Stan meets someone he hates.
| Stan stepped out of the office building into an unexpected summer downpour. “Christ. Bloody forecasters, wrong again!”
He was undecided whether to make a dash for it but dressed as he was in a short-sleeved shirt and shorts the last thing he wanted was to arrive for his date looking like a wet dog. The lady he was meeting for lunch in half an hour was someone he’d not yet met in person.
He checked his watch. The rain continued to pour and by the look of the leaden sky it had set in for the day.
“Well, here goes,” he said to no one in particular and made a dash for it, but was almost immediately soaked to the skin. His shirt clung to his broad chest and his shaggy blonde hair dripped water down the back of his neck as he raced along the glistening wet pavement.
The conversation he’d just had with his solicitor to discuss his divorce settlement, had put him in a foul mood. His ex-wife was out to take as much as possible from him, even though she was the one that had screwed around. Thinking of his wife made his jaw tighten. Her affair with someone who’d called himself his friend, hurt Stan badly, even after a year.
Stan had been on stress leave from the army ever since his time in Afghanistan, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, from his time in a war zone. Gradually he’d accepted that Tracey was never coming back to him and that he only had access to the kids every second weekend. Now, when he picked them up for his weekend with them, he made sure he had as little to do with Tracey and Gary as possible. He just concentrated on being a part of his kid’s lives as much as possible, even though Gary was being more of a father to them now.
Today was the first time he’d tried on line dating. Her name was Laura. They had chatted on the phone and were meeting for the first time. Not only was he really nervous, he was very wet.
He looked up at the black clouds; the rain seemed to have settled in and he decided after all against walking to his destination. A taxi came towards him through the mist, so he held out his arm. The vehicle slowed to a halt beside him.
“Where to mate,” the driver asked, without looking directly at his rain-drenched passenger.
Stan hopped in the cab, “Thanks for picking me up, I’m soaked, so much for the weather forecast,” he grumbled. “I need to go to Oxford Street, I’ll tell you where when we get closer. Not sure where this place is myself. It’s a café somewhere near the cinema.”
“I know the one mate.” The taxi driver glanced in his mirror and drew away from the kerb.
Stan ran his hands through his wet hair and relaxed on the back seat. He could see the driver’s eyes in the rear-view mirror, and thought there was something familiar about him.
“Hi Stan mate, how’s it going?” The driver smiled.
“Christ! It is you. Let me out on the corner!” Stan demanded.
“It’s okay mate, I’ll drop you off in Leederville, no charge.”
“I’m not your mate and I need no favours from you. You scum!
“Don’t be like that mate, it’s water under the bridge.”
“You bastard. Let me out!”
A red sports car sped through a stop sign. It slammed into the taxi which rolled, several times. Stan braced himself against the seat. He felt impact after impact. He saw the grey road and the cloudy sky, alternate through the rear window before the taxi smashed into a street lamp and came to a sudden stop. The right way up.
The vehicle immediately filled with smoke, Stan panicked until he realised that the smoke was vapour from the airbags after they’d exploded. There was silence, then the tick, tick, of the engine cooling down.
“You okay?” Stan groaned. There was no answer from the driver. “Gary?” There was a moan and Stan breathed a sigh of relief. “I can’t open the doors. Can you get out? Are you hurt?”
A man shoved his head through the broken front window. “I’ve called an ambulance, don’t move. The doors won’t open, just sit tight until the fire brigade get here. Are you both okay?”
Stan’s chest was aching from the impact of his seatbelt but he didn’t think he’d broken any bones. “Just hurry mate, the driver’s in a bad way.” He shook his head at the irony of the situation he found himself in, trapped in a car with the man who’d stolen his wife, the man he’d wanted to kill only a few months earlier.
Onlookers soon surrounded the vehicle, the red sports car was a mangled heap on the other side of the road.
Although desperate to get out of the taxi, Stan had no choice other than to wait. The ambulance, police and fire brigade all seemed to arrive at the same time.
Gary regained consciousness and rolled his head to look at Stan lying on the damaged back seat. “Sorry mate,” he whispered. “Maybe it was fate hey?” He groaned, closing his eyes again, then spoke once more with difficulty. “You and me like this? Shit, we almost died Stan.”
Stan lay with his eyes closed. He gave a sudden laugh at the craziness of his predicament, but the sound of machinery, noisily ripping the roof off the car, drowned it out. He gasped in pain from the injury to his ribs and looked out of the smashed window at their rescuers. Then he heard someone shout to move away “ Get back! She’s going to blow!”
Petrol fumes were making him choke, the car filled with smoke and before he had the chance to tell Gary he forgave him, the taxi exploded in a ball of flames.