General Fiction posted November 14, 2019

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
A man takes a late night car trip


by oliver818

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

Lying in bed, listening to the house creaking in the wind, and the splash of rain against the window, I ruminated on the bruise Julia, my daughter had tried to hide when she arrived unexpectedly that evening just before we went to bed. Mary breathed softly as I pushed back the covers, slipped on my clothes, and crept downstairs. Her car keys hung from the nail by the door, and I took them down before slipping on my shoes. Waves boomed in the distance as I walked down the path to the car, pushed my key into the lock, opened the door and slid in. I took off the handbrake, letting the car slide back quietly onto the road before I started the engine.

I've always felt that cities have a certain poetry at night that comes from the damp, filtered, orange lights, the shadows that dance through curtained windows and the quiet hum of the traffic lights. I guided the car through the Hataitai Tunnel, round the Basin Reserve and then onto the motorway. Drops of rain burst on the windscreen, and I switched on the radio. The melancholic yet honey-sweet melody of Listzt's Liebestraume in A flat major filled the car. City lights faded as I passed through Porirua, and out to the estuary where only specks of light shone out into the dark night.

The motorway narrowed as it swung around the coastline, and Kapiti Island hunched over in the rain, its head swaddled in thick clouds. The road widened again as I headed into Plimmerton, and then I turned off the main road and headed down to Julia's house. The red Ferrari was in the driveway, and TV shadows played over the window blinds. I stopped a few metres up the road and looked at the clock. One twenty-six am. I pushed the door open gently, breathing in the cool, sodden air. Drops of rain ran down my neck as I walked towards the house. My bones ached, and suddenly I really felt my sixty-eight years of age.

The door was unlocked, and creaked as I pushed it open. Soft music came from the lounge, along with loud snores. His mouth was open, his perfect teeth slightly parted, a trickle of drool pouring out one side. An empty bottle of Jim Beam lay on the table. I picked it up, and stood, watching him, breathing in alcohol fumes and his thick body odour. His hairy gut hung out of his t-shirt spilling onto the sofa. My breathing slowed as I raised the bottle over my head.

All of a sudden, the world flipped upside down, my legs crumbled, and as my head hit the carpet, I heard the bottle crash onto the floor. My heart thumped, pain circulated in the body as if my blood had turned to acid. My knees burnt as I pulled myself over the floor towards the door.

"What's going on?" a drink-heavy voice called.

A little energy returned as I pulled myself out the open front door. I hauled myself up, leaning on the small trellis fence that ran along the edge of the garden down to the road, and then behind the hedge.

"Who the hell is out there?" Graham yelled, and a dog barked in the distance. "If you come back, I'll fuck you up, man."

My heart beat a little slower as I lay behind the hedge, my clothes sticking to me as they sucked up moisture from the muddy ground. When the door slammed shut again, I pulled myself up into a crouch, and crawled back to the car. A deep pain still lurked in my chest as I pulled open the car door and sat down. My eyes shut as rain tinkled gently on the windscreen.

Thick rays of light pricked my eyes as the honey-sweet melody of Listzt's Liebestraume ran through my mind. Bird song burst through, and then I was awake. The Ferrari was still in the driveway, and down the street, a bus was pulling away from an empty bus stop. As I pulled away, my heart thumped. Pulling onto the motorway, I floored the accelerator, watching the morning light play over the dark green sea which rolled like liquid metal over grey rocks. Beads of sweat poured down my forehead, the pain increased and the road faded in and out of sight. A deafening crash filled my mind and then all went dark.

Later, in the hospital, Mary told me I'd had a heart attack. The car was a wreck, my left leg was broken, and they needed to do more tests to see what the condition of my heart was.

"Why did you do it?" she asked, her cool hand stroking my forehead.

"For Julia," I whispered, remembering her tears when she arrived the day before.

"She called the police, David," Mary said. "It won't happen again."

"I hope not, because I don't think I'll be able to do this again."

I let my eyes shut, feeling her hand in mine. It was time to let someone else take over.

This is set in my hometown of Wellington.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by cleo85 at

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