Site icon S L Hollister, author

Car Trouble Epiphany


Leah Marie Rowe was angry. The piece of junk car her boyfriend Teddy had patched together for her was coughing and sputtering and starting to smoke. She’d despised this car since Teddy gave it to her. She didn’t think she was one of those women who worried about keeping up appearances but it embarrassed her to be seen in the ugly rust bucket. Whenever she slammed on brakes the driver’s seat would fall back and suddenly she’d be staring up at the puckering headliner. Teddy’s idea of repairing the seat was to lash it with a nylon cord. This would hold fairly well for a week or two but then it would stretch and the seat would begin to rock and slide. Each time she slammed on brakes it would shift a bit more until, like today, it broke loose and she was staring at the drooping ceiling.
Teddy was supposed to be a mechanic. She’d been so impressed when they first got together. It was if he could fix anything. Teddy seemed like the perfect guy. Both were illusions. It wasn’t long before his repairs became bigger problems and his, happy-go-lucky attitude gave way to an angry tyrant.
Leah knew she should leave but she was afraid. Afraid of being alone with no place to go and no one to turn to. Smoke billowed from the dash choking her. Blinking back tears she pulled the car off the road and turned it off. “Now what?”
The damned thing was smoking like a hooker after a long night. She began making up her own curse words. She knew she looked liked something possessed as she leapt out of the car. Shouting words that would make a sailor cry.
She was angry. No, she was beyond angry, she was crazy. The last time the stupid POS messed up, Teddy had informed her that his friend had two more of the ugly things in his lot and he could just cannibalize them to make one good car. Heck, she didn’t think it’d been a good car when it came off the show room floor.
Smoke filled the car and flames started up beneath the glove box. Flames shot up from under the hood. She grabbed her purse and lap top from the back seat and noticed the baseball bat and glove from Saturday’s game. She grabbed them as well.
After setting everything she wished to salvage away from the car. She grabbed the baseball bat and shouted at the car, “Burn baby burn.” She had a brief moment of conscience when she thought she should probably call someone to put out the fire but then remembered the other two cars and Teddy’s plans to keep this one running. She slammed the bat against the car’s fender, yelling, “No, no, no, he is not bringing you back to life. I will not drive this car another mile.” She swung the bat breaking out the passenger side window. Running around the car, she gleefully beat out all the glass. When no glass was left unbroken, she turned her attention to the chrome, rusted as it was, it didn’t take well to the abuse she was dishing out.
She heard the vehicle coming down the road but it didn’t register until a shaky voice asked, “Little lady, do you need some help?”
Seeing the little old man in the old pick up truck should have been embarrassed her. As he rolled to a stop along side the burning POS. She turned and glared at him, the only thing she could think to say was, “You got another bat?”
His eyes rounded and he looked a bit afraid. He shook his head and said, “Uh, no ma’am.”
She looked back to the car, shrugged her shoulders and offered him a smile, “No? Well, okay. Thanks.”
He sat there for a few minutes. She could feel the confusion as he stared at her with his rheumy eyes. She resumed beating the car. She wondered if she could do something to make it burn just a little hotter. She turned to the old man to ask, “Do you have an gas, I want this thing cremated.”
Shaking his head, he stomped on the gas and sped away. She heard him muttering something about crazy woman shouldn’t be allowed to drive. She shrugged as she watched him drive off.
She returned to her task. As she beat the car, her anger and frustration gave way to all the pent up emotions she’d held so tight. She’d known almost immediately that moving in with Teddy was a mistake. They’d met at a party and had a good time together. They’d gone out for a few weeks and when she’d lost her job he’d been so sweet to offer her a place to stay. She cringed. It’d been like a honeymoon that first week. They’d partied and played and made love but the next week she’d started looking for a job. She hadn’t realized at first what was happening. The snide comments about where she’d been, why she hadn’t cleaned up, her lack of interest in partying. When she finally found a job and he learned it was at an auto parts store, he’d accused her of sleeping around. Of flirting with customers and performing sex acts to get sells commissions. When her car mysteriously quit working, she’d not questioned his selling it for scrap believing it must have been a piece of junk. After all, he was a mechanic, surly he wouldn’t lie to her? She wondered now, if she could have saved her car. It had been a beauty, old and tired but she’d loved that Impala.
She swung the bat wishing it was Teddy’s head. When he’d finally tired of her catching rides with her co-workers he’d brought her the tiny British Ford. Leah hadn’t known there was a British Ford but the 1959 Ford Anglia looked like a little old lady holding her dress up so as not to get her hem damp. It was the ugliest car she’d ever had the misfortune to lay eyes on and not only was it ugly, it smelled. She’d cleaned it and sprayed it with everything she could find but the odor of wet dog and dead rat never left it. She felt like the scent clung to her no matter if she drove with the windows down or up. The smell lingered until she was almost immuned to it.
The fire trucks arrived. She glared at Billy Grimes, raising her bat she dared him. “Do not put out that fire,” she knew she sounded like she was demon possessed but she swore she’d never drive this car again. She wanted it to die.
“Did you set the fire?” He asked.
“I wish.” She shifted the bat. “No. I was driving along minding my own business when flames started shooting out. I refuse to save it. It is the bane of my existence and it has to die.”
Billy stifled a smile. “Okay, how much gas is in it?”
She paled, “I just filled up.”
He nodded. “I’m sorry Leah Marie but we gotta put it out.”
She nodded and sighed, lowering her bat. “Can you just let it burn a little longer?”
He nodded. “It’ll take us a minute or two to set up but you need to back up, it might blow.”
She walked across the road to where she’d left her things dragging the bat behind her. She was suddenly tired and her hands hurt. She worried someone would call Teddy and tell him what she’d done. She trembled, knowing he’d be angry and she’d feel the brunt of that anger. With no where to go, she was resigned to her fate. She’d be dead by morning. A tear slid down her cheek as the thought came to mind, “Well, at least I won’t have to drive the Anglia again.”

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