A pale, angular face appeared as the door opened. The man winced through bloodshot eyes and looked surprised by the clinking sound his feet made as he tried to stand up. A look of dismay bled across his face as he looked down at the empty spirit bottles. The woman smiled. ‘Thirsty were we? Drink this’. She handed him a hip flask, which he slowly raised to his lips, and drank heavily. Whatever it was made his eye twitch. ‘I don’t remember getting in the car’ he said, his husky voice contrasting with a wiry frame. ‘Well get in you did, Gary Newman, and now out you must get. I hope you know where the towbar is in this poser-mobile, because there’s no time for pissing about’.
‘What are you talking about’ had barely passed his lips before the crackle of a radio commanded their attention and said ‘Charlie Nova Two, proceeding to coastal road following reports of a speeding vehicle heading to the cliffs’. The lady’s smile vanished. ‘Get in and steer, and take the dog with you’, she snapped, pushing him back into the car. Clearly wary of her frowns the dog clambered over the man, licking his face as he passed. She slammed the door. ‘What the fuck is happening’? he asked the dog. It gave no answer, but did not look overly concerned, which the man saw as a good sign. A sharp clang snapped him back to reality, and wiping the windscreen revealed the woman attaching a tow rope to his car, then quickly hobbling out of sight. The car soon lurched forward and he grabbed the wheel, the sudden movement not helping his nausea as his hangover slammed in.
He could feel something dragging under the back wheels as he was towed up and out of the field, steering after the old Landrover. He steered robotically, an automaton on autopilot. The lady turned sharply to the left and drove straight in to an old hangar-like garage, plunging man and dog in to darkness. He was vaguely aware of a shape passing his window, and heard heavy metal doors clang shut behind the car. He jumped as the door sprang open. ‘Get out’, the woman said, ‘and follow me. Lovely suit, by the way’. He stumbled over something sharp as he headed for a square of light in front of him, tearimng his trousers. He heard her chuckle ‘but maybe not anymore. Nevermind’.
‘What was that’ he said, as they emerged from a side door in to an immaculate garden. It was surrounded by hedges and painted railings, with a lemon yellow caravan at the end. ‘Hmmm? Oh, that was my stinger, or ‘Lemming grabber’ as I prefer to call it. Works a treat. Sit down.’ He did as he was told, slumping in to a canvas chair next to the lurcher, which hadn’t taken its eyes off him. ‘Ah. Hal likes you. He’s got a soft spot for you pretty-boy alchies’. Before he could retort she cut him off with’No don’t try to deny it. I had you pegged before you even opened the door.’ The man looked as if he was trying to shake himself out of a nightmare as his husky voice croaked ‘who are you? ‘. Her face wrinkled in to a grin, and kindness radiated from her two azure-hued eyes. ‘I’m Heather, sweetheart, and you are a fucking idiot. All will be well, though. First off, let’s eat’.
He felt powerless to disagree, so he didn’t. Heather brought out two steaming mugs of tea with plates of bacon and toast which were oven hot. ‘I should call someone’ he whispered, surprised at how long it had taken to think about it. Heather shook her head. ‘No’ was all she said in a flat voice. ‘Here’s how it’ll work, so listen carefully. You’re officially zapped out of the world for a while. Your car is going to need a lot of work before you can leave this place. We’ll do that together. I’m more concerned about the state of your mind first. You look harrowed’. He couldn’t help it then. He let out a sob, and the lurcher rested his snout on the man’s knee, eyes upturned and full of pity. Heather grinned at them both. ‘Sodding men’.
‘How the hell did you know I’d try to do it there’ he asked through gritted teeth. She shook her head. ‘Think you’re the only one to go Thelma and Louise here? Turn left at desolation junction, right at suicide street and straight through to oblivion avenue? Come off it Gary, even in your batshit-pissed state you drove straight on to my speed trap.’ He realised that he was still waking up, or rather hoping he would wake up, and preferably in bed. ‘But why are you helping me then’? A shadow of sadness passed over her face, and she took both of his clammy hands between hers. Looking straight in to his eyes, she said ‘because I tried it before you, and someone saved me’.