That little window above the garage door lets in so much light in the mornings…. How in Gods name am I supposed to get any peace around here when I know whats on the other side of those doors? When I know whats around me?
10 years now I’ve been sitting here…the dust on my body gets thicker with every passing day. The rust gets worse as the damp winters come and go. The family of swallows in the far corner of the garage, look down pitifully, with each passing year. It only seems like yesterday that the family threw a raggedy old sheet over me after their son Richard got boozed up at my owners funeral and drove me straight into that grand oak tree in the middle of the town. He scratched up all my paintwork, dented my sides and bashed my bonnet.
Now here I am, parked up like someones secret. Hidden among the rest of the “junk” that the family can’t bear to look at, yet can’t seem to let go of.
I don’t remember much of that day – the day of the funeral. Apart from the conversation the guys with the tow trucks had amongst themselves as they pulled my ruined body up onto the truck that took me back home.
“I thought this was for the scrap heap Tommy? Might have known that kid would have gone off the rails as soon as old man Hamilton kicked the bucket”.
I could still feel the heat in my engine as they talked about me, like I didn’t exist. I didn’t like the way they spoke about Richard either.
“Nah Sid, the family want the car back, I heard Martin Hamilton say they couldn’t part with it. Said that they got a whole heap of stuff in that big old garage, he said he didn’t know what he was gonna do with it all but that they couldn’t part with any of it. Too many memories of the old man. I heard the son, Richard, is in a terrible way. Heard he’s gone to dry out at St. Jude’s. Couldn’t take the old man passing. Poor kid, he was there the whole way through the cancer”.
“Well Tommy, I could get rid of plenty of that old junk for them if they wanted, I bet you’d earn a pretty penny with all that…Old man Hamilton loved his collectibles”.
“He sure did Sid, he sure did, God rest his soul…..”
My body creaked as it rested completely on the back of the tow truck. I let out a breath of air and I could swear Sid did a double take. He shook his head and jumped inside the cab of the truck as Tommy shut his door and tapped the sides of it through the rolled down window with his hand, like it was a pony.
They drove me through the streets of my up market neighbourhood, people looking differently at me than before. The tow truck like a hearse carrying a coffin. My beautiful paintwork, my convertible roof and my leather interior no longer my remarkable characteristics. Just the mark of the oak tree embedded perfectly into my passenger side door, and an odd looking shape in the front of the bonnet. You could almost see the imprint of the bark in my paint. I could feel every bit of it too.
They drove me slowly, procession like, up the grand driveway of the Hamilton estate. The trees almost bowing at my passing. The Florida sun flickered through the branches like flash bulb photography. The sickly humidity, too sticky to call a fine evening. I could already feel the dust sticking to my body. A thick line of oil that trailed behind me, left sitting perfectly centre on the driveway, bubbled on the tarmac.
They all waited at the doorway, the Hamilton’s. They stood around one another, their arms intertwined. Mrs. Hamilton wept into my masters handkerchief. I know this because it was the very one he used to leave inside the glove compartment when we would set off on Saturday mornings for his game of golf. I never knew why he took it with him when he’d always leave it there behind him. Perhaps it was the novelty of it. The feeling of having something, but not necessarily needing it.
Little Miss Daisy he called me. He would leave me in the care of the Valet boys that worked part-time over at The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club in Sanibel. They used to love getting the keys to me, and the old man used to laugh when he’d hear them say what they wouldn’t give to take me out on a Saturday night to pick up the ladies.
Martin Hamilton, the old mans son, blinked as he looked at the damage that had been done to me. Unable to say or do anything to remark of any emotion that he was feeling. The younger children looked on in disbelief, their Grandfathers pride and joy returned lifeless, like the man himself upstairs in his bed. Freshly laid out. His markings and scars on show, like mine, for sympathisers to see.
Martin Hamilton pointed at Sid and Tommy to drive left at the entrance over to the side of the grand house. Under an archway and there through a small private garden was the garage. This was where he kept me.
It was more like a house. Full of Harley Davidson’s, Honda’s, Lamborghini’s – all lined up and shining on one side. Then on the far wall there were quarter machines, video and arcade games, trampolines, a snooker table, a juke box and a fully stocked bar – you name it, it was there. Old man Hamilton couldn’t resist the child within him and any time we passed a store or something that had lights and played music, he bought it. We were never alone inside this adventure land, there was always grandchildren, nieces, nephews and kids from the neighbourhood laughing and playing. Especially Richard Hamilton, the pride and joy of my master, old man Hamilton. His Grandson and Martin Hamilton’s only son.
Richard has the bluest eyes you’ll ever see. Hasn’t changed much since he first sat in my passenger seat when he was 8 years old. Old man Hamilton had just won me in a bet through a game of golf and he just had to take Richard out for a spin as soon as he got me home. He was a beautiful boy, blue-green eyes, a mop of brown sandy hair and a shy smile that would break hearts. The years passed and he grew into a fine young man. He still loved going for spins with the old man or going golfing with him. I will never forget the first driving lesson the old man gave him on his 17th Birthday, we laughed so hard as we chucked and stalled down the driveway of the house. That was the day that old man Hamilton told Richard that on the day he left this world, I would be left to him. We were parked up on the crest of a hill over near the golf course looking out at the sunset, not knowing that a tragedy would be soon upon us. A bittersweet memory that I will never forget.
But anyway, everything changed very fast when old man Hamilton got sick. I felt it a long time before the old man did himself. I remember it rained that day as he drove us home. I could feel his fear as he grabbed at my steering wheel, twisting it as he drove, like it was a rope. The family were devastated but of course old man Hamilton just brushed it off around them, said that it’d take more than that to take him from his golf and his cars.
Richard didn’t take any of it too well. No one saw him running to the garage. To me. He sat with me, switched on my radio and slammed my dash with his fist as old man Hamilton’s favourite Billy Holiday song rang out through my stereo.
He told me he was sorry, wiped the tears from his handsome face and fixed his reflection in my rear view mirror. Barely able to look himself in the eye. I read his thoughts as he realised what lay ahead of him and his family in those coming months. I would have hugged him then if I could.
I think he knew it too.
I haven’t seen him since that day, the day of the funeral.
So here I sit. The minutes turn into hours, the hours turn into days and the days turn into weeks. I have lost all track of time and I am lost in this long and heavy limbo, this sleep of non-existence. I am not a memory, nor am I a feeling.
Sometimes, only occasionally, I am disturbed by the slender touch of a caring hand. Caressing me from over my sheet. I can’t see who it is – they don’t stay long, but I think it could be someone who carries a handkerchief. I want to scream out to them, please don’t forget me, I’m in here. I’m here. I may look battered and dinted and useless on the outside, but all of my working parts are in order and as good as new. Please don’t forget me.
I’m alive; I am still here.