Elmer had assumed he was dead but, as occurs regularly in the cliffhangers of psychological thrillers, the ‘death’ he experienced proved to be an enormous exaggeration of his symptoms.
He was hurting, bleeding a little, and had bumped his head and almost every one of his body’s protrusions on the van and on the pavement’s kerbstone… but he was a strong and sturdy guy, and despite his injuries was in far better condition than he deserved to be after being hit by the large, white plumber’s van.
Following Elmer’s self-ejection from the stolen car, Dulcie and Louise had done exactly what he’d expected. The car had stalled right next to Elmer’s fallen form, but his girlfriend and sister had chosen not to scoop him up, return his forcibly to their stolen car, and take him with them on their journey.
They’d driven off, without even a backwards glance, leaving Elmer crumpled in the gutter and with nobody but the driver of the white van to offer assistance. The plumber, at least, showed some empathy, squealing his vehicle to a halt and practically falling out of the van door in his eagerness to get to the crumpled shape.
‘Oh my God, you alright, mate…? Mate…? You just fell out of the car and my van hit you and then you rolled to the edge. It’s lucky there were no cars coming.’
Elmer shuffled slightly on the kerb and grimaced. ‘You can go. I’ll be alright.’
‘I can’t leave you here like this.’ The plumber’s forehead dripped with perspiration.
Elmer wiped his eyebrow with his forearm and was less concerned than he should have been when the blood seeping from his skull coloured the skin a deep crimson.
‘Here, get in. I’ll take you to the hospital. It’s only a few minutes away. It’s the least I can do.’
Elmer nodded and allowed himself to be helped to his feet and guided towards the van. His right shoulder, hip, ankle and knee hurt like mad from the impact, and he struggled pathetically onto the front seat.
‘I’m Simon.’ The plumber offered a hand to shake.
‘Elmer.’ He shook his head. ‘No handshake. My wrist is killing me.’
‘I’m not surprised… You hit the ground pretty hard. And Elmer’s a pretty weird name.’
‘Yeah. Even worse when you try living with it. My sister’s called Louise. She was in that stolen car. That’s why I got out.’
‘What do you mean?’ He started up the van and the tinny rumble seemed to trigger cognition.
‘Hell! Elmer and Louise! No way! Your parents named you after a film?!’
‘Yeah. They had a terrible sense of humour. And look where it led us. Lou’s on her very own criminal road trip. I’m surprised it took her this long to come up with the idea, to be honest. I’m the straight one. She’s always been a wild card.’
Simon put on his seatbelt and took a toke of his e-cig before replacing it into his overall’s pocket. Elmer’s nose crinkled.
‘God, that smells like my grandma’s mouldy pot pourri. What’s it supposed to be?’
‘Can’t remember. Cinnamon biscuit? Strawberry and lime cheesecake? These things are a pile of crap, really. All they ever taste of is charcoal briquettes and ethanol… Strapped in?’
‘Seatbelt. Get your seatbelt on.’
‘Oh. Yeah. I’ve done it. Thanks.’
‘Guess that means your arm isn’t broken. Still need to go to the hospital though.’
Elmer shrugged, then nodded in resignation, closed his eyes, leaned his congealing scalp against the van’s head rest, and began to sob.