“Surprised you got here at all,” he said softly, kicking her flat tyre.
Rosie had watched enough TV to know his American accent to be Californian. “Me too,” she said, not meaning the car.
“But we’ll have away in no time.”
“No hurry,” she said and hoped he’d take all day. With the choice of views being him or the sea she could think of nowhere else she’d rather be.
“Do you have a spare?”
“No,” she said, knowing that her model of car didn’t come with one. “I thought they had to, by law, but apparently…”
“No problem,” he said. “You’re travelling a bit back-heavy? Got a body in there?” He laughed, exposing brilliant white teeth.
Rosie had never been good at spontaneous laughter and didn’t think now was the time to try, so just smiled and shook her head. “Moving house.”
“Oh, all your worldly possessions.”
“Yes,” she said quietly, picturing the heavy old chest that took up most of the boot. The man stopped smiling.
“It’s OK, really it is. New life, new start.”
Rosie didn’t reply.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated, “just here to fix your wheel. I’m new… I’ll shut up now and…”
“It’s OK, really it… I’ve said that already.”
“Don’t be nervous. It’s the uniform, I know, even makes me nervous.”
She laughed then, a natural laugh, and enjoyed it.
“That’s better,” the man said and held out his hand. “Bryan… Josh Bryan.”
As Rosie looked at him, she imagined him not in his uniform but in a dinner suit, sipping a cocktail that had been shaken not stirred, with a gun tucked discreetly under his jacket.
“I have some stuff in my trunk that’ll fix your car… what is it you Brits say? In a jiffy?
Rosie laughed again. “We’ve not said that since Jeeves and Wooster.”
“PG Wodehouse! You read?”
“I do… try to, when I have time.”
“I love the old ones. Really funny. Not as far back as Jane Austen, the romance, but…”
“You don’t like romance?” Rosie surprised them both with that question. “I mean, the classics.”
“20th Century is as old as I get. Still living there so my wife says.”
Rosie’s shoulders slumped.
“Ex wife, I should say. She’s still in the States. Couldn’t see why I would want to live here, but just look… the sea, the beach, the sun…”
“But don’t you have all that in California?”
“How did you know? Oh, the accent. Giveaway isn’t it. We do but it’s a different kind of sun. It’s… anyway, you’ll be wanting to go and we do need to fix your car.”
She watched him go the back of his patrol car, return with a yellow and black can, connect the tube to the air valve then reinflate the tyre. “Is that it?” she asked when he screwed the caps back on both the tyre and can.
“Not permanent. Should get you to the gas station.”
“Of course, you won’t know one, will you? I’m finishing in a minute anyway, you can follow me.”
“Sure. There’s one just down from the PD… I mean police station, just down the road from the garage not gas station. I said I was new.”
Rosie smiled. “Thank you for everything. You’re very kind.”
Josh nodded and they returned to their cars.
Rosie followed him at just below the speed limit, without the sirens she’d hoped for but knew wouldn’t be warranted. It’s not every day you get a police escort and Rosie hoped it wouldn’t be the last.
Photography courtesy of morguefile.com.
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