- Vol. 08
- Chapter 04
I woke with a stray pixel in my eye.
I reached, fingers like dowsing rods, to retrieve the source of light.
‘Train station – arrive 11.55pm’
Marvin & Dempster’s The Old Straight Track fetches £125 on eBay.
‘Ok mate – will be in taxi rank 5 mins before’
Alignment means a straight line and by ancient, we mean:
Beacon points, megaliths, settlements, historic livestock routes.
‘Terry you’ve never looked worse. These late nights are killing you.’
‘Red or brown sauce on your bacon?’
‘Does it matter?’
How straight is a straight line? How ancient is ancient?
The dictionary on the shelf in the kitchen says a ley is ‘fallow or unploughed land’
I haven’t made £125 all month. Rural taxi-driving is mainly driving teenagers to parties, one forgotten victim of the pandemic.
The hills roll beyond the windows of the Skoda Octavia silently.
Behind a screen of sitting darkness, they die with every setting of the sun, but I do not need to see them to know that they’re there.
The grease from the bacon roll seeps onto the dashboard.
The station appears in the distance in a halo of dull floodlights, a tarnished beacon upon the hill. I flew through the back-roads lined with elm trees, a silent procession lining the road that curled away from town into the darkness of the fields, punctuated only by the train station car park.
‘For fuck’s sake’
11.55 became 12.01 became 12.06 became 12.22 before the train pulled in and with a huff blew open its doors. Two minutes later, the rear door of the car clicked open and the night streamed in.
LeymanIt closed lightly and the glare of the light above the dashboard blurred my view of my passenger, so I said only, ‘Right you are.’
Before I could ask the destination, a text flashed onto my phone. A longer journey than I’d hoped.
We sat in a comfortable silence, the acrid smell of the fertiliser on the fields beginning to waft through the car. Odd, I thought, it wasn’t the time of year for that.
We eventually pulled into a yard, lit only by the light leaking from a portacabin and I pulled over adjacent to it, just so as to light the interior of the car. I’d been doing this job for years, I knew how things could go.
But my phone pinged to say the fare had been paid, and the rear door popped open, leaving only the acrid smell of the fields.
Reversing round in a semi-circle, keeping an eye out for my passenger.
Before shunting into first gear and returning home, I looked again into my rear-view mirror.
What I saw made me blush and bundle my leftover bacon sandwich into a ball and into the glove compartment.
I knew these pigs; my employer would have a complaint in the morning and it’ll be my final warning.
The night engulfed me again and I basked in its veil.