…stuck as we are on the side of the road
by Brendan Strong
The summer rain simmers things, we light cigarettes, brush the ash off our fresh, wedding clean suits, stuck as we are on the side of the road.
Earlier wondering how to get from sacred church to profane celebration. “Google maps. Google knows everything. It knows the way”.
“You. Are on. The fastest route.” she calls from my phone in her accent of home counties and autodialler. Maybe it was. But maybe Google doesn’t know everything.
Not stuck anyway, we can move anytime we want, but we don’t want, stuck as we are on the side of the road: wheel busted, cars of people coming round the corner, filled with curiosity, staring out at us standing there, smokes and suits and stuck as we are on the side of the road.
“Thank you for calling the AA: Can you tell me your location?”
Shit. I cannot. Only Google Maps knows that. And those guys in the hire car-
“Where is this?”
“The battle of the Boyne?”
“No, I guess that happened here – but do you know the name of the area?”
They look at me like: should we try in Polish? Points to the gates – “That – that is The Battle of the Boyne”
I tell the AA lady.
“You’re at the battle of the Boyne” It’s all in her voice – hangup and leave us stuck here as we are on the side of the road. “No, no, it’s like a heritage thing.”
Wait. Sleeves up, hands dirty, nothing to show for it because a key for the locking nut is warped. Stare at phones, battery fading with the day. Turn on the radio. Some rugby. No idea what’s going on. Bit of excitement for a Saturday: that’s something when you’re stuck here as we are on the side of the road.
“Curiosity might kill us cats” not our curiosity (wondering about the history, development and social implications of the unique yet poorly manufactured locking nut key): theirs – with noses pressed against the glass, to see what this is, what is what with us, stuck as we are on the side of the road. Some swerve, like the drivers can’t articulate hands from heads that turn to face us, stuck as we are on the side of the road, starting to jitter, jump, suck up the smoke.
Inevitable biological processes press on: where is the nearest facility, if not those trees, beyond the bushes? There is not far we can go, stuck as we are on the side of the road. Wait, can’t wait, but wait: the AA will be here soon. Ish. Or later. It’s hard to say, they say, so where if not those trees?
How long can one wait – how long should one wait – how long would one wait, stuck as we are on the side of the road?