When I was a little kid, an old gypsy once told me that my future was born in rust. I didn’t know what she meant, and I was too afraid to ask, my judgment blurred by the impatience of youth. The next day, she died. My parents tried to hide it from me, but it was all across the newspapers, the terrible fire with no obvious cause. I saw image after image of the corpses being removed when they were out of the room and I could sneak a glance at the television news between episodes of daily action-hero can-do edutainment.
I only thought about what she really meant this morning in the office parkade, as I pushed the lock button on the keyless entry remote for my Fiat 126p rally car. My life had turned out pretty well, I think, but the threat of rust did indeed hang over my head. Is that what she really thought?
On my way home from work, I drifted through traffic in an absent haze, replaying the conversation over and over in my mind. I passed by the you-pull-it yard and was struck by a subconscious urge to investigate further. I pulled the 126p off at the next exit and ripped the diminutive Maluch through a series of fields to shortcut my way into the front parking lot of the wrecker.
“Oh, it’s you again,” said Mick, the grizzled mechanic who I liked to believe I had won the grudging respect of despite my white-collar office job and general aptitude for the English language. “Are you leaving that piece of shit here?”
I paid him no mind, even as I paid him my entrance fee. I made a beeline for the back lane of the lot, thinking surely that must have been what I saw - felt? - from the highway.
Before me I saw the beginning of the downward arc of my life’s story. A tangible instance of karmic redemption. I ran my hands over the rust-dimpled fenders and crooked, sagging panels, and I breathed in its heady aroma.
Ringed in the sunlight that had peeked through the clouds, I could see now the true nature of the gypsy’s threat - warning? - threat - to me.
The - My - 1975 Alfasud glared back at me from three of its four headlights, daring me to pull the hood back and begin welding reinforcements onto its rotten firewall. To begin a new life together. To push the needle so far from normalcy it bent, past where the medication could reach me.