Wheels of Love Chapter One, Part Two

Chapter One, Part Two


After bidding farewell to their young Moroccan friend, the three travellers discovered the train to Narbonne had left. They had an hour to kill in the station until the next one and they were also going to have to go to Nice via Marseilles after all because the delayed connection did not allow them to go directly from Narbonne.

Their attention was quickly diverted to a commotion further down the platform on which they were standing. At the centre was a man flailing his arms about and screaming at anyone who approached him. A train station employee trying to talk to him was becoming increasingly agitated.Then he noticed the Canadian flags on the women’s knapsacks and walked over to them. He asked the three in French if they could  translate for him, to help find out what was bothering the man and making him crazy.

The bilingual Deb agreed, thinking the man might be from Canada. He wasn’t. Like a crazed animal, he was lashing out at everyone around him, almost foaming at the corners of his mouth. Instantly deciding he was unbalanced they, nevertheless, reluctantly moved towards him.

“Stay away no one come near me,” he spat out in a strong Scottish accent.

Other than long, bushy sideburns, he was clean-cut and on the younger side of thirty. Sitting on a bench for a split second and then up and pacing again, he was obviously terrified to stay still. Sue began talking to him very gently as she moved closer and closer and finally convinced him they were on his side, wherever that was! His name was Geordie. As he started telling them his strange tale, the three of them looked at each other wishing they were some¬where else, anywhere but on that platform in Cerbere. The story he told seemed impossible and yet Sue had this nagging suspicion in her head that he was telling the truth.

Travelling much as Sue and Deb were doing, Geordie and his friend had been staying in youth hostels and experiencing Europe.

“We saw something we shouldn’t have and they started chasing us”, he said swallowing more air than he was sending to his lungs. He was still darting around but in a shorter circumference.

“What did you see?” Sue said, asking the obvious question.

“It’s crazy, just plain crazy, don’t you understand. I don’t know what we saw. They caught us and we asked why and they said we knew what we’d seen. We didn’t, I swear. We were scared but were able to get away but they found us again and now they’ve killed my friend and they’re going to get me too”.

Geordie said all this without taking a breath but frequently wiping his sweating forehead with his shirtsleeve. He leaned over and tried to get some air into his lungs.

“Who’s after you?” Sue said, grabbing his arm in an effort to calm him down.

“The Mafia, the Mafia, now do you understand”.

Sue and Hans exchanged glances. Frankly they were still confused, as Geordie didn’t seem to have any idea of what he and his friend had seen. And, it was hard to believe the Mafia cared about one little person like him. All Sue was sure of was his fear was real. The station man asked the three to explain what was going on. As she was the only one who spoke French, Deb told him everything but changed the word “Mafia” to “some bad men”   like that was the one word they couldn’t translate for themselves anyway!

Geordie was convinced security at the station was in on what was happening to him and if they took him away no one would ever see him again. Sue couldn’t persuade him otherwise.

“If they take me, I’m a dead man,” he kept insisting over and over again. “I’m a dead man.”
Sue told Hans and Deb to move away and they walked 10 yards from the scene and tried to figure out what they should do. Geordie followed them.

“Let me hold your hand”, he said directly to Sue and she felt tremendous relief immediately as Hans protectively put his arm around her and pulled her to him. “They won’t kill me then”.

Sue shook her head as Hans kept his arm around her, making her feel so safe.

“Can I just stand with you then” Geordie asked next. “They won’t kill four of us”.

Well, that is so reassuring, Sue thought. The whole situation had become downright unsettling. They had to do something but could not think of anything to help the situation. Finally they decided to go to the coffee shop and suggested he go with them. Somehow feeling safer out in the open, Geordie was terrified to leave the platform and begged them to stay. They repeated their offer and walked away. Sue looked back to see him running down the platform with French gendarmes in pursuit.

“He must be crazy” Hans said but the look he exchanged with Sue said they had a lot of doubt on that score. While one wall of windows in the coffee shop faced the platform, to reach it they had to walk around and through the main lobby of the station. There were people milling around the lobby and on the floor in the centre of the crowd, lay a man about the same age as the one they had just left out on the platform. His eyes were open and glazed. The floor around his head was red with blood. Someone was kneeling over him and they couldn’t see if he was alive or not. All three stood silent and staring for a couple of minutes and then moved on, stunned but still quiet. Sue felt especially shaky.

Soon after as they sat with mugs of hot chocolate in the café, they heard an ambulance speeding away, presumably carrying the man from the lobby floor.

From the windows in the café, the trio could see the platform on which Geordie was still holding court, only now he held a bottle broken in half and was using it as a weapon with which to defend himself. The gendarmes were circling and promising not to hurt him but he was having no part of it as he screamed and slashed at them. Finally they wrestled him to the ground, handcuffed him and dragged him away.

The car Geordie was placed in was right next to the windows on the opposite side of the cafe where they sat sipping their drinks. Sue walked over to look and saw his face after they locked him in. The fight was gone; he was resigned to his fate. He stared blankly out the window. Slowly Geordie looked up and focused. On Sue. On her eyes. Right through her eyes into her consciousness.

Sue felt her stomach tighten and put her hand down to cover her solar plexus. Hans had joined her and looked at her in concern.

“What happens,” he said to Sue as he put his hand gently on her back.

“Oh my God Hans,” she said. “I think Geordie is a dead man.”

If you wish to read the story from the beginning go to the Main Menu, Other Writings and click on Wheels of Love

4 Comments

  1. Seema
    Feb 18, 2016

    Great post, Susan! Love the mystery and suspense. So much has happened already and it’s still only the first chapter! Can’t wait to find out what happens next…

    • Susan McNicoll
      Feb 18, 2016

      Thank you Seema. Their relationship in 1972 was not long in duration but also not short in adventure.

  2. I like the way your story is unfolding, Susan – really felt Geordie’s panic in this installment – and you left me wanting more. What happens next?!

    • Susan McNicoll
      Feb 18, 2016

      Thank you Cheryl for following along with the tale of Hans and Sue. Their relationship was not uneventful!

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