I gritted my teeth as James drove us over yet another completely avoidable boulder, whooping and hollering all the time. He’d insisted I come out and see why he enjoyed four-wheel driving so much.
I remained in the dark.
‘Stop hanging on so tight, Jess,’ he cackled at me. ‘Loosen up – enjoy the bumps!’
I flashed him an appeasing smile, teeth gritted. I almost lost a molar as he rammed us just barely over the top of a log.
‘So,’ I attempted as we hit a reasonably “flat” stretch of trail. ‘I bet your 4×4 mechanic loves you.’
‘Hey?’ he asked, frowning.
‘All this… driving,’ I braced for another impact. ‘It’s got to be hard on your car. Your mechanic must love you.’
‘This is what she’s built for!’ James cackled. He saw a loose collection of rocks and a glint appeared in his eye. He shifted the gear down – or maybe up? – and revved the engine, aiming for them.
Instead, the engine cut out.
I breathed a sigh of relief as James frowned, frantically trying to start his car.
‘What the hell?’ he muttered to himself. ‘I just took her to a mechanic that does log book services, near Toowoomba.’
‘Seriously?’ I laughed.
‘You don’t know what possibly could be wrong with your car?’
He shook his head, seemingly confused. I rolled my eyes.
‘How about the fact that you just scraped the bottom of it along every bit of granite you could find between here and the road?’
‘But…’ he murmured, stroking the steering wheel, ‘that’s what she’s built for.’
He said it sadly, like the light inside of him had winked out.
Daring to hope, he turned the key again – and the car started! Engine thrumming strongly, he let out another howl of delight, glint returned to his eye.
‘Should we head back?’ I asked, relieved.
‘Why?’ he looked confused.
‘Because your car is broken!’ I growled, pointing at the flashing lights on his dashboard.
‘But this is what she’s–’
‘I think we should see other people,’ I cut him off.
The engine died again.