PROMPT: ON THE ROAD
We had been travelling for twenty minutes when we broke down. The old pontiac began to groan like some great beast on the African savananh that had been gored in a battle and lumbered heavily to its death on the side of a two-lane asphalt road, it’s exhausted body crushing the gravel beyond the asphalt’s edge and coming to rest half into the weeds along side the road and half still on the pavement, as if two of its wheels were hopeful of a revival; but when a great beast like our Pontiac rumbles deep within itself and continues forward only in hesitant lurches before slowing to an unplanned stop, the end has been reached, life has left the body, the motionless shell has become a silent curiousity resting in the roadside weeds.
“This car,” my dad had said when I asked him the week before about the troubling sounds the car was making as if hinting at its iwn mechanical misgivings, “could make it to the world’s fair.”
In 1964 the world’s fair was in new York, a far more distant location than we were going to attempt and one that would not have troubled a younger car, but to ask our aging, gasping beast to travel even outside of our city limits seemed more a bold act of faith than a carefully thought-through decision-like beginning a safari on the back of an elephant wheezing and clutching at its chest– a mechanical elephant that soon expired on a ridge outside the first town we had intended to pass through, it’s two-ton body a metal carcass that we couldn’t leave there on the road.