We were outside Banbury when the prawn sandwiches kicked in. I remember saying 'you'll be okay once we get to the Sandbach Services.' Even I knew that was one crazy mixed up notion from a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt in the middle of winter and driving far in excess of thirty.
'I need the bathroom,' cried Dr. Oddzo from the back of the Cadillac. We were racing up the M40 toward the North West and his spiritual and real home.
'Can't you squeeze your buttocks together and wait?' I cried through the rush of air ramping over the windscreen.
Dr. Oddzo groaned and climbed into the passenger's seat from where he raised his feet onto the dashboard. They barely reached.
'Ooohhh!' he cried.
'And I'm in complete agreement, you cowardly fool,' I replied through teeth clenched onto my cigarette holder with tar filter. 'I demand that you write that down and charge me a fortune for such good legal advice. Now, aim your rear towards Yorkshire. That thing could go off at any moment.'
'I feel sick,' complained my companion.
It was a bewildering confession. 'I thought you twitchers could regurgitate your food,' I answered. 'Bring it up, man! Bring it up! Let's get this nightmare over before I begin to see bats.'
I swerved out of the way of a camper van, the screech of metal against barrier masking Dr. Oddzo's retching but not the aroma of partially digested seafood.
This jaunt to Blackpool was becoming unholy; a jihad of devilishly tricky from a man broad at the hips and equally broad all over. Dr. Oddzo had caused trouble since we'd set off in the early hours of Saturday morning. All I could see in the rear view mirror was the scrotum of a large bronzed statue stuck in the back of the car, the only reminder of his detour through the village of Bishop's Heaton. The statue had fallen into when the Cadillac had Dr. Oddzo at the wheel. He had crashed through the idyllic rural square and its usual weekend market. My attorney had dealt with the fallout by signing autographs, making promises to come back with a crew to film the local owls population, and by sampling the local prawn sandwiches.
'When we get to Blackpool, we are staying the best hotel in town,' I told him after his retching had eased. 'No talk about money when you're with me, Dr. Oddzo.'
'Richard, I'm not going to make it,' he said, wiping his pallid brow. 'I'm going to be sick again.'
'Excellent,' I answered, 'now let me steer into the wind and lets see if you can take a few of these bastards out...'
Ten minutes later, Dr. Oddzo was feeling no better but his face was the same ripe colour as the breast of the Lesser Green Woodcock. It meant that he was in the perfect frame of mine to listen to my story about my bad week. After two days of hell working on 'Eye of the Storm 2', I had discovered that the CDs onto which I'd backed up my novel were blank. Judy had found me on Friday morning, crying in the middle of the lawn. I'd explained how a 60,000 word manuscript had been lost when my laptop broke the other week and that this was as big a loss to the world as the destruction of the second book of Aristotle's 'Poetics'.
'Blackpool is going to restore my spirits,' I told him. 'Losing 60,000 words of a novel is not a good feeling but if a cabaret midget covered with superglue and glitter can't cheer a man up then I don't know what can.'
Dr. Oddzo was too busy staring into the distance to answer.
His attention was taken by a figure looming at us from the side of the road. Lank and Northern, the youth was measured by his perplexities and general demeanour of the heavily sedated. He waved us down. A sign written on damp cardboard hung around his neck and read simply: 'The Twitch'.
I pulled over and made some outrageous remarks about his clothes which he didn't seem to take to heart. He simply adjusted his lime green cummerbund over his purple braces and then buttoned his evening suit.
'Hi guys,' said The Twitch. 'You've taken your time.'
' No time for small talk,' I told him. 'Climb in and watch out for the bronzed scrotum.'
The Twitch jumped onboard and I floored the accelerator.
'What's the rush?' shouted the Twitch. 'We've got all weekend.'
'That's enough of that talk,' I replied, thinking I was losing my mind and fearing that I'd been foolish in trying such an adventure without a proper guide. 'You're only young so I can forgive you but this Madeley is a man in a rush for success.' I proceeded to tell him about the disaster with my novel but he seemed less interested in the man at the wheel than the shrunken figure in the passenger's seat.
He leaned over and looked at Dr. Oddzo who had fallen asleep.
'What's his trip?' asked the Twitch.
'Prawns,' I said.
'Cool,' he answered. 'How about some mayonnaise? I have egg sandwiches in my bag.'
Dr. Oddzo groaned and leaned into the wind. The town of Barnt Green never stood a chance.