Suggested Audio Fuel
 Lindsey Buckingham Holiday Road”
 John Carpenter “Christine”
Okay then Grueheads, for our final little idiom it seems fitting that we put our foot down, grind up the asphalt one last time, and blaze our trails into the future. Where we’re going we don’t need roads, hell it doesn’t even matter a jot about our busted flux capacitor as we have the tools to travel right here. Our fuel is belief and, in Rivers of Grue, we have a refueling station constantly on hand to fill up our tanks. Should we stall, then any number of Grueheads are on hand to get us push-started.
It hasn’t been a doddle, nay there have been times when our windscreens have been frosted over and our batteries have been known to go flat overnight from time to time. But we have relatively few miles on the clock and, more critically, are no longer fazed by our mildly rusted wheel arches or noxious exhaust emissions. Some of us may have been convinced we were heading straight for the junk yard and, indeed, that may well have been accurate when engine concerns began to rear their repugnant heads. But it’s nothing a decent service couldn’t sort.
I just love getting under the bonnet, never one to be concerned with a little grease on my palms, I like nothing more than to rev my engine. Difference now is…I have a shiny new clutch and I’m ready as hell fires to give it a spin round the block. En route I may just swing by the local Bowl-o-Rama and pick up some honeys. There’s a quaint little spot in the valley where I could park up and commence my full and thorough service. I’ve even packed a picnic blanket and a rag soaked in chloroform just in case things don’t go exactly as planned.
In reality I no longer own a gas-guzzler. My last automobile just so happened to be named Christine and she turned out to be a heap of trouble so I’m busting out my rickshaw as an alternative. I miss her from time to time, so many sweet memories of forgotten summer afternoons by the lake. But we can never get those times back, especially given the fact that she has likely long since been compacted. Nay, she has fired up for the final time now and, hard as it may be to move on with my life, I’m determined to do exactly that.
My pedal is fully depressed, to the floor no less. I may not be in possession of a set of funky-assed trims but I have that all important tank of gas so I’m all set for road games. Make and model has changed vastly over the years. As a youth I was pure Fisher Price all the way. A hunk of badly manufactured plastic with no discernible ignition and garish paint job, I replicated the sound of a motorist even though I had no inkling as to the rules of the road. There was no access to freeways, instead I rode my vehicle around in circles without ever clocking up any miles.
As I hit adolescence I upgraded to my first little run-around, a barely mobile scrap of metal which never seemed to start in the mornings and broke down at every juncture. I was content just to have the most basic mobility and, like any new motorist, I ran that shit into the ground at every opportunity. Back then I had no concept of automobiles or their nuances, the joy of getting from A to B was more than sufficient and I had no concept of mechanics. This possibly wasn’t aided by the fact that it took eight, yes you heard correctly… eight, driving examinations to get me ship-shape.
During my very first test I drove the wrong way down a one-way street and this single-handedly ensured I remained grounded. Beginners luck then? Actually it was imbecile’s luck and it continued during my second assessment as I drove over a mini-roundabout at full speed without so much as having registered its existence. I recall the words “Okay then Mr Stevens, if you could take us back to the test center now then that would be fantastic” delivered in the monotone of Bill Lumbergh from Office Space and had an instant hunch that I wouldn’t be earning my stripes that day. Then the rot began to settle in.
There has been no other point during my transience where I have felt so hopeless and defeated. Another month, another fail. It felt increasingly as though I was not intended for the road at that point and five more squandered opportunities came and passed, each robbing me of a little more dignity. After seven stalls I sacked my instructor and then the winds of change commenced. My final tutor terrified the living shit out of me. The fear of God is your friend in such situations as, come my eighth trip to the DVLA, I was just content to have an hour driving without my instructor’s acidic rejoinder.
It only worked. I left that day with independence, with honor, with my first set of ignition keys as opposed to a laundry list of reasons why I should stick to public transport. I excitedly took my shiny new license and used it as an excuse to drive appallingly throughout my first liaison. During that time I very near wiped myself and a friend out as I shot onto a slip road at full pelt and didn’t realize my error until I was hurtling towards the adjoining roundabout at 80 mph. We made harsh contact that day, buckling the driver-side wheel, and folding up the entire chassis in the process. My bunched up vehicle miraculously survived the wreck but leaned precariously to one side from that point forth, until the time came to ship her out to the braker’s yard.
A number of suitors followed and each came with its own unique set of challenges. That all ceased when Bessie trundled into my life. It was love at first start, she purred for me every morning and life seemed rose-tinted through her sheer existence. Granted, she had been around the block a fair few times and seen her share of roadkill. But she picked me out of all the other douches on the block it was Keeper who lubricated her cam belt. Petite and shapely, she may not have looked much of a trophy, but she won my heart from the very first glance. Deep red was her color and she wore it like an alloy bodice.
Just typical then that some scagged-up reprobate had designs on her too and, in a small service station on the outskirts of town, he wrestled her from my grasp and drove my fair maiden off into the night. Hijacked. I could have done with the Delta Force about that time as I watched her slip through my feelers without so much as an au revoir. In our final moments together I sprawled out over her hood and felt her metallic warmth one final time, before she slipped away leaving behind her my shattered dreams as I took one final glimpse of her child-bearing hips. Bessie was discovered burned out at the side of the road weeks later and behind her was left a slick of sorrow.
Subsequently I took my emotional baggage into my next relationship and was culpable of neglect the whole sorry time. Sure she had some curvature, granted she also possessed the moves, and had only the one previous owner so deserved to be treated with a degree of kindness. Alas, it just wasn’t to be. That isn’t to say there wasn’t romance, oh contraire. You see, I am a hopeless romantic at heart and still laid on the gestures for her. But I wasn’t really there, all I could see when looking into her lamps was Bessie’s delectable derriere as she was so callously stolen away from me.
It started with the odd disagreement but festered to a point where I barely registered her existence and for that I am less than proud. She deserved to be happy, just not with me at that particular time. The stars were never aligned for us and we have all felt that realization sink in at some point. In another time and place we could have been happy but the void left by my first true love was just too devastating and we became victims of circumstance. I never even found out her name.
My bitterness subsided with the introduction of Christine, a fine piece of alloy ass if ever I saw one and my final throw of the dice. We all know how this played out but, to begin with at least, it was akin to being an adolescent once again. We partied together regularly and possibly a little too hard on occasion. By that T-junction I had been subjected to my first psychological ass-kicking at the hands of the dreaded work-related stress. I was no longer thinking straight and had begun lacing my nostrils with crude stimuli in an attempt to blur the lines closing in around me. She took a liking to the white rabbit also and offered me a hutch which I commenced cooping myself up in for the best part of winter.
Truth be known…it wasn’t pretty. By the time I decided cold turkey was my only remaining option, there was a pallid haze about her interior. I’d also been on the weed bud the whole time and her upholstery was scarred with remnants of our illicit time together. In addition her insular pelt was glazed with vomit as I binged on sugary produce and smoked/snorted myself into upcoming oblivion. Until enough became enough.
For the past eight months or so I have been grounded. It could only be that way as I was fast-tracking to my urn and, Christine and I, well let’s just say we were toxic together. I dodged a bullet as ludicrously soaring fuel prices and environmental mischief are two rather solid reasons not to take your position behind the wheel. I miss the mobility for sure and sitting adjacent to a prolapsed pensioner on a rickety bus has its but ultimately it has always ended in heartburn so maybe it is for the best.
Since the Rivers of Grue began their course I have had no real requirement for wheels. Instead I have gone all Huckleberry Finn and constructed my very own raft for those upstream escapades. Whilst carefully avoiding any repudiated canoes at the quay side, I have learned the way of the rapids. There are no white waters here however, only crimson tides, but they cascade so exquisitely that I’m never without a paddle now. Pedal to the metal then? Not really metal per se, more timber, but the sentiment is the same.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013