Category: Flash Fiction

TUESDAY: Thirty-Four Horses

BY HENRY SIMPSON

Copyright is held by the author.

RAY CALLED me to come collect Aninha’s Vocho. I brought its local next of kin along for the inspection. The small black Beetle was parked in Ray’s lot, modest looking beside the flashy customs also there. Ray stood off at a distance, watching our reactions.

“What do you think?” I said to Donna.

“It’s cute,” she said. “Looks brand new.”

“Like 1949. They’ve done a fine job on it.”

She tested the doors, opening and closing them with soft clicks. She got inside, peered around, put her hands on the steering wheel, looked out the windshield, smiled. She looked up at me, standing outside her window. “Will it go?”

“Try it.”

She turned the key and it started up, idling with the sound of a sewing machine. She shifted into reverse, backed up, then into first, and zipped out the exit, turned right, and disappeared from sight. Five long minutes later, the Beetle reappeared on the street, pulled into the lot, and stopped. Its engine went silent and Donna got out.

“Well?” I said.

“It’s slow,” Donna said. “How many horses?”

“Thirty-four.”

“That’s not much.”

“It gets good mileage.”

“How can anyone tell? It doesn’t have a gas gauge.”

“One must pay attention.”

“How fast is it?”

“Sixty or so miles per hour.”

“Slow.”

“It’s faster in kilometers.”

She smiled. “On the other hand, it handles well. It’s so small, I bet it’s easy to park.”

“Verdict?” I said.

“What’s yours?”

“Looks okay to me. Do you want to drive it to Oakland?”

She laughed. “Do you?”

“It’s your mother’s car.”

“You fixed it.”

“I don’t believe it’s safe on a modern freeway,” I said. “The radio’s not very good.”

“Suppose we drive together. I can sing.”

“It’s a long drive, Donna.”

“I’ll rest my voice in Santa Cruz.”

“Let’s go.”