Clean Hit.

It was the best thing I’ve ever done, straightup, it was. All that planning you put into things sometimes and they still go tits up, and then there was this – pure spur of the moment, no thought at all – I was in the Fiesta and he stepped out in front of me and I pointed the car at him and over the bonnet he went, a blur of trainers and trackie bottoms, like washing in a tumble dryer. The look on his face the split second before I hit him? Fucking priceless, man – it was Huh? Wha’? Shit! Aargh!! one after the other in the blink of an eye, and I laughed about it later but right then there wasn’t time. I had to hit the brakes and slam it into reverse, back over his legs before he could get out of the way, and there was this screaming from somewhere beneath me on the ground and I banged it into first and got the fuck out of there. Ended up back at the flat, skinning one up so i could calm back down, not that it worked. I got stoned alright, but it took hours bouncing off the furniture with the stereo full-on till I was out of breath and by then the neighbours were banging on the wall – but fuck them – and when I flopped down on the sofa I remembered his face flying past the windscreen and then I was laughing so much the tears ran down my face and my sides ached and I was gulping for air like a stranded fish. Haven’t laughed like that since I was a little kid, man. It was great.

I left it three or four days, then I checked out the hospital visiting hours and went to see him. It’d have seemed odd if I hadn’t – I’m his best mate, after all. Buy him some grapes and a Sport, tell a nurse I’ve come to see Mr.Spencer, ward 23, get myself pointed in the right direction, and next thing, there I am at his bedside, sitting with his mom, giving it Jesus, Eddie! What happened to you? and thinking I deserve an Oscar for this one. He’s got one leg in traction, the other’s in plaster to his knee, his face and arms are all scratched and grazed and sore. He doesn’t look happy, but then who would?

Hit and run, weren’t it, love? says his mom, and even four days on there’s tears in her eyes, silly cow. My little boy – sniff – they could have killed him. I look at Eddie, who’s watching his hands smooth patterns in the bedsheets. Any idea who it was? I ask, and he looks up, straight at me, dead level, and says Yeah, and my heart skips a beat and I think maybe he’s going to blow it. Like I told the Bill, it was an Astra – silver, maybe blue – came out of nowhere, didn’t get the number. Fucker reversed back over me. That’s when he broke my legs.
And we look each other in the eye, and I know he knows. He knows it was a white Fiesta, my white Fiesta, my white Fiesta and me, his best mate, driving it, reversing it back over his legs so the bones broke and the doctors had to use steel pins to put the one of them back together. He knows. That’s good. That means we have an understanding, and whether it’s because we’re mates or because he’s got too much to lose, he hasn’t grassed me up, and he isn’t going to. For the first time in ages, Eddie’s doing the right thing.

I went back every day after that. Always took something with me – magazines, tapes for his walkman, tunes I thought he should hear. And we’d talk about nothing, or something, or watch the nurses walk by and growl about how sexy they were in those uniforms. Wound him up no end, that did, stuck in a bed with nowhere to go. But like I said to him, it served the silly fucker right and I couldn’t stay talking to him, I was off out on the pull. You’re a fucking wanker, Johnno, you know that? A wanker! But we never talked about what put him in there, not once in all that time. Even when they decided he was fit enough to leave, after seven weeks, and he came hobbling across the hospital car park on his crutches to where I was holding open the door of a white Fiesta, he never said a word. Just a shadow of memory flashed across his face and was gone, and he lowered himself in slowly, carefully, the right leg stretched out in front of him, not bending at the knee.

I’d got some of the lads gathered back at mine, you could hear it from the end of the street. Ibiza anthems pumping out, cans of beer and spliffs and Eddie greeted like some sort of conquering hero when he limped in through the door. Turned into a right old session, that did, just like old times. And later that night when we were down the club and I looked at Eddie, his eyes glittering with sulphate, coming on to some pretty young thing and promising to show her his scars later if she lets him, then heading for the bar on his crutches to get her a drink, I thought how good it was to have him back. Not as the snivelling, fucked-up smackhead he’d been a few months ago, but as my mate, the old Eddie, the way he’d been before. So he’ll never play football again, and he can’t dance like he used to, but fuck it, he’d have been a career junkie if I hadn’t hit him with the car. We both know that. It’s past and it’s over like the seven weeks in hospital where he got himself clean. And I put my hand in my pocket and take another dab of speed and catch Eddie’s eye across the dancefloor, raise my bottle to him in salute FUCKIN’ WICKED NIGHT, MAN! and like I say, it was the best thing I’ve done, for sure. Ever.

© Steve Pottinger