Remember when I mentioned that Bessie’s sister car was the Plymouth Volare? That fact is not lost on body shops. When I got her back, the sisters had become Siamese twins. Her bumper, hood, front quarter panels, and grill were from a Volare. The fake leather top was still there, so Bessie had not lost her personality completely.
Also untouched was that distinctive interior. The gold faux-tapestry upholstery, supported by noisy springs, survived the procedure.
I was glad my sound system was still in place. My tape-eating cassette player was there as I had left it, amid mutilated Styrofoam pieces I had placed in an effort to keep it from sliding around in the massive hole left by the stock radio. The left speaker just sat on the floor to the left of my feet, a folded-over corner of the floor mat keeping it from sliding. The right speaker sat in a cubby hole in back of the dash, sort of behind the glove compartment. With such precision placement, it provided the bass. I really had splurged.
The horn was not the same, but still played that harmony chord that differentiated domestic vehicles from foreign cars and their weak “beep-beep.”
Bessie had renewed vigor. Clearly, they had replaced something under the hood that needed it long before I crashed her. Maybe she had a whole new engine. I don’t know whether they told me, but I was never into working on cars, so it wouldn’t have stuck anyway.
Despite the fact that she was hideous, Bessie was good for dating, because she had a bench seat in the front. My girlfriend could slide over and sit right next to me. On occasion, she actually did.
That reminds me of the Cake song “Stickshifts and Safety Belts”:
Stickshifts and safety belts,
Bucket seats have all got to go.
When we’re driving in my car,
It makes my baby seem so far.
On the way back from a Robert Plant concert my senior year, my girlfriend asleep with her head resting on my shoulder (and her lapbelt fastened), I took the left side of a fork in the road. I noticed a car sitting in the area between the two roads, its bright lights shining. Figuring it was just somebody stopped to make sure they were going the right way, I didn’t think much of it.
That’s usually about the time all hell breaks loose.
Less than a minute after passing the parked car, I saw flashing blue lights in my rearview mirror and immediately pulled over. I woke my girlfriend. A uniformed police officer approached the car. Behind him was a man in a black uniform, holding what appeared to be a high-powered semi-automatic rifle. I rolled down my window, which squeaked in loud protest with each crank of the handle.
“Son, don’t you know a roadblock when you see one?” the officer asked.
Well, don’t they generally block the road, sir?. “Sorry, officer, I was just coming home from a concert.”
“If you had gone 50 yards further, we would have opened fire.”
A lot of things go through one’s head at a moment like this. The first is that, no matter how cool some Hollywood movie stars look when they fly in the face of authority, it usually is a bad idea in real life. No snappy one-liners came to mind. I had no inspired sense of rebellion.
What I did have was a cop talking sternly and what looked like a S.W.A.T. guy bearing down on my car with a weapon I certainly never had seen in the deer woods, nor anywhere else except television and movies.
What are they looking for?
(continue to Part 7)