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Beginning to Disintegrate: Webb

From Wikipedia: A chav is a stereo­type of cer­tain peo­ple in the Unit­ed King­dom. Also known as a charv­er in York­shire and North East Eng­land “chavs” are said to be aggres­sive and arro­gant teenagers and young adults, of under­class back­ground, who repeat­ed­ly engage in anti-social behav­iour such as street drink­ing, drug abuse and row­di­ness, or oth­er forms of juve­nile delinquency. 

‘I ain’t inter­est­ed, mate,’ Webb says, even though he knows it’s a mis­take to piss Craw­ford off. Craw­ford throws the car around the corner.

‘Don’t remem­ber sayin’ you had a choice.’

‘I don’t do stuff like that any­more. I told you, I ain’t get­ting involved.’

‘You’re fuck­ing use­less, Webb,’ Craw­ford yells at him, flick­ing his cig­a­rette butt through the half-open win­dow. ‘It’s safe as hous­es, this is. You ain’t going to get no grief, and you ain’t giv­ing me no grief either.’

‘You said that last time. Look what hap­pened then.’

‘Wasn’t my fault. That was Ken­ny. Noth­ing to do with me.’

‘Ken­ny was stitched-up. It was every­thing to do with you I heard.’

‘Then you heard wrong.’

Craw­ford cranks up the vol­ume of the stereo to drown out Webb’s noise. It also drowns out the sound the car’s knack­ered exhaust that makes it sound more like a bike. The win­dows are rat­tling with all the noise, vibrat­ing in time with the relent­less thump­ing bass. They stop at a red light. Some old woman looks at Craw­ford and shakes her head despair­ing­ly. He gives her the fin­ger and yells at her to fuck off.

‘Thing is,’ he shouts at Webb as they start mov­ing again, ‘if you don’t do this then Al’s gonna get real­ly fuck­ing mad, and you know what Al’s like when he’s mad. It ain’t gonna be my fault if he comes knock­ing at your door ask­ing why you let him down …’

‘Al’s got bet­ter things to do. He ain’t gonna knock at my door.’

‘You’re right about that, mate. He won’t knock, he’ll kick the fuck­ing thing down. You heard about what hap­pened to Marky when he pissed Al off after that fight at The Gallery last week? I seen his broth­er down the precinct. He said Smith still can’t feed him­self. They don’t know if he’s gonna … Shit!’

‘What’s up?’ Webb asks, ner­vous. Crawford’s look­ing in the rear view. Webb turns around and sees a police car hang­ing on their back bumper. ‘Just take it easy,’ he says, ‘you ain’t done noth­ing wrong, have you?’

Crawford’s sweat­ing. ‘This is one of Al’s cars,’ he says.

‘And?’

‘Well Al don’t buy his fuck­ing cars, know what I’m saying?’

Webb looks around again as the blue lights on the roof of the police car start flashing.

‘What you gonna do?’

Craw­ford looks scared. Big man’s not so brave now.

‘What you gonna do?’ Webb shouts at him again. There are sirens now.

At the last sec­ond, Craw­ford cross­es from the inside to the out­side lane, squeez­ing through a gap between two cars mov­ing at dif­fer­ent speeds. He turns right, then does a U‑turn across the oth­er car­riage­way, dou­bling-back on him­self and leav­ing the police car stuck in traf­fic. All they can do is watch Craw­ford disappear.

‘Nice one,’ he says under his breath, feel­ing smug. He puts his foot down again and real­ly starts to move. The streets are busy. He weaves around parked cars and pedes­tri­ans and almost knocks a cyclist off his bike. The cyclist shouts some­thing at him but he’s long gone.

‘They’re still fol­low­ing,’ Webb says. He can see the blue lights behind them. They’re not giv­ing up. They’re way back but they’re get­ting clos­er, fast. Crawford’s fight­ing his way through the traf­fic but it’s mov­ing out of the way for the law and the gap between them is get­ting small­er by the sec­ond. ‘What you gonna do?’ he asks for a third time.

‘Back to Al’s.’

‘Fuck off,’ Webb says, sound­ing scared. ‘I’m not going to Al’s.’

‘Looks like you are.’

‘He’s gonna be pissed if you turn up there with the law behind you.’

‘I’ll lose them.’

‘You won’t. Fuck off, Craw­ford. Let me out!’

‘What, you want me to pull over and drop you off? Prick.’

‘Yes! Fuck­ing let me out.’

‘With the fuck­ing police right behind me?’

‘Yes!’

‘Fuck off!’ he says again.

The police car is close behind, blue lights fill­ing their mir­rors. Crawford’s try­ing not to pan­ic. He can’t think straight. Does he head back to Al’s or keep going into town and try los­ing them? Does he just dump the car and run? There’s anoth­er gap in the traf­fic. He swerves left and takes a fork in the road and dri­ves up and over a fly-over which leads right into the heart of the city …

… and the backed-up, rush-hour grind.

‘You fuck­ing idiot,’ yells Webb. ‘You’ll nev­er get away from them now. Traffic’s too heavy. They’re gonna have your bol­locks, mate …’

Our bol­locks, mate,’ he says as they begin their descent. Down through a short tun­nel, under a busy inter­change, then back out into day­light. They hit the cen­tre of town and the snarling queues. Halfway down Tem­ple Street and the already crawl­ing traf­fic has slowed to a stop. Craw­ford slams on his brakes, over-revving the engine and nudg­ing for­ward as he looks for a way through.

Webb pan­ics.

He gets out of the car and starts to run along the pave­ment, crash­ing into peo­ple. Every­one else seems to be walk­ing the oth­er way and he has to fight his way through the tide. Crawford’s goes to fol­low him but stops. There’s a sud­den pain in his throat. A sharp, sear­ing pain like someone’s slic­ing him with a knife. He starts to cough. He can’t breathe … and now the police offi­cer ham­mer­ing on his win­dow isn’t his biggest prob­lem. He’s chok­ing now. He can taste blood in his mouth …

The police­man turns around and looks back at his col­league who’s just fall­en out of the patrol car. He’s lying in the mid­dle of the road, writhing around in agony. A cou­ple of pass­er-bys start to move towards him but before they can do any­thing they’re both sud­den­ly grab­bing at their own throats, feel­ing intense, inex­plic­a­ble pain. Both police offi­cers are down now. The first has rolled into the gut­ter, his body con­vuls­ing, gripped by oxy­gen-starved spasms.

Webb keeps run­ning until the peo­ple around him start drop­ping to the ground. He slows down but keeps mov­ing, weav­ing through the ever-increas­ing car­nage, side-step­ping the bod­ies as they fall, not know­ing what else to do. He looks back over his shoul­der and sees that every­one else is down. Crawford’s not mov­ing and nei­ther are the police. Nei­ther is any­one else. He’s the only one still standing.

Webb stops run­ning and his bot­tom lip starts to trem­ble like a kid that’s just been shout­ed at by the hard­est teacher in school. All around him peo­ple are dead or dying. Cars are crash­ing. The world is falling apart, and none of it makes any sense.

He smells food and his bel­ly starts to rum­ble. He’s stand­ing next to a burg­er bar. Everyone’s dead inside and the food in the kitchen is start­ing to burn. He’s fuck­ing ter­ri­fied but his mouth is water­ing and he needs a drink. Maybe it’ll help calm his nerves, he thinks. Maybe it’ll help him think straight. He goes into the burg­er bar, picks up a tray and helps him­self to every­thing he can find behind the counter that’s cooked. He steps over dead and dying staff as he grabs a load of burg­ers, fries and drinks. He leaves the restau­rant, shak­ing with nerves but still try­ing to look cool as a fuck­ing cucum­ber, then walks back to Crawford’s car, look­ing up at the build­ings on either side of the street so he doesn’t have to look down at the bod­ies. He puts the tray of food on the pas­sen­ger seat then shoves Crawford’s body out and gets behind the wheel. He can’t dri­ve but it doesn’t mat­ter. He doesn’t know where he’d go if he could. He shuts the doors and locks them then winds up the win­dows and turns the music up so fuck­ing loud it hurts. For now, the food and the noise stop him think­ing about any­thing else.

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