Hit and Run 3d cover

Hit and Run by Dr Bob Rich

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Available in ebook and print

84-year-old Sylvia barely escapes death when a teenage driver plows down six children and a crossing guard, never looking back. Shaken, Sylvia draws his portrait, creating a connection with this 14-year-old boy that allows the police to locate and arrest him. That night, he appears to her through a supernatural process neither understands. Can one woman’s belief in the power of love make a difference in the life of one boy who wants to change?

GENRE: Inspirational/Paranormal     ASIN: B07DFF3KBX     ISBN: 978-1-925574-18-0     Word Count: 99, 905

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Based on 27 Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars redemption story

Sylvia Kryz is speaking to Vlad Stavrou, a psychologist, explaining what she witnessed: A gleeful young man driving a red car purposefully running into her friend Naomi, a school crossing guard, and six children under the age of seven. All were killed. He only just missed Sylvia because, at age 84, she was a few steps behind them, using her wheelie for support. For the policewoman Jemina Johnson, Sylvia drew several very accurate pictures of the young man’s side features. She wanted to draw his face from the front. That night, she had a dream where she pictured him full-frontal in her room … and he appeared … foul-mouthed and aggressive. After her dream meeting, she drew his frontal face and gave it to Jemina. This strange meeting occurrence reoccurred many times after she initially drew the boy’s image. She learned his name was Chuck, because he made his mother chuck when she was pregnant with him, but Sylvia called him Charlie. She learned he was physically abused at home and didn’t care much about anything but his 6-year-old brother Tommy, who he wanted to protect. During their ‘meetings’ she gave Charlie advice to help him through some of his problems. The police caught Charlie and took Tommy into protective custody. By then, Sylvia’s opinion had changed. She believed Charlie could become a good person. At a memorial meeting for the dead children and Naomi, and after a priest makes statements about vengeance, Sylvia speaks, telling of the violence against Charlie and Tommy, and that violence always begets violence. She suggests a solution—as a community they can teach these boys a better way of life. After her speech, things change but it’s a slow, hard road to follow, and Charlie still faces murder charges and prison. It is surprising who decides to take part in this reclamation, but can they really make a difference in these boys’ lives? Hit and Run is an interesting and beguiling read.

R. Courtright August 8, 2022

5.0 out of 5 stars "Hit and Run" is anything but, and you'll remember this story for a good, long time!

"Hit and Run" is a story of many things, and starts as an intersection of lives through a tragic event. But instead of treading the usual "police evidence ground" to uncover the antagonist, we meet him in a most unusual way. I'll say nothing more to limit the spoilers, but suffice to say, this book took me on a journey I'd never taken before. Which was refreshing! And it held my interest to the end, so combined with the excellent, cliche'-free writing and the imaginative tale - and honestly, most of all, the characters - this warrants a solid 5 stars. Congrats and Very well done!!

LAWRENCE H. August 11, 2019

5.0 out of 5 stars Another 5 Stars

Another 5 Stars for Bob Rich. He's done it again, a wonderful tail with many, as usual, messages leading us to good advice on social manners. Kev Richardson


4.0 out of 5 stars A redemptive story for our troubled times

We live in troubled times. All around us, in country after country, people do unspeakable things. What is particularly heinous is when a young person lashes out, killing others. Thus begins this book. Charlie, at fourteen, has given up on life and himself, and decides to share his pain by running his car through a crosswalk of children, killing a number of them and narrowly missing an elderly woman, Sylvia, in the process. Soon after the traumatizing event, Sylvia begins to have initially unwelcome paranormal contact with Charlie. Through these contacts Sylvia is allowed a window into Charlie's past and the ugly forces that shaped his choices, and Charlie learns that not all adults are there to abuse him. This story highlights the redemptive power of love, acceptance, kindness, and loving accountability. It shows that even when we have good reason to hate, we can choose to love and to guide others rather than punish them. It promotes looking more deeply into others to find the hurtful events that create negative attitudes and behaviors. And it encourages us to turn our own pain into something positive, rather than allow it to fester and injure us further from the inside out. These lessons are layered within a story that focuses on the here and now, day to day transformations occurring within multiple characters as they face the aftermath of violent choices and loss. The conversations feel legitimate, and the characters could be our next door neighbors. One is left wishing that our real world could mirror the change in beliefs and attitudes shown within the story. As a person who believes in redemption and the ability to change, I recognize it often does not happen with the fluidity and speed seen in this story, but it would be a lovely world if it could. The paranormal qualities to the story were not distracting from the reality of events. They were used in ways to make important points, and were not belabored to the point of taking away from the main plot, which appeared to accurately represent today's youth and our troubled world. This is a solid read which encourages readers to ponder our tendency to rush to judgment, and hand out consequences, without regard to what life influences someone has endured before doing something hurtful or incomprehensible. The psychological background of the author adds an element of authenticity to the sections of the story where Charlie is helped to understand what drove his decision and how he might change, to avoid being held hostage to those influences. Anyone who has experienced similar life events would find much encouragement within those parts of the novel.

annonymous August 19, 2018

4.0 out of 5 stars brought together by a terrible incident that changed the lives of all concerned

A story about forgiveness and restitution. It is about the lives of a group of people with different challenges, brought together by a terrible incident that changed the lives of all concerned. They each had their own challenges that they either had to experience or overcome. A number of spiritual concepts woven into the daily lives of people made it a very touching story, without ever given the idea of preaching. We all have seen or known the characters, they are your neighbour, a friend or family member, someone you wish you knew and a few you are glad you have never met. It is clear that the book is written from a place deep inside a wise soul with a lot of life experience. It was very clever to have the old woman drawing the scene in the first chapter, to bring the reader right into the action, to set the theme with the criminal in her dream. This books comes at a very appropriate time. It could give a lot of people food for thought regarding forgiveness and a way forward, after traumatic experiences and to teach us that we are all damaged in a way, but with love and compassion as an example, we are able to change our destination. A book well written and it kept my attention right to the end. I read it slowly, did not want to miss subtle detail. My only objection would be too many characters who appeared towards the end.

Trisa Hugo June 18, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars From the Midst of Tragedy Comes a Hopeful and Redemptive Story

Dr. Rich’s latest book Hit & Run is a compelling read right from the opening paragraph to its final word. It tells the story of an enraged and out of control 14 year old boy named Chuck (Charles) who purposely runs over and kills 6 innocent children, as well as their crossing supervisor. Fortunately, he narrowly missed an 84 year old woman named Sylvia who in many ways becomes the most pivotal character in the story. Ironically, it is Sylvia who is able to establish a paranormal relationship with the young perpetrator. This leads us on an unexpected journey toward healing and redemption that not only benefits the boy, but also the families that have suffered unfathomable loss, and the greater community. The beauty of Dr. Rich’s writing is that he comes at it from a psychological and societal perspective. In fact, Dr. Rich is a retired psychologist. His professional wisdom and narrative sensibilities shines through his writing. This is especially true through the engrossing and developing dialogue between Sylvia and Charles, as well as how the psychologist Dr. Vlad is able to provide needed counseling to help others deal with the very real impact of trauma and loss on their lives. This novel is a testament to the power of love, and Sylvia becomes our ultimate guide. All who have their lives touched by Sylvia’s loving spirit eventually learn compassion for others... even those who have been so hurt that they have experienced profound anger, despair, and hatred. Hit & Run is a story well worth reading in that it helps us to embrace love over hate, thereby raising our social consciousness. Jay S. Levy, MSW, LICSW Editor of Cross-Cultural Dialogues on Homelessness

Astro-Guy June 13, 2018

4.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive and wise

Sylvia Kryz or Aunt Sylvia as she comes to be called, is no ordinary old woman. After witnessing a terrible incident where 6 children and a crossing guard were deliberately hit and killed by a young man in a vehicle, she begins to have graphic nightmares. After meeting with Dr Vlad Stavrou, the psychologist sent by Victims’ Services, Sylvia’s nightmares begin to be supplanted by a psychic connection with the driver of the vehicle, and through her exceptional memory and drawing skills she is able to lead police to the killer. Charlie turns out to be only fourteen years old, and badly abused, and Sylvia begins to develop an affinity with Charlie that goes back further than she can begin to imagine. This affinity has a snowball effect not just on Charlie’s and Sylvia’s life but on the lives of all the people around Sylvia, including the grieving families of victims. Throughout the book the first person narration remains lively and engaging. The reader is pulled into the story from the opening line, and the story progresses quickly, as we follow the uncanny connection between Charlie and Sylvia. The characters are well-drawn and in spite of a hefty dose of the paranormal, are quite believable, even in their dramatic transformation. The book is built on a strong and clear message, which is a vitally important one that remains absolutely relevant: compassion and understanding is the only way to conquer hate and fear. Rich presents this message through the actions of Sylvia, showing just how powerful this counter-intuitive sympathy is in changing hearts and therefore changing society. Hit and Run blurs genre boundaries and pulls in in a very wide range of influences including the paranormal, spiritual practices, philosophy (eastern and western), religion (also eastern and western), presenting a coming-of-age tale with the pace and plot of a mystery. The book is full of psychology, as you might expect from Rich, a former psychologist, and a likely model for Dr Stavrou. The transformation of Charlie and his younger brother Tommy is fairly extraordinary, but Rich manages the arc well, drawing on a spiritual tradition and sense of empathy that is brought into the book subtly. Sylvia is a wonderful character and it’s a delight to find a heroine who is older, drawing on her innate wisdom and capability to heal everyone she comes in contact with, while solving any number of problems around her. Sylvia is not only deeply perceptive, but also a good cook who seems to provide a continual supply of homemade biscuits and fresh brewed leaf tea. Her approach is not only affirmative in the context of the story, but also serves as a parable for the reader too, gently reminding us that hatred begets hatred and that even the most hateful of characters have something that is fueling the anger. Hit and Run is an inspiring story with an important message that will appeal to readers of all ages.

Magdalena Ball June 11, 2018


Margaret Tanner review of Hit and Run This story gripped me right from the first few lines. Mrs. Sylvia Kryz, AKA The Old Duck, is an 84 year old lady who is almost bowled over by a car driven by 14 year old Charlie Debnall (Chuck, a derogative term given to him by his mother because she chucked up all the way through her pregnancy). Naomi, the school crossing lady, and six children are killed. Charlie is an angry boy who had been brutalized by his mother’s numerous drunken and druggie boyfriends. The only person he cares about is his 6 year old brother, Tommy. Everyone hates Charlie, but under the influence of Mrs Kryz who believes there is good in the boy, a cavalcade of colourful characters pass through the story and become staunch allies in Mrs. Kryz’s attempts to save Charlie from himself. They include Mrs Kyz’s family; Vlad Stavrou, the psychologist from Victim’s Services; Reverend Martin, a Uniting Church Minister who was jailed for murdering his sister’s rapist, but found God; and Brigitte, so full of hate after her husband left her that she alienated her children. There are several themes skilfully wove into this story: love, hate, revenge, redemption and second chances. The story is almost brutal in parts, but so vividly portrayed I could feel the hatred, hear the vile language used by Charlie’s slovenly, alcoholic mother and Brutal Bruce, his latest stepfather. They sent shivers of distaste along my spine. Tommy, the six year old brother, was naughty and foul-mouthed, but somehow endearing just the same. The most incredible part of this story was the parts where Charlie and Mrs. Kryz had telepathic meetings with each other. I am not into this psychic type of thing as a rule, but the events were so brilliantly executed, they were plausible even to an unbeliever like me. Hard to say much more without spoiling the story, but believe me when I say, if you want a great read, this it. A Word of caution though. Make sure you have enough time to read it at the one sitting, because like me, you won’t want to put it down until you have devoured every word.

Margaret Tanner June 11, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking

Most normal people feel horrified and sickened by a senseless crime, particularly one committed against defenceless children. The crime in Bob Rich’s book ‘Hit and Run’ is one such act of savagery and one that cries out for justice. Where this story differs from the usual crime and punishment tale, however, is in the thoughts and actions of one old lady who witnessed the deaths and came near to becoming a victim herself. Rather than give in to a desire for vengeance against the heartless perpetrator, she is moved to forgive the young man and try to understand his motivation. What follows is a startling account of what can happen when good people decide to show love instead of the all too easy desire for vengeance and retribution. Forgiveness is not an easy path to follow, and several members of the community are reluctant to show mercy to the young man who wantonly killed so many young children. It is a cliché that ‘no man is an island unto himself’ but like it or not we are each of us alone in our thoughts and inner torments -- but what if we were not? Young Charlie Debnall, his character warped and twisted by horrific circumstances and a terrible upbringing, finds his ‘island’ connected by a causeway to the old lady he almost killed -- Sylvia Kryz. This connection opens up possibilities that he had never imagined and leads to him turning his life around and taking the first steps on the long road to becoming a worthwhile member of society. This is a simple story yet also a complex one with a wide array of characters on both sides of the ledger. Some people actively work against Charlie’s rehabilitation; others refuse to even give him a chance, but a growing number believe in the possibility of change and it is heartening to see the gradual blossoming of a mind stunted by terrible circumstances. ‘Hit and Run’ is a story of hope in a world where it sometimes seems as if civilisation is crumbling around us.

James M. Overton June 11, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars Love Always Wins

Is it possible for a hell-bent teenager to turn himself around? In this story, we see a drug crazed, typical inner city youth, tired of being alive at the age of fourteen. He is angry at the world and determined to take a lot of innocent people out with him. When Charlie Debnall drives an out of control car into a group of elementary school children as they attempt to cross the street, it unleashes a chain of events which eventually lead to total and complete transformation from the inside out. Not only are school children and the crossing supervisor brutally murdered, but aging Sylvia Kraz, also attempting to cross the street with the aid of her wheelie walker, narrowly misses her demise at the hands of Charlie. Sylvia gets a good glimpse of Charlie’s face, making eye contact, as he speeds by leaving carnage in his wake. With her uncanny artistic abilities, she sketches his face then experiences Charlie appearing to her in her bedroom through mental telepathy. Her drawing of his face leads to his arrest and yet the visits continue. Sylvia’s psychologist assists her in working through her traumatic brush with death and guides her into a past life regression which establishes her connection to Charlie. When Sylvia agrees to help look after Charlie’s little brother, Tommy, a bond of trust is formed. Over the course of the story, we see a collage of characters all woven together with one goal in mind and that is to help Charlie and his little brother, Tommy, break the pattern of abuse and learn to be good decent humans. What they don’t realize is that they are all growing and learning in the process of helping the boys. This is a touching story which brings to light paranormal activity and past life connections and how those connections continue to weave through each lifetime. A fascinating read, that keeps you turning one page after the other, and holding your breath when Charlie “stuffs up”, as he calls it. This is a great story with a message of hope and inspiration. Love wins.

JanS June 7, 2018

5 stars!Hit And Run, a new novel by Dr. Bob Rich, is something quite rare–actually an example of a new genre of novel. Call it EA for Elderly Adult fiction.  Call it whatever you will, I call it a brilliantly told story. The protagonist, one Sylvia Kryz, is clever, humane, and gifted as an artist. And one other thing–late in her life, in her mid-eighties, she comes to recognize she has an incredible gift. Her empathetic nature has blossomed into a supernatural talent to connect with a troubled young man in ways both frightening and wonderful. Five Stars, a simply Must Read for mature adults of all ages.

~ Reviewed by John Klawitter, Hollywood writer/director/producerMore Reviews



“Good afternoon, Mrs. Kryz.” The broad-shouldered, dark haired man held out his hand. “I’m Vlad Stavrou, the psychologist sent by Victims’ Services.”

I invited him in, handing him a cup of tea and a plate of my latest baking on the coffee table, as I waited for him to continue. I’d never dealt with a psychologist before, and didn’t know what to expect.

He took a sip, then put down his cup. “Just tell me about last Friday morning, please. Make me feel I was there, like I was you.”

And so I started my tale.


If I wasn’t an old girl of eighty-four, I’d be dead, too.

Not that I care–I’d be better off dead than the way I am.  I haven’t slept since it happened. Every time I close my eyes, I see the horribly mutilated little bodies, Naomi’s white crossing supervisor uniform covered in deep red blotches and bits of her brain, and that boy’s gloating face as he flashed by.

It was on purpose. I saw it in the leer of his eyes, his half-open mouth. He looked like a naughty kid snatching a chocolate bar off the shelf before running out of the shop.

If I’d been able to walk as fast as the children, I’d have been among them, beside Naomi, but I was a few steps behind, leaning on my wheelie frame, so he missed me. I felt the wind of the red car’s passing, smelt the stink of its exhaust, was close enough for blood to splatter my stockings and the bottom of my dress. He missed my wheelie frame by inches.

Six lovely little children, none over seven years old I’d say. And kind, fat Naomi who always had a laugh for everyone, and was out there twice a day during school term, whatever the weather.

Dead. Killed. Snuffed out in an instant of terror.

And me, I live.

At first I felt nothing, only saw a meaningless painting of red and grey blots until some of the blots moved, I guess the twitches after death, and the horror swam into focus. A few seconds ago, that thing with the moving arm had been Shane: cheeky, with a freckled face and a gap-toothed grin. I’d often said hello to his mother. That broken doll had been a bright little girl with red plaits. She’d been singing the alphabet when the car appeared from nowhere.

Oh, how could he?


People appeared, probably within seconds, but I have no idea of the time. Someone led me away, gently, and took me into her house, across the road from the school. I noticed an Australian flag next to the door.

When she saw me looking at it, the lady said, “My husband is a Justice of the Peace. Come in, my dear.”

Soon I was in a deep armchair with a hot water bottle behind my back and a hot, sweet cup of tea.

Nevertheless, I was still shaking when the police arrived. It was a woman and a man. She asked the questions, kindly enough, while he scribbled.

“Mrs Kryz, do you think you could identify this man?”

“Hmm, more a boy than a man. Well, all young men seem like boys to me, but he didn’t look like he was shaving yet. You know, baby-face skin.”

“You saw that in such a short space of time?”

“If… if my hands weren’t shaking like this, I could draw him for you.”

She perked up at that.

“At home, I can show you a few drawings. As a young woman, I often fed my children by doing a portrait for a pound. I’ve had people come up to me in the street, telling me they still have the drawing I’d made of them as children.”

“Wonderful! Mrs Kryz, when you’re up to it, draw him, please. Then…” she gave me a business card, “…phone me and I’ll rush to your place. I want him.” She looked like an eagle swooping on prey. Maybe she was a mother, too.

Eventually I felt well enough to go home, and my kind hostess drove me there. I put my clothes to soak and had a shower and another cup of tea, then got out my crayons and sketchbook. Crayons are my favourite medium. But, thinking of the purpose of the exercise, I also found my coloured pens. This one required sharp lines, though of course the shading needed the crayons.

I closed my eyes for a moment, opened them and drew. There was the red car…faded, powdery red. Square shape of the car, silver grille and bumper bar. New cars don’t seem to have those. His head was a pale blur at this stage. No P plate. That surprised me. Maybe he was older than he looked? If you pass your test the first possible time at 18, you’d have to be 21 for the full licence. I couldn’t read the number plate… PL something?

I got a fresh sheet of drawing paper. Naomi, frozen, half-facing the roar of the car. She held her STOP on a stick as if it would act as a barrier. Around her, the little figures, all with heads turned left, toward death. Looming on the left side, the car. I wanted to stay realistic but couldn’t: it was huge, a juggernaut, a giant red-and-silver monster. You could see it move on the paper.

My hand hurt from having gripped the pen so tightly. I looked at my watch…heavens, three o’clock and I hadn’t had lunch!

A couple of dry biscuits with cheese and a cup of tea are enough for an old bird like me, before I returned to work.

The car, almost side-on, was in front of me as I closed my eyes. A moment, then I opened them and my hand drew. As always, I felt no control of the process, merely watched shapes appear.

His face, the expression–almost of ecstasy–the staring pale blue eye I could see from one side, an untidy mop of light brown hair, black T-shirt. A cigarette poked forward from his mouth, the wisp of smoke visible.

The car…scratches around the keyhole, and up higher, under the black rubber lining the window. I carefully drew them in. I realised–he stole that car. Probably, he stole the car in order to kill someone, anyone.

I glanced over the three drawings. Satisfied, I sprayed them with a light protective coating. Another hour had passed. Once more, I was exhausted, but got out the policewoman’s card. Detective Sergeant Jemima Johnson. I chose her mobile number, not wanting to go through endless switchboards and “We’ll pass on your message.”

She answered on the third ring and I introduced myself.

“You have the drawings?”

“I do.”

“I’ll be there in half an hour. Got your address in the files.”

“And I’ll have the jug on.”

While waiting for her, I took out my crayons again, and did a quick sketch of her face, with the fierceness on it when she’d said, “I want him.” I sprayed it, too, and put it to dry. I took off my glasses to rest my eyes for a few moments, relaxed and drained.

It took her about twenty minutes. Her car was red, too, but a shiny new one; a low-slung thing that looked like a sports car. It had no bumper bar.

“Good evening, Mrs Kryz,” she said, and that’s when I realised that indeed it was evening.

I sat her on my couch, passed over my drawing of her, and made my all too slow way to the kitchen.

As I returned with a tray carrying the teapot–I hate teabags–cups, saucers, sugar, milk, and a plate of biscuits I’d baked yesterday for my great-grandchildren’s expected visit tomorrow, she smiled at me. “Mrs Kryz, I’m sorry, I don’t have a pound.”

“Have your portrait for free, then. Just catch him. That’ll be reward enough for me.”

I eased myself into my chair. She poured, added milk, then so did I. She didn’t take any sugar, but sampled my baking, her face reflecting delight.

I passed over a manila folder.

She opened it and looked at the first drawing. Her mouth half opened, and she stopped breathing for a long moment. She looked at the other two drawings in turn.

“Marvellous,” she finally whispered. “That’s a 1960s Holden, I don’t remember the model name, but it’s clearly identifiable. Few of them still around. Easy to steal.”

I drew her attention to the scratches on the door, and she nodded.

“Mrs Kryz, do you want a job as a police artist?”

We both laughed. She said, “Oh, I have a typed copy of your statement. Could you please read it, make any corrections, and then sign it?”

I did so.

She finished her tea, put all four drawings in the folder and stood to go. I showed her to the door. Unexpectedly, she gave me a great, warm hug.

As I’ve said, I couldn’t sleep that night. Whenever I closed my eyes I was THERE, replaying the horror, over and over. Finally, maybe at 4 a.m., I got up, put on my dressing gown and turned on the TV. It was, of all things, a horror movie. I switched channels but everything was equally unsuitable. I picked up the last book I’d borrowed from the library, but it might as well have been in Chinese. I couldn’t take in a word.

Eyes on fire, I returned to bed, but as soon as I tried to sleep, I was back there, heard the roar of the engine, lived through it all again. So, I switched on my bedside lamp and looked at the white wall. I projected his face, side on like I’d seen him, and demanded, “Why?”

Was I going crazy? The face turned, both eyes scowling at me. Below the shoulders was the whole boy, with the base of my bed cutting off the view of his legs. He wore a yellow T-shirt.

“F–n old bitch. ‘Cause I hate everyone.” Oh Doctor, as a young girl I was trained never to say or write words like the one he used. His voice was a baritone, at odds with his appearance. He could barely be sixteen, I thought.

“Why?” I asked him.

What I got in response was such a filthy tirade that my mind shut down. He waved his arms, shouted dirty words the like of which I certainly didn’t know at his age, and I really expected him to attack me, but he just stood there. I found not one jot of sense or reason in any this.

At last, he came to a stop and glared at me, panting.

“I can see you’re angry,” I said, “but those lovely little children were not responsible for whatever is eating you.”

Then he really surprised me. “Get outa me dream!” he screamed.

He leaned forward as if struggling to come at me, but had his feet glued to the floor. Slowly he faded: the torso disappeared from the bottom up, until only the head was left. It glared at me for one more long moment, and was gone.

Daylight peeped in between the closed curtains.

Had the shock driven me crazy? Maybe I’d fallen asleep and dreamt it? I thought of cancelling my granddaughter-in-law’s visit with her children, but decided this was exactly what might get me through the day. So, I showered and dressed, even forced down a piece of buttered toast, and got the toys out of their cupboard.

The doorbell rang, but it was a strange couple. At first sight, the woman looked beautiful, with wavy blonde hair and big blue eyes, but then I noticed it was all peripherals and paint. She smiled, and yet looked cold and calculating.

I only had the door half open when a blinding light hit me, and a fuzzy thing on a long stick descended on one side.

The woman said, “Mrs Sylvia Kryz, you’re on the news!”

Obviously, I was supposed to be thrilled. I shut the door.

Her voice rose an octave and a decibel. I hoped the microphone man had left it switched on. “Mrs Kryz! This is the news! You owe it to the people!”

I took a long breath to quieten my fury. “Go away. You’re a vulture. You’re as bad as that boy callous, cruel and uncaring. Go away!”

All the many points of habitual pain in my body hurt more than ever, but I thought of a rescuer.

I hobbled to the phone and called Jemima Johnson.

Before I could speak, she said, “Mrs Kryz, what can I do for you?”

“Oh, how…”

She laughed. “Your number came up on my little screen.” The commotion was still going on outside my house.

“I… I’d be very grateful if you, um, the police, could chase the reporters away.” Then I had a thought. “Also, I’ll have another drawing for you.”

“I’ll organise something, and be over myself when I can.”

“Oh, thank you. Thank you my dear.”

“My pleasure.” She sounded like she meant it, but disconnected. I guess she must be busy all the time.

My kitchen is the furthest room from the street, so I set up my drawing things on the benchtop there. That boy, full face… I had no business seeing him full face, but I had. My pens flew, and there he was.

From the side, naturally, his eyebrow had been merely a little square protrusion. Now I’d drawn a perfect arch for the left one, while the right slightly curved up at the outside corner. He had a small, almost skin-coloured mole below the right eye. No one’s ears are identical. Despite the mop of hair, I saw that the lobe of the right ear was slightly lower than the left. Also, his sneer exposed his teeth. The left top incisor was set slightly further in than the right. If he ever smiled, it’d look charming, but with the expression on the face, it added to his fierceness.

The doorbell dingled again soon after I’d finished, but I ignored it. Then the phone rang. A male voice said, “Mrs Kryz, this is Senior Constable Barton. We have cleared the street for you.”

“Thank you.” We hung up. I looked at the clock, and put on the jug. Sure enough, it started its song when the doorbell sounded, and it was Molly with her three little darlings.

“Oh Nan,” she said as she leaned down to give me a hug, “You’ve been in the wars, haven’t you!”

“You’re right about that, love. Only, the casualties were all too young.” I suddenly saw it all: the little bodies twitching, Naomi’s crushed head, smelt the blood and exhaust fumes. I’d have fallen if Molly hadn’t held me. My glasses fell to the floor.

She helped me to an armchair and eased me into it.

Sharna, Bilko and Elleny were looking on with big eyes. Funny names, I know, but that’s modern mums for you. Sharna, all of seven, brought me my spectacles and climbed onto my lap. “Nan,” she said, “I’m so glad the nasty man didn’t hit you. I love you!”

Then the other two snuggled up to me too, and everything was all right.

Molly brought out a tray: tea for her and me, hot chocolate for the kids. She’d also found the biscuits. We’d barely started when the doorbell rang again. Molly answered it, and returned with Jemima Johnson.

She said, “Oh good, those bikkies again. That’s why I came back, despite it being a Saturday.”

I told the kids, “Darlings, this lady is a police detective. She is going to catch the man who hit the children with a car.”

Jemima did a little jig. “We’ve got the car, exactly as you drew it! Full of fingerprints, so if we ever find him, he’s done.”

Molly said, “I thought everyone knows about fingerprints now. Wouldn’t he clean them off?”

“He doesn’t care about being caught,” I told them, convinced, but not knowing how I knew. “Sharna, darling, can you please bring that folder to Detective Sergeant Johnson?”

Sharna did, and Jemima looked at the new drawing. “But how…”

“I don’t know. In the small hours, something weird happened. Anyway, I believe that that’s what he looks like from the front. That’s unless I dreamt it.” Jemima accepted a cup of tea, then excused herself and rushed off. After another pleasant hour, Molly took her kids away, too.

Somehow the day passed, although I was weary beyond belief. Even so, every time I closed my eyes, terror swallowed me. I dreaded the night.

I was cleaning my teeth when the phone rang. It was Jemima Johnson. “Mrs Kryz, I’ve been remiss and I apologise. You qualify for immediate psychological help. Have you had nightmares, daytime flashbacks, stuff like that?”

“Have I ever!”

She dictated a phone number. “Phone them at 9 a.m. It’s a free call, seven days a week. I’ve faxed them a report, so everything should go very fast.”

“Thank you, but can a psychologist take away my memories?”

“Not my field. I wouldn’t know what they do, but it works for many people. Please do it.”

“Oh, I will, but old dog and new tricks, you know.”

The night was a near-repeat of the previous one, except I didn’t bother with TV or book. When I got sick of what I now knew to call flashbacks, I projected the boy’s face onto the wall.

“You again, old c–t,” he sneered. “Leave me alone! I got troubles enough!”

As he turned to face me, I saw a nasty bruise below his right eye.

“What happened to your face?”

“Why should ya f–n care? It’s me so-called stepfather. The current one.”

“How old are you?”

“F– off. None of your business.”

“It isn’t. Don’t tell me if you don’t want to.”

“Fourteen, two weeks ago. Happy now, old bitch?”

Anger still twisted his face, but tears squeezed out of his eyes, and ran unchecked, maybe unnoticed, down his cheeks.

“The police have found the car. Your fingerprints were all over it, and they know what you look like.”

“Do I give a f–? They can’t do nothing worse to me than the sh–t I’ve got now. Anyway, I’ll just off meself. Only, I’ll take a few with me. Them Arab suicide bombers got the right idea.”

“You won’t go to seventh heaven.”

“What crap is that?”

“Those Arab suicide bombers do it in the mistaken belief that if they die killing infidels, they’ll go to the highest heaven and live wonderfully forever. But if you accept their beliefs, your fate will be to burn in hell forever.”

“F– off. Anyway, no hell is worse than this planet.”

Despite what he’d done, I found myself feeling for him. I said, “Life is what you make it. You always have choices.”

My reward was another deluge of invective. I saw him strain forward to attack me, but he couldn’t move his feet. I didn’t know if a mirage could hurt me, but felt relieved nonetheless.

When he came to a stop, I asked, “Could I make a suggestion?”

“Nah. F– off.”

“Go to the police and give yourself up. Go peacefully.”

He laughed, but it was the laughter of a wounded tiger.

“You’re a minor. You won’t go to jail, but to a juvenile centre. You’ll get help, and it’ll be a way out of your personal hell.”

“Stick your opinion up your arse! Just f– off and leave me alone!”

“I don’t know how to do that.”


“I’m not doing this on purpose. I can’t help communicating with you.”

“F– me dead! I thought you was a witch and cast a spell.”

I laughed, and he laughed with me. I was right. When he was free of fury, he looked a very attractive boy. Somehow, this helped me, and perhaps helped him too. He disappeared. I turned off the light, and slept the couple of hours till morning.

At 9:05 a.m., I rang Victims’ Services. I explained my transport difficulties–and, well, here you are.


Hit and Run Print Cover


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