Below is an excerpt from an exciting instalment of the adventures of our busker Alex Fraser
....A German motorway intersection in October, the light fading fast, freak weather. One apple. No money.
And no lift, with about an hour of the day left, at a bad junction with no lighting.
If I didn’t get picked up very fast, it was a walk into Kassel, maybe three kilometres. Then what? I fingered the damp fifty euro note in my pocket. Eat hot and sleep rough? Or the other way round? A depressing choice. The only thing that would save me from it was a lift -a long one, south, maybe right into Switzerland. Yes, a long lift with a driver who didn’t mind me sleeping -and then, tomorrow, enough decent weather to let me work the street somewhere and make the price of the rest of the journey by train or bus. How long would it take? I turned back to the motorway. The cars had their headlamps on, now. I leaned back against the sign’s metal stanchion, closed my eyes and tried to plan.
Eat hot, I decided, there would be shelter somewhere -Kassel would have a railway station. If the local cops were inclined to blindness, if I could keep the junkies and winos at bay, a night could be grabbed in the waiting room. Three kilometres, an hour’s slog on foot with my stuff... I’d try it -but in the meantime, I had to eat something.
The hail endorsed my decision by finally stopping. As my hand tightened on the fruit in the fiddle case’s top compartment, I heard another engine. One last try? I stood up too quickly, felt the teeth of the case lock gouge skin from the back of my hand. I was ready to fling out my arm -and then, apple in hand, I paused.
An ancient Volkswagen, stickers everywhere, one wing all but rusted away, the front bumper held on by string. Only one wiper was working. The thought came fast; what was this vehicle doing on an Autobahn? The Germans were fanatic about roadworthiness. And the driver was revving too much, crunching the gears...
But still, a chance. I jerked out my hand -and lost my grip on the apple. It arced away, glanced off the car’s rusty bonnet and lodged behind the single wiper, jamming it. The car slewed to a halt. The door opened. The driver got out. I saw the back of an olive green jacket and a tightly cropped helmet of dark hair. A black hand reached across and dislodged the stuck fruit. The figure turned.