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Cars Crash, Neighbors Gossip
August 4th, 2017
“Did you hear?”
“Oh it’s such a shame.”
“Oh just tell me!” Sarah cried, practically twitching with impatience. Her old friend Mel, who was harboring the news, made a shifted glance at the house next door. Sarah turned around in her patio chair and froze in shock.
“What’s happened?” she didn’t bother to return her attention to her friend, not a single part of her believed her eyes were working properly; Dan Soles, a man filled with pride and ego, was placing the trophies he spoke of so fondly on the curb with the trash. With a sigh of disbelief, Sarah added, “What is he doing?” in a bit of a mumble.
“It’s Harry,” Mel said. The worst was to come, and Sarah knew, because when she turned around to look at Mel, she saw an expression that could only show sadness and empathy.
“Harry Soles?” what an ignorant question she thought to herself, who else? What other Harry?
October 6th, 2007
“What is that?” Abby asked, a laugh escaping in excited fragments.
“I don’t exactly know.” Dan smiled, stepping away from the driveway. “I would call it a sleazy mess with wheels.” he admitted, coming over to stand beside her, admiring the broken muscle car proudly.
“Well why is it here?” his wife asked, an amused smirk climbing onto her face.
“I bought it.”
“You bought it?”
“Yes.” Dan looked away with high hopes that she wouldn’t get upset. They had just moved into a real home so that their son, Harry, could have his own room liked he’d talked about since starting fourth grade a month ago; money was no longer tight.
“That thing shouldn’t be allowed on the streets,” she joked, to his relief. “It should be illegal to drive!” and soon the teasing was relentless. “How did you even get it here?” Abby managed to ask in between quips.
As the couple continued to speak on the lawn, Harry Soles pressed his nose against the glass door from inside, watching with a curious stare. He wished he could read lips so he knew what was going on. Placing his hands on the door on either side of his head, he leaned in closer; his cheek squished against the glass.
Harry let out a dramatic groan, feeling as though he had waited for hours on end. He pulled his face away from the glass and tilted his head for a better look at the driveway. The excitement of something new took over, he was bouncing on his toes by the time he noticed his father waving at him to come outside. With a bright smile, he struggled with the rusted lock, and eventually, padded out onto the front lawn.
“Can you believe it?” Dan yelled, pointing at the car.
“What is it?” Harry asked, taking small steps around it, as if examining every inch.
“What kind?” a muffled voice asked; Dan jogged to the other side of the car to find Harry dangling with his feet out the window of the front seat.
“Getting a feel for the inside, huh?” Dan said, ignoring his son’s question and feeling relieved when Harry didn’t ask again. He was supposed to know it all, as a parent, and unfortunately he knew absolutely nothing about this impulse buy. “Well I thought we could fix it up together.” he told Harry, who in turn jumped from the car and smiled.
“Alright let’s get inside.” Abby called, already near the door. Dan stopped as he reached his wife, questioning the look on her face.
“What?” he asked.
She laughed while asking, “Since when have you ever fixed an old muscle car?”
“Well, My dad used to-”
“Mhm.” she hummed and headed inside after their nine year old, who was probably already wreaking havoc. Dan knew she found it all funny, but he planned on finishing this project because if anything it gave him his childhood back.
March 12th, 2013
“Thank you to everyone that came to the car show today.” An announcer smiled at the gathering crowd; many were leaving the line of cars to stand around the stage on the Ocean City boardwalk. “Now that second place has accepted their prize, it’s time to pick the real winner!” the crowd erupted.
This was a scene that Harry and Dan Soles have come to love being a part of. After six years, the ‘sleazy mess’ that sat in their driveway went through a lot of changes. Within the first year of restoration the car was a mystery. Dan would pretend he knew ‘that metal thing’ from ‘this metal thing’ and Harry would nod along with uncertainty. Year number two was filled with many trips to Grandpa’s house for advice and year three they had both given up. By the end of year four, the duo had a running 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS (Super Sport) 454 (they had even learned the name).
“You think we have a chance?” Harry whispered to his dad, glancing nervously behind him at the ‘67 Chevy Impala he thought was their biggest competitor.
“‘Course we have a chance, we won last weekend in Atlantic City.”
“We got third that time.” Harry groaned, watching the announcer fumble with the score card.
“Here we go.” Dan’s eyes glued to the stage, he was nearly holding his breath.
Harry watched the announcers chubby fingers on the card in anticipation. Oh, c’mon he thought.
“Dan and Harrold Soles with their 1970 Chevy Chevelle Super Sport 454” a thousand pounds of weight lifted from the pair’s shoulders, this was their fourth win with the car. Harry was so excited that he forgot to scold his father for entering his name as Harrold when they entered the car in the contest.
The announcer begins to describe the car in all it’s glory. It was recently changed from blue paint to bright red, yet preserving the original black stripes on the hood of the car. An eye catcher on any street, drive, or lane, and that was guaranteed.
All eyes turned to find the winning car while Dan and Harry found their way to the trophy they won along with an envelope of money. Dan reached for the envelope first and instantly started sputtering ideas of how to update the car even more. Harry placed his hands on either side of the trophy and lifted it up, trying to carefully run after his dad who walked with a hop in his step.
Handshakes and pats on the back were given from many as the two made their way from the crowd. Knowing they could come back to move the car when the boardwalk had less people, they headed down a ramp and began the walk back to the hotel they were staying in.
“Mom is gonna love that.” Harry nodded towards the envelope in his dad’s hand.
“Yeah, i’ll bet.” Dan laughed.
“Where can we fit this?”
“‘Course.” Harry knew the mantle couldn’t hold any more trophies or nick-nacks if it wanted to.
“Maybe we could buy a case for it,” pausing briefly, “or a shelf?” Dan suggested.
“One Lucy can’t get to.” Harry chimed in, smiling at the thought of bringing his new baby sister another shiny thing to look at. She was born just last year and took a particular interest in the trophies he and Dan brought home; the weird thing was how much she disliked being around the car, crying any time she was within a few feet.
“You turn sixteen soon?” Dan mentioned after a few blocks of comfortable silence.
“Couple of months.” Harry beamed.
“You get a permit at sixteen right?” Harry nodded in response “And a license at seventeen?” he followed with another nod. “I think you’ve already got your car.”
Harry’s eyes grew wide, “What? Really?”
August 3rd, 2017
The clock on Harry’s phone read just after 12am and the one on the wall of the Soles’ kitchen had been frozen at 8pm for years.
With a quick stop for a gatorade at the fridge, and a smile at the shelf that held the Chevy’s many trophies, Harry headed towards the front door. He stumbled over two of Lucy’s toys in the dark foyer and caught himself just in time to avoid waking everyone up; it’s the last thing he want’s to do at this moment.
Catching his breath, Harry grabs his keys and wiggles the rusted lock on the front door, making sure he doesn’t pull too hard incase the handle squeaks like it often does. When he finally gets outside, he locks the door behind him and pads over to the garage. He presses the button on his keys and the mechanic sound of the garage door rising makes him shiver. It was a normally quiet sound but somehow, this late, it was the equivalent of thunder. The feeling you get when turning on the shower early in the morning while everyone sleeps.
Suddenly, as though his heart hadn’t been pounding hard enough, the phone rings a shrill sound into the summer night that nearly knocks him over.
“What?” Harry yells in a whisper at his phone, having just answered the call with a shaky hand.
“Woah, okay, no need to be hostile.” his friend joked from the other end of the call.
“I’ll be there in a minute.” Harry grumbled, hurrying into the Chevelle.
Harry hangs up the phone and starts to back out of the driveway, passing his Toyota on the way out. Abby reasoned with him for a more sensible car come the start of college within this month; he could leave his muscle car here. The thought didn’t sit right with him, and one more contest for the old thing seemed like a perfect way to end with a bang. If he was going to end up driving a Toyota and becoming a lawyer then he deserved at least one more adventure in his car, the car, before it all happened.
August 4th, 2017
After Dan had placed the boxes of trophies on the curb, stared for a few silent moments, and headed back inside, Sarah pulled her full attention back to Mel.
“What happened to Harry?” Sarah spoke with a voice woven in sorrow, she had lived next door to the Soles family since they moved in when Harry was just nine years old.
“Oh they found that bright red car of his, from the 70’s, you know?” Mel began to explain, Sarah nodded, knowing the car all too well. “It was totaled, horrible mess, found it this morning.”
“Who found the car?” Sarah nodded in response.“Well, Dan couldn’t find Harry, or the car, and called the police. They went looking.” Mel told her. She was stuck, jaw adjacent, in horror.
“He was only eighteen.”
“And nineteen tomorrow, can you believe it?” Mel shook her head and looked at her lap in mourning.
“How was it totaled? Do you know any details?”Sarah pressed.
“All I know is that the car was to the point of flames, and they found someone in the front seat,” She let out a sigh “It’s terrible. The DNA tests aren’t done but it’s Harry’s car, so they’re sure it’s him.”
“They can’t tell?”
“The damage was bad.”
The two ladies sat in silence and only the bark of a dog disturbed them. They watched a women walk down the street, following the dog with a leash; she stopped to look curiously at the box of Dan and Harry’s trophies, but moved on soon enough.
“You can stay here as long as you like, I’m going to give Abby and Dan my condolences.” Sarah told Mel, rising from her chair and shivering from the news.
“Oh sure,” Mel agreed, seeming out of it, “wish them well for me!” she added as Sarah went inside.
As per usual, Sarah went over to the side door of her house to get outside; it was best door to use to get to her neighbors house considering all you had to do was walk around the house corner to get to the Soles’ house.
Sarah grabbed at the door handle, twisting with her hand and noticing how clammy they had gotten under the stress of the news. With a tug at the door, which usually got caught in the frame, Sarah looked up from her keys and practically fell over in fear.
“Miss Hill, I need help.” Harry cried, tears running down his cheeks.