From the gently curved arch of concrete and railings spanning the six lanes of moving metal, a shape which was clearly a head above a white shirt rose and then fell.
From the dashboard, as it carries us hurtling along the fast lane, the world appears
as if through a gauze, a filter of dislocated reality; which is how Keith Hartman
felt he witnessed the event at first. The sight of a portly, grey-
‘Shit! Shit! Did you see that?’
‘Fuck, he actually fell. He actually fucking fell off the bridge!’
‘Who did?’ Keith’s wife turned around in the passenger seat and, sure enough, she
could see for herself the sudden bunching of red brake-
‘Didn’t you see it? He fell straight off that footbridge back there. Oh my god, oh how bloody awful. An old guy falling off a bridge!’
‘You’re right,’ she replied, shocked now. ‘Something must have happened. The traffic’s going mad.’
Keith glanced sideways at his wife sitting there beside him.
Something must have happened.
How bloody typical of Karen, this non-
Never really happy to accept what he told her, always just one step behind, and stubbornly reluctant to catch up and walk in step with him. Why could she not just believe him in the first place? Why did she have to have this constant filter of doubt whenever things happened?
It was part of all the stuff that was getting in the way these days. And it was
bound to get worse. That’s how divorces must take root, he mused, almost cheerfully,
as the tarmac sped on under the wheels of their jointly-
Which is why Keith decided it was best not to mention to her the other thing he had seen as the man had been falling off the bridge. It just wasn’t worth the trouble; for the moment he was still shaken, and within him a silent knot of horror kept him from saying any more.
Behind them, a sudden and shocking death was creating havoc on the M4.
Ahead lay a great many more things to contend with.
Closest were the sliproads and junctions that led eventually to his parents’ house,
that rarely visited relic of his long-
But beyond this, spreading outwards from the safe cocoon of this normal and frustrating life that Keith shared with somebody he was on the point of losing, there lurked a swarm of events waiting to unfold around the broken corpse lying on a bloodied patch of tarmac far behind him.
© Copyright Paul David Holland 2017
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