I was in love the moment she moved next door. That car. Its chrome trim and two-tone paint. Like black-and-white TV romance. I admired its curves across the fence, and its cracking white-wall tyres. When she told me it was original inside I wanted to see for myself—the star-specked vinyl, the bench seat big enough to lie across. And more curves and more chrome. ‘I’m going down the coast tomorrow,’ she said. ‘D’you want to join me?’
The suspension slopped like warm treacle. The gearbox struggled, popping out of second and crunching into third. The old motor spluttered like an emphysemic grandfather. Driving it felt like cruelty. Then, as we threaded through the last of the suburbs, she reached across and flicked open the glove box. “Pick something.” There was Jerry Lee and the King, girl groups and doo-wop. And Wanda Jackson. ‘Perfect,’ she said, and taking the disk from me she forwarded to a favourite track. At the chorus she came in, her sweet exotic twang filling the cabin. Pulling in to her driveway at the end of the day I still thought I was in love. But not with her car. No not with her car.