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Roadside Recovery

There could be no mistake, his mesmeric eyes met mine, I was allured by the intensity of his stare, my heart rate increased. 

How long he had sat alone, on the grass verge awaiting my arrival, I could not tell. To him the passing of time was irrelevant. I now know, all that mattered to him was that our paths were about to cross.  

The drive from Birmingham had been tiring, clogged motorways and the constant falling gauze of rain had tired my eyes. The manning of the exhibition stand, had been exhausting. Three days of talking, smiling and selling. Then each evening, prospective clients had to be entertained and relaxed in expensive restaurants. It had been a tortuous, yet nevertheless a profitable task, I had achieved salesman of the month for the third time in a row. The post of regional sales manager was now within my grasp.  

On the other hand, while my business life was waxing, my home life was waning. I telephoned my wife each night, a duty I dared not fail in, only to be greeted with coldness, criticism and accusations, of too much time spent at golf clubs and socialising. A defence of entertaining clients was no defence in her envious eyes. But now destiny sat on the hard shoulder of the motorway, waiting to entangle me. Had no-one else seen this vision of fate lying in wait? 

I turned towards Paul. He was innocently humming a mundane tune, a duet with the radio. He was a passenger, staring ahead looking without observing. If he had seen this apparition, he gave no indication of its existence. Isolated by total ignorance, Paul allowed himself to be carried forward towards the spectre. 

Once more the piercing eyes of this chimera etched themselves deep into my mind. What primate sense told me I had no idea, but I confidently knew it was Death staring back at me. A manifestation of an event that all of mankind faces. We are born, therefore we must die. The only two guarantees life can offer. He smiled a welcoming smile, I assumed Death to be male, yet no physical feature confirmed gender, only my chauvinist opinion gave the prefix of Mister to Death. 

Surprised as I was, the thought that I was about to die, still enraged me. I could see no reason for my imminent demise. I was fit, I had a life planned. Maybe I did disagreed with my wife a little too often. But death now? Surely not. 

Then it dawned on me, the realisation of an irate remark I had made in the heat of an argument with my wife. 'Your nagging makes death seem a pleasure.' I had told her. Had I really sold my soul in that one unplanned remark? I recalled no contract being signed. His smile broadened as I drove nearer. In my mind, I could hear him greet me. My heart panicked and raced, now crashing against my ribs. I could not face Death. He had no right to take me.  

I screamed out loud; 'You can't take me!' The deafening protest shattered the banal sounds of the car. 

Without a thought, I abruptly turned the steering wheel away from the vision, the car swerving into the outside lane, slamming into a motor-bike, crushing the rider fatally against the barrier. In the virtual silence that followed the carnage I had instigated, Death thanked me with a gentle polite nod of his head, before leaving.