The Albuquerque flea-market was huge, but the main crowd had not arrived yet. By now Zane had arranged an array of various trinkets, tools, and parts onto a makeshift folding table. After sorting out the items, he turned his attention towards Grace. She was parked at a 90-degree angle adjacent to the folding table. Grace had her nose pointed towards the narrow aisle where the crowds would later gather. She was smartly hosed off, and the interior was clean. Her trunk was swept out, and the spare tire was properly stowed. The previous evening, Zane created an impromptu sign. For the backdrop, he chose the flap from a medium sized card-board box. With a newly purchased black Magick-Marker, Zane scribed the words, “FOR SALE-283 Cubic Inches.”
After setting up Zane casually treated himself to a hot cup of coffee, which he purchased from the concession stand next door. He was contemplating the best way to display his sign. The windshield is no good Zane thought. “Nobody will get to see it because the hood will be in the way!” After some careful consideration, Zane decided to string it up under the open hood utilizing some bailing wire. Zane was mindfully contemplating his small dilemma when a solemn voice called out from behind him. “Are you sellin’ your car Zane?”
Zane had his back turned as he fiddled with the sign. Judging from the sound of the voice, he knew it was Big Slim! Zane admired his Dad, but Slim had a timeless wisdom. It wasn’t that Charlie wasn’t wise, he just had a different kind of wisdom. Charlie had the youthful wisdom of a wolf, meaning he was steeped in the ways of an Alpha hunter. Charlie owned the kind of wisdom that commanded respect, while Slim’s wisdom was welcoming. Slim was a tall, but slightly bent elderly black gentleman. He wore locomotive styled overalls that were well past their prime. His weathered leathery face was timeless, but his eyes revealed the age. He appeared to be blind in one eye and Zane assumed it was due to an un-treated cataract. Slim talked with a soothing southern drawl that was nearly hypnotic. His hands were humongous and littered with scars. He wore black surplus Navy shoes that were gently cared for and loved. Big Slim never “fooled around with the flea-Market,” meaning that he seldom used the venue to peddle his wares. He had his own private yard where he owned and operated a ramshackle small business. Slim dealt in used tires, and Zane frequented the establishment regularly. The ‘business’ consisted of an antique travel-trailer which Slim used for his office. It was understood that he resided in the “yonder back room.” In addition to the trailer was a very large swath of corrugated tin which was suspended into the air by a series of steel poles. They were precariously welded into place in attempt to support the metal that made up the roof. The makeshift canopy was sufficient to keep his vintage ‘tire-Bustin’ machine out of the rain, but it didn’t keep it out of the dirt. The tire bustin’ machine was the center piece of Slim’s workshop, and it was surrounded by mountains of random steel wheels that seemed naked without their rubber. The violated tires were separated from their dignity and effortlessly tossed into various random mounds. Zane was silently wondering how Slim could find anything in that chaotic mess, when it dawned on him that he had ‘tuned-out.’ Slim politely chimed in and quietly repeated the question, “Are you sellin’ your car Zane?”
Zane tuned back in and explained the situation. “I’m trying to drum up some gas money.” Zane informed him, as he returned to his senses. “I See, I see…” Slim responded, with a child-like authority. He lovingly looked the car up and down, as he drifted back in time. The words “CHEVROLET IMPALA,” enthusiastically flowed from Slim’s mouth as if Grace had conjured up some distant memories from past adventures. “There used to be a lot of these on the road!” he reminded Zane, as he gently caressed Grace’s elegant faded lacquer. After a deliberate pause, he focused back on Zane. Slim stood quietly as he studied Zane’s expression; and then he asked, “How much are you wantin’ for it?” Zane knew that the tire dealer wasn’t really interested in an actual purchase, but he enjoyed the banter just the same. “This young man has the look of fair trade in his eyes,” Slim said to himself as he awaited a reply. Without further hesitation Zane uttered the words, “Five Hundred Dollars”. Upon hearing the price, Slim raised up his hands into the heavens! It was a playful display of amazement. “Ooooooh-Whee!” He said as he slapped his own knee! “That is More Money then I could afford, but it sure is a nice car though!” Without as much as a blink, Zane went on to imply that a deal could be worked out. “Maybe I could take something in on trade,” he jovially responded. Zane couldn’t get enough of Slim, and the feeling was mutual. “He’s got a real sense of maturity for such a young man,” Slim reasoned as he carefully examined Zane’s persona. This was ironic because Slim made Zane feel like he was six years old again! Judging from the gleam in his one good eye, it was fair to say that Slim was feeling younger too! The happy pair were shooting the breeze, and preparing to go about their separate ways, when Charlie broke into the conversation.
“I think you’ve got somebody looking at your car son.” Charlie causally announced as they said their casual goodbyes. “He’s been looking at it for quite a while son. I think he’s really interested!” The potential buyer was a Hispanic male in his mid-twenties. Ramone had braced his forearms up against the lip of the Grace’s open hood, as he poked his head deep into the recesses of the engine compartment. Zane didn’t’ want to startle him, so he strategically placed himself up against the front driver’s side door. With a quick grunt, Zane was able to capture the young man’s attention. With genuine authority, Zane uttered the words, “if you’re looking for a good reliable car this is it!” By this time, Ramone pulled his torso from within the hood and looked up at Zane. At a primordial level the young man was acutely aware of how he was trespassing on Zane’s space. Men don’t just go poking around under another man’s hood. It was the unspoken law of the jungle. Ramone knew about the jungle. He was a rough and tumble member of a local car club, which could have been mistaken for a gang if perceived through a privileged lens. Ramone may have been pigeon-holed as a troublemaker by some, but in reality he was just another kid from the South Valley as far as Zane was concerned.
Ramone removed his hands from the lip of Grace’s open hood and stepped two paces to his right. Being face to face with Zane, and about three feet away, the young inquirer stood submissively as if to say, ‘I was just looking.’ This guy looks alright, Zane thought to himself as he quickly sized up the prospective buyer. Zane correctly assumed he had a ‘bite,’ so he decided to skip the sales pitch and shoot it to him straight. He looked Ramone squarely in the eyes and said, “hey check this out.” Zane quickly opened up the door and settled in behind the wheel. He hit the ignition as he simultaneously bumped the throttle. Upon command, Grace immediately roared to life, which was followed up with a sweet soothing idle. “I’ve been asking a thousand dollars all day, but I’ll take $750 right now! I’ve got the clear title right in the glove box,” Zane proudly explained as he carefully studied the expressions on Ramone’s face. “I’m not getting much of a car for $750,” Ramone said. “The tires are all bald, and it’s all rusted out!” “That may be true,” Zane said. “But what you’re getting for your money is the engine. The Power-Glide is worth $300 dollars by itself.” By this time Ramone was rubbing the bottom of his chin with his thumb and fore finger. “He’s right,” Ramone thought as he returned his gaze back upon the neatly kept engine bay. “I can give you $500 right away.” The offer came from out of the blue like a bolt of lightning! Zane thought for a moment as Ramone studied his reaction. With a half-way grin Ramone added, “ah come on man! If I spend more than $500 my old lady will kick my ass!” Zane took a liking to the young man, and Ramone had the cash in hand. Zane decided to ‘let it go for five hundred.’ By the time the money had changed hands, the Chevy’s new owner slid behind the wheel. Ramone gently shut the driver’s side door, and for the first time he dropped the Power-Glide into low. “How am I going to get out of here with all these people?” Ramone jokingly asked through a cranked down window. Don’t worry Zane told him, “They’ll get out of your way.” Sure enough they all yielded some space. Grace slowly made her way through the throngs of visiting shoppers as Zane noticed how the chrome from her rear bumper reflected the afternoon sunlight. Zane silently watched as the old burgundy car silently disappeared into the crowd. With that, Zane turned his back and faced the blazing New Mexico sun. He closed his eyes in wonder as he looked up towards the sky. “That was one Hell of a Car,” was all he could say.
Many long years had passed since her engine and transmission were harvested. The rest of the car was literally crushed, but the powertrain was betrothed to a worthy recipient. A ’63 convertible was restored from the ground up using Zane’s old 283 as a power source. The car was a beautiful sight to behold with pearl-white metallic paint. The ivory finish was nicely accented by a sky-blue buttoned down drop top. The Low-Rider was so pristine that her tires rarely touched the street! The car had several joint owners meaning she was the Crown-Jewel of their local car club. She would only see the light of day during car shows, charity events, and parades. To signify her status as a true classic, she would be transported to events on a trailer, under a robust cover. On this occasion, she was representing her ‘vatos’ as she gently cruised down Central avenue. It was her time to shine in the Albuquerque Christmas Parade!
Zane and Renee loved a good parade, and they would always ‘set up’ early to find a good view. Renee was slightly concerned about her new husband because his silence was usually coupled with unpredictability. He stood by Renee with his hand around her waist, while Aiden sat on a blanket quietly at their feet. In a silent state of contemplation, Zane was remembering the old ways, and the old days. His mind drifted back to a time when he was still feral. It had been years since his last flea-market appearance, because by now he had discovered college. He was thinking of Charlie, who had since passed away. He thought of his small family, and how he belonged.
The young couple had only been married a short time, and they were still wrestling with Zane’s demons. He truly represented the last of a dying breed. In spite of the celebration, it was quiet in Zane’s mind. He was drifting back in time, back to last night. He had been drinking and spent most of the morning throwing up. In his drunken stupor, Zane said some hateful things. His guilty soul was still aching. By this time he was totally lost in his head, so Renee intervened by breaking the silence that existed in spite of the parade. “What are you thinking?” Renee asked in a neutral tone. Judging from the look on her husband’s face, she was unsure if he was still agitated. Much to her relief, Zane offered up a boyish smile in an effort to mask his true feelings. Zane was feeling shame, but he didn’t have the capacity to express the emotion with words. With his head hung low, Zane’s eyes looked up at Renee in a way that tugged at her very soul! Renee poked at his chest with an extended index finger and said, “I love you. You know that right?” Zane couldn’t respond with words, but his eyes said it all. He silently mouthed out the words, “I Love You Too!” Renee followed this up with a tender embrace which was meant to signify unconditional sweet forgiveness. The newlyweds were oblivious to the Low-Rider named ‘Grace.’ Nevertheless, she roared like a lion as the couple held hands. “I used to have a car like that.” Zane casually mentioned to his wife. “Really?” Renee asked with a curious smile. “You can tell us all about it once we get you home.”
Grace was finely tuned, and she sounded like music!
Fifty-Two-year-old, stay at home dad, philosopher, and recovering narcissist.