This is a tale about death. Specifically, the death of one man. Victor Corbury, lowlife, junkie and general waste of space.
It was a cold day. The snow had been coming down hard for hours and the driver couldn’t see. The only day in fourteen years that I’d taken the bus, all because I couldn’t get the damn car off the drive. I was sat above the rear wheel, felt it slip. My head got thrown into the glass as the bus swung out, splintering my vision into a thousand separate shards. I’ve never felt pain like it before or since. There was a guy sat just in front of me, I saw his head go through the window.
Then it rolled. I now have first hand experience of what it’s like to be the laundry. Everything slowed down, bags and people rolling around like that scene in Inception. There was glass everywhere, crashing into my face, adding to the pain from my head. My eyes filled with blood and I felt a tear down my face as a jagged piece of metal caught the skin of my forehead. The guy in front of me didn’t move at all. I remember seeing his face against the tarmac as the bus rolled.
The guy in front of me didn’t make it. I found out later that he died from severe head trauma.
His name was Victor Corbury.
I spent six weeks in hospital and was left with severe scarring. Pretty much unrecognisable from what I did look like and that’s after multiple surgeries. They told me they could only tell who I was because of the wallet in my pocket. I’m lucky I kept my eyes. Apparently they’ve always looked different since the accident. The doctors told me it was something to do with the bleeding.
I found out the other day that it wasn’t.
I’d kissed my wife goodbye, got into that car that wouldn’t start and stopped at my usual coffee shop on my way. Limped in, dragging my leg behind me as I leaned on my stick. Even with modern medicine, there’s only so much they can do. I asked for my usual, black coffee with three sugars. Another thing that changed after the accident. Jessica had me drinking lattes for weeks before I could get away from them. So much changed that day.
Some guy, some bum yelled at me from the corner.
‘Big V! Ey, man! I ain’t seen you in timeee.’ Everybody in the shop ignored him. ‘You clean up tight man! Last I heard, you was getting the bus out of town! Guess you came back. What was the big city like?’
It took a good few moments to click that he was talking to me. ‘I’m sorry, I think you’ve got me confused…’
The bum slapped me on the back. ‘C’mon Vic! We spent six months under the bridge together! Just cos you got slapped around a bit and some scars you think I won’t recognise you? It’s me, X-man!’ He looked at me through a face that was mostly beard, black and grey and ginger all mixed together. That’s when it hit me.
I got taken back to that day. To the bus. The driver was an old friend of mine, who’d gotten off the streets. He said he could get me out to the city. That’s the only reason that I was there.
There was this guy in front of me, he’d put the phone down. Sounded like he’d been talking to his wife. Told her that he was getting the bus because he couldn’t get the car off the drive. He’d just taken his wallet out of his pocket and put it on the seat next to him. I couldn’t resist. It was so easy to pick it up and put it into my jacket. Then it had happened.
The glass. The blood. The shard of metal. That guy’s face against the concrete. All of it.
I’d woken up in hospital. They’d called me Anthony Peters. I couldn’t remember, so I guessed it had to be true. They’d told me how lucky I was to be alive.
I went to Victor’s funeral.
I went to my own funeral.
I’ve been living a lie since the accident.
Who am I?
The Idiot in Tin Foil