The hitchhiker

The hitchhiker
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  • Where are you headed?
  • I'm going right through London and out the other side, I'm goin' to Eposm, for the races. It's Derby Day today.
  • One hundred and twenty-nine miles an hour.
  • I’m a writer, and most writers are very nosy.
  • I'll bet she will.
  • I’m in a skilled trade too. What can she do flat out?
  • I'll bet she won't do it.
  • Open'er up and prove it guv'nor. Let's see what she'll do.
  • Not you, him.
  • I had a new BMW 3.3 litre. The top speed was 129 mph. The body was pale blue. The seats were dark blue and made of leather. The windows and sunroof were electrically operated. The radio aerial came up when the radio was on and went down when off. The engine growled at slow speeds but purred at sixty miles an hour. I was driving up to London. Ahead of me, a man thumbed a lift. I brought the car beside him. I always stopped for hitchhikers.
  • Is there a woman having a baby or your house's on fire and you're in need to dash? Do you know what the speed limit is? Mind telling me what you were doing at one hundred and twenty miles per hour! And who're you?
  •  When I get back, I'm going to check on you. We might have a picture of you. You won't be driving fancy cars for a long time after we're finished. You won’t be driving any car again for several years. I hope they lock you behind the bars, with other criminals. Throw in a hefty fine too. Nobody'll be more pleased than me.
  • That's likely, and you're a witness. Driver's license. Now you. Name? Address? How are you to prove this? What's your job, what do you do? Employer?
  •  What's the hurry?
  • Don't talk to 'im more than necessary.
  • 'Ave I done somethin' wrong?
  • Michael Fish, Fourteen, Windsor Lane, Luton. I'm an 'od carrier, officer. H-o-d c-a- An  is a person who carries cement up a ladder to the bricklayer. And 'od is what is used to carry it. It's got a long handle, on the top you've got bits of wood set at an angle... I’m unemployed.
  • No officer, my house isn't on fire. He's a hitchhiker, I'm giving him a lift.
  • No hurry, officer.
  • He was a small ratty-faced man with grey teeth. His eyes were dark and quick and clever, like rat's eyes, and his ears were slightly pointed at the top. He had a cloth cap on his head and he was wearing a  greyish-coloured jacket with enormous pockets. The grey jacket, together with the quick eyes and the pointed ears, made him look like some sort of a huge human rat." Where are you headed?" I asked. He said. "I'm goin' to the races." 
  • Then why won't you tell me?
  • So what do you do?
  • By the way, why'd you lie to him? You told him you were an unemployed hod carrier. But you told me you were in a highly skilled trade.
  • Phew! That's done it... I was caught.
  • I'm going to London to talk to my solicitor.
  • You writers really is nosy parkers, aren't you? And you ain't goin' to be 'appy, I don't think, until you've found out exactly what the answer is?
  • You mustn't believe what ‘ee said about goin’ to prison. They don't put nobody in the clink just for speedin. They can take your license away, give you a whoppin' big fine, but that'll be the end of it.
  • Ah, that'll be tellin', wouldn't it?
  • So I am. But it don't pay to tell everythin' to a copper.
  • What you goin’ to do now, guv’nor?
  • There's a clock in front of you.
  • So what do you call yourself?
  • " I’m a writer, and  most writers are terribly nosy.” " I’m in a skilled trade too. What can she do flat out?" he asked "One hundred and twenty-nine miles an hour," I told him."I'll bet she won't do it." "I'll bet she will." "Open 'er up and prove it, guv'nor. Let's see what she'll do."he said. I pressed my foot hard down on the accelerator. In ten seconds or so, we were doing ninety. At that moment, a cop on a motorcycle raised a hand for us to stop.
  • Never heard it. Did you invent it?
  • So... you're a card player?
  • I’ve never seen anyone roll so fast.
  • You took it. I want it back.
  • How?
  • You're right. So you pickpocket.
  • You're a conjuror.
  • I wouldn't nick from you, guv'nor. I'm just answerin' your question. Here's another. Eighteenth century, during King George the Third.
  • A conjuror? No.
  • Fingersmith.
  • No.
  • Do you know how? It's because of my fingers. My job's more difficult than playin' the piano. There's little kids learnin' to play the piano in almost any 'ouse you go to these days, but not one person in ten million can learn what I can do.
  • Me! That's a miserable racket if ever there was one. Anyone missin' a shoelace?
  • I don't trust it, what does your's say?
  • You saw nothin'. What time is it?
  • "What's the hurry? Is there's a woman in the back having a baby and you're rushing her to hospital? Or perhaps your house is on fire and you're dashing home to rescue the family from upstairs? Do you know what the speed limit is in this country? And do you mind telling me exactly what speed you were doing just now? One hundred and twenty miles per hour!" he barked. "That's fifty miles an hour over the limit!" He stared hard at my passenger. "I'll deal with you in a minute. Driver's license," he snapped, holding out his hand. I gave him my driver's license. Carefully, he copied the name and address from my license. He strolled around to the front of the car and read the number from the license plate and wrote that down as well. He filled in the date, the time and the details of my offence. Then he tore out the top copy of the ticket. Finally, he replaced the book in his breast pocket and fastened the button."Now you," he said to my passenger, and he walked around to the other side of the car. From the other breast pocket he produced a small black notebook."Name?" he snapped."Michael Fish," my passenger said."Address?" "Fourteen, Windsor Lane, Luton." "Show me something to prove this is your real name and address," the police man said. My passenger fished in his pockets and came out with a driver's license of his own.The policeman checked the name and address and handed it back to him. The cop wrote all this down in the black notebook. He strolled round the car and returned to my window."I suppose you know you’re in serious trouble.” he said to me. "You won't be driving this fancy car of yours again for a very long time, not after we've finished with you. I hope they lock you up for a spell into the bargain. Along with all the other criminals who break the law. And a hefty fine into the bargain." "By the way," I said, "why did you lie to him?"
  • I gasped. He said. I said. I started the car and drove on. He said. I was relieved. I said. He said. I asked him. He said. I said. He answered. I lied. He gave me a sly look. He said. I didn’t like the way he read my thoughts. I kept quiet and stared at the road. He went on. From his pocket, he took out tobacco, cigarette papers and started to roll a cigarette. I watched out of the corner of one eye, the speed which he performed the operation was incredible.
  • I don't really care one way or the other.
  • I think you do care, I can see it on your face that you think I’m in some kind of peculiar trade and you're achin' to know what it is. You'd be right, too, I'm in the queerest peculiar trade of 'em all. That's why I 'as to be extra careful oo' I’m talkin' to, you see.
  • Do you ever get caught?
  • That cop's going to check on you.
  • What's memory got to do with it?
  • It was ready in five seconds. He popped it between his lips. Then, a lighter flamed in his hand. Cigarette lit, lighter gone. It was a great show. I said. He said, holding up his hands. I glanced at his fingers. They were slim and didn't seem to belong to him. They looked like the fingers of a watchmaker. He went on. I said. He said. I was taking the car slowly, making sure I wasn't stopped. My passenger was holding a leather belt. The buckle was of unusual design. He grinned, waving it gently. I felt for my belt. It was gone. I asked. He dropped it, and there was a shoelace. He exclaimed. I glanced at my shoes. A lace was missing. I asked. He said. He sat back and sucked away at his cigarette, blowing the smoke. He knew he'd impressed me and he was very happy. He said. I said. He said. I rolled my sleeve to look at my watch. It wasn't there. I looked at him. He grinned back at me. I said. He held out his hand and there was my watch. He said. He placed the watch on the leather tray. He went on. He smiled and started to take one thing after another that belonged to me, my driver's license, keys, pound notes, coins, a letter, my diary, a stubby pencil, a cigarette lighter, and last of all, an old ring belonging to my wife. I was taking it up to a jeweller in London. He said, turning the ring over. I said. He answered. He spoke proudly, as though he was telling me he was the President or Archbishop. I said. He replied. I said. He cried, disgusted. I said. He answered. I believed him. Those long slim fingers seemed able to do anything. We drove on without talking. I said. He said. He gave me another sly smiles. He said. I asked. He was holding the two books he'd taken. He announced. I nearly swerved into a milk truck, I was excited. He said. I cried. He said. I exclaimed. He said.
  • He's lost both books and now, he's got nothin'. I think you'd better pull so we can burn these.
  • No. You've 'eard of goldsmiths, who are experts with gold. I expertise in my fingers, so I'm a fingersmith. Races are easy. When people are collectin', you 'elp yourself. But I don't for the poor, only the rich.
  • No.
  • But 'ee ain't got it all. I've never known a copper with memory.
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