I was in trouble.
For up ahead, out of the twilight, two traffic lights had turned green.
The first light, two cars ahead of me, meant that pair of cars moved forward.
The second light, perhaps one hundred metres away meant that these two cars, mine and however many behind me could cross the bridge.
Single lane only as it was under repair.
Until I heard a fog-horn. Next I saw two bright lights switch on. Beside the second traffic light.
Which began to cross the one-lane bridge. Against the lights.
I was tired. I had worked back. I had taken the long route home. I had forgotten that the narrow bridge at Maclean, north of Jimboomba in South-East Queensland was being extended.
With a single solitary lane now the exclusive territory of an oncoming truck.
The two cars were quick. They pulled off to the verge on the side.
The cars behind me banked up and stopped.
I was the only occupant of the single lane exiting the bridge.
The truck sped up. I had perhaps fifteen seconds left.
I couldn’t go forward. It was me versus truck.
I couldn’t hide on the side, the two cars had left no room.
I couldn’t reverse, the cars behind me were too close.
I was the only space left. I had maybe ten seconds until the truck either went around me or through me.
And he wasn’t slowing down. He was speeding up.
I thought of the movie Duel where the hero abandons the car…except Dennis Weaver didn’t have a full heavy LPG tank in the trunk.
I had one choice. There was a risk. There was still time. I took it.
I clunked the Holden HQ’s gear into reverse. Flattened the accelerator. I still remember the whine of the engine.
I kept looking forward for the truck. And backward along the road.
I was reversing the car around the queue. On the truck’s side of the road.
Which is where I was now anyway. But not far behind me, the road widened into three lanes, one for the traffic, one for the truck and hopefully one for me. I had stopped counting down the seconds.
I can remember thinking, I don’t know why at the time, the word “Angels!”
But by then the truck had roared past me. I had found a space.
That bought me an extra fifteen minutes for I was now at queue’s end.
I wasn’t bothered. I sang out of relief. I rather enjoyed it.
Post Script : I wrote about the incident in a letter to the editor to two of the local newspapers. Both published me. I also always took the other way home.