Featuring our first creative writing competition winner, Thomas Lancaster, and his piece Ode to a crappy car.
Back in 2004, my friend Catherine listed her enormous Volvo station wagon for sale. The car had the biggest booty of a boot I’ve seen, and no, it wasn’t bootiful. Catherine couldn’t drive for shit, and I was tired of picking up my family’s wheelie bins every time she reversed from our driveway. It was beige, back before beige was cool again. When I say it was beige, I mean the parts of the car that weren’t rusted. Catherine’s car was so rusty it actually sparked an interest for me in the rusting process – how does a naturally occurring phenomenon manage to make a car look that crap?
Anyway, some poor soul decided to part with a few hundred bucks to take it. Catherine and I were 24 by the time this all happened, and had real actual jobs. Catherine had accumulated real, actual money, and so there we were, sat inside the Toyota dealership. We were buying a brand new car. When I say we, I mean her, but I was there for the big moment.
“Remember that time we called in to get petrol, and you pulled up the wrong side of the fuel pump?”
“I do,” Catherine confirmed, attempting to shut me down.
“And then you tried to reach the pump around the big ol’ behind of the Volvo, and-and-and,” as I burst out laughing.
“Yes, and the elderly lady behind us asked if I needed a hand.”
“Yes, she must have been at least 85.”
“Yeah,” Catherine said, a faint smile breaking out.
“Yeah,” I sighed.
We were watching the middle-aged couples and businessmen stalk the floor of the dealership showroom, looking for “the one”. The salesman handling Catherine’s affairs was approaching us, ready to hand over the paperwork. He looked a bit like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, forever lost in a place you can’t actually get lost in.
As the salesman sat down I whispered to Catherine, “you know, I nearly lost my virginity in the Volvo.”
“Beg your pardon?” said Tom Hanks.
“She didn’t say anything,” said Catherine.
I sat and smiled while Catherine and Tom Hanks did the car dealership dance, with the signatures and all that. Then he slid the new keys across the table, which I thought was a bit unnecessary. Catherine enjoyed the showmanship, and next thing I knew, we were standing in front of the dealership.
Some guy was driving Catherine’s new car up to us, and the big moment had arrived.
“Fresh off the production line, a snazzy, new Toyota Echo,” he smirked, as he hopped out of the car.
I walked around to the passenger side, my fingers trailing across the freshly waxed metallic blue paintjob. There was no layer of dust for me to write things in that would embarrass Catherine in front of her mum.
“It’s… really nice Cat. It’s awesome,” I said, as we landed in our seats. The ‘new-car-smell’ entered my nose as I looked at Catherine, who seemed unconvinced.
“Yeah, I suppose so.”
“Can we go through KFC drive-thru on the way home? I feel like some chicken wings,” I said.
“You only want to do that so you can put the greasy bones in the cup holders, and make this car a beautiful shit-heap like the last one.”
I smiled. Catherine hit the blinker, we turned onto the road, and drove off.