Freewheeling down the hill, sweeping round the bend then pedalling hard to maintain his speed as the road flattened out, Frank felt the sheer joy of rushing through the air and the early morning sun on his face as he sped along, the road clear ahead of him.
Hearing a car behind him he moved towards the kerb slightly to give it plenty of room to pass. It began to overtake then veered suddenly in towards him, clipping his handlebars and sending him bouncing up onto the pavement, missing a lamppost by inches.
Shaken, he dropped back onto the road in time to see the car, a large black 4x4, the driver clearly talking on his phone and showing little interest in Frank’s welfare. He was still on the phone, laughing uproariously, when Frank rolled up next to him at the lights.
Frank tried to stay calm as he knocked on the window. “Excuse me,” he said politely but firmly. The window wound down with a smooth electric hum. “Did you see me back there?”
“Fuck off, mate,” the driver told him, phone still clamped to his ear
“Look, you could have killed me.” Frank tried again.
“Look mate, fuck off will you? I pay my road tax, you don’t, so you can fuck off.”
“Well, actually no one’s paid road tax since 1937. You pay vehicle emissions duty so the more your car pollutes, the more you pay. My bike produces no emissions so I don’t pay anything.” Frank would have said all this had the driver not jumped the lights and accelerated away at “actually”.
“Well, you’ve pissed all over my good mood!” Frank exclaimed loudly. “Why do the police never catch these arseholes?”
With a burst of siren and a flash of lights, a police car appeared from around the corner and pulled the 4x4 over.
“Yes!” Frank yelled, punching the air in delight at a rare moment of sweet justice. One of the policemen frowned at him and Frank rode off hurriedly.
The next morning, Frank had pulled up to a set of lights and was waiting for them to change when a beep came from behind him. He looked round.
“What the fuck are you looking at?” yelled the fat man behind the wheel of a black cab.
“You beeped,” Frank explained.
“I wasn’t beeping at you, you cunt! I was beeping at my mate over there!”
“Oh, okay, sorry.” Frank held his hand up to end the conversation.
“You fucking prick, don’t you fucking look at me, you wanker!” The cabbie wanted to continue it.
Frank didn’t look round, just told himself “Leave it alone, say nothing and he’ll just go away.”
The lights changed and Frank set off slowly. The cab pulled alongside him, the driver yelling and gesturing wildly. Frank caught the words “run you over”, “teach you” and “motherfucker” before the cab sped off ahead of him.
Frank bit his tongue to stop himself shouting back and contented himself with glaring at the driver’s curly mullet through the back window.
The window exploded, sending a shower of glass onto the road. The cab screeched to a stop and the driver clambered out, gut wobbling in a tight striped polo shirt. He stared at the window then back at Frank. “Did you do that, you fucker?” he yelled.
Frank, slightly stunned, shook his head as the taxi driver advanced menacingly. Frank felt the adrenaline flow through him as his body prepared for a fight or flight. Preferably flight. Fortunately for him, a police car pulled up at that precise moment and a familiar looking policeman got out and looked at them both. The taxi driver hesitated for a moment then headed quickly back to his cab.
Frank rode off, his head spinning. He hadn’t broken the window, had he? He’d just looked at it. It must be a freaky coincidence, that’s all. Just a dodgy bit of glass.
The next day Frank set off curious to see what adventures today would bring. He was almost disappointed when he got to work without even the slightest hint of anyone trying to kill him. The next day brought a similar level of serenity and by the weekend he’d stopped waiting for an incident.
The following Monday he had no sense that anything out of the ordinary was going to happen as he sailed cheerfully along, heading for the roundabout by the football stadium. As he approached he made eye contact with a driver coming from his left who was giving way to him so he carried on to the roundabout.
Instinctively pulling sharply to the right to avoid hitting the cyclist who shot out from the side road, Frank found himself on the wrong side of the road staring through the oncoming windscreen of a Toyota Yaris into the terrified eyes of an old lady. He yanked the bike back to the left and the right side of the road, his heart pounding.
Ahead of him the cause of his distress rode on obliviously, oversized headphones clamped onto his head, his arms hanging nonchalantly down by his sides. Frank sped up and caught up with him. Riding alongside he waved and called out, “Hello! Remember me? The guy you almost got killed back there?”
The rider pointed to his headphones, shrugged and mouthed “I can’t hear you,” at Frank. Undeterred, Frank kept pace with him until he deigned to push the headphones up on his head, releasing a tinny banging noise into the air. “What?” he said, pointedly.
“You nearly got me killed,” Frank told him, slowly and clearly.
“Ooh, you nearly got me killed!,” the rider retorted, mimicking Frank in a high pitched whine. “Boo fucking hoo, mate. Go cry to your mummy.”
“I was hoping for an apology,” replied Frank.
“A fucking apology! Don’t make me laugh, mate. Listen, it’s tough shit. You can’t take it on the streets, get the fucking bus,” And with that, he flipped his headphones back on and rode away.
“I hope you get run over by a fucking bus, mate,” Frank muttered viciously under his breath. As if he heard him, the rider turned round and held his middle finger aloft as he sailed towards the end of the road.
The number 29 hit him square on, the bike disappearing under its wheels while his body flew a surprising distance through the air before gravity took hold and hurled it to the ground with a flat thump.
Everything stopped; all sound, all movement. Frank stared at a pair of large headphones lying on the pavement. Then there was running and shouting; a crowd formed like magic round the figure on the ground. A police car screeched to a halt at an angle in front of the bus and two uniformed figures muscled their way through the crowd. One emerged almost immediately, talking urgently into his walkie-talkie. Looking up, he saw Frank.
“Trouble just seems to follow you around, doesn’t it?”
Frank nodded dumbly, gazing at the lifeless figure in the road.