Last Ride

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A short story inspired by my Dad, his classic car and summertime.

Looking at it now you wouldn’t know, you couldn’t hear all of the memories that were held between the metal body and vinyl roof. You couldn’t, but he could.

Opening the door, the hinges creaked and groaned in protest. Nothing a little WD40 couldn’t fix. He slid into the drivers seat, the sun bleached two tone leather was cracked from so many years of sitting and waiting. He turned the shiny metal rearview mirror, setting it into place. The rear window was covered in dust from years of sitting in the garage and his only view was of the garage door behind him.

He set his hands on the familiar grooves of the steering wheel and his feet against the pedals, his right hand moving by memory to the dashboard radio. His fingers turning the metal knobs and tuning it to his favorite station. No music played of course but he could hear it in his mind, that perfect sound of the old speakers singing his favorite tunes.

Suddenly it was 1980 something and he was driving down Main Street. The windows were down on his vinyl top 1962 Chevrolet Impala, the cherry red exterior shone brilliantly in the sun. He could feel the warm summer breeze whipping against his sunburned arm that rested out the open window, fingers butting his cigarette ashes onto the street. He took another drag while simultaneously turning the radio up with his other hand, knees steadying the steering wheel. The song came through the speakers and he could hear the sound of the guitar intro of one of his favorites. He began to perform his personal rock concert; ‘You get a shiver in the dark, it’s been raining in the park but meantime...’ he sang along to the deep and throaty voice of Mark Knopfler.

His fingers played along to the rhythm against the steering wheel. As the musical interlude proceeded, he continued his solo against the wheel. Cruising down the road going a little over 60, the combination of music and driving giving him a sense of life like nothing else could. The Sultans of Swing ended as he returned home. He took a long drag of his cigarette and butted it into the metal ashtray on the dash. Glancing into the rearview he could see the back of his garage door and a glimpse of his own reflection. Though his hair was much shorter, his glasses no longer tinted and there was no sign of a mustache left he still felt like the same man sitting behind the wheel. He opened the door, another creak and groan escaping the hinges and stepped back into 1998. The buyer would be there soon. He would restore the gal and give her new life, just like he had always hoped to do himself. He closed the door and walked away, thankful for his last ride.

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