Part 4. The Not So Great Escape
We drove back to Jeremy’s house after getting our new home address off of Amber and making a good plan of escape. I was a little nervous driving back to the house; it felt very eerie, and I feared the unknown. Although the front gate was painted with bright and happy colours, the atmosphere certainly didn’t feel that way.
As we were driving up to the gate, Jeremy was leaving.
I sighed with relief. This was going to be easier than I thought. He was leaving to Bundaberg early; we could pack up all of our stuff and head over to Ambers with the whole day ahead of us. Jeremy quickly spoke to Tom, Melon and Tim on his way out, and then drove past AnnaMarie and I as we all smiled and waved. Enjoy Bundaberg asshole.
I drove through the gate and towards the house, thrilled that he had left and we could have some lunch, pack up slowly and get out of there. I got out of the van and went into the kitchen a lot calmer than before.
Unfortunately, this did not last long before Melon explained that he had only gone to fill up his car with petrol.
What? He’s gone to fill up his car with petrol, to come back, to leave again? That’s a bit strange. Although I think we can all agree by now, Jeremy is a peculiar man.
I was starting to feel scared and impatient. The truth is none of us knew this man at all; we didn’t know what he could be capable of doing.
We started to make lunch and tried to act as though everything was normal. I thought about packing some of my things into my van while we waited, but I didn’t want him to come back and notice anything had changed.
I was stood in the kitchen when I saw his van pulling up outside the house. I squealed and ran outside to where Tim was sat by the fire. Real subtle Charlotte.
I didn’t want to be anywhere near this man. I didn’t want him to touch me, tickle me, and I was definitely not giving out any hugs today.
Everything seemed calm inside the house, so I just presumed Jeremy was going to eat lunch and head off on his merry way.
That was until Tom came out laughing, saying; “He’s not going to Bundaberg.” Good joke, Tom. Obviously, he’s going. He has to go. We need to leave.
“No seriously, he’s not going,” Tom explained more seriously this time. “He said one of his car parts is broken and he can’t drive his van. He’s going to fix it and go tomorrow.”
This couldn’t be true. Jeremy had to go to Bundaberg. There was no way I was staying another night in this man’s company. We had to get out of here.
I went into the house, and he was sat on the sofa sheepishly. He had his head down and didn’t even look up when I said hello. The girls were in the kitchen, cooking, “where they should be.” (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
I carried on as though I hadn’t heard the news, but still, no one said anything.
Finally, Jeremy broke the silence, he only slightly looked up as I caught his gaze and said, “Charlotte, I need you to take me to the shop to get something for my van later.”
This was an order. There was no question about it.
Why me? Why did I have to take him to get something for his van when there are four other people capable of doing so, and probably more able to help him then I am.
He still couldn’t look me in the eye properly, so I yelped “OK,” and ran outside where Tim and Tom were still sat and explained to them what had happened. I also told them that there was absolutely no way I was driving this man, to wherever he wanted to go, in my van, alone.
Tom reassured me that he would make sure I did not have to, and we went inside to see the others.
While Jeremy was outside by the fire, Tom and I quickly started to put some of my things into my van, while the others continued cooking. Just as I was opening my van door, Jeremy stood up and shouted out, “Whenever you’re ready, I’m ready Charlotte.”
I went over and explained to him that I had a migraine and I was going to lie down for a little while, but that one of the guys would be happy to take him.
He told me it was fine; he was happy to wait for me and offered for me to go and take a nap in his bed.
This man has no boundaries. I declined his kind offer and ran into my van, where I sat and panicked. Now and then, one of the others would come to my van, and we would try and make a plan quickly. Tensions were running high, and to say I was terrified was an understatement. Every scenario went through my head until I had convinced myself I was 100% going to be buried alive in the outback of Central Queensland, and my beautiful new van was going to be burnt to a crisp.
We needed to get out, and we need to get out quickly. I lay in my van pretending to have a nap, while the others packed up the vans. None of us could make a solid plan, whether we were going to tell this man we were leaving or just get up and go.
Isn’t it crazy that although Jeremy wasn’t a nice man, he had overstepped boundaries and made us feel extremely uncomfortable, we felt bad for him. I guess it was more to do with the fact we felt sorry for the life he was living, and the life he will continue to live even when we are gone. He is clearly lonely and has never been taught good morals.
Anyway, enough of that, let’s try and escape this dirty grandpa!
Tom and Melon kept telling me to get into the front seat of my van and drive. But unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. The vans were blocking each other in, the front gate was locked, and he had now realised something was occurring so, came out to look what the fuss was about.
Melon told him we were all going to the beach, while AnnaMarie told him we were going to see Tim’s grandparents, a 5-hour drive away in the peak of a pandemic. Believe it or not, he didn’t believe AnnaMarie’s story.
Tom and Melon were still parked down by the billabong, so them moving their van was going to draw the most attention. He followed them down to their van and kept asking questions. While he was distracted, I found it in me to do the ninja jump into the front seat, which I had previously practised and turned on the engine. I was so nervous; my legs were shaking so much I could hardly keep my foot on the clutch. I got into full ninja mode and started reversing my van out of my designated spot when I heard a BEEP! It was AnnaMarie’s horn. I had almost reversed straight back into her van; I completely forgot she was there.
Jeremy heard the commotion and came running up the hill, leaving Tom and Melon to drive up. He came and put his hand on my door and said, “Where are you going, darl?” “To the beach,” I replied, by this time AnnaMarie had got her van out the way, and I reversed away from him, leaving him unsteady as he let go of my van.
We all drove up the driveway, through the gate and out onto the road. I parked up and waited for the others to come out. But we were missing Tim! The plan was to meet by the beach so we thought he would just come out and follow, so we slowly started to drive towards the beach. But still no sign of Tim.
I pulled over outside a vet, and AnnaMarie pulled in behind me. I told her I was worried about Tim and that we should go back, we could not leave a brother behind. We called each other on our phones and left them on, just in case we needed to talk.
We drove back slowly to the house; I pulled up outside where we were parked previously. We weren’t sure if we could see Tims van or not still parked up, so AnnaMarie bravely went and had a look. The gate was left open, Tim’s van was gone. He must have taken Jeremy to the shop.
AnnaMarie and I agreed we would drive down to the beach, find Melon and Tom and we could all wait for Tim together. On our way, AnnaMarie needed to stop for petrol. I pulled up in one of the parking spaces and waited. She called me to tell me that she saw Jeremy come out of the petrol station asking why we had all run away, but he didn’t seem to suspect anything and said Tim went to the supermarket for him.
We drove back to the beach where we saw Melon and Tom, and we sat and waited for Tim. At this point, Amber called me asking if everything was OK, and that she had a funny feeling the genius plan had not gone to plan. I explained what had happened and that we were waiting on Tim to meet us and then we would head to her house.
Finally, after what felt like the longest wait, Tim arrived at the beach. He told us that Jeremy made him go to the supermarket for him as he was banned from fighting in there. He did not buy any parts for his van, just cigarettes in the petrol station. Why he needed me to take him is still a mystery. But we made the right decision in leaving as quickly as we did.
I must add that we did send Jeremy a text that evening saying thank you for having us, that he had a beautiful home, but he had made us feel uncomfortable with a lot of his actions and the things he said. It was a very tricky situation for us to be in. I have always been one to stick up for myself, but sometimes when you are made to feel so uncomfortable in someone else’s home it is easier said than done. However even if we had said something he wouldn’t have taken any notice. You cannot change a 70 year old man so stuck in their ways. He replied saying, “the gate is locked.”
Thank you so much for reading and your kind messages of love and support. We are all safe at Ambers house, solo isolating and having a much calmer time. We have managed to find humour out of the madness that we experienced. I am lucky to have been with great people, and we are still all together at Ambers house.
I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Amber as I know you will be reading this because you have been pressuring me to publish this all week. I am so grateful for the kindness and generosity you have shared with us already. Inviting helpless strangers into your family home during a global crisis is such a courageous thing to do, and I admire that so much. I hope there are more people out there as awesome as you, helping others during this time of uncertainty. I honestly do not know what we would have done if it wasn’t for you. Who knows how long this will go on for, but I am so glad we all have each other. Here’s to our COVID-19 family!
And a message to everyone. Stay safe—be careful who you put your trust into. Listen to your gut feeling. You do not owe anyone anything, so if you are feeling unsafe and you are around people who make you feel uncomfortable, leave. This story goes to show that although there are creeps out there, there are also incredible people too.
This time is about sharing and taking care of one another. If you need anything, I am always here for a chat.