Car Guy

By Terry Sanville

Larry Jacobson gripped the huge steering wheel and leaned into the sharp right-hander. The car’s speed pressed him against the door. Rear tires screamed. He downshifted and peered through the bug-smeared windshield into the golden sunset. The wind blew hair into his eyes and he cursed himself for not raising the Jaguar XK120’s canvas top. But then who does that with a sports car? he thought.

The road climbed northward toward San Marcos Pass. To his left, deep chaparral-covered canyons fell away from the road, Santa Barbara and the Pacific merely background texture. An aqua patch caught his eye – the swimming pool at Vista de las Isles Ranch. A flash of memory filled him: Lilly Stratford sipping a Martini by the pool, gazing his way, smiling. And later, nights spent upstairs in the guesthouse . . . 

The memory excited him and his foot pressed hard on the gas pedal. The Jaguar surged forward, its engine snarling. Such a beautiful sound . . . I wonder if they can hear it at the Ranch.

The light dimmed as he neared the summit. The cold dread from earlier that afternoon returned: his wife’s tear-streaked face inches from his own, accusing, threatening, and in the background the sound of Constance Story singing opera, destroying the afternoon peace along Calle Poniente. Larry had just stood there and taken it; didn’t say a damn thing.

The car headed into a tight corner and slid sideways. Larry downshifted and hit the gas. The bias-ply tires spun on the hot summer blacktop. He turned the wheel in the direction of the skid but ran out of road. The Jaguar launched into space and dropped toward the canyon floor far below. Larry sucked in a deep breath and let his hands float free from the wheel. At least I won’t have to explain anything.The Jaguar continued its downward arc. The wind tore at Larry’s clothes. His body pulled at the lap belt tightening around his soft waist. He began to howl. As the rocks and brush at the base of the mountain came into focus, he thought: What a shame to lose such a fine car.

Terry Sanville lives in San Luis Obispo, California with his artist-poet wife and two plump cats. Numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies have accepted his stories and essays. Two of his stories were nominated for Pushcart Prizes and one for inclusion in the Best of the Net Anthology.

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