The Driving Instructor

Remember your mirrors and indicate.

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The driving instructor clambered out of the driver-side door and into the pouring rain. It’d been a miserable day weather-wise, but this was taking the biscuit. It was almost vindictively bad. The rain lashed down with such ferocity that it bounced back up off the cobbled stones of the narrow street, allowing it to attack the instructor from any angle it chose. He started to jog around the front of the car, stopping briefly to look up and wave to his approaching student, before the two of them rushed for his vehicle’s refuge, endeavouring to endure the elements for as little time as possible. The pair of them entered the car and slammed the doors behind them.

“Horrible day for it, eh, lad?” Sighed the driving instructor jovially, over the metronomic vrrrp vrrrp of the struggling windscreen wipers and the dull thudding of rain hitting the car’s roof and windows. The student nodded, lowered the hood of his jacket and ran a hand through his short, soaking wet hair. The instructor reached into the glovebox, pulled out a cloth with one hand, removed his spectacles with the other and proceeded to wipe them clean. “Right then,” He continued, replacing his glasses and conjuring a notepad and pen from his inner jacket pocket. “And you are…” His eyes scanned down his list of dates, times and names.

“Dickhead.” Said the student. “Silly Dickhead.”

“Ah yes, there you are.” Declared the instructor triumphantly, scribbling something down next to one of the names. “Right then, Silly. Do you go by Silly? Or is it Sil?”

“Silly’s fine.” Mumbled Silly.

“First lesson is it, Silly?”

“No, I have driven before. Just need refreshing before my test, really.”

“Ah perfect. On you go then.” The car was already running, so Silly placed his hands at ten to two on the wheel, pressed his foot down on the clutch, put the car in first and found the biting point. He removed the handbrake with a dull clunk and began to inch slowly down the street towards the main road. “Remember to check your mirrors, Silly.” Said the instructor.

“Oh right, sorry.” Replied Silly. He obeyed.

“You’ll soon get back into the swing of it, son.” Chuckled the instructor reassuringly. Water flooded the windscreen as the wipers vrrrp vrrrped in vein, while more rain bounced off the roof and windows, adding to the growing cacophony as the car growled further and further down the bumpy, cobbled street. “Right then.” Repeated the instructor. “We’ll be going left when we get to the road, so whenever the coast’s clear, remember your mirrors again… And… Indicate.” Again, Silly obeyed, but in his haste he flicked the right indicator on instead of the left.

“Sorry!” He spluttered.

“It’s alright, son. Take your time. Bit rusty, eh?”

“Yeah.” Replied Silly, turning on the left indicator. As the car trundled on to meet the main road, Silly checked his mirrors, looked up and down the road, squinting through the downpour to check that the coast was indeed clear and then turned to the left.

“Second gear now.” Said the instructor kindly as the indicator clicked itself off. Silly pressed down on the clutch, moved up to second gear and started to accelerate. Vrrrp vrrrp. “That’s the ticket.” Said the instructor. “Now when we come up to these traffic lights here, we’ll be going right, please.”

“OK.” Silly moved into the right lane as he approached the lights, which remained green. He checked his mirrors and began to turn…

“Indicate!” Said the instructor sternly.

“Sorry! Sorry!” Said Silly, flicking the indicator on just in time for it to click itself back off as he completed the turn.

“It’s alright son, it’ll soon come flooding back.” Chuckled the instructor. “Now if you just want to check your mirrors and indicate, please.”

Silly looked for a turning, but there was none. There was only straight road ahead. “Do you want me to pull over?” He asked.

“Check your mirrors and indicate.” Reiterated the instructor. Vrrrp vrrrp went the windscreen wipers as rain continued to pound upon the vehicle’s roof.

“But I’m not turning! There’s nowhere to-”

“Indicate!” Growled the instructor. “Indicate!”

“But…” Silly turned to protest to the instructor just in time to see the man’s glasses fall onto the passenger side floor. The instructor’s eyes retreated backwards into his shrivelling, greying skull. Vrrrp vrrrp. The roof of the car groaned and strained under the pressure of the rain. The instructor looked at Silly with a manic smile, his tongue lolling out at an odd angle from his mouth. He then bit it clean off, sending it wriggling down the side of the passenger seat. “JESUS CHRIST!” Screamed Silly.

“INDICATE!” Gurgled the tongueless instructor. A droplet landed hard on Silly’s head, prompting him to look up. Thick drops of rain were shooting through the roof of the car like bullets and water came pouring in through the holes, flooding the car quickly. Vrrrp vrrrp. “INDICATE, SILLY DICKHEAD! INDICATE!” Vrrrp vrrrp. Silly looked ahead and had to swerve out of the path of an oncoming bus, then he allowed himself a glance back over to the passenger seat. The abomination had begun climbing and squelching over the sodden central divide towards him. His mouth was twisted into a mad, bloody grin and he held a skeletal arm outstretched towards Silly. “INDICATE!” Came the instructor’s guttural scream. “INDICATE!”

He sat bolt upright in bed, sweat soaking through his pyjamas. Immediately he ran a hand through his hair, but it was quite dry, if a bit sweaty. He stared into the darkness for a moment, breathing heavily and adjusting back to reality. From his right, he could hear the thudding of heavy rain against the bedroom window.

“What’s wrong?” Groaned his wife’s voice.

“Nothing.” He gasped. “Nothing. Just a bad dream, that’s all.” He heard a click and his wife’s bedside lamp turned on, filling the room with warm light. She propped herself up against the back of the bed and rested her head on his shoulder.

“Awh. Well it was only a dream.” She yawned. “It’s over now.”

“It was just so… Real.” He said, his breathing slowing. “I was in a car. I was having a driving lesson and the instructor… He kept shouting Indicate, indicate! And the rain… His tongue…”

His wife opened her eyes, sat up and regarded him thoughtfully. “Maybe it’s from… Weren’t you telling me about that bloke earlier… The handsome one… When you were driving home…”

Without warning, the window shattered as I came swinging handsomely into the room. They both cried out and shielded their faces with their arms from the shower of water and glass. “Yeah that’s right!” I yelled, as lightning streaked down in the distance behind me. “Remember me, you silly dickhead? The bloke you almost knocked down earlier while I was crossing the road?”

“I… I don’t…” His eyes widened as he struggled to get his words out. I took a step forwards, crunching shards of broken glass under my foot.

“Well I’m in your dreams now, mate. That’s right, I control every dream you have.” I took another step and bent down, so that we were almost nose to nose. “And if I… EVER…” I jabbed him the chest with my finger. “…SEE…” And again. “…YOU…” And with every word. “… TURN… WITHOUT… INDICATING… AGAIN…” I smiled. Still handsomely. “Well, you’ll be taking another driving lesson, won’t you. You silly dickhead.”

“I… I’m sorry…” He stammered. “… I didn’t… Didn’t mean…”

“I know you didn’t mean it.” I said sympathetically. “But that road’s a fucking ball ache quite frankly mate and…” I sighed. “And I’m just sick of it now.” I turned and stepped onto the window ledge.

“Who… Who are you?” Asked his wife.

I turned back from the ledge to address the room once more. “I am the Pedestrian Vigilante.” I replied. “And anyone…” I paused for effect. “… Anyone who doesn’t indicate before turning will henceforth be taking a driving lesson with my favourite instructor.”

“I will, Pedestrian Vigilante!” Cried the silly dickhead. “I promise to show more courtesy to other road users in future! I swear I will!” His wife smiled, a single joyful tear rolling down her cheek.

“And so will I! So will all of us, Pedestrian Vigilante!” She shouted. I smiled, then turned and flew handsomely away into the night as the couple stood and applauded. The roads will be just a little bit safer tomorrow, I thought to myself as I glided through the trees. Those two at least have been converted. They’ve seen the light, but my job is not yet done. There’ll be plenty more bad dreams tonight.

So here’s my plea to you, the reader and particularly those of you in or around the Leeds area: Don’t be a silly dickhead. Save yourself the hassle. Save yourself the hassle of a horrible dream. Have yourself an excellent, refreshing and rejuvenating night’s sleep.

FUCKING INDICATE.

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Bruno

I’ve never been religious or thought Heaven guaranteed,

But just for you I hope it’s endless fields without a lead.

You’ll get to know Lester and Fi, then Cake and Maisie too,

You’ll laugh with them at stupid shit us idiots would do.

And all of you can run and play, no fireworks, baths or vets,

But maybe there’s a human there or two providing pets.

Or maybe you’ll do stuff that down here you were never able,

Like you, Benji and Jessie playing poker round a table.

Either way, thank you, my friend. I hope that somewhere you know,

That though you’re gone and we go on, I won’t forget you, Bruno.

Three 2

The highly anticipated sequel to a poem-ish thing.

Three

“I’ll be there in a while.” He said, as she stood up to go to bed. She bent to kiss his cheek, then started heading for the stairs.

He turned to watch her walk away and smiled in his contented way. His luck had turned dramatically the day she’d found him there.

“Don’t be too long, my One.”

“I won’t.” His voice cracked slightly as he spoke. The corner of his lip flickered in protest of the word.

He stood, walked through the kitchen door. Her footsteps reached the second floor. He’d pour a drink, suppress the thoughts she’d accidentally stirred.

He fast unscrewed the bottle’s cap, then poured a glass and threw it back, when from behind he thought he heard a tap on window glass.

Instinctively his movement ceased, imagining some hidden beast with matted fur and many jagged teeth come stalking past.

But then he laughed. “You silly sod.” He thought. “Sounds like your nerves are shot. The tapping was imagined, not some big, bloodthirsty thing!”

He slowly turned with glass in hand, pouring a second as he panned. Calming his fraying nerves demanded just another drink.

But as he pivoted around, he heard a louder tapping sound. His tumbler fell and hit the ground as he came into view.

Through the window, clear as day, the man he’d hoped had gone away. The man whose twisted game he’d played. “Oh hello, One.” Said Two.

“Fuck off, Steven.” One scathed back, swooping towards the broken glass and picking up the- “I fucking knew this would happen. I knew you’d come back. As soon as this tosser started making everything I say rhyme again, I thought ‘Oh well Steven must be just around the pissing corner then.’ Fuck off, I mean it. I’m not interested. I’ve moved on, mate. I’m married now and I’ve got a good job with responsibilities and shit. I don’t need you and your rhyming bollocks showing up and shitting all over everything.”

Two laughed and smirked, stepped closer still to One’s old kitchen windowsill. “You’ve not moved on at all” his chilling visage whispered back.

“Chilling visage? Fuck off! And by the way, I didn’t ‘swoop’. I forgot to say before but I definitely didn’t ‘swoop’ down to the broken glass. It’s just that this dickhead surprised me, I dropped the tumbler and now there’s broken glass and fucking whiskey all over the shop. I’m trying to clean this shit up. There was no sw- Nobody ‘swooped’, alright? In fact I don’t think I’ve ever ‘swooped’ in my life. And this is a new build, so the ‘old windowsill’ is 5 years old, max. Do your research at least, for fucks sake.” He paused. “Go on, fit all that into a verse.” He slammed, as he scratched his arse and sniffed his hand. The- “Oh, that’s mature! That’s bloody mature isn’t it! Fucking hell, you’re as bad as him. I’m serious, fuck off, the pair of you. I’m going to bed, I’ve got work in the morning.”

Two smiled. “You’d go and leave this mess for Mrs One on morning next-”

“Morning next isn’t a thing.”

“It is. Uh… For Mrs One on morning next to scrape and scratch her feet on as she rests them on the floor?”

“I’ll leave her a note or a text to wake up to and explain what’s happened and tell her to be careful in the kitchen. It’s such a simple solution. Don’t try to make a big ‘Ooooh would you dare’ thing of it for your poem. She’ll understand. She knows all about you, you dick.”

“Oh does she now?” The triumph gleamed upon Two’s face that shone and beamed. “You told her all about me? Seems you’ve moved on very well.”

“Yeah, I have. You fucking traumatised me, you wanker, but we worked through my issues together. Because that’s what people do. They don’t spend their lives playing shitty games with shitty cups and shitty little arse holes like you. So you read into it all you like mate, but if you’re not off my property in 30 seconds I’m ringing the police.”

Two’s hopeful face turned all to white as One turned off the kitchen light, then out the kitchen, out of sight, he left Two on his own.

With heavy sighs he turned and trudged- “And you as well. Fuck off with him.”

Me?

“Fuck off.”

I’ve got to end the-

“Fuck off. Here you go… BAM. That’s it. Poem over.”

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Purple

First poem in a while

The colour Me upon the brush stood out a royal blue.

The brush and palette touched and there I met the colour You.


The colour You was bright and red, but as we swirled and blended,

The colour Us was born instead and on the canvas rendered.


The purple we had come to be spun midnight storms and seas.

One stroke by one we’d paint the shadows cast by towering trees.


But when the canvases of only colour Us piled tall,

We made a choice to be the colours You and Me once more.


The colour Me, once back to blue, would paint a cloudless sky.

The colour You, when red anew, would make a roaring fire.


But history were red and blue; mere memories of colour.

Purple now was who we were, infected by each other.


The colour Me shaped stubbornly a vast and purple space,

While colour You in equal hue produced a chilling blaze.


In a way we’d known from the day we were mixed together:

That Me and You aren’t red or blue.

We’re purple now forever.


 

Help

April started to run.

The terrible scream pierced the cool evening air. April started to run, hoping against hope that she could help. That was the second or possibly third time in relatively quick succession that she’d heard the man wailing for help and it sounded urgent. Her pulse raced as she did, the two of them fighting to be the first to reach the source of the horrible noise. Then she saw him.

“Are you alright?” April panted, “Do you need an ambulance?” The man was slumped up against the wall of a darkened office building and was clearly having difficulty breathing. He gasped rapidly for short, sharp mouthfuls of air while his right hand grasped at his heart. He shook his head violently. “Well what can I do?” She pleaded. “What symptoms are you having?”

The man weakly started to raise and lower his hand quickly above his heart. “Increased heart rate?” He nodded furiously. April almost thought that she saw a thin smile flash across his white lips. “Good! That’s good! What else?”

The man pointed to his mouth and started to exaggerate his rapid breathing even more. “Shortness of breath?” She guessed correctly. He nodded again and gave a thumbs up. “Anything else?”

The man’s demeanour abruptly changed as April finished her question. His breathing slowed dramatically and the grip on his chest loosened. “And a severe vitamin U deficiency.” He winked. “What music are you into? Well don’t go…” April broke into a jog. “My name’s Dave, what’s yours?” He called after her as she disappeared around the corner of the office building. She didn’t reply.

The terrible scream pierced the cool evening air. May started to run, hoping against hope that she could help.

____________________

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The Perks Of Being Human

Another poem.

The perks of being human seem plentiful on the face,

We’ve brains and thumbs and no-one eating us. It’s pretty great.

Intelligence breeds empathy, science and philosophy,

Dexterity’s brought tools, precision grip and origami.

Our lack of natural predators has allowed us all to thrive,

So if you add up all these virtues, it’s no wonder we’ve survived.

But is it though? Just think on that. Are humans really best?

Have we used all these advantages to rise above the rest?

Our smarts seem only to have made us sneaky and conniving,

And we’ll step right over others if we know it means surviving.

Our thumbs were first militarised millennia ago,

We use tools and guns to wipe out habitats and people both.

It’s sad to think in some parallel World we’ve done no damage.

The ice caps are all fine and rainforests haven’t been savaged.

And in that World the only difference you or I can reason,

Is that humans still are thick, four fingered apes that might get eaten.

____________________

More short stories and poems