Arnold was a careful driver. Very careful. He rarely drove faster than 25 mph, but his sharp eyes saw most things at that speed. When he saw a stroppy little boy with his very fraught mother, who was trying to hold his hand and push an overladen buggy with the other, he took his foot off the accelerator, and was able to stop well clear of the boy when he darted into the road.
Basil was also a careful driver, though a bit fed up with Arnold’s slow pace, but as soon as he saw Arnold’s brake lights, he also braked, and came to a stop behind Arnold, although a fraction closer than he would have liked.
Charlie had been well behind Basil, but was, as usual racing along, being of the opinion that speed limits did not apply to him. Far too late he saw Basil stop, and crashed into the rear of his car, shunting him into the back of Arnold’s car. Basil was trapped in his car, squashed between Arnold, who was suffering from shock, and Charlie who was looking appalled at the damage to his car.
Danielle, who had actually been putting on her lipstick in the rear view mirror, just managed in time to see Charlie’s car plough into the other two cars, and instinctively swerved hard to the right. In doing so, she side-swiped Eddy’s white van, which had sneaked up, as Eddy was hoping to overtake the whole mess, and avoid anyone looking to see what he was carrying. He lost control of his van (which if truth be told, was overloaded) and spun into Fiona, who was quite lawfully making her way in the opposite direction.
Fiona was trapped in the driving seat, and her toddler in his car seat at the back set up a loud shrieking.
Gary, who was following Fiona realised that the High Street was now blocked, and slammed his car into reverse, in order to take a left turn he had just passed which would lead him out of the way of the blockage. However, in doing so, he managed to reverse straight into Harry, who had also decided at the last minute to take the left turn. Ian, who was following Harry, and had his eyes glued to his sat nav, stood on his brakes, and slewed across the road, narrowly missing a pedestrian who like dozens of others, was videoing the whole shambles on his phone.
By now, both the High Street and the useful left turn were fully blocked. Police and Ambulances had arrived, and the Fire Brigade was wailing its way to help cut Basil and Fiona out of their cars. The rest of the drivers were reacting angrily (Charlie, Eddy and Gary), in total shock (Arnold, Harry and Ian) and in floods of tears and with a badly bruised arm (Danielle). Fiona was waiting to be cut out, but was bravely trying to console her yelling toddler, who was also being talked kindly to by a WPC. Basil was unconscious, and being treated by the Paramedics and the Fire Brigade. The pedestrian with the phone was sitting shaking on a chair inside Boots.
The local paper went hysterical the following week, “Mother and baby injured in nine-car pile up. High Street blocked for hours as paramedics and fireman fight to save lives”
Fiona suffered a badly broken leg, and will be on crutches for a while yet. Her little boy now spends a lot of time with his Grandmother. Basil is still in hospital with severe lower leg injuries. Arnold, Danielle and Harry were taken to A&E to be checked over but went home to be comforted in the bosom of their families
The Insurance Companies had shocking headaches trying to sort the whole mess out.
© Gillian Peall