I DRIVE A BLUE FORD FOCUS - ALUN WILLIAMS
I drive a Ford Focus. It’s the most popular car in the UK other than a Volks Golf. I used to have a Fiesta, which is third most popular, but the Focus has a little more speed. It also looks like a lot of other models. That’s good.
I could buy something a little more sporty. God knows I can afford it but a BMW or Jaguar attracts attention, doesn’t it? No, a Focus is just right. It’s quick and unobtrusive, especially in the dark.
It’s dark blue. All my cars are dark blue. It’s invisible. Really. Look, try this tonight. A car goes by when you’re walking home at night. Can you tell what colour it is in the dark? Sure, if it's white then you’d probably get it right. But dark blue? Could be black, could be dark green or red even. You really wouldn’t know, would you? See, there’s method in my madness. You have to be careful and I‘m good. I’m very good.
Why am I going on about cars? Well, I do my homework. See, if I didn’t, well, I’d be in solitary in Strangeways. If you read all the reports, there’s always a white van reported in abduction cases.
“A white van was seen driving...”
“Police want to talk to the driver of a white van...”
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it’s just some poor sod driving home for lunch, but people still remember the white van. That got me thinking about how I could make myself as invisible as can be. A blue Ford Focus is the closest I can get.
I buy all my cars from the web. Great invention, that. The web. You can see the world from your little bedroom. You can buy anything and you can talk to anyone. I do that. Talk a lot. You’re invisible on the web unless you have a web cam. I’ve got one but I only use it sparingly. It just wouldn’t do to spoil the illusion.
I don’t use my real name. Well, you wouldn’t, would you, not unless you were stupid or something. I use various aliases and I use different computers, too, although not in internet cafes and libraries. I’ve heard they monitor those and that will not do. It’s very easy to slip into a persona. Occasionally, I’m Dave Hibbard, a 23 year-old from Hartlepool. Dave’s ex-Army. Served in Iraq, did Dave. Got wounded, too! A lot of girls like Dave. I guess it’s that macho man appeal.
I’m also Steve Allen, a 16 year-old from Liverpool. Steve’s in a band. The Wheelies. They play garage music. Then there’s Andy, who’s 17 from London and Chris, also 14 from Brighton. He’s the most popular of all. His dad owns a club in Spain. I’m thirty-three, by the way.
It’s remarkable how many people open up when you’re on the web. All their little secrets are divulged, bit by bit. You mustn’t really interrogate them or that can ring alarm bells. Just throw them a little something and it’s amazing how kids will open up to you.
I make certain I take my time. Rushing into a meet is not on. Six months is my absolute minimum time. It took two years to arrange a meet with that little Amy from Cardiff. It was on Crimewatch the other week. Well worth the wait, though.
Arrange a meet, don’t turn up, follow them. When the time is right, bang! Offer them a lift. You’re their father’s cousin, their mother’s sister’s husband. You know things about them because you’ve had at least six months to store it all up. They’re always taken by surprise. Never make a fuss, especially when you start talking about some family stuff. Can’t be a stranger, can it?
Don’t they listen to the warnings about talking to strangers? They don’t see me as a stranger. They don’t really see me at all.
No one sees a blue Ford Focus. Do they?
BIO: Alun Williams, 55. Born and still residing in Wales. Member of Crittersbar (writing under maxieslim), Zoetrope and Scrawl (writing as Maxwell Allen) and has had several shorts published in Write Side Up, Bonfire, Twisted Tongue, Skive, The Legendary and various others. Loves noir and Charles Bukowski.
Irish Times Crime Fiction column, February 2018
13 hours ago