“Do You Need a Lift?” by Michael Keenaghan

The best time is when the clubs kick out. Charge what you like. You might get people telling you to shove it, but five minutes later they’re back because the other drivers are even worse. Just watch they don’t go and puke in your car, that’s all. Because kids today, fucking lightweights. It’s all slammers and shots, then look at the state of them.

I sit there watching them. Big groups of them. Girls staggering about in mini skirts, stack heels, a right mess. Once parked outside a club, a girl stumbled and fell right across my bonnet. She was slumped there not moving. I had to get out of the car and pull her off. Then next thing up comes some runt with his mates accusing me of touching her up. Touching up my girlfriend are you? The girl standing there not knowing what planet she’s on and the bloke pulling off his belt like he’s going to whip me.

I played innocent, all humble. Look mate, I don’t want any trouble. Then just when it all starts calming down – bang – I nut the cunt and I’m back in the car and out of there before you can say ‘wanker’.

It’s funny with kids today, it really is. They think they can talk back, give it all the mouth and you’ll just stand there and take it. Not me. I give back, I don’t care who you are. That night I drove away laughing. The bloke didn’t know what hit him. Learned a lesson though.

I’ll be straight with you. Young people piss me off. They just do. Like that time I picked up this girl on her own. She’d just had a row with her boyfriend and was walking along carrying her shoes, in a right state. I was driving along and pulled over, asked if she needed a cab. It must have been four in the morning. She sat in the back and I checked my mirror now and then to see she was okay. At one point I noticed she was crying. Are you alright? I asked. But she didn’t answer. I asked her again and she shouted at me to piss off and mind my own business.

You see what I mean? A simple question, a bit of concern, and look at what you get back. I wouldn’t mind but she was dressed like a total fucking slag. Again, kids today you see. Walking round in a come-fuck-me uniform then crying when something happens. The girl looked hardly even out of school. This was someone’s daughter here. Where were the parents? Did they know she was out at 4 am, dressed like a tart and climbing into cars? Did they even care?

“Stop asking questions and get me fucking home,” she said.

But who was she to tell me what to do? Did a few quid mean she could talk down to me like I was a piece of shit? It makes you wonder. What’s happened to this country? Can’t people talk a civil word to each other anymore? No manners, no respect, nothing. I could see the top of her tits all pushed up like a whore. The bitch needed a word. I pulled the car over. I got in the back. Didn’t she realise how many sickos were out there? People who would strangle her and cut her up in a second? Was she fucking slow in the head or something?

She was screaming now, trying to claw at me, and I was holding her back. But I was just filling her in on a few simple facts, stuff her mum and dad should have taught her, stuff her boyfriend should have said instead of leaving her drunk and alone stumbling down the street carrying her heels at 4 am like a cheap little scrubber. She was screaming and swearing at me and I put my hand around her neck. Watch your fucking mouth, I told her.

Then I left it. I got back in the front and left it there. I know what some people would have done, a lot of people, but I’m not one of them. I restarted the engine and drove her home. Okay, she’d wound me up and I was angry and maybe I pushed things, shouldn’t have got in the back atall, but people like that need a talking to. Pissed to the eyeballs, laying it out like meat. I just told her to be careful. Look at the papers. Every other day girls disappearing, murdered, found buried in the fucking ground. Tell me I’m wrong. It’s all you ever hear about.

I drove her home. I pulled in by the new estate by the old quarry. Come on love, stop the crying. I gave her a tissue. She got out, slammed the door and hurried in towards the flats. It was then I realised she hadn’t even paid me. Six, seven miles as well. But I was hardly going to go running after her, was I?

I got home, straight into bed next to Jan, and the next thing it was Sunday morning and she was telling me to get up, she had bacon and eggs ready. I ate my breakfast, watched a bit of telly and then there was a knock at the door. I heard Jan going to answer it. Next thing there were two police standing in my living room telling me I was being arrested on suspicion of rape.

Jan had gone sheet white, fretting like she always was, but I told her not to worry – it was bullshit, the whole thing. And the police, barging in like that? What with Jan’s nerves and everything I could have killed the cunts. But I played it calm. I hugged her and told her not to worry – I’ll be home in a few hours, trust me.

I couldn’t believe it. You’re out trying to earn a few extra quid to get by, and this happens. In the interview room they told me the girl had bruising all over her. I told them she was a liar. If they couldn’t see it was the boyfriend that did it then they must be idiots. Then I said nothing. No comment all the way. Why dig yourself deeper?

They were trying to wind me up, dragging up my past, stuff from years ago, but I just sat there looking at my watch.

“Where’d you put the condom, Geoff?”

I’d had enough of this. But when they see you getting agitated they love it, think they’re breaking you and you’re going to start spilling all. No chance.

Another five hours in the cells and it was interview number two. And led by a woman for Christ’s sake. Here we go, real chip-on-the-shoulder-stuff.

“Come on Geoff, you did it, didn’t you? You got into the back and raped her. Just admit it and save yourself a lot of hassle.”

I looked her in the eye. “Go fuck yourself.”

In the end I was bailed.

When I got home Jan was worried sick, actually sitting there shaking. “I can’t live without you, Geoff… I need you… need you here with me.”

“Jan, listen,” I told her. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ve done nothing wrong. Some people just love going round spreading lies. It’ll blow over, you watch, I promise.”

“I could kill the lying bitch,” she said. “Kill her.”

“Don’t do that darling,” I laughed. “We’ll be in even more shit.”

I wasn’t worried. Or atleast I told myself I wasn’t. But to be honest I had only myself to blame. I never should have picked the girl up. A girl on her own, drunk, who’d just rowed with her boyfriend? And then hey, there’s me, the male punchbag.

For the next couple of months I had to wait and see if the Crown Prosecution Service would accept the case, meaning I’d be charged, and most likely banged up awaiting trial – which was a bit of a headfuck to be quite truthful. By now, of course, I was dreaming of doing more than raping her, I wanted to strangle the bitch with my bare hands. I had to sign on bail at the nick weekly, and Jan, by now, was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

“What if they put you away again, Geoff…? What if it happens? Tell me? Who will be here for me?”

“As I said, love,” I shouted. “I’m not fucking going anywhere.”

I made her go to the doctor to up her nerve tablets. She was doing my head in.

Then one week when I went to sign-on they told me they had some news for me. “Sit there,” they said. An hour later back they come. The case had been dropped. The victim was an unreliable witness. No charges were to be brought. The CPS had rejected the whole thing. I was in the clear.

“Thank fucking Christ for that.”

The female copper stared at me. “Don’t be too thankful, Geoff. You did it and we’re going to be watching you.”

At this point the male copper next to her looked a little embarrassed. Here I was, innocent until proven guilty, and there she was giving it all the verbal.

“I saw the state of that girl when she came in,” she continued. “I interviewed her. You’ve ruined a young girl’s life and you’re going to pay for it, one day, mark my words.”

“Are you threatening me, Detective?”

She shook her head. “Get out of here.”

I walked away, and on the street I laughed.

“Good news, Jan,” I said, walking in with a takeout Chinky and a bottle of wine. “Let’s celebrate.”

I filled her in and she was ecstatic, hugging me and crying.

“I told you things would work out,” I said. “Play things straight, be honest and there’s nothing to worry about.”

It was a joy to see her face.

*

Bio: Michael Keenaghan lives in London. His writing is scattered across the web.

Visit him here: www.myspace.com/michaelkeenaghan or www.twitter.com/mkeenaghan

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