Journey for Answers – Chapter 16 “The Place”

All that left was to stare at the guard patrol car, how they drove away Matthews companion of his journey. From sadness grasping his heart, the weather around him changed. Sunlight beams covered themselves with clouds, hiding bright light behind them. The wind got stronger out of a sudden, and hot early summer day turned into a cold one. Both of them jumped into a van and sank into their own thoughts. Each of them was right beside one and other, but in their heads completely elsewhere.

Matthew struggled with a thought about saving him; getting out from there, but reality struck back at his thoughts when Carolines’ words broke the silence.

“That was nuts mate. Glad we’re out, sadly we can’t say the same about your friend, our friend.”

“I fucking told him to get rid of that. Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Matthew slammed his palms against the steering wheel.

“Dude, I know this is sad and all that but,” she paused while made her hair into bun “we have to keep going. He’ll be fine, but it’s the matter of time – a lot of time. And I don’t know if you want to waste that on waiting.”

She was right. Matthew shrugged with a gesture of approval, but in his head, he thought differently.

Engine broke the silence around them, smoke raised up from the back of the van and once again they began moving forward. The loud engine from the back howled for less pressure on it, but Matthew didn’t release the gas pedal and crossed sped limit frequently. He held steering wheel tight, and changing music rapidly he gave Caroline a reason to start worrying. She was always calm, but this, this made her speak about it.

“Matty? Are you fine?” with eyes of curiosity looking at him she asked

“Ya, ya, ya. It’s okay.”

He tried to hide it, but she didn’t bought it. Caroline put her hand on his right knee, looking at him and her words began calming him down.

“Listen, mate. We can find some quiet spot, open up a bottle and take some edge off. What do you say?”

“I like the idea about the spot, but I don’t know about the ‘bottle opening’.”

Finally, smile raised on his face and Caroline smiled back. Her hand was still on his knee and he didn’t bothered about it.

Driving without Mike was quiet. He was the one who always made bad jokes about everyone, but he was the sound they need to stay awake on the road. Without him, Matthew was forced to rely on music and Caroline’s company, which happened barely. She didn’t liked to speak a lot, but she always knew the right time when to speak up. Jumping from silence to conversation they drove twenty kilometers away from the place where Mike got picked up.

The road for what it was, never changed. Same trees covered both sides of the road as they went looking for a remote location, somewhere besides the water. Fields appeared in forest gaps on the right side. Matthew smiled every time Caroline pointed to the next field that came after each forest. Matthew gave her his phone and asked to open up a map, see when they have to steer off the highway, and her to look for a spot close to the water. She nodded and sank into the phone. It was just them two now – two of them against the road ahead.

She began muttering under her nose about the places she sees on the phone’s screen. There was a lot of places, but for each of them was some building next to it and she thought it’s probably private property. After a brief ten minutes of searching her lips began moving and a place was about to be suggested. Matthew turned his head towards her, waiting, but her mouth shut and she sank into the phone once more. He couldn’t bear the silence and began asking her about her past, but she didn’t gave him such satisfaction. As soon as Caroline heard the questions like that she immediately steered from them. Either creating another question or raising the different topic.

“Do you think water source nearby the spot is necessary? I mean it’s good to have one, but we’re gonna drink and I doubt any of us will go swimming after that.” Evasive she moved on to another topic.

“Don’t you feel dirty?”

“Oh, I always do,” she winked “Especially when I’m next to you Matty.”

Matthew blushed, but he didn’t let that get in the way for him to get the answer.

“But for real, don’t you miss shower?” he laughed and she laughed too.

“We could use some at next hostel. Perhaps that is where we should go?”

“Hostel? Naah. I think we can do that later, I’m getting into the water. How’s the search going anyways?”

“I found something. It is a strange place, but we can get there – after next exit on the highway.”

Matthew nodded and listened to her directions, steering off the highway to an asphalted road, which soon turned into a dirt road. Following her direction and staying on the dirt road they arrived at the entrance into the woods. Caroline pointed her finger towards the woods, telling that it’s the right way to go. Without hesitating, Matthew pushed the gas pedal and drove into the woods. Following previously driven path they arrived at the edge of the forest, where the woods met the river. They managed to park the car in a small space between the river and the road, turning the van towards the exit, so they could leave whenever they needed.

Caroline jumped out and stretched her hands towards the sky, inhaling the fresh smell of wood and river. She turned towards Matthew. Going towards him when he sat in far back of the van she told him how good it is to be out here in the wild, instead of a hostel. She grabbed the hammock from her backpack and smiled towards Matthew, and he did the same. Matthew turned up the volume for music so they bodies could start moving while they prepare the campsite. Caroline worked on the hammock. Connecting Matthews van and the closest tree she created a place, where she could lay and look to the stars at night. Meanwhile, Matthew worked at the campfire, about two meters from his vans side opening. Their bodies moved all the time they prepared their camping site, from the groovy music Matthew put on before. The campsite was ready and their bodies moved close to each other for a silly dance together; ending it as fast as it started. Caroline grabbed the vodka bottle from the back of the van.

“Dude, you’re drinking or it’s just me?” she offered him a plastic cup

“Sure, what the hell.” He extended his arm for a cup and held it while she poured decent amount in it.

“You want some juice with that?”

“Did we bought orange one?”

“Yeah, we did.”

“Awesome.”

“Right, mate.” She winked at him once more to make him uncomfortable, but he started to get used to it.

Minutes began passing by the campfire and quickly slid into hours of conversations with laughing. Sun began slowly hiding behind the tall trees. Caroline lifted the bottle, which was at the half and asked him if he wants to finish it tonight. Matthew shrugged his shoulders with uncertain thoughts about it.

“I don’t know about the booze, but I’m getting hungry. Should we bake those sausages we bought?”

“Dude, you’re a genius!”

She praised him while hanging in the hammock with her cup in right hand and left hand in the air, pointing to the passing bird. Her head was getting dizzy. Caroline began talking about Mike and his situation there, telling that she knows what’s about to happen, but she wasn’t certain about it. Soon Matthew steered her off the topic.

“Lady, I think we should drop that topic and focus on these sausages.”

He lifted wooden stick on which were pierced the sausages. When Matthew drunk, he grew more careless about the people and this time thoughts about how Mike doing disappeared in his mind. Caroline moved from the hammock to open side of the van, next to Matthew. Both now sat on the side opening of the van and began staring in the sky. Sky, which started to become darker, revealing stars behind the curtain of light. Half of the moon hang in the sky, and stars began filling space around it. They raised their cups in the air and shouted from their lungs – “freedom”. They were happy to be there because hours before could mean a different scenario.

“You somehow know that he’ll be alright, right?” Caroline turned to him

“I’m not sure how, but I know he will.” He smiled at her and turned back to the sky “He always gets out of situations like this, and I don’t know how.”


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