The Traffic Report

By Sean Joyce

Location: Junction 7, M60

This morning the birdsong means more than on any other day. He listens for a moment from beneath the bed covers and they are almost in the room with him, flitting amongst the shadows.

When he pulls back the curtains, sunlight pours into the room like the sea into a sinking ship.

He makes the bed before slipping on the clothes already laid out on a wicker chair in the corner of the room. Black boxer shorts. Grey flannel trousers. White shirt. Red tie. A pair of chequered socks.

He picks up his ID badge from the bedside table and clips it onto the right breast pocket of his shirt.

He looks in the mirror. His eyes are tired but the room is bright and seems to glow.

He brushes his teeth in the bathroom for exactly two minutes, just as the dentist instructed, then combs his hair.

Downstairs in the kitchen he eats a bowl of cornflakes. He lavishes the flakes with a layer of sugar and mixes it into the milk. He closes his eyes and focuses all attention on the cold, mushy sweetness in his mouth.

Before leaving the house he returns to the bedroom and opens the wardrobe. Kneeling down he removes a shoebox from the back of the wardrobe and pulls off the lid. Inside the box is a revolver. He places it in his rucksack before running downstairs, setting the burglar alarm and locking the door.

The rows of trees along the motorway are green and luscious and alive. They make him smile.

The giant computerised boards along the motorway say: ACCIDENT AHEAD, JUNCTIONS 9-10, EXPECT DELAYS.

He gets off at junction seven. He will not be late.

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