Excerpt

The Dodge: Guts, Glory, and Living at Full-Throttle

Gear Change,
A Dip-Stick into Her Soul

“ . . .Then there was that young man with the streaked blond hair, who snooped through the window and crept into the garage. She remembered with delight the moment he stood beside her and said to himself, “Oh my God, is she beautiful! If I can just figure out a way to get her.”

That first time he saw her, he had walked around her looking into her windows and running his hands over her fenders. And then he said, “I’d never be able to pull it off. I only have 400 bucks for this whole trip.” He’d stood there staring at her smile. “Don’t worry I may look young and inexperienced, but I’ll find a way. I’ve been around the barn once or twice. Just wait and see.”

If only she’d known, she would have warned him then that two of her tires were balding. She’d watched anxiously as he and his friend, the dreamy singer, dodged the traffic in the Holland Tunnel and changed first her right rear tire, then the left rear.

They had fun that summer driving through alleys and full-throttle on the Big Sky roads where there were no speed limits. She had promised herself that she would give him her all, every time he needed her. And he’d promised more than once to do the same for her. But then the war came and took him away. His cousin Peter was respectful and it was comforting to stay near Snoop’s old ranch, but only for a while.

It was never the same. War was a terrible thing, separating people from the things they loved. At the Spear T, she sat in the sun—so hard on her skin—and under the stars in an open field . . . waiting for her fate.

That boy, named Des, was a reckless one. He didn’t know anything about the needs of the sophisticated. He swore at her and kicked her tires and slammed her delicate hood till she had headaches. Oh, those headaches. He scratched her sides against shrubbery as he swerved on and off the roads and into ditches. Her axel and springs took a beating. The boy had no apparent concern for her wellbeing. And he never once said, “goodnight.” She believed that Des didn’t even recognize how beautiful she was.

Then it happened. Des drove  into a tree. Her eyes went black, her smile was broken and her teeth all cracked. Her heart was smashed. Des walked away in the dark and left her there stuck into the trunk of the tree.

She didn’t know where she was until she heard voices. “I think she’s a goner!” one guy said. Another said, “What a waste. Be tough news for Snoop Mikkelsen. He loved that car.  Guess we’ll just hafta haul her over to the coulee and dump her on in.” Oh! she thought, if only there had been no war.

Through the years she lay there with the weeds growing up around her. As she rotted away in the coulee, she remembered the way that boy had said, If I can just figure out a way to get her. And that gave her courage. He had found a way back then and she was confident he would do it again. A pine cone took root under her mid-section; the rain and mud filled her body and forced her doors open. As the tree grew inside her she sunk deeper into the mud. One day Lipke dropped a Willys Jeep beside her. At least she had some company and shelter from the wind and snow. Eventually, though, she gave up and let herself go. She had a complete breakdown.

Over twenty years she’d waited, and then one summer day, she heard his voice high on the ridge over the coulee. He wrapped a chain around her and dragged what was left of her body out of the pit, but there wasn’t enough left to tow. She’d need a lot of help including a complete heart and lung transplant. He vowed to return the next summer with a trailer. One more year was nothing, she told herself because now that I’m out of the hole, there’s hope. . .”

 

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