April 19, 007
Fort Stockton, TX
Victor never showed up. He was bird-watching, or rather, waiting for a debtor to leave the house so he could steal their car and bring it to the bank. He sent Blinky.
We totally just bought a new $300 car from a surly Tex-Mex biker named Blinky.
‘79 Oldsmobile Delta-88 Royale. V-8, 5-point-something liters. 3900 pounds. Twice as big as the engine that just melted in our other car.
Blinky said it had like 72,000 original miles on it, but the odometer says 42,000 — we’ll assume it’s flipped over once or twice. Since he just bought the ride from its original owner (who supposedly only used it to drive to and from work in town) he didn’t know the gas mileage per gallon — but from his guess, we’re going to have to clear 100 acres of land mines in Cambodia to karmically pay for the Earth points on this one.
There is no speedometer, the tires are worn, and the upholstery is falling apart. The power steering fluid leaks a little. The air conditioner doesn’t work. The vinyl top of the car is cracked from the Texas heat.
The paint job has faded to a matte bone color. The cloth covering that holds the foam into place above our heads on the inside of the roof (why do they put foam there? Just so it can decay and rain down later?) has started to come loose, and irritatingly brushed against the top of our heads on the test drive — until we ghetto-upholstered it with some symetrically-placed thumbtacks.
Blinky gave us the thumbtacks, and a soda, and adult refreshments, and some power steering fluid. We shot the shit for a good solid hour after handing him the cash. We don’t trust him worth a damn — we’re acquainted with enough automobile shysters — but we’ve got to get out of here.
Blinky rides with the Cossacks Motorcycle Club out of Goldsmith, Texas. The nametag on his colors reads “SLUT.” Blinky gets dialysis three times a week, which eats up a good portion of his life.
Like any hardcore biker, he casually addresses his lady friend as “bitch” when she telephones him. Blinky built a “desert garden” in his front yard that includes cactii from Arizona and rock-fossils of prehistoric snails and jellyfish. One of Blinky’s many tattoos reads DEATH IS CERTAIN – BUT LIFE IS NOT.
This is why to shop this way. This is why to spend time instead of money. To meet people like Blinky, even if you can’t find your camera back at the hotel room to take a picture of him on his blinged-out Harley beside the now-dead Shart Car in the parking lot.
Tonight we glued the rear-view mirror back and put the seat covers on, checked and filled the fluids, and rinsed the coolant overflow container and discovered it features a leak in its bottom corner.
Most importantly, this new $300 car is a BOAT. Not a little bean-bug like these plastic wind-tunnel poops they make nowadays. Pure American steel. Macho macho car.
When sitting in the driver’s seat, we feel like a little kid in a booster chair in a booth at Denny’s. The Donkey, whose fur matches the interior perfectly, almost looks small when he stands 95lbs and panting in the back seat. Ppretty sure we could fit the Ladies’ Model Tallbike in the trunk if we folded the ape-hangers down.
This thing will not fit in any parking spaces in San Francisco. It’s 400 feet long. We will now ride bikes more, out of necessity and ultimately for our benefit, if we ever make it home.
Pretty sure our grandmother in Memphis used to own this exact same car. Same color, too. If the smell of bananas and white powdered donuts someday pervades the vehicle, or somebody cuts a milk jug in half and tells us to just squat in the back seat’s floorboards because we don’t have time to stop to pee again, we might experience serious flashbacks.
We feel like the Godfather. Or Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) from Repo Man. Or Boss Hogg.
Hopefully we’ll be driving it for more than a day or two. Never bought a car all by ourselves before. Maybe we just got fooled — but for cheapish, anyway, and it’s equally as likely we sort of know what we’re looking at under the hood now. Little by little, we feel less and less clueless when hanging out with gearhead friends.
Steer carefully in this ship, we must, and navigate some of the terrain at night with no phone. Say a prayer for us to Gladys that Blinky’s car is as sturdy as he says it is, that we are indeed woman and dog enough to handle this beast, and that we make it all the way back to California before showtime.
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