Monday, August 31, 2015

Black Box in the Driveway

A man sat in his living room with his head in his hands. Why weren’t things going his way? he wondered aloud. No one answered. Because he was alone. So he went outside. The burning sun hurt his eyes. Squinting out across the pavement of his driveway he saw a dark box on the ground. That wasn’t right. What was it doing there? he wondered. No one answered because he was alone. He walked up to the dark box. It came to his knees, a little taller than it was wide,  though the bottom was square. Nudging his foot against it, he attempted to move it, but he couldn’t. He tried again a little harder but no. He bent down to try and get a purchase on the bottom edge with his cheeto stained fingers but he couldn’t.
Turning he glanced back at the car in the driveway. It was a Buick, a big ugly 73 Buick LeSabre. He looked up and down the street. Whoever was responsible had disappeared. He grumbled to himself something about how things used to be when the majority of his neighbors weren’t criminals even though he wasn’t around much earlier either.
It was French for:  “the sword”. He recalled this with pleasure every time he looked at the automobile. Calling it that rather than a car also pleased him, but he never tired of sharing the translation with others when they were available to tell. No one was there right now, because he was alone.
The starter yapped annoyingly till a cloud of blue exhaust ploomed from the tailpipe.  The heavy block shook, coughed, and gasped for regularity like the convulsions of a vomiting schnauzer. Rocking and rattling, the massive steel body and subframe attempted to calm the violent tremors. Shaking along with the thousand opposing vibrations the man reached for the metal rod sticking out of the column. He cranked back and over. The red line on the indicator went from P to  R. The engine chugged and the machine jerked backwards.
Adjusting his rear view mirror he aimed, edging back till a hollow thunk indicated he was against it.  Now with a grimace as though the effort was his he pushed the accelerator. The engine bucked. The dry pavement resisted the tire’s spin, but it did anyway. Perhaps if both rear tires had pulled together, success would be won, but at this rate, the box did not move. He tried a few more times, but only made the black mark on the driveway worse.
He got out and bent around to see. This wasn’t working. Squinting again but this time from attempted thought he finally appeared satisfied and hopped back in the car.
From P now to D and the car leaped forward. The brakes squealed their death song as the bare shoes attempted to resist the 4000 pounds of steel behind them. The front bumper thunked into a divot in the wood of his garage door ending its advance.
From D now to R. The barking roar of ill-timed combustion shattered the mostly peaceful morning air of this block and a couple over back fences on both sides. The car lurched back at  increasing velocity foot by foot till the double car-length to the box was used up. A terrible sound of tearing metal happened and the car kind of jumped up a few feet on top of the box leaning to one side.
The man appeared, to have disappeared. Though some low grumbling was audible, perhaps the radiator settling.
Finally,  a hand slapped low against the passenger window.
Grunting and wheezing like a bent elephant, the man struggled to push himself back from his face-first launch to the corner of the passenger floor. By not buckling his seat-belt, his slacks found little resistance to sliding from the vinyl upholstery at the first behest of gravity. Straining backwards, by trial and error, the errors sending him right back to the floor he eventually fought his way to a vertical position again. Hooking one leg around the steering column and gripping the door pillar with his chin he eventually made the climb to freedom. He wheezed back a pace, straightening to survey his results.

The box was still there. But now it had a Buick on it. Part of a Buick anyway. the rest of it:  the gas tank, bumper, license plate, exhaust pipe, suspension, and the wheel assembly  from that side were sandwiched under the car in front of the box where they’d done a better job of stopping the buick’s speed than the worn out brakes ever did.

No comments:

Post a Comment