I’ll never forget that hot, August afternoon when Mr. Day dressed in his usual Hawaiian shirt, baggy shorts and jap slaps, came calling. With a can of Coors in one hand and the wrench in the other, he came strolling down his driveway towards us. Anticipating the scolding we were sure he would give us, we immediately began climbing down from the tree, but much to our surprise, instead of yelling and shutting us down, he stripped off his shirt and shoes, polished off his beer, then climbed into the tree. He stood on the landing a moment looking down at our shocked faces, then grabbed the rope and swung himself through the stream of water. We all cheered wildly. He must have played with us for nearly an hour before finally shutting down the hydrant. It was incredible! Mr. Day was definitely the coolest!
I slowly opened my eyes and stood there looking at the tree in disbelief. It was the same tree, but how? It was then that I noticed the frayed end of a knotted rope hanging from the upper branches. I took a few steps forward and could see the rope and the outline of what looked like a fire hydrant in the shadows on the far side of the tree. But that just wasn’t possible. I had stood beneath the tree less than a half hour before and hadn’t seen the rope or the hydrant. Had they been there? Had I simply missed them? I didn’t think so, but I wasn’t sure.
Just then I thought I saw something move near the base of the pepper tree. I stared into the shadows looking for the source of the movement and saw nothing, then suddenly I saw it again, and realized that it was a reflection, light reflecting off metal. I approached the tree cautiously, and there near its base lay a large silver Crescent wrench. It looked a lot like the wrench we had used to open the hydrant when we were kids. I went over and picked it up. It was real, I could feel the weight of the cold metal in my hand. I looked at the wrench. It was indeed the same wrench, the same one I use to take out of my dad’s toolbox each time we opened the hydrant. On the handle was the familiar painted stripe that my dad put on all his tools to identify them as his, but how was it possible? I dropped the wrench and stood there staring at it on the ground and began to cry.
I closed my eyes tightly and tried to fight off the tears. I needed to calm down, get a hold of myself. I was a bundle of nerves. I hadn’t smoked in over twenty five years, but at that moment I wanted a cigarette in the worst way. Unreal. What was happening to me? I stood there in the shade of the pepper tree trying to get it together, trying desperately to convince myself that there must be a logical explanation for everything that had happened that morning, but it all defied logic. The ordinary had become the extraordinary. Everything had changed….
I was terrified, trying to comprehend the largeness of my situation. I turned in every direction looking for something, anything that made sense. I looked back up Sierra Madre and could see my car in the distance. As I watched, my Maxima seemed to shimmer for a moment, and right before my eyes, my car, at least the one I’d arrived in, vanished and the Volkswagen Beetle I’d seen earlier had taken its place. I don’t know how or why, but it was quite evident that it was my old 61, root beer brown VW! My very first car! I closed my eyes, certain that when I opened them again my Maxima would be back, but that wasn’t the case, when I opened my eyes my old Bug was still there.
I’m not sure how long it took me to regain my composure and muster up the courage to make my way back to the car. It felt like an eternity. Slowly I approached the VW and walked around it a few times in disbelieve. It was indeed my Bug, lowered front end, cragar mags and custom exhaust, just as she was all those years ago, Beautiful! I reached out to touch the hood, certain that my hand would pass right through it, but it was solid, it was real. I stood there for several moments and finally reached over and opened the drivers door. The wave of memories that assaulted me was overwhelming! In flash format I went from the day I purchased the car, to the day I was forced to sell it. What a rush!
To be continued Wednesday 5/25/2011