It was my fifth night shift in a row at the Shell petrol station shop, and I was stacking a Coke that I thought I had already stacked 20 minutes ago. I put sunglasses on to stop the fluorescent light completely burning away my sense of time.
I heard a soft squeak of brakes in the forecourt outside, it was easy to hear, there was no traffic for hours.
I took my sun-glasses off and buttoned up my shirt and gazed across at the CCTV monitor as I flicked around a blank loyalty card.
An athletic and spry looking man climbed out of the passenger side of a white BMW M5. He rested his chin on his hands on the roof of the car and gazed at the pump, as if waiting for it to move.
A truck with a hissy exhaust travelled pass the petrol station, by the time the hiss faded, the man was still staring at the pump.
I heaved off my counter and shoved the door open out the back and came around to the forecourt. As I stepped under the lights the man quickly darted his eyes at me and then immediately sucked back into the Fiat with barely a sound, door closed.
I waved at the car but couldn't make anything out through the car's windows, they were reflecting the bright red promotional posters on the wall. I walked in as unthreatening way as I could towards the car.
"Hello? Can I help you?" said the man in the car, I still couldn't make their face out.
"Me? I was just wondering if you needed help with the pump?" said the man in the car, in a higher voice. It sounded northern European but I couldn't place it.
"Oh no I just, I just wanted to check the price and compare it with the one down the road" said the man in the car, in a voice even lower than the first. "Well is it any cheaper?" said the man.
I felt the precursor to a heightened heart rate in my chest, I glanced back at the back door, remembering how to lock it behind me.
"Is it any cheaper?" "Is it?"
Was I supposed to answer? I spurted out "No not for unleaded petrol, diesel is cheaper though, but that's not what this car takes that's for sure" I then giggled like a twat.
Another truck passes, a well-maintained truck, not too much noise, the sounds of gear changes get faint.
The door opens, this time it's the driver's side, and he rests his chin on the roof again to look at the pump. For a second I don't notice anything, because I was very used to seeing their face, because it was on the promotional poster on the wall.
But this wasn't a poster, the chin was real, so was the face. It was Ralf Schumacher, circa 2001, in the middle of one of his most successful seasons. I was waiting for him to realise that I had realised who he was, but his face never seemed to give that impression, he stared at the pump over my shoulder with a puzzled look.
"Doesn't it seem silly to you?" he said, nodding towards the pump.
"What is it?" I turned to see nothing unusual, other than Ralf Schumacher's reflection in the pump.
"You put fuel in the car, only for it to disappear again" Schumacher said.
I turned, expecting a face of philosophical deep thought, but it looked more like a child who'd seen their first dead pet.
I made a series of non-verbal noises before pointing at the pump. "Do you want me to fill you up?"
Ralf stepped back from the car, widened his eyes.
"Why would you want to put the fuel in me?"
I could see he wasn't joking, he genuinely thought I offered to saturate him with petroleum. I tried to grin it away and put him at ease.
"I mean the car, the car" I pointed at the car.
Ralf slowly stepped back towards me and rested his head on the bonnet again.
"What's the point, it will all just go away" he stared down at his fingers.
"But it will move the car, make it go", I felt like I had to convince him and myself of this.
Schumacher turned to face the glow of the station sign, "But if I Can't Go Forever… why Go at all?"
If this was anyone else I would have probably headed back to the store to call security but for some reason I continued talking to him, I thought maybe there was some point he was getting at, he would know more about this then most I suppose. About what? I don't know.
I decided to get the pump and bring it to the car, maybe it would snap him out of it.
But I couldn't find a flap, on either side, anywhere, I was finding flaps on cars every day for years but here I couldn't find one, I ran my hands over the car looking for some sort of bump or button of some sort, my breaths getting shorter.
Schumacher walked closer to the station sign and hung off it like a pedestrian King Kong and sang in a Germanic monotone. "I want to ride forever, you can't keep horsemen in a cage, Should the angels call, well it's only then I might pull in the reins"
I needed to find a flap, I needed to fuel the car, if I didn't I felt like the world would end. I started clambering underneath the car, rubbing my back on the oily and dusty forecourt.
"They tell me I'm an old man, they tell me I am blind / They took my driver's license, this house ain't far behind / I say jump back all you big suits 'cause you've got something wrong / I ain't gone, no, I ain't gone /I am still breathing and I still have my pride / And I'm standing tall underneath these blue Alberta skies"
And on "Alberta" the car's engine roared to life, with the seeming undertone of a horse, definitely a horse, Jesus Christ a horse.
Schumacher climbed further up the sign and started to grin at me from between the diesel and unleaded prices.
He looked down at me with pure joyful intelligence and said "© BMG Rights Management US, LLC".
Ralf suddenly went quiet and looked into the night sky from his perch serene.
I went back in to the petrol station, and cracked open a beer bottle, thinking about what I had learnt from the ordeal, which was nothing.