Wherever she went after that someone could always be seen exercising their small dog in the middle distance. Later she discovered Ossie’s Toyota abandoned in a lay-by off Pale Meadows Lane.
It was no longer recognisable as a taxi. There was an air of senselessness about it. One tire had deflated. Dried mud a thin grey colour painted the bodywork as if someone had spun the front wheels trying to drive it up through the coppice behind the layby. Even the windows were spattered. The old man’s Castrol jacket, colours wrenched in the curiously distributed interior light, hung over the back of the driving seat; on the rear ledge he had abandoned a yellow site helmet and a hi-viz tabard showcasing the logo of some local builder; old fashioned porno on thickly glossy paper. “You want to be careful down Pale Meadows at night,” she remembered him warning her. Perhaps he had ignored his own advice.
Originating as a small limestone quarry tucked into the side of the hill, the lay-by was used less for parking than as a turning place: puddles of dirty water lay across a surface deeply grooved and broken up by mid-weight commercial transport. Clumps of fern grew out of the cracks and niches in the quarry wall. The meadows themselves had been spruced up into sports fields a generation ago. It didn’t appear that they had ever been pale. Believing she heard voices, she looked up and down the lane. The air was dark and rain-stained–it was easy to feel as if someone was coming when no one was. She banged loudly on the roof of the Toyota, in case Wee Ossie was sleeping inside. Nothing happened except that she imagined him curled up with the appalling economy of a small mammal in some corner she couldn’t see. In the end, she walked briskly away across the playing fields and found her way home through the Low Town.