Saturday, September 24, 2005

Under Hood

Yesterday, when coming home from work, I was stopped at the border crossing and asked to turn off my car and pop the hood. While the Homeland Security guard poked around my engine without checking the oil and transmission fluid, I had to fight the urge to blast the horn, remembering the last time I had done something like that.

My father was a nasty individual, a hopeless drunk whose only hobbies were getting unpleasantly blasted and beating up on people who could not fight back, like his wife and kids. On one of his more brutal benders he was working on his car in the back yard, having already single-handedly killed off a fifth of cheap vodka and had conscripted me to help him. I was maybe nine-years-old at the time and had no desire to participate in his little endeavor, knowing full well that any mistake on my part, real or imagined, would certainly result in blackened eyes or loose teeth. Still, I was forced into the driver’s seat and tasked with pushing down on the gas petal to rev up the engine while my father did whatever he could to put the car in worse condition than it had started off in.

As his frustration grew at the car’s deteriorating performance, the orders he shouted at me started containing more expletives and I knew that it was not long before I would be subjected to a full-fisted crack right across the jaw. While my father was bent over the engine beneath the hood, he finally said that if I did not get the accelerator pressed exactly halfway down, he was going to take it out of my hide. I pressed the gas pedal to the point I thought to be where he was wanting it but judging by the verbal assault coming out from the other side of the windshield, knew I had missed the mark, if there really was any to begin with. In frustration, I cranked back and punched the steering wheel, accidentally hitting the horn.

My father’s reaction was immediate. He shot violently upright and slammed his head on the underside of the hood so hard that he lifted it clear off of its prop rod and brought it crashing down on top of him, pinning him on top of the hot engine. Hearing the commotion in front of me, I peered above the steering wheel and out of the front windshield to see a scene that looked to me as if the Buick was trying to eat my father. He was in real trouble. He had one arm sticking out of the hood, madly flailing around in panic looking for something to grab on to, while his legs kicked desperately out of the front, attempting to find a footing on something to lift himself up with. He also must have been scalding himself on the engine block as well and I can only imagine how close his stomach was to the metal blades of the radiator fan. If someone did not help him soon, his injuries were bound to be pretty severe. On the flip side, if someone helped him out soon, my injuries were likely to be fatal. That’s why I wished the Buick “Bon Apatite” and high-tailed it out of the yard.

My father did somehow make it out of there with little more than some minor burns and a deep cut on the top of his bald head. Amazingly, nothing happened to me because of it. He spent his fury on inanimate objects in the garage, killed another half-fifth of vodka and passed out on the couch. He woke up a few hours later, having sobered up past his violent stage of intoxication and once my mother got home she convinced him that it was only an accident on my part. It was an accident of course, but it sure would not have been had I knew the results of it would be so spectacular.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:35 AM  
Anonymous LoB said...

Well, it's been quite some time since I last managed to get some reading done. School and the real world have this nasty habit of getting in the way. Took me a while to catch up on your astonishing alliteration abilities and authority aggravating humor. An excellent read as always and I feel I must seriously commend you for your writing. And I would definitely get a JEP t-shirt, if I had a credit card which, sadly, I do not.

Great work as usual, Jep

6:21 AM  
Blogger JEP said...

Thanks LoB, great to have you back! Don't worry though, the real world has a habit of getting in the way of writing also. I just spent the last week getting my ass chewed unrelentlessly at work (I'm not sure about what though since I really wasn't paying attention)and really haven't been able to post like I wanted to. I have to admit though, there's nothing like having a miserable job to motivate you to break into another field (such as writing) to escape that kind of hate and discontent.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous LoB said...

Indeed.. Writing shall forever be one of the great arts of escapism from misery. It's right there alongside reading the JEP Report and watching football. Anyway, hope things get better at work, cause one can only take that much ass-chewing before he loses it. What you need is a tequila bender, one of your epic drinking trips that shall have you in trouble with various mexican authorities and me entertained for days.

4:41 PM  

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