Cee Neuner’s photo prompt this week instantly took me to the following story (I know it’s not a photo post but it was a very powerful prompt for me.)Read more: Things people drive
My brother was an audacious risk-taker, behaviour that would later trigger his descent into alcoholism, drug abuse and financial ruin. As a teen, he was a courageous rule breaker who rarely experienced consequences.
He was infuriated that my father refused him access to the shiny new Corvette Stingray that sat in our driveway, evoking thoughts of top-speed drives on the un-patrolled back roads that spread in tantalizing spokes from the edge of our hometown.
My brother found what would become a legendary solution.
Our parents away, and our middle-aged babysitter entrusted with the Corvette keys, my 17-year-old brother enlisted a friend to help him execute a plan. The two bought a set of white, auto body shop coveralls and had the uniform store sew the name of the Chevrolet dealer on the pocket.
It later surprised no one that my brother convinced the store he was an after school employee of the Chevy dealer and needed replacement coveralls. He lied that he didn’t want to jeopardize his first job – or incur his father’s wrath – by admitting he’d lost his uniform.
Kitted out as a local Chev Olds employee, the friend showed up at our back door early one morning, clipboard in hand, receipt book at the ready, seeking consent. He told Neecy, the babysitter, that our father pre-arranged some maintenance for the car and had asked the dealer to pick it up.
Neecy, momentarily uncertain, said she needed to call his boss. The friend handed over a business card with the dealer name in the correct color and font, and a manager’s phone number. Neecy called and (oh you would know the answer to this part of the story by now) reached the manager, my brother, successfully disguising his voice.
I actually witnessed part of this doorstep transaction, unaware anything was out of order. My brother’s thoroughly thought-out scheme used a friend unknown to me or our little sister, who might have blurted out a greeting to someone she’d seen before.
The friend looked the part, down to the grease under his nails. The only thing I wondered as he got in the Stingray was whether he was an experienced enough driver to avoid the dent or scratch that would enrage my dad. I watched the car nose slowly down our long driveway and turn sedately into traffic, concluding all was fine.
Somewhere downtown, the friend turned the car over to my brother, who drove it quickly out of the city for a back country face-off with friends driving family station wagons or long-nosed sedans. He won that race.
Years later, he told me he pushed the car past 140 m.p.h. for a considerable distance on a two-lane road. I saw a photo once of the gang of them, stopped at the edge of a farmer’s field on that crisp, bright morning, arms around each other, laughing crazily over the hood of my father’s car.
The Corvette was gone from our driveway for a week. My brother’s friend, again in uniform, politely returned it to Neecy one afternoon.