I bought this old heap because I was strapped for money. My job didn’t pay what my mind and dreams envisioned me making at this point in my life. When I hit mid-century, I took stock of my situation and found it dis-heartening.
My job was a dead end, but I guess I knew that going in. It looked like it would get better, but sometime things are not so rosy when you wipe the gloss off the top. Anyway I’m stuck there until I find something more to my liking.
Back to the car. I got it at one of those Honest John’s lots because it was cheap. I guess that’s the reason a lot of people by used cars. New ones are sky high these days and the every day working Joan has to watch her pennies if she’s not worried about having pennies to spend.
The salesman was your typical shyster type: greased down hair (I thought they didn’t wear that style anymore), pencil moustache and striped suit. He smiled his lying smile showing pretty white straight teeth. He didn’t look like an Honest John
We made a deal on this little green Ford with only fifty-thousand miles. He swore it was the best car on the lot in my price range, which was probably less than he paid for his suit. We shook hands; he smiled and told me the registration was in the glove compartment. He waved to me as I left more than likely hoping never to see me again.
I drove off waiting for the fender or the door or something to fall off. It didn’t happen. I went by and got my proof of insurance and stuffed it into the overflowing glove compartment. I decided I would wait for another time to clean it out. I made it back to my little one bedroom apartment and parked it alongside the other tenant’s assemblage of vehicles.
The car ran okay for a while then one day it started choking and sputtering. It was something I should have expected. I don’t buy that term “pre-owned” car; it’s used to me and that spells trouble.
I brought it to a mechanic friend and he checked it out. He gave me this spill about pressure and this and that. I waved my hand at him and told him to just fix it. He did and I was on my way.
“Don’t drive it too fast,” he laughed.
I smiled back, gave him an obscene gesture, and left. He’s a good guy. We’ve been friends for a long time and I’m glad of that.
For kicks and to defy him I took the car on the interstate for a little speed test. I got it up to sixty. Nothing rattled, blew off, or fell off. I pushed it to seventy. This is great. How about a little more? Up to eighty then the blue lights came on. I pulled over in disgust. Another bill I wouldn’t be able to afford. My patchwork ego had gotten me into trouble.
I looked in the outside rear view mirror. The cop smiled as he walked by me and stopped at the front of the car. He bent forward to see something all the while smiling. Then he walked to me.
“Good morning, mam,” he said.
“Good morning,” I politely answered him.
He took out a little book.
“I haven’t seen one of these in years.”
“It’s an oldie, but a goodie.”
“I didn’t know they could go that fast.”
“To be honest with you, officer,” I said, grinning just a little, “I didn’t think so either.”
“How much you pay for it?” he asked writing in his little book.
“I’m afraid to say. I think I overpaid, but I needed a car.”
“No matter. Can I see your license, registration, and proof of insurance?”
I pulled the glove compartment open.
“Damn,” I said.
“No, it’s just a mess.”
I flung papers out covering the seat and floor searching for the registration.
“Here it is,” I said handing it to him.
Then I saw it. I reached down and picked it up. It was a lottery ticket with a note stapled to the top. It read: twenty million don’t wait to cash it in.
I looked up at the cop, but he hadn’t noticed.
My heart raced as I raised the note to look at the ticket. Could this really be happening?
It expired yesterday.
Copyright © September 21, 2011 by Lowell Bergeron