Both the girls were looking out of the back window at what was happening. I smiled to reassure them that everything was all right, even though I didn’t think it was…”
The recreation ground was always busy on a Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t easy finding a parking space, but after going round the block a few times both Daniel’s daughter and mine screamed from the back seat at the same time.
‘There’s one! There’s one!’
Daniel slid smoothly up to it, went just past and was about to reverse into it when a Mini slipped in there behind us.
‘What the hell!’
I couldn’t help smiling at the Mini driver’s nerve.
‘You can’t win them all,’ I said.
‘You wanna bet?’
I was a bit alarmed when he jumped out of the car, not least because I knew he was still angry from his divorce. I looked round at the driver of the Mini and was glad to see that he was grinning.
I opened my door but didn’t get out.
‘What’s Daniel going to do, Daddy?’
‘Let’s listen and we’ll find out.’
I was craning my neck to watch and the girls were looking out of the back window.
The Mini driver was getting out of his car. He was about our age and had long hair tied back.
‘I don’t know what you think you’re playing at, but that’s my space,’ Daniel told him.
‘You went past it,’ he said, smiling.
‘I was going to reverse into it.’
‘How was I supposed to know?’ the guy said with a shrug.
‘Sorry, mate, but it’s first come first served and, as you see, I was first.’
‘No, you weren’t.’
‘But my car is in the space and yours isn’t.’
‘Well you better get it the fuck out, hadn’t you?’
‘You heard me. Get the fuck out of my parking space!’
‘Whoa, steady on, tiger.’
‘Don’t try to get funny with me!’
I thought it was time for a bit of common sense before the situation spiralled out of control, so I got out of the car: ‘Come on, Daniel, we’ll find another.’
‘No, we won’t. We don’t need to. We’ve found one.’
‘I think you’d better listen to your friend.’
‘And I think you’d better get the fuck into your car and get away from here before I get nasty.’
‘Come on, Daniel,’ I said; ‘it’s not worth it.’
Both the girls were looking out of the back window at what was happening. I smiled to reassure them that everything was all right, even though I didn’t think it was.
‘Well, are you going to get the fuck out of my space, or what?’
‘I think it’ll have to be ‘or what’,’ the man said, still smiling.
That was when Daniel punched him. It was only on the shoulder but the man reeled backwards onto the bonnet of his car. I think he was stunned from the idea of having been hit as much as by the blow itself. He wasn’t the only one.
‘All right, Daniel, come on, this is ridiculous,’ I said, taking hold of his arm.
I wanted to get him back in the car before the guy fully recovered from his surprise. But Daniel shook me off and stood there with his fists up.
‘Daddy, please!’ Charlotte cried from inside the car.
It was when Daniel turned round to smile at her that the guy made his move. He charged at Daniel with his head going under the raised fists and crashed into Daniel’s abdomen. Daniel tumbled backwards with the guy on top of him. They were rolling around on the ground like a couple of kids in a playground. Two guys in a van pulled up to watch and shouted encouragement. Daniel and the Mini driver were swapping punches in the dirt. I couldn’t believe it.
Whatever had been tying the Mini driver’s hair back had come off and his hair was now all over his face. I had the strange impression that Daniel was fighting a woman. For a while, it looked as though the Mini driver was going to win and I thought that might not be such a bad thing, but then Daniel grabbed the guy’s hair with both hands and smashed his head against the kerb. It was a hell of a thud. The van driver winced and drove away. Daniel got to his feet and stood there, panting. I was shaking as we looked down at the half-conscious Mini driver, the side of his face all bloody.
‘That’ll fucking teach him, eh?’ Daniel said, brushing a hand through his hair.
‘Teach him what? All he did was park his car,’ I said. I was almost hysterical. ‘And you still haven’t got his space, so what was the point?’
‘The point is, he won’t do it again.’
Daniel waved at the girls and got back in the car. I stood looking at the guy on the ground, thinking I should maybe help him up before leaving. That’s when I noticed the little boy in the back of the Mini. He must have been lying down when it all kicked off, but now his face was pressed to the window. I think there was something wrong with him, like he had Down’s syndrome or something. His face was contorted with fear. He was staring at his father lying on the ground. I’ve never seen anyone look so frightened.
(illustration: ernest williamson III)
Mel Fawcett lives a solitary life in the heart of London. His stories have most recently been seen in Gemini, Stand, Eclectic Flash, The Delinquent and Gold Dust. Mel can be seen reading one of his stories on YouTube here. More from Mel Fawcett can be found in the Vault of Smoke.