The dinner had already begun when one of the guests arrived late. He drove up to the basement garage in something of a panic, waited impatiently while the shutters trundled noisily upward, brought his car just inside and hopped out heading rapidly for the dinner, leaving the car to be parked by the duty porter.
As it happened this guest was also called Nelson. Unlike his namesake he still enjoyed the use of both eyes and both arms but he did have a disability. He had a suffered a severe leg injury and as a consequence he had modified the controls of his car to enable him to operate both the accelerator pedal and the brake pedal with his left foot. The car was a big powerful Peugeot automatic so normally it would have had only two control pedals. There would have been no clutch pedal. However, the casual observer looking down from the driver’s position would have seen three pedals. This was because the pedal modification had been achieved by connecting a bar from the accelerator, across the foot well to another pedal on the left, beside the brake.
As casual observers go, you couldn’t find one much more casual than the duty garage porter that night. Raj believed in putting in to life the absolute minimum of physical and mental effort. His job as a porter was undemanding and he could carry out most of the jobs given to him, it was said, without engaging any brain cells at all. This evening he had breezed up to the car, slid into the driver’s seat, pushed experimentally at the three pedals failing to notice that two of them moved when only one was pushed, and started the engine. His job was simply to move the car across the garage into a designated parking bay.
When he had the engine running, Raj puzzled for a moment at the automatic drive selector, thought it looked a bit odd for a gear lever, and with his feet firmly pressed on the brake and the clutch he ignored the now screaming engine and shoved the lever into ‘Drive’. The problem with this of course was that his feet were actually pressed on the accelerator and the brake since there was no clutch. The car started behaving oddly. The engine was attempting to drive the car forward while the brake was trying to hold it static. Nobody knows exactly what happened next but in all probability Raj must have eased the pressure of his left foot on the brake, allowing the engine to win the battle and cause the heavy vehicle to surge forward. It raced across the garage with the engine revving hard and rammed a small shiny red Rover Metro like a demented shunting engine. The Rover exploded like a baked bean can on a stove. It assumed a sort of round shape and all the windows including the sun roof shot out of the car. The little car, still being pushed by the big Peugeot, charged forward and changed shape once again as it was rammed into a solid concrete pillar, whose day job was presumably to stop the building from falling down. The only thing that could be heard above the din of shattered glass and crunching metal was the high pitched panic stricken scream coming from Raj.