I can drive but I don’t.
I ride a bike.
I used to take buses but I don’t anymore.
Too unreliable, dirty, full of nutters.
Cars cost a bomb.
Riding a bike is free.
I ride a bike.
I started riding a bike to get away from public transport.
I used commute to work by bus.
Going to work was fine; I’d read a book, stare out the window, stroll up to the factory for clocking in time.
It was the trip home that spelled trouble.
Nine at night, lurking under the street lights, hiding behind bus shelters, wearing dark clothing in the hope of being overlooked.
The throaty growl of the engine, the screech of brakes.
He’d seen me.
“Lucifer! LUCIFER! What the fuck are you doing hiding back there, you paedo? Get in, I’ll give you a lift!”
“Hi Ballboy. Listen, I think I’ll just wait for the bus, I’m…”
“I said get in the fucking car!”
“Seeing as you put it so nicely…”
I got in the car.
Ballboy floored it, fishtailing through honking horns and swerving cars.
“HAHAHAHAH!!! Set of cunts!!”
Ballboy was mad.
He called everybody cunts.
His answer to everything was the screamed instruction to, ‘Suck us off”.
He picked fights he could never win.
He had a Ford Capri MkIII that he drove like a getaway car.
It scared the living crap out of me.
I glanced at the speedo.
We were doing ninety in a forty zone.
“Take it steady, Ballboy…”
“Suck us off, Lucifer!”
He slammed on the brakes.
I ended up in the footwell.
“Hahahahah! You daft cunt, Lucifer! Why weren’t you wearing your seatbelt?”
“I couldn’t reach it. The g-forces wouldn’t let me lift my fucking arms.”
We were sat at traffic lights.
He was revving the Capri.
I was struggling to get my seatbelt on.
“How do you sort this catch out, Ballboy?”
He wasn’t listening.
He was staring at a black Rover parked across the road, his eyes narrowed.
A woman fell out of the passenger side of the Rover, tried to run, but a big guy in a Crombie overcoat hurried after her, slapped her around and shoved her back in the car.
I was alone in the car.
Ballboy was out of the car, running towards the Rover.
“Oi! Oi you, cunt! What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
The big guy leapt behind the wheel of the Rover and took off.
Ballboy ran back, jumped in the car and gunned the engine.
“You get that seatbelt on yet, Lucifer?”
“Not really, Ballboy. That catch is a bit…”
Ballboy howled through the red light, chasing the Rover.
I wished I was back at the bus stop.
“What the fuck’s going on?”
“Didn’t you see the cunt slapping that bird, Lucifer?”
“Well, yes, but…”
“Nobody does shit like that in front of me and gets away with it!!”
We could see the Rover up ahead, weaving through traffic.
Ballboy was taking all sorts of risks to keep up with him.
“You wouldn’t fancy just dropping us at this corner here…”
“Suck us off, Lucifer! We’re gonna show that fucker!”
I didn’t like all this ‘we’ business.
I really didn’t know what we were going to ‘show’ that ‘fucker’ either. Personally, I had nothing to show him except a second hand Graham Greene paperback and a packet of French cigarettes.
Not a combination guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of a potential foe.
“Maybe we should just call the police…”
“We don’t know what we’re dealing with…”
“Ha! I’m not scared. I’ve got quite a reputation round the pubs of Horsforth, you know!”
Horsforth is a very conservative suburb of Leeds.
It’s not in the least bit ‘hard’.
I was getting worried.
The Rover swerved onto the Ring Road, with our Capri in hot pursuit.
For fuck’s sake.
“Get that seatbelt on, you snivelling shit!”
“Steady on. No need for…. oh fuck…”
I got the seatbelt on sharpish.
The Rover was howling around a large roundabout, smoke billowing from it’s wheels.
Ballboy wasn’t slowing down.
He wasn’t steering either.
“No! Fucking hell, no! Ballboy…”
He wasn’t listening.
He hit that roundabout at about sixty.
Bedding plants exploded everywhere.
He churned right over the top of the roundabout and crashed onto the road on the other side, cutting off the Rover.
Ballboy was out of the car like a whippet, tearing towards the black car.
The big guy climbed out of the car.
He looked pretty put out.
He pointed a sawn-off shotgun at Ballboy.
Ballboy stopped running.
Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit.
After a long drawn out moment, a moment designed to let seriousness sink in, the big guy slowly got back into the car.
We could see the woman sobbing in the passenger seat.
Ballboy didn’t move.
The Rover drove away, and Ballboy came back to the car.
“yeah, Lucifer. Fucking Hell.”
“He had a fucking gun.”
“No shit. Did he? I didn’t fucking notice!”
“No need to be sarcastic.”
“Huh. I reckon we should call the cops on that fucker. What was his registration?”
“I don’t fucking know! I was to busy watching my life flash before my eyes to see his number plate!”
“He wasn’t even pointing the gun at you, you useless cunt!”
“Who says anything about the gun! I’m on about your fucking driving!”
“Oh, just… just suck us off.”
Ballboy set off, his exhaust scraping on the ground below us.
We didn’t say anything more until we got to my house.
We were thinking about that girl.
We were thinking about that gun.
I got out of the car.
It felt good to have my feet on the tarmac.
I’d have kissed the ground, only someone had walked dog shit right across my front gate.
“Do you want me to pick you up tomorrow?”
“I said, do you want me to pick you up tomorrow, Lucifer. I’ll give you a lift in to work, if you like.”
“Thanks, but I’m ok.”
“How you getting to work then?”
“I’m going to get a bike. See you later, Ballboy.”
“Yeah, suck us off, Lucifer.”
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