Eight: Dashboard Confessional
"What about this one? Do you want to try here?"
"It's up to you, Peter."
Peter glared at his father, "No, it isn't. You've made it abundantly clear that it doesn't matter what I think."
Walter looked slightly taken aback, "I do value your opinion, son."
"You said that fifteen dealerships ago," Peter growled, glaring out the window, "Turn in here, Astrid, maybe there's one in here he'll like- the needle in the haystack…"
"The other cars didn't speak to me, Peter," Walter explained as Astrid obligingly turned in to the used car lot, "well, all but for that one the did, but a female voice of that kind in my ear is terribly distracting. But if I'm going to be rushing about in search of killers and creepys, I should be able to connect with my ride."
"You're insane," Peter muttered.
"I know," Walter replied.
Astrid shook her head as she shut off the car, and they climbed out, stretching and looking bored at yet another long lot of overpriced scrap heaps. At length, they were greeted by a suited man with a strained grin too wide for his face, "Hello! Welcome to-"
"Save it," Peter snapped, "just show us some cars."
"Did you have a specific model in mind?" The dealer asked as they strode down the aisle of bumpers, "Rugged? Practical? Sporty?"
Peter looked to Walter, "Walter?"
Walter's eyes were grey as they spanned the vast sea of glinting hoods and windshields, "I don't know."
Peter blew air through his cheeks in exhaustion, "Oh, boy."
"Practical and cheap," Astrid clarified, taking Walter by the elbow to lead him onward, as he was staring at a pink balloon affixed to the antenna of a Chrysler. He gave a cry as it suddenly popped.
"Nothing with balloons!" Walter cried, frightened.
"And thus begins the safari," Peter grumbled, rubbing his eyes with his fingertips as the dealer stared in confusion.
Every car was the same. They would find a respectable model, at a decent price, and Walter would take to inspecting it, sitting in every seat, his fingers touching every knob and feature. Most would pass his tests, and he would grow steadily more excited… until disaster struck.
He would turn on the radio.
Five seconds later, he would turn it off, and declare the car void.
At last, his patience spent, Peter trapped Walter in the driver's seat of a Taurus, hissing at him, "What the hell is wrong now, Walter?"
Walter shook his head sadly, "I don't know, son. I think- I guess it's just too soon, after the Cruiser."
"Walter, it was a car," Peter said flatly.
"It was that. It was my car. I'm happy that you're alright, I really am… but I loved that car," Walter smiled with nostalgia, his eyes misting, "I bought it after you were born, you know. Because it was a family man car. Though admittedly, I slept in it a lot."
Peter heaved a sigh, "I'm sorry about the Cruiser, Walter. But we need wheels. We can't have Astrid chauffeuring us all the time, you know. And- the Cruiser was kind of ugly, you have to admit."
Walter smiled, wiping his eyes on his sleeve, "It was, wasn't it?"
Peter set his hand on his father's shoulder, "I'll tell you what. I'll get a rental for a while, and we can just keep our eyes open, okay?"
"Okay," Walter replied glumly.
"Hop out, let's get going." Peter stepped out of the way, allowing his father exodus.
"Peter," Walter said suddenly, grabbing his son's shirt front, "Wait."
"The red head," Walter whispered, staring out the windshield, "look, look."
Peter looked in the same direction, confused, "Where?"
"She's a knockout. Don't draw attention, you'll scare her away!"
Walter scrambled out of the car, straitening his collar, "I think I'm in love, son!" He beamed. Peter and Astrid looked at each other in confusion as Walter stumbled off in the direction of his staring.
"Nineteen-sixty-five Oldsmobile Town-and-Country, S model," Walter murmured, awed in the wake of the cherry-red station wagon, "She's a classy gal…"
"Oh, no. Not another tuna boat…" Peter moaned, "No, Walter, get out of there-!" Peter protested, as his father was climbing inside.
"Judging by the dash type, I'd say she's an earlier model," Walter said, running his fingers over the glossy wood-panel dash console, "Before they switched out the oak paneling for that crappy pseudo-wood that they began to install later that year… and they've replaced the interior. It doesn't have the bench seat, but there are advantages to being able to reach the back seat in a hurry, hah hah…"
"Walter, please don't tell me you've got your heart set on this one," Peter pleaded, leaning in as Walter stooped to pull up the seat adjuster, pushing his seat back and stretching his legs comfortably, "It's- it's so ugly…"
"Belly said the same thing about the Cruiser," Walter said happily, readjusting the seat. He hesitated for a few moments, and reached for the radio, clicking it on.
White noise followed, and they waited breathlessly as Walter adjusted the knob.
…Sun is shining in the sky, there ain't a cloud in sight,
It's stopped rainin', Everybody's in the play
And don't you know, it's a beautiful new day, hey…
Walter looked up at his son, wearing a grin as bright as his eyes. Peter's heart sank, and he knew defeat- his father was smitten.
…Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long- where did we go wrong?
"It's out of our price range," Peter attempted weakly
"Take it out of my paycheck," Walter answered jokingly, stroking the dashboard and looking quite taken, "Hey you, with the pretty face, welcome to the human race…" he sang along airily.
Peter looked to Astrid, who only shrugged, "Is this the one, Walter?" she grinned.
"She wants me inside her," Walter answered seriously, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, and he began to murmur to the car, "I'll take you home and make you feel beautiful…"
Peter sighed, "So, no rental," he said glumly, "why does everything in my life have to be old and busted all to hell?!"
It's really short, I know, but it had to be written. I seriously loved the Bishop-mobile, and was slightly heartbroken when it got trashed. Forgive me, as I'm a bit of a car buff, and have a passionate love for ugly station wagons. ^ ^
The song on the radio is 'Mr. Blue Sky', by ELO.