By CL Bledsoe

My first car was an ’88 Dodge Thunderbird, white,
with a broken driver’s seat that had to be welded

in place. The interior was stained, trash piled
in the floorboard. I bought it from my brother

for a grand. It lasted me till winter when I slammed
into the side of a hill on ice, backed out with a caved-

in passenger side, and kept driving it since I was
only taking back roads to school. A drunk

swerved to his left, when I swerved to my right,
and hit me head-on on a gravel road, mushed

the driver’s side in to match. They arrested
everybody on scene except me — some guy fishing

nearby got taken in — and towed the car to an impound,
where it sat in the rain a couple nights until the newly

exposed frame had rusted enough to match the rest
of the dents. Dad took the insurance money and pocketed

more than half. The rest, he dumped into an ’86 Chevy
Cavalier, black, smelling, already, of burnt wiring.

I joked that we had to brush the sawdust off the engine
to check the oil. It overheated the first time I took

it out. Dad blamed me, and for the next two years,
poured money into it to replace every part they could.

Multiple alternators which kept going out — they blamed
it on the batteries, which also kept going out — a fan

which had been wired to blow outwards, the radiator, much
of the suspension which was held together with rust

and wishes. The car spontaneously burned in the parking lot
of a West Memphis Wal Mart on New Year’s Eve. I left it

there, bummed a ride home, and never went back for it.
A few weeks later I bought a ’96 Buick Regal which lasted

more than a decade until a student, driving for her loaded
mother, slammed into it while it was parked. I donated it
to the blind, thinking they wouldn’t mind the dents.

Stuff My Stupid Heart Likes by CL Bledsoe (co-author of and The Wild Word:

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