My car is haunted. It all began on a dark and stormy Sunday…
No, that’s not right. It began on a slightly gloomy Saturday directly preceding a dark and stormy Sunday. You all remember Irene, right? It was the Saturday before that dark and stormy Sunday into Monday. My car needed an oil change and an inspection, so John and I took my car into the gas station where he had gotten his done before with no problems. They had no waiting room and it was too short a procedure to really go anywhere, so we hung around awkwardly just outside the tiny attached convenience store. I don’t know what it is about mechanics around here, but none of them have anything resembling a waiting room for the family of out-patient surgery victims, so to speak.
The mechanic was quick enough that the awkwardness was at least not dragged on for an eternity, the cost was reasonable, and they didn’t come back with any suspicious claims like “a fracture in your dilithium array is causing instability in your antimatter containment chamber.” (I just dare a mechanic to pull sci-fi technology references on me sometime. I might not know what the heck timing belts are for, but I do know for a fact that my car does not have an antimatter containment chamber. ) My car passed inspection with nary a “Beware…” so we paid the nice man and left content.
And then Irene happened. We had food enough, more luckily than I realized. (I think I mentioned before that I was shaking my head at the panic over a little thing like a New England hurricane…we were only ten minutes away from a stretch that had no power for a week.) It rained and winded like the dickens for two days-ish and I ignored it. On Tuesday, I got into my car and went for a drive.
Holy mother of Yorick. My car has always had a slight tendency to squeal in wet weather when I have the air on, but your have never heard such an unsanctified sound coming from a car. After a few minutes, the horrible squealing went away to play straight man for the main act: my air conditioning. My air is controlled by an electric display which decided that it was no longer interested in being part of the collective which is my car’s computer systems. I pressed buttons, the display changed accordingly…and then the air did whatever in the blazes it felt like doing.
This went on for a solid week at least. I hoped it was just something to do with the excessive rain. Wires and water don’t play well together, I reasoned, so maybe my car just needed to dry up a bit after the storm. Time seemed to validate my theory…and then my highbeams went haywire.
Do the words “cascade system failure” mean anything to you? That was must first fear. I fear big, when I bother. I had visions of the mechanics conspiring with Irene to leave some tiny but vital component without a gasket so she could rain motorized terror down upon me. For a few weeks, I felt like I was driving around with Vlad the Impaler in my back seat. I kept my radio at half volume, listening with a twinge to every vaguely unfamiliar sound in my car.
My lights and air did put themselves to rights, eventually, and I was finally beginning to feel safe when EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE when turning corners became my car’s favorite noise, followed closely by CRRRRRRUNNNNCHCHCHCH when hitting the brakes. Cascade. System. Failure.
Not really. My rear brakes turned out to be shot and a ten-foot long, machined hose from my power steering system had a leak. Both simple enough to explain and simple enough to fix. But going out like that at the same time? Really, guys? Really? The coincidence strains plausibility. I think the simplest explanation is that my car is possessed. Those first mechanics left something open in the heart of the car and the spirit of Irene decided to move on in. She left our town more or less alone and now she’s taking out her frustration on my poor car. And my nerves.
My car sounds better now, I think, but I’ve been watching it like you watch a heart attack patient who’s survived a quadruple bypass. I think I might have seen some liquid pooling in my parking spot when I left work this morning…I think. If nothing else, I have at least emerged from this situation with a name for my car: Irene Adler. I don’t think Holmes himself would have much luck sorting out what’s been happening with my car.