The Plymouth

The baking sun scorched my eyebrows as I rambled by the dusty, brown Plymouth with the tan, torn leather top. With its grease-smeared windows, hot leathered smell, and spots of rust - especially near the tailpipe - I had hardly noticed it. Surrounded by newer sedans and large sport-utility vehicles, it had its own vibe. But the bumper sticker on its rear bumper - carelessly crooked - made me pause for a moment.

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people”, it said dryly. It was one of those truths that stood on its own, and yet, somehow didn’t really prove or deny anything that it addressed. The sticker had faded over the years and the word “Guns”, which was closest to the top curve of the bumper, had taken the brunt of solar demise more rapidly than the other words. My subconscious had initially read it as “Buns don’t kill people” and my brain reflexively re-read it correctly before I had begun to consider the possibilities of its first account.

Newer stickers abounded nearby, lacking the excitement and adrenaline of the senior sticker. “U of Mass”, “A Woman’s Place is in Control” (which made me wonder a bit more), and a parking sticker to a nearby apartment complex known for its problems.

Papers were scattered all over the right rear seat and floorboards appearing to be the home office repository. As a kid, I had worshiped cars, but had never bothered to learn about Plymouths. They had a heyday, but I didn’t know when it was. Reliant. Was that a thrilling car once? It didn’t sound like it had ever been.

The sweat on my brow urged me into the mall when I noticed a glint off the driver side interior. Unbelievably, the car keys, or some kind of keys, were resting on the dash. All four windows were down about an inch - the kind of purposed “keep the car cooler” effect my mom would institute after carpool. It never seemed to work. We would be asked to part the windows just enough to keep thieves, or “villains”, as my mom called them, from squeezing their hands into the car.

As I turned to go in, I realized that the heavyset woman had been eying my own gaze - perhaps the entire time. I stammered the only thing I could as she approached. “They don’t make them like that anymore, do they?” It came out all wrong. I had insulted her. Or worse, she suspected I was a villain.

I glanced back to see her ritualistically open the unlocked door, sit, and start the car. The hot keys on the dash were no longer there.

The Plymouth’s questionable state had kept her car completely secure: a relic from the past that tugged my thoughts toward the future.

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