After Leslie left, Ron hooked the caravan up and drove to an overgrown paddock hemmed in by forest where he used to camp as a boy. He unhooked the van and chocked it as best he could in the sodden soil. Then he got into his dressing gown, lit a cigarette, turned on the radio—the signal crackling at the edge of its range—and started his new life.

Not that it felt new. He’d always fancied himself a recluse. The city never allowed him that pleasure. It was full of damned people going about their damned lives. One of them had been Leslie.

Ron ate sandwiches and listened to the birdsong and the insects. The creek in the distance. The radio’s incoherent fuzz. It might have been music or talk. Now it was a vestige of his past. In the morning he’d get the gas bottle filled. The store on the highway wasn’t the sort of place where they’d ask questions. He could last on what he’d brought for weeks. Then he’d move on. Another lonely side road.

Leslie went back to collect her things. The place looked ransacked. Police issued an alert. No one came forward. Ron’s name went onto a list of vanished men. Dead men, travellers, hermits. His brothers in isolation.

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