Keep It In The Family – Episode 33

A couple of days later Adam was on the road, doing a round of the local motor sales businesses in search of a van. Paul was with him, since he’d be the one driving it. It was the first time the two men had seen each other since Adam’s discovery in the coffee shop, although he had been quick to phone Paul to offer his apologies.“I’m really sorry for doubting you, Paul. I should have known that Sarah was a better judge of character than that.”Paul shrugged, unconcerned.“I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same in your shoes. But I’m glad things are straight between us now. I really like Sarah, and I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong foot with her family.”Adam glanced over at him as he pulled up at the lights.“I appreciate that. If there’s one thing this whole business has done, right from when Dad died, it’s show us what a close family we are. Together we’ll get through this and come out stronger.”The lights changed and he drove on.“Right, here we are: motor mile. Let’s just try the first place we see with vans on the forecourt.”It was Adam who turned out to have the quick-thinking business head when it came to negotiating a deal, and by the time they had toured three or four of the showrooms lining the long, straight road, he was ready to do a deal.“So,” he said, shaking hands on the bargain with the young salesman, “the on-the-road price as agreed. I need it to be ready for collection tomorrow.”“Tomorrow? Oh, but . . .” the salesman began, but Adam held up his hand.“Tomorrow, or I take my custom to the garage next door. Do we have a deal?”Adam had dangled the tempting carrot of perhaps putting more business their way if they needed more vans.“Of course, sir. The vehicle will be ready for you tomorrow by two p.m.”They were jubilant as they headed back towards the yard.A ring road ran round the outskirts of the town, allowing things to move faster and without the hindrance of traffic lights. Adam generally used it because it was better than sitting somewhere waiting for the lights to change. It was also convenient for links to the motorways that headed north and south and therefore saw a lot of heavy haulage.“Did you see the notice in the paper last week about the scheduled roadworks along here?” he was saying to Paul, when just ahead of them there was suddenly an almighty crash and rumble, and a cloud of dust rose into the sky.“Hold on!” Adam shouted as he stamped on the brakes.Around them was a kaleidoscope of flashing red lights as drivers braked; the air was filled with a crunching and grinding of metal, and the smell of burning rubber as tyres worked to cling to the road.Adam fought to control the car as it skidded, and prayed that the drivers behind wouldn’t slam into him and push him into the crash scene ahead.“You OK?” Adam asked.“Yes. You?”Adam flexed his arm.“I think I wrenched my shoulder.” But he forgot the pain when he looked ahead through the car’s windscreen.A truck was on its side, its wheels still spinning. The driver’s cab was crumpled, the windows smashed. There didn’t seem to be any other cars involved, although a van was inches away from its rear, the driver scrambling out.Adam leapt from their car.“Are you OK, mate?” Adam was shouting at the van driver.The other man was shaking his head as though dazed.“I think so. He just suddenly rolled in front of me! I’m guessing a tyre blew and he hit the barrier. The driver’s still in there!”Adam ran round to the truck cab and scrambled up to peer down into the topsy-turvy compartment. The driver, a man he recognised, was still in his seat, though at a very peculiar angle, and groggily conscious.“George! George, it’s me, Adam. Are you hurt?” he shouted, while sniffing the air for the tell-tale scent of leaking fuel. “Can you get out?”George moved gingerly, then slumped.“I’m OK but I’m stuck. My leg . . .”“Right. Hold on, my mate’s phoned the emergency services they’re on their way.”He could hear sirens in the distance, growing louder as they approached.“The load,” the driver muttered. “Save the load.”“Forget about the load, George.”Then Adam was being bundled out of the way as the experts took control.“Thanks, sir, we’ll take it from here. Best stand well back.”He clambered down to the road surface, and stepped away, but his gaze was drawn back to the familiar livery of the mangled truck.Radley Transport it read, and he shook his head, muttering. This was the real cost of cutbacks.He moved round to the back of the trailer, his business instinct operating even in the midst of the catastrophe.The doors had burst open and he could see crates inside crates that read Perishable.At that moment his mobile phone rang and he slipped it out of his pocket. It was Rosie.“Are you all right? I heard about the accident. Whose truck is it? Is the driver all right?” she asked, dread in her voice.“It’s a Radley truck, with George Dodson at the wheel. He’s a bit banged up, but he’ll be OK. He was hauling a load that needs salvaging. Get hold of Clive Fenton. Tell him to come in the wagon with the tail-lift forklift. I don’t care what trouble Bruce Radley’s been causing us. I know what Dad would do here, and that’s everything he could to help.”


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