I inherited a classic car, but had limited knowledge of how a 1966 Ford big-block engine functioned. How difficult could it be? And there was something awkwardly comforting maneuvering a vehicle that was larger than two king-size mattresses and capable of surviving a collision with an armored tank. Of course, no airbags or seat belts. (I added the belts.)
During one of my early cruises on Hendersonville Road, my horn began to honk at random moments — with no direction from me. Just, you know, arbitrarily — whenever it felt like it.
I immediately thought bad fuse, but quickly realized I had no idea where the fuse box was located, nor did I have any spare fuses even if I could find it. And what did a darn fuse look like, anyway? I stopped looking, but the intermittent honking continued.
I figured I should get the car home, then first thing in the morning, bring it to my friends Ronnie and Bruce, at A&B Tire and Wheel here in Asheville.
I pulled up and stopped at a red light behind two mean-looking Harley bikers. One had a black leather vest that read, “I Eat Road Kill” emblazoned across the back. His fellow rider looked over his shoulder at me and offered a crooked grin before turning his attention to the road ahead. .
My horn honked.
The light was still red.
They turned their heads in unison to look at me.
I cordially waved, offering a bright, friendly smile. “Hi, guys.”
They turned away.
My horn honked again, this time, on-off, on-off, kind of like a trumpeter taking quick breaths between notes. Then to make sure my life was going to be completely miserable before shortly ending, the horn stuck and became one continuous blast.
The light was still red.
Did you ever see bikers make a U-turn — one booted heel outstretched keeping the balance while revving the engine, shark eyes focused on the prey?
They both arrived at my window at the same time, and to my growing concern, placed the bikes on the kick stands. The horn, of course, was suddenly silent.
I reached out and attempted to fist-bump Road Kill just as I’d seen kids and athletes do on TV. “Hey, dude,” I said, “Happening?” The use of the word “happening” standing alone instead of being part of a four- or five-word sentence, would show me to be super-cool. I was getting into a rhythm.
Road Kill rested his hands on the window ledge. Across his knuckles, tattooed backwards so their soon-to-be recipient could read them, were the words GOOD and EVIL. While I was pleased to learn of RK’s’s abbreviated moral clarity, I was also certain I was going to be on the down side of it. I considered diving through the passenger window, then moving quickly away using my phony limp which could only create compassion as I tried to escape.
“What’s with the honking horn?” Road Kill spit tobacco juice into the road. “That’s very rude.”
I quickly explained.
Road Kill reached inside the car and pressed the horn. It honked. He released his hand and the honking stopped. He studied me and his face softened — at least the part that wasn’t covered with a helmet, goggles and a beard. Actually, his nose softened.
“I don’t know what you were doing, but I think I like you anyway.” Road Kill turned to his companion, “I think I like this guy anyway, Scooter.”
Scooter? Did Road Kill just call the Wild Bull of the Pampas standing next to him Scooter? That’s what I used to call my daughter when she was a toddler.
“I like you, too, Road Kill,” I immediately interjected. “Or do you prefer Mr. Kill? Either way, I very much like you, too. Yes, very, very much. Yes, I do. Very much.”
I was sensing I might come out of this nasty situation alive. I turned to the other biker. “And might I add, I like you very much too, eh … Scooter. Very much, very much. That’s how much I like you, too. Very, very much.”
The two continued to stare at me. Road Kill finally said, “You’re not as dumb as you look.”
“Interesting. Most people feel just the opposite.”
Road Kill laughed out loud. Now I saw teeth with the nose. “You’re a funny guy,” he said over his shoulder as he moved to his Harley. “Come on, Scooter, we’re out of here.”
My horn honked.
The two laughed as they departed. “We was just funning with you, anyway. Fix your damn horn.”
Yes, I will, I thought to myself. There are other Road Kills out there, waiting, lurking.
By the way, if you see a handsome man in a red classic Ford on the side of the road, give a wave as you pass by. Unfortunately, it won’t be me you’re acknowledging. I’ll be the guy pulled over about a mile beyond — the one who looks like a cross between Jim Nabors and an IRS accountant — trying to figure out how to change a tire using a pair of pliers and a screwdriver.
But don’t honk. My nerves can’t take it.