Sunday 11 – Monday 12 December 2011
Stuck behind an SUV whose driver was barely doing the speed limit, Dylan Partridge impatiently rapped his hands on the steering wheel. He was eager to get to the cottage and begin the weekend. The first snowfall of the season was always the one that impressed him, and with his busy work schedule, Dylan wanted to make the most of the two days off. Breaks were few and far between for someone considered being at the top of his game, and essentially peerless in his field.
He decided to short circuit the rage that was building up, and pulled in to the closest parking lot. Egmont Pass was like a second home to Dylan, his family having once been residents, and he still holding the deeds to his parents’ cottage. Thankfully, the locals didn’t see him as one of the tourists. He was like family because he’d spent the first thirteen years of his life growing up here. It was a small blessing given the treatment some of the tourists received from shop owners and residents.
He got out of his car and stretched. It was a good six hour drive from the city to Egmont Pass, and Dylan’s muscles were now telling him quite harshly, that he’d spent far too long sitting behind the wheel. Walking around the front of the car to the passenger’s side, Dylan softly knocked on the window, hoping to gently wake his snowboarding partner. Charlie Cooper didn’t rouse from her slumber. Dylan knocked again, this time much louder.
‘Jesus, Dylan,’ she yelled, arms and legs flailing around the car in surprise. He laughed, knowing that it wasn’t the best thing to do, but he couldn’t help himself.
‘I’m going to get coffee. You want anything?’ He tried to stifle the snickers that were threatening to escape from his lips.
‘Don’t try and suck up after you’ve frightened the crap out of me, you bastard,’ she paused, ‘coffee . . . and a donut, and I’m not paying for them either.’
Dylan nodded and walked away from the car. The tiny shopping precinct never changed. Year after year, it remained the same, in need of repair, and only ever busy during snow season.
The town’s only coffee shop was almost deserted, save for staff milling around waiting for customers. Within a few hours, everyone would be run off their feet by the influx of tourists, but for the moment, Dylan would be able to have his order filled relatively quickly. He approached the counter and waited patiently for Mrs. Bright to ask for his order. Thinking he was one of the deplorable tourists, she took her time completing a non-descript piece of paperwork, before looking up at Dylan.
‘Oh my Lord, Dylan Partridge. Look at you. Oh honey, I’m sorry for taking so long. What can I get you?’ She spoke a mile a minute.
‘Hey, Mrs. Bright. Ah, two regular coffees to go, thank you,’ Dylan replied.
‘I’ll get them right out for you, honey.’ She disappeared behind the coffee machine, which looked to be a new addition to the shop since his last visit, and tinkered around making his coffee.
‘They’re coming thick and fast, Mrs. Bright. I’d say you have maybe ten minutes or so before they flood in here and run you off your feet.’ Given that Dylan was still considered a local, of sorts, he was able to get away with referring to the tourists as ‘them’.
‘Well, thank you for the heads up, Dylan. Guess I’ll start preparing the girls for the tourists.’ She handed him two cardboard cups of hot coffee. He took the in one large hand and gave her a ten dollar bill as payment.
‘Keep the change, Mrs. B, and I’ll see you around.’
‘Thank you, Dylan. Drive safe out to the cottage, now,’ she said as she opened the register and deposited the bill that he had given her.
He had been away from the car less than five or six minutes, but when he approached it, he saw that the car door was open, and Charlie was gone. Filling with panic and dread, Dylan looked around the lot. She was nowhere to be seen.
‘Charlie. CHARLIE,’ he yelled, feeling as though something untoward had occurred while he was inside the coffee shop.
. . . To be continued . . .