Cars Left to Rot

By David Donahue

    I notice them on my walks and my delivery routes; and they just sit there with a rusty sadness emanating from them. There is a longing to feel youthful again, to feel the road under their tires, to have their odometers climb ever higher and their gas tanks depleted and refilled and depleted and refilled again.

    I'm talking about cars that have been abandoned in their owner's driveways. Junks, as we may call them now. And it's just a really sad sight to see, for me, anyways. I might think of my own car, or those of friends, and how they'll have problems like flat tires or smoky engines or failing starters, but those cars are kept up and keep going. They don't share the same problem as their brothers.

    A lightbulb breaks, the headlights dim, the darkness seems to find that welcoming.

    Just a few lyrics I wrote several months ago. Maybe the lightbulbs in those cars aren't broken. I've heard that certain cars are designed in such away that their headlights and grills are aligned to appear like a smile and that would make potential owners happy. It would make the cars look like happy cars. Not every car is happy, though, and how can you even maintain a smile after being left behind for so long?

    This isn't necessarily a cry for those owners to do something about their cars. I know that's impossible to do anything about. Still, it makes me wonder about them. Like, where have they been? What times and places have they seen? Who has been in those cars?

    What about the traffic, the accidents and near misses? Or the stories of lovers who went on long cruises to kiss under a moonlit night sky? Did any of these drive cross country, spend time in all the states, or just a few, or just the one?

    Did they once see rain or snow, or both? I like to believe that everything we see has a story to tell. And every bit of everything. Right down to the atoms and the little bits that make up the atoms. The world moves just so much, and it's always changing. When we meet up with friends we haven't seen in some time, we catch up by telling the stories of the time we didn't spend together. Haven't you wondered where the things that you take for granted come from and go to when they aren't yours?

    It's not just the cars that have me thinking this way. They only start or accelerate the thoughts. One of my neighbors has had a stash of run down cars over the years. One he keeps on the side of his driveway, with the frame of the car propped up on jackstands. And that car has been like that for many, many years. There are hundreds of leaves and pine needles that have found their way into and under the frame. And the frame itself went from a sparkling white to a muted, patchy and dirty grey. It's a sports car and it was designed to go fast. You can tell that by the shape of the frame. At one point both of its headlights were intact and attached to the frame, but after a while one vanished, and I don't know when the other one followed suit. The car itself is still there though, but I can't imagine its engine roaring to life ever again.

    I don't like to think of anything losing its glory. Yes, time returns everything to the dirt. It is surely inevitable. I'd just rather not think of this stuff dying a long, slow, careless death.