He was already late and, fuck, unbelievably, there was an orange leather armchair in the middle of the road. It was early in the morning, barely light. The houses around him were still, curtains drawn. He wanted to lean on his horn and wake someone up, but some part of himself stopped his hand from moving. May be there was a mother whose baby has just gone to sleep, or a nurse nodding off after a long shift at a hospital.
Someone, dressed in black and carrying a bottle of milk, appeared at the end of the road. He waved and waved and waved but the person quickened their pace and scurried down a side road. What now?
He could drive over the armchair, splintering its wooden arms and flattening the seat and back. His car was built for it: tall, knobbly tires and a clearance that meant he could mount high pavements, and nothing would get stuck on his chassis. He could lean on his horn. He could. He could also, of course, get out of the car and move the armchair to the side of the road – but this didn’t occur to him.
There was an ominous silence in the neighbourhood as if everyone had conspired to put the chair in the road at the exact moment he was going to drive down it, and now they were all huddling behind their front doors, laughing and laughing.
He was on the way to the airport to catch an early flight to Johannesburg. Expanding his empire. Building a new chain of coffee shops. From there onto Kigali to check in on his restaurants and nightclubs. Afterwards he was going to Stone Town and Zanzibar to see his hotel. Fletcher’s Hotel. Fletcher’s Eatery. Fletcher’s Night Club. Fletcher’s Coffee. They all had a nice ring to them, he liked seeing his name in lights
Fletcher’s Furniture. He could also get out the car and pick up the armchair and put it into the boot of his car – this did occur to him. He would have to fold down the seats but the chair would fit. It was cold outside though and the seat warmer had toasted his body. His footwear wasn’t appropriate either – new leather sandals. It was hot in Africa.
The long poles of the streetlights prevented him from driving around. Toot on his horn? But someone may not come, and he would still be stuck here. A glance at the clock told him he was going to be late if he didn’t find a way to get rid of the chair, it was too late to turn around and find another route.
He sat for a moment looking at the chair, at its orangeness, at its solid presence in the middle of the road then Fletcher Kane pressed a button and locked all his windows. His foot pressed down on the accelerator and he drove into the orange chair and over it. Of course he didn’t hear the wood splintering or the crunch of the tires over the chair seat and back, he was playing his music too loudly and the solid metal of the car stopped any outside noise from reaching him. He didn’t like the alliteration of Fletcher’s Furniture anyway, and the business would have been too costly to set up.
That night he would dream of figures in black throwing orange beach balls at him. The new interior designer he was meeting in Zanzibar wouldn’t understand his rage when she presented her ideas, based on orange, for his new hotel.
That’s in the future though, now he is flying down the road gaining time – he’s going to make his flight.