For Sale Prerogative
Red paint, not pro, flaking the tiniest down around the faux-chrome racing stripe.
"What's thissa '68?" I said.
Frogs chirruping like rain in the ditches. His old dog walked by.
"'72," he said.
"Uh huh," said I. "Fuel-injected?"
"It was." He leaned and put his big belly right on the trunk. His tee-shirt read The Great Royal Debate dash-dash-dash Do We Hang Them Or Do We Shoot Them? and there was a peanut butter stain on the neck. He had exacto sideburns like Burt Rutan. "But it ain't no more because we put a carburetor in it when we had it rebuilt."
"Want to drive it?"
"I might. How much you want?"
He pointed to the back glass. "Sign says 37 hunnerd."
"That's a lot. Let me drive it and see."
He took a key out of his little change pocket and handed it to me and we both got in and put our seatbelts on.
"It's a tender gearshift," he said.
I cranked it and we rolled out from under the fir tree in his yard, pulled gingerly out on to the road. I raced up the engine. "Whoa," I said, and he smiled. The sun was a while from setting, but it was behind clouds, and magpies wheeled all across the sky. A gray and orange afternoon.
I took it up to third gear, then fourth, and the big guy was smiling like someone overdosed, eyes staring straight ahead.
"Too fast for you?" I said.
"Naw. Just a little. Um." He glanced at me, bright gray eyes, then back to the road. "I like to drive this rig very gently." He flattened his hand and floated it out above and parallel to the dashboard. "Evenly," he said.
"I'll drive this thing sideways, buttercup."
Now we were up above 65, and the motor was topping out. "I want this car to do 70. Can it do me 70?"
"You better not drive it sideways. Look, be careful. You drive it straight, by god."
"I'll drive it like it's my birthday party, chap, to see whether or not I want it."
"Don't turn on that road," he said, but I was slowing down to make a swift 2nd gear turn on to a farm road.
"This turns to dirt," he said. He clicked his fingernails together 8 times.
"I'll drive this car like it's your wife," I said.
"You better drive right. Um, you shut up." He looked back and forth from me to the road. "Hey, take me home." He was red with rage. "Saying that about my wife. Take me home now and don't come back to my house."
I spun that red '72 around in a cloud of yellow dust, slinging rocks so hard we couldn't see anything.
"Stop. Get out," he said.
"Look, I gotta taser, you bastard. You sit tight and I'll drive. I'll drive your squirrelly butt back home, keep cool."
I drove back up to the main road and back to his house. We got out and he started shouting cops-this, cops-that, but I just got in my little Dodge Neon and drove off, didn't say another word.
And it then did begin to rain.
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