Danger amongst the English

Back in the pre-COVID days when we could travel, after being rooted out of bed by the grandkids I would head for the Koffee Klatch at the City Mall Food Court. One morning it was like viewing a UN collection of the walking wounded – literally. The group clustered around the table on dragged up chairs were liberally attired in assorted slings, braces, and bandages.

“W-w-what happened?” I sputtered in amazement as ten pairs of eyes turned my way and a half-hearted shuffling of chairs made room for my own.

“Well Matey, it’s like this, bloody chain reaction collision, when I slowed on that ‘ard-left turn down by Sears,” snorted Clive in a broad Cockney accent as he twirled the ends of his waxed handlebar moustache and adjusted his knee brace.

“Yeah, Mon, den w’en I was lookin’ I plumb rear-ended him an’ hit de wall,” continued Henry in his best Caribbean twang, as he massaged the bump on his head swathed in a white bandage.

“Ya, and Nick and me, vee side swiped both ‘dose guys an’ spin outta ‘trol. Smash to bits, by Yiminy!” spouted Ole in his broad Swedish singsong, hoisting his leg cast into a more comfortable position on the adjoining chair. His brother Nick just shook his head in agreement and finished adjusting his new crutches.

“Mamamia! She wassa disaster. I a never a see any a t’ing lika it since de cementa truck tippa over ona da Fiat!” roared Tony, his hands flying faster than his lips, drawing a virtual picture of the mayhem, while sporting a black eye and attendant contusions.

The only one of the group that seemed unscathed was Anson, the group’s soul Amish component. Anson had spent a lifetime as a hard-working farmer, faithful to the Amish creed of worship and shunning the modern world.

But urban sprawl had overtaken him and when his farm was expropriated for a new interchange, Anson caved in – sort of. Since his kids were all grown and had moved onto farms of their own. Being a great believer in character developed by independence, rather than risking spoiling the family, Anson deposited the cash into a charitable trust. He was now living frugally, but comfortably, off a small portion of the interest. A car, electric heat, hot water, and indoor plumbing at the retirement home weren’t all that sinful after all, he had decided.

“Boy that’s some accident! What did the cars look like? Must’a been lots of damage,” I speculated, imagining the carnage unveiling in squealing tires and crunching metal.

“Cars? What bloody cars?” roared Clive, wincing in pain at the sudden movement.

“W-w-whaddya mean?” I stuttered in stunned puzzlement.

“Mamamia! It a was a right a here in a de Mall when a we was a walking!” roared an exasperated Tony his hands flailing even more wildly.

“Yeah Mon, dat new kiosk by Sears has got dis bodacious mango runnin’ it and she was jes’ openin’ fer de day,” explained Henry, his face beaming in remembrance.

“Ooo la la!” spouted Pierre, “What de sight w’en she bend over jes’ when Clive come ‘round de corner.”

“Uffda! First dat sight and den der vas bodies pil’ up all over de place. Tak’ an hour for de ambulance and de paramedics to untangle us all. Uffda!” emphasized Ole as he passed the felt pen to another onlooker to autograph his cast. Nick remained silent and looked more morose than ever.

“How did you avoid the disaster?” I asked Anson the only apparently uninjured member of the Klatch.

Anson slowly turned his long aquiline face towards me, gazing out of sad, brown eyes. There was the only one thing he regretted leaving behind on the farm- his horses. A lifelong love of smart stepping buggy horses had left even his face resembling a horse, a little. Picking up his hat, he demonstrated his city traffic adaptation. A set of blinders folded down from the crown to the sides effectively narrowing his vision to straight ahead.

“My wife, Sarah, rigged up this bridle for me,” he explained as he rose, donning his hat, and adjusting the blinders.

Then as he eased out into the traffic of other mall walkers, he nickered softly, “After all it’s dangerous out here amongst the English.”