This old car was bought in a basement sale at an auction house, many moons ago. The idea was to restore it to its former glory, just for the fun of it and for the fact that its cuteness would be endless. So when we got it home it went into the outdoors basement, until we could pencil in the time to start that project. Well, pencils must have been very thin on the ground in the house back then, as that project never seemed to make the list nor see the light of day – much like the battle scarred, cutie pie, back then boy racer, type car. No, it got buried beneath rolls of insulation and old Tiffany shades, hemmed in by bags of cement that had gone as hard as the hob of Hell, kept, obviously, in case Hell ever wanted them back …… for repairs or maybe an extension, for who hasn’t heard that the whole world is going to Hell, now that screams to me of Hell needing to build – needing good hard bags of cement.
I remembered the car , one morning during lockdown, from a dream, perhaps – it was on my mind all day and into the next. I finally went down and rooted it out amidst the Devil’s own building supplies and Beelzebub’s torturous insulation. There it was, the trampled and humbled boy racer of the roaring 20s.
After a good wash and scrub I hoisted it up the stairs to the room on the top floor, and left it there.
The lockdown we went through, as a nation, was most unusual, it suited me, to be honest, lots of time to work, endless days of sunlight coming into the studio, no distractions, or appointments, or racing, or running. But it did not suit everyone, as nothing ever will. The over 70s were told to cocoon and for many, that meant isolation in its truest form. I had been away for months prior to the pandemic and made it home just before lockdown. As a result I had not seen my mom in months and was feeling the regret of that and a real desire to do so.
I woke one morning with a fuzzy memory but as the basement was filling up quickly with hundreds and thousands of fuzz inducing empty wine bottles, this was not too….uncommon. But this morning in particular it was the red car that I had foggy and obscure memories of. A dream of driving it up the motorway, to my mom’s house, peddling like blazes, my knees banging off my chest and I can distinctly remember thinking how happy I was that I had worn shorts. I was quite chuffed with my choice of driving attire, as I would not be a pool of a perspiring fool, when I got to her house, 100km away.
The back of the car was full of flowers, this seemed to be my cargo, my delivery, my mission, they were not there before but now I could see them. But then I could also see a police checkpoint looming ahead and I remember thinking “could I out peddle them”, or, at least, out manoeuvre them by peddling up on the grass banks and around them, laughing hysterically and yelling “suckers” But I must have listened and adhered to dream reason, for I stopped in front of the Guard. The Guard asked me where I thought I was going and did I not know that there was a lockdown in place and what was I doing out, she then produced a breathalyser bag and asked me to blow into it. I remembered a story from an Irish comedian, Neil Delamare, he said he got stopped at an Army checkpoint, going into the North of Ireland, during the troubles. A soldier knocked on his window with the nose of his rifle and Neil just sat there and in a high pitched, theatrical voice said “Who is it”
This is now me, I can hear myself repeating this over and over to the Guard – “Who is it ….Who is it”
My last memory is of my knees firing up again, like the Titanic’s pistons and the Guard yelling after me “not to dilly dally when I get there and to return home immediately”
That was it, and it remained with me until I went out into the garden and cut the biggest peonies I could find. I looked around the kitchen and took the brightest vase I had. I pulled out some of the richest fabrics I kept and I went up to the top floor to put all the elements together as a gift, for my mom, to help us both through lockdown.
Then I sat there and looked at it, and I waited,
For the sun to set on my little theatre.