SHORT STORY: The Deluded Driver by Barbara McMeekin
Jason leant against his front gate with his arms folded.
As he saw the approaching car he grinned with a mixture of admiration and approval.
‘Wow mate, like your set of wheels,’ he said when Danny pulled up and switched off the engine.
‘Meet my new jam jar. Not bad for a 1987 model is she?’
‘No, she’s great and I love the colour. Silver’s always classy, and the bodywork’s tip-top; can’t see a scratch on her. How come you’ve not got the top down?’
‘I was going to open her up, but thought you might want to watch,’ Danny said checking the park position on the automatic box.
‘It only takes 40 seconds.’
He opened the boot of his SLK to check nothing would set off the sensor and prevent the roof from opening, then pressing the roof button they both watched as the back window dropped downwards and the soft roof folded back like a concertina over the glass.
‘That’s all there is to it,’ he said closing the boot.
Jason smiled. ‘Well, with a car like that don’t suppose it’ll take long to attract the babes either.
‘Talk about increasing your street cred.
‘Have you won the lottery or something, cos you’ve only been teaching two years and I can’t see how you’ve paid off your student loans yet?’
‘No to both, but I’ve managed,’ Danny replied touching his nose with a finger.
Jason shook his head thinking, ‘I hope he knows what he’s doing.’
‘Well if you fancy a ride I suggest we go to The Nag’s Head at Edgeworth.’
‘Yep, I’m certainly up for that,’ Jason replied.
‘Ready when you are then. I’ll go through Belmont, along Longworth Road and over the top.’
They jumped in and set off feeling carefree and relaxed. Danny handled the car with ease and had soon travelled down the village High Street turning left onto the country road.
Meanwhile, Wilf Fisher was ready to herd his heifers up and along Longworth Road to the field over the crossroad at the top.
His four sons were at the front and his wife, Clare waited to walk at the rear once the cattle were released from the pen. ‘Ready?’
‘Yes, Can’t hear or see any traffic, let them go,’ answered Clare.
Wilf did and the animals began walking behind the boys up the hill.
“I always dread this, but there’s no other way of getting them there except taking two at a time in the cattle truck.’
‘Don’t fret, Clare, we’ve never had a problem before and they’ve just as much right to walk on a road as any other traffic.
‘Drivers just have to be sensible and recognise their journey will take a few minutes longer.’
Moments later Danny was speeding along the country lane.
‘Said this was a good way didn’t I? Often use it as a short cut, just got to watch the bends and that farm with its buildings both sides of the road.’
‘Great. We’ll be swallowing our first pint before very long.’
Approaching the farm Danny slowed down a little when he saw the cattle being led up the hill.
‘Oh bother! There’s a bunch of cows ahead taking up the whole width of the road.
‘Never mind, the road widens in a minute so I’ll try to get past.’
Realising that a car was behind him Wilf turned his head to nod acknowledgement raising his hand at the same time, then he continued walking slowly onwards until Wilf turned his attention to one slowing down to sample the grass growing on the verge.
‘Come on girl, move on.’
Danny was also watching and shouted impatiently, ‘Yes, come on.
‘They shouldn’t be on the road, there’s other ways to move dumb animals.’
Wilf ignored his remark and concentrated on his task.
‘As they were getting to the widest part of the road Danny began nudging closer to the herd.
‘Get back or you’ll spook them,’ Wilf shouted.
Danny completely ignored him and continued to creep forwards.
He felt if he got close enough they would move to the right and he would be able to pass.
The heifers were beginning to do just that, but when the car touched one, it lashed out its back leg kicking the front wing, then another lifted its tail emptying the contents of its bowels over the bonnet.
‘Oh no!’ shrieked Jason. ‘I don’t believe it.’
Danny stopped his car and immediately began ranting at Wilf. ‘Look at what your stupid cows have done to my car.’
Wilf looked at the saucer-shaped dent and the excrement and replied, ‘Yes, but it’s all your own fault.
‘Creeping up like that was an extremely dumb thing to do.
‘What else did you expect? I can’t help it if you’ve no patience or got the brains of a rocking horse.’
Danny began spluttering.
‘It’s not my fault at all, it’s yours and what’s more I’ll sue you for the damage to my car. Why on earth are you walking on a public highway with a herd of brainless animals?’
‘That’s priceless, that is,’ said Wilf. ‘Roads were made for all animals and people long before the car was invented.
‘And if anyone is going to sue then it’ll be me.
‘I was going about my business taking all the necessary precautions that I needed to by law.
‘What were you doing? Acting as though you’re king of the road. Well I’ll tell you something, I was protecting my herd as best as I could. Were you protecting your vehicle as best as you could?’
Danny was lost for words and began looking sheepish.
‘If I were you I would hang back and let me get on with my job,’
Wilf continued and walked on catching Clare up.
‘Honestly, there’s one born every minute. I hope that’s taught him a lesson.
‘Wouldn’t it be funny if he was a teacher?’