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A pedestrian stepped out in front of the taxi and Michel locked up all four wheels. The woman ran from in front of the Mercedes only to be sharply knocked over by a youth on a motor bike. She screamed. The bike slid over and the woman, rider and bike ended up in a heap in the middle of the road just as a Renault bounced into the back of Michel’s taxi.
Michel shouted an obscenity as Garrard said ‘shit’ and got out of the car. He then slammed the door and walked off through the gathering crowd. A uniformed Gendarme appeared and started blowing his whistle and directing traffic around the calamity. Another Gendarme arrived quickly followed by another.
Michel inspected the damage to his taxi and was relieved to see only a small dent in the rear bumper and a cracked light lens. Naturally he shouted at the young pale faced driver of the Renault whose car looked as if it had been involved in a major motorway crash.
“My Mother will kill me,” the pale boy said with little emotion.
“Give me your name and address and I’ll help her,” Michel said.
“Roger Moreau” the youth replied.
“Show me your license” demanded Michel.
Suddenly the first Gendarme was standing in front of Michel.
“Did you hit this woman?” he asked.
“Certainly not!” replied Michel.
Roger looked even paler than before.
“Show me your license, yours also” the Gendarme nodded at the boy.
Michel returned to his driving seat and recovered the license from a pocket in the back of the sun visor, as the wailing two tone sound of the approaching ambulance drowned out the background noise. A large crowd had now gathered and the traffic in La Canebiere was all but stationary. The ambulance just arrived as Michel produced his license. The Gendarme disappeared to the back of the large Citroen as everyone fumbled around in a hopelessly disorganised muddle attempting to get the woman into the back of the ambulance along with her shopping. The motor cyclist limped round in a small circle about his bent machine. With a shout from the attendant the ambulance door closed and it was off with the siren wailing into the distance. A Gendarme picked up the motor cycle and half carried it to the side of the road, with the rider limping after. No one had asked him if he was alright, so Michel went to him.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“I think so” he replied.