The driver on the road behind me didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm for the slow-moving scenery, or for the speed limit – apparently.
It was simply incomprehensible to me why anyone would want to rush to work, or anywhere, if it would break the speed limit.
The car, a grubby looking Audi, bobbed and swerved in the mirror, lurching and dipping as the driver sped up and braked. It was a feeble attempt to intimidate me into driving faster, so I dropped my speed to twenty-nine.
I began to wonder why he didn’t just overtake; the road was clear and straight? That was when I felt something like a sliver of ice down my back. What if this driver wanted to make a point? What if he wanted to harass me for having the temerity to get in his way?
I felt my hands tighten on the wheel.
The other driver started waving a fist, and I could guess the crude language he was now shouting, as he clenched and ground his unshaven jaw. Going to work, already with a five o’clock shadow, it was almost unthinkable.
I began to wonder at the kind of person I’d irritated, simply for driving at the correct speed. Maybe a muscle-bound gym-dweller, an off-duty bouncer or some wannabe gangland enforcer. Whoever he was, I didn’t want anything to do with him.
A light sweat pricked my brow.
He slammed the horn with such force his car gave a shimmy as if it were startled, and then again. The car’s grill with its four interlocked rings loomed large before pulling back again.
I dropped the speed to twenty-eight.
I knew it would provoke a reaction, and I hoped it would encourage him to overtake and leave me alone. I wasn’t disappointed.
With a jerk, the Audi slewed into the other lane and started to accelerate, and must have been doing forty-five as it passed.
It wasn’t the other driver’s ignorance that bothered me, or even that he obviously didn’t think the Highway Code applied to him. It was his disrespect for me wanting to follow the rules. His manifest belief that everyone should behave like him and do as they pleased.
His rudeness bothered me, his insolence fanned my ember of anger until it briefly burst into flame and without thinking I found myself making a rude gesture of my own.
That I had resorted to such crudity surprised me. I closed my open fist and dropped my hand back to the steering wheel.
The other driver reacted badly and cut back into my lane leaving so little room I had to brake. I could see him, now in silhouette, shaking his fist and gesturing.
His hazard lights came on, and then his glaring fog light.
I knew I’d made an uncharacteristic mistake, I just hoped it wouldn’t be costly.
I dropped my speed into the low twenties in the hope the other driver would remember he was late for work and pull away, but I was out of luck.
The Audi braked hard and I had to stamp down on the peddle myself to avoid a collision. Then the other car stopped, running one wheel up onto the grass verge and the driver got out.
He was big, and looked the type who liked to use his fists.
My options were limited, so I decided to stay in the car.
He was prowling toward me like an angry bull, swearing and calling me to get out and face him.
I ignored him until he was standing by my door with his hands on his hips, no longer talking but glaring at me in silence. I forced a smile, my gaze locked on the other car’s fog light.
He rapped on the window so hard it must have hurt his knuckles, but I didn’t respond, other than to widen my fake smile.
The other driver stopped, and then leaned down to look in the window. His gaze darted about the interior like the hands of a fevered rapist.
Then I heard him gasp, and he stepped away.
I turned in time to see the colour draining from his face; his eyes go wide and his mouth fall slack.
My smile was now a grin, showing all my teeth, and at the sight of it the other driver fled.
He scrambled back into his car, and trailing a fan of torn-up turf the Audi wheel-spun away and disappeared down the road.
I dismantled my fake smile, wondering what he had seen to frighten him so, but one glance at the passenger seat and I knew.
How I’d forgotten the severed foot with its bright painted nails I do not know, or that my clothes and hands were spattered in blood.
I tossed the foot onto the bloody blanket on the back seat that covered my latest toy, it gave a grunt.
I knew this toy would be my last and I didn’t like that at all.