Monday, July 30, 2012



Once, I had a 1984 Mazda 626 -Hatchback.  Once.

During a typical blistering summer here on the coast of South Carolina, I needed a car.  My relationship with my previous car had run its course, so to speak.  By that, I mean, I drove that sucker until it quit.  Since my job was not within walking distance, I needed transportation, pronto.

My father came across this gem that was, in fact, a motorized vehicle.  It had a tepid blue-grey paint job, that would suit any cold, and dreary February sky.  It came fully loaded with all of the gadgets of a 1984 compact car.  A throttling 1.8 Liter engine, bumpers, lights, tires, and most importantly disc brakes in the front end.

With $475, and a handshake, this beauty was mine.  I would blaze through town, pimpin' my ride, with my AM/FM stock radio, and all of the treble it could muster.  Cruising about my neighborhood, I always had the power windows down.  That was the best way to cool off, as the air conditioner was busted.  The delightful summer breeze felt as if someone was holding a hair dryer up to my cheek.  It was absolutely chilling, and my skin zings with goose bumps, when I think back to those few days that I owned her.

I ran into some girls that were renting a beach house for a week,  invited me to have some booze, and party favors at their vacation spot.  "You don't have to worry about driving home.  You can stay the night," they said.  I held out as best I could, and reluctantly agreed to go.
"I just hope this car will make it," I thought.  I didn't let that stop me, though.

In order to complete my journey, I would have to drive over The Cooper River Bridges.  On the way out, I would take the Silas Pearman Bridge  It was a rust colored steel truss bridge opened in 1966.  A relatively steep bridge by today's standards, and by far the highest climb in Charleston, South Carolina.  As I was descending the final span, I felt the brakes of my new, previously owned vehicle drag.  There was enough friction to slow the car down while rolling down the grade in neutral.

Damn.  I had to turn the car around, in hopes of getting the car back home before it completely died.  This was going to be a serious test for the blue rocket, as I had to return over the Grace Memorial Bridge.  A bridge that was opened in 1929, and deemed obsolete by 1979.  It was considered so dangerous at the time, that a federal bridge inspector refused to travel over it, in the late 1990's.

I was able to get my car motoring to a blazing 60 miles per hour before I began the first steep incline.  The car slowed immediately, as I jumped down to fourth, then third gear.  The pedal was to the medal, and I managed to maintain 40 miles an hour, while causing a traffic jam behind me. 

After much tension, and worry, I was finally approximately one mile from home.
Just then, the car directly behind me began to flash its high beams, and I blew it off.  "I know, I am moving slow," I thought.  However, when I checked the side mirror, a crimson shower of sparks was flowing  from the front of the car.  I immediately jerked to the shoulder of the road, and when I took my foot off the gas, my whip screeched to a halt.

I bailed out to inspect the source, and the rims were white hot, glowing intensely in the shadow of dusk.  Some guys were hanging out on their front porch, and come to survey the situation.

"Hey man!  You could fry chicken on that rim!", one of them said confidently, as if this were an everyday occurrence.

"Ha, ha.  Yeah, that's right," I replied.  This was followed by the sound of a gas grill igniting.  Wooofff!

The brake lines, and tires burst into flames, and we all stepped back with caution, and anticipation.  In an instant, I dialed 911, and reported the fire.  The fire station was only around the corner on the same block, so it would not be long before help arrived.

I heard the fire engines start, the wailing sirens, and belching horns, and I was relieved.  "I'm saved," I thought, as the fire truck raced past me, and my now obviously burning car.  I waved my arms at them, and the fire crew didn't even glance in my direction.

They continue to the end of the street, and returned, sans sirens.  By now, the fire had burned itself out, and was smoldering.  One of the firemen finally noticed the smoldering car, and they pulled over.  I was approached by one of the firemen, and he asked, "Hey, bro!  Where the hell were you?"

"What?", I replied.  "I was standing next to the burning car."

"Oh.  Well, what happened?", he asked.

"My brakes locked up, the friction caused a fire," I answered.

"Man, you gotta get that shit fixed", was his response.

"No kidding?", I asked sarcastically.

Afterwards, I had the car towed to the local brake repair shop.  When I asked them how much it would be to fix the car, the answer was "Forty five dollars for the tow, and $900, to fix the brakes."

"OK," I said.  "Let me pay the tow, and I will think about what to do about the repairs tomorrow."
"Aight, then," the man said.

I wonder what ever happened to that gorgeous car.

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