“Oh, I don’t know,” I said. I was sizing Derek up. He was small and I could probably batter him if he wasn’t one of those guys who really lose their shit when they get angry.
“I’m supposed to meet him here,” whined Derek, looking at his watch but he didn’t really look at it. He looked towards his watch to demonstrate the situation was time critical. Probably just looked at the back of his hand. A tough person wouldn’t have done that, they’d have just grabbed me, so I relaxed.
“You’ve probably got it wrong.”
“No, ten o’clock, Wednesday.”
“What can I tell you, Derek? Something’s gone awry with your best laid plans.”
“Listen, is Enrique here?”
I looked around the shop. I couldn’t see Enrique. Could you see Enrique? I leant over onto one foot, my arms slightly out for balance so I could look down the other aisle and then I looked at Derek and shook my head. Derek looked around too and sighed.
“Is he in the office?” Asked Derek pointing at the door and now I was in a pickle. Didn’t really want to tell outright lies because then I could come unstuck. “Is he?” Asked Derek. I looked at the door and puffed my cheeks out. Derek muttered something. “Is he in there?”
I slowly exhaled the air I was holding in my mouth and Derek started over to Enrique’s door.
“Yeah, I think he is!” I shouted after him. Derek knocked on the door and after a moment Enrique opened it.
“Derek’s here!” I shouted from my counter over the top of Derek’s head.
“Dave, actually,” said Derek looking down and to the side.
“Ready?” Asked Derek not waiting for Enrique’s reply and heading to the car park. Enrique was still leaning out of his door hole. Derek stopped in front of me when he realised he wasn’t being followed. “Come on!” He said.
“Derek!” I said to get his attention and although he didn’t want to, I could tell by his shoulders, he did turn to me. “It’s over, mate,” I said.
“Enrique doesn’t want driving lessons from you any more.”
“Really?” He then turned right around so he was facing Enrique who still hadn’t fully left his office. “You don’t want any more driving lessons?”
Enrique closed his eyes. He held them closed.
“I just drove all the way out here,” said Derek and Enrique opened his eyes and finally stepped out into the shop.
“S’tricky man, I dunno.”
“You don’t know?” I said. That was a shocker. This was all sorted. I was teaching Enrique to drive. We’d sorted this all out. What was he playing at? Fucking prick, as soon as Derek was out of the picture I was going to stop giving him lessons, that would teach him. Enrique, thankfully unable to read my mind looked at me briefly but he was walking towards Derek. “I donno wha’ I wan’.”
“Well you better decide,” said Derek, once again looking at the back of his hand.
“Yeah, you better decide,” I said to Enrique and without looking he held up his left hand to me. It was either a dismissive gesture or one that said, ‘I’m dealing with this,’ and I wasn’t sure which.
“I wannoo,” said Enrique to Derek.
“What?” I said. What the fuck was going on? “I’m teaching you to drive. We’ve been over this.”
“Qualified driving instructor are you?” Asked Derek.
“Yeah,” I said.
Derek shook his head, “Enrique, mate. Stop this foolishness.” He placed an arm on Enrique’s elbow.
“Gaylord!” I’ve been as homophobic as Ivanic since I showed Enrique the lesbians.
“Come on,” said Derek, trying to steer Enrique towards the car park. Enrique actually did start moving and I was horrified. My face went all horrified. Enrique took about four paces then stopped and shook Derek’s hand from his elbow.
“Non!” Said Enrique.
“What?” Asked Derek.
“He say chu no wan’ me to passss. He say you jus’ wan’ more monay.”
Derek looked at me and it was his face’s turn to look horrified. Mine wasn’t horrified any more which was lucky as had we been looking at each other with horrified faces it would have been stupid. I had my tense face on because if Derek was going to lose his shit and batter me it’d be when I told lies about him. “That’s nonsense!” Spluttered Derek and I was relieved. People who splutter are not the battering type. “Pass rate, that’s how I get business.”
“Of course! It looks badly on me if a student fails.”
“And your success rate is?” I asked.
“93%, well above average, what’s yours?”
“Enrique, I don’t know what he’s filling your head with but don’t be stupid.”
Uh-oh. Enrique’s trigger word!
You can call Enrique anything but stupid, from now on. He goes mental. Enrique’s eyes widened.
“Take it easy, Enrique!” I said. I didn’t like Derek but-
“Stoopid? You call-a-me stoopid?” Asked Enrique. “Whup,” said Enrique.
Shit, he was starting up. Derek was frozen to the spot.
“Whup,” said Enrique, his right arm slowly rotating so it was straight out above his head. “Whup”, he said, “whup.” As his right arm began to rotate down his left arm began its journey travelling the same direction but starting a semi-circle away. “Whup-whup-whup-whup.” Enrique’s arms were moving faster. The Daily Mirror on my counter fluttered.
“Get out of here, Derek!” I cried leaning forward on to the counter.
Enrique’s windmilling arms were moving faster. As well as the whups there was also a background whine rising in pitch.
He started moving forward like somebody had removed his chocks.
That’s right, chocks, the things that keep planes still. I know his arms were windmilling but they were like sideways double helicopters and he was moving forward like a propeller driven plane. What of it?
“Run!” I shouted, slamming my palms flat again the counter top, holding the paper down but other litter struck my face and I had to turn away briefly and spit out a receipt Enrique’s arms were doing that thing where they’re going around so fast they began to appear like they’re going slowly in the opposite direction. Enrique’s feet, however, looked like they were inching forward and were. Derek’s face fat fluttered and I put my hands over my eyes, letting go of the newspaper which threw itself against my torso. I couldn’t look.
I waited for the scream but instead heard a shout of, “go!” It was Paula. I opened my eyes in time to see Derek, having been pushed by Paula, stumble to the door. He nearly went down in his efforts to run and turn and then he was gone. As soon as the door closed Enrique began to power down but it would take at least three minutes before it was safe to approach him. I used this time to watch Derek drive away and then Enrique was stood by the magazines.
“It’s for the best,” I said. “Think of the money you’ll save.” Enrique nodded as he surveyed the car park and then he turned.
“I pay in hadvance. Ten leesons.”
Enrique nodded and turned back to the car park.
“Chu give me leeson tonigh’?” He asked. He didn’t turn fully to me as he asked. He looked down and to the side like Derek had when I got his name wrong.
“Of course!” I lied.