Saturday, December 13, 2014

Driving it home

I asked at the police station if I could have a copy of my statement, and also if they could ring the wreckers/tow truckers to let them know that I was about to pick up his car.

'Just go down there and ask for Mike,' said the officer. 'I've told him you are coming down.'
Mike is an old boat builder friend of mine and he was standing out the front when I arrived.
'How you going Sarah?'
'Oh, I've had better weeks ... Is there anything you can prepare me for, Mike? What is the car going to look like?'
'Dunno Sarah. I haven't seen it. I'm sorry about your friend but I don't know about the car. Look. Here is the guy who's dealing with it:'
A young man came out and shook my hand. He said his name was ... God I can't remember. I just remember that he was too young and gorgeous to deal with this shit. He said 'Follow me, I'm in that white ute over there.'
I followed him along the side roads to the industrial area to a shed that used to be the old confectionery warehouse. He unlocked the side door. We stepped inside.
There must have been sky lights. The first thing I saw was the white van. Behind it was a wrecked car and some complete four wheel drives. He stood beside me. 'The keys are in it.'

There was a sticker over the driver's side door. It said 'Evidence'. And something else.
I picked at the sticker. It peeled off in stupid tiny pieces. I didn't want to open the door.
'Did you know him?' he said.
'Yes I did. He was a friend. He was a good friend.'
'I had to pick up the car, after,' he said. 'I wasn't too happy about that. Where they found him ... it was pretty out of the way. I don't know how they found him. Do you know how they found him?'
I shook my head and opened the door. The coroner's sticker cracked. I looked inside.

I didn't want to sit in the driver's seat. I looked around and found a towel, laid it over the seat. Then I got in. His boots were where he'd taken them off by the accelerator pedal. A glass, the glass he'd been drinking from lay beside the seat ... I turned the key and the car didn't start.

'Jesus. How do I start this thing.'
''Maybe it has an immobiliser.'

At that moment, I felt absolute rage. You fucking prick. I loved you so much and you topped yourself in this fucking car and you didn't even have the decency to tell me where your immobiliser is. I hate you. This is a shitty pricky thing piled on top of a really fucking pricky bad week. And you didn't tell me where the immobiliser is you fucking bastard.

I may have said all of that out loud in front of the young lad who, as a panel beater, may not have been trained in the same way as police or paramedics are in death and various daily trauma. Not sure.
'I'm so sorry,' I said to him then. He looked away. 'I'm really sorry you've had to deal with this.'

I found the immobiliser switch and started the car. Then I stopped the car because it stank of death and fumes. I got out and walked around the car, opening all the doors, breaking open all the coroner's stickers. I realised that the tow truck driver was still waiting for me to drive the car out so he could lock up, so I shut all the car doors again and drove out of the shed.

I drove up the road in a van covered in coroner's stickers and turned onto Albany highway. I drove along that highway for about five minutes before I realised I was in trouble. The fumes had soaked into everything and I was getting dizzy. I stopped. I didn't know what to do. In the end, I just opened all of the windows and drove the rest of the way with plastic bags and various detritus of my friend's life flying around the inside of the van as I drove it home.


  1. Well that puts my friend's stolen car well into perspective. I'm so sorry, Sarah.

  2. I don't comment enough on your fine words and this piece left me dumb for awhile. I'm sorry for your loss and grief, thoughts are with you.

  3. Fuck Sarah! I'm so sorry about your friend. Is this why you have been so quiet on the airwaves? I'll e-mail. XX

  4. Thanks for your comments. Tom I nearly commented on your story! I have been blogging for a while and it was good having a read through yours last night. John, maybe I need a 'do not read if fragile' notice. It all seems to be splurting out sideways at the moment and there may be more of it. The thing is, despite the grief, a lot of funny things have happened. I laughed at myself, at my own transference of anger about the immobiliser thing. It just cracked me up. It's a crazy time. And yes Michelle, I guess it is the reason. Thanks for your email xxx

  5. I'm very sorry to hear this Sarah.

    At least now you've got Selkie there to look after you.

    1. Yes, I'm hoping that Selkie will stop bringing me my sister's chewed-up shoes sometime soon though.

  6. Replies
    1. As I have said to some friends ... 'shit of a week'.