She said that she wanted to drive and I was in no mood to argue, I'd also supped three very decent brandies within the last three hours. It had been a long day, the negotiations had seemed never ending, I thought the deal was going to fail and then out of the blue we broke through and agreed terms and most importantly the right price. I was now the proud owner of Bentley Mullinier on a really good deal, al perfect except for the fact that though I might own it, it to for my wife, a birthday surprise, the colour, the trim, the model she had wanted. When she first mentioned Bentley I was surprised, I understood she was more than happy with the Range Rover and she seemed more than a little contemptuous about the Maserati (she probably couldn’t even spell it) and would hardly travel in it never mind drive it. The Bentley however seemed to tick all the necessary boxes. “It's such a statement,” she said, “it's elegant, it's strong, almost British and it eloquently tells everybody in the way or on the edge to politely fuck off.” That was her logic, her thinking and in many ways summed up her attitude to life in general. I was glad she wasn't here with us today.
It was my personal assistant Doreen who was driving, she was quiet and confident and knew me well enough to sense that this car, lovely as it was, was not for me and that my relationship with it would be like my relationship with my wife, troubled, strained and expensive. Doreen was a natural and enthusiastic driver, normally she drove a small BMW but took to the Bentley without any bother. She had been floating around all day and as was her way had paid attention to everything in the sales and technical presentation. I could have had the car delivered of course, I could have done many things but I like to take possession, it's what I do in business, in commerce and in love. There was like just one big exception of course, my lovely and headstrong wife. She was not one to be possessed, she was one to be orbited, pampered and fawned after; hence the ongoing conflict as I gave and gave and on brief and unspecified occasions took a little back.
Doreen let the car off the lead and sped onto the motorway, in a few seconds we were up to 80, smooth as silk, silent as a submarine, the bright lights pushing ahead on the nearly empty road, trucks and slower vehicles blurred behind in our swishing wake as we headed home. I pressed back in the passenger seat, closed my eyes, tasted a little of the brandy at the back of my tongue and let the warm travel fever paint a coral blue pattern across my subconscious, I stroked the hem of sleep, touched the frayed edge and drifted away. That's all I remember, that's all I recall, the blue Bentley haze and the comfort of the dreamless void. Then I wake up here. Here looks like the wrong side of a hospital bed, flat on my back looking up into the clinical lamps, beeping noises, a wide area of pain that should belong to nobody and those swirling motorway last minute lights.
I don't how long I drifted in that place, there were words and messages, ideas, questions, all of which eventually passed through that injured sieve that my mind had become. “He's well enough to talk.'” a voice said. “Mr Severin...James...I've something to tell you...I'm Chief Inspector David Lomax of the Thames Valley Police...your wife, Jennifer has been killed..it happened five days ago.” I felt a tremor like an earthquake, I felt my own sweat, I wanted to speak, I want to cry but all I did was freeze up, except for a tremble and spasm that threw my arms up behind my head pulling wires and tubes. “Mr Severin, I'm very sorry...but I need to ask you a number of questions.”
“OK,” I was talking, my voice came out compressed and small, like a man talking through a toilet roll tube with lips part sewn together, “I'm OK, I'll talk, I'm just not sure what I'm hearing you say...you're saying things I don't understand.” Lomax spoke for a while, he explain that I'd been injured and that I'd been in a serious road accident, he explained that Jennifer had been involved in the road accident too, killed instantly, it had all happened in fractions of seconds. Everything I was hearing seemed like me snippets from a bad and bizarre movie script, drowning me in a relentless water boarding of words and described events. Now I was choking, spluttering and coughing up contradictions and personal horrors in jagged technicolour recollections.
Lomax was standing at the foot of the bed, his face was grim and straight as an undertaker on the job. “Mr Severin, I need to present you with some facts about your wife's death and your injuries. On the evening of the 27th your wife was outside of your house, the family home. She was standing at the top of the drive way removing some shopping bags from the back of her Range Rover. You were approaching in a Bentley, apparently newly purchased by you on that same day. For no obvious reason the Bentley was being driven at high speed and collided with the rear of the parked Range Rover. Your wife Jennifer was killed instantly by the impact. You were found in the driver's seat of the Bentley, your passenger Doreen Weston was also killed instantly. We've looked at the evidence, the cars, the tyre marks on the driveway and at the CCTV images from your security system and I have to tell you that your direct actions appeared to have caused this terrible incident and the two fatalities. Is there anything you'd wish to say?”
Hidden in a lengthy footnote in the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead) in the “sidpa bardo” is a brief explanation of the transition and transformations a soul must make when death is closing in:
“Imagine that a swimming fish eats a fish and then that fish is eaten by another larger fish and then that same fish is eaten by yet another larger fish. How many fish are there? There is of course one, the one that has triumphed by natural process over those that were consumed but whilst those that were consumed may no longer swim themselves they are still as fish and their spirit ranges and travels looking for a place to rest. In the final transformation, in extreme situations of passion and pressure there may indeed be manifestations and movements between places and in bodies that seek to bring a final justice and judgement – to close out. This may make no sense to us as we are unable to see every fish that is in the pool and understand the complexity of their relationships as there are many fish each swimming at different levels. The eye can only see so much, those who travel in some final cycle may move sideways or backwards as well as forward.”
“No man is born with spiritual understanding, he must acquire this through special training and experience. It is good that such to all intents and purposes useless books exist. They are meant for those (queer) folk who no longer set much store in the uses, aims and meanings of present day civilisation.” - Carl Jung.