I drove cross-country yesterday to attend a conference on the coast. Traveling this route through the rolling hills and beautiful scenery I passed the turnoff to the reservoir where my friend Alan was murdered. It must be nearly 30 years ago now, but my heart broke all over again as I spent time thinking about Alan and the cruel end to his life. I’m the sort of person who focuses on the good things in any situation and sees the world through rose-coloured glasses. I believe all things happen for a reason. However, as I thought about my friend, I was reminded that forces of evil do exist in this world and that bad things do happen to good people, for no discernible reason. Now Alan had his foibles, but he was a loyal friend whom I’d met through church and youth group and we would often socialise together during my teenage years. I moved on to university and our paths didn’t cross very often. Alan became a taxi driver. I can’t bear to think of the circumstances of that night when he picked up a couple of young men in the suburbs, who made him drive many miles out into the countryside to the lonely reservoir. There they made him undress to his underwear, lie on the ground and shot him. Dead. And left him there while they made off with whatever money was in the cab.
Alan’s funeral was surreal. None of us could believe what had happened. This sort of thing simply didn’t happen in Australia. He was such a gentle, nervous and innocuous guy, how could anyone possibly shoot him. I seem to recall they caught the offenders, but I didn’t follow their story to know who they were or what sort of prison term they served. It wasn’t going to bring Alan back. To be honest, I don’t think about Alan very often, but always do when I pass by the road to the reservoir. It hit me all over again yesterday, and even shocked me with the depth of my sadness and anger. Try as I might, I simply cannot see any good in this story, only evil. I cannot fathom what reason there would be for this tragic waste of a life. I gave up trying to in the end; it was just upsetting me and wasn’t serving anyone any good. Alan, you are not forgotten. I am glad that we were friends.