“Car Wars” originally entitled “Road Rage of the Modern Era”

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“Is the tea ready yet Hon?” I ask as I rub my bleary eyes awake.  The kitchen clock reads nine am.  I smile sheepishly, knowing that this hour is atrocious.  Any decent person should have been up ages ago, but I don’t care.  I feel delicious.  At least I’ve thrown on my T-shirt and shorts and brushed my teeth.

“It’s almost ready to pour,” my husband responds with a grin.  “You really slept in, didn’t you?”

“Mm hmm.  It was glorious.”  I rise up on my tippy toes and stretch through to my fingertips, squealing out a yawn like a pig.  Ah, Saturday.  My absolute, all-time, best day of the week.  No alarm clock.  No bustling around to get ready.  No traffic.  No work.  What could be better?

I pour our Tetley into the enormous stoneware mugs.  Adding sugar and milk, I stir the hot liquid into a whirlpool.  Nothing like a good cuppa.  “Is the paper here yet?”  My favourite part of Saturday is about to begin.

“How about skipping the puzzles for once and coming with me to Costco?” my hubby inquires.

“Nope.”  I scoop out the puzzle section and fold it just so.  “I’m going out to the back yard with my tea.  You go ahead to the store and I’ll see you around noon.”

Rob shakes his head and walks away with his teacup.  I hoist my gigantic cup and head outside, the puzzle section under my arm and my trusty Bic pen in hand.  With a clunk, I set my cup on the end table and settle into a comfy lounge chair.  I plunk my bare feet on the coffee table, lay my head back against the cushion and prepare to enjoy a peaceful morning of sinful pleasure.

I inhale deep cleansing breaths of fresh summer air.  Cardinals and sparrows chirp to their mates and flit among the branches.  The clouds, cottony and white, drift, like thoughts, in the most unimaginably blue sky.  Off in the distance, a lawn mower hums its tune.  Smiling with profound satisfaction, I open my newspaper and begin my weekly routine.  I know that soon Rob will be off to Costco, showered and shaved, to complete his weekly routine.

Just as I am finishing my first Sudoku, I hear it.  The next door neighbour’s garage door rumbles open.  Creak, creak, creak.  The hose unrolls onto the driveway.  Whoosh.  The water goes on.  Oh, no.  I know what’s coming next.  After all, everyone has their special Saturday morning routine, don’t they?

Yep, there it is.  Right on cue.  The noise from Jeffrey Lewis’s car stereo blasts out at approximately ten decibels, assaulting my ear drums.  Soon the din will work its way up to the level of a departing 747 and continue pulsating and pumping out 5320355615_edcf1b74a0_qwhat is loosely deemed “music”.  I feel the facial tic in my left cheek keep time with the fluttering of my right eyelid.  Welcome to Saturday morning.  Eighteen year-old Jeffrey Lewis is washing his car.

Well, I have to give the lad credit.  He takes care of that beast of a car with as much love and tenderness as any doting mother plies on her new-born infant.  Maybe more.  Jeffrey bought the poor thing long after it had lived its useful life.  When the “new car” arrived, all the neighbours gathered at the end of his driveway for an apprehensive look.  We all rushed outside, wondering if, in fact, WWIII had begun.  It sounded as if an army tank had lumbered up to number 21 Anderson Street.

“Wow, Jeffrey, that is some machine you’ve got there,” my husband offered with as much enthusiasm as he could muster.

“Yeah,” purred Jeffrey.  “Isn’t she suh-weeet?  I just bought her off my buddy for a thousand bucks!”

“That much?” I squeaked.  We worked our way dubiously around the monster, wondering how it could possibly still be mobile.  “Well,” I managed, “at least it’s a nice brownish-red colour.”

“Oh, I can sand that rust off, no problem,” bragged Jeffrey.  “And then I’ll paint her whatever colour matches the best, once I get the stains out of the upholstery.”

Jeffrey polished, shined and Bondo-ed that car within an inch of its pitiful life over the ensuing months.  He tinkered with the engine until its new, super-powered guts sprang to life under his nimble fingers.  He attached lights, chrome and gizmos to the retched thing until it could have given a New York drag queen a run for his/her money in a glamour contest.  Yes, Jeffrey was suitably proud of his creation.  And every Saturday, like clockwork, he washed it lovingly for hours, and hours, and hours.  All to the grating, mind-numbing, ear-splitting melodies of gangsta rap.6837465349_aa46369cd6_q

Today, I simply can’t put up with the cacophony Jeffrey is pumping out of his ghetto-blasting speakers.  I fling my paper and pen onto the coffee table, stomp through the garden gate with a slam, and march over to the driveway at number twenty-one.  Jeffrey is tenderly rubbing Armor-All into the tires. All of a sudden, I don’t have the heart to spoil his day.  I compose my twitching face into the semblance of a pleasant smile.

“Hey, Jeffrey, out washing the car as usual, eh?” I shout, trying to make myself audible over the assorted gang-banging, mother-hating diatribe.

“Yeah, need to keep her looking phat, you feel me?” he hollers back cryptically.

“Fat?” I respond.  “Well, would you mind turning it down a wee bit Jeffrey?  I think Christie from number 25 just took her boys inside.  I heard her say something about the swearing.  She doesn’t want them learning some of those words.”

“Oh. Yeah, cool,” Jeffrey yells, dialing the volume back to a blissful two decibels.  “Dre and Fiddy Cent are way ballin’, but I guess not for little G’s.”

What?  Exactly when did I lose my command of the English language?  I breathe a sigh of relief.  “Thanks, Jeffrey,” I counter gratefully.  “Have a good day and enjoy washing your car.”

I return to my puzzles and make an attempt at the New York Times crossword.  My head starts to thump like a bongo drum at a jazz fest, but I’m thankful my eyelid has ceased its fluttering.  I still hear Eminem cranking away when I realize I have begun to grind my teeth.  I sigh and accept the fact that my relaxing Saturday morning idyll has been well and truly spoiled.  As I hear Rob pull into the driveway, back from shopping and ending my Me-time, I make a promise to myself.

“Jeffrey, you may have won the battle, but not the war.  It’s not over until the fat lady sings. As God is my witness, I will return to my backyard next Saturday morning.  And I’ll be packing an extension cord, a high-def stereo, and a handful of Patsy Cline CD’s!”

P.S.  Never entitled Road Rage of the Modern Era—that just struck me funny.

This short story was originally published in Memoirabilia magazine, Inaugural Edition, in 2014. Visit author Viga Boland‘s website to view all editions of Memoirabilia magazine, as well as other books by Viga Boland.  She is a fabulous author, as well as an editor, a speaker, a poet, a writing coach and, most of all, a great friend.  Hugs and love, Viga.

Baa, baa for now.

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