Wish upon a Star
"Ah, there it is." Max sat at the table in his hotel room scanning a map. He found Nana Glen on the coast south of where he was. It was a mere two hundred kilometers due south on the Pacific highway. He could do it in less than three hours. He was so close he could feel her. Now it was time to reflect. Why was he pursuing her if she didn't want to be found? The answer was a simple one. Max Skinner never gave up. Once he set his mind to something he was relentless no matter what. Buying, selling, trading, searching it didn't matter. At least this is what he convinced himself. He couldn't possibly be in love with her.
Opening his third Johnny Walker from the mini bar, Max poured it into a glass. He lifted it to his lips to suck it down but stopped short.Was he in love with her?
"Bollocks!" the glass was drained then he called the front desk to make arrangements for a hotel in Nana Glen. There was plenty of daylight left and it was a straight shot south. He may as well leave now. Never mind that he was feeling the effects of the scotch.
With the arrangements made the drive followed. Horses, he thought. She'll be where there are horses. How many fucking stables could there be in a place called Nana Glen? He could ask at his hotel. Once again he made progress and once again he found a new starting point.
The drive gave him plenty of time to think. All current facts pointed to Mara being a little more than a middle class paramedic. Arndell was an exclusive school and if Rog was her best friend than she certainly ran with the jet set. Why did she hide that from him back in Philly? His thoughts were tinged with worry as well. This affliction that her mate had spoken of was an enigma. Was she really ill, dying possibly? Were all of these thoughts fueled by the glasses of middling quality scotch he'd consumed?
"Too many fucking unanswered questions!" he said it out loud. How much more of this could he deal with?
"I'm Maximillian Skinner. One little shit who has grown into one big shit worth a whole lot of shit in a world of shit."
He was on the main road following the directions to the hotel when he passed a sign that saidWelcome to Nana Glen. He saw the pasture just beyond the sign and he slammed on the brakes, skidding to a halt.
"Looks like a stable." backing up, he swing the Lancer into the drive and continued on until he found a couple of buildings. A wire haired terrier stood on the porch of the tin roofed house and sounded the intrusion alarm. There didn't seem to be any people around or the signs there of with the exception of one brand new Land Rover parked close to the house and a classic Harley motorcycle visible just through the open door of a shed. Max parked the car and eased his way out in spite of the barking dog.
"Hello. Anyone about?' he called
The dog stopped barking and swung his head around to look toward the door of the house. It opened slowly and a booted foot stepped out. One thick fingered hand ruffled the dogs head as the man wearing the boots proceeded off the porch.
Max turned to stand eye to eye with him. He was the same height but he looked scruffier. Longer hair, a beard and tattered clothes covered by a drovers coat seemed to belie the mans confident strides. He appeared to be of means but in typical Aussie fashion he didn't seem to give a shit. There was something very familiar in his eyes when he swept the bush hat off and pressed it against his thigh.
"G'day mate. Are you lost? Didn't you see the no trespassing sign?"
"No, I'm sorry. I didn't see any signs except for the one that welcomed me to Nana Glen. I guess you could say that I'm lost though. I'm looking for something or rather someone who lives here. Perhaps you could help me."
"Fair enough. Who are you looking for, mate?"
"I don't believe I caught your name. I'm Max Skinner." he extended his hand.
"I didn't give it. I reckon I know who you are. She told me you'd somehow came to be." the green eyed Aussie nodded and clasped the manís hand. "Mates call me Russ. I take it you're looking for Mara."
"How did you know that?" Max shuddered.
"She told me about you. In fact she told me about you a long time ago. Said you were one of her favorites even if the film didn't do so well. I had a great time with you. I reckon she favored you so much you came to her right out of the celluloid. Some things are meant to be, mate."
"I need a drink."
"There's something I can help you with. Come on inside. No worries. You're not the first. Passion has a way of winning out over reality sometimes."
Confusion was not a common feeling with Max. He pretty much just took things as they came and didn't question them as long as the cash flow followed. He didn't have much choice but to go inside the house with Russ. The dog followed behind nipping at Max's heels all the way.
"He's the same kind of dog Duflot had."
"Yes he is, Jack Russell terrier to be precise."
Once inside the house the dog settle on his bed and Russ poured Max a glass of bourbon.
"Try this, mate. I got a case of it leftover from when I was filming The Insider. Lived on it for a while and soaked it up with as many greasy cheeseburgers I could eat. The Americans know how to get fat fast."
"I get the feeling we've met before.' Max took the glass and sniffed the amber contents.
"We have, in a way. I've been you but you're not me."
"Forgive my confusion but how could that be."
"Mate, you know who you are. Is your name Russ? No. But my name was Maximillian Skinner for a little while. I rather enjoyed being you too. I got to spend some time in Provence with my family, made a shed load of money and learned a little bit about wine making."
"I think I understand. What does Mara have to do with all of this?"
"Ah yes the lovely sheila herself. I told her to be careful what she wished for."
"She...wished for me?"
Russ nodded. I met her a few years back when I was buying some stock. We became fast mates. She was at my wedding as a matter of fact. Mara moved away a couple of years ago. She wanted to see the world, try out a new career. You know how it is. Sow some wild oats. Anyway we kept in touch as best we could. When I told her that I was going to make your film she read the book. I remember her saying that you were her kind of bloke. I don't know what kind of juju brought you to her but she must have been thinking about you a hell of a lot. One day she rang up and said she was coming back here and she wanted to talk to me. She told me all about how you showed up in Philly. She thought she was bloody daft."
"I don't understand. If she wished me here, why is she avoiding me?"
"Remember I said this happened before? I really believe that if something is meant to be, it will happen. No worries. The first time I saw John Biebe I thought it as me who was one sarnie short of a picnic. I reckon if you put your heart and soul into something. Itís as real as anything else. I do that with my work, mate. I brought you to life, Mara brought you to reality. Shit happens. I stopped asking questions when I ran into Maximus at a Taco Bell in New Mexico."
"You still didn't tell me why she is avoiding me." Max shoved the glass forward for a refill. This was all too strange to him.
"I reckon she's afraid of you, or maybe she's wishing she conjured up Jack Aubrey instead."
Max looked a little worried.
"I'm teasing you, mate. Itís you, just you. Fate has something in store for the two of you. Maybe I can help. I can call her. You ready for this?'
"Bloody hell, my head is spinning. Am I real or am I going to disappear into oblivion as fast as I got here."
"You're as real as I am, mate."
"Okeedokee then." Russ found his Blackberry that was buried under a copy of a Farmer Almanac on the table. He speed dialed her number and sat back in the chair. As it rang, he shoved the bottle of bourbon toward Max with a wink.
"Mara, love. Its Russ. Can you come over here to my place?"
"He's there isn't he?"
"Yeah. He sure is."
"Have you told him anything?"
"Told him just about everything, love."
"Bloody hell, Russ."
"Come on, Mara. You know you have to come here. You know why."
"Give me ten minutes. I need a drink first."
"Don't bother with it, love. I've cracked a bottle of the bourbon. No harm in opening another."
"I swear, Russ. You're something else. I'll be right there. I have to get this over with once and for all."
He ended the call and dropped the phone onto the table. "She's on the way, mate. That was easier then I thought it would be."
"What's going to happen?"
Russ shrugged. "I only know what happens to the end of the script. You're in someone else's hands now, mate."
"What if she's bloody well changed her mind about me?"
"It took something pretty strong to bring you here. Stop worrying. Mara's a good woman with a good heart."
This was a lot to consume in a short period of time and he still didn't have any answerers regarding her health. He'd have his chance soon. The screen door creaked then slammed shut. Mara Mackenzie stood in the doorway looking more beautiful than she ever did. Max stood slack jawed as their eyes met.
"You know?" she asked
Max nodded. "It's okay. I don't understand but its okay."
"I've got some cows to attend to. I'll leave you two alone. Mara, help yourself to the bourbon." Russ brushed a kiss to her cheek as he passed. He stopped at the door and turned to look at Max. "No worries." he hummed before he went out the door with the dog on his heels.
Mara waited until the door closed before she spoke. "If you know everything than why did you stay after he told you?"
"Mara, I never meant to leave you for good. I had to do something. I had to go make my fortune. Its ...itís in my character."
"Character being the operative word."
"Maybe so, but I'm going to be honest with you. Not a day has passed where I haven't thought about you. Come over here, Mara. Sit by me. Talk to me."
"Pour me a glass of that. Before you go on I've got something to tell you." she strode to the chair where Russ had been sitting. Pushing the glass he'd used forward she waited for Max to fill it. Mara knew this wasn't going to mix well with the anti seizure medication she was on but she didn't give a shit at the moment. She threw the bourbon down her throat.
"Mara. If you...wished me here and now you don't want me here. Why don't you simply wish me away?"
She lifted her eyes to him and forced a smile. "Max. I know your character. Yes I wished for you. You're amazing. You're perfect. Everything I love in a bloke. Cocky, smart, cocky, arrogant, cocky and that's the problem. I'm ...not so perfect. In fact I'm quite broken."
"You don't know me at all, Mara Mackenzie. If you did you'd realize that no matter what's wrong with you ..." he stood and wove his way around the table to take her face into his hands. "..I'm here because I love you. I'm here because you love Me." lifting her chin slightly he bent down to kiss her.
Russ patted the seat of the Land Rover to coax the dog up on it. He climbed in and started the vehicle. It was a good time for him to leave Max and Mara alone for a while. Just before he flipped the lights on to drive away a shooting star streaked across the sky. He grinned and said "No thanks. I've got all my wishes."
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