Go left















































Andy sits on the ground and leans back against the side of the car. The bleeding has stopped now but he looks a funny grey colour. I was trembling when he pulled the piece of glass out of his forehead and held it up between his thumb and forefinger so that it caught the last golden rays of the afternoon sun. Then he threw it away and held the palm of his hand against the bleeding hole.

‘It’s not so deep,’ he said, and started giggling. ‘Call me Cain, if you’re able.’

I like the look of him sitting there in the dirt, splatters of blood drying on his clothes, an elongated shadow reaching out across the blacktop. It makes me think that maybe things aren’t so bad after all. Maybe this is the break we’ve been looking for without even knowing it. Perhaps we can start again, use this accident to bring us together, close the gap. It’s worked before.

I begin to knock out what’s left of the windscreen, wrapping my fist in an old purple shirt and punching the glass out over the bonnet. It’s hard to believe that all these thousands of fragments once formed a smooth surface. Sometimes the only way to really see something is to destroy it.

The inside of the car is a mess. There are clothes and papers and cans all over the back seat and the floor is covered in dry mud, cigarette ash, blood, red sand and glass. I kneel down beside the car and start pushing the debris into a small pile. There is a smashed biro, cellophane wrapping from dozens of cigarette packets, an empty film canister, a broken cassette case, torn beer coasters, some prawn heads, a leaflet on outback motoring, and a tiny piece of paper. I notice the paper because it’s folded up so neatly, halved and halved and halved again until it can go no smaller.

I pick it up and gently prise it apart, taking care not to rip it. It’s a page from a notebook, and at first all I can see are black lines and squiggles, broken squares and a grid, a long curving arrow and then a tiny X marks the spot. Slowly the lines begin to resolve themselves, come into focus and I can see how one layer fits on top of another, like an outline or a diagram, perhaps a map with a meandering track which cuts across it. By following the curly loops and filling in the blanks I can make the lines become letters, push them together into words until a name appears, followed by what looks like an address and then finally, the combination we’ve all been waiting for, a row of figures that crystallise into a city phone number.