The Hervert Family Newsletter

Volume 1, Issue 2, November 14, 1998

merrily we roll along CAR STORIES merrily we roll along

- Ones you're glad didn't happen to you.

Man, What a Beat! by Steven Hervert
In the Beginning by Andrew Hervert
A Long Winters Nap by Andrew Hervert
Mrs. Fairall and the Fire by Andrew Hervert
Now I Can See by Christine Drews
Patricia's Day in the Snow by Patricia Pines
Flames of Victory by Carl Drews
The Day Carl Lost Reverse by Carl Drews
Submarine Sandwich by Carl Drews
They Call the Wind a Pain in the Neck by Jim and Susie Hervert
Do I Get Egg Roll with This? by Flore-Marie

Take me back to Tales From Beyond the Void, Please.

Take me back to The Murphy NexusTM, Please.

 Steven G. Hervert

Man, What a Beat!

As a young man, Steve Hervert had a 1956 Pontiac whose engine was started by an ignition button, not by the key. With cars like this, the key merely connected the electrical circuitry, so you could turn on the heater, the fan, the lights, and so on, but you had to press the button to start the engine. In those days, all radios were made with electronic tubes, rather than diodes, so they wouldn't sound off the second the radios were turned on -- the tubes had to warm up before they would pass the electricity.

One evening Steve drove home, with the radio blaring some music from the local station. He parked the car and turned off the key, which killed the engine, the radio, and everything else. The next morning, he came out got into the car and turned on the key. He reached into the back seat to get some paperwork before he started the engine. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, the radio tubes were warming up. He turned around and punched the ignition button just as the radio sound began to blare some musical piece featuring bongo drums thumping away:

Bitty bop BOP bop-BOP-bop! Bitty bop BOP bop-BOP-bop!

Steve shot up out of his hunched position, certain the engine was going to explode, it sounded so rough and broken.

The bongo drum concert on the radio, which had been left on and therefore had heated up faster than the engine, continued until Steve recovered from the awful conclusion that he had ruined the car, and was able to start up as usual.

Take me back to the Table of Contents, Please.

Just a brief pause to catch your breath before diving in to the next story

 Andrew J. Hervert

In the Beginning

Andy had car problems from the start. When he was 15 years and 9 months old, he induced Mom (Bortie) to go with him to get his license in the metallic blue VW. He passed successfully and was thrilled to be in the driver's seat on the way home from the MVA office. Stopped at a red light, he glanced at his rear view mirror and noticed the speed of the car behind him.

"Mom, I don't think they're going to stop!" and "Crash!" the driver behind him plowed into the rear of the Hervert VW, crushing the engine and totaling the car. Mom and Andy went around with whiplash for the next few days, but the situation resolved itself into another VW, this time an orange one, and a clean driving record for Andy. He was lucky to have Mom as a witness to his first fender-bender as a new driver.

A Long Winter's Nap

Years later, when Andy was at college, the orange VW puttered and groaned in the parking lot of his apartment complex during a snow and ice storm. Andy, both frustrated and relieved, coasted the useless car to a stop outside his apartment's screen door. "At least I didn't have to have it towed," he reflected. He adjusted his study and sleep schedule to accommodate the extra two hours of bus travel he would have to fit into his school day, not to mention the hassle of maintaining a flow of the right change for the bus. Throughout the winter, Andy would pass the deadbeat car, as he was bundled into his winter coat after a hasty breakfast, not having had enough sleep the night before. He would get on the unappealing bus and ride with unpleasant strangers on the generic bus schedule. Andy's resentment at this extra effort grew over the dark, cold unforgiving days. As the spring came, he decided he had had enough of traipsing around the car's limitations, and called the garage nearest his apartment to come tow the car and bring it in for repairs. On a college budget, the $20.00 was stiff, but Andy was resolved to regain his independence from mass transit.

Once at the station, Andy explained that the car had just quit working and wouldn't start. The mechanic took the keys, turned them in the ignition, and the engine rattled to life. Andy drove home, cursing the car, thinking it had cost him $20.00 for nothing. The car had just needed a towing. Then he noticed the turn signal, broken for years, was now working. That was some good tow.

Mrs. Fairall and the Fire

In May 1995, Stephanie graduated from college and celebrated her birthday. The whole family was there, including Christine's new boyfriend Carl and the old friend of the family, Mrs. Fairall. Mrs. Fairall was in her 80s and physically frail. She stayed the whole afternoon, and Andy was scheduled to drive her home to Kensington.

Andy didn't like smoking in the cab of his truck, and Mrs. Fairall had smoked longer than Andy had been alive. He had no ashtray in his passenger area, so Mrs. Fairall used a styrofoam hamburger container to contain her hot ashes and dying cigarette stubs. The noxious mix of styrofoam chemicals and tobacco ash really made Andy feel sick, so he asked Mrs. Fairall to get rid of the container.

She rolled down her window and flung the container with its smoldering contents onto the side of the highway, just where there was a large, brown, dry grassy field. Andy felt bad about littering from his vehicle, and watched the container hit the ground and burst open, scattering its hot contents. Then he noticed smoke rising from the site, then a few flames shot up in the dry field. Andy was horror-struck. He pulled over to the side of the road and ran back to the now-flaming section of field. He first attempted to douse the flames with yogurt-cupfuls of water. He gained no ground that way. He ran back to his truck and pulled out a mangy old blanket and began smothering the flames more effectively that way, but the fire was still going strong.

Out of the corner of his eye, Andy saw a police car pull up, and the officer came out, purposely walking toward Andy. Andy's heart sunk, wondering what the penalty for negligent fire damage was. The officer carried a fire extinguisher and commented to Andy as they put the fire out together, "I don't often see passers-by stopping to get involved in roadside fires. This is real kind of you. Thanks, thanks a lot." Andy was stunned and only felt a little guilty at allowing the policeman to continue in his false assumption. When the fire was put out, Andy returned to the car to finish driving Mrs. Fairall home. "I don't see what all the fuss was about," was her only comment. Andy didn't enlighten her.

Take me back to the Table of Contents, Please.

Just a brief pause to catch your breath before diving in to the next story

 Christine Drews

Now I Can See

Christine, visiting in Aberdeen, Maryland, had to catch an airplane just outside Baltimore on a bitter, blustering November day. Mom was going to drive. Andy and Stephie hoped that, if they came along, they could cajole Mom into stopping at a restaurant on the way back. The trip was a little less than an hour's ride. Papa was invited to come along. At first he demurred, saying it was going to snow. "You'd better not go at all," was his initial advice. But he relented, and said, "Let me get my other shoes." He couldn't find them, but got on his winter coat and joined the crowd in the Saab. As we drove off, Mom said casually, "You know, Richard, these tires on the Saab are really bald. We ought to buy some new ones." A non-committal "Uh-huh" was Papa's only reply. A bare skiff of snow swirled against the curbs as we moved down the street.

But a mile or two onto the Interstate, the snow began to fall in earnest. With each mile, it worsened, and the traffic became horrendous as unprepared drivers succumbed to the slick paving and eased into ditches on one side or the other of the highway. Ice built up thick on the Saab's windshield. It was hard to tell the snow on the windows from the snow as it fell. Tension among the passengers grew. As the time crept by, Christine grew agitated at the increasing probability of missing her plane.

At the same time, Andy continually barraged Mom with suggestions to stop and get something to eat. Christine lashed out at Andy for being selfish and concerned only with his own personal stomach. Andy responded. "Oh, that's fine for you to say -- you who sleep in a bed!" (He had had to give up his room to Christine during the length of her visit, and had been relegated to the couch on the unheated back porch. The sacrifice had taken its toll of his good nature.) Stephanie, meanwhile, reacted to the agony of being a passenger under such awful driving conditions by repeating a phrase picked up from television over and over: "Last name Simpson; first name Bart!" To the extent that it relieved her tension, it transferred the same to everyone else.

One wild patch of ice caused the Saab to crunch against the concrete highway divider near the airport. Everyone thought it was the end, but the faithful Saab bounced, and kept plowing ahead in the darkening icy storm.

At the airport, an hour after Christine's scheduled time of departure, Mom waited in the car with the others while Papa and Christine went to the United counter to see if the plane was still available. They were told it had just taken off, and was the last flight out for the rest of the evening. Back to the family car for the drive home.

Papa cleared the back and front windshields of ice and snow, using his coat sleeve. Now having no schedule to meet, we all were convinced the trip home would be easier than the ride to the airport. We were not prepared.

All the heat in the car was being diverted to defrosting, and even it didn't seem to be working properly. Papa began asking where the windshield scraper was as he rummaged under the front seat and in the glove compartment.

Everyone was secretly worried about the bald tires.

Under the front seat Papa found an old black, plastic garbage bag instead of the scraper. "This'll have to do," he muttered. He lowered his passenger window, placed the bag over his hand, and wiped his long arm across the side of the windshield. He scraped away at the accumulated ice, and finally got a clear patch of window on HIS side of the car. "Much better," he said as he settled back. "Now I can see."

"I can't," said Mom, "and I'm driving."

"You don't want to see. It's better that way." commented Papa. "Ease a little to the right, Bortie. Now a little to the left. Good, good." And so the navigation system was established, Papa scraping with the garbage bag at intervals between the wipers doing their ineffectual job, and Mom edging the car along the blurry highway at Papa's direction. The rest of us maintained complete silence.

Cars continued to pile up along the sides of the road, wheels sticking up at odd angles, becoming covered in drifts, their dim headlights presaging a long, cold night ahead for their passengers.

Occasionally, a car would cruise past us on our left; it was always a Saab. "How come those Saabs are going so fast?" Stephie asked.

"They have good tires," a voice came from the darkness.

"I bet those Saabs passing us are asking themselves, 'I wonder why that Saab is going so slow?'" Papa interjected. The joke was met with peals of silence.

On we crept.

At one dangerous patch of highway, the Saab's front tires locked, and Mom turned the wheel to the right to loosen them, and turn away from the car just ahead of us. The road was ice, and the whole car slid 90 degrees to the right, Oddly, there was no car in the right lane for us to collide with. Christine called out, praying in tongues, Andy and Stephie sat wide-eyed, transfixed in terror. Papa gripped the glove compartment handle, and pumped his foot against a nonexistent brake pedal, pleading, "Agony, oh, aaagony-y-y!" Mom grimly held onto the controls. Miraculously, the car smoothly righted itself, hitting nothing on its swing back into position. We drove on in shocked silence, until Papa expressed in a tiny voice, "I saw headlights out my side window." Again, Papa commented, "I thought we were headed for the ditch for sure, and I didn't know how we were going to get pushed out. My shoes have leather soles."

We huddled, watchful and wary, intuitively driving with Momy, willing ourselves down the snowy interstate toward home, which had never seemed quite so sweet before.

Stephanie had a happy thought to share. "It could be worse. We could be driving the Lynx." The Lynx was notorious for frequently breaking down even in the best of driving conditions.

As we crept along in the frigid feathery darkness, consumed by a fear of injury, death, or spending a night out in the cold (listed in order of increasing dread), we passed a familiar road sign that said, "Aberdeen 6 miles." Papa remarked, "They're gonna have to change that sign. The new sign will read "Aberdeen -- 6 long miles."

After 6 long miles, we inched our way onto our exit, feeling drained and famished. The restaurant meal Andy and Stephanie had joined this fateful trip for, five hours previously, was finally negotiated for. "We can get something at the "We-hes-tern Stee-ee-er," Stephanie suggested, interjecting a whinny into the name of the steak restaurant. "Turn left at the next light."

Mom cruised blindly into the left-turn lane, just as the traffic light turned red. We stopped and immediately joined all the drivers of the cars around us in jumping out to scrape crusted ice and snow from their cars. We could see at last. See at last! Thank God Almighty, we could see at last!

We heaved a uniform sigh of relief as we pulled to a stop at the restaurant. Papa opened the trunk of the car and rooted around, coming up with the yellow window scraper from under the spare tire. "There it is," his voice was jubilant. "I knew we had one in this car. It's always wise to have one handy when you go travelling in bad weather."

Papa helped Mom to the restaurant entrance, regally holding the door for this most cool-headed and accomplished of all drivers. She seemed lost in deep thought. "What are you thinking, Bortie?" Papa asked, expecting a philosophic reflection on the nature of the ordeal the family had just "weathered." Entering the welcoming warmth of the restaurant, Mom replied, "Richard, do you think my settlement will go through tomorrow?"

Take me back to the Table of Contents, Please.

Just a brief pause to catch your breath before diving in to the next story

 Patricia Pines

Patricia's Day in the Snow

Patricia caught a bus to work from a location 2 1/2 hours from her house. One grim overcast day she was dropped off at the day's end at her parking lot and the snow was beginning to drift thickly down. She saw by her dashboard lights that her car was low on oil, and decided to fill it up to a safe level before heading out. She took off her glasses, and got out into the snowy air to open the hood. After adding the oil she needed, she wiped her hands on her last wrinkled Kleenex, which got completely saturated without completely cleaning her hands. Almost done - She sat hurriedly down in the driver's seat to start driving home, and heard a smothered crunch. Bad news. Her driving glasses had been on her driver's seat. She gingerly stood up and examined the wreckage on the seat. By holding the glasses together with both hands, she could "wear" them enough to see, but then wouldn't be able to hold the steering wheel. No good.

Patricia surveyed her options. She could drive home 2 1/2 hours in a snowstorm with no glasses and die. No good. She could call her roommate and ask Mary to bring Patricia's contacts from her dresser top, then follow her roommate 2 1/2 hours home. Patricia didn't consider their friendship could stand the imposition of a 5-hour "favor" in dangerous weather, and besides, Patricia didn't want to wait 2 1/2 hours for the arrival of her contacts, provided Mary could arrive safely in the first place. No good. Third, Patricia could stay in the parking lot all night, heating the car up at intervals. No good either.

But wait. Patricia remembered changing her glasses yesterday afternoon at work, and putting the contacts into her purse.... A quick search revealed no contacts in her purse. Now she was really stuck. Waitaminit. On the fringes of her memory, she recalled that she had returned a bunch of library books to an awkward library book drop. The opening had been on the passenger side of the car, and Patricia had had to stretch out over the front seat and launch the books one by one out of the passenger side window. In the process, she had knocked over her open purse, and lost all its contents on the passenger side of the floor.

In a fit of inspiration, Patricia opened the passenger door, and lo - there it was, her contact case, in all its beige glory. Hallelujah! Problem solved! Uh - maybe not. The next step was to put her contacts in her eyes with her oil covered fingers. The suit she was wearing was a new, expensive one, which wouldn't absorb the oil, or benefit from the application thereof. Only one solution loomed before her, as the storm gathered force around her.

One by one, she stuck her fingers in her mouth, and licked each digit relatively clean. She was pleasantly surprised at how "not bad" the taste was, considering what she had expected. She drove home confident. She had outwitted legions of difficulties using only her ingenuity and bravery. I think she stayed home the next day.

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Just a brief pause to catch your breath before diving in to the next story

 Carl Drews

Flames of Victory

In my college-era photo album there are two snapshots of my younger brother Michael. In both photos he is triumphantly holding up a burning rag in front of a small car, with a great big grin on his face. The location of the first photo is a parking lot somewhere, with a car lane in the background. The second photo was taken in the back driveway of our house in Chatham, New Jersey. This is the story behind those two photos. [And through the special magic of the internet, you too can see these pictures just by clicking the link when you reach the appropriate point in the story.]

My older sister Ruth had a Karman Ghia, a little yellow bubble of a car that she had bought cheaply and was planning to take to Chicago with her. But it didn't run. Well, it sort of ran (most of the time), but this was in New Jersey. New Jersey requires automobiles to pass a complete vehicle inspection before they can be licensed. So her Karman Ghia had to be fixed up before she could legally drive it out to her new parish in Chicago.

It was the summer of 1981. I had just returned from a college semester in England. Michael was also home from Stanford University for the summer. Together we set to work, repairing Ruth's car. Michael always wore the same T-shirt during these forays into the depths of the Karman Ghia. The T-shirt got dirtier and dirtier, full of grease and transmission oil and road grime. But the little yellow car was looking better and better. One by one its systems became operational. Michael decided that when the car passed inspection, he would burn the T-shirt in celebration.

Karman Ghia Inspection Day dawned bright and clear. We ran the car through one last checkout at home and headed for the inspection station. We were prepared for victory - Michael by bringing along a spare T-shirt, me by bringing along a camera to record this great event. After waiting in the usual long line, we ran the car through its paces in front of the stern-faced inspectors. Our hearts were pounding. And what a thrill it was when the Chief Inspector placed the striped "PASS" sticker on the corner of our windshield! Oh frabjous day!

We could hardly contain ourselves, but I had to stop by the bank on the way home to make a deposit or some fool thing like that. So we pulled into a vacant corner of the bank's parking lot, and Michael took out a lighter and set fire to the greasy shirt. I took a picture of him posing victoriously in front of the car! It was a great moment.

Just after I snapped the picture I heard one of the tellers in the drive-up window talking to us through the speaker, asking what we were doing. Quickly Michael dropped the T-shirt and began to stomp out the fire, while I went around to the lobby to do my business.

When I got back to the car, there was Michael desperately talking to the teller and somebody who looked like a bank president. He was profusely apologizing to them, trying to explain what we were doing and just leave quietly. "Look, I'm sorry!" I joined in the apology, trying hard not to think of us getting arrested for creating a disturbance or holding up the bank. I think it helped that I was a bank customer. We left there rather hurriedly and drove home.

Michael was kind of subdued after that. On the way home he remarked that the hardest part was in trying to convince a conservative bank manager that it is indeed a normal thing for people to burn T-shirts after their cars have passed inspection. "They just didn't understand!" Even many years later he may see less humor in the situation than I do. I'm glad I insisted that we re-enact the Great Karman Ghia T-Shirt Burning in the privacy of our backyard, and take another picture for posterity. This time, he held the T-shirt on a stick and let the flames of victory soar high.

The Karman Ghia made it out to Chicago. Ruth drove it for a few years there before she got another car. I'm sure it was junked soon afterwards. The Chatham bank manager probably had a nice boring retirement. The ashes of Michael's dirty T-shirt were dispersed into the atmosphere on that fine August day many years ago.

But I still have my pictures. And my memories.

The Day Carl Lost Reverse

My cousin Keith Drews and I wanted to drive from Boulder up to Yankee Doodle Lake along the Moffat Road. The Moffat Road is an old railroad grade that crosses the Continental Divide at Rollins Pass between Rollinsville and Winter Park. The Drews family drove over this road in 1972 on a family vacation. It's officially a four-wheel-drive road these days, but the grade is mild and even passenger cars can make it all the way to Yankee Doodle Lake at about 10,500 feet.

In October 1986 Keith was visiting me, driving his Volkswagen Rabbit. I had a 1979 Datsun 310, a little hatchback with front wheel drive. It had gotten me lots of places, sometimes with difficulty, but never stranding me anywhere. We decided to take the Datsun up into the mountains.

After Rollinsville there is a dirt road that takes you to the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel, the tunnel that replaced the Moffat Road in 1926. At Rollinsville you leave civilization behind. I noticed that I was running low on gas, but I figured that I had enough to make it the 15 or so miles to Yankee Doodle Lake and back. The sky was looking cold and gray. At East Portal we turned onto the old railroad bed, a single-lane dirt road winding slowly through the forests and up the mountainsides toward the Continental Divide.

The road is loosely maintained by the 4WDrivers who frequent it. Rocks come tumbling down the hillsides from time to time, and some of them come to rest on the roadbed. I saw one of these rocks ahead, a medium-sized one that I thought I could straddle. I thought I could. The road was too narrow to go around it, with a steep drop-off on the right, and I was too lazy to get out to move the rock. Here we go . . .

As we passed over the rock we heard and felt a horrible crunching, tumbling, and scraping noise! Quickly I stopped the car and we jumped out, looking under the car with anxious eyes. To our surprise and relief, there didn't seem to be anything wrong. No oil gushing out, no drive shafts dragging on the ground, no gears or belts left behind. The offending rock was broken into several pieces, and Keith kicked them off the edge of the road in revenge. We got back into the car and started her up again.

Then I found the problem. The Datsun 310 has a stick shift on the floor. Somehow all my gears had gotten moved over to the right about 6 inches! First and second gears were right in the middle of the former shifting pattern, third and fourth gears were possible to get to with a good hard shove, but reverse was moved so far to the right as to be completely unreachable, even with both hands!

We held a brief discussion. It seemed okay to continue, even without reverse gear. There's no other traffic up here. We'd just have to be careful. As we drove onward the clouds got lower and lower, and it began to snow. Mile after mile we continued, and the snow started to accumulate on the road. One inches - two inches. My gas needle sank toward Empty. Finally we reached Yankee Doodle Lake. It wasn't a full-fledged blizzard, but the snow was coming down. We could see some old railroad structures around the lake, the abandoned tunnel, and the Moffat road continuing on to Needle's Eye Tunnel about a thousand feet above us. The tunnel itself was hidden in the blowing snow.

Keith wanted to take a hike up to the tunnel, but I was getting nervous about everything that was going wrong. I'm almost out of gas, my car has lost reverse, and if we don't get my car out of here soon it's likely to be snowed in all winter long! So we looked around for a short while, took a few pictures, and decided to get out while the getting was good.

We talked at length, and very carefully, about how to get the car turned around. Do we have to drive up a slight incline, or down a slight incline? Eventually we decided that up was the correct answer. It worked. The drive back to Rollinsville was accomplished in good order, with me steering around even the smallest pebbles. My spirits rose as the snow tapered off and we got back to East Portal. The gas station in Rollinsville was beautiful!

A mechanic friend of mine fixed the gearshift rod that had been bent. "What did you do to that thing?" I told him what had happened. "You must have hit it pretty hard!" So I got my reverse gear back. But the transmission was never really the same after that.

Keith and I later went back to Yankee Doodle Lake, in much better style. We went during the summer of 1990 in his 4WD pickup truck, all the way over Rollins Pass and down to Winter Park on the other side. On that trip we drove through Needle's Eye Tunnel. The tunnel had suffered some cave-ins in recent years, and had been repaired by Boulder County. We passed through the tunnel in the truck, and went back on foot to inspect the soot-covered ceiling and other historical signs. I looked up at the roof where the bolts and braces had been fastened to the rock in order to strengthen it. I pointed out to Keith where it looked like another rock had fallen down recently, and some of the heavy chicken wire was hanging loose. It occurred to me to toss a rock up there to see how strong the remaining structure was. But then I thought, "maybe I'd better not."

The very next day a section of the roof of Needle's Eye Tunnel collapsed. We read about this in the paper. A large rock fell onto a tourist who happened to be walking through the tunnel at that moment. His leg was pinned beneath the fallen rocks, and it took special equipment to free him. The leg eventually had to be amputated.

Needle's Eye Tunnel is now blocked off completely by large concrete barriers. Christine and I went up there on mountain bikes in the summer of 1995, and we hauled our bikes around the tunnel. The railroad trestles are still in pretty good condition. We had a great view of Winter Park and the Western Slope from the top of Rollins Pass. There used to be a station there called Corona, "The Top of the Rockies," in the early part of this century when the train went over the pass. Now all that's left is a historical marker and some timbers, and lots of pretty wildflowers. Maybe we'll take Isabel up there someday. She'd like the flowers.

Submarine Sandwich

I was sitting in my car on Walnut and 28th Street in Boulder around lunchtime, waiting for the light to turn green so I could turn left onto 28th and drive back to work. 28th Street is pretty busy, and this day was no exception. The cars were whizzing by.

Suddenly my eye caught, and froze on for an instant, the driver in one of the cars whizzing by. He was a guy in his twenties driving a Pathfinder. What caught my eye was that he, at that very moment, with both hands, was stuffing an enormous submarine sandwich into his mouth!

It threw me for a loop! I mean, here is this guy, tooling along at about 35 mph, through a busy intersection at a busy time of day, and he's got both his hands wrapped around this big ol' hoagie, and he's cramming it into his face! Did this dude ever take Driver's Ed or what? Sure, I've been known to steer with my knees every now and then. And the guy did not cause an accident. Not that day, anyway.

Think about it. You assume that the people in the cars around you are concentrating on their driving, keeping carefully in the center of their lanes, and calculating when will be the optimal time to switch on their turn signals. That's what you want to think. But hey - for all you know they could be mixing a cup of soup, changing their socks, or making a jelly sandwich!

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Just a brief pause to catch your breath before diving in to the next story

 Jim and Susie Hervert

They Call The Wind A Pain In The Neck

Jim and Susie were driving home from a trip they had planned to spend sailing. They had packed up early, cutting short their trip because of high winds that made it dangerous to sail on the lake. The winds were still strong as they drove homeward across the plains.

They were somewhat disappointed, because they had just bought a brand-new truck to better transport their boat to lakes farther from home, which offered better sailing. Their new truck was hauling their boat behind them, and was a dream to drive.

Plowing through the wind homeward, Jim was surprised at the power of it. He watched the few trees leaning in the stiff gale. Far ahead he saw an old horse shed on its last beams. The dull tin roof shingles were being buffeted and the wooden structure was almost trembling as the wind pulled at it. One of the large metal shingles was being lifted up from the shed every time a new gust hit it. "Looks like it might come loose," Jim reflected to himself. "That'd be dangerous, flying around in a wind like this." Since the shed was miles away, he wasn't particularly concerned.

As they drove closer to the barn, the shingle worked itself more and more loose. When they were about a half mile away, the wind snapped the shingle free, and it became aloft on the high wind, a 3' x 5' metal flying carpet. The wind carried it closer to where their new truck was headed.

Jim considered how best to remain away from that ominous piece of tin. "I just gotta get past it. Better go for it!" By now both Jim and Susie were mesmerized by the dangling piece of danger, dancing 1/4 mile away. As they pulled even with the roof shingle, it started coming to the ground right over the highway. Jim slowed, hoping to give it the right of way. No such luck. The shingle was pulled toward the brand-new truck and "slap!" smacked right against the driver's side window. The old piece of tin seemed glued fast to the side of the new truck.

"I know what I'll do," Jim decided. "I'll slow down, and the fool thing will fall off the side door. There's nothing holding it there but friction." He slowed the truck down to make the blasted piece of blight move. It worked.

With the forward friction eased, the side wind friction took over, and the tin sheet crept across the windshield, covering Jim's field of view completely. He couldn't see a thing now, except his arch-enemy. He slowed still further, and the tin responded. It slid down the windshield, giving back the view to the driver, but the rough bottom edge of the shingle was cutting into the truck's shiny new factory paint as it moved. It scraped a long, graceful roll of paint before it finished its track down the hood. The enemy had won, but who was going to believe it?

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Just a brief pause to catch your breath before diving in to the next story


Do I Get Egg Roll With This?

The orange Volksvagen was in fine condition, all except for its front seats, which were ragged from use. Bortie considered how to get the tattered vinyl re-upholstered in the most economical way. A friend of hers in the real estate business suggested a handyman Bortie could try. The price sounded right; Bortie was game.

She pulled up at the address she had been given, and looked around the unfamiliar neighborhood. There were signs around in the car-laden driveway and the tool-laden garage that she was in the right place. A middle-aged oriental man came forward to greet her, and the Battle of the Accents began.

Bortie had lived for some years in Taiwan, and had haggled in the markets with the Taiwanese. She pulled together her resources, and strained to understand the man's broken English. By dint of sign language and a pocket calendar and pocket calculator, they established an acceptable time and price for the replacement of the upholstery. One thing remained.

The original seats were covered in white, but the handyman indicated that he wasn't certain he had enough white vinyl to cover both seats. Bortie was sympathetic to this problem, and tried to be easy to work with. "Cover the seats both in white. If you don't have enough white, just use black," she assured the little man. She was not thrilled at the prospect of having two black front seats and a white back seat, but the price he offered was good, and the car really needed some reconditioning in the worst way.

She dropped the car off as agreed, and the whole family looked forward to the day of the car's return. When that day arrived, Bortie handed the man his money for doing the job, got her keys, and looked in the car at her new seats.

She got a tremendous shock.

The man had been as good as his understanding. The fronts of both seats were beautifully covered in white vinyl, good as new. However, the sides and back of both seats were a deep black vinyl, making the car look as though it had two penguins sitting in the front, even when empty. Bortie didn't have the heart, the time, or the money to have the handyman do the job over. Resigned, she got in, and puttered home.

As a result, we were left with a distinctly identifiable car, which, as Bortie reflected, "no one is ever going to want to steal."

Just a brief pause to catch your breath before diving in to the next story


Take me back to the Table of Contents, Please.

Take me back to Tales From Beyond the Void, Please.

Take me back to The Murphy NexusTM, Please.

This page last updated 2/22/01

(C) Copyright 1998 by Christine and Carl Drews. All rights reserved.