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Roadkill

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He liked to kill animals. It was a game he’d play during the longer drives. Jones wasn’t a bad guy entirely, he wasn’t particularly rotten, at least not to the core. He’d never kill a dog, for example, that would of course be wrong. Dogs were part of the family, they could be loved and they could love in return, no, dogs were like people - you couldn’t kill one, not even the smaller, louder, more opinionated ones, no matter how annoying. Cats? Well, cats were something of a middle ground. Jones had no doubt that they could be loved, but he wasn’t convinced that they could return that love. Not like a dog. A good dog would be loyal, but to Jones a good cat was one that just did its business outside. Cats would go where the food was, they’d never love their owners, not really. Martinez, one of Jones’ coworkers, reckoned that if a dog was as big as its master, it would still show love, but if a cat was as big as its owner, it would eat them. But they were still a pet, so he wouldn’t aim for them, but he wouldn’t brake for one either - that seemed fair.

Deer? He would avoid, but only because hitting one would wreck his car, and in its current state of disrepair such an impact would all but finish the old girl off. Most people seemed to consider deer to be cute like a cuddly toy, but to Jones they were vermin, along with every other untamed creature roaming around out there. Squirrels, frogs, mice, rats, hedgehogs, they were all fair game. Foxes? In his mind they were like dogs, but after one of them had been bold enough to wander into a house on the other side of the city, and gnawed off a baby’s finger before being chased away by a horrified mother, he decided that they were viable targets. Kids should be protected from those dirty, filthy beasts.

Jones worked for a small Chinese restaurant on the South-side of the city. ‘Satisfaction’ was the name of the place and despite sounding like an unconvincing massage parlour, it was well known for making some of the best Chinese food in the country; so much so in fact that customers would pay extra just to have it delivered to them from across the city, rather than ordering from somewhere local. And so, this was Jones’ lot in life: Driving back and forward down streets and lanes, and over bridges, both in rush hour when roads were crammed with sluggish traffic, and also when they were empty at night. Despite his flaws - and a university degree in politics which sat in proud frustration on his bedroom wall - he enjoyed the simplicity of his work and took at least a small amount of pride in doing it to the best of his abilities, ensuring that each evening between the hours of 5PM and Midnight, customers received their food promptly, before it would get cold. There are few things worse than a cold Chinese meal.

A driver, whether delivery or long haul, has to amuse themselves somehow, filling each journey with pastimes designed to rescue the mind from a fate worse than boredom; for Jones it wasn’t the radio or an audio-book which saved him from the jaws of monotony, no, it was his game - a nightly target to reach, to see just how many unsuspecting animals he could nail with the wheels of his car. The game had a simple scoring system: 1 point for a frog, 2 for a rat, 3 for a hedgehog, and 4 for a squirrel - once he even hit a badger which he decided was surely worth at least 5 points. 

Of course during many shifts he scored 0 and then on others maybe a paltry 1 or 2, but on this night he was flying. He had managed to crush one hedgehog, a whole group of frogs in a single go, and a squirrel, although he acknowledged that the squirrel was already dying having been partially squashed by another vehicle, its back legs mushed into the ground, but with a subtle shift of the steering wheel Jones was sure to finish it off, claiming the points in the process; happy in the thought that his car - his ‘Old Girl’ - had added to her own grim tally for the night.

Despite his glee at the crunching sound and subtle vibrations of the old girl claiming a good number of prey in quick succession, there was an annoyance about the situation. He had just been a few minutes from finishing work, with his mind turning to the beers nesting in his fridge, when a regular customer put in a big order - at five to midnight! It was to be delivered to a suburb in the north of the city and, even with the roads deserted on a Monday night, it was still at least a thirty minute drive to get there. This meant that Jones would not be sitting on his worn red lazy-boy chugging a cold beer until at least half one in the morning. That was more than enough to put him into a foul mood, but despite the animosity burrowing inside, he did take his job seriously and knew that the delivery just had to be made.

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