Write About a Car




The Amish houses I’d seen in the books at school were all big and white with clean yards. I imagined Chuck Rappenhoe’s place like that. I imagined myself stepping from such a house. Yes. I’m big and I’m solid and I pull on a cardigan as my husband, Chuck, pulls in the drive.

“Chuck,” I call out, “welcome home!” Like my husband, I’m scarcely aware I radiate goodness, I’m just good, always work to be good, assume that’s how it goes.

Chuck gets out of the car, grinning his old jack-o’-lantern grin. “Come here,” he says. Excited, but almost whispering, like he doesn’t want to wake somebody, “Come here!” So I laugh and come to the car, where he’s pointing in the window at something I can’t yet see, and he says, “Come see my little passenger!”

Then a big red car turns down the Zenors’ street and in its bright headlights I become Marie again. Marie sticks out her thumb. The red car stops. The driver rolls down his window. “Hi, there,” he says. He must not have a ceiling light but he strikes a match so I can see he’s just a regular guy: ear muffs, freckles, an empty infant seat sitting on his red vinyl upholstery, and somehow all of these things become the background for the burning message I now receive and the message is that by leaving behind my family, I do precisely what Jesus demanded of all true believers.

The man in the red car ducks his head down and forward, and he looks out at me and Krystal, and he smiles like he knows something special is happening in our lives while he’s just on his way to the store for diapers or beer or maybe a new clock radio. Do you see him? His ear muffs are rabbit fur. Do you see the way the red furnace of his car goes black and gray when his match dies? Answer yes or no, it hardly matters. What matters is the way I reply to his question, which is, “So, you need a ride?”

A trumpet blast. That’s my reply. That’s what matters, me as both trumpet and musician, servant and master, and the way my words—”I do”—just sail through the night, bridal vow to the world.


From the story “Ransom, “ which appears in the book Suicide’s Girlfriend: A Novella and Short Stories by Elizabeth Evans (Perennial/HarperCollins, 2002). Copyright © 2002 by Elizabeth Evans. Excerpt from Poets & Writers, Sep-Oct 2000




Tony owned a Fender Stratocaster and a Ford Mustang that went 75 mph in first gear. I hardly remember what Tony looked like or what his voice sounded like or what he wore to school, only that he owned a Mustang and a Fender Guitar. That was a difference between us - I walked around with a book in my pocket and thought about what the English teacher said, whereas Tony could drive people to the hotsprings. I rode with him one night. I don't remember who else was in the car, just as I don't remember what Tony looked like except that his hair was black and the car was full. Tony had stripped the carpet from the floor so our feet rested on the metal of the body that rested on the chassis that moved with the wheels moving and the loose asphalt gravel sprayed up and hit the underside like rain on a tin roof. Tony put in manifolds and bored out cylinders and made his Mustang go 75 mph in first gear and in fourth gear the Mustang went 110 easily. I saw that myself. From the backseat I saw the speedometer needle move to 110 and it glowed red like our cigarette tips. Tony drove sections of Luther Pass at 110 mph and when we returned from Grover Hot Springs he still drove as fast on Hwy 6. He took some curves at 80. We all drank as much beer as Tony did and we barely knew him. Tony wasn't popular, just some guy known for his Mustang and guitar and girls didn't go out with him. But we rode with him anyway because that was what happened on Friday nights. Tony drove us to the hotspings and showed us how fast he could go and we offered him our lives.

Bill Scheffel, 1998



Sprinting across the freeway just ahead of them having set his left foot down directly onto the pavement from the ledge of the cement divide and edging his 
other leg forward deliberately—caught the way sports pages show an athlete with muscles condensed in the effort of crossing through a particular space—and then she sees the cars coming towards him giving off that early morning shine across their hoods almost colorless but precipitous in the four-lane parallel rush of metal 
and cannot tell if any driver straining into the distance further ahead has seen him or possibly has caught that glint off the long black flashlight he appears to carry with its up-beam turned on full and faintly visible due to the angle of early sun falling over the midwestern plains fanning out in every direction away from the   
sudden view of the airport hub’s acclaimed architectural design. 

She sees the brief alignment of his body methodically finding its way across the freeway lanes blue baseball cap fit snugly over his head to just above the hairline where now dusky skin of his neck breaks into the picture.  He’s made it halfway, 
she thinks, but she can’t stop the cars rushing towards him even as he scans with concentration the worn lanes for the thing he’s lost as if he’s walking through the dark and shining his flashlight wherever the object might have landed, his right knee still lifting purposefully upward and forward. 
                                                                                                      — for C.W.

Kathleen Fraser




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