I couldn’t quite see the man in the car behind me, his headlights in my rear view mirror made me squint painfully to avoid the glare. But I was almost certain it was a man with short spiky hair, and I was pretty sure he was following me, although I was clueless as to why. Belfast was not the kind of city you wanted people following you in. I had no links with paramilitaries – not the IRA, not the UDA, not the UFV nor the RHC, but that would be scant consolation if I got a misdirected and mistaken Three Letter Acronym bullet in the brain from close range at the next set of traffic lights.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” I said for no reason other than it made me feel slightly better. Dying aged in my own car without having shagged Reese Witherspoon, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman or even at a push Beyoncé. And I had two tickets to Kings of Leon playing in Botanic Gardens next month – I was buggered if I was going to let those go to waste.
I decided to check, and deliberately doubled back on myself at a roundabout and took a needless turn down a side street. He was still there, never gaining, never falling back.
“Shit!” I thought, “I’m being followed for sure, and if I can spot him, by a bloody amateur too.” I started to rack my brains, trying to figure out what to do next. He could have pulled alongside me already, there had been plenty of time. He could have run me off the road and shot me as I lay bloodied and dazed in my car. But he hadn’t, so I was fairly sure I had some time on my hands.
It began to rain, a gentle drizzle increasing quickly to become a regular Irish autumnal downpour, the reflections of the tail lights in front of me making ruby red fingernail scratches on the slick black tarmac. I slowed for a junction, accelerating at the last moment to make sure I got through during the very last seconds of the green light, then braked hard to avoid running into the car in front. I was getting near the city centre and the streetlights were brighter, a decision made by the council to prevent drunks from walking in to each other and claiming compensation.
I glanced in the mirror to check that he was still there, at the same time looking for side turns that could let me get away. He had been caught by the red light, but was accelerating hard to get back on my tail. Released from the close range blinding of his lights I could see the car was a small blue hatchback – probably a Ford Fiesta. “Well at least if I get a stretch of open road I can out run the little prick.” I thought. “Maybe I should hide a note in my car describing him in case he gets me” I smiled to myself. My smile was short lived as a soft “ding” and an orange light on the dash told me I was nearly out of fuel.
I decided this had gone on long enough as the germ of an idea planted it’s self in my mind. Up ahead I could see the warm welcoming yellow glow of a Shell station, and I indicated to pull in. Watching carefully in the rear view mirror I was relieved to see the blue car pull in further back to park at the side of the street.
I pulled up at the pumps, and with as much nonchalance as I could muster, got out and filled the tank. I walked to the shop, and as I went in to pay, noted that the building blocked the blue car from my field of view. Once inside I paid quickly, taking time to note though that the girl behind the counter was cute with a really nice pert ass. “Good to see that part of me still works in a crisis.” I thought as I headed to the door.
Rather than going back to my car, I walked round the other side of the shop, squeezing between the brick building and the car wash enclosure. The rain had eased to a steady drizzle and at least I was not getting soaked. I emerged into a large courtyard at the rear of the building, used for keeping the bins and rubbish generated by the shop. A tall fence with a gate wide enough for the bins separated the yard from the street. The gate was unlocked, the only access to the bolt being from the inside. As gently and quietly as possible I eased the gate open and stepped out into the street about 20 feet behind the blue car.
My miraculous appearance on the street went unnoticed by the driver, who was intent on watching my car, still waiting faithfully by the petrol pumps for my return. Using the other parked cars as cover, I walked briskly to the blue car. Grabbing the handle of the rear door, I quickly pulled it open, reached in, and slid an arm around the drivers neck, pulling back hard.
The driver grunted in pain, but as I bent forward to relieve him of any weapon he might have, alarm bells were telling me something was wrong. On the periphery of my senses I was aware of a waft of sweet scent, and the small but firm swelling of a breast beneath my hand as I reached into his jacket.
“Some things never change Jack,” the driver said in a slightly strangulated voice, much higher in pitch than I expected, “first opportunity you get you go straight for my tits.”
I let go in shock and the driver turned to look at me, ruefully rubbing at an imminent bruise on the neck. All of a sudden I was looking into the almond shaped green eyes of Amy. Not Amy of the long auburn hair and extravagant make up, but Amy none the less. Amy of a thousand days in bed, of sleepless nights, and waking dreams. Amy of guilty love and painful loss. Good old Amy.
My mind reeled and she filled in for me “Sorry for following you, but I needed to talk to you in private.”
“That’s alright then,” I replied sarcastically, “that explains it all. Apart from the bit where you died in that car crash three years ago and I read the eulogy at your fucking funeral!”
“Ah yes,” she smiled softly, “that.”