in the door.

 

It can’t be, it can’t be?

 

She was reluctant to open the door and face the reality of what was about to happen. She knew the news would be bad!

 

The Policeman at the door winced when he heard the initial screaming and involuntarily set his shoulders and stood braced as if waiting for a physical impact.

 

Jane made it to the door and threw it open with a massive thunk, the hinges protesting with a muted groan.

 

The policeman flinched at the sight before him. The girl was dressed in a faded pink tank top and blue track pants. Her hair was a mess and tears streaked her face. She was incredibly pale and a vein stood out on her forehead. She stood looking at him as if expecting the end of the world to arrive.

 

The Policeman cleared his throat and said “Miss Tillhurst. Sorry to disturb you, but I’m Sergeant Harvey Nichols... er…. I wonder if I could come in for a moment.”

“What’s happened to him? I know something’s wrong! What is it?” cried Jane as she fell to her knees sobbing.

 

“Miss, um sorry, but how about I help you up and we go inside and sit down.”

 

Jane didn’t reply, but let the Sergeant help her into the lounge and assist her to sit in a chair. The younger officer walked into the lounge and stood shuffling uncomfortably from one foot to the other.

 

Once she was settled the Sergeant continued, “Miss I’m very sorry to inform you that your father was injured and subsequently died this morning. His lorry rolled over on the Desert Road.” He gently placed his hand over hers in an attempt to comfort her.

 

Jane, inconsolable, stared at the floor sobbing constantly as her body rocked back and forth.

 

“Miss, we have a policewoman coming to sit with you. Would you like me to ring anyone for you, um, I mean other family.”

 

“No…. I have no one,” sobbed Jane, “What will I do?”

 

“Miss, there are services who could help you. We can call them if you wish.”

 

Jane took a deep breath and seemed to gain some control of her emotions. With an audible gulp she asked “How did the accident happen ….did he suffer?”

 

“Um... Miss, we believe that the truck left the road and crashed down a steep bank rolling several times... um…. I’m afraid your father was thrown out of the cab of the truck and he died in the fall. Ma’am we think he died instantly and don’t think he would have suffered.”

 

“Oh my God! How awful….” Jane replied, collapsing back into the chair in a fresh gush of tears with her body wracked in sobbing spasms.

 

The two policemen looked on helplessly until Harvey turned to the younger saying, “How about you go make us some hot sweet tea eh?”

 

As he left the room a policewoman rushed into the hallway. She was tall and slim, her mousy coloured hair tied back in a ponytail. She would have been attractive if the Police uniform had not hidden her curves. There really was no way of wearing the thick leather belt or the heavy police shirt and jacket as fashion items.

 

“How is she?” she asked brushing past the other officer.

 

“Pretty bad! Poor thing…. she’s only sixteen you know, and lost her mother two years ago!”

 

“Oh my gosh... how terrible! I only got the call ten minutes ago so I’ve had no time to get up to speed. The Sarge said to get up here fast. Can you organize some tea please?”

 

“Yeah. On to it now.”

 

The woman walked into the room and went straight over to Jane who was still slumped in the chair sobbing uncontrollably.

 

“Jane, I’m Melissa Banks and I’m here to help you through this.”

 

Jane replied fitfully through sobbing spasms, “Then ….. please…. can you….. get Kate….. for me!”

Chapter Four


Two years later….

Richard walked into Noah’s Hotel in Christchurch. It was an interesting building on the edge of the Avon River in the city centre, and resembled a giant white rectangle sitting on its longest edge, with the centre pushed in slightly. The whole front face had a gentle curve that arced away from the road front.

 

He walked straight up to the concierge.

 

“Hello, I’m Richard from SecureCo. I’m here for the repairs to the penthouse suite.”

 

The Concierge looked over the top of his half glasses with a scowl on his wrinkled owlish face as he stared at the identity card Richard held out for inspection.

 

“Mmm... leave your ID here and take a seat sonny boy while I ring your office.”

 

“Um.. Ok”

 

Richard walked over to one of the plush rectangles of colour that served as casual seating in the centre of the foyer.

 

Richard observed the concierge as he talked on the telephone. He looked angry, but maybe that was his usual look. The conversation certainly looked quite animated which didn’t inspire confidence and Richard decided this wasn’t a good sign at all. He was just there to do a job so figured it was best to stay put until things were settled.

 

The concierge put the phone down with a firm fluid motion and strode over. He looked somewhat smug.

 

“I have had confirmation from your office and you are indeed Richard Thompson from the look of things. You are now free to go. Here is your ID, a security key for the elevator and the key for the penthouse door. I have however complained about your tardy timekeeping, so next time, if there is a next time, don’t be late.”

 

The Concierge smiled, probably the most sarcastic smile Richard had ever seen. He now knew what it felt like to be stabbed in the back and then have your attacker smile into your face.

 

Richard took the keys without another word. He retrieved his equipment trolley from the van parked in the loading zone outside the hotel and made his way to the fifteenth floor of the building.

 

Once inside the room he quickly repaired the alarm system on the guest safe that was hidden in a cupboard, and after testing the system let out a satisfied grunt.

 

Not quite finished, Richard produced a strange piece of equipment resembling a tiny cigarette. He took the thin tube with the trailing wire and attached it to the top of the light fitting on the wall. He then ran the wire carefully down the wall behind the curtain and into the cupboard.

 

Walking over to the bed he surveyed his handiwork to make sure no one could see the camera and wiring. Once satisfied he walked back to the cupboard, reached into his tool box and pulled out a black rectangular box that held his customized recording equipment and plugged in the wire. Richard had rigged a recording system that held two tapes so as the first ran out, the second immediately started recording. He placed the black box carefully on the shelf, pushed the black sliding switch to the ‘On’ position and covered the box with a piece of carpet that closely matched the carpet covered shelf, effectively hiding his equipment by making it look like part of the hotel.

 

Swiftly retracing his steps he handed the keys to the concierge saying, “I’ll be back in two days at eleven sharp to replace the backup batteries in the safe, but for now it’s working correctly.”

 

“Thank you Richard. Please make sure it is eleven sharp as we have rooms to fill with guests and I can’t hang around for tardy security staff.”

 

Richard returned the concierge’s stare and said nothing more as he turned and left.

Chapter Five


Jane gazed into his grey eyes; they were full of life and sparkle. He was a confident, powerful and dynamic magnet of a man who people responded to and adored. Robert made Jane feel loved, and when she was with him she felt as if the world had absolutely no boundaries. She loved him deeply and when she looked into his eyes she felt her body melt. The effect was always the same no matter how many times she looked at him.

 

Jane shifted her gaze away from Robert to the beautiful scene displayed through the windows of the restaurant. She was reluctant to look away from her gorgeous man, but she could see that her full attention was making him uncomfortable. Jane couldn’t really understand this trait in Robert. It seemed to her that the more she wanted to be close to him to share deep personal thoughts, the more he pushed back, preferring to keep a part of himself hidden from her.

 

Looking out the window she could see why the elegant dining area was called the Willow Room. The restaurant was located on the second floor of Noah’s Hotel looking out over the willow trees clinging to the banks of the Avon River. Jane loved the sight of the lush green grass sliding down gently to the river’s edge with the willow fronds gently swaying in the warm evening breeze, caressing the rippling surface of the river. Like a kaleidoscope featuring only shades of green occasionally punctuated with a shard of brown and shimmering silver, it was impossible to tell where one shade of green started or finished, all the hues imaginable were displayed, washed together. She found the effect magically mesmerizing.

 

“Darling... how many trucks do you have on the road at the moment?”

 

The sudden interruption shattered her dream

 

“Uh, what? Sorry what did you say? I was away with the fairies.”

 

“Oh, I was just wondering how many trucks you could put on the road right now?”

 

The question jerked her mind back to the constantly worrying problem of business.

 

“Oh. Um nine, but I don’t own enough trailers to run all of them. I’d have to rent the trailers ….Why do you ask?”

 

“I was thinking that we’ll need all the units we can get on the road if we want to pull off the fresh produce deal tomorrow.”

 

“Mmm fine, but I’d need to get the whole fleet serviced before we could trust them to keep going and I don’t have the money for the servicing.”

 

“We’ll worry about that later. I could always spring you some funds.”

 

Jane finished her wine, waited a moment in silence then answered. “Robert thanks, but you know I’d rather keep our personal lives separate from our financial lives. I really do appreciate the offer.”

 

“Well we can talk about that after we’ve signed the deal. I was planning on meeting Rick and Jacqui later over a drink. He’d be a good contact for you here in Christchurch and, well, meeting Jacqui could cement the relationship before we sign the contract.”

 

“You know Darling I don’t think I’m ready for it. I have a bit of a headache. All I feel like is a long hot soak and taking it easy. Why don’t you meet them on your own?”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Darling I’m sore and tired. You go on and I’ll see when you get back.”

 

“OK then, if you’re sure.”

 

Jane got up and left the table deep in thought.

 

How on earth am I going to get enough money to put my trucks on the road? Even if I win this contract I just can’t afford to haul the product.

 

Jane had inherited the trucking business when her father had been tragically killed. Despite having nine Freightliner trucks, some in log hauling mode with trailers, and other tractor units, the company was in terrible shape. Right now only three of the trucks were mobile and Jane couldn’t afford the spares to repair the other six trucks, let alone pay the mechanics. The company had lost a lot of contracts, partly because the male dominated industry didn’t like dealing with a freight firm led by a woman, a young inexperienced woman at that. These issues saw her relying on the goodwill of some of her father’s oldest clients who kept feeding her bits of work. Problem was it was only just enough to maintain the business and keep it running profitably, and while she felt guilty about losing some customers, Jane had little choice without the funds to get things back up and running.

 

Her company headquarters were located in a rusty collection of old corrugated iron sheds in Drury. Set amongst lush emerald green paddocks growing everything from potatoes to horses, the township was about fifty kilometres south of the sprawling city of Auckland. Jane’s workplace was far from palatial. Located in a small ramshackle office, it appeared to lean haphazardly against the largest of the rusty buildings, its structural integrity severely compromised. The roof sagged under its own weight and the iron cladding was streaked red with rust, only broken by streaks of brilliant mottled green moss clinging in the valleys of the iron. Long bright green grass shoots sprouted proudly from the gutters. A crooked window with a large cracked pane was the only source of light from the outside world.

 

Jane thought about those black days after her father’s death; the days she had sat in the huge bay window of the large Herne Bay house crying floods of tears. She just couldn’t seem to break free of the grip of the intense emotional turmoil that engulfed her, so much so that her best friend Kate had suggested she should go to a doctor and “get something for her grief.”

 

The funeral had been horrendous. Jane was rendered almost helpless, Kate supporting her weight as she was overcome by massive body wracking sobs. “Sweetie I think it’s time we took you to the emergency room to get an injection or something, you know, just so you can rest!”

 

Kate was Jane’s oldest and dearest friend and hugely sympathetic as she knew Jane had no family and was now, except for her few friends, totally alone in the world. They had gone to school together and their families had been close but not as close as the girls. They shared everything in life with an enthusiasm that seemed boundless. Kate had a wonderful loving family, completely normal in every way, a fairy tale childhood, so her view on the world was almost rose tinted and she lived for fun and excitement with every breath she took.