Chapter 8

Written by: Ray Stone

Francesca held a trembling hand over her mouth. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She couldn’t believe what she was reading. She fell into an armchair, banging her fists onto her knees.

She had picked up Cate’s post and found a police report. It showed that Cate had been driving with undue care and attention and that she was the cause of the accident. Below the statement was a report on the general maintenance and condition of the SUV.

Reading through the checklist there was a red ink slash through the section marked ‘Brakes.’ Faulty calipers listed together with a comment in the adjacent column sent a chill through her. ‘Incorrect parts (calipers) forced to fit. A further report that the deficient parts would certainly cause a malfunction of the brakes leading to a major accident filled her with dread.

Francesca remembered the mechanic had first told her he didn’t have the right part. A replacement was on order. She had told him the service was a rush job and there had to be a generic part he could use. Pressured by her insistence, the man fitted the same part that came from an older model of the SUV. He had used a hammer to force it into place, warning her to have the brake replaced with the correct part as soon as possible.

Wiping the tears from her face, Francesca squinted, her lips tightly drawn. It was Jim’s fault. He should have been more reliable. She decided to deal with him once and for all.


A strong smell of cellulose paint mixed with diesel fumes made Jim cough. He walked through a cloud of diesel smoke and knocked on the office door. Through the reeded glass he could see and hear a young blonde receptionist talking on the phone. A hand waved him in. Treading on a couple of discarded plastic cups and an empty McDonalds carton, he climbed the two steps to the door and entered.

The office was a mess. Paperwork lay strewn across the desk and a full ashtray threatened to fall off the edge of a paraffin heater next to the door. Across one wall a row of clips held bundles of invoices, car keys and pamphlets advertising a variety of products.

Jim wondered why Francesca had not used the garage they normally used. Despite his failings the one thing he always made sure of was the service on Cate’s vehicle.

“What can I do for you?” The blonde slid off her stool and smiled broadly.

“Yes, I was wondering if you could look up a bill from a couple of months ago?” said Jim.

He gave her the details and waited while she thumbed through a ledger until she found an entry. Opening a drawer in the battered filing cabinet she produced the original work docket. He read a note written by the mechanic and looked at the signature of the customer signing the work off.

Seething with anger he left, heading for Francesca. 




The story about whose fault the crash was changes with this chapter. Great work to lead to the finish