The Bad Bend –

The fella at the NCT centre shouted: ‘99 Avensis??’
I walked up and he handed me the cert, said:  ‘That’s it, you passed.’
‘Oh yeah?’
‘Yeah, she’s a hundred per cent now, good man.’
Savage. Car sound.
Took off.
Drove home.
Listened to the pur of the engine.
Prayed I’d meet a checkpoint so I could show off the new sticker.
  That night, had a radio interview on the Mid West Arts show with Joe Beirne in Ballyhaunis.
On the way out the door, the oul fella said: ‘Careful on them roads, especially out by the bad bend…’
‘Sure the car is sound now, uncrashable.’
‘Just watch it…I’m tellin ya.’
On the road, put her in fifth and hit Mid West.
Joe was a legend. He was already on. Prone to mixing the Irish and English language on air. He was goin strong with: ‘…Agus Ta on Mick Donnellan will be with us later tonight…’
It was all going so well.
Then I crashed at the bad bend.
First there was a bend, that became a long corner, that became a 90 degree angle.
I was going too fast to keep traction and stay on my side of the road.
So I did exactly what everyone says you shouldn’t do in this situation.
I slammed on the brakes.
Equine pistons cried and screamed.
The wheels had a panic attack.
The car spun around at a violent 360.
Wall of death job.
There was flashes of  stones, branches, oncoming cars, and then a unending descent into a ditch.
Thucka pucka bung bung klonk pluunk SMASH!
I kept thinking: ‘The oul fella’s goin to fuck the head off me…and my new NCT is fucked….’
When things calmed down,  I was pure sideways and it was dark and the engine light was on and Joe was still talking on the radio. ‘…And Mick will be talkin to us about is second Leabhar “Fisherman’s Blues…” agus ta nuacht ag aimsiri ufasach…’
There was an awful smell of leaves and wet clay and moss on stones.
Inspired by Joe’s enthusiasm, I tried to start the car.
I was hoping that somehow the wheels might catch grip on something and I’d be able to caterpillar out and make it to Ballyhaunis.
I turned the ignition and  it coughed and spluttered, came to life for a second, then went kaput.
It was time for Plan B. Try and get out.
I had to climb out over the gear stick and push the passenger door vertically open and hatch into the night, like a chicken from a mechanical egg.
Struggled on to the road.Pitch black. Utter silence.
A car came along. Saw the Avensis in the ditch.
Me on the road.
He read the situation and rolled down his window and asked: ‘Are you alright?’
‘I could do with a tractor.’
‘Where are you goin?’
‘Ballyhaunis.’
‘Are you ok for guards?’
‘How d’ya mean?’
‘You’ve no drink on you or anythin?’
‘No, I’m sound like that.’
‘You’re not too bad so,’ he said. Then rolled up his window and drove off.
The oul fella arrived in the Skoda shortly after.
I sat in the back. He lit a Major. Joe was on his radio too.  ‘…No sign of Mick Donnellan yet….conas a ta tu, Mick?? If you’re out there on the road somewhere….but sure there’s always next week if lamha are too sore from all the scriobh….agus here’s a lovely accordion sound to keep ye goin…’Myself and the oul fella looked at the car, flush in the ditch,  like a dog asleep with it’s stomach out.
He said: ‘You were lucky.’
‘And I only passed the NCT this mornin…’
‘You definitely wouldn’t pass it tomorrow mornin…’
‘Cost a fuckin bomb to fix it…’
‘You were lucky to walk away… you can fix cars…is that your hubcap on the road?’
‘Probably.’
‘You better bring it as a souvenir…’
‘I still need to get to Ballyhaunis.’
‘Ring Billy first at least, you cau can’t leave the fuckin thing there all night. You could come back in the mornin and there’ll be a fuckin bus load of Germans takin pictures of it or somethin…’Billy was the man to ring when you crash your car into a ditch.
He asked for directions, then cut me off with: ‘Oh you mean out by the bad bend …?’
Billy arrived. Truck. Lights. Ratchet straps. Said to call in tomorrow and he’d have a better idea of how bad the damage is.
Called him the next day, around lunch, and he said: ‘I don’t have good news for you…’-

 

 

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