I was driving up to a job. It was a long journey and I’d chosen to travel on a cold winter’s night about 8pm. I drove up the motorway for an hour or two then I came off and headed cross country to my destination. I was checking into a hotel that night and I wanted to get there, have a drink and get a good night’s sleep.
It was good to be out of London on this frosty December evening and I had that empty headed enthusiasm that comes when you’re on the road. You don’t really think about much for very long but thoughts pass through your head for a time. I was thinking about how I should have charged travel for this evening and how the client could be taking me for a ride. This pushed me on to go quicker, I didn’t want to waste any more of my time than I had to. I wondered if I was selfish? Probably.
On the way up through Oxfordshire I drove along the side of a river, I don’t know which one but I could feel it there on my right and downwards a little. I looked out the window and saw nothing but inky blackness. I had an old car but it didn’t matter, once it was warm it was warm and I didn’t have to worry if it got smashed up. Besides I disliked new cars. It almost said the driver had given up to me. Hey ho.
So there I was driving and I looked down momentarily at the I phone for directions, looked back up and there he was, a peocock. He seemed to appear from nowhere and he was walking slowly away from me in the middle of the road just minding his own business. I must have been doing 50 or 60 so I hit the the brakes but the road was slippery and inevitably I went into a long uncontrolled slide and then BONK I hit him from behind right in the centre of the bumper.
I pulled over just up the road and brought the car to a standstill. I wasn’t in a particularly safe place but I didn’t really care I wanted to get back and see what state Mr Peocock was in. The car behind me overtook and then pulled over on the left hand side a little further up in a layby.
I got out of the car and started walking back towards the peocock. It was almost pitch black but I could just make out his body lying in the road. I stopped and peered and then he began to flap around on the tarmac making this awful rattling sound. I was freaked out, I didn’t want to go near him and I could hardly see anything so I went back and got my phone seeing as I had no torch. The man in front of me had walked back and shouted out to me.
‘is your car ok?’ he said.
‘its a peocock’ I said.
‘oh he said, is your car ok?’
‘yeah it’s just an old car’ I said.
‘ok’ he said and he walked back to his car.
I got my phone and walked back down to Mr Peocock. He lay inert on the tarmac. I still couldn’t see much so I walked back to the car, got in and made a three point turn. Then I drove back to where he was and turned into a drive right beside him and positioned the car so my headlights could see him. I got out of the car and went over to him.
Well, there he lay in all his glory. He was quite beautiful and in some ways dignified just lying there. Feathers blew all around him as cars whizzed past and I gave him a small prod just to make sure. Then I walked around to the back of the car and looked up the driveway to a house behind a hedge. I could see a man standing there looking at me.
‘You don’t own a peocock do you?’ I said.
‘A peocock? Why? We thought we heard something. We heard a big screech and a thump. We thought there’d been an accident’ he said.
‘There has,’ I replied. ‘ I’ve hit a peocock’.
He began walking down and then he came down to the car and saw the peocock lying there.
‘It belongs to a family nearby,’ he said and he pointed towards the next house along.
‘I better go and see them,’ I said
‘You can leave your car here,’ he said.
I thanked him and walked up the road towards the drive. Cars sped past and some maniac tried to overtake someone else at great speed. It was hairy out there.
I got to the gate and looked through the railings. I could see a huge beautiful old house with a gravel drive. There was a woman at the top of the house in a bedroom hanging clothes up. I reached forward and pressed the buzzer. She froze and looked out of the window.
A man’s voice came over the intercom. A heavy Irish accent. ‘Hello,’ it said.
‘Hi, I’m afraid I’ve hit a peocock which belongs to you,’ I said. ‘You’d better come down’.
‘Peocock? Oh really? How did he get out there?’ he said. ‘Hang on, I’ll come down.’
He sounded genuinely surprised.
Within a minute he appeared on the drive with a torch and walked down towards me. There was someone else with him. They came to the gate. What’s he doing out on the road? they said.
We walked back down the road to the car. I told them I was really sorry it was a great shame. He just appeared I said. How did he get out on the road? they said. I asked them how long they’d had him. Oh six or seven years they said, but he’s never got out before, they said. They were fond of him. I could understand it.
Well there he is I said and we all stood and looked at him. I bent down and looked at his feathers. He’s beautiful I said, look at the feathers. Then I took one of his tail feathers. It looked good in the headlights. Then I took a couple more. Is this alright if I take a feather or two I said. Go Ahead they said. Take them all.
‘Well, we better get him off the road’ said the Irishman and he grabbed the bird by his claws and lifted him up.
‘He’s quite a beast,’ I said. ‘I’d better be going I guess.’
I walked around to the driver’s door. ‘Put him in a pot,’ I said. ‘He’ll be delicious!’
‘Yes yes, can you eat them?’ said the Irishman.
‘I don’t see why not?’ I said and we both laughed. Then they both walked off into the night.
I got back into the car and tucked the tailfeathers into the sun visor over my head. Then I put the car in gear and drove out onto the road and headed on to my final destination. It was a crazy thing to happen but I felt good. All was well in the universe.