Victims of Circumstance


A protagonist drives- well within the rules of the road, except for the fact he’s had three pints and is touching 50 in a 40. He’s trying to get home fast. His phone beeps, it’s a text from Cheryl. He accelerates and speeds away from her advances.
Approaching a roundabout he notices a car, parked, unlit, in front of the closed gates of an industrial off-ramp. He slows down in time to the see the shaded chevrons of a police car flashing in the review mirror. He glances between the mirror and road, still reducing speed, watching the darkened car… mirror… road… mirror… road… mirror… Headlights ignite. The wait is over. He turns his eyes back to the road then arcs his car around the bypass- line of sight is broken – his heart pounds, uselessly. The cards have been dealt. Three pints play their hand…
He doubles back assuming the chase. The off-ramp rolls into sight like a derelict lighthouse. The police car is gone. He takes the first exit hoping they took the second, shifts gear and the power of 300 horses throw the scene out behind like mud in the air at the track. The car waxes and wanes beneath streetlights; the windscreen reflects a mug-shot with each passing bulb. Seconds pass like hours. He breathes. Drops gear. The needle hovers at 40…
A car approaches from the other side of the carriageway, the Protagonist glances over to see a rather disgruntled policeman clawing for the attention of his partner. The policemen gesture franticly at the car passing them by safely on the other side of the central reservation. They turn on the blues and wail off in the wrong direction…
The Protagonist thinks quick, drifts onto the slip road for the 24-hour Asda then bears right into a car park half-full. He slots his car in with the others. He kills the engine, pulls the keys, grabs his phone and without looking back, heads for the entrance. He turns as he picks up a basket and through throngs of Friday night shoppers, makes out a police car pulling in off the slip road. Head-down, he walks deeper into the store. Somewhere between multi-packs and panic his phone goes off. A text. He pulls the phone from his pocket, scrolls through contacts and reluctantly stops at ‘C’. He presses call. A woman answers…


CHERYL: Hello stranger. I didn’t expect to hear from you. You’ve been giving me the run-around.

PROTAGONIST: Hi Cheryl. No, I’ve just been busy with work.

CHERYL: Come on. You don’t reply to any of my messages… even the pictures didn’t get a response. I’m afraid that’s the run-around.
PROTAGONIST: (reluctantly) Oh erm, my phone… it doesn’t receive pictures… anyway, I was wondering If you still fancied that date?

CHERYL: (elated) Of course I do! When are you thinking, baby?

PROTAGONIST: Well, I was thinking tonight, actually.

CHERYL: Tonight? It’s almost 10 o’clock now… but I’m sure I could squeeze you in, if you know what I mean… (He did.) I can be ready in 10 minutes.

PROTAGONIST: Great, there’s just one thing… I need you to come in your car and meet me at Asda… I’ll be by the fruit and veg in 10 minutes.

CHERYL: Anything you say, baby. I’ll be there in 10. Do you want m-

The Protagonist’s phone battery dies and cuts off Cheryl’s last words. He kneads the dead phone in his hands, the devil had them working now.



A woman trots toward fruit and veg as the Protagonist drops an onion into his basket. She’s a portly mother of three and smiles widely as she approaches. A nest of wiry hair perches on her head and shimmers greasy beneath fluorescent supermarket lights. She’s crowbarred herself into a pair of her daughter’s jeans- two sizes too small- combined them with a well-worn pair of red heels as if to compliment the lipstick snagged on her teeth. A tiny flannel shirt strains to hold the outfit together. She swells behind the buttons until she looks fit to burst. As she raises her arms in greeting, rivers burst their banks and an avalanche of flesh descends the protagonist…
He explains the situation; the police outside, the speeding, the drink-driving and quickly comes up with a plan. They buy the groceries of a meal-for-two and mimic the other couples. They walk hand in hand out of the door and across the car park. Get in her car and go. Cheryl came up with an alibi should they get stopped; they were lovers, just nipping out for food before going home to continue what started on the couch. She wraps her lips suggestively around the word “couch”, (the protagonist thinks, “potato”.) Alas, the policemen are too busy inspecting the warmth of a car bonnet to notice them slip by. The alibi isn’t needed.


CHERYL: (sliding her hand from the gearstick to his leg.) What now?

PROTAGONIST: (urgently) We should go to town, I need to be out drinking, in case they find the car, that way I say I got drunk later in town and they can only do me for speeding, right?

CHERYL: Right.


CHERYL: So, where do you want to go, baby?

PROTAGONIST: I don’t know… I wish we could just go nowhere…

CHERYL: (deflated) Yeah, town’s covered with CCTV… I know a place in Ashbourne, it’s open late, it’s quiet, it’s out of the way… we can stay there all night if we want.

PROTAGONIST: Um, yeah… yeah, that’s perfect. Probably for the best if we’re out of town, thinking about it…’


Cheryl agrees and slowly slides her hand from his leg back to the gear stick. She starts the car and pulls-off. They drive for sometime, rolling with the road round bend after bend, from streetlights to road signs, from road signs to woodland… Eventually Cheryl pulls the car into a secluded country park hidden from sight by hedges. The purr of tarmac gives way to the sound of loose gravel and suspension hitting potholes. The car lollops to a stop. Cheryl turns off the engine and removes the keys.

PROTAGONIST: (nervously) Where’s the bar?

CHERYL: I never said there was a bar…”

PROTAGONIST: I thought we were going for a drink.

CHERYL: You said ‘I wish we could just go nowhere’. That’s why I brought you here, we’re there, baby, the middle of bloody nowhere… harder to get a drink but I’m sure you’ll be glad you came.

PROTAGONIST: Oh? and whys that?

CHERYL: (running a hand down his arm) Oh, you know why, baby…

PROTAGONIST: ah, Cheryl, I don’t think I can tonight. I’m-

(cuts him off)

CHERYL: (sharply) Listen! You used me tonight, don’t you dare deny it! You only asked me out because you ‘needed’ a fuckin’ get-away driver and I happened to live down the road!

PROTAGONIST: Cheryl, Look, I’m sorry I never called. I’ve had a lot on. I’m in a very unusual pla-

(cuts him off)
CHERYL: Ha! Save it. We’re way beyond bleeding hearts now, baby. But don’t worry; the score can be settled easy enough.


CHERYL: (sternly) I said save it! You got what you wanted. Now, I’m getting what I’ve wanted.

PROTAGONIST: What do you want?

CHERYL: (undoing seatbelt) Don’t play coy, you know what I want and you are going to give it to me. Right now. No ifs, no buts. Or you could find yourself on the wrong end of a 20 mile walk back to Derby… it’s your call…

He says nothing. Cheryl shuffles awkwardly out of her jeans, rocking the car to and fro negotiating the girth of her hips. Her shoes fall off as she pulls the legs over her feet; she sits cross-legged on the faux leather seat. Dressed only in a black lace thong and an old beige bra, she leans toward the protagonist. He hears the clammy seal of her skin pull away from the seat like a pack of processed ham. She kisses him. He doesn’t stop her. She leans heavy over him, raises her buttocks in the air and stretches the tight lace thong around her legs to the floor. It hits the foot-well like an Atlantic trawler spilling its net on deck.
Cheryl struggles to coax anything out of him. If she’s the trawler dropping its net, then he’s a sailor tricked out to sea and left pushing rope. But still, she finds a way to proceed, muffling objection with her ample physique… In spite of nausea and sweat, it soon comes to and end. Anchor comes up as clothes go on and they leave the scene for Derby. Lights pass by. Cars keep coming, the world keeps turning and worse things happen at sea…
The protagonist, left to his shame and his thoughts, listens to the wind and the road. Headlights roll over hedges and trees before streetlights guide them home. Light, after light, after light, after light until they’re just amber yawns against a windscreen. He looks across the darkened car and thinks of what should have been. Cheryl turns to face him… he should have just gone to the cells…

Think! Don’t Drink & Drive


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