Varda One

Not Clickit and Clackit, the Clampett Brothers

    A ’56 Ford Thunderbird sat on a used car lot as an ’88 Corolla drove in and parked next to it. After the Corolla driver left, the Ford broke the ice.

     “Well, you won’t be here long. They’ll snap you up real quick.”

     “Probably, now that they made me look good.”

     “What happened? Lost a fender?”

     “Major surgery. My body broke in half and they welded me together. Pity the poor stiff that’s going to buy me. I hate living a lie but what can I do? Putting the mileage back isn’t so bad, but when they sell a wrecked car like me, that ‘s going too… Hey, how come YOU’re here? I though you birds were collectors’ items.”

     “I’m not for sale. I belong  to the crook who owns the lot. He keeps me around to show off.”

     “I’ll bet you’ve racked up plenty miles in your day.”

     “Yeah, and I’ve taken a few hits, too. But you know something? I’m glad I’m out of that rat-race. I don’t want to face those crazy drivers out there. The phony accident insurance scams, the carjackings and driveby shootings. Half of them are on dope. No, thanks.”

     “Tell me about it! How do you think I got banged up? Some cokehead did me in.”

     “Just say no. I hate how the traffic’s built up in L.A. When I came here from New York, there was only one freeway, the Pasadena. Now they’ve got dozens and all you do is sit in the sun and overheat. Forget it! I can sit here.”

     “Don’t you get bored?”

     “Nah! It’s not such a bad life. I get to talk to young squirts like you. Hear a lot of war stories, probably half of them faked to impress me. Besides, my carthritis aches. I’m glad my driving days are over, kid.”

     “Well, I’m not ready for Car Heaven yet. There’s plenty of life left in me. Lots of places I want to visit. I hope somebody with a yen for travel buys me. My last owner was a lawyer. A total grind. All he did was burn up the miles between his office and his dealer and back again.”

     “How’d the wreck happen?”

     “The nerd was speeding and ran a red light. I got broadsided by a truck and snapped in two…” –his turn signal was clicking on and off—“just like that.”

     “Jap tin cans. Wouldn’t have happened to me.”

     “Listen, old man, I got news for you. I’m an American and proud of it just like you. Built in Ohio.”

      “Yeah, but the Japs own you. They own half of downtown L.A. We might as well put a for sale sign on the whole country, instead of selling it piece by piece. You should be off the lot soon. All you foreigners sell fast.”

     “So you’re one of those Japanese-bashers.”

     “I’m not happy seeing my country being sold down the river to foreigners. I remember the good old days. People liked driving. I was owned by a movie star and she took me up the Coast Highway to Malibu. We’d stare at the blue sky and the white sails on the green ocean. Or climb up into the Santa Monicas. I had a lot of pulling power in those days. Nice clear air. Nowadays your filter gets clogged right away.”

     “I’ll bet the city was a lot less crowded then.”

     “That’s only part of it. People were nicer, too. They didn’t snarl at each other. This country’s going down the tubes.”

     “Why do you think that is?”

     “Because we got fat and lazy. Like the dinosaurs. Life was good and we thought it would always be that way. Well, I got my memories and they’re a big comfort in my old age.”

     The Corolla was silent, then asked, “Who owned you after the movie star?”

     “TV came along and I got bought by a comic on channel four. He almost totaled me coming home from a party drunk. Killed two people and got off scot free.”

     “They got away with murder in those days. Now the laws are stiffer.”

     “Yeah, but the drunks hire fancy lawyers and get around them anyway.”

     “You look pretty good now.”

     The Bird snorted. “I ought to. They took long enough patching up my dents. Gave me a new paint job and sold me to a rock star who’d been a fan of the actress. You ever been driven by anyone on acid? The guy scared me worse than the drunk comic, but we never even had a close call.”

     A salesman came over with a prospect. The customer examined, walked around the Toyota, opened the door and sniffed the upholstery. “Nah, I want something classier.”

     They turned to the Honda Accord across the way.

     “People have no respect for anyone’s feelings,” said the Corolla.

     “Listen, pal, let an old car give you a piece of advice.”

     “What’s that, gramps?”

     “Ignore what people say about you. You’ll be happier that way. Anyway, the rock band broke up and the guitar player sold me to a woman who sold computers. This was in the late seventies.”

     “Computers were still new then.”

     “Yeah. She did okay and gave me to her niece who was going to law school. It was mostly commuting during those years and not as much fun as when I’d been in show biz, old tin dreams, but those ladies were pretty nice. They drove real careful and took good care of me.”

     “I’ll bet you were worth a lot even then—maybe twenty thousand dollars.”

      “More, because of the movie queen and the rock star and the comic. The yarns I could tell about them! Anyway, when the niece graduated from law school, she wanted to finance a trip to Europe so she sold me to a junk bond salesman. This creep wheeled and dealt until the law caught up with him and he got  put away for a long time. That’s how the used car guy picked me up for a song, and here I am, semi-retired.”

     “You’ve got quite a history, Pop.”

     “I haven’t told you the half of it. I’ve had plenty of back-seat action, including having twins born there. That was the rock star’s girlfriend. They started for St. Joseph’s too late and I couldn’t go two hundred miles per hour.”

     A woman accompanied by another salesman approached the Toyota. The salesman opened the door for her and she slid behind the wheel.

     “I’d like to take this around the block,” she said. The salesman got in beside her and she slowly backed it out.

     “Bye, old man,” said the Corolla. “Something tells me I got a new owner.”

      “It’s been nice talking old times,” replied the Thunderbird. “Maybe I’ll see you around in a few years.”