Jesse arrived home after a hard day’s work. With no one to greet him, he shuffled into the bathroom to shower the days grime off his weary body. He looked at himself in the mirror. Grey had replaced his dark mane and his taught body had surrendered to the unrelenting onslaught of age. The stress from wielding the jack hammer for eight hours made its presence known with every grasp of the fork and knife. Wincing in pain, Jesse looked out the kitchen window. The fading grass and brown leaves were growing darker as the sun ebbed from the horizon. Jesse’s face grayed with the knowledge that fall was drifting fast away, and that soon winter would show her dreary face.
“One last time.” Jesse thought as he turned from the window. He went straight into his closet, picked out a black T-shirt, Faded Jeans, Reeboks, his coveted leather jacket, and readied himself for the night. Steadily, Jessi walked across the floor and opened a door next to the basement stairs. The chilled air kissed his face without notice as he flicked the lights on. Jesse let his eyes take in the beauty before him. Standing in all her splendor was the object of his desire. A 1968 Dodge Charger R/T. She wore a special red paint with a sharp black top, and just enough polished chrome to catch the light. Jessi caught his breath and smiled. She was his. He let his hand gently glide along the shapely lines of her body. As his hand reached the front fender, his eyes drifted to the subtle V-8 badge next to the eloquent turn light. He couldn’t help but smile again.
“You ready dear?” He asked softly as he opened the door to slide behind the wheel. With a twist of his wrist the Charger rumbled to life answering a low, throaty “Yessss.” through the exhaust. Backing out of the garage, Jessi headed west towards history. Within fifteen minutes he arrived at his destination. Woodward Avenue. This was the hallowed hall of his youth. Turning the radio to oldies 104.3, Jessi rolled down his window, and cruised north. Jan and Dean’s “Little Runaway” contrasted with the view from the windshield. Things were not the way they used to be. Next to the bowling alley was a vacant lot where Ted’s restaurant once stood. Jesse and his friends used to gather there every weekend and swap stories of heroic battles between cars or just to laugh at the other’s demise. The cars were definitely different. The Chargers, GTOs, Chevelles, and Torinos of Jesse’s youth were replaced by Eclipses, Civics, and Sentras. Occasionally, a Mustang would roar by, but even they were of nineties persuasion. Passing Ten Mile, Jesse noted that even the Big Boy was rather empty. Nobody wanted to wait for their food anymore. He knew that the kids today would be hanging out at Fourteen Mile. That’s where the McDonald’s was. Gliding into the lot, Jesse noticed the expression on the kids’ faces. He could almost read their faces.
“Who is this old fart?”
“Does this old man really think he can compete?”
“Give it up!”
Jesse cruised slowly around the lot and stops at the exit. He looked casually at the kids and dropped the hammer. Smoke billowed from the tires as they screamed while futile scratching the pavement for traction. With two long black streaks Jessi left the kids in a cloud of stench and soot. Some stared in disbelief while others cheered on in pure rapture of the Charger’s song. One kid stood up as if slapped in the face.
“Oh, Hell no!” exclaimed the kid as he dove into his ride and tore after Jesse. Catching up to him the kid yelled, “What? You wanna make a move old man?”
Jesse looked over at the Mitsubishi 3000 GTX and replied, “I just thought I’d show you what a Real car was. Not those plastic toys you drive now.”
“Oh, so you think you got something there!” daunted the kid, “My chips got more power than your car. You better take that thing home before you break it, old man!”
“This old man and this old car are way too strong for you kid. You should stay in your playpen with the other children.”
By this time the other kids at McDonald’s had crossed over to the median and were doing their best to goad the cars into a race. Jessi used the commotion to his advantage.
“ You better look around, kid;” Jesse taunted the lad, “I’d hate to ‘Dis’ you in front of your ‘Dogs’”.
With a look of pure rage, the kid frothed back, “It’s on, old man! I hope you’re wearing Depends ‘cause I’m gonna blow the crap out of you and your trash can”!
The 3000’s engine shrilled impatiently for the light. The Charger’s engine barked back at the Mitsubishi, threatening to tear its head off. The spectators howled and chanted at the warriors.
The light turned green.
The night air exploded in a sound of fury as the combatants launched their steeds into battle. Side by side they raced off into the night. Shifting into second, the Charger had so much power that she lost traction and begun to spin her tires. The Mitsubishi’s all wheel drive dug in deeper as the kid shifted into third and overtook the Charger. Jesse shifted into third and the Charger leapt forward, pinning Jesse into the seat as they surpassed the 3000 GTX. With a howl of rage, the kid shifted from fourth to fifth and let all the horses free. Jesse looked over at the kid and crunched into fourth gear. The Charger surged forward, leaving the Mitsubishi in her wake. The kid, knowing he has nothing left, lifted off the throttle, and gave the race to Jesse. Jesse raised his arm in acknowledgement to the kid and rode away. Late into the night, Jesse coasted the Charger into her bed. He turned off the engine and just sat there for a few minutes, reveling in the moment. He opened the door, slid out and sauntered towards the door leading into the house. As his hand grabbed the knob, he paused for a moment. He turned to give the girl one last look. “Sleep well, my dear.” He said before turning off the light.