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On the road with Kim

My first car was a silver 1982 Buick Skylark, named Kim after a girl I couldn't stand from school. She was great as far as piece-of-crap clunkers go. She only required a quart of oil every 20 miles, so everything I owned -- an ankle deep collection of clothing, school work, handbags, shoes, fast food wrappers and unidentifiable trash -- was splattered with greasy dribbles from near-empty containers of 5W40.

The radiator was more temperamental than the engine, forcing me to run the heater full blast on the hottest days of summer to prevent the bitch from overheating.

This fine bargain of an automobile that my parents bought me a few months shy of my 19th birthday seized up on our first road trip together a few miles west of North Bend stranding me on the side of I-90 with my friend, Erika.

Several state troopers passed us up before a kindly trucker stopped to help. He suggested that I pour ice-cold water directly into the radiator that was spouting antifreeze like a fricking geyser into the sky, and -- knowing nothing whatsoever about cars -- I said, "Sure. That's a great idea." He handed Erika an empty jug and instructed her to fill it from a creek a few hundred feet from the highway. She scurried up and down the hill several times before Mr. Trucker told me to start the car. It let out a long, painful scream, then -- SNAP-BANG-POP-BANG -- Kim gurgled dramatically and died.

The trucker -- who I'm sure is still laughing somewhere in his big f-ing rig-- suggested I call for a tow truck and quickly fled the scene. We waited and waited and waited -- because we didn't all carry cell phones 15 years ago -- until a state patrolman finally stopped and helped us. A mechanic told me several hours later that my engine was busted because I dumped several gallons of water in the radiator -- yay truckers!

It cost more than $3,000 to resuscitate my dear Kim, and even then -- with her spanking new old engine -- she ran like crap. But she was my passport to anywhere-but-here when I was too young to bar hop and too old to roller skate. Without her there'd be no road trips to places I'd always heard of and never seen -- a haunted cemetery, for example,  that people around here have gone on about for years. We grew up listening to older kids' spooky tales about the supposed den of paranormal activity in south Snohomish County.

Finding the place was tricky, because -- according to legend -- the cemetery is surrounded by a small, out-of-the-way neighborhood for which no one had proper directions. You were simply to follow a road through the middle of nowhere until you came to the place where every house was for sale. You were then instructed to turn on a dirt road just past the final for-sale sign. You'd know you were close when a pair of headlights appeared in front of you and "big black" ghost car drove through you. Then there were varying tales of crashed up school buses and ghost children, three-headed dogs, a Native American girl who was killed in a fire and so on and so forth -- every ghost got progressively meaner and scarier the closer you got to the cemetery.

Why on earth I thought it was a good idea to look for a haunted cemetery in my crapper car that might have been possessed by demons of its own remains somewhat of a mystery to me. All I can say is that I enjoyed the excitement. It started out swell enough.

Erika and I drug our scaredy-pants friend Amber along in a sort of twisted scheme to pay her back for dragging us to a male strip club blindfolded, promising an excellent surprise that revealed itself as a short, bald pervert, who literally attached himself to me with the straps of his singlet [insert gag here].

There were several places along the road with multiple houses for sale and many gravel turnouts that we followed to nothing whatsoever. Then a road -- that we've never located since -- called out to us with its unkempt condition and menacing-looking trees and branches that sliced through the fog like talons. I regretted turning on it almost immediately as it was so overgrown and narrow that I had no room to turn around -- no chicken exit.

Amber whimpered under a blanket in my back seat, threatening over and over that she'd pee in her pants if I didn't take her home "right now." The fog got quite thick as the road led us deeper and deeper into nothing but trees and gravel and the occasional carcase of a wrecked or abandoned vehicle when the seed of a thought took root in my brain. I tried to ignore it but the sight of those cars proved too powerful -- "What if my car breaks down? What if we get stuck here?"

That's when she did it -- the bitch flashed her check-engine light, prompting a chorus of "shit"s and "oh my God"s.
Kim was going to kill us.

I had to decide -- "Do I stop or speed up?" The car was smoking and it stank like burning oil,  but I kept on going until we crested the top of a hill and something jumped out from the fog. The gray translucent figure of a woman bore down on us from 20 feet away holding what appeared to be a shotgun. She never moved towards us or attempted to communicate she only stared at us from her post in the middle of the road.

I screamed, Amber cried and Erika yelled at me to turn the car around, which I did easily under the circumstances. We made it home alive -- though Amber attempted to murder me and Erika several times along the way. She never went back with us to look for the cemetery -- and we've still never seen it despite hundreds of attempts in various cars. It was never the same after Kim died -- laid to rest in a local junk yard.  She was the best worst car ever.


  1. Im so glad that you never got me back for that stripper trip! I would have peed my pants!

  2. Man it took a lot of steps just to write that little line! good thing I like reading what you have to say.


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