John clasped his head in his hands. He didn’t seem to be hurt, but everything looked fuzzy and the tang of petrol wasn’t clearing it out. At least the rain had stopped – although too late to matter. Scrunching his eyes up, he let Sergeant Bryant lead him away from the car and settle him on a nearby boulder.
“So, what do you remember?” asked the police officer.
John shivered “I was in a hurry. I was at an Awards dinner in Bath, and I ended up staying longer than I thought. Networking, not drinking… I haven’t—”
Bryant put a hand on John’s shoulder. “Just focus on what happened here. There’s all the time in the world to talk about other things.”
John blinked. “Yes. Right. I was in a hurry because I promised my wife I’d take our daughter to horse riding this morning, so I wanted to get back so I could be fresh…” He was supposed to be talking about the accident. Everything seemed foggy. Was he concussed? But then, the paramedics would be looking him over. “Anyway, I rounded the blind corner. Thought I was slow enough, but I felt the back start to slide. I tried to straighten out but I must have lost control. Sorry, Next thing I remember was you helping me away from the car.”
“Nothing to apologise for. Something might come back over time, but it’s not good to force it. I should know. Came off the road myself here during a pursuit, ten years ago to the day as it happens….”
John glanced over at him. It was true what they said about police officers looking younger every day. He wouldn’t have thought Bryant was old enough to have been in uniform then.
“…Right bastard had been released from Horfield that morning. Spends the day in the pub, then goes to his ex-girlfriend’s flat. Only she’s moved while he was inside. New occupant doesn’t know where, but this thug doesn’t believe him and gets physical. Goes too far, steals a car and decides to carry straight on to France of all places.”
“So you gave chase?”
“Not then. No one called the assault in. Total coincidence really. I spot him half-an-hour later driving erratically so I flashed my lights. He thought I was on to him for the attack and put the hammer down. That was when I gave chase. It was close to midnight by then, and there’s not much traffic out here that time of night, so we were really going some. He hits the bend and felt the back-end go. Over-steers and ends up rolling the car. Snapped neck. Killed instantly. I came round seconds later. Made the bend fine, but wasn’t expecting him across the road. Ended up going off the road.”
John frowned. Was it normal for officers to talk about cases like this. Must be a way of keeping him calm, or distracting him so his memory could drift back on its own. That would be why everyone else had left the two of them alone when they arrived. Although, it didn’t sound like they needed him to remember given how much they worked out about the dead thug’s actions. But that didn’t make sense.
He stared at Bryant “Wait a minute. You said he was killed instantly. I can get the bit about running because he thought you were on to him, but how the hell did you know he was going to France?”
“Good to see you’re thinking. He told me. Truth is, there isn’t much to do apart from talk.” Bryant crouched down next to the boulder. “I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the paramedics if I were you. The seatbelt kept you from going through the windscreen, but it still wasn’t pretty. You don’t want to see yourself like that.”