Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Socks, Rabbits

He had said goodbye, finally, cruelly, (before something happened) even though he had arranged things so he wouldn’t be home that night and it could have. Now he was travelling through the night, two hundred miles, his head a mess, the car driving itself.

He stopped for coffee, amazed he could feel so empty (because he was so ruthless) and because he knew (deep down) that this hadn’t been honour; he was punishing her.

On the smaller roads he became petty, flying through his night. He kept his headlights on full beam, making opposing drivers flash at him and curse or retaliate, swapping blindnesses, trivial, stupid, offered mutual destruction.

He was thirty miles from the cabin as the sky streaked purple. The moon was still up, fat over the moors. Rabbits appeared and he slowed slightly. He turned off the radio.

On a bend he saw a glimmer, then the other car, dead, fallow, the front wheels in a ditch, its rear-end across the road. He stopped, flicked a switch, and with his hazard lights blinking, making him amber-dark-amber-dark he crossed the road in socked feet, prepared for death, maybe to help. What surprised him in his separate night, was a sense of superiority.

But the car was empty, save for a little blood and glass. No publate boyos, dangling, broken, no couple, twisted, slapped silly. It would have been stolen, a joyride gone wrong, or Euan or Thomas or Dai, too bad for the drink, Gwynneth, walking home across the top, looking to avoid a drunk-driving charge.

It rained, and in his grey unshoed feet, he was suddenly impossibly angry, the night just as suddenly cold, the glorious scenery swollen, ominous and hostile. Then he knew, again he had thought of her, of the punishment, and now he knew how bad a man can be. A rabbit appeared to his left, small, grey, the tuft of white. His daughter would “oooh bunny!” had she seen it.

He looked at the blood, the glass, the dumb animal, and walked back to his car.

He started the engine. His feet were cold and sodden. He sat there, the radio off. He thought again about darkness, about night, and started to drive, the windows down so he could hear the moon, the wind, the slap of the tyres on the hill road. He drove quickly, carelessly. He did not try to avoid the dawn-hopping rabbits. Instead he aimed at them and called them stupid. He thought he killed at least three. He heard the thump of two. That was why he had the windows open.

When he got to the cabin, he fell on to the bed. He tried to sleep. When the sun rose it sliced between the curtains and cut into him where he lay, on the too-large double-bed.

He was dressed except for the wet socks drying on a chair.