I clicked off the TV and rose from my Mitsubishi Expo bench seat couch. The man on the television set had imparted particular truths upon me, and I had to see the veracity of these truths for myself.

I drove immediately to the Jeep dealership, the salesmen stepping off the curb to offer me a trade-in. They immediately saw what I was offering, and leapt back to the relative safety of the curb, shaken to their core by what they had seen. The youngest of the group began chattering to himself, trying to justify to the other primates an increase in his position in the hierarchy. His effort was in vain, the male-bonding ritual shattered by the presence of a monster in their midst.

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You see, I had brought my 16v Scirocco to the dealership. Years ago, facing the expense of securing new hatch glass, I had converted it into a sort of bastard El Camino, paying tongue-in-cheek homage to both the VW Caddy and the abstract concept of the mullet. Its rotted-out panels and general rolling-door-ding appearance lent the impression that I was some sort of dangerous anarchist, come down from the hills to resupply and rearm, not to rejoin society and benefit humanity. I simply loved the effect it had on everyone from bill collectors to Jehovah’s Witnesses, combining the worst of rough-edged blue-collar culture with the worst of the spiraling decline of American civilization in one sardonic pastiche.

Kicking the drivers’ door shut against the frame, I strode confidently into the dealership forecourt. I wasn’t here on any kind of artistic or social quest, not here to prove a point, simply to witness with my own eyes and believe with all my heart.

Before me, the car I had seen on the television, spoken of in a reverent tone by a used-sales specialist parachuted in from another region of the world. They desperately wanted me to buy it. I yearned to be a part of their excitement. I spoke to one of the milling salesmen, much more ready to speak with the man behind the car than the man in the car.

“No, that was a typo in the script,” he said, “there isn’t a V10 Renegade.”

I had spent so much time making this promise to myself. I had structured my entire life behind it. My eyes burned at the injustice of participating in this corrupt system, a cycle of desire, acquisition and penitence. But my parents didn’t abandon a sucker to the wolves. I had a plan.

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“Not yet,” I said flatly. “Go get me these part numbers from the back.”