#6: The Bridge
Gerald backed out of his driveway, ensuring that he looked both ways. He could see the curtain next door peek open and imagined Nancy watching him, assessing his ability to back out of his own driveway. It was embarrassing to have to explain to the police officer whom knocked on his door that he knew how to drive a car and had been successfully driving a car for the last seventeen years without incident.
Gerald had denied that he had run over Nancy's cat and rather the cat had already died, but had chosen his driveway to lose its ninth life. Or, he will concede, that perhaps it had just lost its eighth and his car did the final blow. He wanted to say that did Nancy think the cat was beneath his car because it couldn't stand her prying into other people's lives, but knew that wouldn't be an appropriate comment.
With Nancy's cat on his mind, Gerald checked all three mirrors. It was in the passenger one that forced him to slam his brakes on. As the car wasn't going quick, the effect wasn't as dramatic as he'd hoped.
No doubt Nancy could see the leg protruding from her own rose bush. Had she planted it, the leg, not the rosebush, to pin a murder on him? Would the old biddy do such a thing?
Gerald pulled up the hand brake.
He could smell the bourbon before he could see the stomach rise and fall with each breath.
"Hey buddy," Gerald said as he shook the man awake. "Are you okay?"
The man's head swung as if it were a pendulum as his eyes flittered beneath the eyelids. And then they popped open.
"I cawed you ours ago," the man muttered. His slur made it hard to understand.
"You called me?" Gerald asked.
"Hours ago. 39 Service St."
"39 Sevice St?"
"Yes, bloody hell. 39 Service St."
Gerald peered over his shoulder when he heard Nancy's door open. Its squeak sent a shiver down his spine every morning.
"Is this a friend of yours?" she asked from the safety of her porch.
The man turned himself onto his side and grunted himself upright. "C'mon, I need to get home."
"I don't understand."
"Are you daft?" the man asked.
"Mate, I'm not the one lying half naked in my driveway."
The man first looks down at his naked legs and then at the suburban streetscape.
"Where's the pub?"
"There is no Bridge pub in town. There is one in Castlemaine, but that's an hour away."
"Castlemaine? What the fuck? No, The Bridge Hotel in Richmond."
"Richmond? You are a good two hours from Richmond. Why don't you go inside and Nancy will make you a coffee and call a cab for you."
The man slowly gets to his feet and Gerald pulls at the man's shirt to ensure it hangs lower than the man's limp penis.
"Do you mind, Nancy, to make this gentleman a coffee? I'm going to be late for work."