Chapter 24: It's A Long Way To The Shops (if you want a Chiko Roll)

Author: Jennifer Keaton
Date: 27th October 1997

Erica was, to quote Alison Moyet, all cried out. As far as she was concerned she had given a whole lot of lovin' and life had given her way more than one handful of nothing.

She picked herself up off the road, gently testing everything to make sure it was still there and still functioning.

And then she threw up.

Moving into the bushes, she disgorged the contents of her stomach, which to be honest, wasn't much. She hadn't had much of a chance to eat lately, so all there was, was bile. Foul-tasting, yellow bile.

To compounding the problems generated by being in a car accident, her throat was sore and the muscles in her stomach and chest ached and she really needed to brush her teeth.

She heard a car approach and she decided to stop feeling miserable and to flag the car down, or at least stop feeling miserable long enough to get a lift.

As the car approached the mangled wreck of the BMW, it slowed down and Erica realised it was the black car from the gym in Narrabeen. Maybe. For all Erica knew it could be a completely different evil-looking car.

Just to be safe, Erica moved back into the bushes and watched.

She saw the evil-looking car stop.

She saw two evil-looking men get out

"Where is that fucking bitch?" said the most evil-looking of the two.

"I am so ready to kill that scrag," said the other sardonically, with an evil looking smile that certainly made up for the lack of evil-look compared to his companion. "Maybe she's made it to Byron."

Climbing back into the car, the two headed off.

At that moment Erica decided there were about 487 million places she'd rather be than Byron Bay.

Begrudgingly, she started down the road.

The Roadhouse at the Mobil Service Station in Karuah had a photocopied clipping from the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living section stuck near the cash register, which said it served the best salad at a petrol station restaurant on the north side of the Pacific Highway. Since the Roadhouse's salad consisted of iceberg lettuce, shredded carrot and a piece of orange, it probably said more about service station cuisine than the Roadhouse's charm. It probably said a lot about the Good Living Section, as well.

Erica stared at the sign as she cursed herself for having arrived at the Service Station just as a coach transporting ugly people to an ugly holiday at Surfer's Paradise arrived, creating a queue for ugly food.

Still, she had decided she could go a Chiko Roll, and go one she would.

As she wolfed down the deep fried snack with cabbage-like content, she formulated a plan: the petrol station, as well as vending petrol, sold ugly tie died t-shirts with 'Australia' written on them and mirrored sunglasses with ugly rainbow straps.

After purchasing these and doing a quick change in the festering toilets, she mingled in with the passengers as they boarded the coach and picked an inconspicuous seat at the back.

As the coach pulled out and headed North, Erica sighed: the plan seemed to be working, except she had forgotten to bring anything to read and the in-bus entertainment was Free Willy 2.

Still, at least she had time to wonder about what she should do next, to puzzle over what Trudee meant by that Royal Jelly remark, and ponder what had happened to Trudee anyway.

Deep in thought the bus ploughed on, the hum of the engines was soothing and for the first time in ages, Erica drifted off to sleep.

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