Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Come and gone, as the fleeting breeze.

A few months ago, my twenty year-old Topaz developed another leaky fuel line. Like the blithely incontinent Mrs. Emery from Little Britain, the car was trailing offensive fluid wherever it went. When I was out and about, and people pointed, honked, or scowled, I'd smile idiotically and feign complete ignorance. Of course, with snow and slush covering the ground, my neighbors were none the wiser.

With the advent of spring, however, my community parking lot and driveway dried up, and people were starting to clue-in to my copious fluid loss. It doesn't take Poirot's olfactory genius to follow a trail of noxious, flammable liquid to its source. In fact, I noticed a tendency on the part of my fellow lot-mates to studiously avoid parking on either side of my rusty antique as if it were a ticking time bomb. I can't really fault them, since I seem to recall "ticking time bomb" being one of the phrases my mechanic used after he'd patched those lines a month earlier.

So - it was time for a change. After clearing out the trunk (eleven ice-scrapers...who needs eleven ice-scrapers?) I delivered the tired old trusty Topaz into the caring hands of the junkyard boss. A neighbor was selling her car; a ten-year old Plymouth Breeze, and the asking price was two grand. We haggled, and I paid her $2200. Upon reflection, I may need to tighten up my haggling skills a smidge. Anyway. I was mobile again, and rather proud of the fact. Duel airbags, automatic windows, CD stereo, and fully-functional AIR CONDITIONING! I was finally driving in the twenty-first century!

That was three weeks ago. This past Wednesday, I'm walking to the back of our Townhouse complex to go for a cool, relaxing, fume-free tour around town, and I cannot find the car. "Here Breeze!" I called cheerfully. "C'mon boy!". No answer. Well, that's odd. I remembered backing it (fancy new car = fancy new habit) into my usual spot the night before. But my usual spot does not contain a new car at all.
Instead, it contains a perplexing amount of empty space.


"I think my car has been stolen?" I say timidly into the telephone. The police dispatch lady is very nice, though she does not give me my car back. She gives me bad news instead: "Oh, Chrysler/Plymouth products get stolen every day." she says sympathetically. "They're an irresistible target for thieves. Give us your number, and we'll call you if anything turns up."

So I do this, wondering at the speed with which I went from "hazardous eyesore" to "irresistible" and make a call to my insurance company. Was this really happening?

On the Friday, I get a call. "This is Constable Somethingorother. We have recovered your car." Joy! "Just come by Division 2 in Cambridge to get the release forms."
"Will do, Officer!" I chirp excitedly, suddenly channeling Wally Cleaver.

My elation lasted about as long as it took for me to read the scrawled police report that was handed to me when I arrived at the station. Busted wheel, flat tire, no plates, ignition punched, passenger lock drilled out...
Towing fee: $160 (for moving it two measley blocks).
I signed the form and left. Then I make another call to my insurance company.

The next night (three in the morning, actually), I get a call.
"This is Constable Somethingelsecompletely, we have found your plates. Do you want to claim them, or do you want us to send them back to the Ministry of Transportation?"

"Uh, wait...what, you found my plates? Awesome! Where? How?"

"Well...sir, it's three in the morning, do you want to hear the whole story?"

"HELL YEAH!" I say (Wally Cleaver was clearly still groggy).

Well, they had responded to a call reporting two males trying to break into a Neon in a guy's driveway down in Cambridge, and when police took the two pukes into custody, they discovered one of the little urchins had been carrying my tags in his knapsack. Hurray!

The next day, I was more than happy to return to Division 2 under the pretense of reclaiming my stolen property. But it was the dirt that I was really after. "Who were they? How old? Are they pros? Any drugs found on them? Are they still in custody? Can I see them? Can I jab them with this sharp stick I brought with me?"

The receptionist was a different lady, but just as nice, and very obliging: "Two males; Cambridge residents. Aged 21 and 15. Yes. Yes. Yes. No. Sir, please put that away."


I visited my poor violated vehicle yesterday. It sat there, the only car in my mechanic's lot, looking pathetic and forlorn. My adjuster had called earlier and reported his findings: "Underside demolished. Oil pan missing. Engine hopelessly siezed. Total write-off."

Peering through the driver's window, I also note that the stereo has been nearly wrenched out. From the rear window (still bearing some of the scotch tape that had recently affixed the "for sale" sign) I see a grocery bag full of clothes or something in the back seat. Not mine. I think some undershorts are among the tangle of alien articles, but I'm not about to root around and find out.

The thing is, I was told that I'd likely be subpoenaed when the thieves go to trial. Should I preserve this repellent bit of evidence? Yes, I decide to save it. With my little finger looped through one of the handles, I carry it over to my mom's car and drop it in the trunk.

It's getting late; the sky is darkening and the wind is kicking up. I slowly drive out of the lot, leaving the Breeze behind.

Yet, the breeze is but a rover,
When he wings away,
Brook and poplar mourn a lover!
Sighing well-a-day!
Ah, the doing and undoing
That the rogue could tell!
When the breeze is out a-wooing,
Who can woo so well?
Pretty brook, thy dream is over,
For thy love is but a rover!
Sad the lot of poplar trees,
Courted by the fickle breeze!

~William S Gilbert


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