A story told by the car itself

Before Her

My first owner purchased me in 1959 when I was brand new. He was a business man of some sorts, and a loyal customer to my creator, David Buick. I remember a lot of daily drives to and from work with the occasional weekend theater night with his wife, and church every Sunday. The church parking lot is where I enjoyed showing off my mirror black paint the most.

They were good people with a nice house and a garage where I felt dry and comfortable. Their house was photogenic, light yellow paint with white shudders and an American flag hanging from their porch. Every day, as I backed down the driveway to turn into the street I would see the single gold star flag displayed on their front window, I never knew what that was for.

They treated me fair but I never loved them. They only saw me as a machine to get them where they needed to be. As soon as I was over 20,000 miles they took me back to the dealership to trade me in for a newer model. I was excited about the change.

The time I spent in the used car section of the dealership was time I used to imagine what my next owner was going to be like.

“A celebrity? Why not? I’m not that old and I ‘am a Buick Electra Deuce and a quarter. Not too many cars have their own nickname, so I’m famous too in a way. What about a lead-foot? I suppose that be interesting. They call my engine the Wildcat so I guess that means I can go fast if needed. I’ve never gone past 55 mph though… I just want an owner who knows what I am worth.”

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New Owner

I think it was during the spring of 1964… Yes, because people where still mourning the death of that JFK fellow. I felt bad for the Lincoln, must have been horrible to witness such a thing in your own interior. I was waiting for the porter to arrive and dust me off before the dealership opened when I saw a beaten down ’39 Chevrolet waiting at the entrance with its engine running. I could tell it was running as the tail-pipe blenched blue smoke out into the air behind it.

Soon as the gates were opened the sick Chevrolet crawled itself forward and out of my sight, but it looked like it was heading towards the main lobby of the dealership. All I heard was a sudden bang when the Chevrolet coughed to a stop. Couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes before an elderly looking woman was standing in front pointing at me and shouting to the salesman, “This one! This is the one I want!”

Her hair was down to her lower back and white as snow. Looked like shaving cream falling down the back of her head. She was wearing a black sun bonnet, a red sun dress and sporting white gloves. A very elegant, but imitating looking woman. The way she talked to people made me realize she was not a woman with many friends. Her first impression had me nervous. Barking and shouting at people. She didn’t ask, she commanded.

Her mood changed the moment we pulled out of the dealership and on to the road. She smiled with tears in her eyes. I was focusing on riding as smooth as possible when I heard her whisper something to me. “Finally… I finally own you.” Her voice sent vibrations down my chassis. A tone what was sharp enough to cut sheet metal was suddenly as soft as the belly of a hummingbird. It was such an odd thing to say to a car you’ve never been in.

The Witch’s Broomstick

She lived in a trailer park on the outskirts of town. My garage was just a roof extension that was just long enough to cover my tail-fins. During bad weather she would cover me up in a tarp, but other than that I was exposed to the elements. The only Buick in a concrete sea of Winnebago’s.

I often overheard the neighbors refer to her as, “The Witch”, and nobody seemed to like her. She saw all humans as animals and disliked them all. I had never seen someone so angry at the world, but all that would change in an instant when she saw me. Around me she was a sugar cookie dipped in honey, but rose torn to everyone else.

She would talk to me, and named me “Lady”. Everywhere we would go people would recognize me as the Witch’s Broomstick. Kids would stare at me and say I looked scary to them, but I didn’t care what they thought. It angered me that people were so mean to my owner; they didn’t know how sweet she really was. She didn’t look like a witch. She was a thin small woman with characteristics that would have made her a beauty in her youth, but time and gravity had stripped away most of it. I couldn’t figure out why she was always so angry at everything but me.

As time passed she couldn’t always afford the best maintenance for me and soon my paint started to fade, along with my performance. I didn’t care because I knew she was trying her best. I tried extra hard to pull myself together and not let her know that I was running on seven cylinders instead of eight.

Rust was eating away at my muffler which caused me to sound rough, but she didn’t mind. With age she couldn’t wash me as often as she liked and my mirror black paint began to dull and crack. I stopped looking at my reflection in department store windows after that.

Running Low on Everything

By the time Nixon was being kicked out of office I was running on the edge of a total breakdown. My health began to run parallel with hers until one day, after coming home from a doctor’s appointment, I didn’t see her leave the house for days.

A week later, a flashy yellow Corvette Stingray rumbled into the yard carrying a middle-aged couple who looked out of place riding around in that hooligan machine. The man had a beer belly and the woman was dressed in expensive clothes, but her voice and tone was of trailer trash descent. I found out they were my owner’s children when I heard the man argue with the woman, “Christ Martha! It’s my god damn mother. Can you be nice for two god damn minutes while I go say goodbye?”

With children like that I began to understand why she was so full of hate. They were in there for maybe 15 minutes before walking out and noticing me. They both walked over. The woman had a look of disgust on her face as she reached into her purse for a cigarette, “Ugh. I can’t believe she is still driving still old turd. I swear Anthony, as soon as she dies this car is going straight to the junker.”

The man shook his head in disapproval, “This was the only thing she had in the world that made her smile.” I saw his face, the look of a man worn by the harshness of life and desperately looking for something to give him hope – again. “Well, I still say it was dumb of her to spend all her money on a car she couldn’t even take care of” said the woman while folding her arms. “Look at this thing; it looks angry just sitting there, just like her.” The woman took deep breathes of menthol while judging me.

The man’s eyes glazed over as he stepped into old memories. “She didn’t have a lot growing up, and she dealt with a lot of bad guys while I was growing up. I never met my real dad, but she tried her best.” The woman saw that she had been too cold and reached out to grab his shoulder. “I’m sorry Anthony.” She said, and turned back to the Corvette leaving nicotine filled clouds behind her.

The man signed and walked up closer to me. “Lousy bitch…” he said under his breath, referring to his wife I imagined, as he reached down and opened my hood. “The only thing in the world she ever loved was this car, I’ll be damned if I know why. This is just a junker now.” He slammed my hood down and walked back to the Corvette. I was left speechless. “My owner is dying?…” was the only thought running through my crank.

Reason for Being

I was still in deep thought when she stepped out of her trailer that night to see me. She looked as if she had aged 10 years in the last few months, and was constantly coughing into a tissue. She stepped inside and turned the key. It took me a moment to catch my breath, but I was soon idling. I couldn’t stomach my health issues anymore and started pouring smoke out the back, like the old Chevy I had seen all those years ago.

A tear began to run down her cheek as she began talking to me. “I’m sorry I couldn’t take better care of you, Hank was always good with hands. They think I’m crazy to spend everything I had on you, but they don’t know. They don’t know the story of a soldier making a promise to an Army nurse that they would be together forever. They don’t know the heartbreak she went through learning her love had been killed in France the same day she started getting morning sickness.”

She wanted to cry, but her cough wouldn’t let her. Tears were running down her face. “All Hank ever dreamed of was owning a Cadillac. Lady, you were the best I could do.”

I felt disappointed. I was not her first choice but a budgeted runner-up. I got so low that I stalled out and went silent. She must have sensed something because she stopped crying long enough to pad my steering wheel, “I’m sorry Lady. Hank would have loved you.” She got out and slowly walked back inside.

I found out she passed away a few days later when the police came to investigate an odd smell coming from the house.

Left Alone, But Not Completely 

During the estate sale, nobody wanted me so I was sold for scrap. Now I live here in a yard waiting to be turned into a soda can. I don’t know when that day will arrive since everyone is afraid to drive or even come near me. They say I’m haunted.

The first day I arrived at the scarp yard I was shifted into neutral and accidentally rolled back, crushing a mechanic’s foot, while being unloaded. Another time, a different mechanic was going to remove my hubcaps for a customer. While he was kneeling down by the front wheel, my stainless side trim shot out as if it was spring loaded. The corner of the trim managed to slap the mechanic across the face, cutting his eyebrow. After that I was pretty much left alone.

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I don’t know what they’re scared of, it is just my owner looking after me. I seem to be the only one who sees her when she comes to visit. She loves to visit me on nights when the moon is out and always tries to turn me over and drive out of here, but I have lost the ability to move. At least she’s not alone this time, because there’s a man that always sits in the passenger seat, a young looking man in a uniform.

 

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