"It was dark. The moon was buried in multi-layers of clouds.
In fact, it was so dark that you couldn't see your hand in front of......oh,
never mind; believe me, it was really dark. Not even a house light
could be seen on that remote country road. The......"
"Uncle Chuck, wasn't it raining too?"
"Well, yeah, now that I think of it. It WAS raining......and blowing too. Where was I now? Okay, I got it; your granddaddy had parked MY car off the road slightly near the crossing. He sat in the car with the window open so he could see better. Jessie, honey, get me a glass of water, will ya? This story always makes me thirsty."
"Don't tell any more of the story 'til I get back."
"We'll wait, honey."
The glass with the required amount of ice cubes arrived and, after a few sips, Uncle Chuck continued. "Well, the rain just kept coming down in buckets. Your granddaddy just sat there, patiently......David! Leave her alone and sit still or I won't continue!"
"Aw, I was just chasing a fly offa her hair."
"Sure you were. Anyway, a car came along the road, barely chuggin' along. Ya see, they were out of gas. The driver was hopin' to make it to a gas station, but there wasn't any for another five miles or so--and even that one was closed by this time."
"I thought it was fifteen miles."
"Okay, David, maybe it was fifteen miles. The place was closed though." He sipped again at the ice water; being careful of the tiny speck he saw floating on the top. Hoping it was just an innocent breadcrumb from the bushy moustache he had cultivated for the last eight months, he wet his throat and went on with his story.
"The car made it just into the junction and went dead in the road. Chug-chug-chug-stop! Right in the middle of the intersection! The driver opened the window to look for farm lights, anything that might promise sanctuary, but there was nothing. Zip!"
"That was actually what your granddaddy was waiting for though so he closed his window, fearing for his life if he got my car flooded, and he braved the storm to cross over to the other car. As he approached the vehicle, the driver, a woman.....a really pretty woman......"
"With red hair, Uncle Chuck; don't forget the shiny red hair that touched her shoulders and shone like a......"
"Okay, okay, let me tell the story, Alicia. In the dark, in the car, in a rainstorm, her red hair didn't have much a story behind it, 'cause she closed the window as granddaddy got near. He stood at her window and motioned for her to open it so's he could talk to her. She shook her head, refusing to even crack it a tiny bit. Well, he was getting soaked, but he stayed there, now yelling for her to roll down the window. When that didn't get him anywhere, he began yelling for her to get out of the car. You can guess where that got him."
"We don't have to guess. You've told us this story hundreds of times."
"Thank you, David. I'm glad you're keeping count for us."
"Don't mind him, Uncle Chuck. You were at the part where he was yelling for her to get out of the car. Go on, please. Please."
"Granddaddy was getting nervous because, in all that darkness and rain, he saw headlights approaching from the distance. He even considered breaking
one of the windows, but first he went to pointing towards the lights frantically. She was trying to ignore his histrionics, but allowed herself to take one glance in the direction he was waving and pointing to. Well, I can tell you, when she saw the truck lights comin' closer, she unlocked that door in a heartbeat, grabbed her purse, and got out--of the passenger side! Yup, she maneuvered over and left the car by the passenger side so she wouldn't be near the raving lunatic who was pounding on that window and yelling at her."
"Did she have her seatbelt on, Unca Chuck? Did she lock doors when she got out?"
"That's right, Ruthie, she wouldn't go anywhere without her seatbelt buckled."
"Aw, come on, let him continue and get this one over with."
"David! Ruthie is little and these things are important to her. You were her age not all that long ago and you asked the same questions. Now let's see where we stopped."
"Grandma got out of the car...."
"Thanks. We're not that far yet, Alicia, she's not 'grandma' yet. She's just left the car and she began running as much as a person can run with a formal gown and high heels on. She had been at a big party that night and left without the person who rode with her. Anyway, Granddaddy couldn't believe that she could be afraid of him, but he had to catch up to her so he could give her a ride to town. Actually, he was glad that she was running away from the car because that car had no future. That truck, coming closer all the time, was gonna smash it to smithereens in a few seconds."
"How fast was the truck goin'? Why couldn't he stop?"
"The truck was going pretty fast, maybe sixty, and he couldn't stop that fast because he barely saw her car until it was almost too late for him to make the big rig even slow its full load down."
"Uncle Chuck," David asked, "How long does a big truck like that take to stop?"
"At sixty miles an hour? In the rain? Ah, ah, ah, pretty far, Dave, I'd say about a hundred feet, at least."
When Uncle Chuck stumbled over his words like that, David knew better than to quote him to anyone. He was just plain guessing as far as the nine-year-old was concerned.
"Back to the story, kids, your granddaddy caught up to the woman and, without touching her, yelled for her to slow down, please. He always used the words 'please' and 'thank you' to everyone--like you guys should. She was tired out anyway and upset to boot so she stopped and began to cry."
"Grandma cried!" The little one, Ruthie, was always surprised at such a thing. It seemed strange to hear about a grown lady crying.
"That's right, Ruthie, even grown-ups cry once in a while. Your granddad held tight to her until she calmed down. He told me he could feel her heart going a mile a minute and could feel her shaking all over. She was scared! Of your granddad! Are you guys ever scared of him?"
The children found that hilarious and burst out in laughter over the thought.
"While he was holding her he watched the truck as the driver finally noticed the car in the middle of the road in front of him. He put his brakes on, even though he knew he would never get all the weight of his vehicle stopped without plowing on through the car. Just before he was about to strike the woman's, your grandma's, car, he swerved the truck slightly and missed the car entirely."
"Come on, Uncle Chuck, tell us what happened then." The children shrieked with laughter, knowing what happened next.
"Sure. Laugh it up. What happened next was, as your granddaddy was standin' there with your future grandma in his arms, he watched horrified, I hope, as the truck plowed right on through the intersection, brakes screechin', MISSING grandma's car entirely, but smashing right into my beautiful car!"
It took several minutes for the children gathered around him to quiet down. They loved hearing him tell about how his friend, their granddaddy, met their grandma and fell in love. They loved to hear him tell of the great disaster that befell his beloved red convertible, the one with the chrome all shiny, and the luxurious leather seats, and the wonderful sound system. It delighted them to hear him bemoan the miserable pile of trash that it had become one dark and stormy night.
The End (at least of Chuck's car)
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