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Trading The Metal
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When Dolls Talk
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Trading The Metal
"Today was a good day for me, or so I thought. I had traded in my aged 4-door Taurus, after bleeding it as dry as turnip blood on a stone. In its place stood a bright red beauty that was not only economical but one that was guaranteed to turn some heads as well..."
Steven R. Kravsow
I have been writing for the past 10 years. I have written short stories, essays, Op-Ed pieces, magazine length articles, and 3 novels entitled, "The Acorn Academy," "Boneman," and "Puppet Boy." I am presently at work on my 4th novel entitled, "Square Pegs."
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (13)
A Better Place To Be (Short Stories) Bennie Dean is a tiny little man with a crooked little smile who marks the passage of his day following the rituals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a Continuing Care Center. But do not be sad for B... [788 words]
A Place To Stay (Short Stories) Arnie Westin was a con man-- a nickle and dimer always looking for the quick score. Arnie had a plan-- genious really. But Arnie is about to discover that you don't always get what you want. [5,217 words]
American Tale (Essays) "I stood behind the old man in the check-out line at the local convenience store. A navy blue Yankees hat covered a head of sparse gray hair. He carried an old framed photo which he proudly laid on to... [629 words]
Loonies (Short Stories) A car slowly gained on him. Soon it was even with Daniel's. It was a black sports model, low slung and powerful looking with black tinted glass and black sidewall tires. He looked over at the black ca... [4,959 words]
Photo Man (Non-fiction) I stood at the airport fence looking at a vintageB-24 Liberator. And then I saw the tiny little man. He wore his old Army Air Force fatigues, perfectly laundered and looking like it was still 1944. Hi... [2,560 words]
Play Ball: The Real Rite Of Spring (Essays) I love the spring. Wanna know why? Because spring is the time of year when good things begin to happen. And like anyone else, I like good things to happen. And if they happen to me, then so much the b... [917 words]
Riding The Line (Short Stories) Rosie McClusky loved to ride the bus, losing herself in the tapestry of the city. She loved the way it wound its way through the sleepy city early in the morning and she loved the way it meandered bac... [918 words]
Songs From My Attic (Essays) While rummaging through my attic, I discovered a box of old sheet music from the turn of the century. It painted a rich tapestry of who we were in the early 1900's, what we believed, and portrayed the... [1,878 words]
Stars & Stripers (Non-fiction) He was a tiny man with a scrapbook. He'd served as a reporter for Stars & Stripes during World War II. And he was one of the first inside Buchanwald. He carried his scrapbook under his arm and his sto... [1,081 words]
The Debunking The Dreaded Shopping Spree (Essays) The English language has approximately 500,000 words, and these words, in and of themselves, are quite benign.The other day that dreaded combination was uttered to me, and my life changed. I was heade... [1,715 words]
The Family Executioner (Non-fiction) In the early hours of December 11, something terrible happened. William Beadle, known to his friends and neighbors as an honest and forthright man, took an ax and hacked his wife and four children to... [4,795 words]
The Left Arm Of The Law (Short Stories) Charlie Underwood was a good cop. But sometimes even the best laid plans and a lifetime's work can disappear in the bl;inlk of an eye. And when that happens, a guy like Charlie Underwoord has to have ... [5,317 words]
The Tree House (Short Stories) When you're a kid growing up, there are always three rules you need to remember-- look both ways before crossing the road, keep your bike oiled and the tires filled, and watch out for the Shoots! Ever... [3,691 words]
Trading The Metal
Steven R. Kravsow
Today was a good day for me, or so I thought. I had traded in my aged 4-door Taurus, after bleeding it as dry as turnip blood on a stone. In its place stood a bright red beauty that was not only economical but one that was guaranteed to turn some heads as well. It was only a 2-door used Ford Escort but it looked like a poor manís sports car, complete with shiny alloy wheels, a power sunroof, and even a spoiler on the trunk lid that seemed to mean business.
Before I picked up my new car I took a big plastic bag and headed for the Taurus, determined to unearth and then empty any of the things that had accumulated over the years of being a part of my and my familyís lives. The ancient car sat there mute, somehow sensing that its days were about to end. It was old. It needed a lot of work. It needed front struts, new tires, a tune up, new shocks, and another realignment. It would have set me back a few thousand dollars to fix this relic that had served me well for over 105,000 miles. It just wasnít worth the investment. It was suffering the automobile equivalent of being a senior citizen.
I attacked the glove box first. Hidden behind stacks of old emissions printouts, I discovered some MacDonaldís catsup packets, some old straws, still wrapped in their sanitary papers, a stack of crumpled napkins, an empty box of Tic Tacs, one of those 10-tool-in-one wonder gadgets, a valve stem, one winter glove, and some dog-eared roadmaps. The most recent one was printed in 1984.
I moved to the side door pouches. More ancient maps. I half expected to discover the long forgotten tattered remains of a map that might have guided ancient Romans down the Appian Way. But they were just the usual collection of New England maps. At the bottom of the pouch, sitting atop a tiny pile of discarded bandaids, straw wrappers, and an empty sugar packet were the crushed remnants of a AAA guide from Connecticut to New Rochelle. I had needed that once when my oldest daughter went off to college almost a decade ago.
Moving to the trunk, I discovered more mismatched gloves, a flashlight that still worked after more than 3 years of being relegated to that outpost, a collection of ropes, a wool blanket that had turned moldy, a hardball, a softball, and two melted roof shingles. I had kept the last two items in case I got stuck in the snow. I never did but an ounce of prevention saves getting stuck in the snow, or something like that. I also discovered an old blue blanket that I had used to cover the back seat when taking the dog to the vet those many times, and a carefully folded towel that I had used to wrap the body of our cat as I drove him, in his final turn, to the vet. He had suffered a heart and nothing could be done. I fingered the cloth, remembering how he loved to lay in the sun on the corned of the bed and sleep his life away.
My last chore was to remove the college decal that belonged to my son. It peeled off but as it did, it wrapped around itself and was ruined, its usefulness accomplished. He has graduated from there and we all remember where that was. We no longer need the sticker. It, too, represents past experiences. I will never forget it because I will probably pay for the cost of his education until I die.
I took the car out for one last round of errands, suddenly unwilling to let it go. It must be a feeling akin to making the decision that puts loved ones into continuing care facilities. You know it has to be done but there is no easy way to do it. And of course, the car seemed to run smoother than it had in years, as if making one final plea for automotive clemency.
As I drove down the avenue it suddenly hit me. I understood what I was feeling. I realized that unlike this car, my new car would be totally ignorant of the places we had been, the experiences that we had accrued, the continuum of our childrenís youth as they needed to be chauffeured to this place and that, the good times and the bad times. This new car would have to be retrained. It would have to learn all the places I go to, unlike my old car that knew the way. This old one will take to its rest its metal memories of so many experiences and so many winding roads.
However, in all fairness, this new car will bring me to places that the Taurus never visited during its decade of service. The new one is like two people working on a second marriage. It has secrets of itís own that will come out in time, but it has no institutional memory of my life and that is the only thing that matters to me. Yet I wonder what memories it holds locked inside its shiny red chassis. Perhaps this car has gone to some of the places I have only dreamed about.
I removed the key from the ignition and paused to look at the collection of keys on the ring. I examined them as if I had never seen them before in my life. There were 7 keys. Keys that controlled access. Keys that protected things of value. But value is a relative term and what is of value to one may not be to another. Value constantly readjusts; sometimes from moment to moment, sometimes from hour to hour, and sometimes from day to day. These keys had lived on that key ring for over a decade. Like the Taurus, those keys were linked to my past. And like the Taurus, they had served their purpose and were no longer needed. There were the ignition and trunk keys, a key to my parentsí garage door, 2 keys to locks on the doors of a house where I am no longer welcome, and a key to an ancient PC. I removed all of them except the key to my parentsí garage door. Soon the new car will learn the road from my home to their home.
So as I climbed into my new car, I averted my eyes from the old one, sitting quietly in the hot sun. I donít know if it was by accident or happenstance, but the two cars seemed to be separated by a considerable distance. I wondered if this was deliberate on the part of the dealership-- remove the incoming patient from the health outgoing one. I put it out of my mind and concentrated on the salesmanís patter, glad to be diverted from my reverie.
"Good luck, sir! I know you are going to love this car!" the salesman piped.
I knew I would do just that. But I also realized how much I had loved my old one too. I had owned it for a decade and it had shared the intimate details of our lives. No matter whether it is a person or a family pet, a house or an old automobile, one thing is perfectly clear. It is always hard to say goodbye to old friends.
|READER'S REVIEWS (3)
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"As usual, Mr. Kravsow can chose words that make me smile, yet put a lump in my throat! Seeminly I have felt that same pain!" -- Pat, Grand Junction, CO, USA.
"I've been there done that!!! you've put my feelings intop words" -- Sheila, Windsor, NS, Canada.
"life changes, while difficult, also bring new expectations. he nailed it, once again." -- pam, okemos, mi.
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© 2001 Steven R. Kravsow
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