Boxtered In

The car. The only thing he had left was the car. Sure, it was a little older. Sure, it was the base model. But it was a base model Porsche and he didn’t care that he’d been parking it in front of a shitty studio apartment on the ugly side of town for six months. It was his. And it was a Porsche. And he wasn’t selling the car.

Six months ago. Yeah, he’d thought he was doing something then. Had the wife. The job. The house. Of course, the car.

Now, it was just the car.

His own fault, really. Well, the wife part. Probably shouldn’t have been dumb enough to put the hotel on his credit card. Then, how was he to know Eileen’s coworker would have her ID stolen and she’d develop a habit of meticulously checking statements she’d never glanced at before?

The job? That wasn’t his fault. Damn company shipped everything to India except the sales force. India: land of the programmer and customer service rep. Engineers and IT support hanging from ever twisted tree. But apparently no one willing to take a guy out for a steak dinner, call his butt-ugly wife lovely and get a signature. How they even planned for the sales force to sell the crap they were manufacturing (in Thailand) was beyond him. Even the redesign they’d had him working on before the layoffs was a turd in plastic housing. Not that it mattered anymore except the stock options they’d showered on him were now worthless. Couldn’t even sell them for enough to make rent.

Which left the car. But he wasn’t selling the car.

As it was, he’d get maybe a summer’s worth of rent money out of it and then what would he do? Ride the bus? Steal his neighbor’s Schwinn?

No, the car was his.

Finally, he got a line on a job. Decent pay, working in a warehouse district down under the interstate. Left his car out front, but hid it behind a work van in case the guy hiring thought someone driving a Porsche wasn’t really looking.

He was in a hurry. Had gotten stopped at the tracks by an Amtrak, by a couple of charter yachts at the bridge. Had nearly run out of gas and was sweating filling the tank with the last of his savings.

The interview itself went okay. No better or worse than the other two. Just knew the supervisor could smell his underarms and the desperation living there.

“Well, we’ll call you either way.” Guy had said, rubbing the back of his thinning hair. “You said you had reliable transportation, right? Last guy…” He shook his head.

He was pretty sure he wouldn’t get the job. And if he did, he’d be making a quarter what he had before.

He left feeling like he’d felt the day before. Like the only thing he had left in the world was that stupid car. The one his buddy had told him was a trap, right before he’d quit corporate and taken off to tour European couches with a punk band named Sloppy Meat Surprise.

He took out his keys, walked around the work van, and stared at the empty space.

His head whipped around involuntarily, looking for another work van, another space, his car. But the lot was small, the van alone, and the car gone.

He’d have pulled out his phone and called the police, but his service had been cut and he hadn’t been able to let himself give up his hipster phone for “ghetto PCS.” The only thing he knew about the bus schedule was that those little yellow signs always popped up when he was running late.

Walking around the curve toward the main road, he saw the red.  As he got closer, he realized that was about the only thing left. The rest? Stripped and sitting in the middle of the road.

He got behind the wheel and tried to start her. No gas. No wheels anyway.

A semi, heading for one of the warehouses, came up on the curve fast. The driver wasn’t expecting to find a car there. There were never cars there. It was one of the least-traveled roads in the city.

He looked up at the daytime running lights bearing down on him and wondered if they’d stolen the airbags, too.