I was a tour guide and was doing my usual trip along the Stuart Highway. If you’re not familiar with Australia, it is longest and straightest highway in the world where you won’t encounter a fellow soul on the road for hours. Civilisation is so far away, you can’t even use a phone as there is no phone reception. The only chance of communication is by CB radio – if anyone is around to hear it.
I was driving a tour group northwards and was staring at the horizon when I saw two dark dots briskly approaching. As I neared the dots, I could see a tall, lean man with his dog. He seemed in a hurry but was averting his face. I slowed down to double check if the man was alright but the man kept on walking, completely ignoring any of my attempts at providing help or assistance.
Rule number one on Stuart Highway is to look out for one another. You keep other drivers informed if you spot trouble, such as roadkill or even animals feeding off of it in the road. You offer a lift and maybe treatments if someone is stranded. This is because you can actually die in the outback. When you find someone who can help you, that might often be your only chance if you’ve broken down and are not well prepared.
I wanted to help the lone man, but I received no reply. Something was off about him. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I had a bad feeling in my stomach. I was about to drive off but the whole bus was protesting. He might be dehydrated and out of his mind. He might need help after all but I had the interest of the group at heart and couldn’t justify taking on a total stranger and possible weirdo.
The tour group voiced their anger at this even louder but I did not relent. Once we arrived in town some hours later, I dropped off everyone and headed to the bar to catch up with my old mates who were expecting me. One of them arrived later than usual and seemed flustered and upset. Concerned, I asked him what was wrong. He told me that he and his fellow officers had been investigating bloodshed in a small town. Several people had been brutally butchered to death and the perpetrator was on the run. Even though they pretty much knew who he was, they couldn’t locate him. He had disappeared.
With a sudden intuition I asked what he looked like. And the following description sent chills up and down my spine. It perfectly described the man and the dog I had seen and tried to help! The police had been searching in the wrong direction all this time as he had cleverly diverted them off his track. However, thanks to my tip, my mate was able to handcuff the armed murderer two hours later.
Just imagine if he had gotten on the bus!