There’s a lot to be said for reliable transportation. My family (natives of Hahira, Georgia and consisting of my two brothers, Steve and Corey, and my parents), didn’t seem to get that right away. I think we had over ten different cars from the time that I was age ten to twenty and all of them lemons. And yes, we had the audacity to drive those lemons out of town.
When I was a sixth grader, my daddy took a job as a correctional officer at a state prison in Savannah. We didn’t move from Hahira to Savannah right away, so he drove to Savannah in what we called “The Rabbit” during the week and came home on the weekends. I don’t know how she got her peculiar name, but she was the only lemon lucky enough to have her own moniker. Occasionally, Mama spent the weekend with Daddy. Even though we moped around the house and whined to Mama, my brother Steve and I weren’t allowed to go, except for one time. We were all going to Savannah to look around, price houses, and get acquainted with the city life that couldn’t be found in Hahira, Georgia. All five of us piled into “The Rabbit” (a four seater) and set off like the Beverly Hillbillies.
Although the ride to Savannah proved itself long and shaky, it developed into an awesome trip. For a twelve-year old, a Walk-man blaring Run-DMC for three hours straight and the possibility of seeing hundreds of cute guys ranked number one on the preteen hierarchy of top ten reasons for breathing. As my brothers and I sat patiently in the back seat in anticipation (like we had a choice, we were crammed in the car like sardines), we made our way to Savannah.
“The Rabbit” was a good girl . . . for a while. Apparently, she feared the dark. Cars do in fact have feelings and emotions. They cry—some people call it sputtering. They fuss—some people call it stalling out. And they are definitely afraid of the dark because just when you drive down the loneliest, darkest road, they crawl into their shells—and cut off.
That’s just what “The Rabbit” did. Somewhere around 11:30 that night, she cut off in the middle of nowhere. I wasn’t scared though. I felt sorry for “The Rabbit.” I sat listlessly and hoped that she wasn’t hurt. Didn’t my parents know that 11:30 was way past her bedtime and the darkness was much too scary?
However, this didn’t deter us from trying to bring “The Rabbit” back out of her shell. “Let’s get out and push,” Daddy said to Steve. That was the Gregory way of starting a lemon. You get behind the car and start pushing until you’re almost running, and if you’re lucky, the car may crank by itself.
So there we were. Mama steering, my baby brother crying, Daddy and Steve pushing, and me in the backseat mad. Mad because “The Rabbit” was right! We had no business exposing her to such dangerous conditions.
Well, the car didn’t start, which left only one other solution. Make another Gregory get out and push with the other two Gregorys. Genius! So now Daddy, Steve, and I were pushing this car (who was starting to lose my sympathy) in what looks like a scene from Jason Returns. In the charcoal black night we could hardly see our hands. The road stretched endlessly and seemed to curve every few feet. And then there was that sound! The sound that begins to play when Jason is somewhere near waiting for his next victim—ch . . . ch . . . ch . . . ch.
Just when I reached my boiling point, I thought I really did hear Jason following us. “What is that?” I asked, as I turn around quickly. But it wasn’t the sound of Jason after all. It was barking. Barking dogs. Three large, black and did I mention angry, barking dogs. If there were ever a time for a car to crank, it was at that moment. It’s amazing how fast a thirty five year old man weighing two hundred pounds can run when three dogs view him as their midnight snack.
I heard, “Run!” I don’t know who said it, but we ran. I don’t know if “The Rabbit” cranked because of the screams to run or if she was running from the dogs herself. But she cranked, and doors flew open.
Many times my parents have said, “Wait until the car completely stops before getting in.” That rule didn’t apply here! We jumped in. We had to. By that time Mama was scared out of her wits. “The Rabbit” was running at 35 mph and increasing. At least Mama did think to open the doors!