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Monday, April 23, 2001 | link
Frank was in the driver's seat and I was sitting shotgun, showing him how the headlights weren't working. "See?" Flickon, flickoff, flickon, flickoff. "Nothing."
Ominous wires had always hung down from behind the dash. "Maybe some important piece of tape came unstuck?" I said, pointing at the twisted nest.
"Well, I can't even see which wire's doing what," he said. "Let's just take a look." He unscrewed the rings holding the wiper and "lighting" switches in place and, gently, he pulled the light switch out, exposing an inch of wiring. "Right. So the red one's going in here..."
"I smell smoke. Is something burning?" I one-eyed up to the hole where the radio had never been and saw the light. "Something's GLOWING!"
"Pop the hood! POP THE HOOD!"
We ran around to the front of the car and I held up the hood as Frank frantically tried to unhook the battery with his bare hands and yelled, "Go get your fire extinguisher!"
"I don't think I have one!" (Toxic, burning plastic smoke poured out the cracked windows.) "Maybe the trunk? Do you have the keys?"
"Arguffff!" he screamed and ran for his tool shed and I just stood there, continuing to prop up the hood, watching and smelling the moment stretch out in classic slo-mo. My mom strolled out with two steaming mugs and chippered, "Who's ready for a cup of tea-eee?"
Crashing sounds from Frank, then, "Someone's stolen it!"
Frank: Fire! Fire!
Me: Yeah, the car's on fire!
My mom carefully put down the tea then hurried off to the house for the kitchen extinguisher, and I stood there, propping up the hood. My mom rushed back out with the aerosol extinguisher and Frank abandoned his shed search, grabbed it from her, and dove back into the car. I lowered the hood enough to watch him spray foam all over the place, and then I looked down. "Hey look! The headlights are working."