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My Life on the Road

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I first met Pierre not long after my last owner and I split up. I had just gotten through some serious repairs that I won't bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and the feeling that everything was rust. With the coming of Pierre Moreau began the part of my life you could call my life on the road. Before that I'd often dreamed of going West to see the country, but my previous owner had thought that the commute between New Jersey and New York City was already too much driving. Pierre was the perfect guy for the road because he loved it, loved picking up hitchhikers and driving them wherever they wanted to go. The day after he bought me, we drove from Westchester to Cleveland, dropping off one hitchhiker and picking up another until Pierre was half asleep at the wheel and we stopped at a rest area. He locked my doors and dozed asleep, and the grit of the highway covered my undercarriage and my windshield as I cooled in that lonely parking lot.

I felt more alive then than I ever had before.

That was only the beginning. We drove to Mexico, Pierre flashing his French passport to the border patrol as we crossed the line between countries. We drove to Indonesia, and I'll never forget the warmth of the air on the islands.

(I'm not really sure how we made it to Indonesia. One day I was on the west coast of California, staring at the sea, and the next we were crossing the border from Papua New Guinea into Indonesian Papua. But Pierre was magic like that.)

The last time I saw him we were back in New York. Pierre was packed up to take a train from Penn Station, and I was feeling betrayed because a train is no way for a man to travel when he has a good car like me.

"Good-by, Pierre," I said. "I sure wish you didn't have to go."

Pierre smiled sadly. "Au revoir," he said, and picked up his bags to leave.

But I never did see him again. I worked for years as a taxi cab in New York, hoping to catch a glimpse of Old Pierre, but no chance.

So in New York when the sun goes down and I idle on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw asphalt that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the motorcycles must be roaring in the land where they let the motorcycles roar, and tonight the headlights'll be out, and don't you know that God is Chevy? the lampposts must be drooping and shedding their yellow light on the highway, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the worn parts of growing old, I think of Pierre Moreau, I even think of Old Pierre Moreau the father we never found, I think of Pierre Moreau.

And then I usually get towed, because unattended cars aren't supposed to be sitting on the docks at night.