Bring Out Your Dead - Part 32
Continued from Part 31
There was an awkward silence in the Hambles’ car. Amber was focusing on the road ahead with a grim determination. Frankie seemed to be happily surveying the scenery as it flashed by. Lawrence was a picture of misery as he hunched in his seat, desperately trying to put some physical and mental distance between his back and the gun barrel that was, apparently, pushing through the seat.
“How did you get here?” Amber broke the silence with a question that had been bothering her ever since Frankie’s surprise emergence from the luggage on the back seat.
“Is that one of them philosophical questions?” Frankie asked, sleepily, “only I’m not much cop at them. My girlfriend, now she’s another story. Eats that sort of thing for breakfast, she does”
“I meant, how did you come to be on the back seat of our car?” Amber explained, through gritted teeth.
“Oh, right! Well, to be fair, I’m not dead sure” Frankie admitted, “I remember waking up in this wardrobe…”
“Wardrobe?” Lawrence couldn’t help showing an interest even when his life was hanging in the balance, “Was this in your bedroom?”
“Nah, that’s the funny thing. I was in the back of a van, I think” Frankie realised how weird it sounded, now that he’d said it out loud.
“You were in a wardrobe, in the back of a van?” Amber said, incredulously.
“Yeah, strange innit? I think I went for a leak…yeah, that’s right, I did! Then, the next thing I know, I’m waking up again in a pile of rubbish by some bins”
“You do get about, don’t you?” Amber’s sarcasm was wasted on Frankie.
“You wouldn’t chuckle, darling! I think I went back to find the van…”
“Of course, who wouldn’t?” Amber sneered.
“Only the van wasn’t there no more but your car was. I tried the doors and bob’s your wossname”
Amber glared at Lawrence “I suppose that means that someone forgot to lock the doors while we were in the Service Station?”
“Be fair, dear, you’re the one driving. You’ve got the keys”
“Oh, so you’re blaming me now, is that it? I thought you were the one who rented this clapped out piece of junk? I thought it was your responsibility to keep it secure?”
“Gordon Bennett! You two aren’t starting again, are you? For gawd’s sake, give it a rest!” Frankie yelled, with feeling.
The uncomfortable silence descended again, relieved only by the hum of the tyres on the road. A hum that suddenly became interspersed with a rhythmic thudding noise.
“What’s that?” Amber asked, sharply.
“Sounds to me like you’ve got a flat” Frankie replied.
“Oh no, I’m not even sure if we’ve got a proper spare tyre” Lawrence said, miserably.
“Typical! You wouldn’t be! Is it too much to ask that…”
“Put a bloody sock in it, woman!” Frankie yelled, much to the admiration of Lawrence, “pull the damn car over to the side and let’s see what’s what”
Parked on the slim piece of roadway that constituted a hard shoulder, they piled out of the car to view the damage. Sure enough, the driver’s side rear wheel was very flat indeed.
“You’d better have a butcher’s in the boot, sunshine” Frankie indicated to Lawrence with his gun.
After he had evicted their main luggage from the tiny boot, Lawrence was able to get to the well containing the spare tyre.
“We’re in luck, there’s a full spare!” He announced, happily. Then, donning a high-vis vest from the boot, he began marching down the hard shoulder to the rear of the car.
“Oi, sunshine, where do you think you’re going?” Frankie yelled.
“I need to place this warning triangle at least 45 metres behind us” Lawrence yelled over his shoulder.
“Get back here now, you wazzock! We’re on a hard shoulder and it don’t apply to these sort of roads” Frankie bellowed, “Is he always like this?” He asked Amber, who sighed.
Lawrence trudged back, sulkily.
“If you wanna do something useful, you can get this tyre changed instead of playing at Highway Patrol” Frankie growled.
Lawrence rooted about in the boot and eventually produced a jack and a wheelbrace. Kneeling beside the car, he found the jacking point and began to jack the car up.
“What are you doing, you dilys?” Frankie asked.
“Jacking the car up to remove the wheel” Lawrence explained, reasonably.
“Don’t be a muppet! How are you going to get any purchase on the wheelnuts if the wheel’s dangling in the air, eh? You need to start loosening them while it’s on the ground, with the weight of the car holding the wheel still”
“Ah! I haven’t actually done this before, in all honesty” Lawrence admitted.
“Lower the bloody thing down again and give me the wheelbrace”
Lawrence handed the wheelbrace over and fiddled with the lever of the jack. There was a lot of clanging and the car thudded back down on the roadway.
“Now what are you doing?” Frankie yelled.
“Erm, I’m not entirely sure” Lawrence said, sheepishly, “the jack seems to have fallen to pieces”
“Oh, for f…look, get out of the way and let me have a look!” Frankie pushed Lawrence to one side, “Here, hold this” He pushed the wheelbrace into Amber’s hands.
As he busied himself trying to put the jack back together, Amber weighed the wheelbrace in her hand and brought it sharply down on Frankie’s unsuspecting head. After a moment’s hesitation, he slumped to the ground.
“Oh my god! What did you do that for?” Lawrence screamed.
“How about ‘thank you, Amber, for laying out the man who has been pointing a gun at me for the last half hour’ eh?”
“Well, yes, but…you might have killed him!” Lawrence tentatively nudged Frankie’s prone body with his foot. There was no response. Feeling a little braver, he knelt down and felt the side of Frankie’s neck, as he’d seen it done on T.V.
“I can’t feel a pulse!”
“Oh, come out of the way and let me try” Amber shoved him aside, “I’ve had First Aid training” she said, smugly.
“I thought that was in the Brownies?”
“People don’t change, Lawrence” Amber hissed, and then, “you’re right, there’s no pulse”
She jumped back from the body and steadied herself against the car.
“I think I’ve killed him, Lawrence” She said, shakily.
Now read Part 33