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Janelle Meraz Hooper
short stories


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I've had e-mails from students asking me if they can use  my stories for oral interpretive contests. Go for it! Please drop me a line and tell me which stories you are using. Note: when I transfer the stories, some of the punctuation drops off. It takes a lot of time to fix it and I'm a busy gal--sorry!

Elvis Has Left the Building...And Is Living In My Computer

by Janelle Meraz Hooper


     Elvis is still alive. I know it. I have proof. And I don't mean the kind of proof where some guy who's had too much beer stops at a local filling station and sees Elvis filling up his Eldorado with regular gas. What a joke. Everyone knows that Elvis uses super. 

     And I don't mean like that guy outside of the basketball arena waving a sign that says, "Elvis parks here!" Everyone knows that Elvis is way too cool for basketball. 

     No, I'm talking about tangible down to earth evidence that the King of Rock-n-Roll is alive and well--and living in my computer.

     Yep. That's what I said. Right here in my old computer, that I call Ole Trigger, that doesn't have enough guts to boot up all of my fancy equipment on the same day, much less at the same time. 

     Whenever I want to do anything more complicated than word-processing, I have to delete the black and white printer, load the color printer, print, delete the color printer and drivers, and let Ole Trigger rest for a day or so. Then I can load the color scanner, do my scanning, delete the scanner from my hard drive, re-load the black and white printer and its drivers, and let Trigger rest again for a couple of days until it feels up to fetching my E-mails. Sometimes, if my preacher cousin sends me a long message, it just gets all tuckered out and has to be rebooted. I keep a special pair of cowboy boots next to my PC just for this purpose.

     As far as I can tell, Elvis moved into my computer a few days before the Fourth of July. That's when I sent a color poster of Elvis to my editor, who's an Elvis fan, wishing her Happy Fourth! It was a photo that showed Elvis in all his glory: gold metallic suit, slick pompadour hair, and white buck shoes.

     Of course he had that special look of his on his face, like he'd just jammed a guitar pick up his nose and was wondering if he wanted to get it out or just leave it there because it felt good. It was pure, vintage Elvis, and I blew it up full-size before I sent it to her via e-mail. I should have known something had gone wrong when she said she never got it--that's because he never left.

     He took up 486 bits or bytes or whatever that stuff is called, but he was kind of cool, so I didn't delete him right away like I should have. A few days later, I began to find strange messages on my computer when I brought up my screen in the morning. Messages like:

 Warning! Your memory system is running dangerously low. Norton antivirus system may not be working correctly.

Oh, happy 99! Oh, Melissa!

     I went into Trigger's guts and started deleting everything that wouldn't make me stop breathing if I didn't have it. I even deleted--augh! Elvis, but the messages kept coming:

Warning, warning! Danger! Danger!

     The next time I used my graphic's software, I noticed that Elvis was still on the menu.

     I deleted him.

     He came back.

     I deleted him again.

     He came back again.

     By now, his lips were starting to move, and his suit was beginning to shimmer. I don't know why he doesn't leave, except that maybe he's finally found someplace to hide out where people have to leave him alone--sort of like having that hotel he sings about all to himself, maybe. 

     For myself, I've given up and just deleted Norton. I know when I'm beat. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I wake up and hear a lonesome voice in my computer singing that song about wanting to be held close. 

     Sure beats anything I ever heard from Norton.


How to fight big hair

by Janelle Meraz Hooper


            When our children were young, I had a friend who told me that it was time for her five-year-old son to go to school--she had taught him everything she could.

            I looked at it this way: the teachers could teach my daughter all of that 3-R stuff--I was never good at it anyway. I could teach her about fine literature, art, the history of oriental carpets, and how to make tiny guest soaps from tiny plastic muffin pans and a microwave.

            Okay, so all we did was buy the book with the soap recipes. We never actually got around to making the soap. It's probably still on a bookshelf somewhere next to the books on One Hundred Ways to Braid Your Hair and How to Have an Archaeological Dig in Your Own Basement.

            When she was about eleven, we reached a point where she had her own ideas, so her father and I invented mini-scholarships that we tucked into her Christmas stocking. I think that most of the money went for sheet music, extra flute lessons, and Judy Blume books. She still had plenty of time leftover for camping and fishing trips, cooking lessons, and documentaries on PBS.

            There did come a day, when she was a senior in high school, that she said she'd learned all she could from me. It was time for her to move on. From what I could tell, she'd moved on to big hair, frosted eye shadow, and boys.

No! She couldn't quit on me now, I still had so much to share with her! I was already looking into opera tickets, museum passes, and jazz concerts.

            I was on the county art commission at the time. Each day, my mailbox was filled with colorful brochures from art galleries. I wanted to share them with her, but she couldn't work me in between her hair curling and phone calls from boys. Stacks of colorful pamphlets stacked up on the windowsill of her room. Unread. I knew they were unread because they were covered with dust. Any parent who knows her stuff can tell you that printed materials in a teenager's room that are actually being read are covered in food crumbs.

            I had to do something fast. The stacks of art brochures were beginning to block out the light in her bedroom. Since the room was already facing north, it got too little light to begin with. If one of us didn't back down, she could be facing a health problem. I made a mental note to start slipping vitamin D into her colas.

            I noticed that she had plenty of time for her hair. Each morning she got up early to sit cross-legged on the bathroom cabinet for at least thirty-minutes while she tortured and sprayed those straight locks into curls tight enough to last through outdoor gym class in the rain. There was only one curling iron, one electrical outlet, and one mirror. Desperation spawned inspiration: maybe I could make that big hair work for me.

That night, I sat down and cut out each little picture from the brochures and taped them to the mirror right in front of where she sat to curl her hair. Some were beautiful. Some were funny. Some were just plain weird. Each day, after she went to bed, I put up new pictures. Each morning, she'd go into the bathroom and while the curling iron heated up, she'd take down the pictures--one by one. Over and over she asked me to put them someplace else. She never did catch on that they were just where I wanted them. In her way. Soon, the stack of art brochures on her windowsill was gone, although I noticed that it was still dusty.

She's older now. Styles have changed. The hair is much shorter and less time consuming. The garish eye shadow has been replaced with more subtle colors, and the boys have been narrowed down to two: a husband and a young son.

She really has moved on, but I've kept those pictures in a file. Someday I might use them again--when my grandson decides that he's learned all he needs to know from me. I'm thinking I'll glue them all over the backboard on his basketball hoop. Now, if I can just figure out how to get up there--and back down!


                  Wanda, the Witless Witch of  Boo!

by Janelle Meraz Hooper


            Wanda, the Witless Witch of Boo! circled twice around her split-level home in an expensive neighborhood before she landed her broom on the roof. She slid down into the kitchen through the air duct to the kitchen fan. Darn! she cried as the blades sliced her black hat and ripped her hair. "I forgot to turn the fan off again."

See why they call her witless?

Okay, she was a little addled. But beautiful. Blond, and petite, she bought all of her clothes at Hoardstrom's and flew on her broom to LA every week to have her hair done at Chez Cher-Fawcetts.

Stopping only to check her makeup in the mirror, she opened the sliding French doors and threw out the pot full of frogs, slugs, and spiders leftover from her morning spells. "Darn crows! Why is it all the crows in the neighborhood end up at my house?"

Trust me. She'll never figure it out.

"Who's at the door?" She'd call toward the front of the house whenever she heard a scratching noise on the porch. But no one was ever there. She'd been glad when her husband had agreed to fix the doorbell and had left one morning for the hardware store. That was over three years ago. He'd been working so hard on it that she hadn't seen him since.

            Each day she noticed the hole by the front door was a little bigger and the red and green wires were all over the porch, so she hoped he was getting close to finishing.

            Each night, she tried to wait up for Clyde, but about twelve oclock every night she'd get tired, so she'd put his supper on the table and go to bed without him. The next morning, his plate would be empty. The cat, who grew fatter and fatter, was the only one who didn't miss Clyde. Wanda didn't know why.

 While he was off at the hardware store buying a new doorbell, she kept plenty busy. All day long she ran back and forth, chasing the crows off the back deck, and answering the front door whenever she heard scratching. No one was ever there.

       Wanda was getting lonely. When she saw Clyde again, she'd tell him forget the doorbell, board the hole up, and put up a doorknocker. Of course, that would entail another trip to the hardware store to buy the knocker, so she was reticent to do that.

The beautiful witch got witlesser and witlesser.

Wanda decided that she was too slow, and that was the reason she never saw anyone when she heard noises on the porch, so she began riding her broom down the seven steps to the front door. The problem with that was her broom was too fast, and she could never stop in time. Over and over, Wanda had to peel herself off the inside of her front door.

And so her life went. Year after year. The crows got noisier and noisier. She didn't know why. The cat got fatter and fatter. How could that be? The hole by the front door got bigger and bigger.

"When is that man going to finish?" she asked her fellow witches. "I swear, he's slower than a dead June bug."

Did I tell you yet that she was totally without wit? I think I did.

Finally, Wanda was at the end of her broom. She'd fix the doorbell herself. She knew nothing about electricity, but how hard could it be? The first thing to do was go to the hardware store and pick up some doorbell stuff. Maybe the women there had seen Clyde. Maybe they could tell him to come home and change clothes. He must be getting pretty ripe.

The women at the store pretended not to know Clyde, but Wanda wasn't fooled. She knew they were trying to keep him all to themselves. He was quite a catch, and a heck of a doorbell-fixer.

When she got back she got right to work. It was raining so she decided to work from the inside (Witches melt in the rain, you know). With her brand new sledgehammer she broke a hole in the inside wall. That's when she discovered that, all those years, it wasn't company at her front door. It was birds, nesting between the walls; they came and went through the hole left by the broken doorbell. The house quickly filled with black birds of all sizes. Flying. Diving. Squeaking. And making a mess on her orange wall-to-wall carpet.

Wanda closed the doors and windows and opened the fireplace insert doors so they could find their way out, but they were very comfortable inside and showed no inclination to leave. That's because the birds were bats, and it was still light outside. Bats hate sunlight as much as witches hate rain. Go figure.

     Not that Wanda knew they were bats. Say it with me: witless!

Finally, Wanda called a fellow witch for help. "Esmerelda? Get over here right away and help me get rid of these crows, will you? Somehow, they've gotten into the house."

   You know. I know. But let's not go there.

When Wanda cleared the house of bats she was a happy Witless Witch, and she knew things would be perfect once Clyde got home. And he would come home. After all, she was Wanda, the Witless Witch of Boo! And quite a looker. How could he live without her?

    And where was Clyde? At the hardware store, wandering around the parking lot looking for his car. He'd completely forgotten that Wanda had dropped him off on her broom years ago.

Turns out, he was the perfect match for Wanda. Zero wit. None.


 Sanyo and Hatchet

 by Janelle Meraz Hooper

(Roundtable Writers 1st place award winner!)


Sanyo was warned not to make eye contact with the big black jungle crows that roamed the streets of downtown Tokyo. They were not ordinary crows, but huge birds with wingspans of over three feet who flew in large intimidating gangs, tipped over garbage cans, and viciously attacked people who made direct eye contact with them. Hostile and vindictive, the mean-tempered birds were said to never forget a face.

Sanyo, six years old, didn't believe the warnings. They were just birds. From her upstairs bedroom window on the top floor of a deluxe, high-rise condominium, she watched them as they cawed and chased passersby on the busy Tokyo street below. She didn't think the birds were dangerous, just bad-mannered.

One day, Neko, Sanyo's nanny, put a tray of tea and cookies on Sanyo's play table and softly closed the door behind her. The young child had dressed herself in her best ceremonial kimono, hoping to have tea with her mother. Sadly, she realized she would have afternoon tea alone again in her bedroom; her mother was still at the office. As she had so many times before, Sanyo lined up all of her beautiful dolls at her tea table and poured tea into tiny china cups. She would have tea with her friends. Her only friends.  Neko wouldn't let her play with the other children in the condominium. It was easier to just keep her in her room.

Uneasy, Sanyo looked up to see one of the crows on her windowsill. Surprised at how large the bird looked close up, she forgot the warnings from her parents and made direct eye contact with him. The bird stared back. Sanyo thought he must want the cookie, so she opened the window just wide enough to stick it out. The crow rudely yanked the snack out of her hand and swallowed it whole, then forced his way into her room.

Angry and jealous that Sanyo had so many beautiful things, he flew right for her beloved dolls. With a methodical hatefulness, he marched over the lap of each doll and plucked the eyes out of each one. Each time he moved to a new doll, he looked back at the stunned child who stood paralyzed with fear on the other side of the room. When there were no eyes left to pluck, the crow made a swing past Sanyo's face and stabbed his hatchet beak toward her eyes.  It was a warning: Sanyo had better not ever cross him. He departed through the still open window with a string of caws that echoed between the buildings and rolled down the street. The other crows answered its call, and soon the sky was black with Hatchet and his friends. Sanyo ran to her dolls, but there was nothing to be done. The bird's beak had crushed each eyeball into powder.

The next day, Hatchet, as Sanyo had begun to call him, was again on the windowsill.  Sanyo, alone again, turned her back to him as she served tea to her dolls and nervously ate her cookie.  The crow became more and more angry and threatening as he cawed.  Sanyo was too terrified to look at the bird.  As Hatchet repeatedly stabbed at the glass with his giant bill, she quietly served her sightless dolls another cup of tea.  

To make sure the crow never got into the house again, Sanyo got up before the sun rose each day and rushed around the house to make sure the windows were all shut tight and locked. She didn't see much of her parents who both worked, and they were tired when they got home at night. She knew they'd have no patience to listen to her story about Hatchet. Her nanny, who was also the cook, kept to her kitchen most of the time. She had little interest in Sanyo when she was a happy child. She'd have even less interest in Sanyo if she had a problem.

Then, one day, Sanyo went downstairs for her cookies and tea. Neko halfheartedly apologized for not bringing it up to her, and said she was busy making a special meal for her parents who had been working very hard. The table was so heavily laden with platters full of all kinds of noodles, rice dishes, sushi, intricately cut vegetables and exotic fruits that Sanyo couldn't see the countertop.  

Too late, Sanyo noticed a high window above the cabinets whose curtains blew in the breeze. Neko had opened the window! Sanyo ran for the long crank that was used to shut it, but she was too late. Hatchet flew in with a loud caw and landed on the kitchen counter right on top of the platter of fancy sushi. Neko dropped her knife, screamed, and ran from the kitchen with her arms flailing. She never so much as looked back at Sanyo, who sat frozen in her chair.

As the crow stomped over the elaborate treats with his grimy, gnarled feet, he never took his eyes off Sanyo's cookie. Sanyo was so frightened she lost her grip on the treat and it rolled over to the edge of the double sink and fell in. Caught up in the cookie chase, the crow flew after it, his big black claws slid around on the shiny interior of the sink as he tried in vain to catch the rolling cookie. Hatchet didn't stop his pursuit when the cookie spun and slid into the garbage disposal. He barely paused before he stretched out his long neck and went right into the disposal after it. Sanyo saw her chance. With lightening speed, she reached over and flipped on the switch to the garbage disposal. Her eyes widened when she heard one surprised shriek as the blades ground the crows beak into a fine powder not unlike her dolls' eyes. When the giant headless bird was finally was able to withdraw his body and flap headless, around the kitchen, he spewed blood, guts, and loose feathers all over Neko's special dinner.

Sanyo was about to hop down from her chair and run to her room when something in the sink caught her eye. There among the blood and feathers was an egg that Hatchet had carried. She was a mother! Sanyo knew she couldn't chance another Hatchet. She nudged the egg into the disposal with a wooden spoon and once again, flipped the switch on the wall. Now she would never have to fear another Hatchet. It was over.  

Still stunned, she turned her back on the mess and calmly went upstairs; she left her cowardly nanny to clean up the bloody feathers and bones. Halfway up the stairs, the shock began to wear off, and a suddenly confident Sanyo went to her room to pack up her dolls in a cardboard box. Her parents would surely buy her new ones and get her a new nanny.

When she opened the door to her room she was met with seven pairs of black eyes that stared at her from her windowsill. Eyes filled with pure hate.  A cold chill ran down her back as she realized that they knew.

Knew about Hatchet.

Knew about the disposal.

Knew about the egg.

By their stares she could tell that they wouldn't rest until they got even. Sadly, Sanyo realized it was not over after all. That night, she lay sleepless in her bed and shivered with fear as she listened to the crows as they ripped through the shingles on the roof above her room.

Rrrr-ip, rrr-ip, rrr-ip...

       not the end


                                         Bear Bait

                           by Janelle Meraz Hooper

      (Originally printed in The Sun Never Rises, An Anthology)


          I knew why I, the weakest member of our social group, was always included in camping and hiking trips to Alaska. Overweight, and out of shape, I was obviously the designated sacrifice to any angry bears we might encounter on the trails.

            Or so it had always been. Two years ago, I became determined to get in shape, build up my muscle strength, and be at least second from the last on the trails. To this end, I purchased a very pricey, fully computerized electric treadmill with hydraulic inclines and heart rate monitor to the tune of over six hundred dollars.

            On my computer, I developed workout charts, which I posted on my bathroom mirror in plain sight of my husband and any grizzlies that may be stopping by to scout me out. The machine was flawless, except it was very noisy, making watching television or listening to music impossible. Nonetheless, I stuck it out for over a year, working out two or three times a week for twenty-minutes with the machine set at a high incline. I didn't lose any weight, but my endurance improved dramatically. I tried to sell my doctor on the idea that my weight wasn't due to fat, but rather to bone density. He declined to comment. I think I saw him roll his eyes. Just a little. I didn't care. I was definitely feeling stronger. Maybe I wasn't able to outrun a bear yet, but I felt fairly confident that I could take anything in the raccoon-size range.

            So, the exercise was working, but it was also very boring. As a boredom fighter, I began bringing my little green parrot, Jamaica, on my electronic walks. He really seemed to enjoy the motion, and even learned new words and phrases faster.

            I didn't realize until it was too late that he'd also become very possessive of the treadmill, just as he had the computer that was in the other room where I kept his cage. Parrots have a personality trait that makes them possessive of anything they frequently come in contact with. So far, the bird had become attached to the computer, printer, radio, and the treadmill. My husband used to beg me not to put his cage in the bedroom bathroom because he would set up such a squawk in the middle of the night when my husband turned on the light. Obviously, Jamaica had laid claim to the Kohler low-water flush series-600 toilet, and he undoubtedly came close many times to being flushed down the high-tech fixture in the wee hours.

            Another trait parrots have is bonding to just one person if they're not passed around to different people while they're growing up. My parrot was bonded to me and only me. So one day, when my daughter came into my exercise room to tell me I had a phone call, all the pieces for disaster were in place. First, Jamaica flew at my daughter, furious that she'd dared to come near his very own personal bear-escaping machine. Then he fell like a rock in mid-air because his wings were clipped. This put him in just the right position to bite her little sockless toes. I flew off the machine to rescue either the parrot or my daughterI hadn't made up my mind which yetand going 2.5 miles an hour, I tripped over the electrical cord propelling myself head first into the door jam of the exercise room hitting the top of my head. Still moving, I careened into the door jam across the hall, putting a gash on my forehead, skinning my elbow, and whacking my knee. As I fell onto the floor in a ball of pain, screaming for my daughter to call 911, Jamaica became confused. Not knowing what else to do, he flapped over and gave me a firm bite on the inside of my thigh, drawing blood.

            Several examinations and ex-rays later, it was determined that I had a spinal compression, a chipped vertebra, a slight brain concussion, and various scratches, bumps, bites, and bruises. It was four days before we were to leave on our trip to Southeast Alaska, which naturally had to be canceled. As I rested on the couch, a cool compress on my head, a Band-Aid on my parrot bite, and my knee elevated with a cushion, it occurred to me that things didn't go as 'planned, but I had accomplished my mission. I would be safe from bears for another summer.


                          The Big Navy Blue Crab

     by Janelle Meraz Hooper


I had plowed through an endless sea of dirty used Toyotas when I saw her. She crouched in the corner of the used car lot like a big navy blue crab on the bottom of a dusty ocean. This car was so dirty I couldn't even tell she was a Mercedes, but I knew she was special. She had a style the new Mercedes didn't have. To me, the new ones just screamed money; this one purred class.

            And I needed some class. Desperately. I was having a heck of a time! My body was already busy fighting off a full frontal attack of arthritis when a Mack dump truck lost its brakes and totaled my Toyota Celica. This unpleasant encounter left the only parts of my body that didn't already hurt from my chronic illness with a second kind of physical pain.

            I also had a third kind of pain, centered in my pocketbook, that was almost as severe as the first two: the insurance check to replace my totaled car was only $7800. Although it was more than the original purchase price ten years before, it was only about half the replacement price of the new cars on the market.

            My husband needed the other family car to commute in, so I had to find another vehicle as soon as possible. Since I didn't have the option to wait until I felt better, I bundled up all of my aches and pains--especially the big one in my wallet, and started making the rounds of the used car lots.

            She was squarish with four doors. Her color was a few shades lighter than true navy blue. I called it Mercedes blue. Her chrome headlights were big and round and gripped the sides of the biggest chrome grill I'd ever seen. The dash was part polished wood. Real wood. I had never been attracted to luxury cars before, but I was in love with this one from the moment I first saw her.

            I called her Sadie. It was short for Mercedes. Sane people looked at Sadie and saw a 1973 car that had 160,000 miles on her. I looked at her with my right brain (the creative side) and what my right brain saw was pure style.

            The left (and logical) side of my brain screamed, No! No! She's just a piece of junk! Look at her! She's a big blue hole you'll throw piles of money into, just like your friends who fix up old yachts. At least they can fish!

     The right (and creative) side of my brain sang this is it! This is the missing link! If I could just have this car, I could survive the crooked bones. I could endure the humiliation of my hair falling out in chunks from the lupus. I'd get a turban! A turban would look GREAT in this car! Obviously, the right side of my mind was out of control. How else could it determine that a Hispanic woman who wore an East Indian turban would look better in a Mercedes than in a Toyota?

     My husband of almost twenty-five years didn't share any of my enthusiasm for my choice. Both sides of his brain shouted NO! and he tried all kinds of arguments based on logic to talk me out of buying Sadie...that was his mistake. Logic is useless when the right side of someone's brain is panting, Come to me! Come to me!

     As a stalling tactic, he insisted that we have the car checked over by a mechanic. Much to his chagrin and my delight, he was forced to abandon mechanical problems as an argument; Sadie was in good shape. Sure, she was old and would require some repairs down the road, but nothing to be concerned about, they assured us.

     My husband knew he was losing ground. In a less than enthusiastic gesture, he made a ridiculously low offer on Sadie--$3,500--that the dealer immediately accepted. I never knew whether they were more delighted to get rid of Sadie or their daily visits from me. But for whatever reason, Sadie was mine.

     Had I been as much in tune with my husband's vibes as I was with Sadie's, I would have noticed that I was becoming less and less his loving companion and more and more his big pain in the neck. My only excuse for my denseness is that I was so busy trying to survive a devastating illness that I didn't have the energy to notice the relationship that I treasured so dearly was crumbling. All of my strength was going toward finding a Band-Aid for all of my physical pain, and I found one--a big blue one.

     I can hear you sniffing, "All this excitement over such an old car?" I know. I can't explain it. She lifted my spirits when very little else did. It was the only car I've ever loved. It also turned out to be the only car I've ever washed at least five times a week, even when it snowed. My other cars were lucky to be splashed with water from a puddle at an intersection.

     I marveled at the polished wood dash, the little lock with the tiny key that secured the radio antenna, the Mercedes leather (actually Mercedes vinyl) seat covers, and the magical carpet on the floorboard that refused to pick up dirt and stains. This car was pure magic. Expensive magic, but magic.

     With a sense of stewardship I bought parts for her and made sure she saw her mechanic regularly. If I had two dollars in my pocket, I would swing by our local Mercedes dealer and invest it in Sadie. I stocked up on little things like fuses (I had a whole baggie full of these in my glove compartment), knobs for the radio, and door handles--all of which were constantly burning out or falling off.

     My increasingly grouchy husband shelled out for bigger ticket items like transmissions, exhaust systems, and radiators. Once, I called him away from work to come and rescue Sadie and I after she lost a thirty-cent gasket that cost over three hundred dollars in labor to replace because the mechanic had to take off the whole bottom of the car to get to it.

     On the plus side, he was also beginning to socialize in parking lots with other Mercedes owners. He found them full of information on how to save money on Sadie's maintenance. For instance, one fellow Mercedes owner showed him how to adapt regular windshield wipers to fit on a Mercedes, a savings of about forty-dollars. My grouchy husband with two left-brains and the empty pockets to go with them was thrilled, at least with the car.

     After he borrowed Sadie one day to pick up some businessmen at the airport, he discovered the back window never seemed to get wet when they were going down the freeway in the rain. Then he discovered that the tire jack fit into a metal slot under the car so it couldn't slip out, even on a hill.

     "Do you know that Mercede's mechanics make marks on the engine when the automobile has been in a collision?" he asked me one day.

     " very handy thing to know if we ever buy another one!" I answered. He didn't agree, but he didn't disagree, so I didn't have a clue as to how unhappy he was with me and that he had no intention of making any more joint purchases. As far as I was concerned, we'd been married for almost twenty-five years. How could anything go wrong now?

     Sometime during all of this, his affection for Sadie grew. Even he started to call her Sadie; his previous names for her were largely unprintable. Conversely, I can only guess that his names for me became less and less endearing--and most likely unprintable.

     Well, all this was years ago. At the end of our marriage, my husband was a lot more enthralled with Sadie than he was with me, a fact that is a lot funnier now than it was then.

     As I adjusted to my new, much poorer, economic station in life, I had to face the fact that I could go back to college on the money I was using to "restore" Sadie. She had to go.

     I'd been married a little over twenty-five years the day my divorce was final. I went straight from the courtroom to the car lot, kissed Sadie goodbye and bought a new, reliable Toyota Camry. It was silver. Well, after all, it was my silver anniversary.

     My eyes still mist up when I think about my Sadie. But I had her when I really needed her. The only time I felt safe was when I was surrounded by all of her navy blue steel. She was the perfect car for that time of my life. If only she could have protected my heart, she would have been perfect.
































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