The Car This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 11, 2010
At the time I lived in a peaceful suburb of a bustling city. It was in a neighborhood with town houses perfectly replicated in lines up and down the streets. The houses were average and built for small families. I had been living in the neighborhood for about 3 years when he moved into the repo next to my home. His name was Adam Walker. He was a typical 40 something man with pale skin, dark hair, and blue eyes. When I walked to his house to greet him and welcome him into the neighborhood he seemed normal. He was slightly anxious when I arrived because the moving truck had just come by and dropped off another load of stuff. He was polite and interesting to talk to. I found out that he was divorced and had a daughter. He seemed sad when I mentioned the picture of her that he was unpacking. He and I chatted for around 20 minutes then I had to go home because I had a dinner party to attend that evening. When I was leaving his house to walk the short distance back to my house, I noticed it.
It was a horrid beast. It was huge and ugly and it sat upon the driveway like a giant bug. It seemed like it only had one purpose, which was to bother me. I hated the sight of it from the first time I saw it. People usually would tell you that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but, in my case, the book had to be judged. In case you are all wondering what this thing was, it was his car. But it wasn’t just a car; it was a horrible monstrosity. From the first time I saw it I hated it. I realized that I had an irrational hatred for his car. It was a painful reminder of my childhood. My family used to own an old station wagon that looked similar to his car. It looked like an old station wagon that was brought into the 21st century. It had the body of a station wagon but the color of a silver dollar. He maintained the car well; however, the shape of the car was despicable. There are no words to describe how much I hated this car. In retrospect, I guess my hatred of the car wasn’t all that irrational. It reminded me of those long hot car rides in the summer with the uncomfortably itchy fabric interior. My family took our old station wagon on every horrible family vacation and road trip, and this car reminded me of those times.
As I walked home I slowed my pace and took it all in. I examined the lines of the car, its shape and the color. How clean my new neighbor kept the car was also noted. I peered into the window and examined the interior for a fleeting moment. It looked exactly like the interior of the car my family once owned. Later that night, at the dinner party, it was all I could think about. It constantly dominated my thoughts and the moment I would forget about it, it would reappear. Later that night when I attempted to sleep it was also in my dreams. At one point I awoke in a cold sweat because I had a dream that I actually owned one.
The next day I went to talk to Adam again. I wanted more information about him. I was trying to find out his motives for purchasing the car. It was easy because he and I are men and there is nothing more manly than talking about cars. As I knocked on his door I started to prepare my sentences to manipulate the conversation in the direction I wanted it to go. He answered the door in an old t-shirt and work jeans. Typical attire of a guy who was just moving in. The conversation was kind of awkward at first but then I brought up the car. He raved about the car. He said it was amazing. He said that the hemi engine was a match made in heaven for the car. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How could he even begin to rave about that stupid car? It is an atrocious addition to the automotive industry. He went on and on about the car for upwards of an hour. He even had me test drive it. My fingers burned when they touched over polished steering wheel. All I could do was keep a neutral face and pretend to have some emotion when he pointed out something worth mentioning. Although that didn’t happen often. Sure, the engine was pretty and shiny and clean but I really had no respect for the man and his car after he went on about it for an hour.
One day, years later, his ex-wife dropped by and demanded something of Adam. This was about 5 years after he had moved in and started his new life. I happened to be having dinner with him and a couple of other neighborhood friends when she pounded on the door. She seemed sensible and probably played the role of homemaker when they were married. Then a thought had hit me. The question burned in my mind. Why did he even consider buying the car in the first place? Any logical person wouldn’t even think about purchasing something so horrid. It crept into my mind. He bought the car in spite of his wife. She would have never let him do something so reckless when they were married, so that’s why he bought it after their divorce. His whole personality made sense after this one fleeting moment of thought and reflection. After his ex left we finished our beers and went home.
That was the last I ever saw of Adam Walker. The next day a moving van appeared on the street, filled up, and drove away. I was slightly shocked and upset because yes, he had a horrible car, but he was also a great neighbor. I walked back to my car and drove. My old car was on its last limb. The cracked leather seats needed to be replaced and the rickety old engine groaned every time I started the car. I didn’t think about where I was driving until I arrived. I walked inside the dealership and purchased the car. His car. The car that had haunted my thoughts for five years.





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