A Good Runner: Part Four

This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 754 words.

Mike spent all day Sunday polishing a car that he had only picked up the the previous day. Edna took him out a cup of tea, and he stood back, admiring his work. “Look at that love. Like a mirror. I reckon I could shave looking at that bonnet”. But the change in the weather soon put an end to any plans for more day trips. As it became colder , Mike got up earlier for work, as he wanted to let the car engine warm up before he started driving. “They say this modern engine oil circulates quickly, but I’m not taking any chances”.

Edna loved her husband, but before a month had passed, she was already completely fed up with hearing about that car.

That November, everyone was shocked at the news that nice President Kennedy had been shot in America. Edna shook her head as they watched television. “What’s the world coming to, when even the president can be killed in his own car?” Mike wasn’t listening. He had his head in a car magazine, trying to decide which spotlights to buy to fit on the car. “Extra lighting never hurts in winter, Edna love. Especially when it’s foggy”. Brenda was upstairs listening to her new Beatles record, ‘She Loves You’. Even Edna had to agree that it really did sound just like a lot of screaming.

The winter that year was the worst since forty-seven. Snow and ice were both a real problem right into the new year. Edna was worried about Mike driving in such bad conditions, and she couldn’t relax until she heard the car pull up outside in the evening. For Mike, that bad winter meant he would cover the engine with an old blanket at night, so he didn’t have starting problems the next morning. And when he had read the evening paper, he went outside in the cold and spread it over the front windscreen, to stop the ice forming on it overnight.

By late January, there was no sign of a let-up, and Mike had started to drive Brenda the short distance to school, so she didn’t fall on the icy pavement.

One lunchtime at work, Edna was in the staff room eating her sandwiches, when the manager came in. “Edna, there are two police officers here asking for you, I will bring them through”. His face looked solemn, and Brenda felt a cold chill run up her back as she dropped the sandwich back into the metal tin she used for her lunch.

One was a man, very tall, and holding his police helmet. The other one was a policewoman, and she did the talking. “Mrs Hollingsworth, I’m afraid there has been a terrible accident. It’s your husband. We have come to take you to the hospital”. Edna stood up, her lip quivering. “That bloody car, I knew it. He’s had a car crash, hasn’t he?” The police lady shook her head. “No, nothing like that. Something happened at work, and his boss called an ambulance. He told us where you worked”.

In the police car, Edna asked the question. “How bad is it, please? Can you tell me what happened?” The policewoman was sitting in the back with her, and held her hand. “It’s very bad. I’m sorry to tell you he has been killed, and we are taking you to identify him. He was working under a lorry and the hoist failed, apparently. It came down on top of him and crushed him”.

She couldn’t speak, let alone scream or cry. It seemed unreal, like a bad dream she would soon awake from. It wasn’t until some medical person pulled the white sheet back from Mike’s face that her legs went, and she knelt on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. The young policewoman was very caring, and held onto her until she regained her composure enough to walk back to the car. “There will have to be a post mortem. That’s always the case in industrial injuries”.

As far as Edna was concerned, she could have been talking in a foreign language. Staring out the window at people on the street as they drove her home, she had a strange feeling. They would go home tonight, to their wives or husbands. But her husband would never come home again. She resented them that good fortune. Then she thought of Brenda, and turned to the policewoman.

“Can you drop me at Broomfield Secondary School please? I have to go and get my daughter”.

42 thoughts on “A Good Runner: Part Four

  1. What? Peter! I was not expecting that at all, maybe a ghost in the trunk, but a work death? Oh my, I assume the car will go to a new family? This could be like the story of the traveling pants! Sad but interesting, C

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) Overheard:
    Edna: “So how’s the circulation this morning?”
    Mike: “Do you mean my blood or my car’s oil?”
    (2) While Mike is deciding on which spotlights to buy for his car, Edna is putting the spotlight on the car in which JFK rode.
    (3) Igloo Wisdom: “Extra lighting never hurts in winter.”
    (4) On that first cold winter night, Mike covered the car’s engine with an old blanket. “Now that I’ve tucked you in for the night, I’m going to read you a little bedtime story. And then I’ll give you a kiss, and say, ‘Sleep tight, don’t let the rust bugs bite!'”
    (5) Cortina enjoyed read the evening paper, turning the pages with her windshield wipers.
    (6) Bad citation: “Mrs. Hollingsworth, I’m afraid there has been a terrible accident. Your husband is in a state of shock. While polishing the car, he chipped a bit of green paint off the rear fender with one of his fingernails.”
    (7) At home, Mike slept peacefully under a forest green sheet. But now a ghostly white sheet covers him while he rests in peace.
    (8) “Il lui faudra une autopsie. C’est toujours nécessaire dans le cas d’un accident de travail.” As far as Edna was concerned, the policewoman could have been talking in a foreign language.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my gosh! I wasn’t expecting that! How sad…it’s like what John Lennon wrote…I think he wrote it…”life is what happens when your busy having fun”…something like that. But Mike wasn’t having fun. He was working. Bummer. But it rings true in this excellent slice of life story of yours. Bravo, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Poor Edna. That reminds me of my uncle, who worked in the chrome plating industry for 50 years. His overalls would rot every few months and the chemicals caused him to die of a brain tumour. He was sacked as soon as he took time off work, and his wife had to fight via a tribunal to get any compensation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh dear. I didn’t see that coming. I do remember that awful winter. It was when I had been sent to boarding school in Devon, after 6 years in SE Asia. Our dorm rooms were not heated and in the morning our sinks were frozen. I had chillblains for the duration. And of course I remember the assassination. I came to NY for Christmas three weeks after and I was shocked to find people here had totally got over the murder of their president. I think in England we felt it longer. That was my impression anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kennedy’s assassination did indeed affect many people here. Considering he was a foreign president, that might seem unusual, but he was very popular in Britain.
      I am glad you didn’t see it coming of course!
      Thanks, Yeti.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Mike wasn’t killed deliberately, it was just an accident at work. I’m sure Edna will carry on, and do the best she can. She is that kind of woman. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.


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