What Drives You? Part Ii
The rev-rave on the cliff top was a riot of music and laughter, as engines were tuned and horns were blasted. The little once-white-now-pink car was ecstatic; he’d never seen anything like it before. His little red car – he still thought of her as his, though she was surrounded by an adoring rally of other brightly coloured cars, all shiny and new – turned a loving gaze towards him.
His engine raced. He flipped his sunshine roof back and forth like the other cars, flashed his headlights and pooped his horn with abandon. The scent of high octane stardust was intoxicating. Everything around him took on new meaning, a new kind of reality, so that the old world of trips into the countryside with the designer faded to insignificance, a pale reflection of what he yearned to be and to do.
His little red car had achieved fame and fortune because she ran on stardust. She had siphoned a little of the fuel into his engine parts, and his exhaust had breathed in the fumes of her success. But he longed for his tank to be filled, to be truly one of the crowd, to be one with her.
‘What happens now?’ he honked, choking with excitement.
‘You jump from the cliff where the herring gulls soar,’ they tootled in unison. They began to reverse.
As if at the hand of some unseen umpire, a race track opened up before him. He felt delirious with joy. Jets of stardust from the other cars began to rain down upon him, spraying his bonnet, his wheels, his doors, his roof. He looked over his wheel arch at his little red car and noticed, as he did so, that his own bodywork had begun to deepen in colour, so that he was no longer once-white-now-pink, but had taken on a new intensity of hue which now blushed almost a shade of red.
He revved his engine, and the sprayed-on stardust glistening on his bodywork, leapt into the air in flurries of expectation.
‘Go! Go!’ roared the other little cars.
And he was off, his pistons pumping, his wheels skidding in the mud, and a strange sense of weightlessness in his sump.
The hollering sound of the other little cars became a rally cry. He could do it! He could do it! He could be one of them. Forget the designer. Forget all the other modest little white cars in the garage. Forget even the bigger, fancier cars. Soon stardust would replace the haemoglobin in his tank. Soon he would be a deeper shade of red.
Suddenly, his wheels were no longer in contact with the cliff top. For an instant he felt himself free of all restraint. He looked around. And there beside him was his little red car. She’d joined him in his flight!
He knew from the other cars that she’d once been Nothing; a Nobody. A little white car with no stardust in her tank, no glory, no fame. He knew, because he’d heard them say, that she had risen to prominence in a flash when she’d jumped from the cliff top. She’d been transformed, in that moment, to the shiny red car at his side.
‘You’re wonderful,’ he breathed, glancing towards her. ‘You’re my angel. A celebrity. A princess. You’re an inspiration to us all. And I don’t even know your name.’
She was silent. He sucked in his exhaust. He saw her falling, and felt himself plunging downward with her. His upholstery plummeted to his sump. As he watched, her red shiny bodywork was being stripped away to base metal. Her doors flew open, her interior fittings tumbled towards the rocks below, leaving her an empty shell. He followed their trajectory with his headlamps, saw them rushing headlong down, down, down.
On the rocky shoreline beneath the cliffs there rose a pile of dull grey metal. He could barely make it out, but it looked like the remains of – cars! Yes. They were cars! Some with remnants of red paint clinging to their battered broken bodies. Wretched wrecks of what they once had been.
Fear ripped through him; tore at his sun visors and stripped them from their mountings. His exhaust could barely draw breath. What little haemoglobin remained in his tank felt as if it had turned to jelly, and in his speaker system he could hear the quiet voice of his designer whispering, ‘Don’t do it! Don’t do it!’
Too late, he thought. But still he screamed his terror, his remorse.
‘How could you do this?’ he yelled, heavenward, where he imagined his designer might be. ‘What sort of designer would condemn his little white car like this? It wasn’t my fault. Punish those other brightly coloured cars, not me.’
Heaven was silent. His designer was nowhere in sight. Still he hurtled down. Down. Down.
‘I promise, if you rescue me now, I’ll be good,’ he beeped. ‘Heck! I’ll even be content to remain a little white car pootling round the countryside. D’you hear me? I’ll give up any hope of ever being a big white city car. Okay? Now, come on. Do you stuff. And be quick about it.’
The white cliff face streaked past him, and now he could make out the broken wrecks below. Had they, like him, once screamed at their designer? Had they, like him, tried to bargain with him? Blamed him for their own predicament; their own stupidity?
He felt a warm wet sensation in his boot, and knew the bitter sweet sting of shame as his tank emptied itself involuntarily. He deserved what was coming to him. He knew it now. He’d been loved; guided; protected; provided for – and he’d let it all go. For this. For this!
His little red car was now far beneath him, no more his than she was her own self. Like him she’d shown contempt for the protection and love of her designer. Like him, she’d esteemed stardust, fame and fortune more than the gentle pursuits of modesty and industry. Like him, she’d thought that to be a Somebody, you had to be a little red car. But she didn’t deserve this? Surely not this?
‘I’m so sorry,’ he murmured, desolate in his helplessness. And he was unsure if his sorrow was directed to his designer or to the little red car who, with him, was plunging to her destruction.
He wept. If he could do it all again, how different it would be. His red bodywork glistened in the sunlight. It was no longer the red of excitement, but the red of the haemoglobin he’d discarded in favour of stardust. If he could do it all again, he’d have persuaded his little red car to ditch her stardust. He’d have taken her to meet his designer. He’d have asked if she might become a little white car again, like him.
Even now . . . Even now, he thought, if that were possible,he’d be content to go the graveyard beneath him, if she could go free.
He looked down. He was now close enough to hear the waves crashing against the cliff, and to see the bodies of other little cars as they were dashed and smashed to smithereens. The noise was now so loud it all-but filled his senses. In his dread, he felt numb. Dead, already.
It was only, perhaps, a disturbance in the air, that made him look up. The sun was dazzling. But far, far above, in the heavens, where the herring gulls soared and built their nests, he thought he saw the shadow of an eagle stooping swiftly earthward.
TO BE CONTINUED!
© Mel Menzies, 8th April, 2009
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Photo: Paul Eaton
BBC Radio Devon Interview
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