[Camp Fleischer, Central Australia]
Arthur Fleischer watched the helicopters from Glen Helen circle the sacred mountain. They looked like dragonflies flitting and flying over the range.
He’d radioed on the CB late last night and Glen Helen had dispatched the helicopters at the first hint of dawn. Two police officers from the Mission had arrived and Arthur had gone through the motions of statements and likely scenarios with them. A couple of Indigenous trackers from the local station promised to help Nathan search, but by mid-morning, they still hadn’t arrived.
Arthur Fleischer had not slept. Nor had he eaten. Although, he pretended to do both. He didn’t want his son worrying. He witnessed Walter creeping into camp at goodness knows what hour. He witnessed the altercation between Walter and Nathan. Good grief, that guy’s a complete embarrassment! Arthur was ashamed to call him a friend. What a slime ball! And racist. He’d threatened to kill Nathan. So different from when they taught together down south. And how did Nathan just vanish? There one second…gone the next. What’s with that?
Nathan appeared with the first streaks of light at dawn. Briefly. Then he wandered off following Amie’s tracks.
Fleischer tapped his pocket. Keys still there. At least that’s some security in a very insecure situation. He pulled out his mobile phone, unlocked it, and peered at the screen. No bars, none whatsoever. This place, so isolated, forsaken, even by the Telstra network. ‘Damn!’ He cursed. ‘I can’t even call home to tell Carol what’s happening.’ He sighed and concluded. I suppose it’s for the best, don’t want her worrying.
Walter sidled up to Adam and side by side, they ate their cornflakes. Walter seemed not to have a care in the known universe. Fleischer didn’t like the way Walter sat just a little too close to Adam—He’s just a little too friendly. How did this guy get to teach anywhere? Definitely something suspect…what if Walter had something to do with Amie’s disappearance?
Arthur strode up to Walter. ‘Time to get moving. You need to start searching for her.’
Walter rose. ‘But of course, I’ll check out the water-hole and beyond, shall I?’
‘Dad?’ Adam chipped in. ‘What about me? Can I go with Mr Wenke?’
Fleischer waved at the first fly of the morning. ‘No! You’re staying here with me. We’re minding the camp, in case Amie returns.’
Walter hung around like one of those pesky flies that stick to a person.
‘I said, ‘Go!’’ Arthur snapped. ‘Adam stays with me, today.’
‘Naw, but…can’t I help the police trackers?’ his son said.
Arthur narrowed his eyes at his “friend”. ‘Go Walter! You join the police trackers.’
Walter shrugged. ‘Are you sure you’ll be okay?’
‘I’ll be fine.’
Walter marched off in the direction of the waterhole. He appeared to boldly go where the two Northern Territory policemen had gone half an hour before.
Adam slouched on an inflatable mattress by the fire and played Tetris on Amie’s mobile phone. ‘Something’s seriously wrong, Amie would’ve never left her phone at camp and gone off,’ he said.
Arthur paced the clearing. Every step, every minute, wore a groove in his heart eroding hope.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Photo: Helicopter Over Sturt Gorge © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010