Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Post # 500: AKA- Paticus' Past Volume 2: The Car Fire...

That's right- This is the 500th post here at old Sandwich Flats. I kind of went back and forth over what this post should consist of, and I think that I am going to write a regular post, the second volume of the "Paticus' Past" series, which has been receiving rave reviews from all over the globe(it's apparently huuuuge in Belgium). So here we go, and get ready for 500 more...

Paticus' Past Volume 2: The Car Fire.(With Pictures !!)

The car fire...That's a fun story. It was 1994. My Special Lady had been accepted to the Graduate Program in History at a prestigious California University in Los Angeles. We talked about what we were going to do, and though I was heartbroken to leave my burgeoning career as a Fuel Allotment engineer at the Texaco station, I knew that love would see me through the pain, and I decided that we would both move to Los Angeles. She to pursue a History degree, and I to become a famous Hollywood screenwriter.

We decided that we would need a car to live in Los Angeles. Fortunately, I owned a car, a blue 1984 Chevy Monte Carlo. It had started out as my parent's car(they had bought it when I was a senior in high school after I had totalled their '77 Impala- another fun story, but one for another time), but when I went off to college, my Dad had parked it in the garage. When I returned from college, he told me I could have it, so I registered it and insured it, and got it running. The first two were easy, the last one, not so much. It took my dear friend P. the mechanic at the Texaco where I was the Fuel Allotment Engineer many hours to get old Betsy running. He really did a magnificent job, but there was this long process to getting it started: I had to start it, then let it idle on high for a two minutes, then hit the gas once, then let it idle in the middle range for a few minutes, then hit the gas again, and then I was good to go.

This system worked for a few months. Then, I had an interesting ride home one night. I was driving home from work, and I had to stop at a red light. I pushed on the brake, but the car did not seem to want to stop. I pushed a bit harder, and it stopped. I didn't really think much of it...But then it happened at the next red light as well. And I noticed that the car seemed to start to move as soon as I took my foot off of the brake.

After I turned onto my street( a flat road), I stopped the car, and then took my foot off of the gas. The car started to roll on it's own. Then, it started to accelerate... I watched the speedometer, and it was at 30 mph after about 100 feet ! I backed up, pulled the car into my parent;'s driveway and parked it. It was clearly no longer a safe car for the road. I think I heard her sigh when I turned her off.(Boy, how many women have I had to say THAT about ? Am I right people, huh ? High five !! High five !)

So, as you might guess, it did not seem to be the best idea to try and drive Betsy across country. I decided that an upgrade was definitely necessary. This is how I met Althea. Althea was a 1988 Chrysler LeBaron GT Turbo Coupe. Thankfully, Althea is only a peripheral character in this tale. Althea's own tale is one for another time, another post.
This post is about Betsy. Now, in order to purchase Althea, I had to trade Betsy in. The day I first saw Althea, it was raining, and for obvious reasons, I had not driven Betsy to the car lot, so I agreed to test drive the LeBaron the next day,and bring Betsy in so they could assess her for a trade. I was not expecting to get much, I would just be happy to not have to deal with having to dispose of the car, quite frankly.

The next day, I brought her in, warned them about her "problem", and tested the LeBaron. I loved it, and decided to buy it. The salesman came to me about the trade in, and was sorry, but he could only give me $750.00 for it. I almost kissed him. That was $749.00 more than it was worth!! The cigarette lighter DID still work.

They had to fix the radio on the LeBaron and wash it and all, so they said they would call me in a few days. I went home, parked Betsy in the driveway, and took my parents' car to work.

About an hour and a half later, my Dad stopped in to get some fuel, and I engineered his fuel allotment. I told him about the $750.00 for the car before he could say anything. This is how he responded to my good news.

"Didn't you hear the fire whistle ?"

"No." I answered, wondering what this could possibly have to do with my financial good fortune.

"Oh. The car caught fire in the driveway. It's gone."

"What ?"

"Your car caught fire and burned in the driveway."

"Oh. is everyone okay ? The house ?"

"Oh yeah. It buckled the siding on the neighbor's house, but otherwise it was just the car. The cops are going to come by at lunch. They want to talk to you about it. I guess it went up so fast, they think it's a suspicious fire."
"Oh, okay." Then he left. I worked for another hour or so, and then drove home for lunch. This is what I found in the driveway.

Under The Hood

That's the air filter sitting on the front seat. They threw it through the windshield whilst they were putting out the fire.

The last one is a picture of the back seat, and that is a burned plush Ren Hoek that hung in the window by suction cups. Poor little guy. I still have him in a box. Chad, the Patron Saint of Action and Adventure(a G.I Joe type action figure that sat on the dashboard in a skiing outfit) also perished in the fire, though I heard tales that he was heroically trying to rescue the Snapple bottle.

So, quite a sight, huh ? The cop came by my parents house, and he questioned me about the fire. Luckily, I did not have fire insurance on the car, or I certainly would have gone to jail. As soon as I told him that I did not have fire insurance in it, and that in fact I had just traded it in for 750 dollars, he quickly determined that it was not arson, and he went on his way.

It's really quite funny now, and in fact, I don't really remember taking it all that badly at the time. I was just really glad it didn't burn either my parents' or the neighbor's house, and I'm certainly glad that nobody was in it.(though apparently, the fireman thought for a short time that someone was inside, I don't know whether that was due to a miscommunication on the 911 call, or if they in fact saw Chad moving around inside sacrificing himself to try and save the Snapple bottle(the cap was a coupon for a free Snapple). I guess we'll never know.

I miss Chad. I miss Betsy, too. Though I couldn't help thinking that she was like Christine, the car from the Stephen King book, and she was so upset at the prospect of living without her Paticus that she killed herself rather than let someone else drive her. And the more I thought about it, My Special Lady did seem to get stuck by seat springs sometimes, and her seat belt would sometimes stick too tight. Was Betsy just madly in love with me ? It's certainly possible, I am a charming and magnetic personality. But that's all rubber stuck to the driveway now.

So, there you have it...The story of the car fire. It did open up possibilities for future posts- Althea's tale, my solo drive across this great nation of ours, the other time that a cop showed up at my door to ask about my involvement in a crime. So many stories...I think I might have another 500 posts in me. You game ?


Feral Mom said...

I want to hear ALL your stories. I want to read 500 more posts. You are good. Very good.

I, on the other hand, am pure evil. I am...Christine.

Richard said...

Patrick - the answer is clear to me. Chad and Ren made a murder-suicide pact rather than face life together in a new car. They self-immolated, making Betsy a tragic victim of their selfish, twisted self annihilatory wish-fulfilment.

Bruce said...

I am crying with laughter.