Car 1

Mr Alfred Cushway

Outward appearance

Aging male model. Every hair in place, immaculate long coat thrown open, brown and black Italian jacket, loosely hanging trousers. The face is handsome, dead in the water, baggy-eyed.

Inside information

An executive at Mosstains. Has not worked on a building site since his 20s. Moved into sales, then account management, dealing with customers. Has a family, a house near Ely, Cambridgeshire. Collects art and antiques. Beats his children uncontrollably.

What he is doing or thinking

Alf has started drinking again and is battling the cloud of hangover across his forehead. He knows he shouted at the kids last night, but is sure, sure that he did not hit them. At least, he can't remember it.

Why does he lose his temper with them? He never does with anyone else. He loves them, gets frustrated by them. They can't hit back.

It's the one flaw in his perfect life, he can feel it like a crack across his face.

There is a bit of argy-bargy. Alf chuckles to himself, some poor kid has bitten off a bit more than he can chew. He looks at the boy's brown jacket, green tie. No dress sense.

Then the chuckle dies. That's me, Alf recognizes, that's me at the same age. He remembers his wedding photograph: transparent mauve shirt, long hair like a truck driver in drag. The embarrassed, grateful eyes.

It's Vauxhall, he thinks. All my life I've been trying to get away from Vauxhall, but it follows me. Hard, sad Vauxhall. Alf looks at the kid and knows: he'll hit his children too.

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