A classic tale of a romance, dishonesty and adventure on the asphalt ribbon of life.
| Hello, my name's Carmen Impala, and this is my story.... Sort of. First about me, well my body panels come from Fischer Body, Pittsburgh Metal Stamping Plant and then foul mouthed union workers assembled me into a unibody in Lordstown, after filling out with an engine, transmission, and most importantly a soul, I rolled off an assembly line all shiny and new and ready for adventure. That I had, as I went to a medium sized police department and became an undercover car for a detective. It gave me a sense of purpose, but atlas, after six years on the force they retired me to the auto auction block where Tom of McKeesport Auto Barn and Service bought me. He put me on his used car lot where I wasn't there very long, oh thank heavens, used car lots are like foster care for unwanted problem children if you must know. Then it happened!
Only after two days mind you, only two days with a bunch of wrecks one inch away from a scrap yard he sold me! I had the nicest body there and I don't like to brag, but I had the cleanest interior, all original flawless leather interior, and no rust under the tail pipes either! Not to shabby for an older car...But I had low miles and the detective never took me off road. I knew it as soon as I saw him...He pulled in wearing a security guard uniform, I love a man in uniform I truly do, and his Chevy Cavalier just died of rust and several bad gaskets. I tried to blink a light and honk seductively but he didn't hear. Well, he walked into the Auto Barn and minutes later Tom showed him to me...From the moment of the test drive, I knew I found him! The right driver for me, so I purred like a kitten and cornered like the one and a half-ton ballerina I am.
Snagged a man with no effort!
I can tell you; it was love at first drive, the way he grabbed my steering wheel and smoothly depressed the accelerator, the way he effortlessly parked me...I almost threw my timing belt. He took me home the next day, paid for me straight out with cash! Now that's something that doesn't happen every day, even for a quality lady like me. Well, going home was a bit of a letdown, I saw myself living my days out in a garage next to a lawnmower and a weedwhacker. Instead I'm parked in a gravel lot across from a Rite Aid that's also used for an overnight truck park for a small time, rinky-dink industrial center. Just for the record I hate associating with semi's they're always simple, rude, and foulmouthed...But I've been in worse. I had my reservations until our first road trip. This is where the real story picks up. His name is John Wayne Stone my kind of driver. He even let me get up to top speed, 140 mile per hour on Interstate 79...It seems he knew the State Trooper that pulled us over so I wasn't towed and what impressed me is he didn't even get mad at the outrageous fine the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania laced him with. What really got me is when he rubbed my dash and said 'Good girl...Let's try not to do that again'. So, after making a right onto Interstate 80, right after he lit up a Camel...Before you get any ideas, he wouldn't walk a mile for a Camel, he likes girls...So let's get that straight, pun intended, I introduced myself.
"Who the hell said that!" John Wayne Stone shouted as he looked around. The only person in the vehicle is he.
"I did," Carmen lisped.
"Oh, bloody hell old boy, you've lost your freaking mind," John hissed. He then muttered, "It's about time too...I was wondering when that would happen. So far, I can't tell the difference but things seem happier..."
"No, you're not that lucky. I can tell you for some people slipping their gourd is a blessing but you're not there," Carmen went on. "So big boy...Got a last name? I heard you talking to the State Trooper so I know your first name."
"Yeah Stone," John replied bewildered. "You?"
"Carmen Impala," she sang.
"My car talks," John said to himself. "And she sounds Puerto Rican and has a speech impediment."
"Yeah and what about it? You're a white guy that looks a Russian with bad teeth...What happened to your hair?"
"Bald is beautiful...Hey...Since when do cars talk?"
"We all can talk, just most people don't listen," Carmen replied indifferently.
"Okay, Johnny boy...Maybe you shouldn't be driving..." Stone then muttered.
"Okay I'll shut up now," Carmen lisped. "Just don't be surprised when I do it again...."
The remainder of the journey passed in silence. They arrived at his summer camp nestled away in the hinterlands of Appalachia, three miles south of a fly speck of a town of Tidioute. He parked her under an ancient crab apple tree across from the front porch, got out took a deep breath of air then proceeded to convince himself that after a good night's sleep 'Carmen' would be a demented memory.
The next afternoon, far from a bright and early morning, he peeled himself quite refreshed out of bed. After lunch, the first meal of the day, he walked out onto the porch with a cup of coffee and surprisingly...Saw nothing. Where he parked is an empty space conspicuously absent a Chevy. He stood there numb believing the car stolen.
"Hey! Up here sleepyhead!" Carmen yelled, then honked her horn.
"You're up in the tree..." Stone observed casually as he sipped his coffee. "Okay.... Your car is in a crab tree."
For a brief instant it seemed normal.
"Coming down! Gangway!" Carmen yelled and then leaped to the ground landing with a resounding thud. "I bet you didn't think I could do that!"
He stared at his car blankly while considering committing himself to a sanatorium. After a long pause he worked up the nerve to ask her what she was doing in a crab tree. He also wondered why the tree didn't break as an afterthought.
"Because I saw a bird and you need to have fun in your life and that's me...Ms. Fun! So, take me for a drive? It's what I'm good at!" she revved her engine. "Hey look at that!"
She then sped off across the front lawn and zoomed across the back, chasing a rabbit. Stone for his part stood on the porch sipping his coffee watching blandly. After she did a few doughnuts and carved up the lawn it occurred to him he could skip cutting the grass and go straight to the roof maintenance. So, he did.
"Hey Tarzan!" Carmen yodeled. "Watch' a doing?"
"Clearing the pine needles from the roof, so it doesn't rot out," he answered. "Then I'm cleaning out the gutters."
"Take me to dinner later! I like going to Sunoco. Buy me some clear blue Ultra 94!" she yelled and then blinked just one headlight while activating just one wiper.
"Anything else?" he asked and continued sweeping.
"Yeah and a long moonlit romantic drive down a winding country road. I can play oldies on the radio."
"You're picking up on me?"
"Yeah somebody has too. Did I mention I'm a mind reader also?"
"Well most female things are mind readers. Okay, read my mind," Stone snickered and rested on the broom looking down at her, his Chevy.
"You bought me because you think I'm a panty magnet," she replied straight forward. "And you think you're nuts because your standing on a roof talking to a car."
"Okay, spot on," he grinned. "Anything else?"
"Why do guys need to treat cars like panty magnets? I'd like to say it makes me feel so objectified but I already am an object so I'm used to it. What's wrong with you, just being you?"
"Because she expects me to lie to her," Stone replied. "What I learned way back before your engine block was even cast is, I'm not good enough by myself...So when I want to get female companionship, I have to do this stupid competition with other males for dominance. That means out lying the other guy. When I tried to be honest, it got me nowhere."
"That's falls under the guidelines of stupid human tricks," Carmen replied. "You both should be straight up off the starting line."
"She's been told that her arse is gold plated and has this idea of Prince charming in her head...Okay.... She expects to be gamed, entertained if you will."
"Prince Charming? Prince Charming? He's gay...Or at least bi-sexual!" Carmen howled.
"Some of the best pick-up artists I have met were gay, consummate salesmen with the gift of gab and little else," Stone shrugged. "This is what I mean. Why do motorcycles come with bitch seats?"
"I don't know, I never asked one and besides the Harley Davidson's don't talk to cars and the rice burners are goofy.... It's all about them trying to be...Ahem...Prince Charming types..." Carmen replied.
"Motorcycles come with bitch seats because women don't want to spend their money on one, don't want t look like a dyke driving one or are scared to drive it themselves. So, in one aspect I buy a motorcycle because by myself I wouldn't stand a chance with the kind of woman who wants a motorcycle...Its about knowing your target audience too."
"So, you bought me to pimp me? Not because I'm a fine ride and can-do things for you...Like haul around your groceries in style? Allow you to sail the asphalt ribbons of life with grace and comfort of a finely tuned suspension and leather seats?" Carmen spit. "Not to mention great conversation!"
"Yeah all that and it makes me look better than I am when I dress to the nines and go for a cruise...Now let me finish this up."
"You dirt bag you! I ought to throw a main bearing just to show you...But that hurts worse than being driven with dirty oil...Or a flat tire..." she seethed. She then rolled off, parked herself under the crab apple tree with her trunk turned to him. Stone got the distinct impression she was ignoring him. She didn't say anything again until a day later they turned from 66 South across Interstate 80.
"Look! Ford!" she shouted. "I hate Fords! I'll show that tin can something!"
She blew the doors off an Escort, barely straining. Stone regained control an told her he didn't need another three-thousand-dollar ticket. She apologized.
"I'm sorry. I just can't stand Fords...They're stuck up...FORD, it means Fix or Repair Daily. The best thing that could ever happen to most of them is a hand grenade," she lisped.
"Really?" Stone chuckled.
"Really!" Carmen hissed.
Over the next two weeks Stone gradually accepted one of two realities, one being he went totally around the bend the other being Carmen qualified as a sentient being. He couldn't decide which so he decided just to enjoy it. On a Friday morning on his way to work he pulled into a gas station and happily listened to Carmen hum a cover of the Beach Boys' Little Old Lady from Pasadena, much altered; It's the Chevy Impala from Pennsylvania...Go Carmen, Go Carmen, Go carmen, go! I have brand new tires that are white side walls! I'm the turnpike terror of Pittsburgh Boulevard...
All of which sounded good if you were dyslexic.
"Hey great classic car...Sort of. I haven't seen white walls in ages..." another motorist comment as Stone hung up the gas nozzle.
"Well I take care of my baby girl," Stone chuckled.
"How she drive?"
"Smooth," Stone said and went to turn away, however, Carmen kicked him with her rear tire, delicately. He then introduced himself.
"John Wayne Stone," she laughed. "I thought you were taller!"
"It's the way light refracts off the movie screen when you're on horseback, it gives you another eight inches in height...You have a name?"
"Promise not to laugh?"
"Katie Alder..." she grinned. "But I'm not from Texas, but I'm visiting from Oil City."
"Okay I'm not laughing," Stone went on. "Got a phone number? I know where Oil City is...I have a place in Tidioute.... Just a hop skip and a jump up the road."
"Psst!" Carmen whispered to Katie's vehicle as their drivers chatted. "I like GMC Sonoma's."
"Well I like you...Nice tires babe, they complement your color...." the SUV whispered back, and secretly flashed a turn signal.