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Driving on the Other Side ( Part 28 )

February 15, 2014

After cleaning up and changing clothes, Billy came downstairs to enter into “Cocktail Hour”, a nightly routine in the home of the Hunters. Both Jack and Heddy were dressed for dinner and were waiting for their guest to make an appearance. Jack inquires, ” what will you have Billy?” Bender with a nice smile replies, “Red Wine, please”. The three sit and make small talk, the main topic is Fly Fishing, it is the, where’s, how’s, best fishing, Salmon vs Trout, etc…On the coffee table in front of the couch is a silver platter adorned with Smoked Salmon, Wild Boar, and dried Red Stag. The polite small talk continues, until the phone rings, Heddy answers, it’s Ann, she wants to know everything. Heddy tells Ann about the great catch Billy had earlier, in detail, Ann is thrilled and wants to speak with Billy. ” Oh, that is just wonderful, your largest trout ever, on my River? That is so great! Wish I could have been there, it would have been so much fun!” Came from an excited Ann Hunter. ” Billy, the reason I’m calling is to let you know, that I’m having to Fly to France for another photo shoot, it’s some promotional shoot for the movie, and unfortunately, I cannot say no, so I’m off in a couple of hours, flying straight from Sydney. I’m very sorry, I’m just so busy right now, it would have been a blast, hope you understand”, came from Ann. Billy replied, ” no problem, your parents are fantastic, I’m having a great time, just wish you could have been here, but, maybe another time”. Jack and Heddy looked at each other, they knew what that meant, Ann wasn’t coming, and Billy was leaving.  Billy handed the phone to Jack so he could say good night, Heddy with tight white colored lips says to Billy, ” I’m so sorry for both of you, the girl is just so busy right now, I wish she could slow down some, but I guess she has to do what she has to do, oh well.

The dinner was a lamb stew, it was spectacular, the conversation not so much, all three were extremely disappointed, and Jack finally said to Billy, ” you know your welcome to stay as long as you’d like, Heddy and I both enjoy your company, and it’s nice to have a guest for a change of pace. If you’d like to stay and fish, you’re more than welcome, we both mean this sincerely, it’s up to you”. With a half smile, Billy says, ” thank you both, your great host, I feel like I need to meet up with some old friends who are hiking the Milford Track, they should be just about through, I could head over that way and meet them at the Trails end and surprise them. If you don’t mind, I would really enjoy wetting a line in the early AM, then head out before mid-day”. Jack, ” of course, do you mind if I join you in the AM, I’d enjoy to fish with you once again before your off”. Bender snaps, ” Jack, that would be great, I’m off to bed, see you in the wee hours, say 6:00?” Jack and Heddy both say goodnight and head off to bed, Billy goes outside for a walk down by the river.

It’s a Moonlit night, calm, and warm, rare for a summer night in New Zealand. Sitting on the grassy bank above the cool waters of the Hunter, Bender can hear trout slurping some kind of bugs from the surface of the water. In the light of the Moon, he can now see rings where the trout were feeding, and just like a few nights earlier at Kate’s pond, Billy can see huge Yellow Mayflies hatching and flying off the river like poor flying helicopters.

Bender’s mind is not on fishing, but rather on women, two in particular. Jane, and Ann, at this point it looks like Ann was just a fantasy, beautiful, talented, athletic, successful, and worldly. Due to her age, and job demands, Ann was not a realistic option, unfortunately, they met at a time that just wouldn’t work, as Billy thought of what might have been, it just wasn’t going to happen. But, on the other hand, Jane re-enters Benders life at a time where Billy thinks he just might be ready now to spend the rest of his life with the most Beautiful women he has ever known. This could work, and of all the women Billy Bender has ever known, Jannie was the one who he never could forget. They were two peas in a pod, mutt, and Jeff, Ying and yang… That was it, tomorrow he would drive to the Trailhead of the Milford Track and find Janie and Kelly, and see if this could work, would Jane Greenfield  be the one, after all these years, it looked like it was just meant to be, why else would he re-unite with her at the end of the earth?

Kelly awoke with the sun, the other hikers were still sleeping in their bunks, on her way to the outhouse, she spots the two sleeping bags that are packed together under a large tree near the creek. “Janie, Jane, Janiiieee” came from the curious Redhead, who wanted to know what exactly what transpired the night before. Ahead of blonde hair semi rises off her pillow, to see Kelly standing over her with a wad of Toilet paper in hand. ” What time is it”? as the blonde hair returns to the comfort of the small white pillow. “Kelly, what are you doing up so early, we have a short day hiking today, let’s sleep some, go back to bed”. A frustrated Kelly replies, ” I can’t, I’m up, let’s get going before the sand flies and no-see-ums wake up, they were just awful yesterday, maybe we could hike out today if we start early, come on Janie. Let’s go sleep in a real bed, and eat some fresh seafood, have a nice bottle of wine, let’s get going!” Mark is up and listening to the conversation, he pipes in, “well, we could do the big hike out, but that means getting going now, and hiking all day, but we could do it, long day, but it can be done”. Kelly, ” hear that Jane, we can be out of here today, let’s do it, let us get going”. Jane, ” OK, let’s do it, I’m not digging these biting bugs, and the ground is a bit hard, and that is not the only thing that is hard”, Jane is giggling, at Kelly’s expense. The Three break camp in a hurry, and start their very long hike out, Kelly leads the way.

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