This week's Tuesday's Tale carries on from the first Tale of the year. I thought it was going to be a romance, but it's taken a turn in the opposite direction and turned into more of a horror story.
He braked to a halt, hauled in a deep breath and eased out of his car. Shocked had drained all colour from the farmer’s face where he stood leaning against the huge back wheel of the tractor. Another man was puking at the curb-side and another, his shoulders heaving, stood with his hands clamped to what had been an open front window
Jim didn’t want to know, and couldn’t fight the urge, the gut instinct, that told him he needed to know. Without conscious though he dug out his mobile and dialled 999. He doubted anyone else had, unless smeone who'd stayed in one of the cars queuing up on the other side of the pile-up had done so. With an unreal sense of detachment enveloping him, Jim looked back, noted several cars had pulled up behind his own vehicle and that no one had attempted to get out.
He couldn’t blame them. They, unlike himself, would have no reason. They hadn’t seen the car shoot past him, hadn’t recognised it, didn’t know the female driver.
Swallowing against the bile threatening to choke him, Jim closed the distance and looked into the wrecked car. The passenger had ducked, but not far enough. And the driver— Well Jim could only pray she hadn’t had time to know what was coming before the car hit the trailer.
Unable to do anything for the people in the car, he grasped the man, still gripping the door, by the arm and pulled him away to the side of the road. Not sure he would fall down, Jim pushed him down to sit on the damp grass. He reckoned a wet arse would be the least of the man’s worries right now. The other, having recovered, Jim suggested he watch out for the rescue services, and went back to see what he could do for the tractor driver.
“There was nothing I could do,” he said in a broken voice. “They came out of nowhere.” He looked up andshook his head. “And the speed, the idiot was driving like a maniac.”
He cast a glance at the shattered vehicle. “If they’d survived I’d have taken a shotgun to them.”
Jim recognised shock when he heard it, and fought to control and beat back his own.
He’d known. Hadn’t he just been contemplating the situation? Hadn’t he been trying to work out the defining moment when jenny started to move away from him? Hadn’t he been hoping that his engagement ring would mend whatever was between them?
He thought of the package still sitting on the seat in his car. A matching necklace to go with his ring. Emeralds, deep and sparkling when he’d looked at them in the shop; he looked at his watch. Ninety minutes ago.
Ninety minutes ago, he’d hoped to put his world right and start a new life with the woman he loved and now…
He looked at the car, and at the torn and jagged, sheared off roof lying yards behind the vehicle and only inches in front of where he’d pulled up.
The farmer’s retching pulled Jim out of his thoughts, out of his own confusion and rising anger. He knew the passenger in the car, and fought against the double betrayal and total waste of two lives.
He loved Jen, Loved her more than anything else in the world and had wanted her happiness. Yes he’d wanted to be the one to give it to her, but if they’d only come to him, he’d have stepped away. Stepped back. She would still have been alive, as would his twin brother.
The sound of approaching sirens cut through his cauldron of rising emotions, and he looked into the bewildered eyes of the farmer.
“It wasn’t your fault.” Resting his hand on the man’s shoulder his gripped hard, not sure who he was trying to reassure, himself or the other man.
Movement on the other side of the trailer blocking the road caught his attention and Jim watched the two uniformed men climb over the linkage between tractor and trailor to join them.
Another siren heralded the arrival of an ambulance. Two figures jumped out and ran towards them. Even for where he stood, Jim saw the evaluating the situation, and with almost silent communication, divide up the tasks between them, while one was talking on his phone, Jim presumed, for backup.
“Best move away sir,” the first policeman to join them said after once glance at the carnage. “Apart from the farmer.” The second officer looked round do you know if there were any other witnesses?”
“Yes and no,” Jim said, noted the tightening of the speaker’s mouth, and raised his hand palm out. “The car passed me seconds before… before… before the impact.”He didn’t miss the officer’s glance at the bend in the road or the vehicles disappearing from view behind his own car.
“Do I understand the driver of the…” The officer gestured towards the remains of the sports car. “Are you saying the driver passed you on a blind bend?”
What could he say? Unable to get any words passed his now frozen vocal cords Jim nodded. Rage ripped through hi sharp as a sword. Neither of them deserved to be shielded from their own stupidity. They may not have survived, but why should he, the living victim of their betrayal shield them from the truth of their own stupid and senseless actions?
“Yes.” Just one word. And he felt a traitor and yet still rocked by betrayal.
A medic came up and wrapped a blanket round his shoulders. Automatically he drew it round himself. The slight warmth it offered highlighted the cold that had seeped right into his bones. One part of his brain acknowledged it was reaction; shock. The other accepted a greater part of it was due to the rage still coursing through him and the need to remain and sound rational while in the company of the people here to help those involved.
He dug his free hand into his pocket and touched the small square box there.
So many dreams encompassed there, but never had he anticipated they would include shattered dreams.
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