Friday, March 14, 2008

Mossy's Backpackers #21

“Max? Wake up mate.”

Make the bad man go away.

“Come on, we need to get going,” Greg said, grabbing Max’s shoulder and shaking roughly.

Oh God, don’t do that…

“Unless you want me to ruin that shirt,” he finished aloud.


“No shaking,” he mumbled. “Contents are volatile and under extreme pressure.”

“Gotcha,” Greg said as he took two big steps back. “Regardless, we need to get moving. The sun’s only been up for a couple hours and it’s already hot. If we wait much longer we’ll get fried on the road back to Mossy’s.”

“Mossy!” Tobias said excitedly, almost falling off his log. “We should call him, get him to pick us up!”

“Lovely idea, except for two things,” Cindy replied from her seat beside him. “One – he’s probably in as bad a shape as we are, or worse. And two… nobody brought a cell phone.”

“Bloody hell,” Max groaned and rolled onto his right side, coming face to face with the blackened end of a large log. “Who let me sleep so close to the fire?”

“You were quite insistent,” Cate said from behind him. He flopped onto his back again and looked to his left to see her sitting cross-legged beside him. “Hi.”

“Hi,” he grunted back, somehow managing to inject some affection into it. His effort was rewarded with a laugh and a tussle of his hair.

“Alright, seriously – get off yer arse,” Greg said. “We’re all dehydrated already and it’s only going to get worse.”

“Fine, fine… I’m up, I’m up Captain Sunshine,” Max grumbled, shaking sand out of his clothes. Cate stood up and attempted to clean off the blanket they had been sharing. Once most of the sand was set free she folded it up and stuffed it into her daypack.

“We all set?” Diego asked as he placed the last empty into a grocery bag. “Oh, don’t forget the guitar Max.”

Max slowly turned around to find the hostel’s acoustic guitar resting against a pile of driftwood.

Oh yeah…

“Right. I forgot I was that drunk,” he said quietly.

“You do a pretty good Jack Johnson,” Cate said as she passed it over. Without a word Max put his head and right arm though the strap and slung the guitar across his back.

“What, you’re not going to serenade us on the walk back?” Greg asked.

“I’m almost sober now,” Max replied flatly.

“So that’s a no then?”

“Technically, I believe that was a ‘hell no’,” he said as he led the way off the beach and onto the road. Before long the eight of them were strolling along side by side, effectively taking up both sides of the road. Cate was immediately to his right, with Jay and Tim beside her. To his left were Greg, Cindy, Diego and Tobias.

“You know,” Tim began, “I may be a long way from friends and family but I can’t remember ever having a more enjoyable New Year’s Eve.”

“Same here,” Max said with a smile.

“Me too, I’m going to miss you guys,” Tobias said sadly.

“I think I’ve had one better,” Diego said, “but I don’t really remember it. All I know for sure is that I was 18, single and on a beach in Cancun.”

“Now that’s a recipe for a damn good night,” Tim said with more than a hint of admiration in his voice.

“Well I’ll email you some of my pictures to make sure you remember this one,” Cate said as she patted her daypack.

Oh no, photographic evidence…

“Can I, um, have a look at those?” Max asked.

Good thinking! Now to drop it in a way that looks accidental…

Oh shut up.

“Yeah, of course,” she replied as she pulled the digital camera out and passed it over. “Just use the left and right arrows to scroll through them.”

The first few depicted the party at the hostel, including a particularly sexy shot of Greg eating one of the tacos Diego had cooked up.

“Nice mate,” Max said, tilting the camera so that Greg could see it.

“Oh lovely, ye got me good side,” Greg said.

“What?” Cindy said as she looked over his shoulder. “Oh, that’s not a shot of yer bum at all.”

Max laughed loudly and returned to scrolling through the pictures. Next up were a series of shots taken during their drunken promenade to the beach. The highlights were unquestionably the set of Tobias falling into, landing in and being hauled out of the roadside ditch. Twice.

“I don’t know how you’re able to walk right now,” Max told him.

“I don’t feel a thing but I suspect that’ll change by dinner,” Tobias said. “Speaking of which, if you need me between one and five I’ll be in the shower. Draining all the hot water out of this district.”

The last pictures documented their arrival and subsequent partying at the beach. Plenty of smiling faces around the fire, a few shots of Tobias and Tim passed out in the sand and…

That’s a keeper.

“I like this one,” Max said quietly as he showed Cate the photo of him playing guitar while she rested her head on his shoulder, eyes closed and smiling.

“Me too,” she said, looking slightly puzzled. “Who took that?”

“That would be me,” Cindy answered. “It was too perfect, how could I not?”

“Thank you,” Max told her sincerely. “Man, I can’t believe we’ll all be going our own way in a few days. It’s gonna be so weird without you guys around.”

“Emailing just won’t be the same,” Tim said. “So I guess there’s only one thing to do: yearly reunions.”

“That’s easy enough for you lot!” Greg cried. “You west coast hooligans will be in the same bloody time zone back home. Me, Cindy and Tobias will be the forgotten Euros in no time!”

“Like we could ever forget you!” Cate laughed as she reached over to retrieve her camera from Max.

“Hold on, we need one more shot on here,” he said. He then jogged forward about twenty feet before stopping and placing the camera on the road, facing the group. “How long is the timer on this?”

“I dunno, like five seconds?” Cate called back.

Max swore under his breath. It was going to be close. He set up the shot, laying stomach down on the road line to make sure everyone fit in the view finder. Satisfied he had the shot he wanted, he rose to a crouch and set up the timer.

“You’ll never make it!” Greg yelled cheerfully.

“Just watch me, fat man,” Max yelled back. “As soon as I reach you start walking forward, okay?” Without waiting for a response he pressed the button to start the timer and broke into a sprint.

Oh my God I’m going to be sick…

He skidded to a halt as he reached the group, spun on his heel and as one they took a step forward just as the camera produced a loud ‘click’.

“Oh, that could be a good one,” Jay murmured. They reached the camera as a group and Max reached down to collect it. He brought the picture up on the digital display and showed it to everyone. They all agreed that only one word could describe it.


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