Barry rubbed his bald head as he looked at the long checklist of items to pick up from the grocery store and then glanced out of the living room window at the glory that was his 1976 Scout II. He usually reserved Godzilla for more exciting adventures than getting foodstuffs from the local Fry’s. However, the weather was a beautiful sixty-seven degrees and as he spent the morning removing the white steel top, he felt it would be a shame not to take the girl out for a spin on a day like today.
He pulled on his boots and grabbed the keys from the hook near the kitchen whiteboard. The unique tinkling sound of antique keys alerted his wife, Marie, of his intention to fire up the green beast.
“Ahem.” She announced her awareness of his escape attempt.
“Hey honey. Heh. I- was just gonna go grab some stuff from the store,” he said with a nervous smirk.
“Oh. How nice! What kind of stuff?” she said, crossing her arms across her chest.
“Uh, groceries. I thought I would-“
She cut him off before he could finish. “You were going to go grocery shopping for me?”
“Yeah. Of course! Anything that I can do to help ya know.”
“You’re going grocery shopping in Godzilla . . .”
As he scanned her expression for approval, he rolled the keys in his hands, the metal of the keys clicking against the old keychain. “Heh, yep! That’s was what I was thinking.”
“Is it going to make it?” she chuckled. She uncrossed her arms and returned to the stove, where she was cooking up a fresh batch of the children’s favorite meal: macaroni and cheese with hot dogs.
“Are you kidding me? I’ve been working on her all morning. Of course she’ll make it,” he assured her as he inched toward the door.
She smiled and stirred the cheesy meat and pasta. Implicit approval in his book.
He trotted out the front door and climbed into the rusty piece of America’s automotive glory days. He inserted the worn key into the ignition and turned. The solenoid clicked, the battery gauge twitched, but the starter remained silent. Barry turned it back and then forth again. Again, nothing but lonely clicks came in reply. He tried a third time. The starter replaced the solenoid’s click with the sound of an angry pit-bull springing to life, spitting clouds of carbon monoxide out of its twin tailpipes, and earning a grin from Barry’s chubby cheeks.
Barry donned his aviator sunglasses, shifted the nearly forty-year-old transmission into first gear, and drove the three miles to the neighborhood Fry’s Grocery Store. Within thirty minutes, he emerged from the store and loaded his prized booty into the open back end of Godzilla. He slipped back onto the tattered driver’s seat upholstery, turned the ignition, and the old truck growled to life.
He shifted the transmission into reverse and toed the gas pedal, but the engine did not respond with more than its regular idle-speed burble. The once cool weather turned warm as the sun beat down on his hairless head. He toed the pedal again, this time noticing the pedal was resting flush with the floor.
Something was not right.
He pushed the gearshift into neutral, turned off the engine, opened the driver’s door, and crouched down with his head under the dashboard. The gas pedal moved freely forward and back, exposing a cable that once extended from the carburetor under the hood to the pedal itself. Frayed and black, the cable was now useless as was the gas pedal.
Thinking himself defeated and his frozen goods becoming less frozen by the minute, he turned the engine off and dialed AAA. While on hold, he rummaged through the glove compartment. His eyes glimmered and he squealed as he withdrew a spool of car stereo wire he threw in the glove box months ago for a future project.
“This is AAA, are you in a safe-” came the woman on the other end as he clicked the end button.
Barry popped the hood, sprang over the side of the vehicle with his spool of green wire in hand, and located the throttle lever. Threading one end of the wire through the hole in the lever, he ran the remaining wire around the windshield into the driver’s side and fashioned a loop for his hand to grip.
Saying a silent prayer in his head, he closed the hood; leaving just enough room for the bright green wire to actuate.
He closed his eyes, turned the ignition, and the engine began its familiar low rumble. Wrapping the loop of wire around his left hand, he pulled toward his chest. The engine roared and rumbled in approval of his ingenuity.
Barry triumphantly drove his makeshift grocery-getter home, resembling an old west stagecoach driver, and holding the reins of his pungent green stallion full of groceries as he went.
“Everything go okay?” Marie asked as she helped him bring the groceries in from the truck.
“Of course! I told you she’d make it!”