CHAPTER ONE MY LIFE BEFORE
You've seen me many times. You know me on sight. You've heard my voice, but have never understood my words.
This is my story. And, like all stories, I guess it is is best to begin at the beginning.
I can't really remember anything before I was put up for sale. I can't tell you when I was made or even who made me. I reckon that means I'm something of an orphan.
I can remember it was the touch that made me wake up. The touch of someone that loved me was a powerful thing.
I went home with her. Oh, she loved me. She would care for me like I was hers-borne. And for a time, I was happy.
Then he came into her life. He was cruel and he would hurt her often using me to do it! He hurt her very badly the last time I saw her.
Then he turned the hammer onto me.
And I felt the touch of hatred the touch of evil.
I never saw my beloved mistress again.
When the truck came for me, it was a third type of touch that of a cold professional doing a job. Thorough, but impersonal.
Once more, I was put up for sale. But now now I was aware. Now, I had been hurt.
Now, I refused to cooperate.
Several weeks went by and I was given up on. I was sold to another cold, impersonal touch. I was just another body to him another thing to take up space in his yard.
I hated it there. I stayed there for months. I would be looked at, touched but always in that cold, impersonal way.
Very soon, I earned a reputation. I was "the difficult one". "The unsaleable one".
The one nobody wanted.
Eventually, I was stored, and a dead body was stored on top of me. Oh, sure, she could run and function but she wasn't aware. So to me, she was dead.
And I was left to die.
No hope. No food. Just boredom day after day after horribly long day.
Then suddenly the body was knocked off of me.
"Hey," I heard a male voice yell as I stirred. "What about this one?"
And for the first time since she had been taken away I felt the touch of someone who loved me.
"What about this one?" was asked a second time as the loving touch lingered.
"Oh, you don't want her --"
"I think we'll be the judge of that. How does she handle?"
"You don't even know! Give me the keys."
"She-she doesn't even have any gas!"
Four voices rang out together, "Then gas her up!"
A moment later, food was poured into me. I was finally strong enough to--
Suddenly I felt my door open and weight press onto my seat. I'd been so lost in my thoughts I hadn't even looked at them.
When he adjusted my mirror, I looked at him. He was tall and slender, with dark hair and eyes and a strange green hat. He paused with his hands on my wheel. "Come on, baby..."
Then he turned my key.
The roar they heard was my shriek of triumph. I would be going home with this one!
He was the one with the loving touch!
I handled like a dream for him.
When he got out, his place was taken by a smaller man with dark blond hair and kind eyes. He smiled the most beautiful smile I 'd ever seen as he grasped my wheel.
Another loving touch. I handled well for him, as well.
A third young man sat down, his mouth running a mile. He spoke excitedly of all the repairs and modifications he'd do to me, his slanted eyes sparkling and his curly head bobbing.
I groaned. Another professional. Another impersonal touch.
That thought lasted until he touched my wheel. I was flooded with love. From that moment on, I vowed none but him or one who loved me would work on me.
For him, I handled the best.
The last to try was one small enough that at first I mistook him for a child. His large eyes spoke of innocence and joy. I couldn't wait till he touched me.
But the moment he did, I felt the darkness inside him. The other three loved me. This one saw me as a thing as something to use.
This one could easily become like the one who had so harmed me and my first owner.
For him, I was once more the difficult, hard-to-handle one.
When he got out, the hatted one told him, "Looks like she doesn't like you very much, Davy."
He smiled. "She'll come around. Girls usually do."
They all jumped when I scoffed and a noise came from my tailpipe. This one would have to prove himself to me. I would not easily trust him to drive me.
But the others the three who loved me yes. I would go home with them and I knew they would care for me.
These four were human radios! They could make music, and they sang all the way home.
As they got our of me, the hatted one ordered, "Micky, check her over. Make a list of what you need to get her up to speed and in what order."
The car-healer nodded and smiled as he caressed my door. "I'll do that." As the others walked into the yellow house, he ran a hand lovingly over my hood. "I'll be right back, sweetheart. We'll get your right as rain in no time righter than rain."
He petted my hood and headed into a slightly smaller building. If he'd have remained, he would have heard the whispered, "I trust you, Micky," that slid from my radio.
Never since her had I felt safe enough to speak.
When Micky returned, he was not alone. The hatted one now hatless was with him. Both were dressed in yellow one-piece suits.
"Here, Mike," Micky handed 'Mike' a notebook and pen. "I'll check and call out, you write it down." He smiled at Mike, then at me. And then, he opened my hood.
After a thorough examination, Micky and Mike had a long list. Mike got up and left to check the budget, and Micky closed my hood.
"Well," he said, petting my hood gently. "Someone took good care of you, didn't they? I'll fix you all the way, though."
Of that, I had absolutely no doubt.
When darkness fell, I dozed with the others in the house. I was quite startled when a light flared in the garage I was sitting outside of.
I felt my door open and a body slide into my seat. I felt my seat being slid forward.
The small one. Davy. The one that I could not trust. He fitted my key and turned it.
I refused to start my engine for him.
"Huh," he said, trying again. When there was no response, he mumbled, "That's odd."
He ducked under my console and reached for my wires. I let him touch them, then I gave him a vicious shock.
Davy jerked up, cursing and sucking his fingers. "What the hell did you dothat for?" he yelped.
Well, since he'd spoken to me... "Consider that a warning."
He let out a screech loud enough to rouse the dead, but to his credit, he did not try to run. "What are you?" he gasped.
"I am myself," I told him. "And I do not trust you."
Davy frowned. "But... why? I'm a really lovable guy..."
"No, you're not. You are a dark one who uses women. Men like you almost destroyed me and did destroy my beloved first owner."
He just sat there, blinking at me.
"Get out of me," I ordered. "You will not drive me till I say you will. Move!"
Davy was smart. I didn't need to tell him again.
It was morning when Mike came back out to me. Something was wrong I could see it in his posture and the set of his jaw.
He put a gallon of gasoline in my tank and then sat down. Starting me, he drove to the nearest gas station and filled me completely.
But he didn't make a sound and his touch conveyed suspicion instead of the love it had previously.
What had changed?
Soon, we were on a highway, traveling at a high rate of speed. I was startled when out of the blue Mike spoke.
"Dave says you're alive. Says you spoke t'him. Didn't believe him till he showed me his hand. How'd you manage t'burn him?"
I was stunned by the question and the note of anger in his voice. "I'm sorry, Mike. I don't trust him."
His eyes widened and he gasped out a string of profanities. But such was the man's skill with a car that he didn't swerve me one fraction of an inch. "What the hell are you?"
"I am... myself. That's all I truly know. I promise you, I mean you no harm."
"You harmed Dave," he pointed out.
I sighed. "You three have love and care in you. He is like the evil one who destroyed my first love and almost destroyed me."
"How so?" Mike turned onto an off-ramp and parked me in a park. "Talk to me."
So I did. I told him everything. Everything. When I fell silent, he sat there in thought for a long while.
I wondered if he was even aware his hand was caressing my dash.
Finally, Mike spoke. His voice was kind, though his words stung.
"I think you're bein' unfair to Dave. Yeah, he's a love-em-and-leave-em guy but he tries hard not to hurt anyone. When he finds the girl he'll want to marry, he will."
"No, listen. That guy that hurt you and her that guy was evil. Dave ain't. Besides Dave's got us. We keep him in check." He leaned forward and petted my steering wheel. "You don't have to worry about him, honey. Honestly."
I considered his words for a long while. "Would it be all right if he didn't drive me awhile? I need time... to get to know him."
The smile that spread over Mike's face lit it from within. "That's all I'm askin' for, sweetheart. A chance for him."
"I'll do it, Mike. For you."
We drove home and he serenaded me the entire way. I felt much lighter.
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