No Matter What
Today was the day of Paul’s motor bike licence test which involved a written exam as well as a practical test. The written part was actually multiple choice questions on a computer and was very easy but the practical test was a bit more tricky. It involved riding the bike around a course laid out with witches hats, this had to be done without touching the ground with his feet. He needed good balance and just the right amount of speed, too fast and he wouldn’t get around the turns but too slow and he would loose balance. In the end he completed the course without faults and passing the test so he now could ride the bike on the public road.
Things were moving along quite well. Paul now had the finances to cover everything needed for the great escape even though he still needed to convert it from gold to cash, but that was well in hand. He now had a motor bike licence even though he didn’t need a licence for the great escape he did need to be able to ride a motor bike with some degree of skill. He was well along the road to getting his pilots licence and mastering sailing but there was still a lot to do, he still needed to lean to fly a helicopter, and sky dive.
His first lesson in sky diving involved a bit of theory as well as rolling around on the ground, but it was the second lesson that scared the hell out of him. It involved him being strapped up close and personal with the instructor and then jumping out of a plane. It was scary for two reasons, he had no control over what was happening as he was just a passenger. And also there was ‘jumping out of a plane.’ He got through it with out passing out or being sick but he did look a bit pale once he got to the ground. After another lesson covering safety and what could only be call a dress rehearsal on the ground, it was time.
The parachute was strapped on, all the checks were completed, the plane slowly climbed to 10,000 feet and lined up on the drop zone, door was opened. The instructor tapped him on the shoulder then gestated with a wave of his hand and even though he could not hear him, he said, “go.” With that Paul jumped out of the plane, a few second latter he pulled the cord that released the parachute, he went from falling at a great rate of knots to floating gently down, he pulled on the ropes as instructed to steer in the intended direction. His first attempt steered in the wrong direction but he soon worked it out and the ground was coming at him way to fast, he again pulled on the ropes to slow the fall and made a perfect landing not all that far from the landing circle.
Over the next few weeks Paul continued sky diving until he felt he had it masted enough for his needs.
The lawyers working on Janet’s appeal contacted Paul with the news that a date for her case had been set for a little over two months away, this was not good news. He was well down the track with learning the skills needed but there was still a great deal to do, he might need to make some short cuts. He signed up for helicopter lessons which meant learning to fly a light plane and helicopter in parallel.
On hearing the news that the appeal was just two months away, Janet felt relieved that there was an end date for the hell she was living in but she also knew what that meant. Calling it an end date was an apt way to refer to it, it would mean the end.
Paul spent as much time as he could at the garage melting down gold into small nuggets and flakes. He would have to sell the gold in larger amounts over a shorter period than he originally planned which could draw attention to him. He decided to sell it to gold merchants in different cities to minimise the risk so over the next few weeks. In between his flying lessons, he drove to Melbourne and Brisbane. He did not sell any in Sydney as this would be too much of a risk.
Paul was feeling the time pressure even though he had a little under two months to the appeal date, but the great escape would need to happen before the appeal as Janet’s prison situation may change during and after the appeal.
Paul still had problems that he had not worked out a solution to. Like how would he get two cars to somewhere near Wallott Inlet in Western Australia and make sure they were not found during the time they were there. Then there was the bigger problem of how he would get a yacht to an uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean. Sure he could sail it there but how would he get back. The plane didn’t present any problems, he could just fly it there under one of his false names and the motor bike could be purchase locally. He hoped to rent a helicopter locally as well but he had not checked on that yet.
The internet became Paul’s best friend as he spent hours at the garage trolling the internet, trying to come up with solutions.
With all this activity, Paul had not had time to contact Lizzy. He thought about ringing her but before he could, he had a visit from Detective Sergent Elisabeth Bennet and Detective Constable George Blake. It was so nice to see her but he didn’t need Police attention at the moment he had to much else to deal with. He invited them in and offered them tea, but as usual Lizzy was all business.
“I would just like to ask you a few questions,” said Lizzy, while George just stood there and observed.
“Yes of course, anything for you Lizzy,” replied Paul, he then added, “sorry I have not been in contact for a few weeks, things are getting a bit hectic.”
Lizzy just stood there seemingly with out any questions, when George said. “There has been a burglary of a large amount of gold, did you have any thing to do with that?”
“No,” replied Paul, and then went on, “I’m just a harmless public servant on long service leave, stealing gold is not in my skill set.”
This brought a rye smile to Lizzy’s face.
It was obvious that George though he was not involved and was puzzled on why his boss did. Lizzy on the other hand believe Paul was the burglar but she had no evidence.
Lizzy realised that her being there was serving no purpose so she said, “thanks for your co-operation,” and started to walk out.
Paul follow them to the door and said, “Lizzy, sorry.”
Lizzy went back to the Police station and both her and George spent hours watching the nearest CCTV footage from the streets near the last burglary. After hours of video Lizzy came across some footage of a Police Officer pulling someone over only a few kilometres from the crime scene. She had George contact the Officer for the details but it lead nowhere.
After much research and thought Paul had finally worked out answers to his problems, he would fly to Darwin and buy, using one of his false names, a large four wheel drive and a car trailer. He would then buy and trailer two smaller four wheel drives to Wallott Inlet in Western Australia and hide them in the bush, this would take two trips. He would then drive the large four wheel drive and empty trailer back to Darwin, sell them and fly back to Sydney. Going by goggle map the only suitable location was a bit further up the river than he would like but he had no other option. The yacht would not be able to get that far up the river so Paul and Janet would have to get there using an inflatable raft. There was no road to this location so he would have to drive the last few kilometres across country.
Getting the yacht to a small un-inhabited island 20 km’s of the coast of this horrible country presented Paul with a number of problems. He decided that this would be the last thing he would do before the great escape. Because of the time problem he would need to buy the yacht in Darwin as the sailing time from the east coast of Australia was to long but Darwin is not a big place and there may not be many if any yachts for sale, a quick check on the internet revealed only two but both looked and sounded suitable. He would also need to purchase a powered inflatable dingy, small enough to be mounted on the deck of the yacht but big enough to cover the twenty kilometre trip from Gore island to the coast. He would sail from Darwin to the island, hide the yacht the best he could using camouflage nets, then using the inflatable travel to the coast. He planned to land on the coast in a quiet location, hide the inflatable and then make his way to the capital city.
The plan was in place but the big problem was time. He only had four week to get his plane and helicopter licences as well as sell the rest of the gold. The licence to fly a light plane would not be a problem but the helicopter licence would be, so he increased the amount of lessons to four per week. He decided to sell the last of the gold to a Sydney gold mergant just before flying out to start on the great escape. If he did draw any suspicion he would be gone before it could be acted on.
He started to feel at peace with it all, he thought the plan was doable. The time frame was tight but could be done. The whole endeavour could go wrong at any point and may result in him being arrested in Australia or parts foreign or even worse he could be killed in so many ways as could Janet, but it was a dead cert for Janet if he did nothing.
Even though he felt at peace with the plan and the great escape, he still found himself craving some company and some time away from thinking about it, some time when he would not have to think or worry, so he rang Lizzy.
The phone rang out and went to an answering machine so Paul left a message.
“Hi Lizzy, sorry that its been a while, things have been a bit hectic, how about dinner, tonight, The Chicken House, 7.00, you know you want to.”
Paul arrived at the Chicken House at 6.30, as it was a week night it was not particularly busy so he managed to get the same table from last time. He told the waiter that he was waiting for someone, and he sat there looking out over the river. But his brain was still thinking at one hundred miles an hour about the plan and all that encompassed it. He didn’t notice the time pass as he sat there is a trance, when a voice said, “Hi,” it was Lizzy.
Lizzy was wearing the same red long dress from the first time and she looked like a dream come true, Paul was lost for words at first as he was not really expecting her to come, after composing himself he said, “Hi Lizzy, your looking good tonight, have a seat.”
Lizzy sat down at the table and said, “What have you been up to lately?”
“Nothing much of interest, have you caught your burglar yet?” Paul replied.
“Lets not talk shop tonight,” said Lizzy.
“That’s a good idea, Lizzy,” Paul replied.
“How are things with your sister,” said Lizzy.
“Lets not talk about that tonight,” replied Paul.
There was an awkward silence, before the waiter came over and asked if they were ready to order.
Lizzy said, “two chicken dinners and two orange juices,” and looked at Paul.
Paul just smiled with approval, as the waiter walked away.
“Have you had that Ford Escort out for a late night drive lately,” Asked Lizzy.
“No,” replied Paul and then added, “I’ve been sleeping well, so there has been no need. I haven’t driven it for some time,” … he then paused before saying, “had great hopes of going to a big car event in Queensland but that will have to wait till next year. What about you, Lizzy, have you found something other than work to live for?”
“No I,”… she paused, “what makes you think I need something,” said Lizzy.
Paul smiled, and said, “well its like you have an invisible sign around your neck saying, ‘I’m lost.’ You need to do something about that, take a chance, make a radical change. And anyway, you being here say’s it all.”
“What, so you’re what I need?” said Lizzy in a some what irritated voice.
“No, did you have a dream when you were a little girl, something you wanted from life, and don’t tell me its what you are currently doing,” Paul asked.
The waiter arrived with their meals and drinks.
Once the waiter was gone, Lizzy looked at Paul and said, “don’t laugh,” waving her finger at him, “I always wanted to live out in the bush, grow my own food, keep a few animals, and just be in harmony with nature.”
“Why don’t you then,” Paul replied.
“It would not be the sensible thing to do,” said Lizzy.
“Never, never, use that word around me again,” replied Paul.
“What word?” said Lizzy.
“You want me to say it,” Paul paused before saying, ‘… sensible.’
They both smiled, and then Paul said, “thanks for coming tonight, you have brightened up my day no end.”
“Did it need brightening up?” said Lizzy.
“Just a bit,” replied Paul.
After finishing their meals they sat there looking out over the river, but time was ticking by and Paul had a big day coming up.
“Thanks for a great night Lizzy,” Paul said, and then, “I would love to do this again soon’ish.”
Lizzy looked a bit puzzled as it was still early but said, “yes that would be nice.”
They both walked to reception to pay the bill, Lizzy was determined to pay her share this time. Paul let her but told her to, ‘not to be so money obsessed,’ and that they would have this conversation on another day.
They walked to Lizzy’s car and she opened the door, “well,” she said,
“thanks for a nice night.”
Paul said nothing, he just took he hand and looked into her eyes for a few moments before kissing her.
“Good night Lizzy,” Paul said as he walked away.
www.yellowduckmotorsport.com Copy right Jim Pope 2021