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Sport 42: 2014

Betty Dean

page 243

Betty Dean

Louise Fowler, aka Wine-bottle Lou, aka Truck-Lady, aka Rex’s widow, pulled in just beyond the Motorway Café. The driver of a departing sixteen-wheeler slowed to stare at the wrecked helicopter on Lou’s rig. Ignoring his wave, Lou climbed down from the cab and crossed the lot. The café was quiet—just a dressy couple at a table that looked over the motorway and paddocks beyond. Lou bought a beer and took it three tables down.

An old woman had paused at the wreck. Most people could add two and two. The pilot of the crashed chopper had been a celebrity. His female passenger—Betty someone or other—was in a coma. It was all over the news. Anyway, with the site investigation now complete, Lou had the contract to haul the wreck to the CAA’s city compound.

Lou whacked the window until a man clambering onto her truck went away. She was on her fourth beer.

‘Excuse me?’ The male half of the dressy couple had walked over. ‘Yes.’

‘You’re transporting the helicopter that almost killed Betty Dean.’ ‘Am I?’

The man nodded back in the direction of the woman. ‘My wife knows Betty,’ he said.

Lou stayed dead still. After a moment he gestured at her beer. ‘Are you okay?’ he said, ‘that’s really what we wanted to ask.’

Outside dairy cows were spaced down the fence line. They were shaded, but the rising sun had caught the mangled upper-half of the chopper making it look clean. The man shifted. Now the woman was coming over. Lou was warmed by the concern. She tried to think of something to say to keep them there. More than Rex himself, what she missed was the structure of a husband. Though when she spoke it came out nothing like that.