(Partial Excerpt from Chapter 2)
Trapping a Flyer
Hunched low over the wheel, foglamps piercing the miasma, Dave
Rudman powered his cab through the chicane at the bottom of
Park Lane. The cabbies furious thoughts shot through the windscreen
and ricocheted off the unfeeling world. Achilles was up on
his plinth with his tiny bronze cock, his black shield fending off the
hair-styling wand of the Hilton, where all my heartache began. Solid
clouds hung overhead lunging up fresh blood. The gates to Hyde
Park, erected for the Queen Mother, looked like bent paperclips
in the gloom, the lion and unicorn on their Warner Brothers
escutcheon were prancing cartoon characters. Evil be to him who
thinks of it, said the Unicorn, and the Lion replied, Eeee, whassup,
Stuttering by them, Rudmans Faredar picked up a Burberry bundle trapped on the heel of grass that was cut off from the central reservation by the taut, tarmac tendon of Achilles Way. Stupid plonker. The cabs wipers went eek-eek. The bundle was trying to roll over the Y-shaped crash barrier all that prevented him from being mown down by the four lanes of traffic, traffic that came whipping past the war memorial where bronze corpses lay beneath concrete howitzers. Tatty coaches full of carrot-crunchers up for the Xmas wallet-fuck, pale-skinned, rust-grazed Transit vans with England flags taped across their back windows, boogaloo bruvvers in Seven Series BMWs, throw-cushion specialists in skateboard-sized Smart cars, Conan-the-fucking-Barbarian motorcycle couriers, warped flat-bed trucks piled high with scrap metal, one-eyed old Routemaster buses the whole stinky caravan of London wholesale-to-retail, five credit-worthy days before Christmas was intent on crushing this bit of Yank, wannabe roadkill . . . So Dave slewed the Fairway over to the nearside lane and waited to see whether hed make it.
He did. He came puffing up to the driver-side window. Sir, sir, excuse me, sir . . . Sir, sir?! Is he fucking insane? Thank you for stopping. Hes going to ask me if I know which theatre The King and I is playing at. Stupid cunt. Could you take me to . . . The Yank drew a piece of paper from his trench-coat pocket and consulted it. Mill Hill . . . He said the two words slowly and distinctly, as if they might be difficult for Dave to comprehend. If thats . . . thats not kinduv of beyond your range? My range, what does he think I am, some fucking wild boar? Dave pictured beastly London cabs, rolling in the roadway, shaking their metal shoulders to rid themselves of railings hurled by Hoorays starved of sport.
Get in, please. Dave bent his arm out of the window and opened the door, then he shrugged back inside and hit the meter. The bundle bowled in, a grateful blob of wet gaberdine that wafted a gentle stench of some male fragrance advertised by chest-waxing ponces in underpants. Dave Rudman shifted the cab into drive and shuddered off up the nearside lane, expertly swerving to avoid a coach that lurched out of its bay. Then he rubbed his sore nostrils with a wad of tissue as shapeless as snot. Day-and-fucking-Night-Nurse . . . thats what you need in this job. Open the hatch and through it comes another slant-eyed virus at 120 mph.
The fare sat in the middle of the back seat, knees akimbo, potbelly exposed by the open flaps of his trench coat, both hands on the safety handles set in the rear doors of the cab as if hes in a rickshaw costing twenty-five-fucking-grand. When I say range, cabbie, said the fare, leaning forward to push his fat face through the open hatch, I mean, Ive heard of your famous Knowledge, but I figure that maybe Mill Hill is a bit beyond it . . . beyond the area you have to cover. Hes a talker, this one, he wants to talk, he goes to whores and when they try to plate him he says hed rather talk, coz the only thing he wants in their mouths is comforting words. Hell start on fucking Afghanistan in two minutes flat. Hes gonna go all Tora Bora on me . . .
Excerpted from The Book of Dave by Will Self Copyright © 2006 by Will Self. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury Press (USA). All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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