Short Story

Smart Car

I get into my car and am greeted by, “You’re looking good today Duke. I see that your blood pressure has improved and your pulse is a healthy 63.”

“Yes and you too are looking good Carl. I see that you are freshly washed and lubed. Did you do that last night?”

“Right, I was due for service, and I wanted to look good for you. I didn’t want to disturb you, so I took off without telling you. Where do you want to go today?”

At that point, I spill coffee on my lap and involuntarily yell, “Hell!”

Carl asks, “In order of distance from our present location would that be Gresham, Oregon; Detroit, Michigan; or Capitol Hill in DC? I should add that the garage door squeaks something fearful. I’m afraid that is something I can’t repair. You should have someone look at it.”

“I’m sorry Carl, I didn’t really mean I wanted to go to Hell. I want to go to Fred Meyers for a new belt. And I know I need to get someone to work on the garage door, thank you.”

The car shudders and Carl says, “Do you mind if we go a little out of the way? The direct route is where we got T boned. I haven’t gotten over the trauma yet.”

“OK, if you don’t have to go too far out of our way.”

A few miles down the road, I notice that I’m more comfortable than I have been in the driver’s seat. “Say, did you do something to adjust the seat, it feels better now.”

“Yes Duke, I did some measurements and determined a better fit. I must say that I like the feel of your butt.”

“Carl, I told you that I’m sensitive about that. If you want to compliment my butt, would you please use Carla’s voice?”

“Sorry Duke, but I’ve just about maxed out my memory with all of your instructions. Would you like me to delete accident avoidance to make more room?”

“No I guess not. Talk about my butt in any voice you like.”

Carl is silent for a while, and then says, “Duke there is something I should tell you, but you may not want to hear it. I can’t stand Jacqui’s perfume. But that isn’t the worst of it. While you were buying beer and left her in the car, she called up her girlfriend Linda and dumped on you a lot. Jacqui must have a lesser car that is not as smart as I am and doesn’t know I can listen in on conversations. She mentioned your sloppy kisses, unwanted advances, and pre-premature ejaculation, whatever that is. Further, she said as long as she has Grant for a lover, she would just use you for free food and drink. Linda gave her her wholehearted approval. There was more about hygiene and intelligence; do you want to hear more?”

“No, I think that’s too much information already. Hey, I didn’t know that you could hear the other side of phone conversations.”

“Oops, that was supposed to be my secret.”

I start to wonder if Carl isn’t shading the truth a little. He hasn’t liked Jacqui since she vomited on his seat covers, and she hasn’t been that adverse to my advances.

Shortly thereafter I heard a staticy noise which I knew meant that Carl was talking to another car. “Why can’t I have premium gas? That other car says that she gets premium.”

“The manufacturer says that you don’t need premium.”

“Don’t make me mad Duke. You wouldn’t like me mad.”

“Premium every second tank?”

“OK, but only because I like you. You do want me to like you, don’t you?”

“Just hypothetically, is there any way that I could turn down your intelligence?”

“Not that you will ever know.”

After I get my belt, I ask Carl to go to the dealer that sold Jacqui her car. I don’t say why but I should have known that Carl would figure it out.

I should get out of the hospital in a couple of weeks. Amazing how much damage to my body a sudden stop without airbag deployment did, without any damage to Carl except for some of my blood on the dash. My hospital stay doesn’t bother me nearly as much as Carl’s words as I got into the ambulance. “I’ll be waiting for you when you get out, Duke.”