At the same moment that he smashed his spoon down upon his soft boiled egg there was a thud as the local newspaper hit the front door mat. His wife gave him a sneering look as the paper and letters were dumped onto the breakfast table. He sat alone today as Samantha, his daughter, was staying a few days at a friend's house. He recognised the buff coloured envelope straightaway. "Not another one," he cried out. "It's so unfair."
He wallowed in his self pity as he thought of all the money he had just spent on his new car. A beautiful red colour. His favourite. He considered it his car as his wife had not spoken to him since he had bought it over two weeks ago. He hadn't even consulted with her though he knew there were so many things that needed doing. If he didn't ask her she couldn't argue, could she?
"Well, I can take the stony silence as long as it takes. She'll come around," he silently said to himself.
A little louder, but too quiet for Sarah to hear: "What's her problem anyway? Car makers make cars capable of speed, so it must be OK to drive them as they are meant to be driven: fast."
He had once again misunderstood Sarah's actions.
While he moaned, his long suffering wife had been scanning the local paper. She managed:
"Two young girls have been killed in a car accident. A hit and run driver. Poor girls. It says here they were pedestrians. See what you speed merchants do. Speed kills. My God! It's said often enough and it's people like you who cause these incidents. They're not accidents. Accidents are not deliberate. They're accidents. Stupid drivers who go too fast don't cause accidents. They cause human disasters."
He wasn't listening to her diatribe even though it was her first utterance in days. He had heard it all before. What does she know anyway? Hardly ever drives over 50mph and never close to 70mph even on the motorways.
Ron was lost in his own misery as he realised it would be the third time this year he had been caught speeding. This time it would be a little tricky. He would have to plead with the magistrate about his need for his driving licence. Ron was good at passing on responsibility to someone else.
"My living," he muttered under his breath through clenched teeth. "I need my driving licence for my job. Those damned yellow cameras."
So bright and obvious. How had he not noticed it before it was too late? He had even seen the warning sign about speed cameras in operation. He knew the road so well. Every corner. Every junction. Even the school entrances where many inconsiderate mothers in their big off-roaders drop their children at the yellow lines.
"Don't they realise the danger in that?" he continued as if someone were listening to his ranting. At least when I go fast it is late at night. Why does eveything seem to be yellow today?
Opening the letter anticipating its content of a speeding summons, he was not disappointed. Travelling at 59mph in a 40mph speed limit. He actually felt quite a hero as this was something he could brag about to his friends. Just a little over the limit, he reasoned. That's all. Just a bit. Hey! Wait a minute! This letter is about something that happened over a week ago. I noticed the camera flash the other night!
"Shit!" he screamed out loud. "This speeding summons is a week old and I've been done again!"
Sarah had turned white and stood motionless and then fell to the floor unconscious, the newspaper falling away slowly through the air to gently lay on the floor beside her. He pushed his chair away and dived towards her still body. The front page of the paper lay face up where he could see the story of the "road accident":
The story went on to describe scant details of the car, the registration of which had only been partly recorded by a witness: "The car was travelling too fast for me to get the entire number, UX55... something, but it was definitely a new car. It looked grey under the street lights, so it must have been red. A very bright red."
He was transfixed, his eyes locked onto the newspaper story.
He hadn't noticed any real impact. He'd hit cats before. Taken a slight knock. Damned animals damaging my car, he thought. He had already started to look for excuses. He must have been too heavily involved in his enjoyment and thrill of the speed. Late night driving on a quiet road with the stereo turned right up. What a thrill. Loud thumping music and handling his car expertly at speed. There's nothing better than that. Nothing.
The report said it had happened two nights ago and on a section of road that he used. He was there that night. The time would be on camera.
It's not possible! Melissa was at her friend's house, wasn't she? Melissa's parents had gone away on holiday leaving the two of them alone in their house. Like Samantha, she too was a responsible seventeen year old and they both liked a good time. A fun time. Just like he did.
© Louis Brothnias (2006)