Ava had been a Queen’s student, studying journalism, graduated 2009 without any remarkable honours. After filtering out her posts to various animal and travel-based websites, we found a handful of by-lines on smaller, more radical press websites. Most of it was pretty tame in the larger scene of activism, but she had managed to sneak a good piece (I didn’t read it, to be honest) about Idle No More onto Slate, and some small dispatches on Huffington Post (ah, HuffPo), which was something to consider as far as solid credits.
What was surprising was that there was very little about Brazil or the native populace in her writings. It was hard to tell where her most recent interest in this place had come from. Maybe it had always laid somewhere underneath. Maybe something else had stirred it to life.
Wilson, however, had not used his real name (or Wilson was the fake, whichever), and even with my attempts to narrow down her searches, Três found very little. There was a picture of an Australian expat with the same first name and ‘D’ as the last initial that we found on one of Ava’s online discussion groups. He was in a blurry pub photo taken with an old phone camera; a pale blotch with dark eyes, dark hair all askew, and, to very little surprise, a frat boy style popped-collar uniform.
Another hit mentioned a possible musician that used to play in some awful bands back in Toronto, and that was it.
Now, back when I said I laughed at Lena’s description of the guy, it was due to his almost surely fake name: Bunyip.
Back when my brother and I were kids, we enjoyed buying a load of books out of the book fair catalogs from school. One particular one was a picturebook of a bunch of monsters from myth, folklore, and urban legend. And of those, one stuck out in our minds: the Australian Bunyip. An aboriginal swamp monster. A people eater. The colonizers figured it was some kind of devil, or evil spirit. Something lurking out in the wilds, ready to take the unwary.
I wondered what this man figured he was playing at. Underlying menace? Or just a deflection, an alias to make himself feel safe. Or maybe something else entire.
I didn’t mention this to Três, much less anyone else.
It was growing late and I asked if we needed to collect our things and head to the airstrip. Três sniffed and said I knew the answer.
Graham wasn’t at the hotel when we arrived, though he had left an envelope for Três. We swapped it for one filled with his substantial payment (did I mention I had nearly fainted at the amount Enzo had authorized us to transfer? I had only taken a fifth of it for our current purpose).
Things went better than expected at the sleepy little airline office by the local field. I felt nervous about sending my friend on a local flight over the river, even for a short hop.
She hooked her thumb around her backpack, clenched a hand at her shorts. You have to keep me updated, she said.
Of course, I said.
Well, I guess-
I stepped out and hugged her, and handed her the package I had picked up earlier.
For later. It’s not enough, I know.
Until we meet again, my friend, she said in slow, accented English. She pushed me away and rushed off past the gate to departures. I waved and stood, waiting for one in return.