|THE TASMANIAN DEVIL by Hollis Whitelock
The evening of April 27th 1996 was cool and wet in the town of Abbotsford BC. Hollis ran his fingers through his short curly hair as he strolled along the sidewalk. A familiar face approached. Hollis squinted and tried to put a name to the face. It was Peter, a man who had taught at Spectrum high school ten years ago in the city of Victoria BC. Peter’s hair had greyed and a few wrinkles were more pronounced. Hollis had never had a class instructed by Peter, but they had conversed about auditions for Hollywood films since Hollis was a child. None of the auditions had landed Hollis a part. Although he enjoyed acting, he had abandoned the notion of gracing the screen altogether.
“We meet again. What’s happening today?” Hollis smiled. Perfect white teeth glistened.
“Do you want to go to Australia?” Peter motioned at a taxi.
“Well, I remember the last time you had me locked in a basement.” Hollis chuckled. “But I managed to escape.”
“None of that crap this time. You’re too old for that.” Peter smiled. “I promise. It’s just for the day.”
“Just a day?” Hollis rubbed his chin. “That wouldn’t be much good.” Hollis had travelled to Australia four years earlier and had spent a month enjoying the sunshine, women and beaches. He glanced around.
“What else do you have to do?” Peter placed his arm on Hollis’ shoulder. “It’ll be fun. You might get a part this time.”
“Look, you’ll only be gone for the day.”
Hollis and Peter walked to the taxi and were taken to the Abbotsford airport. A group from his hometown were waiting to board a plane. He recognized some. Others he had forgotten. After a short wait, Hollis and Peter boarded the plane and sat down. A woman who had also taught at Spectrum high school walked along the aisle. She was handing out scripts.
“You managed to find him?” Virginia held up a stack of paper. “It’s Romeo and Juliet. Geoff was perfect for the part.” Virginia shook her head and looked at Hollis. “I don’t know what they see in him.”
“You know what it is, as well as I do.” Peter took a script. “Geoff is dead.” He handed the script to Hollis.
Hollis looked at the script. He remembered auditioning for Romeo and Juliet in high school, but the film was never made.
“What part am I supposed to read for?” Hollis flipped through the pages while looking at the different characters.
“Romeo!” Peter grimaced at Virginia, as she strolled down the aisle.
Chatter aboard the plane became stifling, as the aspiring actors read their parts aloud. Hollis looked at the script, but it was old English and made little sense to him. He was also tired, not just from lack of sleep, but of the people from his past. They hadn’t changed much and he never got along with them. He found a pair of ear plugs and placed them in his ears. A few minutes later, he drifted off to sleep. There was a brief layover at another airport, and Hollis sleepwalked off and then back on another plane.
Hollis awoke a few hours later to chatter and people bustling along the aisle. He waited until everyone had passed before exiting the plane into Australian customs.
“I can’t believe you slept through that.” Peter shook his head. “You don’t have any luggage. Do you?”
“What?” Hollis pulled the plugs from his ears and glanced around.
“You don’t have anything?” Peter stared. “I don’t know why I asked you.”
“No, I don’t even have I.D.”
“What?” Peter shook his head. “I’ll see what they say.”
After a brief delay at the Hobart customs office, everyone was escorted outside into a parking lot. The water was nearby. Hollis walked to its edge and looked into the water, but it looked dirty from diesel. The idiotic chatter continued, sounding like giddy school girls admiring their teen idol, but most of them were male.
“Our boat has been delayed, but it will be here soon.” Virginia smiled. “Keep going over your scripts.”
Hollis glanced around and tried to identify the people. He looked at a young adolescent male who was about sixteen years old. He had short blonde hair and blue eyes
“What are you staring at?” the sixteen year old asked.
“What?” Hollis rubbed his eyes.
“You keep it up and I’ll shoot you.”
“Who do you think you’re talking to?” Hollis felt adrenalin surge.
“Andres, be nice!” a woman said.
“That’s enough you two.” Peter walked over to Hollis. “You don’t seem to fit in.”
“They’re a group of idiots. I play baseball and karate.” Hollis clenched his fist.
“Don’t you have any friends here?” Peter glanced around.
“Bruce and I used to do math together, but we were forbidden from doing such.”
“Okay, I remember that.” Peter walked to Virginia. “How much longer do we have to wait?”
Another argument started between an Australian couple and some of the people who had been on the plane. The Australian man was annoyed about the delay, the lack of transportation across the water, and the group who continued to act like clowns. Hollis returned to the water’s edge and looked into its depths.
“You don’t know who you’re fucking with, pal,” Keri said.
“That’s enough for me,” the Australian man said.
“We have as much right to be here as you do,” Virginia said.
“Virginia. Take it easy.” Peter raised his hand. “We’re guests here.”
“You can rent a car and drive to Port Arthur if you like,” an airport employee said. “It’s about an hour’s drive.”
“Peter. Let’s drive over,” Hollis said.
“I guess we could. Why not?” Peter talked to the person renting vehicles. “Does anyone else want to go?”
“No, we’ll wait for the boat,” Virginia said.
“I wouldn’t go on that ride.” Bruce looked at Hollis.
Hollis and Peter got into a vehicle and followed behind the Australian couple who had gotten into the argument. Peter handed Hollis a tourist map. The map outlined the tourist stops and shops. There were no side roads leading anywhere else on the map. Colourful depictions of historic sights stood out. Hollis rolled down his window. A warm breeze blew inside. Peter glanced at him.
“Is that okay?” Hollis smiled.
“Yeah, that’s fine.” Peter nodded.
“My dad didn’t like that when I did that.”
“He probably had air conditioning.”
“No. It was the cold breeze.”
“It’s warm out.” Peter glanced ahead, as the vehicle in front disappeared from sight. “Can you tell me where we’re at?”
“I don’t even know where we are.” Tall trees outlined the road.
“That’s why I handed you the map.” Peter grimaced. “I was following behind that couple, but they’ve disappeared from sight.”
“That’s because you’re driving too slow.”
“I’m not quite sure where we’re going.”
“Well, you should have kept pace then.”
“Have a look at the damn map.”
Hollis unfolded the map. A road led to Port Arthur and seemed to hug the ocean’s edge. No other roads were on the map.
“Just stay on this road.” Hollis crumpled the map into a ball and tossed it out the window.
“Why did you do that?” Peter slapped the dashboard.
“There are no other roads listed.” Hollis chuckled. “Step on the gas and maybe you can catch up to them.” The car accelerated. Silence lasted for twenty minutes, until they drove through a forested area that strayed from the water’s edge.
“I can’t believe you did that.” Peter shook his head. “I think they turned off. I wonder if I should turn around.”
“No. The map had one direction and one road.”
“Are you sure about that?” Peter dabbed at his forehead and accelerated.
“Yes, just keep going.” Hollis questioned his own judgement and regretted having tossed the map. “What’s the rush?”
“I’m trying to catch up to them.” Peter glanced at Hollis. “I think I should have turned at that road back there.”
Silence lasted for ten minutes, as Peter focussed on the road. Then, an eerie sense overtook Hollis, as he glared into the distance.
“What was that?” Hollis looked at Peter and then over his shoulder.
“I don’t know.”
Then the car that had left from the Hobart airport appeared. It turned around a sharp corner in the road.
“I told you.”
“You’re damn lucky.” Peter slowed the vehicle and turned the corner. The ocean came into view and the eerie claustrophobia vanished. A fresh breeze blew through the open window. Rocky mounds and the occasional sandy beach appeared. Peter wound around the ocean’s edge.
“This is really nice.”
“Yeah, it is.”
Two women in bikinis walked up from the beach. Hollis waved at them and smiled. They waved back.
“Peter, let’s go chat them up.”
“No, I don’t want to be late.”
“They’re hot and friendly. Let’s go back.” Hollis glanced behind.
“They probably have boyfriends.” Peter shook his head. “I wish you hadn’t tossed that map out the window.”
“There was only one road on it and a bunch of colourful buildings.” Hollis chuckled.
“We’re almost out of gas.”
“Stop at the next gas station.” Hollis looked across the water. “I think there was one on the map.”
“Yeah.” Peter shook his head. “I’m sure there was.”
After another ten minutes of cruising, a one storey building appeared. Peter turned into its parking lot and turned the vehicle around to get into the line for gas. The vehicle that had left from the Hobart airport was also in the parking lot. A vehicle whizzed past.
“This sure is a beautiful country.” Hollis looked at the other vehicle. The vehicle that had passed stopped in front of the vehicle that had left from Hobart. “I’d like to live here.”
“If you like it here, you should do that.” Peter opened his wallet.
A man got out of the vehicle that had whizzed past. He had long straight blonde hair that hung to his shoulders. He walked up to the vehicle from Hobart. An argument started. The Australian woman yelled back. The Australian man got out of the vehicle and approached the man with blonde hair. The man with blonde hair had a rifle. He pointed the rifle at the Australian man and ordered him to get into the truck of his car. He grabbed the Australian man by the shirt, and opened the trunk of the car. He pushed the Australian man inside. He slammed the trunk closed. He strutted toward the Hobart car and fired three rounds through the front windshield. Then a red laser beam shone into the car Hollis and Peter were in.
“Holy shit, let’s get out of here.” Hollis tried to hide under the dashboard. “Peter, drive!” The man with blonde hair strutted to Peter and Hollis. He walked to Peter’s side of the vehicle. Peter rolled down his window.
“What took you so long?” The man with blonde hair had bad shaving acne. The blonde hair was a wig. He looked like a person of mixed Asian or native Canadian descent.
“Traffic, I’m, I’m here now.” Peter wiped his forehead.
“Is that him?”
“Yeah, just don’t hurt him. Whatever you do don’t hurt him. They don’t want him killed.”
The man with bad acne walked to Hollis’ side of the vehicle. He was wearing a sweater with a hood.
“Get out,” the man with bad acne said.
“What?” Hollis looked at Peter. “I thought you said I...”
“You better do what he says.” Peter glanced at the man with bad acne.
“Get out of the car now!” The man with bad acne raised his rifle.
Hollis opened the door and got out of the vehicle. He walked toward the other vehicle.
“What do you want me for?” Hollis looked back at Peter.
“Get in the car.” The man with bad acne pointed at the vehicle that had whizzed past. Hollis walked past the vehicle that had been shot. The woman inside the vehicle gasped for air. Hollis stopped and watched her take her last few breaths. He looked at the man with bad acne. “Do you want to end up like her?” The man with bad acne glared. “Get in the car!”
Hollis opened the door and sat in the passenger’s seat. It was a luxury vehicle. The man with bad acne opened the driver’s door and sat down. He started the engine and turned onto the road. Hollis glanced at the man with bad acne. The man had pulled the hood over his head.
“What do you want me for?” Hollis looked at the rifle.
“You’re going to take my place.” The man with bad acne smiled.
“What do you mean? I can identify you?” Hollis chuckled. “Do you dress?”
“Shut up! Give me that!” The man with bad acne pulled on the rifle. “Get in the backseat!”
“What?” Hollis glanced over his shoulder. A woman and what appeared to be a child were sitting in the backseat.
“Get back there!”
Hollis clambered over the seat into the back. He sat down next to the woman. She had long dark hair and brown eyes. She was groomed immaculately. Hollis looked at the child and realized that it was a dwarf. The dwarf had short blonde hair and deep blue eyes.
“Hi, I’m Hollis.” Hollis placed his hand out to shake. He felt awkward and uncomfortable. He looked to the driver. The man with bad acne had removed the wig and pulled down his hood. His head was shaven to stubble. His scalp was red in areas.
“I don’t shake hands.” The woman sneered. “...Rachel.”
“Verne,” the dwarf said. Hollis nodded.
“Who are you with?” Rachel asked. “Are you an actor?”
“Well, I did some in high school with Virginia Smith.” Hollis rubbed his chin. The man with bad acne glared into the backseat. “But she was clueless.”
“I know Virginia. She’s a very capable actress.” Rachel shook her head. “I rehearsed the part with Geoff.” Rachel had the Romeo and Juliet script in her hand. “I really want this part.”
“We did that in high school.”
“Are you prepared? You don’t know the first thing about acting do you?” Rachel turned a page.
“There’s not much to it.” Hollis contemplated if what he had just witnessed was an act. Rachel and Verne didn’t seem to be concerned at all. The man with bad acne glanced over his shoulder. He clenched his teeth.
“I confiscated this from him.” The man with bad acne held up the rifle.
“Was that you?” Rachel asked.
“I didn’t do anything.” Hollis looked at Verne and smiled. Verne slowly removed a phone from his pocket. He was filming. Hollis pointed at the man with bad acne. Verne nodded.
“What are you doing back there?” the man with bad acne asked.
“I’m Hollis.” Hollis raised his hand. “I never got your name.”
“Shut up!” The man with bad acne held up the rifle. “You’re in trouble.”
The vehicle stopped. The man with bad acne opened his door.
“Get out.” He pointed at Hollis.
“Why are we stopping?” Rachel opened her palms.
“I’m waiting for someone.” The man with bad acne got out.
Hollis opened the door and stepped onto the road. He closed the door. They had stopped at a three way intersection. He closed the door and glanced around. It was the middle of wilderness. A few minutes later, a vehicle raced toward them and skidded to a stop. The man with bad acne removed his sweater with the hood. He had a dark t-shirt underneath.
Andres from the Hobart airport got out of the car. He strutted over to the man with bad acne and Hollis.
“What took you so bloody long?” The man with bad acne grasped the rifle.
“I drove as fast as I could.” Andres glanced around. “They don’t want him hurt.”
“I’m not going to shoot him.”
“What are we doing here?” Hollis glanced at a road sign. Fortescue it said in bold letters. He glanced around at the vegetation. It was similar to his hometown, but different. “Fortescue! Where is that?”
“What? You don’t even know where we are?” The man with bad acne looked at Andres. “Why is he so special?”
“They didn’t say. They just don’t want you to shoot him.” Andres wiped his face. “They want to study him.”
“What are we doing here?” Hollis looked around for other signs. He strolled up the road toward a sign. “What do you need me for?”
“Get back here!” The man with bad acne held up his rifle.
“Why don’t you shoot me?”
“You’re going to take my place.” The man with bad acne laughed.
“That’s not going to work.” Hollis strolled back to the car. “Why did you shoot that person?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“We’re knights of Templar,” Andres said. “We have missions.” He held up a mechanically operated gun.
“I’m the head of the knights of Templar,” Hollis looked around. “Therefore, I outrank the both of you.”
“You’re not the head of the knights of Templar.” Andres shook his head.
“You think you’re one of us?” The man with bad acne banged on the trunk. “Hey, what are you doing in there?” He opened the trunk. The Australian man had a cell phone in his hand. “Did you just phone someone?” He reached for the phone. “Give me that.” He grabbed the phone. “I’ll going to have to kill you now.” He pointed the rifle.
“Don’t kill him.” Andres said. “Use this.” Andres held up the mechanical gun.
“What is that?” Hollis stepped closer.
“It’s used to prevent prisoners from escaping.” Andres adjusted the mechanical trigger to fire. “It seals after impact so they won’t bleed to death.”
“You think you’re the head of the knights of Templar!” the man with bad acne looked at Hollis. “Shoot him then.”
“Alright, give me the rifle.” Hollis reached for the rifle.
“No. Use that.” The man with bad acne pointed at the mechanical gun.
“No, he might use it on us,” Andres said.
“You’re not a night of Templar.” Hollis looked at Andres. “You have to prove your loyalty.”
“Yes I am.”
“Yeah, you shoot him.” The man with bad acne pointed the rifle at Andres. “I want to make sure.”
Andres pointed the gun at the Australian man and pulled the trigger. The bullet penetrated flesh. The Australian man moaned. The man with bad acne slammed the trunk closed. He opened the phone and looked at it. A couple of cars passed along the main road.
A minute later, a vehicle carrying a surfboard on the roof stopped. A man with blonde curly hair stepped out of the vehicle. He walked forward.
“Is this who you’re waiting for?” Hollis asked.
“No. I don’t know who this is.” The man with bad acne approached the man with curly hair. “Did you just receive a call?”
“No, I was just driving by.” The man with blonde curly hair stepped forward. “Did your car break down?”
“No.” The man with bad acne walked over to the vehicle that had a surfboard on top. He looked in the side window. “Where did you get that?” Hollis looked into the car. A rifle was sitting on the front passenger seat. “Grab that rifle.” The man with bad acne pointed at Hollis.
“You want me to get it?” Hollis chuckled. Andres walked to the car that had a surfboard on top.
“Where did you get that?” Andres asked.
“I bought it at a shop.” The man with blonde curly hair opened the door. “You can have a look at it if you want.” He removed it from the vehicle. The man with bad acne and Andres admired the gun.
“You’ve got your guy right there.” Andres smirked.
“Yeah, I know.” The man with bad acne looked at Hollis.
“I guess you don’t need me anymore.” Hollis smiled. The man with bad acne glared. “Hey, why don’t we all go for a beer and some fish and chips?” Hollis looked at the man with blonde curly hair. “Maybe you could show us around. We could go surfing.”
“Well, I’ve already eaten and I’ve only got one board.” The man with blonde curly hair shrugged.
“We could take turns. It’ll be fun.” Hollis looked around. “It’s got to be better than shooting each other. What do you say? A beer would be good. I’ll buy.”
“Well, I guess we could.” The man with curly blonde hair squinted. “What are you guys doing here anyway?”
“We’re actors. We were just rehearsing a scene, but I think we’re done.” Hollis looked at the man with bad acne. “What do you say, chief? Shall we go for a beer?”
“What did you call me?” The man with bad acne raised the rifle. He was about five feet away. Hollis felt butterflies churn.
“You better be careful what you say to him.” Andres held his hand to the rifle. “Don’t do it.”
“I’m in charge here!” The man with bad acne shook his head. “I make the decisions!”
“I could disarm you of that, you know.” Hollis said. “I’m trained in the ancient art form of Gin Loo Duck.”
“You think you could take this off me.” The man with bad acne laughed.
“I could disarm the both of you at the same time.” Hollis smiled at Andres and the man with bad acne.
“You want to try?” The man with bad acne raised the rifle. “You’ll be dead before you move.”
“You guys need to be closer.” Hollis rubbed his palms together. Andres and the man with bad acne stepped closer. Hollis motioned for them to come closer. They stepped to within reaching distance of their weapons. “Okay, you guys ready?” Hollis smiled at the man with blonde curly hair. “On the count of three.” Hollis stepped into a martial arts stance. “One...” He ducked and grabbed both weapons. Both triggers were pulled. A projectile grazed Hollis’ ear, but he had disarmed the men. “Okay!” Hollis gulped some air. “You two get out of here!”
Hollis pointed the rifle at the man with bad acne. Andres pried the weapon from the man with blonde curly hair.
“Drop the weapon!” Andres pointed the rifle at Hollis.
“Give me that back!” The man with bad acne grabbed for the rifle. “Now!”
Hollis lowered the weapon. He tossed the mechanical weapon at Andres. The man with bad acne took the rifle.
“Come on.” Hollis looked at the man with curly blonde hair. “We had them.”
“I could have shot you. You know.” The man with curly blonde hair stepped forward. “This isn’t a toy weapon like the ones you guys are using. This is a real gun. Someone could get hurt.”
The man with bad acne pointed the rifle at Hollis. Then the door to the car opened. Rachel and Verne exited the car.
“What is going on?” Rachel grimaced. “Why are we stopped here?”
“I’m pretty sure I’ve got the guy!” The man with bad acne waved the rifle. Then high pitched yelling like at the gas station rang out. Hollis thought that the man with bad acne would shoot Rachel. “Drive the car!” The man with bad acne walked to the car with a surfboard on top. He opened the door. “Go! Get in!” He opened the glove box and tossed in a set of keys. He removed a can. Rachel and Verne got in the car and drove away. “Give him his weapon back!” Andres handed the rifle to the man with blonde curly hair.
“Why don’t we have teams?” Hollis looked at the man with blonde hair. “Me and him versus you two. We can have a shootout.”
“What?” The man with bad acne shook his head.
“Come on, it’ll be fun.” Hollis looked at Andres. “What do you say? You guys take that car and we’ll take the other.” Hollis pointed at the luxury car.
“I like the idea, but we don’t have enough ammo,” Andres said.
“No.” The man with bad acne shook his head.
“This is a real gun. Someone could actually get hurt.” The man with curly blonde hair held up his rifle.
“I thought you guys were the Knights of Templar.” Hollis glanced at Andres.
“I am.” Andres looked at the man with bad acne. “He’s not really and neither are you.”
“What did you say?” The man with bad acne raised his rifle.
“Look. You’re both mixed. You can be one of our soldiers, but you can’t be one of us.”
“You better be careful what you say to him,” Hollis said.
“That’s right.” The man with bad acne pointed the rifle at Andres.
“Okay, I’m sorry. It’s not your fault.” Andres shook his head. “Look, you got the guy you need.” Moaning emanated from the car. “I can’t believe I got involved in this.” Andres paced back and forth. “Do you know how to get rid of the weapons? You need to...”
“Of course I do! Don’t start telling me what to do!” The man with bad acne raised his rifle. “I’m in charge here! Understand?”
“Okay, you’re in charge. This is your mission.” Moaning from the car increased. “I don’t want to get involved anymore. I’m not taking the blame for this. I have my own mission.”
“Get out of here then.” The man with bad acne rubbed his chin.
“Okay, I’m leaving.” Andres looked at Hollis. “You should come with me. We picked our teams.” He looked at the man with bad acne. “They don’t want him hurt. You’ve got your guy.”
“Okay.” The man with bad acne nodded.
“No, I’m not going with you.” Hollis shook his head.
“Do what you like then.” Andres got into his car and raced off.
Hollis bolted toward the man with bad acne and grabbed the rifle. He push kicked into his abdomen and pried the weapon loose. He pointed the weapon at the man with bad acne and placed his finger on the trigger.
“What the fuck are you thinking? Okay, get the fuck out of here!”
“Let me take the car.”
“No, just fucking run! You should have left with that kid!” Hollis contemplated shooting the man with bad acne in the knees and immobilizing him, but he knew that he would be left holding the rifle that had shot the woman at the store. “Just go.” Hollis looked at the man with curly blonde hair. “Isn’t there a police force in this town?”
“No, not really. We just sort of deal with these kinds of problems on our own,” the man with curly blonde hair said.
“Drop the rifle!” a voice yelled. Hollis glanced over his shoulder. A man with a tattoo across his face had dismounted from a motorcycle. He was pointing a hand gun at Hollis. He was about forty feet away. He was wearing a jacket with insignias on it. “Drop the rifle now!”
“You had better do what he says,” the man with curly blonde hair said.
“Can I toss it toward you?” Hollis glanced at the man with a tattoo.
“No! Drop it right there!” the man with a tattoo said. Hollis dropped the rifle on the ground. “Did someone just call me?” The man with bad acne darted to the rifle and grabbed it.
“No.” Hollis shook his head.
“No,” the man with curly blonde hair said.
“Well, someone just called,” the man with the tattoo said.
“Yeah, that was me.” The man with bad acne held up the confiscated phone. “I can handle it from here.” He pointed the rifle at the man with a tattoo. “You’d better get going.” A laser beam reflected off the forehead of the man with a tattoo. The man with the tattoo mounted his motorcycle.
“What, are you just going to take off now?” Hollis raised his arms to the side.
“I think I’ve made a mistake, but there’s nothing I can do now.” The man with the tattoo drove away.
“Who the fuck is going to show up next?” Hollis looked around. “Tony Montana?” The man with bad acne pointed the rifle at Hollis. “I guess you’re going to shoot me now.”
“The only reason I’m not going to shoot you is because you didn’t shoot me.” The man with bad acne opened the trunk on the car. “Get in there!”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Don’t fucking worry about it!”
“Is there someone else who put you up to this?
“Yeah, there is someone higher up!”
“Who is it?”
“I’m not going to fucking tell you.”
“Can’t I just wait here?” Hollis glanced at the man with blonde hair. He was standing by the passenger door of the car.
“No! Get inside!”
“Come on, there’s enough room in the car.”
“No. Get in there!”
Hollis clambered into the truck of the car with the Australian man. The trunk slammed closed and brought darkness. The roar of the engine and the vibration of the road indicated that the vehicle was moving. Hollis bumped into the Australian man.
“Sorry.” Hollis braced his feet against the side of the car. “Hi, I’m Hollis.”
“Glen,” the Australian man moaned.
“Fuck. That guy was useless.”
“I never should have called him,” Glen moaned. “You had the rifle, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I should have shot him.”
“No, you don’t want to do that.”
“Could you hear us talking?”
“Yes, do you think you’re the head of the Knights of Templar?”
“No, I was just trying to delay them until the police arrived.”
“Okay, I understand. There’s no police around here, though.”
Bumps in the road pushed Hollis over Glen into the back of the trunk. He noticed something and pushed on it. The back seat thrust forward. Hollis pushed through the opening into the backseat. AC/DC blared from the speakers. The rifle was resting in between the front seats. Hollis grabbed it.
“Fucking crank it!” Hollis sang along with the song. Highway to Hell roared.
“What? How the fuck did you get in here!” The man with bad acne glanced over his shoulder and struggled to maintain control over the vehicle.
“Ancient Chinese secret, chief.” Hollis shook his head up and down.
“Don’t fucking call me that!” The man with bad acne accelerated. “Hey, give me that!” Hollis held the rifle, but it was too awkward to point at the man with bad acne. “I’ll fucking run it off the road!” The vehicle accelerated.
“Settle down, chief!” Hollis looked at the man with blonde hair. “Come on, let’s get into it!” Hollis gyrated to the music and sang like a rocker in a mosh-pit. “Turn up the volume!”
“I listen to this shit all the time.” The man with curly blonde hair shook his head. “We’re trying to have a conversation here.”
“Okay, I got a joke for you. If a pig’s ass is pork what’s the hole?” Hollis tried to manipulate the weapon to point it at the man with bad acne’s head.
“What kind of a thing is that to ask?” The man with curly blonde hair shook his head. “That is bloody stupid. You’re in a lot of trouble if you did what he said you did.” Hollis shifted the rifle’s barrel toward the man with acne’s head.
“Don’t fucking point that thing at me!” The man with bad acne reached for the rifle. He grabbed the barrel and flipped the end over his head and pointed it out the driver’s side window. The man with bad acne held it with one hand while steering with the other. The vehicle swerved into oncoming traffic. He switched grips with his other hand. Oncoming vehicles swerved to avoid a collision. A couple of shots fired and hit oncoming traffic. A vehicle swerved into the ditch.
“Holy fucking Christ!” Hollis yelled.
“I’ll drive this fucking thing into a tree.” The vehicle accelerated. Hollis let go of the rifle after another vehicle ran into the ditch. “Get back in there!”
Hollis clambered into the trunk of the car and pulled the seat shut.
“Is this just an act you guys are doing?” Glen said.
“I’m not acting.” Hollis braced his weight against the side of the vehicle. “Is that thing in your leg real?”
“Oh God, have mercy.” Panic overtook, as Hollis and Glen realized the predicament they were in. Hollis had thought that maybe it was an act at the service station, but now the reality of the situation had set in.
“I should have shot that bastard when I had the chance.”
“No, you don’t want to start doing that.”
“Well, he killed your wife.”
“Oh God, oh no. I can’t take this. Oh God.” Glen sobbed.
“Sorry, sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe, she’s okay. I’m sure an ambulance arrived. She’s probably just fine.” Hollis trembled. Glen sobbed.
“We have to get out of here.” Hollis clambered over Glen. “I’ll try to pick the lock on the trunk.”
“I don’t care. I’m done. I’m going to die.”
“We’re still alive. Don’t you want to get this bastard?”
“There’s nothing I can do.”
“Do you have a pen and paper?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact I do.”
“Could you write a letter about what happened?”
“Yes, I guess I could do that.”
“Cause he wants to blame me for this.”
“He’s going to use that other guy. I’m surprised he didn’t shoot the both of us.”
“I guess he wants hostages.”
Hollis worked on unlocking the trunk while Glen wrote a letter. A few minutes later, the car stopped. Then the sound and smell of diesel poured onto the car. The noise stopped abruptly, but the scent lingered. Hollis and Glen waited in silence for a few moments.
“We’ve got to get out of here.” Hollis opened the trunk. He stepped out and hid behind the car. He glanced around its side. The man with bad acne and the man with the curly blonde hair were walking toward a house. Hollis looked behind him. The road was about thirty yards away. He contemplated running in that direction, but realized that he would be an easy target if discovered. “Come on, let’s go.”
“You’ve got to get out of here. He poured gas on the car.” Hollis helped Glen out of the trunk. “Can you run? He hasn’t noticed us yet.” The man with curly blonde hair and the man with bad acne were about thirty yards from the car. “No, I’m done.”
“Can you pull it out?” Glen handed Hollis the letter. Hollis took a drop of blood from Glen and a drop from his ear and sealed the letter. He placed it in his pocket.
“No, I’ve tried. It has barbs.”
“I don’t think I can carry you.”
“Don’t worry about me. If it was the other way around I’d run. Go ahead, save yourself. I’ll just wait here.”
“Okay, I’ll go get some help.”
“Yes, that sounds like a good idea.”
Hollis sprinted to his left, toward shrubbery and trees.
“For fuck sakes! Get back here! Now!” The man with bad acne raised his rifle. A red laser beam reflected off a tree. “I’ll fucking shoot you!” Shots were fired, but the trees and shrubbery blocked the bullets path. Hollis sprinted about one hundred yards and then stopped. He turned around. The man with bad acne was dragging Glen at gunpoint toward a house. Hollis carved his initials into a tree and then continued running through long grass and shrubbery.
He looked down a ravine toward the road. The car he had arrived in was meandering along the road. Hollis clambered down the ravine toward the car.
“Peter! Peter! Stop!” Hollis jumped toward the car. He opened the door and sat down in the passenger seat. “Holy fuck, I can’t believe I escaped.”
“I was about to leave.”
“We’ve got to go back and get that guy!”
“What for? You were just there.”
“I have to tell someone what happened! Come on, let’s go!”
“We’ll miss our flight.” Peter drove the car toward the driveway that Hollis had escaped from. The road was surrounded with men carrying rifles.
“We should tell someone what happened.”
“We’re better off not getting involved. You’re lucky to have escaped.” Peter turned around and headed back to the Hobart airport. “They’ll take care of it.”
They arrived at the Hobart airport and eventually boarded the plane. Hollis told everyone what had taken place, but nobody seemed interested. There was about an hour’s layover at another airport. When they arrived every television station was broadcasting the events that had taken place in Port Arthur.
They decided to have the auditions at the airport. Hollis did an audition for a Lucky Beer commercial and he did an audition for The Fast and the Furious with Vin, Chris, Paul and Jack. He spoke to Vin and told him what had happened. He described the individual that had shot the woman at the store.
“He had bad acne and was mixed native or Asian,” Hollis said.
“I think I know who you are talking about,” Vin said.
A number of other people did auditions. Hollis told a few other actors, like Mel, Heath and Mario. Apparently, someone who fit that description had missed their flight. Hollis was offered a contract for the Lucky Beer commercial, but Virginia refused to let him sign for it and ripped up the contract. When the auditions ended, they boarded a plane. Hollis went home and contemplated what to do. He phoned Tasmania without success and turned the letter that Glen had written to local authorities.