One and a half tons of bright red metal rolling inexorably at thirty miles per hour into a poor sap on a bicycle who’s wearing a yellow reflective bib and a multi-coloured pointy helmet. Like that was ever going to do him any good in this contest of unequals. So car hits bicycle, cyclist flies, noise, screams, silence, bedlam. Half the people nearby hurry past, pretending they haven’t seen it, the other half mosey on over for a closer look. An old guy rushes towards the cyclist yelling “I’m a doctor, I’m a doctor.”
“Either that or a mugger,” I say to the guy next to me. He looks at me like I’ve just propositioned his mother. “What?” I say. “Lighten up. Freak.”
There’s a big ring of people round the cyclist guy now, like you used to get round a fight in the school playground. There’s a steady murmur of voices, people telling each other what they saw, which seems kinda pointless to me, since everyone else saw it too. But everyone wants their own experience to be better than anyone else’s – by which I mean worse. “I saw the instant of the collision.” “I saw his head hit the road.” “I saw the look on his face the moment the car hit him.” “I saw him die.”
What interests me most of all though is the other guy, the driver, a young kid, barely out of his teens I reckon, and standing staring into space like he’s not even there, like he’s temporarily relocated himself to another planet. Which he might as well do because this crowd is going to turn on him pretty soon. He’s trembling. And he looks so fresh-faced and innocent. He looks so frightened. He looks so sick.
He looks so much like me. “Kid,” I say to him, “that’s some deep shit you’ve got yourself in.” I pat him on the shoulder and nod meaningfully and walk away. I think he gets my drift. Now, over in the Star and Garter, there’s a margharita with my name on it. I head off to claim her.