Camikaze | Ian Harrison

If there is one thing Cam can’t stand it’s aftermarket air bags.


Camikaze

By Ian Harrison

For The Custom Rims Award


 

“That’s what my workmates call me. I’m a human crash test dummy,” explained Cam, as the woman’s partner returned with drinks, handing her one.

“Ah, so you work with Khoo, then?”

“At the Triple-C. Checkpoint Collision Centre.” Cam loved explaining his job to bewildered expressions.

“Austin,” said the man, shaking Cam’s hand. “So, you…”

“Yep, I sit inside a new or prototype car with stickers stuck to my body and head, and they train a dozen slow-mo cameras on me. Then the car is crashed into another one or a wall at a pre-determined speed. I can handle 8 G’s of force.”

“Wow,” said Minnie Cooper, clutching Austin’s arm. “That sounds exciting.”

Cam looked her over afresh. Similar vintage, well-maintained, if not a showroom model, no bodywork dents. Modern pinstripes, not too many k’s on the clock and a new, sensible set of matt-black boots, slung close to the ground. Smart, sassy, no-nonsense, regularly serviced, well garaged and low maintenance, by her look.

The airbags appeared to be an after-market addition, though.

“I suppose you’ve broken a few bones?” Austin grilled him.

“Where to start?” Pondered the Cam-ikaze. “A compound fracture in my right forearm. One of three in a tree at the time; I fell.”

Cam winced at the memory. “I’ve also dislocated most of my fingers and cracked a few ribs. Oh, my nose too. Rough neighbourhood as a kid.”

“What about at work?”

“What about work?” Cam looked at him like he was a couple of seats short of a Tarago.

“Any breaks at work?” Asked Austin.

“No, don’t be silly! There’re no brakes in a controlled collision! That defeats the purpose of crashing them in the first place.”

“Sorry, I think Austin meant breaks. Break breaks. Didn’t you darling? Have you had any work breaks, Cam?” A driven Minnie felt obliged to prevent the conversation from stalling, yet found it difficult to suppress a smile.

“Ah! Work breaks! Sorry, I couldn’t hear how you spelled it. The union demands we all get plenty of breaks. Fifteen minutes for coffee in the morning; an hour for lunch.”

Austin felt suddenly exhausted. “Look : we have no truck with you; all we are trying to find out is if you’ve broken something at work?”

“What, like my boss’ favourite coffee mug?”

“No! Cam, stop! Red light. Look, have you ever broken any bones – at work?”

“Oh, right! No, touch wood. I’ve never broken anything at work. And especially not my boss’ favourite coffee mug,” added Cam, shifty. “It fell off the bench. All by itself.”

The party partied on. Music cranked, people crunked, drank and drunk.

Cam mingled with the hosts – Tsiu Doh Nim, an actor-slash-writer – whose stage name escaped Cam’s memory. His wife and Cam’s colleague, Tsiu Doh Khoo, was bright and engaging. People found the everyday Tsiu Doh Khoo difficult to work out, though Cam excelled, through perseverance. An amiable and affable couple, exceptionally reliant Korean imports.

Their children, Tsiu Doh Eff and Rin were unwell, recovering from colds at their grandparents’.

“We’re just going to do a fast lap of the party, give kudos to the Tsiu Doh’s, then make tracks,” explained Minnie as she returned. “It was lovely meeting you, Cam-ikaze. Do you need a lift anywhere?”

“All good,” he smiled. “I’m a pedestrian tonight. You see, I only ever do public transport if I can help it.”

“The train station’s miles from here.” Austin said.

“On the way for us,” continued Minnie. “It’s no trouble.”

“I appreciate the thought,” said Cam. “But I’ll still walk, thanks. Sitting in different cars makes me jumpy.”