Natural Selection

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but if changing gear in a car is a new trick and Enrique’s an old dog then that whole thing is bollocks because I totally taught Enrique to change gear. Fucker’s picking up the whole driving thing pretty damn quick. We went back to Quaisne car park and as well as just going around we also did some manoeuvres. Nothing too taxing, a bit of reversing and pretending to park so I as he drove I had my elbow out the window. Just chilling. That’s all.

It’s not like I’d smuggled a puppet into the car and it was on my hand. The hand that was out the window. As if I’d do that.

Yeah, I did that!

“What do you reckon about Wellington?” I asked Enrique. I’ve been thinking about Wellington a lot. He was so cool. As I spoke I slowly raised the glove puppet that was on my hand. Fuck knows what animal it was supposed to be. I’d bought it in Hamleys when I went to London when the kids were small and less bothersome. It was brown and furry. Perhaps a sloth.

“He seem h’okay,” grunted Enrique wrestling with the wheel, checking the position of the gear stick and staring intently at the wing mirror. He was going to make us go backwards!

“He does seem pretty cool,” I agreed. “Paula’s done well.” Enrique was making us go backwards. He was sweating. “Paula’s a bit rough, eh?” I added. I was wiping the sloth slowly up the outside of the car door.

“Am I okay?” Asked Enrique.

“Yeah go for it,” I told him. There was nothing he could crash into and backwards we went.

“Wonder what he does, do you know what he does?” I asked Enrique. He was probably a better listener that I was.

“Who?”

“Wellington.”

“Lo no say,” he said bringing us to a halt and applying the handbrake as I’d taught him. He exhaled. “We go around again?” He asked, licking his lips.

“Yeah, go for it,” I told him. I am rarely in the passenger seat of a car and it was a nice change. I never let my wife drive me because she’s a woman but Enrique’s a man and even though he can’t drive I felt safe.

You’ll be able to get yourself a woman soon, eh?” I said but I knew what was coming and I stifled a chuckle. We were off again and he didn’t turn to me because he was concentrating on his driving but he did do his disturbing eyebrows and he made a guttural noise. “I mean a girlfriend!” I laughed.

“Pah, girlfriends. Jus’ trouble.”

“You don’t want a girlfriend?” I asked him. I’d fucking love to have a girlfriend. I briefly thought about Carol.

“Trooble man,” Enrique countered. Enrique had obviously experienced trouble with a woman or perhaps with women and it had left an indelible mark. “Who need girlfriend?” He asked and before I could reply he said, “hey, you come home an’ wife gone. Chu better…” he did a crunching gear change.

It was time.

“Fuck! Enrique look!” I shouted. With my right hand I pointed to my wing mirror. I’d raised the puppet and was holding it quite close to the mirror. “The fucking squirrel’s back!” I excellently acted being very scared and then I was about to laugh when Enrique put his foot down and then I no longer needed to act.

“Fu!” I managed as the G-force threw me against the door. I managed to pull my hand in and Enrique saw the puppet. He must have thought it climbed in. He pulled the wheel to the side, the pedal still flat to the metal and we were rallying. I grasped around, trying to to find something to hold on to. Anything. I felt I was going to fall out. Enrique looked at my grasping hand and screamed and I was screaming and he was screaming and he tried to punch my hand but he wasn’t slowing down and we were powersliding around the car park, a large plume of dust following us.

We were dead. We were heading to the tractors. I screamed and he screamed and I tried to curl up into a ball but I was still getting pulled about. I closed my eyes. The impact didn’t happened when I expected it and I felt us straighten up. I opened one eye and saw, to my amazement, that Enrique had missed the tractors and we were fishtailing it down the straight. “Brake!” I screamed, twelve octaves higher than I’ve ever screamed before. “Brake!” I grabbed the handbrake and pulled it as hard as I could. Any harder and it would have came off in my hand and then we were spinning.

Enrique had let go of the steering wheel and had his palms pressed against the windscreen. I was moaning now, my eyes screwed tight shut. Screaming was pointless. I couldn’t hear the noises, if any, that Enrique was making. And then it was silent. I could smell heat and the blood was still lapping around my brain.

“Ha!” I said but then I was crying. Tears of relief really. I looked to Enrique but his door was opened and he was scrabbling away from the car, trying to get upright. I cried more. Proper crying face. Enrique was upright and running. He was holding his hat on with one hand to stop it blowing away. I looked at my hand and cried harder. Then out of the windscreen at the dust cloud that was blowing out to sea. That dust cloud was poignant and I lost control. I took the puppet off my hand and started whipping it against the dashboard. It had hard eyeballs which made a cracking sound. I did this until I heard Wellington.

“You okay?” He asked. I turned slowly to the open window. Wellington was leaning over and removing earphones. I looked back at the puppet and then wiped my nose with it. I then stretched my face.

“Yup.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, fine.” I stretched my face a few more times so that he might think my crying face had just been some facial exercise. “What are you doing? Running?” Wellington looked like he’d been running. He was wearing running gear.

“Just a jog,” he said. He still looked concerned.

“A jog.” I said. I sniffed. I was looking at the horizon. Perfect. Wellington jogging is probably me running flat-out, and that’s not being racist, that’s just the way it is. Running is the only thing I’m slightly above average at. I nodded.

“You sure you’re okay?” He asked. He was staring at the puppet. I looked at the puppet and then back to Wellington. I held the puppet up but could think of no words to go with that action.

“I’m fine.”

“Okay,” said Wellington and he put his earphones back in his ears. He looked at me a moment longer, looked like he was going to wave or something then, after checking his watch, he began jogging. I nodded. I watched him in the wing mirror. Jogging my arse, he was fucking running. I sat for a few minutes longer before getting out and going around to the driver’s side. As I drove through the car park I tried to feel if the car felt broken. It did a bit but that could have been my imagination. I passed Enrique halfway up the hill and didn’t slow.

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