What Drives You: Final Instalment Of The Easter Story
The rev rave on the cliff top was no longer a happy blare of horns and engines but had taken on an entirely different ambience, bordering on what appeared to be mass hysteria. From where he stood, in the corner of the car park, the nearly-red little car could see it all. The down-turned bumpers; the gnashing radiators and whining engine noise; the water spurting from windscreen washers, only to be dashed away by swiping blades.
And the flowers! Garish displays of red and orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. He rubbed his headlights. It was hard to see, but he thought the wreaths spelled out a word. R.I – P? Yes! That was it. R.I.P. Was this a funeral then? And if so whose?
It came to him in a flash, then. Why, it was his! He could see his name spelled out in the giant presentation of flowers. His name, and - ?
A tear rose in his washer and splashed down his windscreen onto his bonnet. His little red car had been beneath him as they’d hurtled from the cliff top, down towards the rocks on the seashore. He couldn’t bear to think of her lying there with all the other rusting hulks. Why had she had to suffer so ignominious an end when he’d been spared? He’d have given anything – his life – anything to know that she still lived. Why, oh why had things turned out the way they did?
He became aware of voices quite close to where he stood. He wiped his headlamps and looked across the empty space. A herring gull, sporting the uniform of a car park attendant, addressed an elderly dove clothed in purple.
‘Of course all this, Ali,’ he waved a wing disparagingly in the direction of the mourning cars on the cliff top, ‘is simply an orchestrated chorus of exploitation.’
‘I agree, Parky,’ said the dove, sadly.
‘I agree,’ said the dove, again. ‘Much of this has come about because of a "neutral" secularist approach which refuses to privilege any faith. In fact, secularism has its own agenda and it is certainly not neutral. My fear is, in the end, nothing will be left but the smile of the Cheshire Cat.’
‘You mean . . .’
‘I mean that a moral vacuum has been created, and something has to fill it. In my opinion, there is a real threat to social cohesion.’
The nearly-red little car crept across the car park in first gear.
‘Excuse me,’ he said, timidly. ‘I couldn’t help overhearing you. May I ask who you were talking about earlier?’
‘Oh, you’re here!’ squawked Parky with some surprise.
‘I never doubted it,’ cooed Ali.
‘What happened?’ asked Parky, removing his cap and wiping his forehead with his wing.
The nearly-red little car pulled on his handbrake and switched off.
‘It – it was amazing,’ he said. ‘I’m still not entirely sure - One minute I was plummeting towards the scrap heap. The next, this – eagle, I think it was – came swooping down. . .’
‘And the next thing you knew,’ said Ali, ‘was that your wheels were safe on terra firma once more.’
‘Well – yes! But how did you know?’
‘Happens all the time. You repented. So you’re saved. I bet you even wished on the way down that you’d been scrapped instead of . . .’
‘Yes. Yes. That’s exactly what I wanted. She was lovely, my little red car. She didn’t deserve to go like that. I didn’t even know her name.’
‘Goody,’ said Parky. ‘That was her name. Goody Deux-Cheveaux. She was only a little Citroen, you know!’
‘I don’t care. She was kind to me.’
‘Of course she was,’ Ali comforted him. ‘We all have equal dignity and freedom because we are all made in the designer’s image.’
The wailing noise on the cliff top rose to a crescendo. The nearly-red little car turned to look across the empty expanse of car park. The brightness of the multi-coloured cars was beginning to fade with the daylight and, for the first time, he noticed that some of them were covered in mud, whilst others bore scars and dents in their bodywork. Even their shine had dimmed.
‘What happens to them?’ he asked.
The dove shrugged.
‘Depends! If they don’t go along with the crowd and plunge off the cliff top, they’ll be out. Discredited. The whole focus of a group like this is the stardust. Some of them will jump again and again just to fill their tanks.’
‘But don’t they get dashed to smithereens on the rocks?’ asked Parky.
‘Not all of them!’ Ali shook his head. ‘Often they get second chances. Even third and fourth chances. Depends how blinkered they become. Some of them, like you,’ he indicated the nearly-red little car, ‘repent before they reach rock bottom.’
‘Repent?’ The herring gull stood on one leg.
‘They have a change of heart. Stardust ceases to be as important to them as – say, the life of another little car. Or they realise, suddenly, just how much pain their stupidity is going to cause the designer.’
The nearly-red little car felt himself blush. He couldn’t believe that he’d been so crass; caused so much heartache; been so close to throwing away everything that mattered to him. He looked down. Was it his imagination, or had his nearly-red bodywork faded a little, from nearly-red to deep pink?
‘So was it – was it the designer who rescued me?’ he asked.
‘His son,’ said Ali, adjusting his purple robes. ‘He and the designer realised that if all the little cars were intent on jumping off the cliff top and smashing their engines to bits on the rocks, they’d have to come up with some sort of rescue package. They decided that the only way it would work was if the son became an eagle and dashed himself against the rocks so that his wings and feathers would forever be available for those who wanted to avail themselves of his salvation.
‘Of course, they both knew it would be catastrophic, emotionally and physically. But because they loved the little cars they’d designed and created so much, they felt that, however painful, it was a price worth paying. Their pain is re-enacted every time there’s a jump.’
Parky changed sides and stood on the other leg.
‘So how come there’s a scrap heap of rotting cars at the bottom of the cliff?’ he asked, sceptically.
‘Because some of them don’t repent,’ the deep pink little car said, sadly.
‘Got it in one!’ Ali smiled his approval. ‘And look whose coming now.’
The little pink car looked up. On the far side of the car park was a little white car and at her wheel sat the designer and his son! ‘Don’t you recognise her?’ Ali asked, softly. ‘It’s Goody.’
‘But – but – I thought . . .’
‘She saw the eagle too, and like you, she prayed that he’d rescue you instead of her. Anyone who gives up her life for others will find it again. That’s what the designer says.’
The little pink car felt himself change to a pure and brilliant white. His engine felt fit to burst with pride and joy. His tank felt full to the brim with haemoglobin, and there wasn’t a drop of stardust to be seen.
‘Just one thing before we go,’ he said, ‘can you tell me why the designer put all this glorious colour into the world as a temptation for all the little white cars, when chasing after them brings them only grief and death?’
‘I’ll answer that,’ said the designer, alighting from the once-red-now-white little car and stepping forward with a benign look on his face. ‘Don’t you realise, you silly-billy, that it takes all those glorious colours – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet – to make . . .’
‘White,’ chorused the two little white cars, sidling up to one another and opening their front doors in an embrace.
Behind them, the herring gull parking attendant, the purple clad dove and the designer looked on approvingly.
© Mel Menzies, 9th April, 2009
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
With apologies to TV broadcaster, Sir Michael Parkinson, and Rt Rev Michael Ali-Nazir, retired Bishop of Rochester