Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A night to Remember

It’s around six o clock on a dreary, cold, evening – rain threatens.  I’m filling up the car with petrol and sending a text to the babysitter. There are too many things on my mind:  I’m wondering whether my son will make the A team squad for football, whether the kitten still has diarrhea, whether my latest novel will sell to a publisher who is willing to pay good money. I’m about to pay when I realize, with sickening thud, that I’ve put petrol in the Audi diesel estate. It even says diesel, in big capitals on the petrol cap.

I am expecting the nice man behind the till to tell me something miraculous, like he can just syphon out the diesel with a bit of pipe for  £5. He says I mustn’t start the engine but paradoxically that I must get the car off the forecourt as soon as possible.  He adds that it will probably cost £200 to fix it. Nice. Great.  Thank God, we have breakdown cover. I wonder how much it would cost to fix without it?

When I telephone my husband, he replies with a gruff kind of preoccupied hello, and when he hears my appalling news he sighs and hangs up. I call him back because I don’t have any of the insurance details.  He says he’s on to it. It’s dark now, and cold. I sit in the car but am too afraid to turn on the engine in case the car blows up. I read the back of a packet of crisps. I call my husband again, and he tells me, in barely controlled rage, to be patient.

He calls some time later, and says help will arrive in a couple of hours. So I walk home. We wait and we wait but nothing happens. At 9 the nice man from the garage, calls to say he will fine us £500 if we don’t move the car. He’s worried that a tanker of petrol will arrive and won’t have access to the pump.

My husband offers to go to the garage and wait with the car. A couple of hours pass. I ring him on his mobile, but there’s no reply. I feel appalling guilt that I’ve put him in this situation.  I text.  Then I ring again. By now it’s 11.00pm. I worry that perhaps he’s been mugged or run over, or killed. I imagine at any moment, a policeman will turn up to inform me of his death.  I wonder whether to ring my friend and ask her to come over so I can go and search the streets.  He can’t be still waiting. It’s about 1130 when I notice that there is a text form my husband. Its cryptic, it doesn’t make sense. I am thinking now, that the text is a desperate plea for help. He’s just managed to press one button on his phone before he was hit on the head. I am about to cry, when he comes through the door. I rush towards him. I have never been more pleased to see anyone in my whole life.

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