China 2011 – Accidents Happen

October 2011

Bright lights flashed from my right hand side, blinding me. ‘Oh Fuck.’ And then I woke up.

It was dark and I was lying on wet tarmac, a gentle rain was splattering down on my face. My jeans were wet and I was cold. I could hear someone calling my name. ‘Doc, Doc , Doctor.’ Insistent. A Glaswegian voice harsh and cracked, ‘Doc fer fucks sake man.’ Angus.

I put my hands to my head; there was a large bump and my foot hurt. I sat up – dazed and unsure. There was a bustle of people behind me. An ambulance stood with its door open – bright light flooding out. Blue and red lights flashed. A small grey van was parked at an angle on the junction I had been crossing on my motorbike.

I could see the driver having a smoke and laughing with a couple of policemen. Chinese policemen. ‘Doc fer fuck sake.’ I stood up and unsteadily walked over to where Angus lay surrounded by paramedics. His ankle was broken, his face covered with blood where he had hit the ground teeth first. I grabbed his hand.

‘Fuck sake,’ He said, ‘I thought ye was dead, I’ve been callin and callin.’

‘I’m sorry mate.’ Tears formed in my eyes.

‘Nay bother man, it was an accident.’

We had been down the Blue Marlin, our local bar in Xianlin, a district of Nanjing. We were all English teachers. That dark October night we had planned to go downtown drinking. I had offered Angus a ride back to our apartments to change out of our work clothes. The Chinese driver had sideswiped us as we drove across a junction, out of the safety of the wide cycle paths.

Angus was pushed into the ambulance. I wandered off shivering with cold and shock. I didn’t know what to do. Two Australian women came over and told me to ‘fuck off out of it’.

They didn’t know how prophetic their words would be.

I fucked off.

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