Reg pulled over, spluttering at the sight of the burning vehicle.
‘At least it’s not jack-knifed,’ he muttered to himself.
The A1 had been chocker from Hatfield to Peterborough. Reg thought he should take a rest anyway. When he approached the burning car, the door was open.
If he’d have looked to his left right now he would have glimpsed a charcoaled hand, like an overdone pork chop, fingering its way with its owner into the undergrowth.
Reg called the fire in, feeling like he’d missed his vocation.
The outskirts of Peterborough were an odd no-man’s land. He’d read that Jimmy Savile had pledged to raise millions for a local hospital here. Unlike many others, they had turned him down.
‘Good on them.’
Thirty minutes later he was in his cab working on a Sudoku. Brain training, they called it.
‘Thanks for calling this in.’
A fire engine with six burly crew and a cop car with a lady and man were now at the scene. Reg liked the plump and relaxed lady.
‘Doing a bit of brain training, I see.’
Reg imagined hundreds of brains on leads and in pens, doing jumps.
It was only a small fire really and he needed to be on his way.
Back on the road Reg switched on Magic FM and yearned for his retirement in Clacton-on-Sea. Given his peripatetic lifestyle, sustaining close relationships was difficult. He’d tried Thai brides and the internet, but they’d all been disasters. He preferred the quiet life.
Retire to Clacton to grow marrows.
‘Love Is All Around’, by Wet Wet Wet, blasted from the radio. Despite his lack of a voice, he gave it a go.
‘I feel it in my fingers…,’ he crooned.
‘Listen you fat cunt, take the exit to Leicester,’ came a voice from the back.
Pork Chop’s hand was lying in the cab above Reg’s head, his other hand holding a knife on Reg’s neck. The driver he’d stopped to help. Reg’s thoughts raced. He could swerve the lorry so hard the man would crash into the side of the cab, knocking him out, and then throw him by the roadside. He could call on his CB or phone for support, but would probably have his throat cut by then. What exactly was the man up to?
Reg thought of his customer and his load. Unusually, he owned his lorry, so he would fight for it. This was everything he had. He’d never liked foul language, and thought about telling the man off for using the c word.
‘Just find a quiet spot to pull over and I’ll let you go.’
They were on their way to Leicester, the A47 narrow and difficult to negotiate. Reg worried they would come to a low bridge, or were breaking the law.
‘OK, but take that knife away, I’ll give you whatever you want.’
‘What I really, really, want?’ sniggered Pork Chop.
Reg tried to ascertain the man’s age, but it was difficult from viewing just the pork chop hand in his mirror. There was no accent and it was often hard to know someone’s age from their voice.
‘There’s a layby coming up, see, pull in there.’
Reg did what he was told. It was a barren place, the sort of place Jimmy Savile stopped on his bike rides. Despite the low hills towards the south lending a sullen beauty, the place was dominated by an abandoned series of porta-cabins that must have once functioned as a roadside café.
‘I bet you can get a nice bacon butty here,’ Reg would have said, had he’d been alone.
‘Right, porky, hand me the keys.’
Pork Chop stood behind Reg, who hadn’t caught a glimpse of his face. Clutching his keys, Reg was reluctant to give up his life. This was his past, present, and future marrows.
‘Do you want me to cut you?’
He didn’t have a choice.
‘Serves you right, now get the fuck out.’
Reg stood alone, continuing his conversation with himself. He tried not to watch his pride and joy roll away. He’d even forgot his Sudoku.
When Pork Chop pulled over in Allendale, Leicester, he heard the thudding. He’d hijacked the vehicle just to aid his escape. Pulling back the doors he took in at least seventy women and children crammed in. Some looked dead. He raised his burnt hand to his face, and gnawed his pork chop, but there wasn’t much of this to go around.
The women and children saw the shock in Pork Chop’s eyes, and burst from their container, running down the street, towards the city centre. Pork Chop threw Reg’s keys into the back of the lorry, and ran in the opposite direction. Where to?
He wasn’t especially sure.