Back in the day, drivers enjoyed the Sunday afternoon drive to the park or beach. Not so now. There’s no fun in driving through any city or town. There’s no fun in driving anywhere. Too many cars stop us from enjoying the scenery because they are in a rush.
Pete West, my main protagonist in the Pete West Mystery series has had plenty of narrow escapes in a car, especially when they are driven by ‘Fish,’ his sidekick. After their first case together, Pete knew ‘there’s no fun in diving.’
Fish cocked his head to one side and looked at me in the mirror. He pointed ahead. “Now, Guv, we’re going left up here and then left again to get back on the road the other side of the ‘Gate.’ After that, we run down to the Tiergarten roundabout and straight across. Just after that, there’s an underground station. Get ready to jump out and run to the coach stop outside. You can’t miss it. Take a bus to the airport. That’s the bus terminal. Then you can get a taxi to the hotel.”
I unbuckled my seat belt and hung on for dear life, nodding. Fish sounded as though he was enjoying himself, but I wasn’t, although I was pleased he knew his way around.
“Hold on, Guv.”
We swerved violently around a corner and again, a short distance ahead at the next corner. Traffic lights ahead were at amber. Our engine began to scream. Dodging around a bus that had stopped, we shot through the red light and turned right amid a loud mixture of angry horns. The car skidded sideways again, and I was pinned against the door. I tried looking behind us but was unable to see anything. The rain was pouring as we raced along the road, littered on either side with windblown leaves and twigs. For a brief second, the moody surroundings reminded me of the last poignant autumn scene in ‘The Third Man.’ Joseph Cotton watched Harry Lime’s girl walk past him along an empty tree-lined road in early post-war Berlin. My head bumped against the doorpost, and my thoughts returned to survival.
“Okay, Guv, we left them at the lights, but they’re gonna be right up my arse in a minute so bleedin’ jump and run when I stop. Don’t worry about closing the door.”
We were rocketing down the road, our tyres leaving a contrail of fine water high in the air behind us. The windscreen wipers tried vainly to keep up, and I was worried we might crash. I didn’t have any more time to think. We skidded violently to a halt. I half fell from the car as it raced away again. My heart was pounding as I ran across the pavement to the underground station. Beyond it, I could see a bus standing in a bay. In seconds, I boarded it while looking over my shoulder but saw nothing of the car that had followed us. I started worrying about Fish. He was no match for the two men, especially the big one. I hoped he was able to lose the Mercedes. I sat in my soaking clothes, breathing hard. My throat was on fire after gulping in the cold air as I ran. My primary concern was to get back to the hotel and catch up on all the information Fish, and Sonia had found for me. I wanted to be back in London the following day, but my charade was over. There’s no fun in driving with Fish at the wheel.