dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

Monday, 6 February 2017


My dad was ill. It was terminal. He said he wanted to do one last thing for me, which was buy me a van. He did so. From nothing, I had now become a ‘White Van Man’. I would never have considered buying a van myself. For one, I couldn’t afford it, and for two, I just didn’t see myself as entrepreneurial enough. But my old man had the vision to see the potential wheeler dealer in me. It was now up to me to realise my newfound calling. As a White Van Man, aside from making money by moving furniture and doing dodgy car-boot sales, I now had the authority to cut people up, hurl foul-mouthed abuse and obscene gestures in the heat of argumentative road-rage exchanges, and swill the faces of anyone who thought they were hard enough to get out of their vehicles and approach me with cups of cold sugary coffee (I remember once seeing a White Van Man do just that to another motorist – the coffee must have been loaded with sugar because it clung to the guy’s face like a mask of syrup). Was I up for being that kind of carefree don’t-give-a-monkeys madman White Van Man? You better believe it. The vehicle needed taxing though. I was working on it, but you know how it is when it comes to getting things done. I’m a last minute kinda guy, and a few days slipped by. Plus, before I could do that, I had to renew my licence. That would take a week. I thought the vehicle would be fine parked on the road outside my property until I sorted this stuff out. I live in a peaceful close, after all, so it wasn’t bothering anyone. So imagine my dismay when one morning I came out to see it being loaded onto a noisy beeping tow truck by beefy dudes in florescent yellow jackets! Hey! Hey! I shouted, asking them what the hell was going on! There were some other nosy neighbours having a butchers and it was all a bit embarrassing. I felt like I was getting shafted in public. I suppressed the urge to berate them and acted all innocent and engaging instead. In the end I persuaded them to put the vehicle down and grant me an hour to raise the money. I forget how much it was – some obscene sum – and I had no idea what I was going to do in the meantime. I was simply buying myself some space to think. They clamped it and disappeared. I had sixty minutes.

I rang my dad and told him. This was his special last gift to me and I had gone and ballsed it up. The disappointment in his voice was saddening. I didn’t expect any extra help from him, he had done enough for me, but it was just a case of letting him know. So be it, he said, so be it. He accepted that the van was gone. When I hung up the phone, I punched the wall. Now that bleeping hurt, and did nothing to help this already stressful situation. I paced up and down, all pissed-off in Shit Creek. And then I had an idea. It was a long shot, but there was a chance. I rang my friend, Mr. M. Now, he might be busy working, and if so, miles away, but it was worth a try. Hell, he might not even answer the phone. But he did. And he was close by. And he’d be right round. The clock was ticking. Mr. M pulled up in his own white van just minutes later (it's true that the amount of dependable friends you get in this life can be counted on the fingers of one hand). He said he needed a power outlet. I got him one rapidly. Then he plugged his angle grinder in and fired it up. The clamp was incredibly close to the wheel so whizzing it off without popping the tyre wasn’t going to be a piece of cake, but I had seen him cut lengths of marble as straight as a dye so I had every faith in his ability. I scanned around the close for witnesses because this was no doubt a crime taking place...and so exciting it was too! Before you knew it the damned contraption was rid and Mr. M was shaking my hand and getting off to his own business again. I took the heavy evidence in my arms and run off to the local park, feeling like a smackhead with a leg of lamb in Asda, where I dumped it in a bush and ran back full of giddy nerves. I parked my van around the block where it wouldn’t be seen and went back and put the kettle on. When the clampers knocked on my door I acted all dumb and gutted, as if they had already taken it. “What do you want now?” I asked them. “My underpants?” They went away without a word, beaten. I drove the van straight to my dad’s. When he saw me pull up in it, the beaming smile on his face sure wasn’t the beaming smile of a dying man.

© Zombie Publications 2017 (events from 2009)

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