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Shocking Versions

Elsee and Jack could see an orange light in the sky. It couldn't be town

“See that light over there Jack?”

“Looks like a fire or something, what do you reckon?"

“Guess you're right, looks like some corn's going up."

As they drew closer they could make out the fire just a short distance from the highway. Sirens wailed as they sped down the road behind them.

Littering the edge of the highway, voyeurs had stopped their cars, trailers, trucks and recreational vehicles and were pointing, chattering, speculating. Chairs had been erected at the roadside and people stood around wrapped in blankets drinking coffee and trying to figure out what was going on from a besieged and overtired cop.

"Hold back!" he shouted.

“Wasn't that the Mayor's parents’ house?” one of the only local people amongst the babble asked.

“Miss., I don't know. Now could you move back here, please?”

Suddenly this piece of information was being distributed across the crowd missing bits in translation like a whisper on the wind.

The heat became more intense as the fire leapt higher into the night sky.

Elsee and Jack passed the gabbling crowd. It occurred to Jack to stop but he did not really feel in the mood and was worried what Elsee would think of him. So they sped on despite his curiosity.

Elsee snuggled further up into Jack's chest. She felt a warm feeling tingling up from the bottom of her toes right up to her ears, partly the alcohol, partly, well, she felt safe like she had when she was very small.

But her groin was trying very hard to distract her from these more innocent emotions and she was, to be honest, a little confused as to what she really wanted. She had a concupiscent ache, which would not go away, it demanded attention, swift attention and would not go away no matter how much she tried to ignore it. Her mind and body had been fighting an on-going battle all the way back from Poseidon. Being wanted, made her feel good.

Jack was inscrutable and yet she felt she knew him in a way. It was strange, to feel you knew someone and yet, you had to admit you didn't really. He had talked a little about himself over dinner, but mostly she realized, she had been telling him about her. She didn't want that to happen, didn't want to do all the talking and once during the evening she had even told Jack as much. It was partly the alcohol but partly a sense that she could tell Jack things. He listened, he nodded and then he would come out with an aphorism, which was basically good advice.

She had told him about how she felt about her job. On the one hand she felt very lucky, she was treated well. She had nothing to complain about. It was a good job for somebody like her.

On the other hand she was bored and spent so much time around the Andertons, she didn't get out enough. She felt trapped by it. She felt like a crew on a long voyage at sea, in need of land.

Jack had told her to get some outside interests or get a new job.

“Funny isn't it, how clear it is to someone else what you should be doing?"

“Well perhaps you can help me then?" he had said. But then the food arrived and they had got distracted. Elsee stirred and sat up.

“Jack, in the meal, you asked me how I could help you, what did you mean?"

The car lurched and swerved. Elsee and Jack were thrown together momentarily on the back seat. They moved apart gingerly. Elsee looked behind to see what the cause of them swerving was.

“Sorry guys," said the driver." I'm real sorry guys, there was a man..."

Elsee was not listening. She was looking back down the highway. Was that Duncan? Could that be Duncan wandering beside the highway waving a gun? Was that a bottle in his hand?

“Driver, can you turn round, please?"

“Lady, are you nuts the guy had a gun!"

“Listen I think it could be..." she paused, "I think it could be someone I know. They could be in trouble."

“Who Elsee? They were waving a gun around. Are sure you want to go back?"

Elsee leant over and whispered in Jack's ear: "Yes, I think so. It might be Duncan."

She was looking out down the highway at the receding figure. Was that a shot? A shot from the gun?

“Lady, I can't stop and go back. It's against regulations. Can't do, insurance."

Elsee sat and thought for a moment. Should she go back? Was it Duncan? If it was him, why was he waving a gun around and shooting at passing cars? Was that a shot that had been fired?

“Go back!" Elsee exclaimed suddenly.

“Lady, are you crazy? I've told you I can't go back 'cos of the insurance."

“Then take us back far enough for us to see. Please! It's important! "The driver went quiet for a moment.

“Okay lady, I think you are crazy."

“You got any binocs?" Elsee enquired urgently.

"Yep in the front here."

“Pass them over?"

“When we've stopped."

The limo drew to a halt by the highway within about fifty yards of where Elsee thought she had spotted Duncan. Other cars swooped past them in an endless stream of whistles. Elsee threw the door open and got out with Jack. Elsee looked around by eye and then through her binocs.

“I can't see him," she said, "You look."

Jack put down the binocs. "Neither can I. Mind you I wouldn't recognise him as easy as you."

“Are you sure it was him?"

“No, but I'm pretty sure."

They got back into the car. It sped off.

“Jack, would you mind staying over tonight?” Elsee said absent-mindedly.

Elsee looked up and could see the driver smiling in the mirror.

“Look I didn't mean that as it sounded," she said blushing, “I'm scared, it's not every day you think you see, you know, wandering up and down." Elsee paused and looked nervously at the back of the driver's head.

Jack looked incredulous.

“No, I mean it Jack. I'm scared. Look I'll explain when we get home. Can’t explain it all here," she said gesturing at the driver.

There was a little distance between them on the backseat. Jack's hands were fidgeting. He couldn't keep them still. It was the first awkward silence they had had on their entire date.
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