Candy and Scruffy
Dave had almost reached the lighthouse bus stop. He saw the old rusting metal shelter just a short distance away on the side of a dusty crumbling bitumen roadside. He looked to where the edge of the coastal cliffs began and at the tall white structure standing strong and silent. The late darkening sky was slowly merging the lighthouse into invisibility. He slowed his car and came up behind the bus that had stopped in front of the bus shelter.
The shelter was empty, no one was there waiting, much less having waved anyone down.
Dave got out and went over to the bus driver who had stepped out waiting for him.
The driver shrugged back at him, "Maybe he got a lift?" Dave said nothing for a moment, looking about at the empty landscape, the low scrubby bush, and the sandy drifts of earth between. "Hmm... maybe. Think I'll stay here for a bit and have a look about." "Suit yourself," the driver said and went back to his bus. Dave stood by the shelter for a moment and watched as the bus droned on down the road into the night, it's red tail lights were soon gone and he was left in the quiet and the gathering darkness. He walked across the road and looked down at the worn dusty trail going down the slope. Then he saw something and his eye brows went up in surprise.
He could see a white pickup partially hidden in the bushes down there. He remembered, something Candy had told him. 'She had said Mr Paxton drove a white pickup.'
He wondered, perhaps Mr Paxton had arranged a meeting with Graham here. But why? And were they both still down there doing... well who knows what they were doing? Either way he had no choice he had to find out; and he went on down on the loose gravel down the sandy gravel slope to the old lighthouse keepers buildings below.
Dave reached the bottom, and stopped to take a look at the ground. He saw scuff marks, and they were still fresh and made today he thought. But what was more signifigant, they had been made by more than one person.
He listened, looking about. There were no sounds, on the gentle breeze that wafted about through the foliage on either side of him. He went on down, going through the bushes with the muted crashing of surf below the cliffs in the distance. He was almost at the clearing, with the keeper's buildings and there was the white pickup. Keeping still in the gathering gloom, he looked for any light, but there was nothing just the strong beam from the lighthouse above. Maybe they were inside the old buildings? But surely there would be some light showing? Unless they had gone out for a walk?. They would have to have torches, or they would easily find themselves over the cliff. Again Dave saw nothing, yet he waited. Dave was a pateint person, it was part of what made him good at his profession. He would stand there for ten-fifteen minutes, knowing that often things started to happen when no one thought anybody was about. But nothing came, only a minor squawk from a sea bird floating high somewhere over the cliff face. He waited while another gentle gust of wind finished blowing through the dry brush and moved on.
He went over to the dark entrance-way of the first building and tried the door, but it was locked tight, and the only window was shuttered. Only total darkness showing between it's slats. Keep the vandals out no doubt, he thought. He studied the walls, with their large cracks showing on the light coloured stones, and saw most of the gutters had fallen away. Again he stood and listened, but heard nothing from inside. The thick blocks making that a no surprise.
He walked back over to the white pickup. Thinking there might be a slight chance someone was sleeping in there. After seeing no one inside, and the dust upon it telling him it had been there for several days possibly a week, he turned. The surf caught his attention, was it getting louder? It seemed to have a strange beckoning quality to it.
Dave had his own torch a large professional type hidden inside his large trench coat. 'Might as well go and have a little look see.' Lighting the ground in front of him, he made his way to the track that went along the cliff face. What would they be doing out here, this late in the evening? After birds eggs, or something equally strange, it certainly wouldn't be the first time,' he thought to himself as he slowly edged his way along the path, between the dry windswept brush and the crashing white waves below.
The wind had become gusty and the track was almost in darkness.
Stars were starting to spot the very dark blue above. No one was down here, and he could tell the track on this sandy trail hadn't been used for quite some months. The temperature had dropped and he was starting to feel the cold. Was coming down here a complete waste of time? Maybe they weren't here at all, perhaps it was just a pickup point, to somewhere else.. He took out his phone. Only one bar, great. Well he could try, and lifted the phone up trying to find Candy's number, then the bar on the little screen disappeared, and... 'Dam! 'No signal' began to flash on the screen and up came a tiny red cross, telling him there was no hope of making any calls. He started walking back. Might have better luck up on the road?. That's when he thought he heard something; a light scuffing sound.
He put the phone down and looked about, but he saw nothing.
He was near the cliff face, a bit too close he was beginning to think. Suddenly he heard a rustle and something hard swished through the air and pounded into his legs, he fell down sideways reeling from the pain, he couldn't stand up, he couldn't right himself, he had lost his balance and found himself in sheer terror falling through the dark air downward to the white water a long way below.
Candy was becoming frustrated, she couldn't find the one picture she was after. She had found another of Mr Pacstone, but nothing of Mr Paxton. She slammed her laptop shut, and decided it was time to drag her tired body off to bed. The coffee had run it's course some time ago. Fatigue was coming to claim her thinking mind. It would do her no more good to keep going tonight. Always tomorrow, she said to to herself and with a bleary head she headed for the bathroom. She had a mouth full of toothpaste, when there came a knock on her door. "Geez, who would be knocking at this hour?
"Who is it?" she gargled out. "It's me, Tildy" Quickly wiping the white froth from her mouth, Candy opened the door. "Sorry dear, I just couldn't sleep." Candy was surprised she couldn't ever recall Tildy ever having come to her room before, and defiantly not in the evening. Tildy's face seemed to be in some distress. "What's wrong Tildy?" "It's Graham he hasn't come home, and the bus got in hours ago." It wasn't what Candy was expecting to hear her say, and tired or not Tildy's words made her worried as well, but then she knew a little more than she did.
Mr Paxton watched from above as the black coated shadow went down the cliff face, arms splaying madly about. He hoped it would go straight down and waited for the 'kerfump' on the stony beach a long way below, but Mr Paxton was having no such luck this night. He saw it glide toward the cliff side, and begin to tumble, rolling like a large log as it went down, slowing it's acsent. Finally he saw it hit the rocky beach at the bottom and there the dark shape lay, not moving, at least as far as he could tell in the darkness 'Stupid Dick,' he said and spat into the night air over the edge. He threw the lump of wood away in disgust into the bushes and stamped off back to his quarry he had trapped in the keepers' buildings, wondering what he would do with them.
The lighthouse above kept turning it's light out over the open ocean waters. It was business as usual.