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I had informed Nixon after the lights gave a sudden shudder when the power went out that this was a good way for us to bond. We could have candlelight dinners, curl up on the couch and read a book (as long as there was enough sunlight shining through the grungy apartment windows), or go for long nighttime strolls. Nixon seemed okay with this plan. That is, until he realized that losing the electricity cut into his “Bones” time. He became a little short with me after that.

I shoved open the car door, automatically bracing myself for the long gagging squeak that occurred anytime the driver side door was moved. I dragged myself to the hood and popped it open.

I am not a mechanic. I do not know how to patch a tire, change my oil, or add windshield washer solvent. My knowledge about cars extends to filling up the gas tank and adding one of those tacky pine-trees that incite automatic gagging. It took me a week to learn how to turn my radio on. The only thing I am an expert on when it comes to automobiles is when a vehicle is, in fact, bitchin’. My car was nowhere near such an honor, so I don’t take much interest in it. The car, to put it nicely, is a junker. There are other words for it of course: shit-mobile, turd-engine, and my favorite, fecal-buggy.

The car was originally white although now it had turned a light rusty brown. I couldn’t use the trunk because there was a rust hole that had gone clear through it. The good thing was that if I was ever kidnapped and shoved into my own trunk I certainly had means of escape by wiggling through the hole and landing on hard pavement.

After staring into the abyss of the hood for ten seconds, I proceeded to jiggle the thick black hose, smack the top of the red box twice, twist the little grey hose, and then make the sign of the cross over the entire thing. I did this the first time the car refused to start. It worked. It had been three months since I performed that first ritual, and I still have no idea exactly what made the car start. I’d put all my marbles on the cross not having anything to do with it – but why mess with tradition, right?

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