Sleeping in my own bed appealed to me, even if it wasn’t as comfortable as the Mexico City’s fancy bed. It belonged to me and no crazy drug dealer was likely to come for me. The Box House was cool at night, which was okay because it was summer and the temperature didn’t get too cold. It was hot in the midday sun, but that wasn’t too back because the ceiling fans kept the air moving, and the 20 inch box fan, I converted to an exhaust fan, pulled the stale air out and the fresh in. There was always a breeze in the Box House.
So far it seemed to be a pleasant alternative to the heavily manipulated air in most houses. Well it probably helped that I lived in the mountains as well. If I had trees where the house sat, it would be even cooler. I was on a piece of land that had been a farm’s field many years before, till they wore the soil out. Any profit from crops in my field would have been severely cut by the cost of the fertilizer needed to grow the product. I had those thoughts while I rode the bicycle to the plaza and had breakfast at Hardee’s.
I knew the land was in the recovery phase. Wild grasses had grown in the field. The fields, on both sides of the road, were probably five to six acres. The other acre or two were in woods down by the creek. The woods were mostly fur trees of some kind. The hard wood trees were gone, probably logged out in the thirties.
I returned home from breakfast to reread the snail mail that started me thinking about the land. I had received it while I was in Mexico. It was from the State Forestry Service, and it was an offer to every land owner of more than five acres in Warren County. The offer was from the state, It was to subsidize the planting of two or more acres of land in trees and wild flowers. There was a limited to ten acres of subsidy.
I hated having them poke around my property but if I ever wanted to do it now was the time. The way the subsidy worked was they furnished the manpower and machines and I bought the trees and flower seed. What the fuck, I thought and answered the letter in the affirmative. I promptly forgot it.
The main reason I forget it was the garage/junk yard call with the news on the Toyota. “So Tim what’s verdict,” I asked after some small talk.
“It’s worse than we first thought. Some how the starter locked and shorted out the wiring. Didn’t you smell the computer burn up?” he asked.
“There was no burning smell at all,” I said.
“Well every module was burned up. The fuse panel for some reason allowed enough current to make toast of it all.” he said.
“Okay what’s the bottom line,” I asked.
“The car is ten years old. If it were in perfect shape with no dents or faded paint, had a perfect motor and good tires it would be worth about two thousand dollars.
“To put the motor in good condition replace the modules and the wiring. Put a new starter on it and fix the body and paint would cost you between 1800 and 2000 dollars,” he said. “So its a wash.”
“Now skip the body and paint and save about 500 dollars, which happens to be what it is worth to part out. So to put it back like it was the day you parked it, the cost is about 1000 to 1200 dollars,” Tim informed me.
“I’ll take the 500 bucks and you take the Toy,” I said.
“Actually it 450 bucks I towed it here and diagnosed it,” Tim said.
“Fair enough,” I said. “ I guess I better start looking for cars.”
“I’ll send you a check,” Tim said.
“That’s fair,” I said.
So I need to start looking for used cars, I though. I was truly pissed, but I wasn’t shocked. I had driven the Toyota almost five years and it hadn’t been very expensive, when I bought it the same day I was discharged.
I found a spiral notebook in one of the boxes under my sofa cushion. I wrote, what I need in a new car. I drew and x over the word new and added used in it’s place. I wrote the word small, then I wrote cargo space. When I wrote that I was thinking about maybe distributing again. I could have written things like, sporty or comfortable, but those things didn’t matter to me. It was a motorized box with wheels, that’s all it was to me. As I always do, when I begin to look to buy anything, I went to the Internet.
I allowed myself 5,500 for a car. I picked that figure because I could easily come up with it from the Swamp Dog funds I hadn’t touched. I had a about half a dozen choices it seemed. The only person I knew with any motor knowledge was the Monk, so of course I called him.
“Monk, you friend told me the Toyota was toast. Can I trust him, or do I need a second opinion?” I asked.
“It is toast, you have my word on it. He called me before he called you. I went over and looked at the modules. I also took a look at the test results from the computer read out. It was zero. It wouldn’t even recognize the test signal. That computer is out completely. It took all the electronic stuff with it. I know because I saw it all. I wouldn’t let them cheat you Sylvia.” The Monk replied.
“So I guess I need to look for a car,” I said.
“What you looking for,” he asked.
“Something reliable, small, and with some cargo room,” I said.
“Humm,“ he answer. Well I have a friend who has a car for sale. He is selling it because his wife left him for another guy. The car is in his name, so it wouldn’t be any problems with the title. He bought it new for her about five years ago. You know, the guys I know are all about motorcycles and pick up trucks. I’ll have him drive the car over to your place, if you want to look at it.”
“How much does he want,” I asked.
“He borrowed some money on it for her a while back. I think he wants to get out from under the loan and make a grand on it. He will tell you more, but that’s what he wants,” Monk said. “I can’t be sure, but I’ll have him bring the loan paperwork over. I think he said bottom line was five grand.”
“So what kind of car we talking here?” I asked
“If memory serves me, it’s a 2007 PT cruiser,” he said.
“The cruiser was one of the cars I was thinking about,” I admitted. It wasn’t first on my list but it was on the list. “Go ahead and have your friend bring it over.”
I gave Monk my new burner phone’s number, After I called Monk I went outside to pull the cover off my trike. It started right up. I drove it down to the Plaza and had lunch. I also went grocery shopping. I kept the purchase small so that it would fit in the wire basket on the rear of the tricycle.
I had been home about a half hour worrying about not having a car, when the owner of the cruiser called.
“Sylvia, I am the guy with the cruiser for sale. Before I drive it over there are you really interested in it, or just window shopping?” he asked.
“Let me put it this way, I was told earlier this morning that my car is toast. I need a car, if yours will fill my needs, and we can come together on the price, I will make you an offer. If it isn’t all Monk thought it was, I might not, but I don’t have time to window shop. I am not in the habit of wasting my time,” I said angrily. “But I am not going to commit to buy a car sight unseen either.”
“I understand that ma’am, but I never drove a car to someone to try and sell it.” he said.
“Do what you want?, Like I said, if it will work and the price is right I’ll but it/ Iif not I won’t buy it. That’s the best I can do,” allowing the irritation to show in my voice.
“Alright it is one now I can be there in an hour,” he said.
“Before you come, you might want to get the pay off figure for the loan as of this week,” I said. “The more I know, the easier it will be to make a decision.”
While I waited for the owner of the car, I transfered five grand into my checking account from my savings. I didn’t want to have any problems paying the bank off. I kept a couple of grand ‘just in case’ in a cookie box. That was just in case I had to leave the house in a hurry. My bug out money and ID had been moved to the storage unit by the creek. I had cleaned it of anything to do with the liquor business. It did hold a few old farm implements and a wheel for a Toyota. If one opened that wheel, they were in for a surprise.
The farm tools were stored there from the days of the storage lockers. The kid who took stuff to the flea markets quit. I took possession of his inventory and put it in the Storage unit to add to the clutter before putting in the wheel. That had been done only days before the main house was finished. The kid had brought it in a rusty old pick up and put the stuff into the storage box haphazardly. The antique farm equipment was a perfect cover for the Toyota wheel.
The guy who showed up with the cruiser was a jerk. I could see why his wife left him. The car however was a well cared for vehicle. I drove it, listened to the motor, looked at the oil and kicked the tires in general, then the shit started.
“So whats the payoff for this car?” I asked.
“If you pay it off before Friday the payoff is 3800 bucks and change,” he informed me.
“There are no late fees that need to be paid?” I asked knowing people tended to let loans on cars go into default, before they tried to settle them.
“No, I kept the payments up,” he said as if he resented me implying his credit rating might be in question.
“Okay, what if I pay off the loan and give you 500 bucks, will that do it?” I asked.
“Hell no this thing is worth six grand easy,” he said.
“If it was worth six grand easy, you wouldn’t still have it,” I said. The computer says, if it were in excellent shape, it might be worth six grand. You will be waiting a long time to get someone to pay top door for this car.” I said. “Meantime you are paying interest on that load which you can never recover.”
“Fifteen hundred and you pay it off,” he demanded.
“Listen real close this is my last offer. I will pay the loan off and give you one thousand dollar in cash today. We can drive it down to the finance company and pay you out from under this thing. You won’t have to make another payment period.” I said it and looked him in the eyes.