Life is continually compared to the open road or twisted dark garbage strewn back alleys, mountain passes, arduous climbs, and deadly valleys and we have been beaten down with these clichés our whole lives. My personal relationship with the road elevated from a small, angry Honda 400cc motorcycle to an exotic German sports coupe floating in the wild Alpine mists of my teenage mind in 1986.
There it was in the Ft.Worth Star Telegram newspaper, a 1980 Volkswagen Scirocco 5spd for sale $2500 817 867 5309 The unwritten part of the ad was that it was on its last legs, waaay overpriced, needed tires, and it was for sale by the owners former employers as he was at the state prison in Huntsville for an extended stay because he murdered his girlfriend in the car.
I don’t generally believe in cursed objects. I don’t know that what I considered to be my lovely Callibre Green dream car was truly accursed but, I have considered the possibility in the more than 25 years that have passed since the car was brought into my life.
That was when I was eighteen, I lived with my Grandparents in Hurst, TX. My first long term girlfriend lived an hour or so away in Plano, and I needed to see her on the weekends. I had seen Sciroccos around for years, and I really wanted one. Two doors down from my childhood home, the Arnolds had a silver one covered in pine needles and in need of some sexy rims wrapped in sticky European rubber, not to mention the tuned exhaust it lacked. David Arnold, the neighbor a couple of years older than I gave me that knowing glance that once the gauntlet was passed, the car would be all it should be in an autobahn obsessed teenage boy’s maladjusted fantasy factory. Howling exhaust notes penetrating the screaming scirocco winds the car was named for above the shriek of the tortured Pirelli P-7 tires. BBS three piece alloy rims signaled to unwary wayfarers on Germany’s veins of speed that these young men from California’s High Desert region were not to be tangled withPorsches, MBZs, Beemers were in danger. Hip sunglasses over beautifully wrought grey woolen sweaters cued all cooing frauliens that these dashing rakes were men of serious consequence. David’s eyes narrowed as I walked up his pine cone ladened aggregate concrete drive way offset with railroad tie parking curbsâ€¦it was all acknowledged in that glance.
Yes, grey sweaters it would be.
With noble jaw lines set.
The fact that this picture was taken in the carport of my Grandparent’s suburban Texas home on a languidly humid summer afternoon by my septuagenarian Grandmother should not deter from the mental picture. I had not stretched to the heights of grey sweaters just yet. Perhaps next winters the grey. I had told myself as the shutter of the Canon AV-1 snapped this image the first SLR camera I ever shot. The one my Grandmother passed to me. The one that sits downstairs in my studio inoperable since it and I were beaten with a pipe on Oahu in 1995 by some locals after receiving a big tattoo by Mike Malone aka Rollo Banks boy was I fucked up on pills! I woke up nude, bloody and bruised in a high rise hotel room in Honolulu to paramedics and my tortured mother’s worried cries. Yes, that camera. Yes, that Grandmother. Yes, that mother. Yes.
The Scirocco needed some help. A fellow member of the wait staff at Bedford, Texas laughable “Baja Louie’s” Mexican themed restaurant’s boyfriend had suggested a comprehensive course of work that would make my vehicle not my dream cares but merely one that wouldn’t leave me stranded. Living with Granny and Gramps, I didn’t have much in the way of tools. Escaping my locally renowned mechanic Father’s weird tentacles meant leaving with technical skills roughly equal to that of the average drunken third grade girl. This young skateboarder didn’t have the $1200 required to do the basic work the stringy haired chain smoking off duty mechanic sensibly urged me to undertake in the concrete parking lot of his ubiquitous wooden 70s apartment complex.
No, I would roll Das Murderwagen five hours south to Austin and start my new life. I had my girlfriend from Plano to attend to, and things needed to be skated in that part of Texas, I was told. My dream car would rise above any sniff of accursedness. Yes, I would take the remains of the tiny settlement from the insurance company I recieved after being hit in an intersection. To be clear, this was not related to the rear ending of the other motorist as I exited the freeway at full speed to find a Texan driver doing a typically Texan driver’s act…randomly stopping in the roadway for no reason. Just stopping. Oh, maybe it’s the freeway off ramp and some would argue it is an inappropriate parking place yet, there the Texan may be, sitting like a magpie on a wire, doing whatever it is a starch ladened thick necked individual does in an ugly stock Chrysler with faux wood applied to the exterior does. Of course these had nothing to do with the 360 degree spin at 75 mph on the freeway to avoid the Texan stopped in the fast lane, or the slick corner that broke the weak, cheap, worn out tires and a tenuous grip on the hot summer’s asphalt leading to the 270 degree rotation at speed onto the citizen’s lawn, nor was it the cars mysterious surging reverse out of the Taco Bueno parking lot in Dallas that lead to two patrons finding the Sciroccos gracefully slanted hatch back window an alluring lounge spot, which similarly had nothing to do with the intentional mowing down of a skinhead in Dallas Deep Ellum neighborhood, or the time the car rolled into a ditch we were skateboarding in though it was in gear and the parking brake was engaged, or when the air conditioner compressor seized resulting in a deafening squall and hack inducing white smoke that required the belt to be severed with a kitchen knife from “Baja Louie’s” selection of fine Mexican cutlery, the very knife I would be arrested for after it was deemed a “deadly weapon”, though it resided long forgotten in the rails under the driver’s seat, nor the time I was arrested stealing tools to replace the water pump that took my last dollars to attempt to install, lest be forgotten the infamous railroad crossing stall should not be mentioned because it gets lost in the parking lot final chuff story resulting in the car never actually providing transportation ever again simply turning into a project that eventually was wisely traded for a 24″ Champion BMX bicycle of the same model year.
I still have the Champion as I have since 1987.
The “final chuffâ” of the Scirocco happened in the parking lot of the massive Austin apartment complex “Mi Amigoâ” (aka Me Amoeba) that housed my girlfriend from Plano with whom I was to live with for a short time. She’s the one who got my Cycle Pro 26″ cruiser bicycle stolen, the one who fleeced me of my money, the one who drove me to abandon our apartment after less than three months on foot.
A couple of years after I traded the car off, I saw it in Austin, it was unmistakable there was the crack in the windshield I punched during an argument with my ex-girlfriend four years earlier the creased fender from the intersection collision that funded the Scirocco relocation to Austin.
I squinted in the summer sun, I couldn’t believe who was toodling down the stairs of the apartment the car was parked in front of with my ex-girlfriend. The newest owner of that Scirocco. I couldn’t bear to look back as I rode on astride my fine Champion bicycle, knowing was serious ill was to befall the recipient of not one curse, but two quite serious curses.
The grey never actually showed up and not in sweater form, anyway.