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MadMickyG
April 26th, 2017, 01:11 PM
LIFE AND GRAHAM

Strolling casually along the pathway, Bob Miller took deep breaths of the refreshing park air. The fact that he had lost his job just two hours ago didn’t bother him at all. It was a dead-end position anyway. Besides, he knew he was destined for something else, something better. As he walked, feeling totally carefree, he whistled happily. He would worry about money and things later; today was too nice a day to have problems. Bob saw a man sitting alone on one of the many benches, his expression showing he had problems. Bob had a knack for cheering people up, so with nothing else to do, he decided he would help this fellow out if he could. He made his way over to the bench casually, not wanting it to look too deliberate. After a few moments of silence, Bob, trying to think of the right way to start off, turned to the man next to him.
“Isn’t it a beautiful day today?” he asked.
“I suppose,” the man replied blandly. Bob scratched his head. The reply wasn’t quite what he was after, but he believed he should continue.
“What brings you out on a beautiful day like this?” he asked, “taking a sickie?”
“Kind of,” the man replied, his face showing no emotion. “I own my own business, so one day off won’t matter too much. I just needed some time to think.” Bob could see the man was ready to open up more, he just needed some prodding in the right area.
“What kinda’ business you got?”
“It’s a…ah….a laundry business,“ the man replied, “biggest laundry business in the world.”
“Biggest huh? Have I heard of it?” Bob asked curiously.
“I’d be worried if you had,” the man laughed. Bob was beginning to think this guy was a little strange.
“You got any vacancies going?” Bob asked him, “I’m in need of a new job.” The man couldn’t help but smile. He put his hand on Bobs’ shoulder, holding it there for a moment. Bob saw a strange look in the eyes of the stranger. The look made Bob a little nervous.
“Vacancies come up fairly regularly, but it’s a dead end job, not something you’d like.” There was something definitely weird about this guy, not that Bob could put a finger on it, but he certainly seemed to be missing a few sandwiches from his picnic basket.
“So,” Bob said, thinking he should leave the man alone, but his own cheerfulness pushed him on. He decided to pry a little, to see if the man would open up some more.
“What’s the problem with your business then, not making enough money?”
“Money’s never a problem,” the man replied, waving his hand dismissively, “It’s the work. I feel like I’m stuck in a cruel circle that never seems to end. No matter how much the clothes are cleaned, the stains are never completely gone. It feels like I’ve been doing the same job forever, and I feel like there’s no end in sight. It just gets to me sometimes.” Bob knew he was getting somewhere, although he was a little worried about where that somewhere may end up.
“Well,” Bob said, mentally hiking up his pants, “maybe you could get someone else to run it.”
“Not something on this scale.”
“Were you forced into it?”
“Not really, I just kinda’ fell into it. I saw how messy things were, so I thought I should do something about it.”
“There you go then,” Bob said, “if you thought it needed to be done, it probably did, so you should keep doing it. First instincts are usually the correct ones.”
“True. I always go with my first reaction, and it’s never steered me wrong.” A cheerful grin spread across his face. “I feel a little better. Thanks Bob, I owe you one.” Bob was trying to remember when he had mentioned his name, fairly sure he had not. The man stood up to go, towering over Bob’s six foot five-inch frame. The man reached out, shaking Bob’s hand.
“The name is Graham by the way,” he said, “Graham Ripper.” The man had that weird look in his eyes again, as though he was looking right through Bob, or looking inside him. Graham flashed the strangest smile, as though he knew something Bob did not. Bob’s mobile phone rang.
“Say hello to your brother,” Graham said as Bob looked down, pulling the phone out of his pocket. He was about to ask how Graham knew he had a brother, but Graham was gone. Bob scanned the park, but Graham was nowhere in sight.
“Very strange fellow,” Bob thought, as he checked the caller ID on his mobile phone.
“What the?” Bob thought to himself, the name Danny showing on the small screen. He flipped the phone open, looking around the park again, feeling a little creeped out.
“Heya’ bro,” Bob said, “what’s up?”
“Got a surprise for ya’ Bobby,” the voice on the phone said excitedly, “I’m coming down for a visit!”
“What!” Bob almost yelled, not having seen his brother in two years. “You serious?”
“Yeah man,” Danny replied, “finally got a break in work. And I’ve got some serious holiday time racked up. So I figured I’d take a trip to see my little brother!”
“Awesome! What day are you flying in?”
“Flying? Why would I fly when I can drive?”
“You’re crazy Dan! It’s at least a twenty-two-hour drive!”
“That’s the funny part,” Danny laughed, “I’m over halfway there already!”
“Shit man, why didn’t you ring me sooner?” Bob asked.
“Hell bro’, I was gunna’ surprise you altogether! I figured I should ring so you can maybe organize a few days off so we can hit the waves!”
“Oh don’t worry,” Bob laughed, “I can take a few days off I think. No one at work will miss me.”
“Sweet. Anyway, I’d better concentrate on driving now. I’ll probably have to stop for a bit of a sleep in a little while, I’ve been driving too long, my eyes are starting to close on me.”
“Good idea. I’ll see you when you get here Dan.”
“Later bro,” Danny said. Bob closed the phone, a huge grin on his face. His brother! The last time the two had got together, the police had been called. There had been a few too many drinks, a few angry boyfriends, plus an overnight stay in the police lockup. But it had been one of the best nights of Bobs’ life. He laughed as he recalled some of the events of that night, the ones he could actually remember. He headed back to his apartment, with a stop at the bottle shop on the way home. It was only Wednesday. Bob figured he and Danny would be back in the lockup by Friday.

Danny Miller pushed the end call button on his steering wheel, a smile from ear to ear.
“This is gunna’ be the best holiday ever!” he thought to himself, barely able to contain his excitement. Despite the energy he had after calling Bob, he could feel his eyes wanting to close. Driving for fifteen hours straight had worn him out. The highway had a few decent rest spots along this section. Danny only had to drive another few minutes before he found one. There were plenty of trees to park under for shade. The large semitrailer already parked there would also work quite well if there hadn’t been any trees. Dan pulled right up behind the semitrailer, as close to the pine barriers as he could. He wanted as long in the shade as possible, he could never sleep in the sun. He lowered his window a little to let some fresh air in. Air conditioning was great, but it was nice to breathe fresh air now and again. Danny tilted his seat as far back as it would go, twisted himself around until he was comfortable. A figure hidden by the trees watched as Danny closed his eyes and fell asleep. The figure seemed cloaked in darkness as it approached the car, gliding long like a ghost. A long pale arm reached through the small window opening and placed long thin fingers on the rear door lock mechanism. Quietly opening the passenger door, it looked down at the sleeping driver. Slowly, the pale white hand reached out towards Danny Millers face.

Danny awoke with start. His dream, now fading into nothingness had been rather scary. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he checked the dashboard clock.
“Wow,” he said out loud. He had slept for five hours. The sun, although quite high in the sky, had yet to penetrate the barrier of trees whose shadows covered the car. Danny checked his mobile phone in case he had missed a call or message. It seemed the battery had run out while he was sleeping.
“Great,” he grunted, just realizing he had not brought his car charger with him.
“I’ll just have to call from the next servo’” he thought, “shouldn’t be too far now.” He started the car and pulled out of the rest stop back onto the highway. The service station was fifteen minutes down the road. The semitrailer that had been at the rest stop was parked at the farthest end, plus a few other cars. Most of the drivers looked like salesmen and women. There were a few parents with their children, all in big four wheel drives loaded with luggage.
“Tourists,” Danny chuckled to himself as he parked his car and headed into the shop. He rang Bob’s mobile number on the public phone, but it went to message bank.
“Hey bro’, I’m gunna’ be a bit late. I slept for a bit longer than I thought. I’ll catch ya’ in a few hours.” He hung up the phone, bought the largest energy drink they had, and some chocolate, and walked back to his car. He could see a man standing at the service stations exit, thumb in the traditional hitchhiker position. Danny, having hitchhiked a few times in his life, decided he would give the guy a lift. He started the car. then drove over next to the hitchhiker. He lowered the window.
“Hey buddy, need a ride?” he asked the man. The big man turned around, his mouth wide in a smile. His long scruffy hair framing a firm square jaw, dark eyes hinting at mischievous thoughts, and a short square nose that looked like it had been broken more than once.
“Sure, thanks,” he replied in a deep gravelly voice. The dark blue jacket the man wore looked familiar, something Danny had seen on television a while ago.
“Where you headed?” Danny asked as the man sat down, closing the door with a loud thud.
“Just a little further down the road,” the man said, “the guy that brought me here had to leave suddenly.” He adjusted himself in the seat, putting his left hand into his jacket pocket. As Danny pulled back out onto the highway, he could see a police car pull in to the service station, lights flashing. He didn’t notice the nervous twitch his passenger had when he caught the reflection of the flashing lights in the rear-view mirror.
“Wonder what that was about?” Danny asked as he changed lanes.
“No idea,” the man replied, shrugging his shoulders. He casually looked over his shoulder, back toward the diminishing service station. As it faded from view, he relaxed in his seat. He looked at his watch, then at Danny, that same mischievous glint in his eye.
“Actually,” the man continued, “it might have something to do with this!” As he spoke, he pulled his left hand out of his pocket, revealing a long shiny, freshly bloodied knife. Before Danny could even react, the knife was pressed against his throat. The tip was pushed hard enough to break the skin, a small amount of blood trickled from the wound.
“What the hell?” Danny said in complete shock, swerving the car into the oncoming lane.
“Be very cool,” the man said menacingly, “and just keep driving.” He looked out the back window again, making sure they weren’t being followed. When he was one hundred percent happy they were in the clear, he looked at Danny again.
“Right. We are gunna’ keep driving until we find another servo’, then we’ll make a quick stop. After that, I’ll be free and clear when I drive off in this beautiful car.”
“What will I be doing?” Danny asked, but wishing he hadn’t.
“Oh, you’ll be bleeding to death in the boot,” the man laughed. He pushed the knife harder against Dannys’ neck. Danny looked in the man eyes, that mischievous glint was practically radiating now, his face lit up with a grin of pure evil. Danny knew he did not have any chance of living if he didn’t do anything. Slowly, he reached his hand down to his seatbelt clip, then casually moved it over to the passenger clip. He felt even more pressure against his throat from the knife.
“And what the fuck do you think you’re doing now?” the man growled, pressing his elbow down on Dannys’ hand. For just a moment, Danny thought about resigning himself to his fate as his hand flared with pain. But if he didn’t try something, he would be dead soon. He started to pull his hand back, the man removing his elbow.
“Much better,” the man said, “there is nothing you can do now. Accept it.” The pressure on the knife eased a little. As quickly as he could, Danny reached across and unsnapped the passenger seat-belt, swerving sharply off the road towards the trees. As the man was forced sideways twice, Danny felt the knife slide across his throat. His blood sprayed from the massive wound in his neck, covering the windscreen. Then the car hit the huge tree.

Danny awoke with start. The dream, now fading into nothingness had been rather scary. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he checked the dashboard clock.
“Wow,” he said out loud. He had slept for seven hours. The sun was starting to warm the car up, having passed over the barrier of trees. Only a hint of shadow touched the passenger side of the car. Danny checked his mobile phone in case he had missed a call or message. It seemed the battery had run out while he was sleeping.
“Great,” he grunted, just realizing he had not brought his car charger with him.
“I’ll just have to call from the next servo’” he thought, “shouldn’t be too far now.” He got out of the car and stretched his legs, noticing the semitrailer was no longer there. After the ache in his legs was gone, he sat in the car for a few minutes, trying to recall the crazy dream he’d had. He gave up when he couldn’t remember any details at all. He started the car and pulled out of the rest stop back onto the highway. The service station was fifteen minutes down the road. The semitrailer that had been at the rest stop was parked at the farthest end, with a few other cars. Most of the drivers looked like salespeople. There were a few families there, in their big four wheel drives, all loaded up with luggage.
“Tourists,” Danny chuckled to himself as he parked his car and headed into the shop. He rang Bobs’ mobile number on the public phone, but it went to message bank.
“Hey bro’, I’m gunna’ be a bit late. I overslept as usual. I’ll catch ya’ in a few hours.” He hung up the phone, having that strange feeling of déjà vu. Realising how parched he was, Danny bought the largest energy drink they had, and some chocolate, and walked back to his car. He could see a man standing at the service stations exit, thumb in the traditional hitchhiker position. Danny, having hitchhiked a few times in his life, decided he would give the guy a lift. He started the car then drove over next to the hitchhiker. The images in the dream came flooding back as the man turned around, his mouth wide in a smile. His long scruffy hair framing a rounded jaw, dark eyes hinting at mischievous thoughts, and a large square nose that looked like it had been broken more than once. Danny kept driving, turning out onto the highway, his heart beating loudly in his ears. He saw the flashing lights of a police in his rear-view mirror. Danny saw the police vehicle pull up next to the hitchhiker. Danny couldn’t make out what happened as he was too far away now, but he knew gunshots when he heard them. He decided to keep his eyes on the road. If he had looked back one more time, he might have seen the hooded figure standing on the side of the road, slightly out from the trees. But Danny kept looking ahead, his eyes following the lines on the road, or the trees, anything to avoid looking back. He wasn’t sure if it was what had just happened or the large energy drink he had consumed, but Danny knew he would not be falling asleep anytime soon.

Bob had been out shopping, collecting food and alcohol in preparation for his brother’s arrival. After he had put away the groceries and stored all the beer and spirits in his little bar fridge, he went into his room to grab the mobile phone he had forgotten to take with him. Sure enough, there was a message from Dan.
“Hey bro’, I’m gunna’ be a bit late. I overslept as usual. I’ll catch ya’ in a few hours.”
“Typical,” Bob laughed, remembering how Danny had completely overslept his high school graduation ceremony when they were younger. Sitting down to relax, Bob flicked on the television.
“……reports from police sources state that they believe earlier today, after a brief confrontation at this highway service station behind me, a local police officer was stabbed by the serial killer known as the Hitchhacker. In response to the attack, the police officer’s partner, still seated in the police vehicle, fired three shots, killing the attacker. Although not confirmed, there are reports that the driver of a semitrailer was mutilated and killed by the Hitchhacker at the same service station he where he was shot. Eyewitnesses have said that the man had been standing at the exit road of the service station, trying to hitch a ride.”
There was a knock at Bob’s door. “Hold on!” Bob called out, walking to the door with his eyes on the television.
“…if they hadn’t recognized him, he may have escaped and killed again.”
“Open up Bobby!” Dan yelled back, “my dam’s about to break!” As soon as Bob opened the door, Dan shot past him, his carry bag dumped unceremoniously on Bob’s feet. Bob couldn’t hold in his laugh as he heard his big brother groan with relief as he started to empty his overfilled bladder. Bob closed his front door, going back to the television. They had just listed fifteen other people that had been killed by the Hitchhacker, all over the country.
“Jesus,” Bob said, not realizing how many people the guy had killed.
“What?” Dan said as he came back into the lounge-room.
“Sorry, was watching this thing on the news. They reckon they got that Hitchhacker today.”
“Seriously?”
“Yeah, look. He was waiting at the servo’ exit for some poor sucker to offer him a lift.”
“Oh, fuck me!” Danny thumped into a chair, all the colour gone from his face. Bob looked at him.
“You okay Dan?” Bob asked.
“I was there today Bob. I almost gave that dude a lift. If I hadn’t had a creepy dream about him earlier, I’d have been his next victim.” Dan felt like he was about hurl.
“But you didn’t bro’, you’re here. And if you were that close to clocking out for good today, then we need to go out tonight. We need to celebrate your survival.” Bob grabbed Dans’ shoulder, shaking it playfully.
“C’mon Dan,” Bob said, “we haven’t been arrested for years. Let’s raise some hell tonight!”
“I guess you’re right,” Dan said, some colour returning to his face, “I could use a good drink or fifty.”
“That’s the spirit,” Bob chuckled, “and so is this.” He grabbed a bottle of bourbon from one of the bags. He took a swig then offered it to Dan. Dan took the bottle, looking at it for a second before taking a huge drink. He burped, wiped his lips, then smiled.
“Let’s go little bro’, we have a town to paint!” The two brothers headed down the hall to get changed. Neither saw the reflection in the window, a tall hooded figure with a smile that could not be seen.
“Now we are even,” the figure whispered. The light from the television glared for a moment, making the small lounge room bright. When it changed again and the extra light was gone, the reflection of the hooded figure was also gone.

bdcharles
April 27th, 2017, 11:20 AM
Graham Ripper. I get it: Grim Reaper, right? Like and Death, Life and Graham :) I thought he was some sort of mafioso at first. I like the repeated dream but I suppose I wasn't entirely sure that the whole end-to-end structure worked 100%. First we are Bob, chatting with this creepy character who may or may not be the Grim one. Then we jump, via Danny, to Bob's brother's visit, during which we see the Hitchhacker (cool name by the way!) and narrowly avert him thanks to a premonitory (is that a word) dream. Then Danny arrives and everything's cool except this shadowy figure (who I assume is the GR but could equally be the HH with the tiniest of plot tweaks; and what's the relationship between those 2 anyway?), and even that shadowy figure seems satisfied with some nebulous debt paid. So I am just not entirely sure what the problem was and how it was resolved. That may need tightening, simplifying or elaborating on.

Also some of the language is quite tell-heavy. Think of it as reporting on events (telling) versus making those events actually happen (showing). A little tell is okay if it works stylistically but too much and we feel we are listening to a generic story by campfire rather than living it ourselves. There is a very subtle difference. Here's an example:


“I suppose,” the man replied blandly. Bob scratched his head. The reply wasn’t quite what he was after, but he believed he should continue.
“What brings you out on a beautiful day like this?” he asked, “taking a sickie?”

What if I said to you that I'm not convinced that Bob believed he should continue. You're telling me it's so but I'm not seeing it. Persuade me. What would Bob have to do to get my buy-in on this? Bear in mind we have access to Bob's thoughts - via the power of point-of-view - as well as his visible gestures and body language signifiers so let's marrionette him up convincingly. He might remember a father's words about how there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet; he might hesitate, before stepping on again. A word may catch in his throat, before he starts again. Think. Evoke. Make it happenn.

Last: is this meant to be in Australia? I ask because Aussies seem to pepper conversations with those habitual little synecdoches like "servo". If so, why not put some placeholders in there to set the piece. Then you can use scenery as foreshadowing devices, or mood setters or whatever you like, all while under the guise of writing scenery.

Anyway hope all this helps :) It's an interesting story, that's for sure.

Gold Bearer
April 27th, 2017, 04:04 PM
I loved it! This is by far my favourite story I've seen of yours. :)


Graham Ripper. I get it: Grim Reaper, right? Like and Death, Life and Graham :) I thought he was some sort of mafioso at first. I like the repeated dream but I suppose I wasn't entirely sure that the whole end-to-end structure worked 100%. First we are Bob, chatting with this creepy character who may or may not be the Grim one. Then we jump, via Danny, to Bob's brother's visit, during which we see the Hitchhacker (cool name by the way!) and narrowly avert him thanks to a premonitory (is that a word) dream. Then Danny arrives and everything's cool except this shadowy figure (who I assume is the GR but could equally be the HH with the tiniest of plot tweaks; and what's the relationship between those 2 anyway?), and even that shadowy figure seems satisfied with some nebulous debt paid. So I am just not entirely sure what the problem was and how it was resolved. That may need tightening, simplifying or elaborating on.Graham was grateful to Bob for taking the time to cheer him up so he saved Danny's life by giving him a dream that would stop him from picking up the hitchhacker. I've only just realised it's hitchhAcker, I read it as hitchhiker every time.


What if I said to you that I'm not convinced that Bob believed he should continue. You're telling me it's so but I'm not seeing it. Persuade me. What would Bob have to do to get my buy-in on this? Bear in mind we have access to Bob's thoughts - via the power of point-of-view - as well as his visible gestures and body language signifiers so let's marrionette him up convincingly. He might remember a father's words about how there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet; he might hesitate, before stepping on again. A word may catch in his throat, before he starts again. Think. Evoke. Make it happen.Thanks for this, it's something I need to work on so the example is very helpful.

NeenaDiHope
April 27th, 2017, 06:06 PM
This is awesome! I really like the back and forth of the brothers, I also like the reset with the dream. A way to keep from reading it as hitchhiker instead of hitchhacker might be do this, Hitch-Hacker so its more of a monicker. I would definitely put a context to location as suggested by bdcharles, I had to think about it for a moment before I realized what "servo" meant [emoji23]

All in all great job!! Keep it up you have a "killer" story. (Sorry couldn't resist)


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

MadMickyG
April 28th, 2017, 07:27 AM
I have 3 brothers and a sister, so sibling banter comes easy. :P

Glad you enjoyed it.

I have a couple of other stories that involve Graham, which I will post over time. :)