Buck stood above his water bowl, his tongue lapping at the glazed ceramic until long after the last drops were gone. His head lifted, and he looked over his shoulder, ears perked up.
“The squirrels are coming, I know it. Where is Barry?” he thought.
He wandered to their bedroom and sniffed the covers. He could smell the distinctly different scents of both Eve and Barry. Though they had been gone for hours, their essence lingered.
“Maybe a nap,” he pondered, placing one paw on the bed on Barry’s side. Just then he heard the car pull up.
“HOORAY, BARRY! BARRY, YOU’RE HOME! I LOVE YOU!”
He loped headlong into the living room, bashing into the side of the couch as he overshot his “sentry spot” at the edge of the window. Something was amiss, though.
“THAT’S NOT BARRY’S CAR. THAT’S NOT EVE’S CAR,” he barked. His hackles shot up, and he mustered all of the power of his dog-vice. “GO AWAY. BARRY DOESN’T WANT YOU HERE. THIS IS MY HOUSE. THIS IS BARRY’S HOUSE. GO AWAY!”
Both doors opened, and a man and a woman stepped out. Buck’s heart skipped, and his tail began to wag furiously.
It was Barry and Eve.
“BARRY! BARRY, I LOVE YOU! WHERE IS YOUR CAR, BARRY?”
He launched toward the door as hard as he could falling over on his side as his traction failed on the freshly buffed hardwood floor. Buck scratched at the door and whined. “BARRY, WHAT’S GOING ON? WHERE’S YOUR CAR, BARRY?”
The jingle of keys could be heard. It was like Barry’s keychain, but slightly different. As the key slid into the lock, Barry soothed, “Easy, Bucky-boy. Easy. It’s just us.”
“I KNOW IT’S JUST YOU. WHERE’S YOUR CAR BARRY? WHAT’S HAPPENING?”
The door swung open. Barry was trying to speak, but Buck bowled into him, charging into the yard, barking at the strange car.
Eve giggled. “I think Buck likes it.”
Barry picked himself up and laughed. “You like it, boy? You wanna go for a ride?”
Buck froze and looked over his shoulder. It was only then that he realized he had forgotten about his hackles. They went flat again, his tail wagged happily, and he began to pant.
“YES” he barked.
“I think that’s a yes,” Eve mused. “I’ll get his leash.”
“LEASH! WALK? OR RIDE?”
“C’mon, boy,” Barry beckoned as he walked to the car and opened the massive rear gate. It was a bit more of a jump than to get in Eve’s car, but still no trouble for him. He immediately began sniffing every surface that he could reach with his nose, while Barry continued to laugh.
Eve returned with Buck’s leash and collar. She sidled up to Barry and gave him a hug. “See? It was the right choice. I love it. Buck loves it. And I know you love it, too.”
Barry closed the hatch and gave the sleek white car a pat as he returned to the driver’s seat.
The Dormans’ 1986 Komodo Nurim, in Silky White
Sometime in 2006
The Final Ride
Barry strapped the safety belt around his body. His eyes fell to the inch long tear in the faded burgundy fabric of the driver’s seat. His hands grasped the worn grips of the steering wheel. The key turned in the tumbler with a bit of effort. The 2.5 liter six gasped and wheezed, but came to life, loping with a slightly uneven idle.
A rerun of “Car Talk” was playing on NPR. Barry turned up the volume slightly, then reached up and adjusted the rearview mirror. Sitting up in the cargo area, panting and smiling was Duke, his 3-year-old Golden Lab. Barry sighed, and a lump rose in his throat. Fond memories came back of his years with Buck, and of the hundreds of adventures that the had had in the car.
His eyes moved forward, just beyond the cracked dash and faded hood. Eve stood before the car, withered, gray, but ever-smiling. She waved and blew him a kiss. Other memories flooded back; times with the grandchildren as they grew, years of dinner parties with friends who were now gone. Of trips to the local nursery for gardening supplies for their old home.
Times had changed so much for the elder Dormans; they had just welcomed their third great-grandchild. They had sold the house they had lived in for almost 50 years and moved to a senior community. Buck had passed on, and with time, Duke entered their time as their new love.
And now, another major change.
Barry knew this would be his last drive. He was too old, his reflexes too slow, and his mind too clouded to deal with driving any more. With the amenities offered by their community and support of two nearby granddaughters, he no longer had the need to drive.
He glanced down at the odometer on the Komodo. 199,997. Fitting, that on his last drive, the odometer would turn over 200k. And though Barry was filled with emotion and conflict at having to give up his reliable friend of 20 years, there was solace in the knowledge that his son, Mark, would be taking the car… and attempting to restore it to its former glory.
Congratulations @koolkei !
And thanks to everyone who posted and made this round so great.
For posterity, the order of finish for the top 7 is:
I look forward to the next round, whoever it ends up with.