Monday, June 19, 2017


October 30, 1973
B: Jack, we’ve got to do something. Do you want to have a drink first, or do you want to do it now and get it over with?
J: What are you talking about?
B  I made a slight goof today.
J  Where?
B  Did you notice coming in the driveway that something was missing?
J  Your car?
B  Ed’s jeep.
J  The jeep? Jesus! Did you plow into it?
B  Well, I didn’t exactly plow into it. It all happened because I had too much to accomplish in not enough time. I had one eye on my watch and the other—the bad one—on my rearview mirror. I backed into the driveway’s turn space and thud! My bumper got caught on the iron thingamajig sticking out from the jeep’s rear end. It’s designed for towing, I suppose. If only I’d thought to saw the damn thing off before I got into my car, I’d have saved myself a lot of trouble.
J  You were backing out, and you plowed right into it?
B  I gently hooked into it. So I started down the driveway with my left eye turning inward as it does in times of stress.
J  It does? I never noticed that, angel.
B  So I thought, well I’ll just move away from it, and I couldn’t. It came right along with me. I stepped hard on the gas, hoping a sudden forward dash would catch it napping. Instead it increased its speed to match mine. Could I shake it by jamming on the brakes? I swear the jeep only growled and clenched its teeth more firmly. So I head out the driveway, and I keep looking in the rear view mirror, and it keeps going along behind me.
J  So where is it?
B  I drove down to the station—
J  With it on?
B Yes. It’s kind of a long story. It was swaying from side to side, with the iron bar sliding from one end of my bumper to the other. When I got to the end of the driveway, I decided to take the back roads on the trip to Westwood Center. They were more hilly but less trafficky. I turned right and heard awful grinding noises from the jeep as iron grated against steel. I headed for Lorraine Road and wondered what would happen as I started up the hill if my faithful follower decided to let go.
J  You’re making this up.
B  Going uphill I was petrified `cause I thought, suppose it lets go. It could kill somebody. I used Silva Mind Control to block out visions of a disaster like that and crept slowly along reciting the mantra. “Negative thoughts will never have an influence over me.”
J  (Still unbelieving.) The jeep was hooked onto the bumper?
B  Yes. It would sort of skate back and forth along my bumper. The thing in front of the jeep, that black iron thing, was swaying back and forth, and of course people were going by me and staring. Four hills and several heart attacks later, I edged onto High Street. My friendly Mobil Station was only a mile distant, as the turtle crawls. Truck drivers were passing me and craning their necks to gawk at my chainless tow rig. No one honked his horn. Everyone thought I was parked.
J   You drove out of here and all the way up to the station with this thing hooked onto your bumper? Did you get out at all and look to see if there was something maybe you could do, like bump it real hard and get away from it?
B  I got out when it first happened. You know how people jump up and down to separate cars when they’re locked together?
J  You tried that?
B  It didn’t budge.
J  What the hell, both cars are at the station, hooked on?
B  No, I kept my car. Bill said, “How did you manage to do this?" when I hauled my Embarrassing Problem into his station. “And how soon can you get it out of here?”
     I said, “If you could lend me a rope, maybe I could tow it home.” He said I couldn’t do it alone. I’d need someone to steer it. So Bill and a helper disengaged my car. I said I’d be coming back with a friend—that’s you, Jack—and I rushed to the bank to cover Ed’s check. They really want the jeep the hell out of there.
J  How are we going to get it the hell out of there?
B  Well uh. . . one of us could sit in it and steer . . .
J  Can’t you back into it again and bring it back?  You laugh as though you hadn’t even thought of that. Have I got any ideas about how to get that thing back here? Is that what you’re asking me? 
B  Yes.
J  I don’t wanna.
B  He said I’d need two people.
J  Somebody’s got to get in and drive it and manage the brakes?
B  You can’t drive it, but you could steer it. I hope the brakes work. I guess they do.
J  Can’t he wait till Saturday?
B  No. Maybe he could wait till morning. I just hate to get involved in towing.
J  Well, I don’t blame you.
B  In fact, that was why I did what I did, `cause I’m trying to be thrifty.
J  Well, let me have a little taste first!
B  Okay. Help yourself.
J  Help myself? You’re not doing a darn thing about it. All you’re showing me is dirty dishes.
B  Who’s supposed to solve these problems? Are you my Don Quixote or are you Don Rickles?
J  I’m working up to the windmills, Dulcinea.
B  The man said, “You’ve gotta get it out of here.”
J  Well . . . (Clears throat.) I’d say you had a problem.
B  (Clears throat.) We have a problem.
J  You’ve gotta get yourself another boyfriend.
B  I said, “Well, I have a friend that I’m seeing tonight.” And that was you.
J  I bet you they were shocked as hell to see you pull in there with this Jeep hooked onto you.
B They hardly raised an eyebrow. Maybe this wine will tell us what to do.
J  Well, we’ll get some rope, we’ll tie it on, bring it home. It’s that simple. Are they open or closed?
B I don’t know. Maybe we’ll get down there, and it’ll be buried behind three other cars.
J  I can’t get over this, Barbara.
B  What?
J  I actually can’t get over this, that you hooked onto the jeep and drove it up to the station.
B  Well, I couldn’t see going back into the house, calling up the tow people, waiting around while they got here, because I had too much to do.  As it was, I was almost late getting to the bank to cover Ed’s bounced check.
J  Nobody around here could help you?
B  I passed a man working in his yard, but at that point I was going up the hill, and I didn’t dare stop.
J  There was nobody over there at Fitzpatrick’s?
B  I don’t know what he could have done.
J  He could have jumped up and down . . . sung Sweet Sue, maybe. Jeez, you could have had a little entertainment. Hey, that’s nice wine. I go on like this. I hope you don’t mind. I’m not trying to – uh - change the subject, you know.
B  No, I don’t mind. I’m the soul of patience, which is beginning to run out, by the way.
J  So we’ll get some rope in the basement, huh?
:  There’s nothing like rose-colored glasses (filled with pink Chablis) to give a fellow a new perspective. Soon we were wandering through Ed’s basement wonderland, looking for a piece of chain or a length of rope, both of which we found hanging between a pair of clam-digging boots and a rusted ship’s lantern.
J  We drove to the Mobil Station, and I decided we didn’t need to tow the jeep. She could push while I steered. So off we went in tandem fashion. I stopped at the top of a hill to check the alignment of our bumpers.
B  I began wondering whether the jeep’s brakes worked. When I asked Jack about this, he said rose-colored glassily, “Don’t worry, if they don’t work I’ll jump out." When we got to Summer Street, where we’d have to make an left turn, Jack watched for oncoming traffic, which I couldn’t see, while I looked out for cars behind us, which he couldn’t see. First, though, we had to synchronize our signals. I said to Jack, “When I wave my hand up and down like this, it’ll mean there’s no one in back of us.”
J  I said to her, "And when I wave my hand back an forth like this, it'll mean there's no one in front of us." To the occupants of passing cars, I figured we must have looked like a pair of drunken referees.
B : We turned the corner safely, swung onto Country Lane, and it was downhill all the way. Until we turned into my driveway. A rut was all we needed to lock the thingamajig on the jeep onto my front bumper.
J  That’s when I found out how she got into this predicament in the first place. We came to a halt in the parking space next to the big pine tree. I got out and jumped on the bumpers. They remained united. I said when I caught my breath, “When I give you the signal, back up fast.”
B  Jack climbed back on the bumpers and gave me the signal. I stepped hard on the throttle but forgot to put the gear in reverse. I don’t know who was more startled when we found ourselves on the front lawn. Jack shouted, “Reverse, reverse!” I was reminded of a similar situation on our boat long ago, in which Ed was left hanging from a dock in Provincetown. I roared backwards onto the driveway with Jack clinging to the jeep with both hands. “Stop!” he shouted.
J  I didn’t mean for you to stop so suddenly. I almost fell off when you hit the brakes.
B  Sorry about that. Your solution was so clever, Jack. Who but you would have thought to climb up on the roof and use it like a trampoline? Half a dozen jumps and eureka!
J  Oh, it was nothing, really. Kind of fun, actually.
B  Then we went into the house and toasted each other. Very proud of ourselves we were.
J  All I could remember was thinking, Jesus, thank God there were no cops around.
December 17, 1973 
     Jack told me that to this day he still ends his prayers with “God bless me and make me a good boy.” “It got to be a habit,” he said. Then he gave me a hug and added, “And now He’s made me a good girl.”
     He told me about a dream he had. “You and Ed were traveling around in Sicily. I kept trying to get to see you, but I had to pretend I was just leaving or I wasn’t there. All you and Ed ever saw of me was my back. I’d stand outside the place where you were staying, hoping he’d come out so I could go in.”
     I commented to Jack that Ed can’t stand being alone, especially at night. “You’re different, you like watching sports or gardening or refinishing furniture—you enjoy your own company.”
     “I pretend I’m not there,” Jack said.

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