The following was written a long time ago. It was one of the more memorable writing experiences from my days of schooling – specifically Year 12. This short story was written to follow a specific writing style and it counted as part of one of the major assignments (back then called Common Assessment Tasks – or CATs). Enjoy!
How the night passed
It was a humid autumn night when Jake Morgan and his friends, Toby and Amanda, were driving home from the Melbourne Entertainment Centre where the Great China Circus was performing to large audiences. They all had been eagerly anticipating this event for days, hearing from friends the wonders of the show. The trio left immediately after the show in the Toyota Corolla belonging to Jake’s brother. The night was a tremendous success, with Toby being hand-picked by the performers for an audience-participation act.
The Corolla was cruising along when, just before passing Chadstone Shopping Centre, the teenagers decided to stop at MacDonald’s. Later, as they turned out of Chadstone Rd onto the highway, disaster struck in the form of a speeding van coming from the direction of the city. The impact caused the Corolla to spin around and crash into a lamppost. The front of the van sustained extensive damage. Eyewitnesses alerted police and within minutes both police and ambulance were on the scene. Paramedics tried in vain to revive Jake and he was reported dead at the scene of the accident. Toby, Amanda and the van driver were all rushed to hospital.
He was looking forward so much to the circus. wanted to go as well, but was very busy with university work. Jake rang home from MacDonald’s at around 10 pm. He said that they would be home soon. I did warn him to treat my car carefully and told him that no one was to drive it except himself.
– Matthew Morgan (brother, 22)
Exhibit One: A six-pack of beer cans found under the front passenger seat.
Exhibit Two: Photograph of crash scene. Van – Front-end badly caved in.
Corolla – Driver’s side smashed up against lamppost.
I saw the teenagers turn out of MacDonald’s in their red Corolla into Princes Highway. Then, all of a sudden, wham! This van came from nowhere and it ploughed right into them. The car crashed against the lamppost. I called 000 immediately on my mobile.
– James Sullivan (witness)
Well, we were walking to MacDonald’s from Chadstone when we saw this van racing in our direction. We were standing on the footpath at the side of the main road when we saw a red car turn out of Chadstone Road into Princes Highway, heading towards Dandenong. The driver obviously did not see the van approaching on his right and the next moment the red vehicle was hurtling out of control into the lamppost some 20 metres from us. We were scared and after a moment we ran over to the car.
– Harry Freedman (witness)
The nature of driving
In Melbourne, apparently everyone needs a car to get around. Relying on the public transport system is time-consuming and lacks security. Jake’s parents, Harold and Natasha, had encouraged their two sons to learn driving as early as possible. Matthew had started to learn how to drive in his final year of secondary school and now had his full license. At sixteen, Jake applied for a learner’s permit and began to accumulate hours of experience behind the wheel. Finally, Jake’s 18th birthday arrived and having celebrated it in style, he went to the VicRoads Centre to undertake the driving test. The months of driving under Matthew’s supervision and instruction paid off. Jake was now a proud P-plate driver.
Jake had been a careful driver, under the able tutelage of Matthew, who was very particular about road safety as well as care for his Corolla. Matthew made a deal with Jake that if he (Jake) ever made a mistake that culminated in an accident while driving, he would have to pay the whole repair cost. When Jake passed the driving test with apparent ease, Matthew was proud of him and was certain that his younger brother would make a skilled driver. During the school holidays, Matthew would allow Jake to drive the car for the entire journey to their parents’ holiday bungalow at Portsea. Driving his father to work in the city, the holidays provided much valuable driving experience for Jake. The whole family was sure that Jake was a responsible and safe driver.
Toby Jacobs was also brought up in a car-orientated environment. His father, a director of General Motors, drove a Holden Commodore. Like Jake, Toby had started driving at 16, while still in Year Ten. Now in Year Twelve, having turned 18, Toby was an accomplished P-plate driver. His father encouraged him to drive in all kinds of weather conditions to gain experience in road craft. Once, when Toby was driving his dad to the supermarket, it began raining after a long spell of dry weather. The roads were slippery and his father noticed that Toby wasn’t in full control of the car. After a near miss with a truck, Toby didn’t drive for a whole fortnight.
Amanda Livingston, 17, was in Year Twelve and would have to wait until Christmas before she could sit her driving test. Her mother, Monica, let Amanda drive to school because it was close to her workplace. Since Jake and Toby had got their P-plates, Amanda
became impatient with the fact that she had to wait another six months. She longed for the independence of driving without supervision. Occasionally, Jake and Toby let her drive in Matthew’s car when the trio went to the holiday home of Jake’s parents for the weekend. They did not tell Matthew.
When Matthew Morgan’s Corolla pulled out of MacDonald’s, perhaps it was Amanda who was at the steering wheel and perhaps she was still adjusting her seatbelt as she set off. Perhaps the boys were likewise engaged. As the main road curved to the right, her view of the path was possibly partially obstructed and she could not see whether the path was completely clear of traffic. Edging out to have a better view, she finally decided to steer into the left lane. At that moment, the van appeared, but it was too late. The van ran into the Corolla as Amanda negotiated the turn and the impact sent the car hurtling into the lamppost, resulting in the driver’s side being badly damaged and the occupants being thrown about. A police car drew up within minutes followed shortly by the ambulance a fraction later. Jake, Toby and Amanda were rescued from the wreckage and taken to the Monash Medical Centre for examination. The driver of the van was also taken to hospital with a fractured leg. Amanda was taken away from the scene with a broken arm while Toby was unconscious. Paramedics tried to revive Jake but to no avail and at the hospital he was pronounced dead on arrival.
At the hospital, it was found that Toby had an alcohol level above the legal limit. Amanda also had a Blood Alcohol Content level of 0.1. There was suspicion about who had been driving Matthew’s car. Amanda had concussion and could not recall the events of that evening. Investigators were left with a confusing story about the accident with witnesses contradicting one other.
The Nature of Deception/
The circus performance was entertaining and spectacular. Seated in the front-row, Jake, Toby and Amanda were able to participate in audience-interactive skits. For a knife-throwing act, a Chinese clown invited Toby to join the performance on stage. Jake remembered how the clown blindfolded Toby, then aimed at a board a short distance away, before feigning to throw a glittering knife at the board. Standing by Toby, the clown’s assistant encouraged him to be brave, but when the clown counted out aloud: one, two, three… the assistant stuck a knife on the board close to Toby’s face, giving Toby the impression that a knife had just been thrown at him. Then, removing the blindfold, the clowns applauded Toby for being brave enough to be part of the daring act. The performance was repeated until four knives had been “thrown” at Toby. For the final act, the clown placed a balloon between Toby’s legs just below the crutch of his pants.
Employing the same trick as before, the assistant popped the balloon and, at the same time, stuck the knife in its place, once more giving Toby the notion that the knife had been thrown from afar. The audience applauded and cheered brave Toby as he left the stage, many watching to see his reaction when the truth about the acts became known. As Jake and Amanda began telling Toby what had indeed happened, the clowns came to give Toby a Chinese fan for his participation.
His parents were unaware that Toby had begun drinking. Only Jake and Amanda knew about it. Toby didn’t drink a great deal but would get drunk occasionally. He deceived his mother and father, only drinking when alone with his friends at the Portsea retreat of Jake’s parents. Spending holiday weekends there, Toby would have time to sober up and conceal his growing habit of drinking before returning home. Once, Matthew found a beer can in his car and he questioned the three about it.
Amanda is a sensible girl. She doesn’t get carried away with anything and is not distracted easily. She’s a levelheaded teenager, a real pleasure to teach and know. Her progress at school was encouraging and she worked hard. I thought she was capable of achieving a good result in her VCE. The poor girl, she was so traumatized by the accident that she lost three weeks of school. The timing was unfortunate as her Literature and Economics CATs were due the following week. The whole school felt for Jake, Toby and Amanda when we heard about their accident and we all sent “Get well” cards to them. Classmates and staff members also attended Jake’s funeral, held in the school chapel.
– Ms Eleisha Flinders, Amanda’s Economics teacher
Amanda Livingston? Yes, she was rushed to the Emergency Department on Saturday evening. She had a broken arm and was unconscious on arrival. She was sent for a head scan and the doctors were relieved to find no internal injuries. Amanda’s arm was set in a cast and she stayed overnight under observation. She regained consciousness the following morning and that was when she broke down.
– Dr Frances Charleston, Monash Medical Centre
My baby! My baby! Jake’s gone. He always provided the family with laughs and jokes – and now he’s gone. Now I’ve only got Harold and Matthew. He was so young and innocent!
– Natasha Morgan, Jake’s mother
Amanda – why her? keep asking myself that question. Why her? She’s always been a careful driver, aware of the dangers on the road. Amanda’s been through a lot lately, what with her school CATs, music and sports commitments. I encouraged her to go to the circus as thought it would be a suitable break for her. You don’t understand what she’s going through.
– Monica Livingston, Amanda’s mother
Witnesses at MacDonald’s claimed that a girl was driving the car, while bystanders on the footpath thought the driver was a guy…
– Jo Hall, news presenter, Channel Nine News
The police were having trouble working out who was responsible for the accident. While it was established that the three teenagers had been drinking, the van driver was suspected of driving too fast. Matthew’s view of the accident was that Jake was the only person allowed to drive his car. The evidence given by the parties involved in the accident had been inconclusive. The police investigation continues…