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16 October 2014
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Nicky McCusker

Born in 1968 I grew up in Ballymoney. I moved to Inishowen with my Donegal born wife in 1997. We have four young children. I began to write 18 months ago and belong to the Culdaff Writers Group.

Run-a-round by Nicky McCusker

“£45….. Jeeesus Peter you’re a soft git, Joe’ll be pissing himself for a week laughing at us”.
“I know but sure she’s driving alright ……. sure there’s even petrol in her”.
“Joes told you that ………. bet you a fiver the petrol hands broke”.
“Whatever - sure the money’s gone - c’mon to see what she can do”.

Without another word Seamus, complete with crutch, hobbles towards the aging Ford Siera. Dumping his crutch in the back he awaits the familiar rush. He doesn’t wait long. Starting in the gammy leg, crawling, it envelops his whole self. His legs, arms, hands and head buzz in anticipation. A buzz that not even the local community police could beat out of his system.

“Let her at it Peter, go man for fuck sakes go”
With the needle hitting the high red on the rev counter Peter slips the clutch. Screaming bald tyres spin relentlessly, a desperate search for tread. She takes hold, awkwardly fighting for direction. Oil, rubber and petrol – as one – leave a telltale of resistance. The acrid smell a final act of defiance.

“What about that Seamus”.
Seamus doesn’t answer, Seamus is lost. His craving hungrily devouring all. Forty, Fifty, Sixty gathering speed they travel the well-worn street. Only a few take notice, children mostly, staring wondrously from their playground of cracked pavement. The adults, they’ve seen it all before. An impediment in their daily struggle. Poverty and unemployment, that’s what’s at their door, until joy-riding knocks – it doesn’t list.

Sideways through every bend. Oncoming traffic show courtesy and pull in – a courtesy only afforded to emergency vehicles in other parts of town – but not here, self-preservation dictates courtesy here. This is the circuit, anything goes.

Peter's hand rests comfortably on the hand brake. Seamus waits. The routine’s simple. Down Oaks Road, you should be hitting eighty before you drop it down to about fifty. Pull the hand brake and swing the steering wheel. The more experienced, like Peter, like it to be neat. Only when high on glue or canned up can you be forgiven for not making the complete 360 degree revolution. Experience is written all over the road. Then it’s back up Oaks Road with the right foot, back, flat to the floor an another 3-60.

With anticipation at its height, Peter makes his well-rehearsed moves. Using the gears as brakes and the engine roaring for mercy, he pulls the hand brake. The thud steals through Seamus. “A stinger”? he screams above the engine. “The hand brakes’ fucked and the brakes” blurts Peter, futilely pumping the foot brake like an over enthusiastic drummer in a heavy rock band.

At sixty five they meet the crossing traffic on the roundabout. Perfection in slow motion. People going into town, buses, taxis, cars. Expressionless faces stare. Calmness descends, that calmness that comes with inevitability. Crunching, scraping, screaming, there, but not there, just beyond there. Peter’s gammy leg twitches. The buzz gone. The crutch, catapulted through the dash, stares without compassion, stares into the void, stares at its companion, stares at death.

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More from this writer:

Short Stories
A Toast
A Lesson

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