Friday, July 22, 2005

Interior Decorating

My mom was in the car business all her adult life, beginning her career as a salesman then moving to finance. For many years after she left my father and moved to Houston she remained single, as was the tendency of all my father's ex-wives. As a result, many of the men she introduced me to wore polyester pants, ten gallon cowboy hats, alligator skin boots, had voices slick as Texas tea and were always trying to charm my mother's only son as a tactical maneuver towards the bedroom.

I lived with my dad all my life, and would visit mom on summer vacation. When I turned seventeen, my dad got me a beat up, navy blue Chevy Nova, the most welcomed and amazing gift I had ever received. It was quirky, and developed rust holes in the floorboards through which you could put your feet and drive Flintstones style. It had an awful backfire; if you let off the gas too quickly it sounded off like a firing squad, or the finale of a fourth of July celebration. But there weren't too many cars in town that could outrun it; she could do the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.

Mom came to see my high school graduation, bless her heart. It must have been some shock to come from the land of consumerism, big houses and new cars to no-man's-land Alaska and take up guest accommodations in our shanty trailer. My car must have been the deal breaker, because when I started at college, she told me to get myself down to Houston, because she was sending me home in a new car.

It was a Chevy Cavalier, replete with a strange odor that I had never experienced without a fancy air freshener: new car smell. But that as it turned out would be fleeting.

I gathered a couple of my friends for the road trip back to Washington where I was attending college. We rolled a few joints for the trip and agreed to take shifts and drive straight through. I drove to College Station, home of the Aggies, to pick them up. On the way, a little rock flew into my windshield and created a spider web crack, my first ding, and I cursed the heavens, steaming all the way.

We set out for Washington and I drove for as long as I could take it, and turned the wheel over to Alan, or Tex as everybody called him. I met him in Alaska, and it was by sheerest coincidence that he moved near my mother in Texas. His accent was thick, which earned him his incredibly inventive nickname, and aside from being unemployed, he had every bit of the car salesman personality. He had long blonde hair and fair, feminine features, and was smash hit with the ladies, a great ice breaker at parties.

I decided to get some sleep, so I showed him the map and told him where to go, and he said, "Yeah yeah," in a dismissive tone. When I woke up, we were on a farm road a distance north of where we should have been, and nearly ran into a cow sleeping in the road. I had to get out and shoo him away.

Tex pulled out one of our joints, and after a few pulls, the mood was once again serene as we flew down the highway, once again on track, somewhere in the middle of rural Texas.

"Look," said Tex, pointing ahead to the side of the road, "a deer."

Most people would have slowed down, but he kept on going, happy as you please at eight five. As we approached, the deer decided that it needed to be on the other side of the highway, and shot in front of us in a single bound, and there was nothing we could do. It was in the midst of a jump when we collided, which pushed it's legs forward, spinning the deer a three quarter rotation before it shattered our windshield; it exploded like a water balloon and double layered the interior and everything in it with blood, excrement and liquid the color of wheat grass, and fell into a formless heap onto Tex's lap.

He screamed like a B movie actress and forgot to drive the car, which flew in auto pilot, thankfully straight.

"Tex!" I panicked. "Do not panic! Step on the brake and stop the car."

He looked at me uncomprehendingly and yelled, "What?!"

"Stop the car!"

"Oh my god! I can't hear anything." He put his fingers to his ears and pulled out clumps of green, undigested grass. His face was starting to bleed from a hundred tiny glass cuts, but his eyes registered relief as he realized that he was not deaf after all. He looked at the deer and his panic heightened again.

"Tex just stop the car god dammit," but he picked up the deer instead with two hands and threw it in my lap. I recoiled in disgust and kicked it into the floor boards and jumped up on my seat, every bit as panicked as he was moments before. Tex got control of the car and brought it to a stop.

We realized that the deers head and right front leg had been severed, so out of morbid curiosity I walked back the surprisingly short distance to where the rest was laying alongside the road. It's jaws were lying beside the mouth like a set of dentures.

Eventually an elderly couple stopped to give us a hand. The car had a new interior and a gaping wound through the windshield on the drivers side. They had a large supply of water, as they were coming back from a camping trip, so we each took turns washing the glass and body juices off us. They also gave us three or four old sheets to cover the seats with.

We drove the car to the nearest town and found a Chevy dealership. By now the car smelled like a slaughter house. The head mechanic, with a white patch on his breast that said 'Earl', sporting a lump of Copenhagen between his cheek and gum, took a long appraising look at the damage.

He turned to one of his men and laughed sadistically, "Better call in Billy on this one, he's low man on the totem pole."


jenbeauty said...

Ok I should not be laughing, but I have tears streaming down my face! That is an awesome tale!

I loved this: and fell into a formless heap onto Tex's lap.

He screamed like a B movie actress and forgot to drive the car, which flew in auto pilot, thankfully straight.

I can see this beautiful boy screaming and panicing non-stop. Oh dear god...this is too comical. Thanks Scott!

Scott said...

Jen - I'm glad you thought it was funny, it was a surreal experience. Thanks for telling me what you liked about it. You never know what works and doesn't.

jenbeauty said...

There were so many lines that were great but that one was the best.

I am telling you we have a lot in common. I have somewhat of a similar story if you can believe it! Cracked windsheild and all but ours involved what we thought was a Eastern

You know I have some pretty good tales. A little nervous about posting some but I have one that is just a bit crazy and I don't have a way with words the way you do. Maybe you could write it for

Mrs.T said...

I wanted to cry. Holy crap. This is why my mother always said 'Never let ANYONE else drive your car!!'

Scott said...

Jen - Awww gosh. Thanks. I think you should give it a shot and write about your experience, and don't be self conscious. The more you write the better you get. I'm using this blog to practice my style, and also to get these things down before I forget.

Mrs T - By the way, I love the new picture you have; it's a nice personal touch. I don't like anybody driving my car, not even my wife. Too bad on such a long trip huh?

trinamick said...

My mom got a new truck about 2 years ago. She only had it two months and my bro-in-law hit a deer. While she was waiting for the new parts to come, she hit a deer on the same stretch of highway. Her first new vehicle - she thought maybe it was a sign she needed to be more humble, LOL!

Scott said...

There is a magnetic attraction to new vehicles, huh. I saw a Schprock comment on Knitters site that said she should just put a ding on it and get it over with.

Beth said...

Holy shit! You have some wild stories from your youth. It sounds like something from a horror movie! I'm amazed everyone was okay, but am wondering if the damage was fixed. lol

Scott said...

The smell was never really cleansed completely, although I wondered if it was just in my mind. They did the best they could, but I should have insisted that the car was totalled.

Falconmyst said...

Thanks for visiting my Storyboard Gallery and for the compliment. FORBIDDEN is a tale of the last elves in Middle Earth...

Tee said...

What a great story! Thanks for coming to my blog and commenting so I could re-discover you again! I'll need to add you to my blogroll in the near future so I don't lose you again. Excellent writing. I felt like I was there. Never had this type of situation described so well. Awesome! :)

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Oh, Scott, this is a terrific story! My first car was a heap and my second was a Cavalier, too, although it wasn't brand-spanking new. I never hit a deer, but I can picture it perfectly in my mind. It never occurred to me that the undigested grass would explode all over like that. Ewwww and cheering at the same time!

Scott said...

Falcon - I'll definitely be stopping by and reading your story

Tee - Glad I found you again too, and thanks

Joely - Wierd coincidence, I seem to have a lot in common with my readers! Thanks for coming by again.

Dixie Belle said...

Hey Scott, Thanks for visiting. I think you're born to write. Have you ever read Rick Bragg? I think you'd enjoy him. Your writing reminds me of him.

Dixie Belle said...

Rick Bragg writes non-fiction about his family and the blue-collar class of people in Northern Alabama. His imagery is excellent.

Braleigh said...

Oh man, that was an awful (in nature of course, not at all in how it was written,) hilarious, and beautifully composed story.

The panic described somewhat reminded me of the time I was driving with friends and the driver accidentally cut off a vicious looking biker because of a disappearing lane. He zoomed in front of us and the slowed to a halt, forcing us to do the same. He sat there, glaring back at us, yelling something. I kept telling ym friends to turn off the music, as I was in the backseat, but they were too frozen in terror and they could not figure out what I was talking about. Finally I had to lean forward, shut off the music and I calmly explained to the biker our mistake. He forgave us, THANK GOD, but my friends remained completely mute and immobile until he drove away.

mr. schprock said...

Awesome story! Why doesn't anything good like this happen to me?

mr. schprock said...

BTW, I've emailed this link to a couple of people. One of them actually hit a deer with his car, but story his nothing compared to this!

I'll stop doing this because I'm repeating myself, but I thought this was extremely well-written. You're a natural story teller. There, last time!

Scott said...

Dixie, thanks for the advice and encouragement. I've got a copy of his newspaper stories on hold at the library.

Braleigh - Nice to see you again. You should post about the experience. I can just imagine that the biker was big and hairy, and quite fearsome.

Mr Schprock - Thanks for sending it around and for the compliments. I'm like a girl, ok? You can never tell me that I am beautiful too many times, no matter how much I protest. I liked your first comment, and I know exactly what you mean. Traumatic events are exciting, as long as you live through it.

Diana said...

Just wanted to say that was an awesome story, Scott. I've known a few folks around here who've hit a deer (so far I haven't, knocking on wood) but you sure brought it home in describing what it was like! Wow! That was really a great read! I'm stopping by every day for sure! *grin*

Alan said...

OH!! I just got it!! I wasn't going to comment until I saw the title--"Interior Decorating!!!"


How's this for contrast, I drove alongside a running deer on one of the major highways, westward through Ohio one summer. It had gotten istelf mixed up, trying to cross, and something divine told it, "not against the traffic--WITH." It had to be one of the most beautiful experiences ever. And as that I was in the slow lane (yes, America, there IS one) it paced with me then bounded off to safety.

Even now I wonder if I dreamed it.