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Writing (Short Story)

Bright red car – what really happened

I gotta tell you about this guy I raced across Texas last Sunday. Man, what a blast.

We tore up the entire highway from old Blair’s junction right down to Dallas. Crazy f***in’ guy. Crazier than me.

So there I was, on my way home from practice trying to get a feel for my new wheels, you know giving her just a little gas, when I come up behind some beat up old Chevy going slower than a tortoise’s grandma.

So, I push the pedal, swing around it and leave it in a cloud of dust at my ass and think nothing more of it.

The highway is lined with Sunday drivers – old Fords, pick-ups, you know, and so I’m f**king away at the gears, swerving and passing every piece-a-junk the good Lord’s put in front of me.

All of a sudden, I hear this whoooosh of wind, the dust all around my windscreen blocks out the beautiful golden sun that’d hypnotised me and I hear this screeching of tyres, roaring engine, and as the dust-cloud clears, what do I see but the same damn Chevy I left sitting a mile back.

Well, I still don’t know how to tell it right, explain it like…

First I got a bit jittery what with the car shaking and all the dust cloud and all.

Then I goes into some kinda numb shock as I realise this guy’s almost ran me off the road, put me in the ditch.

Then, I realise, with my eyes half popping out, my right foot ready to pump the brake and my knuckles bone white on the steering wheel that this mother f**ker is PISSED.

He’s pissed at…ME!

And he’s challenged me.

My eyes narrow, visor down.

I’m snarling after this asshole now, foaming in the heat as I hone in on his tail lights, everything else is a blur. The road, the other cars, the mountains beyond. All I can see is the tail end of his battered old Chevy, ducking and diving along the freeway,

Bang! I up the gear, foot to the board, and the steering wheel becoming part of me.

This guy’s good! Bam, he passes one car, two, three, four.

But I’m after him, I top gun, I’m locked on. You’re mine asshole.

I can feel the millimetres between my wing mirror and those of the other vehicles I’m passing.

I can feel the reaper in the back seat behind me sharpening his scythe, rubbing his bony hands.

But to hell with you reaper, I’m thinking, just let me take care of business here first.

I notice the sun’s going down.

Headlights and tail lights begin to disappear. Sweat runs down my brow, slowly along the outline of my cheek bone, it pauses with me, both of us shocked



At the move that he has just made three cars up ahead.

How’d he pull off that move?

The bead of sweat faints right there and then, tumbles to the rim of my top lip and I lick up its remains with my tongue, I need hydration, it tastes of salt and fear.

But I’m a fighter like my mama.

I gun the engine, mop my brow and go for last throw of the dice.

All or nothing.

Death or glory now.

Get ready back there Reaper, cause this guy is going down.

I pump it, everything blurs, lights, darkness, fear. I can feel my anger turning to respect for this guy and I watch him cut and thrust and parry every move I make to get by him but to no avail.

Who the hell is this guy? Some formula one legend? A deity? It’s no use, I can’t get by.

And then suddenly, the air changes, my ears pop and the moon climbs up over the mountain like a white flag and I feel my body flop.



The road before us, behind us, everywhere is empty, deserted, we’ve left the whole world in our wake.

I gotta get a look at this guy.

I gotta see his face.

I gotta!

And I realise he has synchronised with my mind on some weirded out plain, out here on the edge of nowhere.

Dallas city lights are glittering before us as I ease the gear stick up into third and I see his tail light flicker once.

He edges slowly to the right, we come up side by side.

Two exhausted battleships and I can almost hear the reaper sniggering behind me as he disappears. His laughter taunting me.

‘You smuck,’ he’s saying.

A coyote laughs up on the hills.

The engine of my ride spluttered and as I looked up at the guy opposite me I felt my jaw hit the floor.

I squirmed in embarrassments, in defeat.

Defeated by some old man, in a battered beanie hat and three weeks’ worth of white whiskers on his chin.

His eyes glowed redder than the cigarette he was sucking on. A demon. A devil.

He threw his big old head back, slugged wine from the bottle in his left hand, gave me the middle finger and turn off at Route 66.

Mother f**ker, I whispered, mother f**ker.

HMP Magilligan

Bronze Award for Flash Fiction & Short Story, Koestler Arts, 2020

Anthology- Portrait of an Experience

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