The 1960 Valiant had been in her family for fifty-one years, but only three of the six cylinders were working anymore. Which is why the lady who lived out past Cascade called Hewhatrescues, who has a thing for old Plymouths and Dodges. She sold it to him for a song.
He and his teenaged son coaxed it home. They both recalled the way the car was so valiant about running the way she did through the quiet Sunday evening streets, limping her way towards her new garage. It made my muscles sore, the young son said, to hear the pain in her engine.
Back home, they sorted through the parts in their garage and figured out what it would take to get all six cylinders firing. It’s a general joy to ride in a car with wing windows and manual air vents, three speeds on the column. A lack of bucket seats. Life slows down and you find this new speed suits you. It’s like going back to live with black and white TV, two stations to choose from, and so you choose to build a fort in the hills rather than sit inside and watch Lawrence Welk with your parents.
Over a period of five months, the little red car with the unusual back windows was repaired and yet Theywhofixedit found themselves in an uncomfortable situation. They didn’t like the car. It wasn’t that it was too old — they have always loved the sixties, and even the early seventies. It wasn’t that it was a car and not a pickup. Parked in the same driveway was the same car only in the station wagon model. And in a cool mint green color scheme.
The car was just too red. Outside and inside, red. A car they couldn’t exactly love. But still. Not loving this car felt like not loving the dog you rescued from the shelter. This had never happened to them before, and so they told themselves: Learn to give over; let time ride this out.
And so time rode out and then came the phone call from the lady who lived out past Cascade. She was missing her 1960 Valiant, so much so that she feared calling to find out if it could be given back to her. She would have called sooner, but was sure there was no way she’d get her car back. And she didn’t think, not for one moment, she’d get the car back for a song.