The Suspicious Tent

“That tent’s been on the side of the highway for the last three days. I wouldn’t want to go near it. Only a freak would camp right beside a busy highway for three days.”

That’s the mental process of everyone that’s driven past the little blue tent. And if the person that set it up isn’t a freak, then he’s a meth-head, a junkie, a crack addict, a wife-beater or a serial killer.

It takes four days before anyone ventures near. Some teenagers figure it’s been abandoned. They wonder what it’s like to see a nylon tent go up in flames, but first they check for anything novel. If it’s a junkie’s tent, maybe there’s some drug paraphernalia. Is it a serial killer’s tent? Maybe there’s a severed head.

The bravest of the teenagers peers through the flap. There’s nothing noteworthy. It’s very orderly. A backpack. A torch. A pair of shoes. A sleeping bag. Suddenly the bravest teenager isn’t so brave anymore. They leave quick!

Three more days and a council worker passes by. “Another bum to book,” he thinks. He raps his fingers on the fabric. He rattles the poles. “Look alive. You’re being booked.” He announces. the lack of response prompts him to peer inside. The smell is off-putting. He punches something into his tablet and a rubbish pick-up is arranged.

Later that day, after a week beside the road, the tent and its contents are collected. Two men step out of a garbage truck and roll it all up. The poles snap and become entwined in the jumble. It’s a hefty load, but they’re hefty men. Into the back of the truck the load is thrown.

At the press of a button the bundle is compressed into a memory of itself. The backpack. The torch. The shoes. The sleeping bag. And the body of the ill man -wrapped in his sleeping bag – who just wanted to walk into the wilderness once more.

T

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