Larry Zimmerman loved cars. This love transcended the unseen the tangible, the figurative and the hypothetical. He loved how cars looked, deeply inhaled their smells and embraced their movable personas at every opportunity. His earliest memories began with toy cars on the striped living room rug and continued to evolve through Pinewood Derbies, dutifully engaging in first-generation, prehistoric slot car racing, standard model building and surreptitious visits to the local junk yard when it was closed for the weekend when he could crack car hoods and slowly learn how these wild animals came to life. He saw the junkyard as a graveyard for once-proud beasts; whether it a Falcons, Bronco, Impala, Beetle or the occasional Cobra or Jaguar, it was the world that brought his both comfort and logic.
As he grew into an awkward adolescent and his only apparent goal is his life was to become of legal age and immediately acquire a driver’s license. When pressured by guidance counsellors, teachers and the inquisitive relative to provide a longer and more detailed plan of action, Larry would smile and change the subject. He was confident that once he got wheels, all other obligations and desires would present themselves to him as he sped by.
He had been casting an eye on an elderly neighbor’s abandoned black and white sedan since he was thirteen. It was an odd shape; uniquely aerodynamic but with appendages which appeared to serve no useful purpose except to inspire and titillate while they caught the wind. This car, long dormant and damaged, was going to be his first conquest; his first four-wheeled exploration into the world which would be moving quickly from his dull and leaden point A to an eventually gleaming and glorious point B.
Larry had already began to acquire a litany of requisite Chilton’s manuals which would help guide his still-nascent mechanical skills into turning the black and white striped car back into the automobile first imagined forty plus years ago by some young, rebellious Detroit engineer. The die was literally cast; he was going to get that car, restore that car and return it to its rightful place on the highway with dispatch and alacrity.
In early spring of his thirteenth year, Larry knocked on the door of his elderly neighbor; he had mowed his lawn and shoveled his walk numerous times without asking for money so he knew he would be appreciatively greeted by the man that once also had run with ease and vigor. The man knew many things but rarely volunteered his insights because of his reluctance to suffer fools or mollify the oblivious. Regardless of demeanor, Cletus Davis was not a modest man if you knew which tumblers to turn.
“Hello, Larry. What can I do for you? There is no snow and the grass has no intention of growing for a few more weeks.”
“Mr. Davis, I want to buy your black and white car; the zebra sedan in the back.”
“You are not old enough to drive a car, much less buy it.”
“I have no intention of driving it until I get it to work. And I figure that task might take a few years.”
“I agree with that.”
“I have read all about this car; from its lineage to its sparkplug firing order, it is perfect for me. I want to bring it back to life.”
“Then what will you do?”
“I have no ideas but I think there will be some girls involved in the second chapter.”
“Let me get my tools; you will need some help.”
They wandered to the back, Larry dutifully carrying the large toolbox as Cletus walked directly to the front of the car. It was a Chevrolet Fleetline and only resembled a lithe animal such as the zebra.
"Agreed. I will see you soon."
It is fascinating what you see when you are not looking for anything in particular.
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