by Josh Chambers
art by Clayton Luce
Barreling down Route 2 from Concord, Massachusetts to Boston. Twenty miles. We were headed to the 1999 New England International Auto Show at the Bayside Expo Center. Cruising in my friend’s SUV, we were smoking remarkable amounts of kush, 311’s My Stoney Baby is blasting on the stereo, and the acid is starting to creep up on me.
I was 16 years old and had a night off from delivering pizza. What else was there to do?
We get to Alewife Station in Cambridge and take the subway in to town from there. Parking’s cheap and we didn’t have navigation systems back then. It was easier to train it for a buck. A few stops before we get to our destination I’m staring at the floor of the subway and having the time of my life. The black hard rubber floor had these white parts of rubber strewn out within the black, giving it a smokey kind of look.
As I’m watching this intently, the white begins to rise up out of the black and slides along down through the subway. I watch as it approaches the feet of a couple of middle aged Japanese businessmen with black suits on. I feel like I’m being watched all of sudden. I make eye contact with the Japanese men and realize that they are staring at me with a concerned look. Who knows what kind of faces I was making while in sheer amazement of the rubber smoke show. I was most likely making all kinds of ridiculous sounds as well. I was completely tuned into the sights on the floor and forgot my other senses for a minute.
I decided it’s probably best to talk to my friend sitting next to me and try to concentrate.
We arrive at the Expo Center and pay the $8 to go walk around and look at all the 2000 model year cars. The new millennium. These cars were supposed to be fucking flying by now, instead we were treated with beauties such as the 2000 Mercury Sable and the debut of the American icon: the Plymouth PT Cruiser. I am excited, though, to see the Infinity G35.
I had dreams about this car. I wanted one so bad but knew as a lower middle-class kid it’d be a long time before I had one of these bad boys. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and just sit behind the wheel of her while I was there. On LSD. I see it right away. They brought the most deluxe package G35 in Gold with champagne leather seats. It was beautiful. The overhead lights are gleaming off of every curved line on this sexy kitten.
I see that there is no one in the driver’s seat. Perfect. I hop in and grab the leather steering wheel in my left hand and the shifter in my right. I use the power adjust to scoot me in to a proper fit. Pedals feel good. Now I can picture myself flying around town, handling curves like a boss. Quick acceleration. It feels so real now and I’m making the noises of a car like every red blooded American boy would. RrraaaaAAAARRRRR (clutch, 2nd gear) RrrraaaaAAAAARRRRRR (clutch, 3rd gear). That’s when I glance over to the passenger seat and see a woman in her 30’s staring at me and holding on to the car door handle.
“Are you ok?”, she asks.
I replied, “Do you know how many goddamn pizza’s I could deliver in this thing?”
I quickly hopped out of the Infinity at that point. I looked around and realized I lost my friends. This is bad. I should find one. So I start walking in a clockwise manner around the Expo Center. I see a crowd of people gathering around a large Jaguar display. There’s a baby blue Jaguar S Type on a raised stand that the crowd is looking at.
There’s a representative giving all the details of what the engineers did and all of the details in a general sales pitch sort of way. I pan the crowd for my friends but don’t see any of them. I decide to go see what this lady has to say. I make my way to the far edge of the crowd so I can be up front.
As I’m watching her give the pitch I notice how perfect she is.
She was an African American woman. About 5’11 in her high heels and thin like a model. She had shoulder length straight hair that curled in a bit at the ends. She was wearing one of those dress/jacket combos like Jackie Kennedy used to wear. A pearl necklace and her skin was flawless. She looked unreal.
Literally, I thought she was unreal.
I began to think that Jaguar was ahead of their time and had some sort of Star Wars technology where they were projecting a hologram of this woman who must’ve been created in a computer program. I had to find out for myself. I begin to slowly move towards her to get a closer inspection. I was closer than I thought. I lifted my hand and was going to pass it harmlessly through her body to show to everyone that she was an apparition.
My friend suddenly grabbed my arm and pulled me back into the crowd. “Are you a fucking idiot dude?”
“She’s not real, bro!” I said.
“You’re high as shit, man.”
I was closely babysat for the rest of the show and don’t really have much more to say about that.
We jumped on the train back out of town and headed back to get the truck in Cambridge. Once there I remembered I had another tab. I didn’t have anything to do tomorrow. May as well make a night of it. When we get back to town I switch out of one friend’s car and catch a ride back to my house. He had one of those foot shaped, gelatin-looking air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror. It was gleaming in the streetlights as we drove towards my neighborhood. I was fixed on it and forgot exactly what it was. It looked delicious. I needed a bite. So I bit it. My mouth instantly filled up with the taste of uninvited chemicals that my body instantly rejected.
Upon arrival at my house, I notice the lights are on inside. This wasn’t good. Usually everyone was in bed this late. I’m peaking again and don’t want to deal with anything too weird. I open the door quietly but it doesn’t matter. My grandmother is visiting for a few days and I completely forgot she was coming tonight. My dad must’ve just got back from the airport with her and they were up talking. She stands up with a huge smile and wants a hug. Oh boy. You got this. You’re almost home free. Just hug your grandmother and go to bed.
As I hug her my dad is standing behind her and looks me in the eye. He must see my pupils and knows I’m tripping. He makes the “You’re dead” gesture by running his thumb across his throat. I’m toast. I say goodnight to my unsuspecting grandmother and head upstairs to my room. I knew my dad was going to lose his shit in the morning.
I put Tool’s AEnima on and laid down on my bed. I shut my eyes and tried not to think about the events that had just occurred. Suddenly I was on my own personal roller coaster in my eyelids and having a blast. Until the second song ended and the CD skipped and snapped me out of the hypnosis.
My mind went right back to “Dude, you’re screwed tomorrow”.
I decided I had to get out of there. I knew enough time had not passed yet for my dad to be asleep for sure. I needed an alternate route out. I had an air conditioner that was built into the wall below my window. Even though my room was on the second floor, I could shimmy out the window and hang off the back of the A/C so that my feet were only about 9 feet off the ground. I figured my 16 year old bones could handle it. And they did.
Off to my truck in a flash but maintaining a low profile. I’m paranoid my father will see or hear me. I get to the truck and put the 5 speed in neutral. I rolled it a couple of houses down the street before firing her up. Now I’m off. I should not be behind the wheel but Lucy was in the sky and guiding my way. I made it safely to another friend’s house. I tried to wake him up by throwing pebbles up at his window. (Again kids, just like no navigation. We had no cell phones back then either. At least, us poor folk didn’t.)
He didn’t wake so I decided I had to break in. I climbed up part of the front porch handrail and got a hold of the 3 season porch roof. I swung my leg up and opened his window. I crawled thru and prayed that nobody would stab me.
“What the fuck are you doing, man?”, my friend asks.