Sunday, November 7, 2010


I was driving an old 1967 Impala with a very small block straight 6 engine in it.  It was a long ways from my days driving the Nova with the V-8.  I was married and the Nova was my wife's, no questions asked.  Harry had taken me out to help find a car suitable for me.  I had my eyes on a 1972 Chevelle with a big engine and the rear end jacked up.  It was a real looker of a car but Harry thought I could do better.  He walked around the lot and found this Impala for me.  Sensible car he had said.  It only would cost me two hundred dollars and it could, if I pushed it hard enough, make it up to seventy miles per hour.  You can't realize the blow to your self esteem when your wife is out driving a car like her Nova at speed under the speed limit and driving it extremely carfully while you are stuck with a car that was almost toy in its nature.

It was a good car though.  It was reliable and the maintenance it required was simple and easy for me to do.  I drove that car many miles and it served its purpose, that of getting me from point A to point B.  The low initial cost and low overhead of fuel costs and maintenance cost also allowed us to save up money for our first brand new car.  Harry knew what he was doing.  He always did.

I was still a little bit immature even though I was married.  I had done things that looking back, could have been pretty big mistakes.  For example on our first anniversary of marriage, I had received a phone call from the guys wanting to play basketball, which I agreed to without even thinking.  So my wife spent our first anniversary at home by herself while I was out shooting hoops.  Not a good choice on my part.

I had matured over the years in other ways though.  Since that day I threw rocks at the dump truck, I had never thrown another rock anywhere except maybe into a lake, skipping it across the surface.  I had not had a drag race either for a few reasons.  First I had learned a lesson from my previous racing experience and that was that it was not such a good idea to drag race on public streets.  Of course, since my big drag race, a new interstate had been built across the drag strip producing a set of four red lights which shortened the track somewhat.  Along with the new freeway came another set of stop lights a few blocks back from the freeway which shortened the track even more.  Blue Ridge was no longer a drag strip dream but just another suburbian street that was picking up more and more traffic.  The other reason for not racing anymore was that my Impala was incapable of doing a race of any kind except perhaps a demolition derby.

I was out taking my Impala to the gas station one bright sunny summer day.   I had grown to kid of love that car and I felt comfortable and safe in it.  As I was coming up a street a dump truck pulled out in front me to make a left hand turn.  I slowed the car a bit to give the heavy truck plenty pf time to complete his turn.  As the truck passed in front of me I looked up in the cab.  It was eerie.  The driver had thick black hair brylcreemed back in a swoop.  He ware dark glasses and had a look of determination on his face of a man at work with a job to get done.  It was the same truck driver from years ago.  The man who had lectured me while all the other kids were hiding.  The man who had truly scared me half to death when he had climbed out of that truck.

Then in my mind flashed another picture of a man.  A police officer I knew only as "Sweeney" from his autograph on my speeding ticket the night he had turned off the radar gun when my car hit fifty five miles per hour.   The Officer who had faked calling pthe parents of both me and my wife in a terror filled evening that I had seen my life  pass before my eyes if Harry had found out about the racing.  One thing you should know I spuupose is that Harry was a big racing fan and I had been to the races with him dozens of times, but those races were on an enclosed track, not on a public street in a car in which he owned, so yes, I am not exagerating when I felt like my life would have ended if Harry had found out about that racing incident.

The truck completed his turn while all these thoughts were going through my head and I was reliving each of them.  My eyes drifted over towards the mailbox next to the road almost afraid of what I would see.

The mail box had one word set upon it and that word sent a chill up my spine.  All that it said on the mailbox was "SWEENEY".

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