The First Page

It was somewhere between the lower radiator hose and the overflow tank that your father walked quietly into the garage. You try not to acknowledge him too much these days. He can be a pathetic man if you let him. Mumbling, wondering out loud, trailing off. That's what he's like when he's content. If you don't ask him what's going on, at least it will force him to spit it out on his own. Finally, when you get the coolant and go to pour it in the tank, he speaks up.

"Woah! Woah! What the fuck are you doing?!"

That's what he's like when he's not content. Now he's making you angry. You know what he wanted -  he came down here because he wanted to watch you work until he got a chance to do what he's doing right now.

"Son, you can't just..." he sputters for effect. "I mean," he continues, shaking his head. He sees the anger on your face and sneers back at you. "Look, if you don't want to do it right, go right the fuck ahead. I just thought you loved your car."

If you were ever going to whack your dad across the head with a breaker bar or a tire iron or any one of those heavy tools within a few feet of you, it would be right now. But you really do need his knowledge. And he's old, and pathetic. And despite this he still knows how to make you feel worthless. So you don't.

Because you don't reply, he assumes you do want his help, so he snatches the coolant and orders you to grab the white funnel out of the gray box, which you do.

"Now, this is how you want to pour the coolant. See, this way you can tell when it's full or when you pour too fast. See?"

Of course, you don't see because he's in the way.

"Yeah," you say with irritation. He stops pouring and turns.

"You need to watch your fucking tone!" He thrusts what remains of the jug of coolant into your hands, then storms away. "Do the fucking thing yourself if you don't want my help!" he bitches as he goes back into the house.

Thank God!

You do the fucking thing yourself and four gallons later, the job is done. You start her up and she sounds fantastic. You take her out, don't bother to close the garage door and spin the back wheels when you hit the road. Same old road, same old neighborhood, the nondescript type. It's not as special as what happens there.

It's early November and late in the day. Your Corvair likes this weather. Those Jap cars, they don't like or dislike this weather, because they don't have personalities, but the Chevy is something else. Fifty years old and she's still Miss Personality.

Since you got your license two weeks ago, you spend less and less time at home.

They say there's nothing finer than being behind the wheel of your own car, and maybe it's true, but you're not what you'd call happy at the moment. You feel good, sure... because you're anticipating that you're about to do something that's going to make you happy. Some kind of need pulls at your soul; some kind of aggression; some kind of rage that makes you smile and turns your foot to lead.

When you kick in the four-barrel, something definitive happens in your mind. The need is more immediate. You have to pull your plan out of a hat and make it real, now. And that plan is going to be...