Daily Prompt, driving, humor, serial fiction, Stories, writing

Outback Rescue: Columbo Calling

We got Nathan, Derrick and their removalist truck on the road about thirty minutes after Nick departed to attend to the call he was summoned to. Before they left I let them borrow my satellite phone so they they could ring their boss and tell him what had happened. Although I couldn’t hear what was said on the other end of the phone, given Derrick’s reaction several times I got the idea he was copping a bit of a ribbing for getting the truck stuck.

I also gave the truck a “once over”, a quick check around the under carriage and running gear, before they left. As you would expect from such an easy bog nothing was damaged and a once over was all the truck really needed before I was satisfied it was in a good enough condition to be on the road.

I figured that since the boys were headed beyond Halls Creek if anything unseen was wrong with the truck we’d be following them anyway so at least they wouldn’t be stranded again. However there was one flaw in my plan, it wasn’t a hug flaw but it was a flaw none the less.

That flaw was that Nathan was a lot more of a lead foot than me. I know that isn’t overly surprising given I have mentioned before that my driving is a lot more on the sedate side, as opposed to many of those I share the road with. It also wasn’t a huge problem given that there was only one road in the direction we were travelling, so if something was overlooked we would eventually cross paths with them again anyway.

We weren’t even ten kilometres from where the truck was bogged before the boys were out of sight. We’d had a brief chat on the radio immediately after leaving but even the chatter had stopped by the time we started loosing sight of them on the straight stretches of road. The lack of radio chatter didn’t bother me as it gave Matthew and I yet another chance to catch up.

I found it quite interesting that only a few days before I was not even thinking about seeing anyone from my family, not that they weren’t all welcome to visit at any time, then Matthew turned up and it was all, family, family, family. Don’t get me wrong I’m not unhappy to see my brother, I love him, as I love my parents, but I honestly didn’t think we had enough conversation material to last us one day, let alone the nearly three that he’d been with me. We might have resorted to the shit stirring a few times but in general most of our chatting was friendly and civilised like any other brother and sister could manage.

About fifteen kilometres out of Halls my mobile phone started ringing. We were right on the outer boundary of mobile phone signal from the town antenna, on a good day the signal was often strong enough to allow a phone to ring, on a really good day one could sometimes have a conversation.

I wasn’t exactly hopeful that I’d be answering the phone and hearing someone on the other end but I looked at the phone’s screen too see if I recognised the number of the person calling anyway. Caller ID told me it was Nick, from his satellite phone. I hit the send button, the phone rocked in its cradle slightly as I pushed the screen.

“Hello Columbo. Miss me already?” I said slightly louder than normal conversation so that the speaker could pick me up clearly.

As I predicted there was no one on the other end, the phone signal was enough to make the phone ring but not connect the two. I hung the phone up and immediately dialled Nick from the satellite phone that was in its own hands free cradle beside the other phone.

“Hey Columbo. You rang?” I said as the phone dialled through and was answered at the other end.

“Hey Trouble!”

As most people do on the phone we started out with a bit of small talk, me telling Nick where we were and him telling us where he was, that sort of stuff which lasted a few minutes. When we finished with the small talk Nick told me why he was calling.

He had originally been called to help a family of four who had been camping up on he Ord River, about an hour and a half north of Halls Creek. The reason that he was called and not me was because it wasn’t a rescue it was help that the family needed. That much I knew before Nick had left us with Derrick and Nathan but It turned out that job was getting a little bit more desperate as the hours ticked on. He still hadn’t reached the camp but the family had been in contact with him because they were getting desperate.

In Nick’s words they family was “having a bit of a problem with our local wildlife”, and while the task still wasn’t being classed as a rescue Nick could do with any help he could get. I told Nick I was at least half an hour behind him, probably more, but I was happy to offer him any sort of assistance he required.

As we got closer to town Nick and I chatted, he gave me the area where he was headed to, then I gave him my estimated arrival time and promised to call him on the radio when I got near. I hung up the phone as we went passed the eighty kilometre speed sign on the outskirts of town, I then turned to Matthew and asked…

“So you want to come and wrestle a croc with us?”

Previous Outback Story here.

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