Nathan Lyons


My phone sits snugly in its cradle on the dashboard. I’m poking around on it, stuck in city traffic when the policewoman waves me down.

‘You were on your phone!’

‘I was checking the navigation.’

‘Don’t lie to me.’

‘I wasn’t holding it, just touched the screen.’ I poke the air with my index finger.

‘Pull over.’

She’s wearing a starched blue shirt, pink lipstick smudged on her teeth. She comes right up to the window so I’m looking at her from a weird angle.

It’s a tricky spot, I need to reverse. ‘Can you help me park?’

She waves me in – left, right, turn the wheel all the way – without a word.

Now she’s back at the weird angle. I can’t see her eyes, only lips, lipstick, and teeth.

‘It’s illegal. On the phone and driving. And you lied to me. That’s 1,000 shekels.’

My heart races. Really? Was I holding it? Can’t remember. Is the fine for using my phone, or for lying? Or for lying to her? I keep my mouth shut. She’d love an argument, and I’d lose it anyway.


‘You wait out here.’

The whole thing takes maybe twenty minutes, it’s hard to tell. It’s hot. Melting hot. I grab my cap and water bottle then sit on the bench opposite while the cops do whatever they do. So, so slowly.

I find myself gazing at a hostage, the white poster tinged yellow, face blurry. A girl of nineteen, now probably twenty, faded sepia under the sun. A haunted portrait whose eyes follow everywhere.

Where should she be in our city scene? Leaving the little shop across the way, crossing on blinking amber, taking her chances as it turns red, chatting away on her phone, indifferent to the blare of horns, the hum of air conditioning units and slow-motion police officers.

She’d curl up on the corner sofa at the grungy coffee round the block, show off her new ankle tattoo to a girlfriend (a dragon eating its own tail, oroboros), laugh out loud when they catch the skinny nose-ringed barista checking them out.

Something startles me. The barrel of a machine gun pointed at my groin. An off-duty soldier in bright blue beach shorts at the other end of the bench, one hand with a cigarette by his mouth, the other scrolling on his phone, while his hips aim a lethal weapon right at me.

On the phone and accidentally blowing my balls off.

Is there a fine for that, officer?

About the Author
Fascinated by the chaos and glory of life in Israel