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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Part I: Car-be-que, or Mmmm. That Smells Delicious.


It is 1996.

The guy next to me is honking, motioning for me to pull over.

What?  No.  Do I look dumb?  No, I am not pulling over.

Hoooooonk!  Honkity-honk-honk-honk!

Tenacious, this one.

I turn down my radio, lean over and unwind the passenger window.  In a Hyundai, it’s all within reach.

“Your engine,” the man next to me yells, “is on fire!”

What did he just say?  My default setting for confusion is to frown and seek clarification.  My forehead wrinkles mightily.  “What?” I yell. 

“Your engine,” he yells, pointing frantically at the forward facing, hood-ish part of the vehicle, “is on fire!  FIRE!”

And that’s when the flames shoot from under the hood.

Oh.  That. 

It’s funny, how quickly people move aside for a car on fire.

I pull over under an overpass, the front of my vehicle now fully engulfed.  I get out, sling my purse around my neck and head to the backseat where I rescue a pair of work shoes and a vacuum cleaner.

I am going back for the bucket and a bottle of bleach when a hand claps itself onto my shoulder. 

“No more!”  I turn around to discover a fireman.  Just beyond him is a fire truck. 

To this point in my lifetime, I’d not had a fire truck sneak up behind me.

I hold the vacuum cleaner out in front of me, as if to prove something. “But I clean houses!” I shout.  I realize I am shouting.  “But I clean houses,” I say sheepishly. 

“You won’t clean anything covered with burns,” he notes.

Good point.

And then I realized:  I am single.  My son is 12.  My only car is on fire.  

I have no way to work Monday.

And I'll never have all those fabulous bumper stickers again. 

I burst into tears.

That night, I call my boss at his home, tell him the story.

“Pearl,” he says, “how much do you trust me?”

“Ridiculously large amounts,” I say.  “I put ridiculously large amounts of trust in you.”

He smiles, a sound that transmits over the wires.  “You need to find a ride,” he smiles.  “For a week.  Get a ride for a week.”

“A week,” I repeat.

“Get a ride for a week,” he says.  “And trust me.”



Come back tomorrow for Part II!

52 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

you have the best stories. and i sure hope your boss is a 'knight in shining armor'. :)

Pearl said...

TexWis, George was a prince among men and now, from what I hear, residing in the Great State of Tennessee...

esbboston said...

I hope you were able to find adequate replacement bumper stickers for your new vehicle.

Camille said...

Morning Pearl. In pins and needles over here. Love your stories when they go to "stay tuned" mode.

Pearl said...

esb, I never did, actually!

Camille, I like to keep my posts around the 300- to 400-word mark, and some stories just beg to be broken up and told. :-)

Simply Suthern said...

So the Fire department was obviously chasing you down. Now thats service.

I suppose its a good thing you didnt do Botox or your furrowed brow quizzical look would never have been effective.

Shelly said...

I'm glad I don't have to speak right now because my mouth is hanging open. Can't wait for tomorrow's installment!

This reminds me of a time I was behind an elderly man who was driving a pickup on the interstate. The recliner he had in the back of the truck tumbled out and bounced a couple of times onto the shoulder. I sped up to pull even with him and somehow let him know, although there is not a universal gesture for "Your recliner has fallen out of your truck."

He looked at me and sped up. I sped up and pulled even again, and he acclerated even more. It was when I reached 90 that I realized maybe that was his plan all along, to dump his unwanted recliner on the roadside. I'm still fairly clueless about a lot of things.

Pearl said...

Simply, I still don't know where that fire truck came from. I suppose someone called that there was some ditzy woman driving a car down the road with flames shooting from under her hood...

Shelly, I wouldn't have caught on to that either. :-) It would not have occurred to me that someone would risk someone else's vehicle/health like that all in the name of dumping an unused chair! What? Has he never heard of a bonfire?!

Eva Gallant said...

Love your stories....looking forward to the next segment!

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Could it be tomorrow today? I need to know now. I'm old. There may not be a tomorrow. whine whine

Joyful Things said...

can't wait for tomorrow! and referring to yesterdays post - did you have your music on so loud that you couldn't hear the sirens? boom boom boom - it was during the day, right?

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Thank God you saved that vacuum cleaner. Some things are just sacred!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

A burning car would be so terrifying.

bill lisleman said...

Bumper stickers would be the last thing to come to mind for me. I would miss a few CD's and my warm gloves I keep in the car.

esbboston said...

My wife has a SNOB policy, Stickers Not On Bumpers, so I have only shiny chrome and equaLLy unadorned windows. When I got my most recent vehicle I did replace the worn out Ford emblem on the front griLL.

Pearl said...

Eva, I'm glad!

Joyful, honestly, I think I was just so shocked that I was in a daze. Either that, or they really did sneak up on me. :-)

Starting Over, 1. I needed that vacuum! and 2. I think it was one of those weird things you do while upset. :-)

Green Girl, all I could think of what how close to "hand to mouth" I lived and what it would be like to be car-less. I lived in a suburb and worked in another suburb -- no bus commute either way in under 2 hours. I would go on to become absolutely terrified of what was going to happen next...

bill, I think the bumper stickers are what brought it home to me, even more than the burning car. The bands I'd seen, the people I'd been with, all flashed before me as I realized that nothing would or could be the same again. Standing there with my vacuum and my shoes, I realized that something so simple could make or break you.

esb, ah, but that's the beauty of being single. It's all yours. (Of course, it's all yours to fix, too...)

Pearl said...

Delores, that made me smile. I'd send you part II -- in case of your untimely demise -- but I've not written it yet! :-)

CarrieBoo said...

That's something you don't see every day! Preparing to tune...

Joanne said...

I'll be back; same time, same place. And then I'll be reading all the comments, too.

fmcgmccllc said...

The worst meetings in the history of my automotive career involved "thermal incidents". You would be amazed how often cars and their various components start on fire and burn up. And how far people will go to prove it could not possibly be their piece of crap part.

Pearl said...

CarriBoo, Good!

Joanne, :-) LOVE the comments.

fmcgmccllc, sounds like you might have a story yourself...

Buttons said...

Oh those words"Trust me" always make me nervous:) B

jenny_o said...

I think I sense a happy ending. I HOPE I sense a happy ending! I feel I must share with you that I don't like unhappy endings, and Part I has an unhappy ending, so I'm really counting on Part II to come up with a save ... (whimpering quietly)

Shea Goff said...

"To this point in my lifetime, I’d not had a fire truck sneak up behind me."

As a sister in single motherhood I claim the right to laugh at that one. You crack me up.

Al Penwasser said...

Were there fuzzy dice involved?

Leenie said...

Flaming cars (to mix metaphors) can put a damper on a day. It just doesn't register at first when the smoke starts rolling. (No fireman saved us but there was plenty of sand to toss on the flamage.)

There's no way to know what weird things panicked people will do until panic happens.

Glen said...

only you... literally. Only. You.

Travis Erwin said...

The only thing this post is missing is pictures.

Craver Vii said...

Whoa, what a cliffhanger! I feel like I got whiplash from the sudden jolt. I didn't know you had a son. Wow, that situation (no car plus responsibilities) put you in a real pressure cooker! I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Mitchell is Moving said...

You are such a wonderful story teller. I will be back tomorrow.

Gigi said...

Damn, Pearl. That's all I got. Can't wait to see what happens (it ends well, right??!)

And now, I will forever have a picture in my mind of a bunch of firemen, giggling like school girls, telling each other "Ssshhhh!" as they sneak up on you.....

Bodacious Boomer said...

Part 2 ASAP plz...

Ian Lidster said...

That would be very frightening. I think I would have peed myself. I've seen car fires by the roadside but blessedly haven't had the experience.

The Jules said...

Hmm . . . your car just happens to catch fire, and a fire truck just happens to be nearby?

Sounds suspiciously like someone had a quota of burning cars to attend that day.

mapstew said...

Oh Pearl! You DO make me smile! (You get to pick a song! If I know it, I'll record it, and then it's yours!) :¬)

xxx

Susan in the Boonies said...

Oh, my GOSH!!!!!!!!!

Pearl!!!!

Can't wait for part 2!!!

Nessa Roo said...

Something eerily similar happened with my 1982 LTD. Thankfully, the ex was in it at the time. ( I wrote something cruel here, but decided to delete it on the basis of self-incrimination.)

HermanTurnip said...

Uh Oh...I don't like where this is going... ;-)

PattiKen said...

(cue music...)

Oh, the suspense. I'm not sure I can stand it. Whatever will she do? I remember how insanely protective of my car (and only way to get to my only source of income) when I was a single mom of three.

ThreeOldKeys said...

Pearl,


... tune in tomorrow for this comment's conclusion.

Crystal Pistol said...

How could you leave me hanging like that???

I never took you for the big meanie type, but now I'm not so sure... ;)

River said...

How could you not notice the engine was on fire?? Surely there was warning smoke? I'm glad you got out, a world without Pearl doesn't bear thinking about!

Linda O'Connell said...

Well, I will definitely come back for more.

the walking man said...

manana or is it today? I don't know I am confused.

savannah said...

sweet mary sunshine, sugar! talk about a friggin cliff hanger! loving the comments, too! xoxoxoxo

Dr. Cynicism said...

It was very hard for me to read anything past the following line: "“Your engine,” the man next to me yells, “is on fire!”" I was laughing so hard just imagining it. Thank you so much for starting my day with a full fledged guffaw!

Diane said...

I'm with MBJ Delores. Now. Now. Now. We old people don't have much time. I don't even buy green bananas.

Symdaddy said...

I came all the way from Part II to read that only to realise that I'd read it already!

What a waste of my time travelling abilities!

I'm off back to Part II which I'll probably find out I read last week!

La Mode Operandi said...

A great read!

Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

Your boss sounds an OK type of person.

I know this may sound silly, but I need to know.

Why did your car catch fire?

Pat said...

Oh I do hope he is one of the world's goodies.

NellieVaughn said...

I have a feeling the rest of the story will warm my heart. It might even set it on fire.