Exquisite Words

Posted on July 11, 2011 by

It is the word ‘pootling’ that makes this for me: I’ve been in this car, on this road, and that’s the verb that puts me there.

The drive didn’t take long but it was harrowing. Bunches of dead flowers were propped up at several turnins, marking the sites of fatal crashes. Merki took it slow, pootling along at forty, hitting fifty on straight stretches. A queue of cars lined up behind him, drivers who were familiar with the route forming an angry tailgated convoy, trying to embarrass him into hurrying along. He remained calm, checking them in the mirror, pulling over as much as he could to let them overtake, meeting their displays of aggression with a gentle raised hand and admonishments to ‘calm yourself down, pal.’

–THE LAST BREATH, by Denise Mina

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