The Accident

Soon we were on the ground, had disembarked and made our way through Customs and out into the front of the airport. The only people who knew we were coming home were Casey's family, as she had arranged for them to pick us up. As we came through the exit, we were greeted with a big sign that read, "Welcome home Casey and Steve." They also had a trumpet that they were blasting.

It was a nice welcome back surprise.

That was where the niceties ended though, as the drive to Jurien that followed was the hardest trip that I'd ever done in a car. From Perth, Jurien was an almost three hour drive north, so I was looking forward to talking about and answering all of the questions I thought Casey's family would ask us. However, I was disappointed to find that the five of us sat in total silence for ninety percent of the trip. The outgoing personality that I developed during my overseas' adventures, was totally subdued by the thick, uncomfortable tension in the car and as we drove I could not have been more disappointed in my decision to come home. Eventually and much to my relief, we reached Jurien where we all went to Casey's uncle's house to celebrate Christmas. When that was over, we went to stay at Granny's for a little while, where I tried to work out what to do next.

After a bit of a think about it, I decided that I didn't really want to become a missing person where Mum was concerned. I gave her a call but was very surprised to find she had moved. I wasn't surprised though, to find out that she and Dennis had split up. No matter who I asked over the following weeks, no one seemed to know where she was. I rang Aunty Robyn to ask where Mum was and even though she said she didn't know, I knew she did.

I figured that Mum must have her nose out of joint because of our words over the phone four or five months earlier and that she didn't want me to know where she was. Okay, I thought, cool!

I didn't waste any time worrying about it as I knew it would be good in the end anyway, even though things had begun to go pear- shaped for me. I was getting a bit stressed out because I couldn't relate to anyone in Jurien, not even with the people who I'd known for years. They'd all changed so much. At least, I thought that they'd changed because I felt like a fish out of water in Jurien. The fact of the matter was, everyone I knew in the town was exactly the same. It was me who'd changed, not them. Nonetheless, I didn't know what to do with myself and because of this Casey and I had started fighting.

I left Granny's and went to stay with my old mate, Craig Sutherland, for a couple of days. I soon went back to Casey and on New Year's Day, 1996, I grabbed a bottle of Scotch out of Granny's fridge and rode her push bike to the very south of town to catch up with Langy. When I got to his place I was disappointed to find he wasn't home, so I let myself into his unlocked house and went upstairs to sit on his balcony and wait for him. On the way to the balcony I passed the fridge, where I found some coke which I tipped into my half full Scotch bottle.

I was only there for about half an hour when I saw Langy riding up the road on his bicycle. I was pleased that he didn't notice me on his balcony and when he was just underneath me, I jumped off it, screaming, "Yah!" and landed almost on top of him. I grabbed him and threw him roughly onto the ground. Then, after helping him up, we gave each other a friendly hug and sat on the balcony sharing the Scotch as we yarned about this and about that.

I had gone to Langy's at about five in the morning, but by about eight we'd run out of smokes so we got the correct money for a packet and I drove us both to the pub in his Ute to ask the cleaners for a packet. When we got there, I waited in the Ute while Darren went in to ask for the smokes, but he soon came out saying they refused to give him any. Annoyed, we drove down to the beach, parked and sat chatting.

To our surprise a cop soon turned up, saying that there had been a complaint about us from the cleaners at the pub. He got a breathalyser out and as the cop came towards me I asked, "What's your name?"

He said that it was sergeant something or other and I went on, 'Well, Sarge. I don't reckon I should blow in that!"

The policeman looked a bit puzzled and said, "Oh yeah, why not?"

I continued, "Because if I do, I'm fucked and I've only been in the country for a week."

With that he dropped the breathalyser on the ground.

After picking it up he threw it into the front of his car, turned to Langy and me and said, "You

two walk home from here. And don't let me catch either of you driving drunk again or you'll be in the shit!"

I thanked him and we walked back to Langy's place where we finished off our session. Then I rode the bike back to Granny's place. When I got scolded for stealing it I thought, I've got to get out of here.

A couple of days later I was skimming through the employment pages of the Western Australian newspaper when I came across an advert which looked like it had been put there by the company I worked for in Europe. I couldn't believe my luck. I instantly got excited and rang the number straight away. It turned out not to be my old company, but it was the same line of business—selling speakers—and the bloke who took my call said I could start straight away.

I organised with Casey's Uncle Murray to live in his unit in Perth until I could set up a house for Casey, the baby and me. Soon, I was living in the city and was underway doing what I'd become very good at doing.

But still I couldn't find any trace of Mum.

Amazingly, the mother of a girl I was working with, was good friends with my dad's sister, Lyn. The girl got her mum to ring my Aunty Lyn—who knew exactly where my mum was—and she got her phone number for me. It turned out that my mum had met a bloke named Ralph and she had moved to a South West town called Harvey, where Lyn lived.

I was going to contact Mum to tell her I was back in Australia, but at the same time I'd got her number, I was moving us into our own house. We were also going through the ultrasound part of the pregnancy and so it just kept slipping my mind.

Around February 1996, Casey read my tarot cards, which she'd bought in Vancouver. I was a bit shocked to see that the main card that I got was the death card. It was a card that had a horrible black skeleton on it and my reading said that the death card meant a radical change at around the time of my twenty- eighth birthday. I didn't give my tarot reading another thought and my twenty- eighth birthday came and went without anything altering. But two weeks after my birthday, my life was changed forever.

Casey was now five months pregnant and we weren't getting on too well. I'd arranged to go on a road trip to the Western Australian gold mining town, Kalgoorlie, so on the twentieth of March, 1996, as I was looking into the mirror and brushing my hair after my morning shower, I thought, I'm stuck in this relationship now that she's pregnant. I looked at my reflection and said, "I don't want to be with Casey anymore."

All of a sudden I had an inexplicable shooting pain in both of my eyes. I jerked away from the mirror and said, "No way, that's bullshit. I've looked into my eyes before!" I looked back in the mirror, again looking into my eyes, but when I did, the pain—severe and sharp—came back. Again I jerked away. The pain left and I forgot all about it.

There were five of us going to Kal that day, in two vans. I had to pick up a fella named Jason, who was to be my partner, so I said goodbye to Casey and went to get him. As I pulled out of our driveway on that Monday morning, I thought, Shit, I meant to ring Mum on the weekend. Never mind, I'll ring her when I get back from Kal.

I drove to Scarborough, picked up Jason and we were on the road to Kalgoorlie when I had a very weird feeling. We were about halfway along the seven hour drive to our destination. Jason was asleep and I suddenly had some sort of a forewarning that I was going to get bashed in Kalgoorlie. When the mood subsided I thought, Doesn't matter, I've been roughed up before, and just like all the other premonitions I'd had over the years, I simply didn't think of it again.

Jason and I were meeting the other three blokes, Ray, Steve and Sam, when we got there, but before we caught up with them, I did a quick couple of laps around the town so as to get a feel of it. At one point we were stopped behind another car, where I saw a fella in a yard, jet spraying a tip truck. My first thought was that I should hit him up for a set of speakers, but, for the first time ever, I was overcome by a sensation of pure fear—even though I had never seen him before. I pushed my fear away and did another lap around town.

As we were looking for a hotel to camp at for the night, we crossed paths with the boys in the street. We decided to book into the Exchange Hotel, where we stowed our overnight gear and got straight on the party trail.

I woke in the morning feeling very ill. I had a ripper of a hangover, so I sat on the pub's balcony and waited for the others to get up. As I sat there in the sun, feeling sorry for myself, I tried to recall the events of the previous night, but I'd overdone it a bit and I couldn't remember a single thing. I considered that I must have had a pretty good night if I couldn't remember anything...and if it wasn't a good night, well who cared.

By lunch time the other four fellas were up. They were as crook as I was. One of them said, "How about we get into a hair of the dog?"

We were supposed to be working in Kal, but we all agreed and so we went to the bar. I was on my first beer when I ran out of smokes and as they were so expensive in the pub, I decided I'd run to a shop located close by. Even though I'd only had one beer, I had topped myself up from the night before and as I went up the busy Maritana Street, I felt a bit out of sorts. I was soon at the shop, where I was served a packet of cigarettes by the Indian woman working there and I was looking forward to rejoining the others. The boys had decided to sit on the balcony in the sun to enjoy a few more coldies. This was on my mind as I reached the set of traffic lights where I had to cross the road.

The lights were green for the people walking across the busy road. A truck, pulling a low loader trailer, loaded with a four and a half thousand kilo forklift, was idling at the red light.

Suddenly a premonition—stronger than anything I'd ever felt in my life—hit me. I knew that if I stepped in front of that truck, I would die. So I walked away, deciding to cross further down. I'd not gone far when I thought, That's bullshit, I must be mad. I can easily duck through between the truck and the trailer, before the lights change.

I quickly stepped onto the bar at the left side of the drawbar that connected the trailer to the truck's tow ball, but to my horror, my boot got stuck. I grabbed my jeans just above the ankle and with both hands, tried to pull myself free. But no matter how hard I tried, my foot was stuck fast.

Now, I could feel the motor revving. The lights had changed and the truck began to roll. My mind darted back to that moment in London, when I'd been behind that truck and trailer at the lights. I recalled how I'd said that if I ever got caught between a truck and a trailer, I would drop onto the road and the wheels would pass on either side of me. In my last seconds of standing on the draw bar of the now moving vehicle, I looked into the face of the following driver. No sooner had we looked at each other than I decided to throw myself onto the road. As I fell toward the bitumen I thought, He'll stop this thing.

I landed hard on the road but my foot was still stuck fast and suddenly I found myself being dragged along the road on my back while I struggled to pull free and shouted for someone to stop the truck. At this time I saw, from between the truck's wheels, the car that'd been following zoom past. As I watched the fumes coming out of his exhaust I thought, You, fuck!

Suddenly, as I was being dragged along, the world became a completely clear place and everything around me slowed down. I realised—mostly without emotion—that I was about to die. Disappointed, I said three things:

"Fancy dying in a place like this after the life I've just led; I have one regret, and that's that I didn't contact Mum when I had the chance; and Jesus, please forgive my sins."

The next thing I knew, the 8000 kilogram trailer with its 4500 kilogram forklift cargo, rolled over my face. The final thing I remember of the accident, was the first wheel of the trailer being squarely in the middle of my face as it rolled over my head. In what I can only assume was a reflex action I tried to push it off.

Then I entered another world.

Book Reviews

  • Steve, wow! What a great movie your book would make - absolutely riveting stuff! AND - the best investment I have made in years!

    Yvana
  • It's 4.55p.m. and I've just finished reading the book. Wow!!!!!That's what I'm feeling. Wow!!! Now that I've held the actual book in my hands and read it cover to cover, I can truly say this is a great book. Onya! Stevo!

    Meg
  • Monkey On The Wing, has been the most inspirational story I have ever read. Steve, your story is remarkable, reading your book bought me tears of sadness and happiness.

    Monique