I’m driving a 7.5 ton truck – it’s not an 18 wheeler, articulated tractor unit that rattles double glazing units and puts fear into the hearts of zimmer bound pedestrians – but it’s still a truck. You need to climb into the cab – you have to park in the big spaces in service stations. I buy Yorkie bars and leave the wrapper on my dashboard.
Strangely I sailed through customs at Portsmouth without the usual invite into the customs shed and slipped onto the M27 heading east. The traffic was light as the somewhat lumpy conditions in the Bay of Biscay delayed the boat by several hours.
A Citroen 2CV pulled in in front of me. Sun-bleached blue with a french plate. The roof was down so the occupants could catch the last of the evening sun – all I could see of them was the silver hair of the driver and a bright silk headscarf of his passenger. They sat in front for a while before slowly pulling away and disappearing amongst the lazy commuter remnants.
The truck ate some miles of tarmac and swung a dozen roundabouts. My head was fuzzy and tired from the air-conditioning and boredom of the boat.
My eyes flicked to the offside mirror. The Citroen again. Strange – I didn’t overtake them – and there were no service stations.
As they hummed past I studied them closer. He was in his late fifties – weather beaten – she was older, possibly his mother – her face creased with lines that showed a lifetime of expression. Not now – both were silent and focused on the road ahead.
The gradient changed and they slowed for a hill. I drifted out to overtake and for a minute we were side by side before the hill flattened and they crept ahead again.
Chichester came and went – the Citroen appeared and disappeared. Arundel. Hove. Brighton. I started to wonder why they don’t put their roof up – why they never turn their heads – why they don’t speak or change their expressions?
Was I following them? Were they following me? Were they mindless automatons programmed with a singular mission?
If I stopped to relieve my aching bladder in a quiet lay by would they leap from their car with a speed and agility belying their seemingly fragile frames and kill me kill me kill me ’til I’m dead dead dead?!?
To be continued…