Reads: 41

2

The Accident

 

It happened on a Saturday morning. While almost every other kid in the country was happily asleep or watching early morning cartoons on TV, I was wheeling my bike out of the garage. The rain was tumbling like a waterfall, and cars zoomed by through puddles, giving dog walkers free showers.

According to my mum, the bad weather meant I had to take extra safety precautions. She had cut up one of my old tents and sewn the pieces back together to make a raincoat with a hood. It was pink and purple with glittery hearts and patches in the lining. She had stitched something on the back in big letters. It read, ‘I AM TOM HILL. CALL MY MUM CAROL ON 758161 IF I GET INTO TROUBLE.’

“Tom Hill!” shouted Mr. Trenchbog, my manager at the delivery warehouse. I had just parked my bicycle at the warehouse entrance. He looked at my raincoat and gave me a big slap on the back. “Extra parcels for you on this beautiful morning! And make sure you deliver to the correct houses this time, or I won't pay you!”

“Yes, Mr. Trenchbog,” I replied.

“How old are you now, Tom?”

“Eleven.” 

“Well, when you turn twelve, you’ll be a big boy so you can start packing your own delivery bag.  I can’t keep coming in early just to do it for you. It’s not even six in the morning, for Christ's sake.”

“All right, Mr. Trenchbog.”

He whispered in my ear, “Hey, do you remember the company song?”

“Of course I do.”

“Then sing it to me.”

He played a little jingle on his phone and started nodding his head. I felt so embarrassed. I had to shuffle my feet and wave my hands like a penguin, even though I was a polar bear. We sang it together:

“Coming to you in the ice and snow; this polar bear is never slow!”

“Sing with more enthusiasm, Tom! Put a smile on your face! Make those customers happy to see you. Remember, Tom, you are the first person they see in the day!”

He slapped me on the back again and then he wandered off. I muttered, “Coming to you in the freezing rain; this polar bear is completely insane.”

“Did you say something, Tom?” he said, stopping to look at me.
“No.”

My morning round took me up Pennington Lane hill, skidding and sliding on the melting ice. I reached the summit, sweating in my polar bear costume. At the top I weaved to avoid the big puddles, while carrying a full delivery sack on one shoulder. It was pulling me towards the road, and I leaned towards the grass. Mr. Lewis, a chubby old man, was waiting at the bus stop. When he saw me coming, he gasped and picked up his shopping bag.

“Oh, you little derpwit!” I heard him shout. I held out my hand and said, “High five, Mr. Lewis!” He swung his shopping bag at me, and whatever he’d bought, which felt like several jars of jam, whacked me in the side.

“That’s the third time you’ve done this!” he yelled. “I’ll call your mother!”

Putting on my brakes, I slid to a stop at the traffic lights near the bottom of the hill, almost tipping myself off the bike. I had to wait at the lights for what felt like a lifetime, because Dennis James, a 75-year-old clean freak, had stopped the traffic to very slowly pick up one empty plastic bag from the road. The cars and buses were beeping at him, and he said in a polite tone, “Do you mind not doing that? It’s so rude. It is my duty to keep Hamley town clean.”

“Get out of the road, you silly old goose!” shouted a driver. Dennis went up to the car and whacked the bonnet with the end of his umbrella. Broom-broom! The driver revved his engine, and that was when the chaos began. However, it wasn’t a fight, and the driver didn’t run Dennis over.

Screams of insanity came from the top of Pennington Lane hill. What can only be described as a cross between a tank and a submarine came squeaking down the slope. An old man’s head was sticking out of the top. He was wearing goggles that were too big for his face, and a broken helmet that nearly covered his eyes. He had a long greyish beard with a U-shaped pipe sticking out of his mouth. The front of his road machine read, ‘MAGNIPOOPIFIER Mark Two.’ A little gun on the top pointed and wobbled left and right. The whole thing looked as if it had been taped together by a baby.

Some of the machine's bolts and screws began falling off and rolling across the road. Smoke farted out of the back in little explosions. The wheels made a ‘wiggle-wiggle-wiggle’ sound, and one of them flipped off and chased after Mr. Lewis, who started screaming as he ran from the bus stop. As the old man and his machine flew past me, his head bobbed up and down. His voice was shaky and raspy like a broken squeaky toy when he shouted.

“Less speed, less speed! Brakes! Brakes! Oh, my cauliflowers!"

The machine went straight through the red light and all of the cars skidded to a stop and beeped. Dennis James stood with his mouth open.

“Reeeeeee!” shouted the old man as his head went back and forth over road bumps.

I expected him to turn left or right at the bottom of the hill, but he kept the machine going straight. The machine bounced off the road, did a forward roll over a hedge, knocked over a washing line and rolled into someone’s garden before crashing into the side of their house. When it crashed, the whole machine split into two pieces. A huge plume of smoke engulfed the area. I dropped my bag and bike and ran towards the scene, fearing the worst had happened. In the smoke, I followed the machine trails over the grass to the house.

“Hello? Are you all right?” I called out, coughing between clouds of smoke. When I found the old man, he was still sitting with his legs stretched out, holding a steering wheel with nothing attached to it. The tank machine thing was lying in loads of broken pieces on the ground, and somehow the old man was in one piece, untouched. I looked down and saw that his trousers were on fire around his feet.

“Oh, my god!” I said. “How are you still alive?”

He looked at me and his pipe fell out of his mouth. A big, wide grin developed on his face.

“It works!” he said. “It's a miracle! My Magnipoopifier works!”

"Magni-poopy-what?" I said. Just then, I heard a siren and saw blue and red flashing lights through the smoke.

“Oh, no. It’s the police!” said the old man. “They can’t find me. Boy, what is the quickest way out of here?”

“Down the alley way,” I said, pointing to a row of houses and not thinking. The man got up amazingly quickly for his age, dusted himself off and put out his trouser leg fire by kicking his own ankles. He picked up his pipe and helmet and walked with a wobble towards the house he had crashed into. He was surprisingly short for a man, and I saw that I was taller than him, which felt weird.

“The alley way!” I reminded him, but he ignored me. Instead, he opened the front door of the house. I heard a woman’s scream as he walked through the house and left through the back door into the garden. Another woman screamed. About a minute later, I saw him in the distance. He had somehow climbed on to a house roof. He shuffled along and reached out for a tree branch. Before he could grab it, he slipped and fell from the roof, yet somehow he caught the branch, and he remained there, hanging like a swinging monkey for several seconds. Then the branch started to break.

“You!” said a gruff, ugly and deep voice as the smoke cleared. I looked and saw two tall figures - one short and one tall - walking towards me. I saw their uniforms, hats and badges. The tall, younger looking one spoke to me with an uneasy shakiness in his voice.

“You wouldn’t mind…possibly…coming to the police station and answering some questions about this, would you?” he said.

“Would you!” stated the older, uglier, shorter one with impatience in his voice.

“I have deliveries to make,” I said. “I’m late, and if I don’t finish my work on time, then I won’t get paid.”

I still felt bewildered and disorientated by what had just happened. If I didn’t complete my deliveries, Mr. Trenchbog would be angry with me for the seventieth time.

“Then you can finish your work after you’ve come to the station and answered some questions!” said the older one.

“If you would kindly do so,” said the younger one.

I collected my bag and bike, and the two police officers escorted me away.

 


Submitted: December 23, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Richard C. Parr. All rights reserved.

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