Chapter Seven

No Matter What

Chapter 7.  

The day of Paul’s flying test had arrived and he felt confident. Flying just seemed to come to him naturally and he had read everything over and over, so all in all he felt positive about his chances. The first part of the exam was on a computer and went well, none of the questions stumped him or caused him any trouble. The second part of the test was practical and required him to take off, fly around for a while doing a number of manoeuvres before returning and landing. Once back on the ground he felt that he had performed everything correctly and was pretty relaxed about the result. He was right, he passed and could now fly solo.

Life was getting complicated for Paul juggling five false identities. One was for life after all this, in case things went wrong and he needed the other four for the great escape. One was for everything to do with the yacht he was trying to purchase which he was buying sight unseen, but he was having it fully inspected before hand. So he was talking to the owner, the inspector, the mooring authorities, government registration agency as well as a maintenance company. He had a number of mobile phones, one for each identity. Each one was labelled with the false name that covered that phone so when it rang he knew who he was suppose to be. The same sort of things applied to his purchase of a light plane, rental of a helicopter and purchase of four wheel drives.

He needed to keep his wits about him as the potential to get it wrong was forever on his mind. So every time one of the phones rang his heart would skip a beat while he looked to see who was ringing as well as what name he was using for that phone. The purchase of the yacht and the rental of the helicopter were taking place over the phone and internet, but the purchase of the light plane, four wheel drives and car trailer were a bit more hands on. The light plane he was buying from an agent in Sydney but the other he would buy once he got to Darwin.

With three weeks to go before it all started Paul still had a lot to do. He needed to go to Melbourne and Brisbane to sell more gold, he could not fly to these locations on commercial flights as he couldn’t very well take gold onto a plane and the purchase of his light plane was still to be finalised so he would have to drive, this would take four long days. He also had to finalise the purchases of the yacht and the light plane.

Paul had only completed the minium number of lessons and flying hours when he sat for his helicopters licence. He felt confident as far as the computer test. Having a light plane licence negated a lot of the questions so he sailed through it without problems but the practical test was a different pen of chickens all together. The test involved taking off and landing as well as a twenty minute flight, but he didn’t need to worry as it all went well, he passed – but only just.

With two day before it all kicks off everything was in place, the purchase of the yacht had been finalised as was the purchase of the light plane. All that remained was Paul’s personal life, as whatever happened after this, it was unlikely he would be able to return to his old life. He took Colin the cat back to the cat home and payed the bill well in advance. He also gave some thought to what would happen to Colin if things didn’t work out. He sold his beloved Ford Escort to himself, well to the false identity that he would become after this was over. He put the Escort into storage but everything else would just stay at his sister’s house.

For the first time in a long time Paul had some time. But he could not think of anything he wanted to do other than to just sit and not think, but that was proving to be difficult.

So he rang Lizzy in the hope she might have some free time but she was working. She agreed to dinner at a place of her choosing, she said, she would text him.

He spent the rest of the day writing notes to family and friends as well as Lizzy. He also wrote a note to a well known investigative reporter. The notes all had a common theme, explaining his actions and apologising for what he had done. He placed these notes in an envelope and then put the envelope inside another envelope which he then sent to Janet’s solicitor with instructions that the contents should be sent only on the event of his death.

He received a text message from Lizzy which just said,

          ‘The chip and fish, 7.00, tonight.’

Paul looked it up on the internet, it was not far away.

Paul arrived at the chip and fish at around 6.45 and just sat in his car. This might be the last time he would see Lissy. He tried to be philosophical about it, its not as if he didn’t know this day was coming from the very first day. While he sat there Lizzy arrived, park her car and walked towards the restaurant, she was wearing a long black tight fitting dress that showed of her beautiful figure and as she approached the restaurant the sun was behind her, silhouetting her against the afternoon sky. Paul got out of his car and followed her in. He caught up to her while she was waiting at reception.

“Hey Lizzy,” said Paul.

“Perfect timing replied,” Lizzy.

The waiter took them to their table and gave them some menus.

“How has your day been,” said Paul.

“What, small talk already? I thought you wanted to talk about how dinner is paid for between dating partners,” replied Lizzy.

“Or, we might save that one for another evening,” said Paul.

“What do you fancy then?” Said Lizzy.

“Is that a loaded question, Lizzy, do you really want me to answer that,” said Paul, and then continued, “or are you referring to what I want for dinner?”

Lizzy just looked at him and nodded.

“Well, I think I will have fish and chips, what about you,” said Paul.

“That sound good to me,” replied Lizzy, and waved to the waiter.

They placed their order and sat in silence for what seemed like minutes but in reality was only a few seconds.

“Well,” they both said at the same time.

“You first,” said Lizzy.

“The time has come to speak of many things,” said Paul. and then went on, “I can not put off asking you any more, what were your parents thinking, Elisabeth Bennet?”

“I don’t think they made the connection, and not too many people do. I did investigate a break in at a University one time and it came up a bit then, but in my day to day life, well, it’s just not an issue,” replied Lizzy.

“Maybe it’s the circle you move in, I guess criminals aren’t that educated and your colleagues, well I guess their not educated in the classics,” said Paul.

The waiter arrived with their meals and drinks.

“Thanks,” said Paul, to the waiter.

“So Paul,” said Lizzy, looking straight at him, “what’s your dream? I can’t believe it’s a dead end public service job and playing with an old Ford Escort?”

“Now that is a good question,” replied Paul, “I share a dream with you. To live a quite life out in the bush, grow my own food, have a few animals and play around with an old Ford Escort.”

“I don’t dream of a Ford Escort,” replied Lizzy.

“Well, no,” said Paul.

“I wouldn’t have thought of you as a, ‘living a quite life’ sort of person,” replied Lizzy.

“Oh yes,” said Paul, “I can see myself, car bogged, mud everywhere, leaches running up my legs, fire wood wet, no electricity and,” he paused “… and loving it.”  

“What’s stopping you?” replied Lizzy, “why don’t you do it?”

“I will be, sometime soon, if things work out. When the time is right, just waiting on a few things to come together, in the fullness of time,” said Paul.

“Are you trying to win some competition to say the most clichés in one sentence, as that was not a bad effort,” replied Lizzy.

“I probably needed a few more to really make it stand out,” said Paul.

Lissy’s phone rang before should could reply and she answered it.

“Yes, what do you want,” Lizzy snapped, and after a short time, “I’ll be there soon.”

“Work calling, Lizzy,” said Paul.

“Yes, I have to go, sorry,” replied Lizzy.

Lizzy paid for their meals. Paul didn’t say anything this time, just smiled at Lizzy.

“What no debate on who should pay,” said Lizzy.

“No, not tonight,” replied Paul.

They walked towards Lizzy’s car when her phone rang again.

“What now,” Lizzy said into the phone.

Lizzy hung up the phone and said, “they don’t need me now.”

“Oh well, would you like to come back to my place for coffee,” said Paul.

“My place is closer,” replied Lizzy, “and it’s on your way.”

“Sounds good to me, I’ll follow you,” said Paul.

Paul followed Lizzy out of the car park and for the next few kilometres before she turned into a side street, then into her drive way, Paul pulled up out side.

Paul walked to the front door where Lizzy was waiting for him.

“At the risk of small talk,” said Paul, “you have a nice place here.”

“And seeing as it is too dark for you see it,” replied Lizzy, “thanks.”

Lizzy opened the front door and went inside, “come on in,” said Lizzy.

Lizzy turned the lights on, revealing an open plan style lounge, dining, and kitchen. Lizzy walked to the kitchen, filled the hot water jug and turned it on, then started getting cups, coffee, and sugar ready.

“I don’t drink coffee,” said Paul.

“Tea then,” replied Lizzy.

“No I don’t drink that either,” said Paul.

“I know you drink orange juice,” replied Lissy. She opened the fridge and said, “but I don’t have any.”

“Oh, well, what a pity, never mind,” said Paul, “water will do.”

Lizzy finished making her cup of coffee and got a class of water for Paul, and they both went and sat on the lounge.

“I’ve got to go away for a while to foreign parts,” said Paul, “not sure for how long, it might be some time.”

“I see, I hope it goes well,” replied Lizzy.

“I have a favour to ask,” said Paul.

“Oh yes,” replied Lizzy.

“If things go badly while I’m away, there is a chance I will not come back and if that was to happen, would you like a cat,” said Paul.

“Why wouldn’t you come back?” replied Lizzy.

“Who knows, just covering all possibilities,” said Paul. “You need a cat, they are great company and their non judgmental.”

“You’ll be back,” replied Lizzy.

Paul took her by the hand, stood up, and said, “come on Lizzy.” They walked hand in hand to the bed room and closed the door.                     Copy right Jim Pope 2021