It was empty as the green of the trees and the brown of the long dehydrated grass shone brightly in the neighbourhood. This natural imbalance was the only thing that did shine, as all the residents had gone. Gone long ago and in such a wild hurry that they left their homes open to the weather and heat it delivered. Strange and private possessions littered the streets. An event was referred to as Hillsdale Hamburgers shootings.
Blue socks, white undergarments, towels and sheets and very odd paintings littered the eye-line. So called paintings and prints darted furiously, wanting to get free of their frames and the walls that imprisoned them. This artless art was loose.
The subject matter of this range of ugliness always managed to bore the volunteers working at the local charity shop. Even the dogs playing pool swirled by. The stores used to sell four for a dollar and it looked like $300.00 worth of this rubbish was dashing about the neighbourhood. Wild storms of these long lost personal times blew about the streets like leaves that were soon to joint them.
Summer this year had been a hot stinking bitch. This seemingly endless season had peeled paint off the weatherboard and fibre homes.
It burned the eyes of those that went outside and frazzled the less than loved vegetation that defied its surroundings. Water was very rare and talented gardeners even more so. The sadly deluded residents – both owners and renters alike had thought that the planting of their lives would be reasonably permanent. They were so normal and honour bound to conform. It may have been their normality that led to their downfall.
A City Centre
The drive south revealed the city centre. The now departed locals called it the city centre but it was only a small country town that sat like a fat toad on a rock beside the sea. It had nothing going for it at all and Hillsdale lived up to its destiny very well. Anything vaguely noteworthy had already left. Even the town’s sign, was ripped off its hinges and taken as some sort of trophy.
It used to scream out to those who aimed to arrive at Hillsdale on purpose or by accident that a small number of community clubs operated within its boundaries and that it came 7th in a tidy towns competition. 7 out of 8 nominations in fact. It also used to have a classic piece of modern street art plastered in dribbling spay can paint over the Hillsdale Council logo, “This is the place to go fuck yourself”. The intent wasn’t really clear, but it did cause a giggle or two.
It was a desolate, dry, dirty, brown and empty place. It even smelt like rotten meat, a smell that attracted some and deterred others. This windstorm of debris, both man made and natural was blowing about the streets without an eye to calm it down, even for a little while. It gave the city centre a wild west feel. Brown was the best description an unknowing passerby could come up with. This passerby today was only the third one this week and he didn’t really know what to expect. Hillsdale was really just a detour on his trip north to attend a job interview.
This second choice
The diversion was created by road workers who actually hadn’t been to Hillsdale for some months, had they – they wouldn’t have sent this old Bill into town. Bill knew pretty quickly that he was not going to find the way out. Bill had not seen a detour sign for many a kilometre now.
He wasn’t going to either, they’d been removed so any dumb bastard who ended up in Hillsdale may not find their way out. Job interviews or not, there was no career advancement to be gained in Hillsdale. If you could make hamburgers you’d get a look in.
The city centre was a roughly symmetrical square pattern with roads leading out in 5 ways to the suburbs, highway (north and south) and to Sage Beach. The safest thing about the city centre was that 4 of the 5 were one way streets, which forced so much traffic onto cross streets that the place used to be clogged to the extreme. The veins of Hillsdale were certainly free of clogs now, Bill was the only vessel flowing though the town and he went round and round these confusing one way streets without venturing out of town.
Bill was to stop at Hillsdale Hamburgers
Bill remembered about one thousand films, TV Shows and stories that had this deserted town, slasher horror, college weekend away scenario. The cabin, the cruise, the school camp or the highway. All Bill could do was remember his favourite. How did that story work out. Did the hero escape ? Who was the hero and …
Calvin shot this dumb-arse in the head like he did with all the others. The only difference this time he did it before the driver managed to stop at Bell’s Hamburgers at 29 Alfred Street Hillsdale. Calvin had watched him from a window for at least 8 laps of the city centre. That yellow hatchback with the nodding old bugger behind the wheel was just driving around and around. He even managed to give way to no-one each time, he sure was a silly old bugger.
“Why the f*ck didn’t he stop at the only shop open in the whole fucking town and ask for some help. Hell he might have even bought a hamburger or a drink or something .… I need some customers.”
Calvin wasn’t very bright or naturally good looking. In fact Calvin was 5 ft 3 fellow with one ear that sagged lower that his mouth and he’d a scar on his forehead that looked like a twenty cent piece had been superglued to his face. It had, Calvin was bullied a lot at school. He was 43 years old and had only ever worked for his father in Ron Bell’s Hamburger shop.
A long time
He’d worked there for 31 years and had failed to notice what had been going on around him for about 28 of those years. His relationship with the world was limited to interaction with customers and his sorry excuse for a human, father.
Bill had bought the yellow hatchback to get him around town and if successful at the job interview, allow him to drive to work up the highway on Monday and return on Fridays. Bill had everything preplanned, although as it turned out unnecessarily so. He wasn’t going to get the job, the interview was just a formality for HR to justify promoting some dip shit from within the company.
Bill’s prospects were as limited as the life of the shit box car he’d bought from Fair Ground Cars. The hatchback used to be in a Circus and was used to carried 14 clowns around the ring. It had some surprise when he open the glove box. It shot out a flower at such a speed it gave poor old Bill a black eye as it knocked him out flat, while falling down in shock.
Calvin climbed down
He climbed down from the apartment he used to keep an eye on these strangers driving into town. It was close to the shop and if someone did stop as the last one had, he could get there real quick and offer help, a hamburger or a drink. If he really sold it well he might even get to sell both. Calvin liked selling, if only he could get some more practice. He’d had next to none in the last few months.
His father used to do the selling but thankfully he died 3 months ago and so now Calvin was in charge. Calvin had to assist Ron in what he’d later learn’t was called an assisted suicide. Calvin had misunderstood the detail of such a burden to share and shot his father in the face while they were discussing it. It didn’t really matter, same result, just a difference in the delivery. Ron was dead. Calvin now ran Hillsdale Hamburgers.
Bill and his yellow hatchback had come to a halt. The remaining pieces of Bill’s head were neatly spread over the dash and windscreen. Calvin arrived just as the drips had finished their path to the nearest flat spot and rested there. One eye hung for a last chance, just delicately hanging from the rear view mirror. Calvin looked at what was left of Bill and started the process of moving and hiding the car.
He couldn’t drive it but he could push from the passenger side and steer from there as well. He hid the cars in an old service station that was just a few yards up the road from where Bill had “parked” his car.
Calvin reached into the car and put it into neutral. He then opened the glove box to get a better grip. BOOM went the flower and BOOM went the gunshot into Calvin’s chest. No black eye for Calvin but a chest opening wound that gave him at least 2 minutes to realise that the flower bouncing around in front his face was yellow. Same colour as the car he realised. Now that was funny thought Calvin has he died.
He had a hole in his chest that allowed the back seat of the car to see the dash at the front, right through the front seat as well. You could see right thought it, if you’d want to.
It was 6 months later when the idiots working on the road, which included setting up unmanned (and seemingly ignored) detour signs, arrived in Hillsdale. They straggled into Hillsdale believing they should be proud of the great work they endured. Just looking to remove the equipment and signs they’d laid. They also thought they might be praised by the good folk of Hillsdale for sending them some accidental tourists. Maybe some lunch’d be good too. Hillsdale Hamburgers had a good name.
It was hot
Bill was now very hot, very drained and dried like a lizard who’d been ran over on the highway. Calvin was in a similar condition but had split in two. He’d separated himself into two bits. One half (the top) fell into the back seat and the bottom half or so, had fallen or decayed onto the flower.
The strength of the flower then bounced him, without apology, out into the street. Bobby saw this glazed stew of body parts has he pulled his cab chassis traffic warning light machine outside Ron Bell’s Hillsdale Hamburgers shop. Lights on and vomit out, Bobby was used to gruesome shit, but this was some freaky shit.
Alan get out of the car now
“Whatever you do, don’t go over to that yellow car, stay the fuck well away from it.”
He did has he was told but threw up right next to where Bobby had done.
Later, when the General Duties Police and Detectives from Richards Grove arrived, the mystery of Hillsdale only widened. How did this town become so empty ? Where the hell was everyone ? … What’s all this rubbish blowing about the place and why is it so god damn hot here ? It’s tits off freezing 1/2 kilometre up the road and it’s pissing down at home. The whole situation earnt the odd term of Hillsdale Hamburgers.
Police said they may be able to answer more questions when investigations into the large volume of rubbish, the multiple murders and the on-mass desertion of the residents have concluded. Work Place Health and Safety investigations are also underway. There will be more to this story … I’m sure. Only no more Hillsdale Hamburgers.