The night was dark. The road was long. The driver slumped at the wheel. The car veered to the left and crashed into a large oak back from the kerb.
“Oh dear” the passenger in the back muttered to herself. She reached into her handbag and obtained a small bottle of correction fluid and dabbed it onto her inside left thigh.
“Oh dear!” she muttered, louder. “Well, that’ll have to do.” She’d intended to use her nail varnish to stop the ladder in her stocking running any further, but somehow the correction fluid had seemed to have done the job.
She reached into the front of the car, and gently pulled the driver back into his seat. He was breathing – snoring actually.
“Oh dear…” she reached into her handbag again and pulled out the small bottle. In the dim light she still couldn’t make out the word ‘paracetamol’. She reached for her mobile phone and entered the number for the emergency services, but, as usually happens on a dark night in the middle of nowhere, there was no signal and she couldn’t get through.
The driver looked peaceful enough. His bottom lip wobbled contentedly as he exhaled, and his inhale was beginning to sound like a powerful lawnmower.
The passenger clambered out of the car. She didn’t really need to clamber, but thought it was the done thing after being in an accident. She looked at the front of the car, which wasn’t damaged.
“Look at the state of that!” she bit her bottom lip and then looked at the tree, which also wasn’t damaged. She patted the bark. “You poor thing, you’ll be OK” she said.
She reached into her handbag again, and pulled out a white handkerchief, and then started to walk along the road, in the direction she was heading. Twenty steps later, she came to an arched gateway on the left with a brass plaque on one pillar that said ‘The Willows’, and there was another lane opposite which disappeared away into the darkness.
“The Willies!” she roared with laughter as she misread the plaque.
The headlights from an approaching vehicle stopped her laughing, and she jumped into the middle of the road, arms outstretched in front of her. She waved her handkerchief with her left hand.
The transporter van came to a gentle stop a few steps ahead.
The driver got out of the car.
“Are you OK?” He asked, concerned.
“Sorry about this,” the lady said, “You almost hit me there, but don’t worry, it was my fault. No, I’m fine, but my driver’s fallen asleep at the wheel and we’ve careered into a tree. I gave him two of my sleeping pills where you should only take one instead of paracetamol as he had a headache and he’s out like a light. The tree’s OK. And look at the state of me.”
She brushed down her crisp navy tweed suit.
“You look fine” the driver said. “I’m Scott. Scott Hartley. Let’s get things sorted out for you.”
“Oh, how awfully rude of me,” She held out her right hand and curtsied. “I’m Lady Salinger-Wallis; most people call me Lady S.”
She roared with laughter as they shook hands.
“My car’s just back there. It looks like a write-off.”
They both walked back to the car, and Scott checked things over.
“No, it’s fine. It’s a very sturdy model, this – reinforced too. The back’s not out into the road, so it’s in a safe a place as it can be. The driver…”
“Eddie” Lady S interjected.
“Eddie just seems to be sleeping. They must be powerful sleeping pills for him to sleep through this commotion.”
“Oh, they are.” Lady S said with pride. “You’re that man off the telly, aren’t you?” She always thought some person she met looked like somebody off the TV.
“I am,” Scott said, and Lady Salinger-Wallis was correct for once. “So, what are you doing out on a night like this, here of all places?”
“I’m going into Upchester to watch a late-night premiere… well, I was” she roared again with laughter. Scott smiled kindly. “You?”
“Well I took the wrong turn a while back there and you’re the first person I’ve come across along this road in miles. I was in Upchester filming, and now I’m heading home to Upper Plethwick… well, I was until I took the wrong turn. I’ve no idea how I did that. And the worrying thing is I’m almost out of fuel.”
“Oh, that is a bother. The nearest filling station is about eighty miles back there in Mid. I simply lurve Upper Plethwick, such a quaint village” Lady S said. “I know a girl from there, she used to be my best friend from school days and I haven’t seen her for eons. Valerie Slattery-Smythe her name was. She used to wear glasses and a red skirt. I always liked that red skirt, should’ve got one myself.”
“Really?” Scott asked. “I mean about Valerie Slattery-Smythe, not the skirt. She’s my mum.”
“Such a small world!” Lady S guffawed, and bruskly hugged Scott. “Just fancy Valerie having a son off the telly. Marvellous. Simply marvellous!”
She had to break her embrace as the headlights of yet another vehicle caught their attention, this time driving toward them along the lane opposite.
Scott reached into his jeans pocket to get his mobile phone.
“Oh, there’s no signal around here, love.” Lady S tried to save Scott some work, but he checked anyway. He slipped the phone back into his pocket as the third car came to a halt at the end of the lane.
The driver of that car got out, and walked over to join Scott and Lady S.
“I’ve just seen that car”, the girl said. “Is everything alright?”
“Yes, dear, everything’s fine. My driver fell asleep at the wheel; it was my entire fault. Not that I bored him to sleep or anything,” she laughed again, “but I gave him sleeping pills instead of painkillers. He’s fine, the car’s fine and the tree’s fine. I just need to call my butler to get him to come out here to drive us all back but there’s no mobile network around here.”
“A notspot.” The girl said.
“A whatnot?” Lady S asked, puzzled.
“A notspot. It’s what they call an area where there’s no mobile phone coverage.”
“Ah – I see.” Lady S got it. “I’m rather not au fait with technology. Scott here’s almost out of petrol so we’re both in rather a pickle.”
The girl finally noticed Scott. She’d already noticed his tight-fitting white T-shirt, blue jeans and trainers before seeing his face and tousled blond hair. She then recognised him.
“Er. Hi.” She squirmed. “I’m Icewolf – I mean Judith Trachtenbacht. Oh, call me Icewolf.”
TO BE CONTINUED
(This is a repeat presentation, originally posted in 2015)