Startled by the roar of an engine and the screeching of tires, Dean looked up and nearly spilled coffee down the front of his partially wrinkled button-up shirt. He sputtered and coughed as the hot liquid went down the wrong way. The car charged toward him until its driver slammed on the brakes and swerved to a stop mere feet in front of him. The car door flew open. The driver leaped out. Stomping toward Dean, she yelled, “You have to do something with this goddamn car!”
Bewildered, Dean said, “Excuse me, miss, I-”
“It’s the car!” The woman screamed, cutting Dean off in mid-sentence. “You have to get rid of the car!”
Dean examined the woman, observing the fear in her eyes, hearing the sincerity in her voice. He glanced at the car which sat idling before him. He knew it instantly. Holy shit, a Delgorian 130, just like in the movie! Dean held out a hand to the woman. “I’d love to help, if you could just-”
The woman cut him off again. “Just get rid of it! Put it somewhere no one can find it!” She pulled an envelope from her bra and slammed it into Dean’s chest. It was the first time he’d been touched by a woman since his divorce six months earlier. He flinched and spilled his coffee. His eyes watched the envelope fall to the pavement below.
Several potential customers and employees who were milling around the used car lot stopped to observe the commotion.
“You deal with cars,” the woman shouted, “You deal with this one!”
She took long, deliberate strides back to the car, reached inside, and snatched up her purse. Throwing the strap over her shoulder, she glared at Dean, let out a heavy sigh, and then said, “And for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t drive it. Don’t let anyone drive it. Please.” She stepped closer to Dean. “Do you understand me?”
Dean fixed her with a blank expression and squinted.
“Do you fucking understand me?!” She shouted.
Dean gasped and stepped back. He nodded. “Y-yes. I understand you.”
The woman stepped within inches of Dean. She lowered her voice. “No one drives this goddamn car, especially not you. Got it?”
A soft wind blew the woman’s scent of perfume and fresh shampoo up to Dean, stirring bleak memories and sorrow within. He nodded again and said flatly, “Yeah, I got it.”
The woman turned and hurried away, the short heels of her shoes clacking harshly against the pavement. Dean’s thoughts caught up with themselves and he realized how attractive he found her. He wondered if she was an actress or a model. He picked up the envelope and opened it. Inside were several folded papers. Dean glanced up, intending to call after the woman, just in time to see her ’round the corner out of the lot and head down the sidewalk. He looked at the car. It idled calmly. Dean suddenly felt like it was staring at him.
“Fuck me, man, a Delgorian 130!” An excited voice declared. “Where the hell did this come from? Don’t tell me someone was dumb enough to fuckin’ trade this in?”
“A woman just dropped it off,” Dean said to his co-worker.
“What?! You gotta be shittin’ me!” The co-worker boomed. Alec was loud, almost all the time.
Dean raised his eyebrows and shrugged. “Yep, she just left it, just like that.”
Alec looked around. “Well, where’d she go?”
“Fucking took off,” Dean said.
“What?!” Alec yelled.
Dean winced at Alec’s volume. He explained, “Yeah man, she roared in here –literally- scared Beelzebub outta me, told me to take the car and get rid of it, slammed this envelope on my chest, made me spill my coffee, and took off.”
“Dude,” Alec said, “She made you spill your coffee?”
Dean nodded. “Yes, that she did.”
The car’s engine revved and sputtered. The two used car salesmen started at the sound.
“A Delgorian 130,” Alec said, his tone nearing reverent awe. “On the shittiest car lot in the shittiest part of town. What the actual fuck, man.”
“I know, right,” Dean said.
The late afternoon sun sparkled off the spotless silver hood of the car. Dean saw his and Alec’s images reflected in the dark, tinted driver side window. Their reflections bent and warped. Their bodies curved in the middle. Their faces melted. Their mouths opened and stretched as if in a silent wail.
Dean jumped back. “Did you see that, man?”
“See what, dude?” Alec gave Dean a look of concern. “I didn’t see anything other than a badass car, man. What’d you see?”
“I…” Dean began. He stopped. “Nothing, man, I think it was the light or something.”
“Alright, man,” Alec said.
Dean cleared his throat and straightened his tie. “Um, let’s get this car moved off the lot before Hinland comes out here and starts giving us shit. We can explain it to him later.”
“Good deal,” Alec agreed.
With a foreboding feeling in his gut, Dean walked toward the car. The engine cooed in a low idle. Dean approached the door, which the woman had left wide open. Get in, a voice said in the back of his mind. Dean’s brow wrinkled. He stopped. The woman’s admonition rang loud in his memory: No one drives this goddamn car, especially not you. He quickly reached in, killed the engine, and tore the keys from the ignition. They dangled loud as he stuffed them in his pocket.
“Um, hey man,” Alec said.
“I thought you were gonna move the car.”
“The lady said not to drive it.”
Alec scoffed. “What?”
“Yeah, she said no one should drive it, especially not me.”
“Dude,” Alec said. “Why would she say some shit like that?”
Dean shrugged. “I dunno. She just did. And it gave me this weird feeling too, you know. Let’s just get Tony to move it with the wrecker.”
Alec shook his head and held out his hand. Dean sighed and turned over the keys. “Don’t be superstitious, dude,” Alec said.
Dean eyeballed Alec as he slipped into the car and brought it back to life. He revved the engine and lowered the window. “Hear that?” He shouted over the revving engine. “That’s power, dude!”
Alec stuck out his tongue and hooted. Dean chuckled and felt a bit of his apprehension slip away. Maybe that lady was just some whack job, he thought. Dean watched the car purr its way up the hill to the garage and he walked back to the showroom to get a new cup of coffee.
He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about the car. When Dean found himself in the garage standing in front of it that evening, he wasn’t so surprised. Alec had hung the keys with all the other sets after he parked the car in the farthest stall of the garage, after which he’d seemed to forget about the car altogether. Inexplicably, none of the other employees seemed to notice that it was there. None but Dean, who now held the keys tight in his right hand.
The woman’s stern words from that morning rang loud in his memory. A feeling in his gut and a fear in his heart told him to heed her warning. There seemed to be something wrong about the car. But what could be wrong about such a beautiful, perfect creation? Was this even a machine? It just seemed so… alive.
Dean’s pulse quickened. His mouth watered. His thoughts raced. It’s just a car. It’s just a car. It’s just a –
A sudden rush of pain registered in Dean’s mind. He opened his hand. He’d squeezed so hard that the car keys had cut into his palm. Blood glistened on the silver metal of the keys. “Ow, fuck!” He said.
Broken from his trance. Dean hurried out of the garage.
Dean was late to work the next morning. He slouched into the break room and grabbed a mug from the pantry. Alec stood near the coffee maker finishing the last bite of a doughnut.
“Dude, you look like roasted shit,” Alec said as Dean poured his first cup of coffee.
“Wow, thanks, fucker,” Dean returned.
The two chuckled and sipped on their coffee.
Dean said, “Hey, did Hinland mention anything about the car?”
“Um, which one? We work on a car lot.”
“You know, the Delgorian 130,” Dean said.
Alec laughed. “Yeah right, as if one of those would ever be here!”
“What the fuck do you mean? You drove it into the garage yesterday. Remember, that wacko lady left it here?”
Alec looked puzzled. “Uh, what lady? You alright there, buddy?”
“Of course I’m alright, I’m fucking fine!”
“Hey, dude, no need to raise your voice.”
“I’m not!” Dean screamed.
Alec stepped back and took a deep breath. Exhaling slowly, he said, “Dude, I don’t know what the fuck this is all about, but I think you need to walk outside and cool off, and I think you need to do that right the fuck now.”
“I. Uh. Gree.” Dean said through clenched teeth. He took his coffee, left the breakroom and stomped out onto the lot. Two minutes later he was standing in front of the Delgorian 130, eyes wide in terror, wondering why the front of the car was covered in blood.
“Hey Dean, what’r ya lookin’ at?” Tony said.
Dean stuttered. “Th-th-the c-c-car. Th-the b-bl-blood.”
“The what?” Tony said, “There ain’t nothin’ there, bru. That stall’s been empty all week.”
Dean stopped breathing. His coffee mug fell from his hand. The mug exploded on the concrete floor. Tony stepped back.
“Hey, watch it, bru!” Tony exclaimed. “You just got frickin’ coffee all over my new work shoes!”
Dean faced Tony. The salesman’s mouth hung open. His skin was pale and clammy. Sweat was breaking on his brow.
Tony recoiled. “Jeez, bru, what the frick is wrong with you? You need to go to the doctor or sumthin.’”
Dean’s eyes jumped back and forth between Tony and the car, the car and Tony. His lips trembled. He babbled nonsense under his breath.
Tony reached out a hand. “Bru, lemme help you, c’mon.”
Dean yelped, turned, and ran out of the garage.
Reaching the showroom entrance, Dean slowed to a brisk walk. Trying to be inconspicuous, he slipped into the building and headed straight for his desk, where he collapsed into his chair and buried his face in his hands. He took deep breaths to slow his heartbeat, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Above the sound of his own breathing, he heard the showroom television. Someone had turned on the news. Dean tuned in to the droning voice of the reporter.
“It was here, in this off-ramp tunnel referred to locally as ‘bum alley’, that a classic sports car roared through the tent city at approximately two o’clock this morning, killing seven and wounding three others,” the newscaster said.
Dean raised his head toward the mammoth television. The screen cut to an eyewitness. A haggard woman dressed in varying shades of camouflage said, “It was a Delgorian 130, just like from the movie. I’d know that car anywhere! It came flying into the tunnel, musta been doin’ over a hundret, and ran everybody down and just kept on goin’. I didn’t see the driva, though, cause the windas was all kinda black. I was lucky I was over here and they didn’t see me and try to get me too.”
Another cut brought back the on-location reporter. “Lucky, indeed,” he said. “Police are asking that any sightings of the car in question -a silver 1985 Delgorian 130- be reported immediately. This is Leslie Keene reporting live for Action News. Back to you, Cindy.”
Dean puked in the plastic wastebasket by his desk. Tears streamed down his face. “What the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck oh god oh god what the fuck,” he whispered to himself.
With a trembling hand, Dean opened the top left desk drawer to retrieve the package of tissue he kept handy. Through blurred vision he saw the envelope the woman had left with him the day before. He opened the envelope and removed the car’s registration, bill of sale, and title. Dean frowned. His eyes watered anew. He let the registration and bill of sale fall back into the drawer. He held the title in his shaking hands.
“Oh God,” he sobbed.
On the title, on the line marked “New Registered Owner”, Dean saw his name, in his handwriting, written in what looked like dark red ink. He glanced to his right hand. A dark red spot bloomed on the white bandage that covered the gash in his palm. Dean dropped the title into the drawer and slid it closed. He remembered the keys in his pocket, and suddenly, he felt like going for a drive.