Saturday, 5 June 2010
Friday Flash Fiction #32 THE GETAWAY
After a brief interlude, Cormac Brown has recommenced his weekly call for flash fiction. Starting with the sentence - 'So much for plan B' - the challenge is to weave a story.
After waking early, unable to sleep because of the heat, my mind was already sketching this idea out. So, by the time the fingers hit the keyboard it was almost a done-deal.
.....or maybe I was just subconciously thinking/worrying about next weekend's little stunt-driving adventure? (see top of my blog-page)
Anyway, here's my offering for this week's FFF comp.
So much for plan B! When plan A had gone west, plan B went into action. I hadn’t got around to devising a plan C.
So, here I am. The words ‘precarious’ and ‘predicament’ come to mind as I see the world beyond the windows altering with each tiny move. And in the back of my mind, I can hear Michael Caine’s voice saying “Hang on a minute lads – I’ve got a great idea….”
Unlike The Italian Job, there’s no bus and no stash of looted gold bullion in the vicinity. Or Michael Caine, for that matter. But there’s definitely fresh air under my back wheels. That, and a hundred-foot drop.
Taking the car and getting the hell away from Gordon had seemed an easy enough option after plan A failed. That was the scenario where I would just front up to him and confess that after fifteen years of broken promises and unfulfilled expectations I wanted out of the marriage.
The final straw that had broken this particular camel’s back had come when he’d announced that having slaved over the hovel we’d bought in Provence, the one we’d sunk our savings into trying to realise his dream of living ‘la vie en rose’, he now wanted a new challenge.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Tuscany. This well-earned break away from the not-quite-finished tiling and the uncarpeted floors back in France had been like a dream. And I love Italian food. I just don’t have it in me to start all over again. In another country. Learning yet another language. Or at least, learning enough to be able to know when we’re being ripped off by the local traders. And having had to deal with the restrictions and vagaries of the local Permis de Construire back in Provence I couldn’t face having to work out the beaurocracy of Italian building regulations.
As arguments go, it was one of our noisiest. I remember wondering what the people in the neighbouring apartment would think, and whether they’d understand the Anglo-saxon expletives that inevitably came out. Gordon was never good when he’d had a drink, but cheap Italian wine was having its effect. When he’d stomped off into the kitchen in search of another bottle I’d started formulating plan B – the getaway. I’d picked up the keys to our hire car and made for the door. That’s when I’d heard the crash.
Keep going, I’d thought. Just open the door and keep going. But the sudden silence that had accompanied the noise from the kitchen made me stop. The lack of further cussing, or even movement, made me curious.
I should have ignored it and slammed the door behind me, but no. I had to go and look. That’s when I’d found Gordon slumped on the floor, his hand still gripping the bottle, his body illuminated by the light from the open fridge.
He must have lost his balance, his equilibrium altered by imbibing too much alcohol. Though his eyes were still wide open, the pool of blood forming a vermilion arc around the back of his head told me the marriage was definitely over.
Facing an Italian judiciary was not something I’d anticipated. I’d wondered again about the neighbours and our raised voices. Trying to explain Gordon’s accidental death to the local Carabinieri was not something I had enough language for. My Italian was mostly restricted to being able to work out restaurant menus.
So, plan B it was.
I tried not run down the steps to the car, just in case curtains were twitching. The car was unfamiliar. Gordon had done all the driving. In fact, I didn’t even know where I was going. The new plan had just been to get away; the route was a minor detail.
And that’s where I came unstuck, because if I’d have realised the road twisted and turned so much perhaps I would have slowed down. That last curve had thrown me and the skid had taken me off the highway and past the gravel trap to my current resting place.
So, like I say, here I am. Stuck in limbo. Literally. Every time I try to move the car see-saws alarmingly. As I hang onto the steering wheel, trying to steady my nerves, it’s not the picture of Gordon lying on the cold tiles that fills my mind. Nor the half-finished house back in Provence that’ll I’ll probably never see again, thank God.
No. In my mind’s eye I see a figure sprawled across the floor of a bus, starting to formulate a strategy.
OK, Michael Caine. Just what is plan C and how do I get out of this?