Short Piece Involving an Automobile (5 of 5)


We’re rounding tightly; the trees, the guardrail, and the Honda in the outside lane recede into the alfalfa field beyond. I’m looking at a tractor in the distance when I realize I’m not in the driver’s seat. The wheel straightens and we throttle back to 85. The radio’s an AM-only unit with a five push-button memory. Emmet’s a ’75 Dodge Dart. For his birthday I’d given him an aftermarket steering knob, one with a removable plastic face. I’d cut a picture of me leaning against his hood into a circle and put it under the tiny window.

We round another corner and I see the rest stop and the picnic table and the Benz and the kids and mother and father and I know Emmett wants to play. We’re going 80 so he rips his Emergency Break and his ass swings around, tires squealing against the concrete. We’re in a spin but our vector’s locked on the family. Emmett guns it. The little boy is looking at us. We lurch forward and he starts toward his dad, who’s pulling a two-liter of Coca-Cola from the trunk of the Benz. The boy hangs in mid air, arms above his head. I’m gazing at him hovering above the windshield when we smash through a picnic basket. I hear a thud behind and turn to see gravity starting back up, the boy falling onto Emmett’s trunk. I flinch, a new indentation in his flecked mint paint.

A jar of pickles smashes in front of us. The girl is wearing an A-Line skirt, her arm pulled back like a pitcher, a jar of mayonnaise in her grip. She hurls the jar at us and it hangs mid-air two or three feet away, its momentum halted by the spheres of Sexual Energy surrounding Emmett and me. Mine originates in my hypothalamus, his comes from the third left sparkplug of his Slant Six. I’m looking at her through the driver’s side window; I’m behind the wheel now, looking down at the picture of Emmett and me. She’s staring at me so I yell, “What the fuck’s the matter with you, bitch? Never seen a classic car you stupid cunt?”

She stands still, paralyzed by my energy. I push the button for station three. The indicator needle jerks left and tunes in AM 1550. Emmett raises the volume; he likes the song. I open the door and pluck a jar of ketchup from where it’s hovering. I walk around Emmett and pull the boy off his trunk. He’s paralyzed too. My Sexual Energy affects only females, but Emmett’s was engineered by his manufacturer to have equal effect on all sexes. I throw the boy at his sister and spread the ketchup over Emmett’s dented body. I’ve been neglecting him lately. As I work the salve into his sheet metal he communicates to me psychically, “Thanks. That feels nice.”

“No problem, bra,” I return to him, “Sorry I’ve been so distant.”

“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

“Really, I feel…”

“It’s okay, it’s alright.”

Emmett’s engine revs and he flashes his brights. He zips across the gravel and as I turn back to the children I hear the clash of steel. He backs up, ramming the Benz again. I say, “Hey, what are your names? Wanna be friends?”

The children lay on the ground, paralyzed.

Filed under Fiction on July 13th, 2003