“SO sad, he had his whole life ahead of him.”
These were the words that first greeted me when I came out of the black swirling mist I’d been unconsciously languishing in. At first I wished to go back. All I had done was gain consciousness in a body that was entirely unresponsive. Not a muscle twitched, my breathing and heart continued autonomically but I had no control over the least part of my body, not even an eyelid. I was staring at the ceiling and unable even to look to the side.
Inside I screamed. I’d been going too fast, I knew that. I was way over the speed limit, I was way faster than where I had control and it was a wonderful, exhilarating feeling as I roared down the road on the Ducati. It took the gentle left curve like it was born to be stuck to the tarmac; and even then a voice was saying ‘too fast, the bike is driving you, you haven’t the experience or skill’. I should have listened.
A car, driven by some old git who probably couldn’t see further than a hundred yards, pulled slowly out of the side turn. If he’d pulled out smartly I could have swerved round him, but he pulled the whole length of the car out before swinging left. I was heading towards a wall of car; started to swerve to the opposite side of the road and there was the white van from hell. If it had been a Transit it would have been good night Vienna. Higher see? Splat. But it was a smaller white delivery van and I hit it at 110! I know because I looked at the speedo. Why? Why not? I was going to die, nothing I could do. Except I didn’t. I hit it and arced gracefully into the air and landed in a heap of broken bits of body. And entered the black mist.
Every now and then I’d come up enough to realise I was in the black mist, then I’d drown back in again. It was all too dazing to be scary. I had no sense of time or reality. Once I thought ‘I’m dead and this is Hell’ but it was a fleeting thought that evaporated. Later I learnt that for 6 months they knitted bits together: legs, arm, pelvis. All the time there was an unspoken question, was it worth it? If I was in a coma for ever why not let this body go where the soul had already started to head for. But Mam wouldn’t give up hope, Dad was the weaker I suppose; he just wept and wept. When I became more conscious I heard him. He was a broken man. I was the only son and now I was a wreck. Mam argued, cajoled, persuaded. There was a chance, and all the while there was a chance they should keep fixing me up.
Those first words I heard were Aunty Joan, Mam’s sister. She was right, but then she didn’t need to say it. It set Dad off quietly weeping again. I love him for that. He’s got feelings and he shows them. The whole family took it in turns to visit; though after six months there had been a dropping off of enthusiasm. This afternoon my cousin was due, she didn’t want to come I know, but she was the start of what followed.
Sorry, very rude of me, let me introduce myself. Rob, surname doesn’t matter, you can find it in the newspapers anyway, Rob the Twat I call myself. If I could have said it was a momentary lapse of concentration that brought on the crash well that would have been unfortunate, but I was an idiot. Sometimes idiots are lucky, sometimes not. I wasn’t. I mean yes, the old git was driving badly and taking up the whole of my side of the road and should have seen me coming, and yes the white van was stuck out in his carriageway far too far. But they are small mistakes that every biker should be aware of all the time. I was the stupid fucking dickhead brainless speedfreak moron who didn’t read the road. Let’s be honest, no point in blaming others. I love bikes ... loved bikes ... no I still love bikes, just not riding them now. I started with a Honda Love. I know right? But Mam said she’d buy it for me and I wasn’t turning it down. I got a lot of stick for riding that to college, but it was actually the most reliable bike I ever owned. Next bike was the Honda 250, then the choice of the heart rather than the head – Triumph Bonneville 1976 version. It looked great, it ran brilliantly, when it ran. I spent a lot of time rebuilding it. Which was good for me actually. I rode it until I needed a reliable machine again for work, and the Duke just shouted at me across a road from the showroom. “Heh! Handsome, come and ride me, I’ll give you an erection for ever”, very persuasive these Italian bikes I find. I couldn’t afford it of course. It meant I had to stay living at home as I couldn’t afford the repayments and rent on a flat. But the noise it made was enough to be a waking man’s wet dream. And it killed me, nearly. Okay, okay I killed the bike (Mam sold it to Dave’s Bike Shop for spares, Dad wanted to just dump it; Mam is practical, the £100 quid she got went into my account. Then the insurance company got involved and said that technically it was theirs since they’d paid off the loan. But they were very decent about it, an assessor came round, looked at the bike in Dave’s and valued it at £10, so that’s what Mam had to pay), and nearly killed me. I’m 6 foot 2inches long, weigh a respectable 13 stone and sported a beard until a nurse said “you’ll feel better after a nice shave”. I was fuming! I’d grown that beard at college. Oh, and I’m twenty five years old. Or at least I was twenty five years old when this all started. I think I’ve had a birthday. Like I said, Janice started it.
She hated that name, when we were young I’d make fun of her ‘Janey, Janey, not very brainy’ until she’d cry and then I’d get told off. Then I’d whisper it. Yeah, yeah, not a nice kid; what can you do? Show me a boy who hasn’t teased girls. She came in to the little side ward (Littlebrow Ward, room 6, my new home) and said hello to me (I didn’t reply of course) and Mam. Then Mam went home. That was the idea, give Mam time away, otherwise she’d sit there for ever and ever in the hope that I’d suddenly wake. Janice settled down, and, give her her due, she talked to me. That was what everybody was supposed to do. She talked and talked about boys and school and teachers. Once we were alone she could be really scandalous “We’re all sure that Mr Boken” her head teacher “is poking his secretary, she’s in there far more than she needs to be. And she wears sexy underwear.” Like Janice knows, at 17, what the duties of a school secretary comprise; and how the hell does she know what knickers the secretary wears? Mind you, I’ve seen her, she’s not bad looking. “And Jerry Larkin” ‘that’s Mr Larkin to you’ I thought in my head, we were never, ever allowed to call him Jerry, but then me and my friends didn’t have sexy legs and unfeasibly short skirts and tight shirts and big cow eyes. “Jerry Larkin is gay! He is! Cindy saw him coming out of the Blue Ferret, you know, the Gay Pub on Clarence Street and she said he was definitely looking gay” What the fuck! What did that mean? And considering that he let her call him Jerry because she sometimes flashed her knickers he probably had some good red, heterosexual blood in those 50 year-old veins. Look, we might share some genes – a quarter? No an eighth I think. I get to think a lot these days – but she is nothing like me. I’m liberal, easy going and cool (well, I was. Well I thought I was), she is conservative, intolerant and really can be quite spiteful. She is also thoroughly perfect looking; typical small seventeen year old tits which are lifted and expanded to the max, narrow waist, small nearly boyish hips, tight arse, and lovely legs. Her face is pretty good too, but I suspect her willingness to spread her legs (from what I’d heard) was the main attraction. Then she dropped the bombshell “Look I can’t stay much longer, I’ve got a date”
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