THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACK

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 03

 
 

"Damn!" The muttered curse was the last of a stream of colourful language that had left Will’s lips within the last five minutes. His patience was all but spent and he was getting close to giving up. But he knew deep in his heart that he wouldn’t. He was determined to get this machine in the air, even if it killed him, and it nearly had on too many occasions to recall.

Reaching for the oily rag that was tucked into the back pocket of his matching oily jeans, Will wiped the river of moisture that ran freely down his rugged features, leaving a smear of grease that circled his face. A healthy shadow of stubble made his features even blacker than they already were leaving the penetrating blue gaze the only clear thing on his handsome face.

Will was aware that his frustrations were not only aimed at the hunk of machine that hovered above like a stalking praying mantis. The two solid chrome engine cases shone down on him like two great beady eyes. The tangle of wires and hoses twitched and throbbed like legs and antennae. But the image turned when those hunks of chrome became two brooding chocolate pools of ecstasy, and the rubbery tentacles became slender arms reaching out to stroke his hair, and his face. Will’s eyes fluttered shut as he lost himself in the dream until he felt something hit his chin, bringing him back to earth with a painful clunk as his forehead hit the chassis with shock.

"Shit!" the last expletive exploded from his lips as he brusquely dabbed at the offending splodge with his finger tip and discovered it was oil. Shuffling his long form out from under the handmade micro-light, his frown slowly turned to a grin as he realised that the leak was the answer to the puzzle that had been plaguing him for the last three days. He had obviously had a leak, and now that it had finally shown its face as it were, he could deal with it.

With a new bounce in his step, Will ambled over to his trailer, come camp, come home, and began raking in the massive toolbox that was almost his best friend. Everything he wanted in life, was in that box, or so he once thought, until he came here. Until he saw her.

Will didn’t know whether to curse the day he had arrived or consider it his saviour. Up to the moment when his eyes had met hers in that damn church, Will had always thought he’d had it all; Freedom, his bike, his hobby and his looks if he wanted a ’little light entertainment’ on the road. He was always on the road, searching for that perfect stretch of emptiness to get his machine where he wanted it to go. Up there, amongst the stars.

Not the clouds, Will wasn’t interested in the clouds, he wanted to fly at night. He didn’t know why, but the burning desire to get up there was all he wanted to do in his life, or so he thought. As soon as he had pulled into the quaint little town he felt...something. He thought it was because he had found the perfect runway just a couple of miles away. Somewhere he wouldn’t get any hassle about the noise being in the middle of nowhere and being near enough to civilisation for supplies.

The added bonus was having a not so close relative that he could bum a bath off occasionally and a decent free meal. Unfortunately he had turned up, out of the blue in the middle of preparations for the biggest wedding that the town had seen for a long time.

******

His uncle had been overjoyed to see him, even if he had managed to hide his distaste at the foul aroma that clung to his nephew like a swarm of gnats. The mixture of burnt oil, old clothes,worn leather and body sweat had hit his nostrils the moment he had opened the door.

Well, he didn’t really even open the door. It had been propped open since the crack of dawn as the constant stream of people, deliveries and general mayhem had filtered through it non stop.

And then this giant of a man had stepped through. He looked like he wanted to anywhere but there as he systematically rotated the goggles in his huge hands. A mixture of acute embarrassment, unease and fatigue etched his features. But even beside all that James Riker knew who the boy was as soon as he saw him.

William Riker, only son of his only brother, the son of a bitch that he was. Upped and left the boy before he had even left school. But when he had turned up at his home in the boonies he got a surprise at just how independent and proud the youngster was. He had flatly refused to come back home with him and threatened that if he did, he would have been gone by the following morning. He recalled the moment like it was yesterday when William stood tall and proud before him and told him in no uncertain terms that, ’he needed nobody and when he did, he would go out there and find somebody.’

James could only turn away leaving the boy with the assurance that when ever he needed someone, their door would always be open for him. He made himself a bet that Will would turn up within the month. He lost the bet.

But here he was, on his doorstep, on his daughters wedding day. James didn’t give the young man the chance to turn and run. He wanted to get to know him a little, find out what he had been doing with his life. So before Will could change his mind, James had drawn him into the barely controlled chaos, fed him, asked him if he had any tidy clothes and promptly shooed him off upstairs for a bath. One hour later, William had nervously walked down the stairs in a pair of newish black jeans, and a white T shirt with the words, ’Reach for the stars’ emblazoned across his massive chest, and his leather jacket casually slung over his shoulder.

And that was how Will found himself in church, right in the middle. He had tried to hang back so that he didn’t stick out like a sore thumb, but his uncle had other ideas, pushing him right into the heart of the melee. But short of being rude, Will had no choice but to keep shaking the constant flow of hands that appeared out of nowhere, which even he suspected were people only curious to find out who he was. One look at those eyes told most of them that he was a close relation to the infamous Riker family.

It had been a long time since Will had been around so many people, in fact he didn’t think he ever had. He felt his inner panic begin to surface. He had to get out of there. Turning, he sought his escape route, but instead of his eyes finding the door to freedom. they settled on just about the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

In an instant, the church and its occupants had disappeared leaving only him and her. Two souls reached out for home and found it in each others hearts that had opened to let one another in.

Home.

All their lives they had searched for something...someone, and here it was, here they were. If Will could have reached out and touched her, he would have, but he had no chance of moving from his spot. He was trapped, but he didn’t care any longer. Reaching out with his mind, he let his thoughts do the caressing, lets his dreams give her the kiss that he so desperately wanted to give. Let his eyes show her the love that poured freely from his heart.

But seconds later, she was snatched away by the woman beside her, he guessed it was her mother. The rest of the wedding jollities passed in somewhat of a blur. Wanting to do nothing more than leave, maybe trawl the streets until he hopefully saw her, Will could do nothing as he had travelled to the wedding in one of the other guests cars, leaving his beloved possessions parked out of sight in his uncles garage. He wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry.

By the time Will had finally left, it was dark. He had work to do. Tonight he was taking ’The Spirit of Free Enterprise’, that was what he had called his project- his baby, for its first serious trial run. Tonight he was going to be able to get it to its maximum speed and hopefully get it off the ground.

Tonight his dream was going to come true.

*****

After three days, Will was beginning to lose faith. Three days of struggling with a lousy second hand engine, a tyre that refused to stay up and a motor problem of some sort, was beginning to take its toll on his sanity. It was the motor problem that was worrying him. He had no way of buying another engine, he had already sold everything he owned, except his motorcycle, his trailer and its few meagrely contents. Selling his home had brought those, he remembered handing over the key with a sneer that he wished his father could have witnessed.

Every good thing that he wanted to remember about his birth place was tucked away in his heart and in his head. His only request to the new owners was that his mothers resting place would never be desecrated in any way. They had given him their solemn word that they wouldn’t and Will was content with that. He had to be because he didn’t ever intend going back.

*****

Scratching about in the deepest recesses of the tool box, he at last found what he was looking for; One solitary piece of gum, the answer to his prayers. Will even kissed it because without it, he was doomed. Shuffling his lean body back under his machine, he made good the tiny slit in the hose, then sat back against the trailer wheel and waited for the gum to harden.

Taking a long drink from his water canteen, Will tipped a little into his hand and wiped it over his face and around the back of his neck, chuckling gleefully as he realised that he had smeared even more oil on him than before. He ruefully figured that he’d have to visit the small lake a while away to take an impromptu bath a little later, after dark.

Will dozed a while as the last of the days heat turned to a more acceptable level. When he woke, his eyes, and his attention fixed on the hilly outcrop a mile or so away. To the outskirts of town, her town. God, he wished he had finished filling his fuel can the other day so that he could have followed her, found out where she lived. Every part of him ached to see her, to talk to her...To love her, but he knew it was a lost cause...that he was a lost cause. He was the last person that she should have got tangled up with. A man with no home, no money, no future, nothing. Except the dream that sat barely twenty foot away from him.

No, he had to stay away. That’s why he turned down his cousins invitation to the party. He would not have fitted in, and chances are, ’she’ would have been there, and as much as he needed to see her again, to talk to her, if only for a minute, he knew that he couldn’t. Shouldn’t.

But heaven help him, he wanted to. He imagined her sitting up on that hill top, watching him, watching him take his first flight. Watching him make his own dream come true. And it was with her in mind that he fired up the engine and taxied to the furthest point of the runway and hit the accelerator.

 
     
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