Thursday 14 September 2017

Did I tell you about when... I went hitch-hiking II

Anyone who thinks buses are an unreliable form of transport should try thumbing their way through the mountains between the port of Patras and just about anywhere. It was getting late and the sun was sipping cocoa. Many hitchers stay in one place where they are most likely to get a lift, often with a cardboard sign. I like to walk, while I'm heading in the right direction, I'm making progress. Even if I'm in the wrong place, I 'spose that speaks volumes about me but maybe I'm just stupid and impatient.


  A car passed and lit its indicators and my heart did a little dance. I ran to the waiting car just for it to speed off. Ha fucking ha.
I was starting to climb into the mountains, into the worst possible place to get a lift when Pasquale eased his huge truck into the side of the road. I knew he was called Pasquale because he said the word with a tombstone smile several times. The truck wore Italian plates and Pasquale spoke neither English nor Greek, I remembered a few words of Italian but they were of no use. I patted my chest and said David. Pasquale was carrying steel rods. I don’t know where and I didn't know that they wouldn't get there, not then. All I knew was that I had a lift.
Pasquale was working the gears hard but I was surprised at how nimble the huge vehicle was climbing the up into the wooded mountain.
Behind him was a cupboard full of snacks. He offered me some crisps and fizzy pop. Inflight meal. I was blessed.
So, we were winding through the narrow pass. I watched the sheer drops from my window, reassuring myself that Pasquale, a professional driver knew exactly what he was doing.
His hand had moved from the gearstick as the road levelled and was now working his shrivelled knob which he had stealthily slipped from his trousers. Fuck! It was dark outside, god knows how far from anywhere. I made the concerted decision to ignore it and hope it went back where it belonged.
“Wanky, wanky!” So, Pasquale had been a little coy about his mastery of English. But what he didn't understand was that when one is being ignored, one should stop playing with one’s cock to avoid any unnecessary faux pas or transgressions of etiquette.
Being British, I was well schooled in how to politely diffuse such situations. “Put it away.” I said in an even tone.
“Wanky, wanky!” Pasquale was Italian and never had the privilege of an education in the country whose main export is manners and civility. Plus, he was the driver and I was the passenger in the middle of the mountains where the headlights were doing their best to penetrate the blackness.
I galvanised my tone and repeated, “Put it away!”
The cock was now back safely behind his fly and I clenched praying for the next town to arrive.
I watched the tyres skim the edge of the road sprinkling stones down the sheer face.
Now, while London cabbies have famously enlarged hippocampi, the same cannot be said for Italian lorry drivers and it wasn't long before he had forgotten my request. Pasquale’s cock was out again.
“Wanky, wanky?”
Now, I failed to mention that while British to the core, I was raised in Essex, where a subculture of English restraint exists. I sung my fist across the cab and it landed square in his right eye.
“PUT YOUR FUCKING COCK AWAY!” Shit! I would drive this thing if I had to. My fist was now a grip on his collar and I had twisted to bring my right into play if circumstances demanded.
His cock disappeared in a nervous shuffle. I hoped it got stuck in his fly!
Now, the atmosphere in the cab was a little terse with Pasquale’s romantic advances rebuked. We've all faced rejection from time to time and it’s no fun.
I watched the edge of the road swing back and forth, the tyres kicking more stones over. He was clearly impatient to get me home, his expectations of a kiss at the door and a nightcap dashed.
A sweeping left leaned the cab over so that the tyres were momentarily out of sight. I caught my breath. The next right brought them back into view. I watched the cliff edge drop to an abyss then replaced by the door of the truck as the cab swung from side to side. I could clearly make out the letters of the livery. Then the wheels disappeared again.
They did not reappear.
The wheels had gone under and stayed under. The side of the mountain was coming but it was taking its time. Salt and vinegar crisps, Fanta, dust and moans filled the cab as we slid down. Down into the forest.
We hit the trees hard and the windscreen cracked.
It took a moment to confirm that I was still alive but I was. Pasquale was moaning his own name. He hadn't fallen on me, maybe his seatbelt, I wasn't wearing mine. I couldn't tell you.
My kitbag was between my legs but the footwell had compressed so I had to remove my shoe to retrieve my foot. I put my shoes back on and braced myself against my seat and kicked out the windscreen. It fell and I heard it tumble down into the trees. I pulled myself out and stood on the side pillar of the truck’s windscreen. The cab had snagged on some trees, pines I think but the trailer was hanging.
Pasquale reached out a hand. “Pasquale urrrgh!” The same hand that had been teasing his cock. The same cock that had got me in this situation in the first place. I braced against the window frame and threw a front-kick into his head.
I grabbed my kitbag and started to scramble up the steep slope. I could make out a car and two figures at the road.
My right ankle was getting heavy and blood was coming from a deep cut on my right forearm but all things considered, I was good.
“Yeah. I'm fine!”
When I got to the top I found I had more blood over my left cheek but it wiped off easily, it was only Pasquale’s.
The police turned up followed by an ambulance. An officer took me aside and asked me what had happened.
Now my Greek was not great but I knew the word for masturbation, don’t ask me how. Trouble is that it gets used for everything in this country. I explained that the driver was, well, pulling his pud and this may have explained his lack of due care and attention but that translates as he was fucking about. I tried to rephrase with added gestures. The officer nodded in false comprehension, “Yeah, he’s a wanker!” I finally gave up.
Pasquale was sitting in the ambulance, chianti pouring from his head. I was ushered to join him. Pasquale freaked, waving his arms about. His black eye and busted nose were indirectly related to the accident but related nonetheless. I went in the squad car.
I was taken to the hospital first where my examination consisted of being asked to pull down my trousers and left in an empty room for half an hour. The doctor returned, asked me if I was OK and told me to hoist them back up. The irony of ending my evening with my trousers round my ankles despite my efforts was not lost on me, oh well.
The police were waiting outside. They took me for coffee down at the station and asked me to tell my story, tell my story! How were they to know? About two hours, four cups of coffee, a packet of the officers fags and a couple of ouzos later (I drank, the officers being on duty) they had written a vastly abridged version in Greek and asked me to sign it.
So now it’s about midnight and they want me out of town nearly as much as Pasquale. They take me down to the bus stop but the bus had left some ten minutes earlier. The officer waves wildly and we jump back in the car. He hits the road hard and we speed down the windy roads at a cracking pace. But, being professional drivers, I trusted in his experience…
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