Are we nearly there yet?

At the end of last summer when the evenings seemed to be hotter than the days I got a call from an airport payphone.
There was a party planned for that evening in between the trucks and vans – a barbecue, a few drinks and some mellow sounds. Only something seemed to be missing – the birthday boy…
‘Help me – I’m stuck in Lisbon….’
Lars had missed his connecting flight from Hamburg and was several hours late so duly rang the only person in Peniche that he knew would be sober at sunset on a friday night. Rather than fire up the truck I swiftly purloined some keys to a friends car and joined the queues of sunburnt day-trippers on their way back to the city. The traffic eased at the edge of town and the road opened up. Just after the last roundabout before the motorway I spotted a pair of sihouettes with thumbs outstretched and pulled in to let in my new passengers.

hitcherA couple from the Basque country. Scrawny, dirty, shaved heads and tattoos. Just my people. He sat up front having ascertained that the airport was a good destination for all and the journey restarted.
Conversation was hard – my Spanish is weak especially when shrouded with a thick Basque accent – they had no Portuguese or French and his meagre English was hard to decypher and hers was non-existent.
So in time we slipped into silence and the car slowly ate the kilometres towards Lisbon. Every now and then he would turn to the back and whisper to his girlfriend. Always short and quiet. After a while he asked how far to the end of the motorway. I replied then silence again…
For some reason my nerves were starting to rise. The whispers and occasional glances at me…

Soon the tollbooth came into sight, the whispering commenced again and out of the corner of my eye I saw his hand reach furtively back where it met hers and something glinted briefly. He drew his hand to the front and held it out of view beside his leg. My mind was racing – a knife maybe? Or worse…

The tolls loomed and I slowed the car as we approached – trying to relax to deal with whatever was coming I eased down through the gears as we drew up to the booth window…

My passenger whirled round – grabbing my nearest wrist, his bony hand pinning it with surprising strength – his other flashed into view now brandishing his concealed intention…

‘Here – you must use my visa card!’

Sometimes it’s good to be wrong…

I didn’t surf today.

9 Replies to “Are we nearly there yet?”

  1. (Invisible to Dad) you are an arse.
    Don’t cry PQ – if you cry then I’ll cry – if I cry my mum will cry and if she cries DPS is in big trouble and so it will go on…

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