Chapter 13 - The Posh Car
For about a week, life proceeded pretty smoothly. I guess it says a fair bit about my life before but, once I got past the fact that Mr M had me locked up in his bathroom and was going to string me up by my fingernails if I broke any of his stupid rules, my new life wasn’t all that bad, really.
There was the lovely food… and all that attention, of course, and there was nothing I really hated… except for the stupid blindfold… and his horrible kow-tow thing, I guess, but by now they were both so… like… totally automatic that I hardly noticed them anymore.
But a couple of days later, I came… like… seriously close to another of his horrible punishment things. He’d decided to add German lessons to the maths ones and, at the end of the first one, he’d read out a list of about a million words to me.
And then he told me that he expected me to learn them all… spelling, pronunciation, plurals, gender… like… everything!
Ro was just about to let him know exactly what she thought about that whole idea when she was sort of interrupted by him saying, “Silence, Babygirl.”
He didn’t shout of course. He never did. I mean… he didn’t have to.
And I just about managed to shut Ro up… I mean… it wasn’t easy but I managed it.
“I strongly recommend that you count to five very slowly,” he told me.
Ro was totally pissed off at that stupid idea too but I just about managed to squish her back into her box as I did his stupid counting thing. His voice told me that this was a very good moment to do the whole good girl thing.
“You may now say what you are thinking but you are to carefully consider rule five before you do so.”
His stupid rule five was the one about the whole ‘quiet deference and temperate language’ type stuff - definitely one of Ro’s favourites!
So I took a deep breath and said, “I can’t possibly learn all those.”
He leaned forward and gave me this totally lovely kiss on the cheek which sort of shocked me out of my grump. “Well done!” he said. “I recognise that controlling your reaction there was a challenge for you.”
That basically made me feel a whole lot better about myself than it ought to have.
“And thank you. I really don’t like it when I have to punish you.”
“I’m not all that keen either!” Ro managed to slip that one out before I could stop her.
Fortunately he just laughed at that one. It was a bit snarky but I guess it didn’t really break any of his precious rules.
“And, as for the list of words,” he went on, “I think you will be able to learn them all. You already know quite a few of them. And, as long as you do your best, I will certainly not be angry with you.”
He did one of his silence things to remind me that he wasn’t particularly keen on that sort of question but then he did his patronising hair ruffling thing and said, “You should know by now that I will never be angry with you as long as you are doing your best, Babygirl!”
I guess I did know that, really.
And, amazingly enough, I did manage to learn them all!
That evening… to sort of celebrate, I guess… Mr M made us some totally delicious sweet and sour chicken type stuff with pineapple - which he fed to me with chopsticks, of course. And, after tea, he had this… like… totally wonderful surprise for me. “Babygirl,” he told me, “I’ve decided that you may remove your blindfold.”
I gave this totally embarrassing squeak thing and then tried to grope my way over to him to give him a hug.
“Don’t you think it might be a trifle easier to hug me once you’ve removed the thing?” he suggested in this tone which almost totally avoided pointing out that I was being… like… stupid.
So off it came!
I recognised him as soon as I saw his face. “Mr Posh Car!” I totally exploded. “I sort of knew I recognised your voice!”
“Mr Posh Car with Expensive Repair Bill”, he sort of corrected me. “Little Miss Skateboard!”
My mind sort of flashed back to that night, a few weeks before, when we had first met.
I was… like… totally pissed off. College had been boring - nothing new there - and, by the time I got home, my mother was pretty much passed out on the sofa. There was some sort of stupid, slurry type story about someone in her church choir and his wife and stuff but I didn’t want to listen. It’s not just that I didn’t care - I really, really didn’t want to know anything about it.
I sort of totally hated the way my mother just had to keep telling me all about her stupid failed love life stuff.
So I sort of slumped through to the kitchen and had a nose around there - more… like… in hope than expectation - to see whether there was anything worth eating. There was half a tin of baked beans in the fridge that didn’t smell too bad so I guess things could have been worse.
I ate them straight from the can without even bothering to warm them up… I mean… what’s the point?
Then I went up to my room because I wanted to get away from my mother - I just hated seeing her like that - but it didn’t take long before the tatty, dingy place started to totally piss me off so I grabbed my board and set off up the hill to the skatepark. There was a bit of drizzle in the air but it was just so much better than being stuck in that totally depressing dump.
A few of the guys were there so we skated for a while and then just sort of hung and chatted for a bit. But then Tozzsa turned up with a couple of bottles of cheap cider. He wouldn’t say where he’d got them from - but knowing Tozza, he’d probably nicked them from somewhere.
I hung around with the guys for a bit longer but I’d just seen what the whole drink thing did to my mother, so I really didn’t want anything to do with that… and that was pretty much all the others seemed to be bothered about. Then, as dusk sort of turned to night, the drizzle started to get a bit heavier and the guys sort of drifted over to the children’s play park where they could get a bit of shelter. So I just grabbed my board and kicked off down the hill towards home.
And for the first time in pretty much forever, everything was just perfect.
The damp road sort of glistened under the streetlights and I guess the rain kind of soaked up all the sounds of the city around me, leaving me alone with the hiss of my wheels. I had… like… the whole world to myself and my board felt as if it was part of me as the smooth tarmac just flowed away under me.
And then as the speed built up, I felt this whole wave of release and freedom type stuff and, when I reached this long curve bit, I sort of crossed onto the wrong side of the road to let the camber… like… pull me round.
And, for those few beautiful moments, I could just forget about how totally crappy my life really was.
But then this dirty great car exploded out of the rainy night… like… straight in front of me.
I could see that I was never going to be able to dodge the thing so I just kind of abandoned my board and kind of threw myself into the rubbish at the side of the road. Time seemed to just… like… stand still and I have a totally weird sort of half memory of kind of hanging in mid air as I flew one way and my board flew the other.
The next thing I knew, I was sort of looking up into this face. I mean… it was a bit blurry but I could tell it was a man’s face and I could see that he looked kind of worried. I guess he thought he’d just killed me or something.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
I vaguely mumbled something and tried to get up but I was sort of frozen by him saying, “Stay down!”
There was definitely something about that voice that made you do as you were told.
“Listen, son,” he said, “you’ve just had a serious blow to the head and I’m concerned that you may have concussion. Do I need to call an ambulance?”
“I’m a girl!” I protested, “And I’m OK.”
“I guess that answers the mental alertness question,” he said with this totally annoying chuckle type thing. “Now follow my finger with your eyes.”
He started waving a finger around in front of my face and I did as I was told.
I guess he thought I was OK because he sort of helped me to stand up. But, when I started to… like… wobble, he put an arm round my shoulders and sort of steered me over to this low wall bit and helped me to sit down.
“You were going too fast!” I grumbled.
He gave me this look thing that basically made my insides shrivel up. “If you look carefully,” he nodded his head towards the road, “you will observe that I managed to bring my car to a stop before your skateboard struck it.” He was really pissing me off by sounding so… like… totally calm about the whole thing.
“You should have been looking where you were going!”
He didn’t say anything for a bit; he just gave me another one of those looks. This one seemed to last pretty much forever and basically made me want to curl up into a little ball.“You were on the wrong side of the road… at night… with no lights… in the rain… and wearing dark clothes,” he said at last. “If I hadn’t been looking where I was going, your brains would now be smeared all over the front of my car…
“If you have any brains in there, that is!”
I really wanted to give him some sort of snarky answer to that but there was just nothing I could say. The stupid thing was, he was right. That was totally pissing me off too.
And I could swear he was sort of finding the whole thing kind of funny too. I think that one just about won the ‘pissing me off the most’ prize.
By now I had started shivering - not surprising, I suppose. I guess the wet and cold was starting to catch up with me… and so was the shock at the accident… and at the fact I had just come pretty close to… like… totally wiping myself out on his car.
“Is there anybody who can come and collect you?” he asked. He slipped off the black leather jacket he was wearing and wrapped it around my shoulders. I didn’t want to let him. I mean… I totally hated people fussing over me like that - but I couldn’t because it just felt so warm and… like… comfy.
I shook my head but that sent this total explosion of pain kind of shooting behind my eyes. I wouldn’t be doing that again. I sort of started swaying and he put his arm around me again to steady me. For some reason, I didn’t hate that as much as I thought I ought to.
“Then where do you live?” he asked. “I’m taking you home.”
“It’s either that or I’m calling an ambulance. I’m not leaving you like this.” The way he said it made it totally clear that there was… like… no point in trying to argue with him.
“And, because it’s a road traffic incident,” he went on, “the police will attend and you’re going to find that you have all sorts of fascinating questions to answer.”
I could sort of see he was right so I gave this bit of a sigh thing and told him where I lived.
“Stay there,” he told me. He went away for a bit and, when he came back, he was holding this first aid kit. “You’ve got a messy graze on your forehead and I need to clean it up. Hold this over your eyes.”
He handed me a cloth and I did as I was told.
“This might sting a bit!” he warned me.
He sprayed some sort of antiseptic stuff onto my forehead and received this… like… total torrent of foul language as a reward.
I could hear that he was doing this whole sort of silent laughing bit as he cleaned the thing up. “Pain is nature’s way of saying ‘don’t do that again’,” he said as if it was… like… a joke or something.
And I basically wanted to scream at him. He shouldn’t be finding this whole thing so funny.
“And again,” he warned me.
This time I managed to control my language but snarled, “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
“It needs doing and, the longer you leave it, the worse it will hurt.”
I totally hated it but I guess he was right, really.
When he was done, I let him sort of help me over to his car. I could tell it was a stupidly posh one but the sort that kind of quietly says, ‘I’ve got enough money to drive this really nice car,’ rather than one that basically screams, ‘I’ve got an enormous prick’.
But, as we walked towards it, I sort of froze. One of the headlights had been cracked and there was a long scratch down the side.
“You’re not pissed off with me,” I murmured… like… totally stunned.
“I didn’t say that I wasn’t…” he left this long pause thing and I knew he was sort of telling me off for my bad language… “angry. However your wellbeing is much more important to me than any car. I can shout at you later, if it will make you feel better…” He gave me a bit of a smile thing. “When you’re not suffering from mild concussion.”
He sort of helped me into the passenger seat and, as he stepped away, I had a quick look around. I mean… I’d never been in a car like this before - it sort of felt like you were sitting in the middle of a telly advert or something. I certainly didn’t feel as if I belonged in there so I sort of stared down at the carpet - it looked… like… totally brand new… like… as if nobody had ever even put their shoes on it before.
He was back a couple of seconds later with my board. “Yours, I believe,” he said with this bit of a bow thing.
I just didn’t get it. He was basically treating the whole thing as a total… like… joke or something.