“I relive that day often. It was surreal. Unbelievable. Unexplained. The day our cars … well … left. I know it sounds crazy. This occurred all over the country 25 years ago. Before it all happened, economies were booming and citizens here in America were truly beginning to thrive. People were motivated again to reach the American Dream. But, at the same time, people everywhere were extremely careless. Their indifference towards our planet grew which goes to show you – people truly only care about themselves; selfishness reigns first and foremost.”
The old man scoffed. “Our cars gave up on us! Cars! Brainless, soulless vehicles! They … they’re gone. Vehicles used for centuries wiped from our history.” He rocked back and forth to sooth himself. “If you’d like to restrain me in a straight jacket I understand. You wouldn’t be the first person that thought I was certifiably insane.” The scoff had turned into a loud crazy chuckle.
“No sir. I believe you.” The young reporter watched the old man’s face while the tape recorder on the table took in every noise and word from their conversation. He was going to get this story. The one story no one ever spoke about. The event that had “never happened.” An anonymous tip, it was a suspicious mailing, had lead the reporter to believe that the rumor was true; that there were such things as ‘cars.’ He grew up on public transportation as the only option for travelling. The mailing told him otherwise. Photographs labeled “Cars” filled the envelope. One small post-it note was stuck to the last photograph of a man, who appeared to be in his mid-40s, and a little boy, just a toddler. They leaned against a polished black Camaro, the boy held protectively in the man’s arms. A name was scrawled on the dull yellow note: Richard Haze.
The young man held the envelope, tight in his grip, safe on his lap.
“Please continue, Mr. Haze.”
“I’d like a cigarette first.”
The reporter lit a cigarette for each of them.
After taking a long drag and exhaling smoke rings, the old man continued. “The cars moved toward the main river that steered toward the falls – there was no willing them to cease their operations. We no longer had control. They were like robots; minds of their own they had, with no care for the beings they carried or traveled over. I was a police officer at the time and our force was at a loss. There was no solution. Cars that were out of gas were running. Cars without tires. Smashed cars from junkyards. What was there to do? Nothing! We had folks running around trying to shoot the tires or remove them – anything to make the cars stop moving.” He smoked the cigarette straight down to the filter and grabbed another.
“Nothing stopped the cars. Nothing. People were dying. Some died trying to help others but that was a small group indeed. Many drowned in their cars because they couldn’t get out in time. Some were pushed over the great falls where cars piled into a huge mass. People were run over. It was chaotic. Bizarre. Nightmarish. Something like that couldn’t have ever been imagined or brought to life in a story. It was real and yet unreal. You don’t see cars anywhere now, do you son.” The question was rhetorical.
The reporter kept his composure even though he was greatly disturbed by the man’s interpretation of the event that, according to their government, never transpired. His emotions were so real – as if he had been there. He claims he was there, though. He battled truth against falsehood in his mind. Had the event been so humiliating for this world that it had to be erased from our history, taken from our past, hidden from the public? How many others were there?
The old man rephrased his question. “You see there are no more cars, right? There are NO … MORE … CARS!” He screamed out of frustration and then began to whimper. He cried for what felt like a long while but the young man just watched the misery, observing the hurt and emotion.
“Why do you care anyways?” The old man lifted his wet face from the protection of his large, rough hands.
The young report wiped his eyes. “Because I wanted to know what pulled my father away from me.”
“Who’s your father, kid?”
“You are, sir.”
The old man stood. “I … I have kids?” His face became sad and ashamed. He was embarrassed.
“Just one.” The reporter approached his father. “Dad, it’s me, Jimmy. Jimmy Haze. It took me a long time to get here. It took me even longer to get my head out of my butt to find out what exactly happened to you. I’m sorry I had abandoned you. As far back as I can remember I was raised in a foster home. I dreamt about you every night. I knew you were someone significant in my life – possibly my real father. And … well, that’s all in the past. Here I am. After hearing your story and what happened to you, I can see how it took a toll on your psyche. I just don’t understand how something like this, something this significant, could be covered up. How and why? And – who sent me these pictures?”
He handed the envelope to his father, the Mr. Richard Haze. The old man’s fingers trembled as he sifted through the photos. But the last one, the last photo remained in his hands. He knew that photo. He knew those people … and that car.
“Dad. I’ll be back for you tomorrow. We’ll go home.”
The old man continued to stare at the photo. “Home?”
“Yes. Just me and you like I’ve always dreamed. Before everything happened.” With that he hugged his dad and knocked to be let out of the stark white visitor’s room. The sterile room with thickly padded walls.
“And Dad?” He called from the doorway.
Richard’s tired face looked up. “Yeah?”
“We’re going to tell this story. Your story. I promise you that.”
The door closed and automatically locked.
The old man simply stared out of the narrow long window, his hands flat against the door. He could hear Jimmy’s footsteps echo one after another down the empty hollow hall.