Torquay 59er

Ezra Azra


Copyright 2023 by Ezra Azra

Image by HANSUAN FABREGAS from Pixabay
Image by HANSUAN FABREGAS from Pixabay

59 Torquay Avenue was the only numbered address on Torquay Avenue.

It was a side road. None of the other side roads in the vicinity had any buildings at all. It seemed as if some Government Civic authority had named the sideroads some time ago by a plan that included building homes. That plan never materialized; the named roads remained, some of which were, Donegal road, Lighthouse road, Island View road. Like Torquay Avenue, all were overgrown with high wild out-of-control vegetation, some with thorns, most attracting stinging insects.

The only reason the young woman, Emilia, decided to live on Torquay Avenue after she was required to leave the family home in the Settlement of Island View, was because of the mysterious massive three-room concrete structure located there. Nobody ever came to know how Emelia found that building.

It was hidden deep in the jungle. Markings scrawled on the walls indicated it had been there since, at least, the First World War. A practical guess was that it had been used as a secret storage facility for the Nation's Armed Forces during that war. There were no indications that it had been used as a dwelling before Emelia occupied it.

There was little, if any, unpleasantness in Emilia's having to leave Island View. It had been a long-standing custom in that small Community of a few hundred persons, that a woman who was unmarried by the age of twenty, was obliged to leave the Community and never return, unmarried. The woman would be sent off with a lot of money donated at a final farewell party.

It was seldom that a young woman was so exiled. Never had an exiled woman returned, married or unmarried.

The Island View Community was situated on a mainland peninsular across a narrow ocean-deep strait from Salisbury Island. The swift current made recreation boating and swimming impossible.

Salisbury Island was one of the Nation's naval bases where sailors were trained. Candidates came from all over the country to train on Salisbury Island. No civilians were allowed on the island. All the personnel on the Island base spent recreation time in Island View.

Over ninety percent of Island View's thriving economy depended on Salisbury personnel.

The Community benefitted especially from the railway line the Government built that ran through Island View for the sole purpose of servicing the Salisbury Island naval base. That concrete causeway with its strategic mini tunnels, ran through and across the strait.

Island View was at the tip of a mainland peninsular; ocean on three sides. Rowboat fishing was popular and lucrative on two sides. Fish sales to Salisbury Island equaled those on Island View.

Over ninety percent of the young women of Island View married Salisbury Island personnel, on completion of their three years of training. There was talk at official levels of building a harbour somewhere along the Island View coast to promote civilian visits onboard naval ships.

Torquay Avenue was miles away to the north from the centre of Island View, and virtually lost in thick jungle. And so, it was a mystery why, after Emilia took up primitive-style residence at 59, other Island View single young women were abandoning Island View to voluntarily join her. Those young women were abandoning the option of marriage, some of them long before marriage became an option.

It was bound to happen that sooner or later the men in male-dominated Island View, would take adversarial action against the Torquay 59ers.

Because it was merely young women they were planning to attack, the men were sure of a quick victory. No need for firearms. Horsewhips and canes would be sufficient to discipline unruly girl children.

The 59ers, fully expecting the Island Viewers to attack by night, watched by night with their faces and hands smeared with black berry juice.

The men were careless about secrecy. Young women in Island View secretly notified the 59ers of everything said and every move planned about the coming assault. As well, it showed how easy the men thought a victory would be against an all-women army, that they attacked with much military music and fanfare on a sunny day, at mid-morning.

When the men arrived with their horsewhips and canes, to struggle-inch through the Torquay Avenue wilderness, the 59ers ambushed them.

From the beginning, Emilia had planned to never use Torquay to access her concrete dwelling. At that earlier, much earlier, time it was a decision made out of pure mindlessly instinctual self-defence.

Over the years, special attention had been regularly given by the 59ers to cultivating the wild Torquay vegetation into becoming ever increasingly impenetrable wilderness. Emilia's instincts proved to be on the mark when the Island View men foolishly attacked along the Avenue.

It was a one-sided debacle. Not a man returned to Island View. No Torquay 59er woman suffered so much as a scratch from the Island View men.

Accounts, possibly apocryphal, are that the only weapons the 59ers used were poisonous snakes caged for the occasion, and freed on the occasion. That part of the country was tropical Africa; naturally, wall-to-wall wild poisonous snakes all year round. If not with snakes, with what, then, could the women have been so absolutely victorious? Except for shovels and hoes and rakes, the 59ers were not known to own lethal weapons.

The win against the Island View men was nothing short of phenomenal. Nonetheless, there was another and most long-lasting win.

Most of the men were old enough to be the 59ers' older relatives. Hence, defeat was a real probability in the expectation of every 59er. Therefor, as an extra precaution against likely defeat, Emilia had led them in digging a secret underground tunnel somewhere in the 59 backyard. The tunnel extended into the neighboring home virgin site which, if numbered, would have been 61 Torquay Avenue.

In the 61 yard where the tunnel surfaced and opened, they found a sturdy very old-looking wood box on the ground, obscured under wild vegetation. On every side of the box were tangled clumps of countless sloughed-off snakeskins of different ages.

The lid had a metal lock, completely covered in rust. The box was locked. Emilia used a shovel to break open the lid. They saw piles of World War One memorabilia: solid gold swastika badges, medals displaying the Kaisar's face, jewellery, money coins, and other metal objects.

Neither Emilia nor any of the others was curious about the swastikas among pre-Nazi Germany memorabilia. Was it because the 59ers on Island View were so isolated from the rest of the Nation that they knew nothing about the infamous Nazi swastika?

A few steps farther along on the ground was a human skull and some bones among shred remnants of some sort of uniform. A very old-looking handgun was among the bones.

Careful to not disturb the bones of the skeleton and to not touch the gun, the women, led by Emilia, shoveled earth to cover all.

In walking about clearing the spot of the wild vegetation, and shoring up and hiding the tunnel's entrance, the women came upon a graveyard of sorts.

Three old graves, each with a name painted-scrawled on a piece of dried wood: Arnold, Charlotte, Theo. The women stopped clearing in that direction, fearing to discover more graves.

Emilia, acknowledging the likelihood of defeat by the imminent Island View army, selected four women to take the treasures and immediately go west through the jungle towards the Drakensberg Mountains which were hundreds of miles away. If the 59ers were defeated, the treasures would not fall into the hands of the Island Viewers. The women were to not leave a trail.

That debacle and the Government's closing down of the Salisbury Island naval base were dire coincidences. The Island View Community never fully recovered.

Nobody knows what happened to Emilia's Torquay 59ers. Fearing Government consequences for destroying the Island View army, the 59ers vacated Torquay Avenue; that much is well known. That graveyard, undoubtedly, must have made it that much easier for the women to abandon the area.

Before they vacated 59 Torquay Avenue, the women filled in the tunnel.

It was not only because she thought that uniformed corpse with a gun could very well have been of a woman, that Emilia erected a wood marker on that gravesite on the premises of 61 Torquay Avenue.

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