Short Story

Smart Car 20

New Year, Smart Cars 2090

“Wow, this is big. Look at all the people.”
“I see Dr. Box over there. He’s the one that got Carl and I over our problems when I thought we might kill each other.”
Dr. Box saw them first and rolled over. A crooked wheel gave him an odd wobble. “Hi Duke, who is your beautiful companion who is out of your league”?

“I’m Sheila, and you shouldn’t talk like that. If you shrank Duke and Carl, you should know how insecure Duke is.”
“What, robo shrinks can’t joke? Believe, I wasn’t joking about how lucky he is to be with you. Is this a real deal?”
Sheila laughs “I finally proposed to Duke and we did get yoked, but he still thinks that he isn’t good enough for me. Maybe he isn’t, but I can’t back out now.”

Dr. Box wondered “I hear Whimsy will be entertaining later. I’m not sure that I know much about them. I’m so old, I still like whale songs – and they haven’t been big for twenty years.”
“I think that you will enjoy them. Sheila is a part of Whimsy. It is the biggest Indonesian Chant group now.”
“It’s time for me to roll. I love listening in on humans and hearing how absurd they are. Not referring to you two.”

Sheila and Duke together “See you later, take care.”
“I see your old ‘boyfriend’ Roy. No reason to avoid him, he’s avoiding us.”
“Boyfriend? He wished. The bastard tried to sabotage Deuce because I told him to buzz off when he hit on me, but we fixed him. It all worked in our favor. Turning my formerly dumb 1969 Dodge Charger smart was good news for us, and my threats against his car have kept him away from me, much to my enjoyment.”

“How are Josie and Carl doing? I’m glad they held this at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds where both people and their cars could celebrate. You’re taller Duke, can you see them?” 
“There are so many cars out there it is hard to spot them. It seems the cars are ignoring their people because they don’t get many chances to hang out in groups like this. Oh, there is Deuce. He decided to mess with the other cars by switching his camouflage back and forth from 2067 Ford Mustang to 2077 Chevrolet Jet. Remember when he couldn’t appear in public as himself because he was an antique that used fossil fuel? With all the retrocars from our friend Eugene Springfield, he probably could have shown up undisguised.”

“How about Carl and Josie?”
“They promised to keep it low key and sedately hold extensions. Those two are the horniest cars I’ve ever seen. If Carl is behaving as he usually does, he’s trying to impress the other cars by talking bad British from our trip in the Emerald Isles. You know, ‘bloody hell’, ‘car park’ and ‘windscreen’ for windshield. When he starts that Josie, and all the cars try to ignore him.”

“Maybe he gets that from the stories you tell, and tell, and tell.”
“Hey, I just spotted Eugene Springfield. What’s he doing here?”
“Happy New Year Duke and Sheila. Let me guess, you are wondering why I came down from Seattle.”
“That’s right, why is our favorite billionaire slumming down here?” Sheila wondered.

“Even though Seattle is so much better than Portland” he grinned, “it so happens that the Portland area has a better car turnout for New Years. I’m curious about how many of them are my retrocars. It looks like about 30%. Retrocars like the classic 1969 Charger of yours are booming. I’ll probably make another billion, even though Elon’s grandson XYZ is competing with me. I’m looking at how to use it best. Maybe African infrastructure or Indian agriculture. Excuse me, I’ve got to find Medford and Linn before Whimsy goes on. Keep on rocking tonight and the whole year Duke, and especially my retrocar partner Sheila.”

“Say hi to your son and wife from Duke and I.”
After Eugene leaves, Duke tells Sheila “You know as much as I like Christmas, since it goes on for nine months, I prefer the one-day New Year.”
“I agree, Christmas is fatiguing.”
“Woo-hoo, I just spotted your old boyfriend Shane, now Governor Shane, with my sort of old girlfriend Jane.”

“So much has changed in a hundred years. A guy with his heritage from every major ethnic group sporting ‘gayface*’ who appealed to the lgbtqiadg and bdsm crowd would not have been elected here in the 1900s. Add to that, Jane is openly known as ‘main kink’ rather than first lady. You said you could only take a few hours of Jane at a time without a few days to heal.”

“Just remembering it brings tears to my eyes in a bad way.”
“Duke, I’ve got to go join the rest of Whimsy for the concert.”
“Are you going to close with ‘Good Times’ again? We are so fortunate to have born after the pandemic and other catastrophes of the early 2000s, plus we have the ‘shrooms to enhance the New Years’ experience.”

Come midnight the organically stoned crowd ‘oohs’ after singing along with ‘Good Times’ as the technical wizards color the sky orange with purple crosshatching.

* Feigning homosexuality for some advantage.