ONE LAST THING
Nicky Smith column
There is an air of fragility and defeat about cars which are abandoned in parking lots. They are designed and built for agency. They do things: road trips, eavesdrop on conversations, and pause time for stolen lovers.
Weighed down by layers of neglect and dust, their tyres soften and deflate. The longer they stand, the oilier their coat of shame, and darker. The rims of the wheels seem to suck down into the concrete of the floor.
You see them in parking lots at shopping malls and, strangely, at airports.
There is one in our building. It is a blue car that is on parking level one in the basement garage.
It is a royal blue Nissan Sentra, I think. Metallic.
The dust has settled thicker and thicker on it since I first noticed it last year; it has been lurking in the basement for months.
What is the car doing there? Why hasn’t it been moved after so long? Why haven’t the obsessive register-taking security guards with the clip boards and torches done anything about it?
Why has no one written anything rude or humorous on the dusty back window?
Who owns the car? Did something happen to them? Does it belong to someone who died and no one has remembered to collect it?
My feelings about its presence have vacillated these past few weeks. From feeling a little sad for it, its presence started to feel oppressive.
Its nose points away from the people who pass it, as if to hide its face by staring mutely at the wall.
I have even imagined there is something of the churl in its posture. In my mind its roof may even be a little hunched, as if it to hide something.
Which, I know, is ridiculous because it is only a car.
But what is it doing there? Is it a test? Am I supposed to ask about the car? And will this display of curiosity and observation lead to some sort of reward (cue for reward now, guys, okay)?
Lately I have been thinking that I am completely wrong about it. That the forlorn air it wears so casually seems a little too casual. It is trying too hard to blend in and not to be noticed, rather like a cold war spy 100 years in the future with a yellow rose in their lapel struggling to remain unobserved.
Because despite all its efforts to be inconspicuous it sticks out. Because, seriously, security comb through the basement as though we are having Barack Obama over. They should have noticed the sucker.
Unless... unless I have truly stumbled onto something special.
A small, excited part of me has started to believe it is one of the portals to the Otherworld.
The place where it is always a sunny Saturday morning, pets are forever and all things not only feel possible but are on the point of being achieved.
I have never worked with people were able to resist drawing on the back windscreen some adolescent message such as “wash me please” or worse.
Perhaps we have collectively and unconsciously recognised that this is not one of those cars. It’s air is not pathetic, but secretive.
It conceals a secret so large and so unbelievable that it had to be hidden under a building full of journalists. It is as if the keepers of the Otherworld couldn’t resist the irony.
The “security guards” are guides from the other side, sent to protect those who are still impure of thought, and dead, unready to survive the portal. The journey to the other side scorches out the stains of boring and evil, sometimes leaving only a bloodless, limp flesh casing on this side.
Yes. That blue car has a secret, all right. Anyway, I have to go now. If I don’t make it back you know where I am. (My limp casing will be on parking level one.)