A Scoundrel's Pride.
I was on foot, walking to get some breakfast, or some comics, that part I don't remember. I do remember that it was windy, and it was cool, and I was irritated about being on foot.
Something struck me then, as I walked along, in the forehead, just above my right eye. There was a flutter in the wind, and a rustle of something I didn't recognize, and then pain. I clutched my offended forehead and cursed, and looked around to see what had hit me.
Looking down upon the ground, I saw a long strip of yellow vinyl, trailing away from my feet. It was a streamer, really, that the wind must have kicked up that had attacked me. Following the offensive end to its source, some 15 feet away, I saw her.
She was battleship gray, yet somehow shone in the morning sun, light reflecting off of windshield and roof. Angular yet curved at the same time. I wasn't a "Car guy" at this point, but between the badges she bore, and vague knowledge, I discovered she was a Camaro. The word means "companion" in French, I believe, but I didn't know that at the time.
And she was beautiful. To me, anyway.
I approached her with trepidation, feet creeping up to her, and I placed a hand on the fender. Steel, cool and hard in the morning air. As I rubbed her gently I felt more than saw and heard images from her, visions of charging into adventure and out of trouble, and she sang a siren song of speed and power.
I made a deal. A bad deal, but she was mine 24 hours later. I paid too much, but we often do for the things we desire, when we feel The Call.
And oh, how I did.
Over the next few years, she taught me. She taught me everything I now know about cars, and maintenance, and repair, and mechanics. She carried me to work, to fun, to battle, and gently swept me home when it turned bad. I began to lose count of all the times she had saved me with her strength, speed, and resilience, or I her with my cunning, my skill, or luck. We got better, together, me working on her and thinking about things, repairing both her and my systems, improving them with every turn of a wrench or grounding of a wire.
She saved me so many times. She saved me by breaking down, forcing me to funnel cash into her instead of some stupid girl whose affection I would try to buy. She saved me by being a haven, somewhere I could go to hide, and hide anywhere. She saved me by giving me freedom, and mobiity, and a suit of armour made of steel.
Then things began to happen, and I would forget the bond we shared. She got all but abandoned, if not literally then at least metaphorically. I no longer put my soul into her as I once did, for I was shaken and shorn from the battles in my life. I no longer improved her, or myself. We simply put just enough into ourselves to get us back on the road.
To survive, but not strive. Once again, she teaches me. She's never given up on me, though I clearly did her for a time.
In recent days someone suggested that I needed to make myself a place, a haven, a sanctum. It puzzled me for a time, as I had never recognized that I already had such a place. I drove up to the mountains a couple nights ago, and pulled the t-tops off to look up at the stars. I thought about a lot of things, about so many adventures and misadventures. I chuckled at
rememberances of words said about the pair of us, about how crazy we were to travel so far, in such a "hunk of junk." That we made it at all, is a testament to our combined talents, her willingness to do whatever I ask, and my skill and aptitude with keeping her together.
But she isn't a hunk of junk. And neither am I.
I sat on the mountain for a long time, thinking and looking through my notebook of plans and dreams for the pair of us that I had set aside while I searched for other things. I looked for a long time at the co-pilots seat, and of all the people who had sat there next to me inside her, and it didn't feel entirely right that it was empty.
But it wasn't entirely wrong, either. There was a long time, before any friend or lover that had sat there beside me, when it was just me. And that was okay. Maybe life is better with a co-pilot, but not having one isn't the end of the world. I made it by just fine on my own before. Now is no different than then.
There are those among you who may not understand how it feels, or may think it is silly to regard a "thing" as a person. "It's just a car," they say. It's just a thing.
That may be true.
But this car, this companion has taught me more about life, and myself, than any other thing or person on this planet. She's never failed me, nor I her, and I do not intend to start now.
She will be my shelter, and my strength. I will be her deftness, and her skill. We will save each other again, in large and small ways.
For from the first day I saw her until the stars burn out, she will remain, The Scoundrel's Pride.