Beep beep. Honk honk honk. Barayaaaaa papayaaaaa. Chachachakacha. Hufferhachuchcuwasta. Beep beep. Honk honk. The cars file into the parking lot one by one for their monthly meeting. There’s seven of them, ranging from a black Cadillac to a red truck with both its headlights shot out. Beep beep? Vrrrrrom. Baristaaa RRaraoomdiday. They have these meetings every month to reconvene, to talk about their lives or, rather, what they see in the lives of their owners. It’s the only time they get away from their hard days of service and hanging out in their assorted parking places. The black Cadillac sits in a garage with three other cars, leaving it feeling unwanted most of the time, and the red truck usually spends its days in a yard, weathering through rain or hail or, occasionally, tornadoes.
Chackikacha. Gurgling oil noises. Crunch of an old french fry. Sloshing old soda slips from a cupholder. Gurgle. Crunch. Sloshitysloshslosh. A purple Scion says it’s sad knowing no one likes it, going so far as to borrow another car when the chance comes. It knows it’ll be sold as soon as the next payday rolls around, and then it’s back to the junkyard. The rejection stings. A minivan agrees, lamenting the news that the last child in its household is leaving for college. Barinkabing wawawawawa. Honk honk. Carnaval. The tiny Chevy mourns the loss of a perfect mileage number. Its owner called it a “Tiny, stupid piece of crap.” That was a blow to the tiny Chevy’s ego. It asks the red truck what happened with the headlights.
Vroom vroom sad croon. It was an issue with the owner’s ex wife, the red truck explains, because she came back to get her records and found out that the owner had un-alphabetized them all. Hence the shootout. Hannabarerascoobybeep. The icy blue Jeep asks how the red truck is dealing with the pain, and then goes on a tangent- scramblescriible hotshot scramblecarambley beepity bleeping vroom papaya chachaka- about how much it hates not having access to its doors at all times. It de- car-enating. That's dehumanizing, but for cars. Honk! HonKachajingle! Bellllll. The black Cadillac and the Ford Focus start arguing about the economy, more particularly, how much gas prices have gone up. They complain about the president, and the Jeep tells them to shut up because they are cars and this does not concern them. Soon, the parking lot is a cacophony of beeping, honking, whirring, and screeching of tires.
“What in the world is going on there?” On the bridge above the parking lot, a car technician named Alonso is eating his lunch. He turns to his coworker and best friend, a guy named Livers, and Livers is eating a turkey gizzard. “It’s almost like those cars are having a conversation.”
Livers shrugs and takes another bite of his turkey gizzard. It was a discount price at Valsmart, and he’s pretty sure he can still taste whatever that turkey ate during his last meal. It’s not entirely unpleasant. Maybe the turkey was eating gourmet gravel, Liver muses. Alonso pokes Liver in the spleen. “What do you think?”
“I think they’re just cars, Al.” He sniffs the gizzard. “Maybe you need a break from the garage.”
Alonso shakes his head, “No, Liver, listen. I swear you can hear them…”
Liver says, “No, I can’t,” and then he drops the remaining gizzard off the side of the bridge, where it hits the roof of the Ford Focus. An eruption- whirrwhirr honk honk honking honkety donkey sciciccicic- from the Ford Focus causes Liver to raise an eyebrow, and Alonso leaps up, triumphant.
“You CAN hear them!”
“No, I can’t. Cars cannot talk to us. This is not a Herby movie.”
“What if it’s like,” Alonso’s eyes begin to widen like fully inflated tires, “Cars 3, then?”
“I hated the third movie.”
Alonso laughs, “Everyone did, are you kidding?”
“You’re the one who just asked me if the cars were having a conversation-”
“Because they are! You just aren’t trusting your inner child like your therapist told you to!” Alonso kicks Liver in the back. “I KNOW Lindsey would tell you to stop having repressed emotions, and I’m saying the same. We are men, Liver, and we have to listen to our hearts.”
Liver sighs, “Because your heart wants to hear talking cars?”
“It’s not my heart that hears it! It’s my ears! I am fully capable of processing sound!”
“You’re being a dork, Al.”
Alonso stomps his boot down on the ground. “This is definitely some kinda toxic masculinity. I’m telling Lindsey.”
“Why do you have my therapist’s number?”
“Because you gave it to me. You said, ‘What would be the best present ever? My best friend and my therapist getting married and having one thousand intellectual and emotionally mature children!’ Yes, you did say that, don’t look at me like that.” Liver stands up and brushes off his pants. “I’m going back to the garage. Have fun with your cars.” He turns to leave, but then he hears the black Cadillac- screech scratch nrrrrorrrrr gahbarginvraoom- ram into the Ford Focus, who smushes into the side of the building, an old school house. “Did that-?”
Alonso throws his fists into the air and begins to dance happily. “I knew it!” He sombers, “We have to go investigate.”
Liver says, “Uh no, we do not. That Cadillac just committed, um-”
“You have to say it. Just say it, man.”
“Okay,” Liver sighs, “That Cadillac just committed vehicular manslaughter.”
“Except to another CAR!”
Liver tilts his head, “Vehicular vehicleslaughter?”
Alonso is practically ascending at this point, he is so overjoyed, “I don’t care! But do you know what this means?”
“That we probably ate some bad beans at your Abuela’s house and now we’re having joint hallucinations?”
“No, Livs,” Alonso sits back down and throws an arm around his friend, “For years, what have people told us? What do people see when they look at you and me?”
Liver glances down at his grease stained uniform. “Losers? Criminals? I don’t know, man.”
“They think we couldn’t find better jobs. That we weren’t smart enough or rich enough to go to college so we ended up in that garage. But do you know what they’ll say now?”
Liver shakes his head, “No, please enlighten me. What’ll they say?”
Alonso beams, with tears shining in his clear brown eyes, and squeezes Liver’s shoulders in a way that would make Lindsey the therapist super proud. “They’ll say we’re doctors. When my Abuela and my Lita go down their streets, they’ll say their grandson is a doctor. You know why?”
Liver says, “No?”
“What are vets?”
“Because they fix animals?”
Alonso cheers again, “Yes! And animals and people both are things with thoughts and feelings, so when people fix them, they’re, like, more worthy or something! Now we can do that too, Livs.” He grins, tears splashing between his teeth. “I’m gonna make my family proud.”
Liver laughs and stands up, offering his hand for Alonso to take. “Okay, then, Al, let’s go make them proud.”
Below, in the parking lot, the cars go quiet. Their meeting is over. Their work here is done. Honk honk the end.