By Laura Solomon
My mother always told me not to pick up hitchhikers. She said they were dangerous. She said you never knew who you'd be taking into your car. She always said I was too trusting, too naive, and that other people would take advantage of me, exploit me throughout my life. Perhaps she was right.
Hello, my name is Cindy and while heavily pregnant, I was jilted by my boyfriend. The trauma caused a miscarriage at 6 months. Blood everywhere. ‘Never forget it.’ I had thought that the two of us would be an item for life. I didn't expect to be dumped. There was no doubt that the baby was his – I am not a tart, I do not sleep around. I don’t know why he ditched me; he didn’t give a reason. Maybe I got on his nerves or he thought I was too much of a bimbo. I don’t have a glamorous job. I’m just a secretary at P&S Legal, a dull job by anybody’s standards, a job that 85% of the population could do with their eyes closed.
After being dumped I went through a stage of reading numerous self help books, searching for answers to the riddle of life. Then I decided that it was all about treats. Life could only be borne if you had regular treats. One of my treats was taking routine trips to Hamner Springs to soak in the hot pools and rest my tired bones. Getting out of Christchurch after the earthquakes was good. The earthquakes had taken a toll on the regional psyche – there were nervous breakdowns, more crime and dissatisfied hypersensitive youth galore.
It was on one of these trips that I decided to pick up the hitchhiker. He looked down and out, and was standing on the side of the road with his thumb extended. It was just opposite The Pines beach. I pulled over, leaned across, wound down the window and asked him where he was headed. He replied that he was travelling up North to Nelson. I said I could take him as far as the turnoff to Hamner. The date was November the 9th; we had just celebrated Guy Fawkes. After he had been in the car for about ten minutes, he withdrew a lighter and a sky rocket from his back pack and began to fiddle around with them, flicking the lighter on and off near the fuse of the rocket. This made me uneasy to say the least and I told him so. He put the sky rocket down on the floor in front of him, but took out a Swiss army knife from his bag and flicked it open. I nervously cleared my throat.
“Excuse me, would you mind putting that away while I’m driving?”
“Look love,” he said threateningly, “I need to get to Nelson tonight. I had a shitty sleep last night in the pines and I’m feeling real grumpy. I’m not one to be messed with.”
I didn’t like the way he was talking to me. It reminded me of the way my ex-boyfriend used to speak after he’d had a few drinks. I drove a little further and pulled down a side road under the pretence of needing to go to the toilet. Luckily for me it was a secluded area with trees providing shade and shelter; the perfect setting. I told him to get out of the car and fortunately for me, he obeyed. I didn’t want to make a mess of my vehicle. I karate chopped my victim in the throat, then, while he was still numb with shock wrestled his penknife off him and stabbed him in the jugular. Blood spurted everywhere. I dragged the body from the car and left it under the trees. I picked up his backpack, looking for money and was pleased to find ten thousand dollars in cash. Our boy was cash rich! A haul for me. I drove away feeling satisfaction at a job well done.
The money I took later to an orphanage – it’s what I always do with the cash.
They came looking for me. Some nosey parker had noted down my license plate number when they saw me parked ‘suspiciously’ amongst the trees. I got away with it. Said I murdered in self-defence. Said that he attacked me. The cops bought the line.
Later that week, when I was back at home I saw the report on the six o’clock news.
“Escaped convict Daniel O’Brady has been found dead en route to Hamner Springs. Mr O’Brady was known for theft of over 30 vehicles in the Christchurch region and had escaped from Christchurch men’s prison last Wednesday. The killer has been found but not prosecuted as police say she murdered in self-defence.”
Thankfully there was no picture of me on the news. That would have interrupted my modus operandi. With every hit I was honing my skills.
Laura Solomon has a 2.1 in English Literature (Victoria University, 1997) and a Masters degree in Computer Science (University of London, 2003).
Her books include Black Light, Nothing Lasting, Alternative Medicine, An Imitation of Life, Instant Messages, Vera Magpie, Hilary and David, In Vitro, The Shingle Bar Sea Monster and Other Stories, University Days, Freda Kahlo’s Cry, Brain Graft, Taking Wainui and Marsha's Deal.
She has won prizes in Bridport, Edwin Morgan, Ware Poets, Willesden Herald, Mere Literary Festival, and Essex Poetry Festival competitions.
She was short-listed for the 2009 Virginia Prize and the 2014 International Rubery Award and won the 2009 Proverse Prize. She has had work accepted in the Edinburgh Review and Wasafiri (UK), Takahe and Landfall (NZ). She has judged the Sentinel Quarterly Short Story Competition.
Her play ‘The Dummy Bride’ was part of the 1996 Wellington Fringe Festival and her play ‘Sprout’ was part of the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.