“You’ll have to drive, you’ll have to do it somehow,” He stuttered, trying to talk without getting enough air in his lungs. “I can’t. Look at me, okay– sorry I said that. I can’t drive, trust me. I’ll guide you, I’ll be your eyes.”
I followed his footsteps, I could tell he wasn’t walking right either. One foot struck the ground hard and the other dragged after it.
I heard the chime of the open door and felt my way into the driver’s seat. Fezby shut me in, and made his way around to the other side and into the passenger seat.
I sat for a moment, the clump of keys in my hand, unsure what I was supposed to do next.
“Here,” Fezby was trying to guide my hand. I didn’t know what he was trying to make me do, I felt I was fighting him, I felt I was getting in his way. He took the keys from me, and put them where ever they needed to go.
The engine fired up, the car purred around me. I was expected to operate this heavy machine. The rattling, vibrating pulse under my legs and up my back was the car letting me know it waited on my word.
Fezby grabbed my hand, guiding it to a cold and somewhat sticky sort of handle. I studied it, working my grip around it, the top was scalloped to fit my fingers.
“This is the gear shift,” Fezby’s hand over mine nudged my thumb to depress a button, the handle felt free to move in my grip. “The steering wheel is in front of you. And at your feet are the pedals, these are important, the gas in on your right and the brake in one the left. Step on the brake and I’ll put us in gear.”
I kicked around with my feet. They became entangled with two protrusions. I couldn’t get a good feel with Fezby’s urgency. I stepped on the left, the pedal moved against the pressure.
Fezby yanked my hand and the plastic handle moved back, clicking past a few notches. The car came to life under me, around me, vibrating harder and louder, responding to me.
“You’re going to take your foot off the brake and the car will move backwards. When I say stop, press the brake, when I say go faster, press the pedal on the right. When I tell you to turn, just twist the steering wheel in front of you,” the urgency of Fezby’s bark became a little calmer. “I’m sorry. I know you don’t want to do this, I don’t want to ride with you, no offense, but I don’t see we have much choice. Let go of the brake and back us out.”
I let pressure off my leg, felt the pedal releasing, I thought it was stuck to my shoe the way it leaned in on my foot . The car bucked under me. My stomach dropped as far down into my intestines as it could manage. I was thrown for a moment from my seat, and the car growled loudly at me. I heard a crashing, a grinding of metal, a buckling or crunching. My head hit something in front of me, the windshield, I heard Fezby hit it too. He cried out in surprise or pain or both. The car still purred, agitated now, but not moving. I had made it mad, or bristled its fur, I wasn’t sure.
“What did I do?” my forehead throbbed where my head had hit against the glass, a pain piercing my skull. My left hand gripped the steering wheel, I wasn’t sure if I was shaking that hard or if the car was shaking me.
“I put us in the wrong gear,” Fezby’s excited tone calmed enough to let a slight laugh break through. “You hit the garage door. Bent it right in. No matter, I’ll fix that later. This is going to be harder than I thought.”
This last statement didn’t ease my fear, my nervousness, the awful feeling of have no idea what I was doing. But he was right, Fezby couldn’t drive. I was going to have to do the best I could with his direction and hope I didn’t kill anyone on the way.
We hadn’t moved much at all and I’d crashed into the garage. It didn’t make me feel comfortable or in control. I was afraid if we actually did make it to the hospital, both of us would in need of medical attention.
© Robert Emmett McWhorter