“Babe! Baaaabe!’ His voice was pleading. “Nick off!” was the reply. “I’m bloody sick of ya! It’s all over between us. I’ve had a bloody ‘nuff! You can just stick it!” “Aw, ba-a-be,” pleaded Jake. “Ya just don’t understand”. “I understand alright”, retaliated Rosie. “I saw ya touchin’ up Melissa.” “I wasn’t eva touchin’ her up. I was helpin’ her to stand. She’d had a few too many Breezers. That’s all. I was helpin’ her to stand up, for gawd’s sake!” “O, yeah? With ya hand creeping up her leg like that? O, sure! Just helpin’ her to stand up. Yeah, right!” Rosie stormed off up the road. She and Jake were on their way home from a party. Walking, they were, because Jake had (once again) lost his licence. What was it for this time? Speeding or drink driving? He could hardly remember. Rosie didn’t drive. Her Mum had tried to give her a few lessons, but the lessons had all ended in screaming sessions and hadn’t gone very far. And now the young couple was walking along the side of the road, late at night, or, really, very early in the morning. As the argument progressed, Rosie’s protestations became more personal. “I’m so bloody sick of ya, I shoulda stopped havin’ anything to do with ya months ago. You’re a fuckin’ loser, Jake. Ya never did a decent thing in ya life and I’ll be glad to be rid of ya!” “Aw, babe!” Jake was not one for words. “C’mon, babe, we’re good together, me and you. Don’t mess it up.” “Jeez!” Rosie spat, “I’m almost glad I seen what you was up to with Melissa, it helped me make me mind up for sure. And now you can just piss off!” Jake caught up with Rosie and grabbed her arm. “C’mon babe,” he said again, pleadingly. “I said, fuck off!” screamed Rosie and pulled her arm from Jake’s grasp. He still held on to the flimsy nylon of her jacket sleeve as she tried to break free. “Nick off, Jake!” one more yell as Rosie yanked her sleeve free from his grasp and plummeted forward towards the road, right in front of an on-coming car. There was a god-awful “Bang!” as the car collided with Rosie.
“Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-be!” And “Shit, shit, shit!” the driver of the car muttered as he felt the horrendous bump. “Shit!” again, as he swerved and planted his foot firmly on the accelerator. “Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-be!” Jake fumbled for his mobile phone as he reached the motionless body of his (ex) girlfriend.
It was on the TV news the next day. The radio too. “Hit-and-run tragedy. Eighteen year-old struck down and killed. Police searching for driver.” The next morning, TV cameras were at the site where Rosie’s life was lost. Jake was there too. Some friends from last night's party had also turned up. There were fresh flowers placed on the side of the road and someone had already tied a bunch of artificial flowers around the nearest power pole. The TV cameras were turned on as a young girl brought a (not very clear) photo of Rosie and tried to stick it to the post, beside the flowers. A reporter spotted Jake and approached him. “The mongrel didn’t even stop,” sniffed Jake, “She was the best girl in the world.” Girls came and hugged Jake. Some of them wept, but mindful of the camera’s gaze, were careful not to smudge their mascara too much. That night these scenes were played on the television news on four channels. There was also a police report and plea for anyone knowing of a damaged white ute with a missing passenger side mirror.
The following night, a current affairs program aired a feature on hit-run drivers and invited Jake to be on the show. He repeated his mantra of “The mongrel didn’t even stop” and had trouble getting the words out about Rosie being “the best girl ever”. The cameras zoomed in for a couple of close-ups of Jake’s tears and scrunched up face, interspersed with pictures of a happy, smiling Rosie; Photos gleaned from friends and family. Jake, being not one for words, had little more to say apart from his two statements, but answered the interviewer’s questions with a sniffily “yeah” or merely a nod or shake of his head.
By the third day, after the accident, Jake was a little brighter. “Did ya see me on the telly?” was his opening query when greeting friends and family. His sorrowful face was replaced with a grin if someone replied that he’d been seen and it was “cool”, “awesome” or “wicked” or that he had looked “insane”, or “hot” or, even, “sick” (apparently meaning the opposite of sick). News bulletins on various television stations played further scenes of the young people gathering at the scene of the accident. Several young women and men (girls and boys, really) were interviewed; although ‘interviewed’ was hardly the right word. They were ‘sound grabs’ of half sentences uttered by embracing, and sometimes sobbing, friends of the luckless Rosie. The next day, day four, was the day of the funeral. TV cameras were again in evidence. Rosie’s friends (and some who hardly knew her at all), turned up, not only to grieve but for the spectacle, as the cameras rolled. The girls mainly wore black in all its inappropriate forms of too-short and too-tight, ill-fitting garments. Jake had pride of place alongside Rosie’s grieving family as they walked sadly, through the gathered throng. He sat in the front row of the funeral chapel and shed tears as the celebrant spoke, and hid his head in his hands when Rosie’s uncle rose to read a eulogy that told of Rosie’s happy childhood and how much she would be missed by so many people. Outside the chapel, after the service, Jake tried not to look for the television cameras as he held a pink balloon aloft before letting it float up into the sky. But he hoped they had got that shot of his tortured face. Balloon ceremony over, Jake left the family and joined his mates. “What channel was that camera-man from? The one right at the front of the chapel?” was the first thing he asked of the others. He could hardly wait for the television news that evening to see how he looked.
Meanwhile, twenty-five year old Adam Joseph Miller had been apprehended by police who had traced the battered white ute with the missing wing mirror. He was remanded in custody and details of his arrest were reported in the television and radio news as well as the following day’s newspapers. Adam Miller was duly granted bail.
It took two years for the case to make it to court; a long time for Jake to wait for his next TV appearance. But he had kept a watchful eye on daily news reports and had even consulted court lists in the newspapers. He need not have bothered. The current affair show that had aired Rosie’s tragic story was on to it. They not only sent a camera crew to the court on the day, but sought out Jake for special attention. Jake had gone to exceptional lengths (and expense) to buy a tailored suit that had come with a complementary white shirt and smart striped tie. At the age of nearly 22, he supposed he should look like a smart dresser and had gelled his hair to perfection. The hapless Adam Joseph Miller, it was reported in the news, was sentenced to three years in prison for leaving the scene of an accident, for not rendering assistance and for dangerous and reckless driving. The charge of culpable driving was dismissed as, at least some of the legal fraternity accepted that the girl (as Adam had insisted) had run out in front of his car and there was no way of avoiding her at the time.
The evening news reported the verdict and sentence and showed the scene of Jake walking into (and later out of) the court. The reporter’s words simply recorded that, “The boyfriend of the victim, Rosie Anderson, was in court to hear the verdict. Jake Simpson, accompanied by his fiancée Melissa, said that justice had been served. And he could now get on with his life.” Jake and Melissa watched the tv footage that evening. “What ya think, ‘Lissie? I look great, or what?” Having a little over two years of being famous on TV gave Jake a good feeling.