Monday, November 17, 2008

The Hummer

Category: Issue 13

The Hummer

Cheryl Andrew sat on the edge of the lawn, her feet in the driveway. Overnight frost has thrown a blanket of white across the grass and it soaked through her jeans, turned to liquid under the heat of her body. Her hands pushed deep into the pockets of her padded, red jacket, she gazed at the four by four parked a short way along the drive. A prehistoric beast squatting on black rubber feet the Hummer chuffed steadily and waited, the headlights sparking white light. The beast gave a low roar, and exhaust fumes, turned to smoke in the icy air. It slipped around the heavy vehicle’s black sides and softened the edges of it in a fuzzy grey mantel. Cheryl breathed in the acrid fumes as they eddied towards her and her heart hammered. The smell was synonymous with recollections of her husband, Kyle. The car and he were one in the same, ostentatious, and intimidating.

When she had first left him to start a new life on her own, his pleas had been soft, smooth like a well-tuned engine. He didn’t believe their marriage was over and wooed her with flowers, chocolate and small gifts.  In time his frustration grew when his tactics didn’t work and in drunken rages he beat on her door with clenched fists and screamed obscenities through the locked door.

When their divorce absolute arrived, he confronted her in the street. He leaned through the car window, his face contorted with rage.

‘Bitch! You’d better believe I’m never gonna let you go.’ He threw the Hummer into gear and tore away from the kerb.

‘I’m already gone, you s.o.b,’ Cheryl whispered as she watched the taillights disappear into the distance.

A few days later she learned he’d been killed in a bar brawl. Stabbed in the chest with his own hunting knife, the one he always carried. She hadn’t attended the inquest or even the funeral.

Kyle’s mother rang Cheryl the day they buried him, her voice tight with anger. ‘He’s dead because of you. He only started to drink after you left him. I hope you rot in hell.’

‘I’m sorry.’ Cheryl said and carefully placed the receiver back in the cradle. There was no point in trying to explain to a mother whose son had only been dead a few weeks that he’d been a vicious thug and had drunk to excess every day of their married life.


Cheryl climbed to her feet and fingered the car keys she’d found that morning in her mailbox. The note attached was short. To be delivered to Mrs Cheryl Andrew.
An address and telephone number of a garage on the other side of town was on the headed note-paper.

The Hummer vibrated almost imperceptibly, the momentary stillness of a bull before it charged. Cheryl put one foot behind the other and backed up the drive towards her front door, her eyes never leaving the empty window space in front of the driving wheel.

Once in the small hallway of her flat she put the keys and note on a side table, reached for her mobile, and dialled the number on the note.

‘Clarkson’s Garage. How can I help you?’ The woman’s voice on the other end of the line was brisk.

‘Hallo, my name is Cheryl Andrew. You delivered a Hummer to my address this morning?’

‘Is something wrong?’

‘Not really, but it isn’t my car. It belongs to my husband.’

‘Hold on I’ll check.’ Music floated from the receiver. Cheryl tapped her fingernail on the tabletop. The voice returned. ‘That’s right, your husband brought in for a check over yesterday and left this address.

Cheryl ran her hand through her hair. ‘That’s impossible my husband is dead. Anyway, it’s in my drive and the engine’s running.’

The voice turned frosty. ‘I can assure you I turned off the ignition and locked the car before I left.’

‘You can’t just dump it in my drive. It is - was, my husband’s car – not mine.’

‘Your name’s on the papers.’


‘The owner documents in the glove compartment.’

Cheryl took a deep breath. ‘In that case, I want someone to come and remove it from my drive and dispose of it.’

The voice took on a smoother tone. ‘We can certainly sell it for you, ma’am. Hummers are in great demand.’

‘I don’t want you to sell it for me – I want it crushed.’ Cheryl heard the sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line.

‘Are you sure? It’s worth a good deal of money.’

‘Yes, I’m sure.’

There was a small silence and then the voice said. ‘I’m afraid we’ll have to charge you for the service.’

A bubble of irritation rose in Cheryl’s chest and she fought to keep her voice calm. ‘Just come and get it, I’ll pay.’

‘In that case, someone will collect it this morning.’ 

Cheryl walked to the hall window and flipped one of the blind slats and put her eye to the small space. Out on the driveway the four by four stood silent, the lights out, and the engine still. Cheryl wondered if it had run out of gas. A little chill ran along her spine and she dropped the slat back into place.

The mechanic that came to collect the car was a thin, unkempt man, with greying hair that had more length than substance. Even at that early hour she smelled the odour of beer on his breath. 

He gazed at her as if he had just seen the Loch Ness monster. ‘You the lady who wants to trash the Hummer?’

She handed him the keys. ‘You may have to tow it. I don’t think it’ll start.’

The man shook his head in a gesture of bewilderment and walked to the car. Cheryl heard the engine stutter into life and she turned away with relief as the car backed along the path and disappeared in the direction of the breakers yard.


Cheryl wasn’t sure what woke her. It sounded like a steady heartbeat. She opened her eyes slid out of bed and made her way to the window. She pulled aside the curtain and her stomach contracted, The Hummer was under her bedroom window. Smoke poured from the exhaust and the headlights blazed. It tilted on its back wheels on the slope of the lawn. Cheryl shaded her eyes. She thought she could see Kyle at the wheel - but Kyle was dead. His last words echoed in her mind. ‘I’m never gonna let you go.’

The driver’s door opened and a shadowy figure emerged. Cheryl could only see a silhouette that swayed behind the Hummer’s headlights as if dancing to some ghastly inner music. Her skin crawled, Kyle had been dead for weeks, what would he look like now? Cheryl closed her eyes as the shadow took a step forward.

The figure wavered unsteadily in the light from her window. ‘Give ya five thousand bucks for her, m’am - Whatcha say?’ The mechanic’s upturned face was white and his words slurred into silence

Cheryl looked down on the drunken figure below and her heartbeat slowed. She shook with a combination of relief and anger. The Hummer and another fuckin’ drunk, well they deserve each other.

‘Deal,’ she shouted through the glass.


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