First Passage – Chapter 35: The Next Steps
As you can read here, Elias received an Alpha Romeo Giulietta Spider as a gift from his father, and seemed to always have trouble with it’s maintenance.
[…] Going north toward the New Hampshire border on I-95, there was a most horrendous noise which sounded like large metal rods flying around loose under the hood. I pulled off the highway, and when I raised the bonnet, as they call it in England, I was instantly enveloped by a cloud of dark smoke.
With my vision obscured as it was, I did not notice that just at that moment, in a coincidence worthy of the plot of The Great Gatsby, Bob. K. was also driving north on I-95. […]
Drastic as the measure had been, it accomplished a darker purpose. […] The Alfa certainly did not make my life easy.
But I couldn’t sell the car without getting my father to sign the bill of sale. And how would he have felt if he had known I was selling an Alfa-Romeo, the car he had given me, to buy something more modest which I could afford on my budget?
But here I had brought about an admirable solution. I didn’t have to sell the Alfa, because I had practically totalled it.
[…] I would pay the dealer in Manchester $600, and in return I would get a two-year old Volkswagen, which I was buying with my own money. With my plausible second-hand car, I could move ahead into a first-hand life. […]
I was happier in my new second-hand car than in any I had ever driven until then. I cared for it lovingly for the next four years–without a trace of maintenance guilt. […] I drove the car wherever I went, parked it outside expensive restaurants and places where larger cars would never have dreamed of parking.
It was nothing out of the ordinary, and its only idiosyncrasy was that it had no gas gauge. The engine would sputter to a stop, and you would have to reach down to the floor and flip a metal lever to open the reserve tank. But you had to do that only once–and that easy flick of the switch would give you another gallon and take you 35 miles, 26 in traffic, to a gas station where you could fill up. It was a perfectly workable fail-safe, provided you knew about it ahead of time.
But as the fates ordained, once when my father needed to borrow my car, I lent it to him willingly but forgot to tell him about the gas gauge. […]
Read here what happened when Elias’s father drove the Volkswagen.