Friday, November 16, 2007

Mossy's Backpackers #13

“I can’t believe you’re actually leaving.”

“I know, but it’s past time to be moving on.”

“Where will you go first?”

“There’s a hostel on the coast, about a five hour drive south of here that I’ve heard great things about.”

“Oh yeah, The Captain’s Shack? Everyone I’ve met who’s stayed there has raved about it.”

“So you’re off on Saturday then?” Cate managed to squeeze in before either of the guys could blabber on.

“Aye, that’s the plan,” Greg replied as he looked up from the map he had spread across the dinner table. “There was no way Cindy was gonna miss Girls Night Out.”

“Like you would miss another night hanging out with the boys,” Cate chided him.

“Aye, well, there’s that. Max is gonna let me pick out the movies too!”

“Don’t make me regret it,” Max shot back. “I’ll kick you out a night early if you come in here with Bridget Jones’s Diary and Johnny English.”

“Two fine movies in their own right, but I shall do my best to find something everyone can enjoy,” Greg answered as he swept his arm around to encompass the entire hostel. Then, as though he truly could not resist the temptation, he cheekily added, “Not just you.”

Max shook his head and went back to studying the map. It was Wednesday evening and the hostel had a pleasant buzz in the air. All but a few guests had finished cleaning up after their dinner and were strewn throughout the common rooms engaged in muted conversation. Someone had put a Ben Harper cd on the stereo and his soulful voice made a perfect backdrop for the scene.

Max smiled contentedly. Vibe Quality Control was a happy man on this night.

“I won’t believe you two are actually leaving until I see you lug your bags out the door,” Max told him. “And even then I won’t rent your room for at least a week cuz I’ll be expecting you back any hour.”

“You’re a big sentimental sap, you know that right?” Greg accused him, but Max could tell he was touched. At least he thought he was – it was equally likely his pained expression was a result of the beans on toast he had eaten for dinner.

“I’ve just gotten used to having your ugly mug around,” Max said distractedly as he traced the route south with his finger. “It won’t be the same here without you two Brit’n up the place.”

“What about you mate?” Greg asked from across the table. “You can’t stay here forever.”

Max did not look up but he still noticed Cate shifting awkwardly in her seat to his left. They had not had more than a few minutes alone together since Monday afternoon and he could feel their interrupted conversation hanging between them.

You should really get on that you –

Yes, I know, Max thought for the tenth time that day.

“And you’re looking awful fond of that map,” Greg added when Max didn’t respond. “The road is calling you again isn’t it?”

Max looked up and glanced around the room, being careful not to catch Cate’s eye as he did so.

“It’s hard to leave a place like this,” he finally said. “You get settled in, get comfortable. You get to know people, really know them – not just the usual ten minute chat then goodbye forever. It’s places like this where you make the connections that last even after you’re back home. And you just know everywhere you go after here won’t be able to measure up.”

“That doesn’t mean those places aren’t worth seeing,” Cindy said as she joined them at the table, cuddling up to Greg. “You know there are places here you would love to see. Things you’d love to do. If you keep putting it off, before you know it you’ll be sitting at home wondering why you never saw or did any of it.”

“I know, I know,” Max said as he raised his hands in front of himself to fend her words off. “Being a born procrastinator doesn’t help anything either. I just need to set aside some time to draw up a concrete plan of how I want to spend the rest of my trip.”

“When are you going back home, April?” Greg asked.

“Yeah, at the latest. Anything past that and me mum will get me deported.”

“So about four months from now, that’s heaps of time,” Cindy said as she placed her guidebook on the table and started flipping through it.

“Ah, yeah, but I’m definitely spending Christmas and New Year’s here so it’s more like three,” Max said a bit defensively. “What are you doing?”

“No time like the present,” Cindy replied without looking up. “You have some spare paper hun?”

“I do indeed,” Greg answered with an apologetic shrug in Max’s direction. He then nonchalantly pulled a pen and two sheets of lined paper from underneath his map.

“You cheeky bastards,” Max told them with narrowed eyes. “Looks like you weren’t just planning your own departure, hmm?”

“We were worried about you staying here too long,” Cindy replied with her nose still buried in her Lonely Planet. “We’ve been talking about you -”

“You’ve been talking about me?” Max gave Cate an exasperated look. “You see what I have to put up with? With friends like these -”

“One should consider oneself very lucky,” Cate smiled. “This will be fun – so where are we sending him first?”

Sending? I’m not -”

“That depends on how he’ll be traveling,” Greg answered as though Max had not spoken. “Are you planning on going around by thumb again?”

“Er, I hadn’t really thought about it. This is completely ridiculous, you’re all aware of that, right?”

“You have given no thought as to how you’ll be getting around after you leave here?” Cindy asked, finally looking up.

“Well, I mean…”

“Bloody hell, this is going to be a long night,” she sighed.

“I’ll get the beer,” Cate said, standing up with a gleam in her eye. “And don’t worry you two, I’ll make sure he sticks to whatever plan we draw up tonight.”

“Oh for crying – and how will you manage that?” Max asked, crossing his arms across his chest.

“Simple: by going with you.” And with that she turned and disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Max staring after her, his mouth gaping.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice storyline,
really liking it.