Nic and I killed a man on Saturday.
Having missed the junction we were supposed to have got out of the taxi at, we informed the driver that he needed to turn round and go back. Had it not just started throwing it down we probably would have stopped there, got out and walked back. As it was he did a three point turn on Trinity Road, drove back and stopped in a bus stop just before the junction of Bellevue Road.
A few seconds later a scooter swerved to avoid the car behind our taxi, which in turn was attempting to navigate around us to make the green light. The swerve resulted in the scooter driving in the opposite lane and BANG...
...no one knew what had happened. Of the first people we saw, not one had seemed to see anything. All those people who'd ground to a halt and got out of their cars and not a clue between them.
All we saw was a bike next to where the taxi had been, a leather glove and a car bumper. No rider, no screaming. Silence.
Of course there was no silence. It was in fact defeaningly loud, but it may as well have been silent. The rider had disappeared.
Everyone's automatic assumption was that he'd got up and walked away. So which one was he? Of all the people milling about which looked the most shaken. Why wasn't anyone looking after him? There was a 20ish year old Eastern European looking girl with a rucksack. Nope. A middle aged couple with a dog. Nope. A fat afghan looking fella. Nope. A few skaters. Nope. A tall arab looking chap.
Suddenly a panicked scream.
'I know it's not my fault, but I don't want someone to be dead'.
The young woman who had been trying to drive around us in her little Polo was in pieces. She was being comforted by a tall, young man who must have been one of the car drivers. Maybe he knew where the rider was.
And then violently, everything slowed from warp speed to clear measured focus.
There was a flurry of activity further back up the road, civilians, urgently flitting around, calling 999. 'Shit 999. Why the hell haven't I dialled 999?'
Then to no one in particular I asked 'Where's the rider?'. None of this made any sense. It couldn't have been any of this lot in front of us, so where was he (I presumed it was a he).
A man who we previously hadn't noticed suddenly piped, 'Up there mate, under that car'.
Nic and I stopped looking at the scooter in front of us and slowly turned our attention back down the road, to the resting place of a green Vauxhall, which had come to a skidding halt. All air bags deployed.
This poor unfortunate wretch, who minutes earlier had been driving along happily, had been confronted with a scooter appearing out of the rainy dusk. In the wrong lane. He'd hit him head on and dragged the rider's body another 60 to 70 metres up the road under the car .
'He's still breathing apparently'
Nic dissolved next to me and was gabbling 'We shouldn't have told him to stop here. We shouldn't even have been here. We should have been over there' pointing to the opposite side of the junction, where we'd asked the driver to stop originally. 'If we'd said it a bit louder, we would have stopped over there'
All I could think was that we should have told the taxi driver to stop and wait.
One thing I should mention at this point is that the taxi we'd been in had scarpered.
This is how we had come to actually be standing at the incident:
'How much is that mate?'
'Er, call it a tenner'
'There you go'
'I haven't got any change'
'Have you got two tens for a twenty Nic'
'No, I haven't got anything on me'
I'd been leaning through the centre of the car from the back seat negotiating with this guy. Nic was sat next to me leaning forward craning to hear what I was saying. The driver of the taxi on hearing the crash, had quick as a flash, put the car in gear and pulled away, back across the lights.
The next moments are a little bit blurred, but reveal some things that surprised me, but have taught me a lot. Not only, how bad I can be in a crisis, but also how deeply my British reserve runs.
'Listen just call me to drive you back'
'Are we going to go back?'
'It was a motorcyclist, it was his fault'
'WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN?'
'Look he was driving up the centre it's his fault'
'HOW THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW THAT? DID YOU SEE ANYTHING? I DIDN'T SEE ANYTHING. HE COULD BE UP THERE DEAD FOR ALL YOU KNOW, YOU FUCKING ARSEHOLE'
'Listen I'm just saying it's not my deal, he was in the wrong place'
'YOU WERE PARKED ON A RED ROUTE. THERE'S A BLOKE BEEN HIT UP THERE AND HE COULD BE DEAD AND ALL YOU CAN SAY IS IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT. WHERE THE FUCK DO YOU GET OFF?'
I'm not sure we were screaming at each other for long, although it did seem an eternity. The next thing I did is fairly inexplicable. I ran in to the restaurant where my friends were sat at the bar and asked if anyone had two tens for a twenty. No 'hellos'. No 'how are you's'. Nope, just an explanation that I'd had an argument with a cabbie. No explanation that the cabbie may have been involved in the accident that they'd heard and were now craning to see from inside the restaurant 250 yards away. No as far as they were concerned I was just maniacally asking them to break a twenty.
Al handed me two tenners. I ran out handed one of them to the cabbie and then Nic and I started to sprint towards the accident.
At no point, did either Nic or I attempt to:
a) Stop the cabbie from driving away from the scene
b) Ask for his name
c) Note his registration
d) Even note what car it was that we'd been driving in.
In short, we were pretty much the worst witnesses the police could have asked for. 30 minutes later a policewoman took our details in case they needed more witnesses. They've yet to call us.
Our dinner appointment started 45 minutes late. We had a lovely night, after a bit of a quiet start. Too much wine. Very nice Italian food. Finished the night with Capirinha's. Lovely.
The scooter rider lost his fight for life in hospital 3 hours later. He never made his appointment and his family probably had one of the worst night's of their lives.
Both Nic and I feel irreversibly guilty. If only we hadn't suggested Bel Amici's. If only Nic had dried her hair 10 minutes earlier. If only it hadn't started to rain and we hadn't done the three point turn. If only, if only, if only...
We know it's fate. We know the scooter was basically 100% wrong. Whichever way you look at it, he shouldn't have been where he was. We know all that. Doesn't make a difference though.