Indicator

Indicator

Read this short fiction with a coffee.

He had to stop himself swearing because the kids were catching on. “How was I supposed to see that?”

“You weren’t,” the crashed into driver said, “but maybe stay this side."

The Volvo had bounced off the other car and they were both now shouldered on the side of the motorway. The crashed into driver had already reached within his car, revealing what was more like a roll cage than a plush interior, and he’d draped what must have been some sort of blanket from within over the damaged right hand panel.

“Look,” the crashed into driver continued, “It’s fine and we expect it and we’ll sort you all out for the money of it but…” He grabbed at his shoulder and rotated his arm up and around. “You really should have indicated.”

“Indicated?!”

“Two trucks are coming, the car’s called them, and they’ll not be long.”

“You’re talking like you do this regularly and you just pay off idiots that aren’t man enough to push it. I’m not one of those so talk me through it all before I get a lawyer on the phone.”

“You’ll not do that.”

“Like hell I won’t.” He watched the crashed into driver look over his mangled plate, run at a clean angle into the front tyre. He was typing it into his phone and then waiting for something as he turned back.

“You nearly got me so I really wish you’d had your blinker on. I can brake and accelerate pretty quick in this so it’s pretty easy for me to get out of your way. And you were a bit over the limit which I was too but I’m more allowed to be.”

“Why would that apply to me and not to you?”

“These don’t exactly roll off factory lines. C’mon. Here. You’ll get about that much, as a starter.”

“A starter?”

“With allowances for work, third parties, so on.”

“I was going to work.”

“On a Saturday afternoon? With kids’ toys in the back seat?”

“I could be a retailer. You don’t know.”

He waved his phone, still open to the big number.

“I do. And the tax office does keep an eye on us even though it’s all a bit wasteful as far as they’re concerned but that’s why they’re bean counters and not cutting edge.”

“Cutting edge?!”

“You’re talking like that number might not be high enough for you.” He was leaning on the concrete railing now, against a wall washed only by the rain and he was conscious of the grime, the dirt, and he checked his hands against it but he was sort of done for the day after this anyway. “Let me guess: you’re already thinking about remortgaging and then you’ll put away the rest somewhere in a brokerage account so it’s all a bit liquid. Otherwise trust funds for the little ones with some time and then a holiday but you won’t put it on anything splashy. Anything anyone can see. At least, that’s what you should do. I wish you’d been that predictable on the road.”

“How can I be predictable about something I can’t see?”

“I thought I explained that. Just indicate.”

“And I’m not that predictable. You don’t know me. Who are you, anyway? You look like you work for us and my taxes probably come out to something that’d pay for whatever you’ve got there so I’d like to know.”

“You’ve put in twenty dollars to it by the time you retire so don’t worry about it. You’re not a company director so your PAYG’s not that impressive. Even if you are sole trading that’s just some after hours consultancy work to top up an emergency fund…” He sighed. “I’m being too critical. It just fuckin’ hurts.”

“They’d all be good investments,” the responsible driver said. “The things you said before. The way I see it is you’re single and always alone and you’ve got a bachelor’s apartment and maybe once I wanted to be a bit more like you, mysterious and inscrutable, but I fell in love and chose to stay that way and now I’d not trade any of it for family. And I suppose this is all a bit stressful for you because it’ll come back to you somehow but I’ll never recognise you in public, will I, because we don’t go to the same places.”

“You can’t afford them.”

“Maybe I choose not to afford them.”

“C’mon.” He waved the phone again.

“Alright, alright. So what now? You’ve ruined my Saturday for no reason and you’re forthcoming about some of it not all of it so what’re you doing? Where are you going?”

“We have to know how to drive them when we don’t need to so we know how to do it when we do need to. Part of that is knowing how to drive around other drivers when they can’t see you. Or what to do when they drive into you.”

“You seem to have that rehearsed.”

“It’s not my first time. Maybe my last though. Thank you.”

“I’m not taking responsibility for that.”

“Say you will and I’ll pay you.”

The responsible driver laughed at that. “For that much money I reckon I’ll never indicate again.”

“You still have a license to lose.”

“Does this…”

“No. But you have to never mention it again and you might have the Department of Transport looking a little over you for a while but you might find it a bit easier to get rides everywhere that might otherwise have been a bit much.”

“I was looking to be more sensible.”

“Of course.”

The crashed into driver looked back down the motorway the way they came and he saw in the distance a tow truck trundling along in the left hand lane. “Your lift’s arriving. I do hope you’ve not learned the wrong lesson.”

“Never.”

The crashed into driver affected something like a limp for guilt more than pain as he tapped again at something on his phone. The responsible driver wasn’t certain but he was pretty sure he heard the sound of a wounded car limping ahead some. A soft whine in the chorus of the thoroughfare. “Now forget about this and tell no one. It was a little gamble on the lotto at the post office just to mix things up a bit. We’ll run a story. It’ll all work out. Just don’t tell anyone.”

“Even my wife?”

“Especially. That’s what the money’s for.”

“I’ll be quiet when it arrives.”

“Check again.”

He did. He laughed and he looked back up to the crashed into driver who was walking off but who stopped and turned. The responsible driver mocked a zipping of his lips. The crashed into driver waved as he turned and walked off again towards the nothing where his experimental car was waiting as the tow truck pulled in between them. To the right hand side of it the responsible driver could see the door of that odd car open to reveal again that steel and rubber interior before it slammed shut fast.

The tow truck driver clambered out of his cab and approached the Volvo with cables.

“Did you —”

“Nope,” the tow truck driver replied.

The responsible driver had compromised with his wife on the Volvo. The wrong thing at the right time, for a change, would make sure he was a bit more indulgent. They’d holiday anyway. The replacement instead would be a little more to his tastes and while he didn’t yet have a make in mind he knew it would have to come, new, in a colour called something like Alpine White.

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