The rush of air in the back of the open-topped Mercedes was welcome respite from the too-hot day as we charged across the countryside. Up front, Jenny sat beside her fiancé as he expertly piloted the hurtling sports car on our way to scout-out potential wedding venues. I was spread out across the back seat, making the most of the little room I had.
‘Richard, could you please slow down? We aren’t in a rush and it can’t be comfortable for Jeff in the back.’ I could just about catch what Jen was saying through the buffeting wind.
‘It’s no problem, babe. I’m in control. Jeff’s fine. He’d say something if he wasn’t—wouldn’t you, mate?’ Richard and I had been friends for years, and now I was to be his Best Man. Indeed, I’d brought the two of them together.
Jenny was my ex. Recently, we’d been going at it like knives behind his back in a frenzy of nostalgia.
Jenny turned in her seat and lent back towards me, her breast compressed by the taut seat belt and barely concealed by her thin t-shirt. Daringly, she reached back and patted me on my thigh as Richard concentrated on the road. ‘Aw. Poor Jeffers. He’s being blown away in the back,’ she said salaciously.
‘Give it a rest, Jen. Stop flirting with him,’ Richard protested.
I had no idea what he was complaining about. I was slipping him a good length too. Had been ever since we were teenagers. It was becoming a real struggle to keep them both unaware of the other’s clandestine activity with me.
‘Come on now, concentrate on the road, buddy.’ I pulled my legs in and sank myself into the bucket seat so I was as much out of her reach as possible, simultaneously throwing her a look that could kill. Christ, it was almost as though she wanted him to know. Maybe, subconsciously, she did.
Richard must have spotted my glance in the mirror. ‘What is it with you two, anyway?’
She threw herself back in her chair and folded her arms across her chest, glowering hard at him. ‘Absolutely. Fucking. Nothing.’ Distracted by her over-vehement denial, Richard took his eyes off the road to meet her angry stare.
We were still travelling at speed when we hit the apex of the bend. Richard valiantly grappled with the wheel but he’d already lost control. With screeching tyres, we shot off the road and careened into the heavy flagstone wall on the other side. The front end of the car concertinaed, and the engine burst through into the footwells. Seatbelt-less, I was catapulted free of the car as it came to a violent halt; my flight brought short as I smashed into a telegraph pole, my back arching unnaturally around it.
My best friends died that day, along with our guilty little secrets. As I look back from my wheelchair, I sometimes wish I had too.
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© 2018 Lee Stoddart
Lee quit the corporate world to write spec-fic and horror. He was twice shortlisted and published by the HG Wells Short Story Competition.