Stewart Howard | July 8, 2018
The Bentley (Bring Up the Bodies)
Sitting astride my Honda, I waited dreamily for the traffic lights to turn green. Two a.m., stars twinkled, the city was graveyard quiet. I unzipped my jacket, enjoying the summer warmth. A thunderous eruption shook the night as, not a metre from where I sat, a motorbike rocketed past me, the shockwave jolting my bike sidewards. “What the …..!”
Running the red light, the rider was oblivious to the gleaming Falcon that headed through the intersection at 80. The car T-boned the speeding Harley, instantly severing the rider’s right leg below the knee. Twisted chrome and bloody bone exploded across the intersection The Falcon spun into oncoming traffic, taking out two cars before coming to a halt atop the concrete lane divider.
Dismounting, I darted over to the fallen rider. I gagged at the sight of his torn limb pumping blood onto the road; the stranger was bleeding out. Kneeling over the guy, I had to stem the flow of blood.
“Hey pal,” the rider grunted, “I’m stoned, as high as a kite; look after this.” He thrust a canvas shoulder bag at me.
Preoccupied with blood jetting over my jeans, I took the bag without thinking. “Stop the bleeding, Stewie,” I repeated. Looking at the rider’s canvas bag, I noticed a webbing shoulder strap. I grabbed a lock-knife from my jacket and cut off the strap, winding it tightly around the rider’s damaged leg. Pulling off my tee-shirt, I bunched it firmly against the jagged bone and torn flesh.
Sirens approached. Soon, I saw red and blue shadows pulse across the intersection.
A hand rested on my bare shoulder. “We’ll take it from here, sir.”
Looking up, I recognised an ambulance uniform. Spattered with blood, I rose unsteadily, grabbing my jacket and the canvas bag from the road, before walking back to my bike.
Sitting in the gutter beside my 750, I answered questions from the cops before heading home.
In the year following the accident, I became good friends with Robert, the fallen rider, visiting him regularly in hospital and then in rehabilitation where he had to relearn to walk using an artificial limb. “I’ll never forget you saving my life,” said Rob.
About six months into his recovery, Rob asked, “Still got that canvas bag?”
“Did you open it?”
“Nup. None of my business,” I replied.
After Robert left rehab, he surprised those who knew him by enrolling at university where he studied Law.
We drifted apart but fate reunited us years later when I secured a job at the university. And who should I bump into at the refectory? Fit and healthy and with hardly a limp, Robert told me he had graduated and was now pursuing post-grad studies with the intention of becoming a barrister. “You know, Stewie, barristers make an obscene amount of money!”
Decades later, I sat beside Robert at his palatial home overlooking the majestic Swan River. “Remember that canvas bag you looked after?” Rob asked.
“I never told you at the time but it contained half a million bucks worth of uncut coke. It funded the years I spent at university”
I coughed. “Jesus, man, you mean I was sitting in the gutter with a bagful of cocaine between my legs chatting to two cops?”
We broke up laughing until tears ran down our cheeks.
“Well, here’s to a good life, Stewie. I’ve been lucky.” We raised glasses and sipped the 89 Grange.
“You’ve come a long way from cheap beer and a joint,” I joked. “Man, you lost a leg and now you’ve been told you’re dying from terminal cancer, yet you say you’ve been lucky!”
“Let me show you something.” Rob got up and walked slowly towards his garage door. I followed.
“When I was told my number was up, I bought something.” Rob opened the door. We stepped into the shade of the garage. “I always wanted an MFB,” Rob smiled. Centre-stage in the garage sat a brand new two-door Bentley.
” I don’t understand, Rob; what’s an MFB?”
Robert grinned, “A Mother-Fucking-Bentley, Stewie. “That’s what the boys on the street, you know, the pimps, pushers, dealers, rap stars, that’s what they’ve christened new Bentleys.”
Standing at the graveside, I looked down at the polished casket. Opposite, stood four outlaw bike-gang members, beside a similar number of immaculately dressed corporate legal eagles representing the firm where Rob worked. Adding to the mix: a handful of social misfits, presumably clients who Rob had successfully defended. Robert’s old crash helmet sat on the coffin. Lying proudly beside the helmet, his barrister’s wig.
I was surprised to be invited to the reading of the will but went along to honour my friend. The major beneficiary turned out to be his old outlaw motorcycle club – which would receive a seven-figure sum. I nearly choked, however, when I learned Robert had left me his MFB.