By on April 7, 2015

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Sometimes I feel that many are not aware how my little tales hidden in the comments of Murilee’s Junkyard Finds are developed.  It’s all in the evidence, the details.  “I can’t comprehend how you are able to do so as quickly as you do.”, star commenter Dead Weight writes. With the right feature-rich victim, a story writes itself in my mind with a typical gestation of 40-90 minutes. Conversely, I can’t just pop on every auction sanitized Volvo.  The story would be false, wrong, instead of just fiction.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are the head-scratching  “gems” and the rare “unicorns”.  I run into these every so often,  I’m going to start featuring them now, and you’re gonna need to wash your face afterwards.

The setting for the final solution of this dead 2005 minivan is in one of my favorite haunts. This junkyard sits across from where Joliet Jake was once picked up by his brother Elwood in a certain Dodge Monaco. The import section is inside the shabby remains of a former rail car plant from an era when America used to build things instead of just take them apart expediently. On this day, with the cascading meltwater through the roof, it resembled the beautiful vision of hell from the film What Dreams May Come.

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But back to the minivan…

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The jammed sliding door and improvised windows insure that the occupants will be the wind, know the air.

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One peek into the open porthole, and I knew I had found a gem. I wasn’t about to reach in for the all-telling artifact that is that newspaper. Fortunately, Google filled in the blanks.

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The dash appears to be rubbed down with a toner cartridge. Who willingly drove entered this van? A gaggle of chimney sweeps?  C.H.U.D.s?

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“Maybe it sludged itself to death. Let’s check the-OHHHHHH.”

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The sight of the “Cornjerker” sticker had me at a loss for words.

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Kids…rode in this?

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Now I understand.

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Darell was running out of gas.

The sound of the alarm on Darell’s cell phone chirped him awake. He rubbed his eyes, and slipped out of bed to face the work night. As he pulled up his hunting fatigues, a voice moaned from under the covers. “Make sure you fill up my van on the way back.” He grunted in acknowledgement. He walked into the living room, finding Tommy engaged in yet another death match with a bluetooth headset in his ear. “If you’re gonna be up all night again, you should come help me deliver papers.”  Tommy’s fingers were still fervently working the Xbox controller. He dispensed his adversary with a melee attack, and said “No thanks.” Darell went to the fridge for his nightly stock of energy drinks. “Did you take one of my Monsters?” There was no response.  He considered yanking the power cord from the Xbox before realizing  his leverage to get a willing laborer. He would need it. Those damn Sunday papers were heavy. “I’ll let you shoot it.”

Darell and the boy walked out into the warm August night. They passed the wreckage of the ’94 Caravan, the broken ’98 Explorer Sport, and the broken  ’99 Explorer on their way to the Kia minivan. Upon opening the door, they were greeted with the warm plume of 50 unkempt movie theaters, the result of spilled Monster and a variety of trash broiling in the sun all day.  It smelled little worse than the house, and the aftermath of the neighboring farmer’s honeywagon however, so it was barely perceptible to the two.  “Welcome to the office.”, said Darell, starting the van. The oil lamp stayed illuminated for a short time as the engine assumed a steady idle. Tommy hadn’t been in the family hauler for over a month. In reaction, he said, “What the hell happened to this thing?”

Insects pelted the windshield like rays of light in the black backdrop of Route 9 at one in the morning. The air conditioner pulled down the cabin temperature while dispensing a different aroma of funk.  Darell switched it off, and turned it to vent. The air perspired. “Why did you turn it off?”, Tommy asked. “It wastes too much gas.” was the reply. Darell knew that the small button could easily turn his income into a loss. The boy powered his window down for relief. “No! Don’t!”, shouted Darell. It was too late. The air pressure surged, and with a “Boof”, the rear side plexiglass was gone. Darell’s firm foot pulsated up and down with the brake pedal.  He retrieved the plastic window, now missing a large portion, from the roadside. He tried to reapply it to the van anyway in the glow of the hazards, but the duct tape was fouled with dried grass and dirt. “Look at this thing. Arrrgggh…it’s trashed!” Tommy couldn’t quite get a read yet on his mother’s newest boyfriend. His response was to simply get back in the Kia.

The squeaking side door and tire noise that were present at the beginning of the trip were now joined by a horrendous buffeting oscillation. “Where the hell are we going anyway?”, Tommy yelled over the din. “Champaign.”, Darell replied. Tommy was stunned. “What?! That’s like an hour away! How much do you get paid to do this?” Darell dodged the question by trying to get the pirated AC/DC to spin, only to get a “DISC READ ERROR”. “Now what the hell is wrong with this?”, he exclaimed. Tommy ejected the highly acclaimed Vin Diesel film and handed it to him.  “Those damn kids were playing around in here again, the rubber bands were all over, and…just where was the AC/DC?”, Darell ranted to himself before bouncing the DVD off the center console.

As they sped south on Route 49, Darell noticed Tommy eyeballing the Mossberg 500 on the floor in the back. “Go ahead, and grab it, but watch out where you point it. Here let me see it.”  Darnell chambered a round as he steered with his knee then, insuring the safety was on, handed it over to the boy. “Try to get that sign. Don’t shoot the fuckin’ car.” The boy squeezed the weapon, but nothing happened.  “You got the safety on.”, noted Darell.  The boy would be ready next time.  “My god! It’s comin’ right for us!”, Darell joked. The boy kicked back in the seat as buckshot riddled the aluminum marker. Then they both laughed. “Don’t tell your mom.” The boy then seemed puzzled. “I think the mirror just fell off.”, he noted. “Well that’s just fantastic.”, Darell muttered, spitting sunflower seed chaff all over the floor. Things were looking rough. He was already working on his second can of Monster.

Tommy was enthralled with the sight of university life. The kegger they passed had reached the stage of a police action. Drunk kids clutching red Solo cups scattered as officers approached. “You’ll see some shit out here late at night that you wouldn’t believe.”, he told the boy. “Perhaps you’ll go here to learn someday like these kids. Watch out for the venerial.”, Darell laughed. Several drunk youths approached the van as it came to a stop, and tried the jammed handle. “Hey mom, can we get a riiide?”, they slurred. Darell spirited away from them, adding “…and that’s how your back windows get broke.”

“Looks like we’re just on time.”, Darell said, noting the other paper carriers buckling their suspensions with The News-Gazette. They were drenched in sweat themselves after loading 500lbs of paper. Darell unlatched the middle seat, and threw it forward haphazardly to make space. “Time to make that money.”, he said with humor, taking a noisy “slurrrrp” of Monster. “I’m gonna need you back here.”, Darell ordered, “There’s some plastic bags, and rubber bands behind my seat. Start wrapping. And don’t waste any of them, they cost me a lot of money.” Tommy looked at the map pocket on the back of the driver’s seat, permanently stretched well into it’s third trimester. “Wait. They make you pay for this stuff?”, the boy asked. Instead of answering, Darell filled his mouth with more sunflower seeds. He swished them around, and started chittering them like a rodent. The seeds were,  no doubt, Monster flavored at this point. After spitting the husks all over the floor, he washed it down with the dregs from the black can, then hurled it out onto East University Avenue to help make the rest of the world as horrible as his immediate reality.

Tommy’s hands were blackened by the papers. He stacked them on the center console for Darell to maddeningly whip out the window. “We’re supposed to put them on the driveway close to the house, but they can suck one.”, he said with a grunt. The boy admired how his throws were so robotically precise, that the paper was always oriented the same, regardless of how far it was thrown. He also wondered just how in the hell Darell knew which houses had a subscription. Their paths crossed with a loaded down Outback, also driving on the wrong side of the street, dispensing papers. Both vehicles dimmed their lights out of courtesy. “Okay, this next street is yours. Think you can get both sides at once?”, Darell chuckled, with a mouthful of seeds. Tommy grabbed a handful of this snack of paper flinging champions for himself. He soon became dubious of the mouthful of matter though, allowing a turd of chewed up seeds to tumble out onto the rear floor with a “Bleh”. Tommy opened the slider, and Darell turned up the radio.

The ultimate in vanity
Exploiting their supremacy
I can’t believe the things you say
I can’t believe
I can’t believe the price you pay!

“Yep, yep, yep”, Darell would say, swerving back and forth in the street, ordering another paper to be tossed to the driveway in a disorderly manner. Tommy was actually really getting into it. Although, he was getting a bit tired. He tied a discarded T-shirt to the headrest of the loose bench as a handhold to help steady his aim out the window. Darell suddenly stopped the van in front of a house. He dismounted, and hand carried a newspaper to the front door, carefully setting it inside the screen door.  Getting back in the Kia, he informed the boy, “That one is a real bitch. Every time she complains, I get charged $1.50.” He pulled the shifter into drive, and then changed his mind, placing it back into park. “I’m gonna teach you a little lesson in life.” Darell got out, looked around nervously, and then collected a porcelain garden gnome from the front yard. “This is what you get when you fuck with people.”, he said, tossing the gnome on the passenger seat.

The guys were spent and out of words as the van buffeted it’s way back to Hoopeston with , thankfully only a few dozen more papers. Just outside Rankin, Illinois, their lathered steed did something to wake them right up. The Kia would go no farther. It’s engine died, and the minivan somewhat silently coasted to a stop on the gravel shoulder. Darell laughed and twisted the key. The only result was a “Clunk, Clunk” as the starter gear engaged the thoroughly locked up flywheel. Darell looked at a cheat sheet on the dash, and dialed a number, shielding his watery eyes from the boy’s sight. Making $150 a month wasn’t respectable, but it was something. Now that something was gone, not to mention he had spent another vehicle in the process.  The man in the Outback would come to the rescue. The rest of the papers would be delivered by 7AM…for a price.

The stranded men leaned against the dead Sedona lit by the moon. The tall corn and loose duct tape rustled in the breeze, too warm to offer any respite. Darell spit some husks onto the ground in a daze. Tommy kicked rocks, and remarked about almost getting broadsided by the drunk kid in a white Grand Am back in Champaign. Then he said, “It’s actually kinda fun delivering the paper, Dare.” Darell laughed, and said, “Don’t you ever let me hear you talk that way about my job again.” “Dare.”, Darell thought. It’s what the boy’s mother called him, almost affectionately. It was also almost like saying “Dad”. He reached into the van for the gnome, and the shotgun. After placing the grinning ornament at the edge of the cornfield, he walked back and handed Tommy the Mossberg. “One shot left.” Tommy exhaled, squeezing the trigger, and sending the cherub to oblivion with much satisfaction.

The tow truck driver winded his way back past the dead Ford Explorers as directed with the Sedona, taking away more of Darell’s income. It was set in place next to the hay field, complete with an open bag of sunflower seeds for various animals to enjoy. It would wait for a time when “a little extra cash” was much needed.

“Yep, motor’s locked up. Piece of shit. Good thing you weren’t out driving with the kids when it happened.”, said Darell in a manner to elude that he had performed some good deed.

“I don’t believe this. You killed my fucking van, you asshole.”

 

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49 Comments on “Last Rides Premium Selects: Subhuman Kia Sedona...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Yay!

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Hard to believe that thing was ever new.

    • 0 avatar
      360 derpscope

      My parents bought a 2003 Kia Sedona new and it worked.decently for a few years. Our car was slightly older than this example and had bucket seats instead of the bench seats like in this car.Our car was also a nasty beige color. The ac broke 5 times, the shocks broke, the engine started deteriorate, the fuel valve got clogged, and the passenger side van door got stuck open. We held onto the car as long as we could but we sold it in 2013 as it was beoming an irreprable moneypit. Kia cars have come a long way in quality.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Another winner Krab .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Today was a good day

  • avatar
    Ishwa

    Hey man this is some really great stuff – thanks!

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I “sold” Kia Kr*p Sh*tdonas in 2002. Outside of one customer who called his son “honey”, I switched every Sedona buyer into a previous-rental Oldsmobile Silhouette. Kia “buyers” would shop dealers for weeks trying to save $10 and then they would show up for the New Customer Dinners more than once to get free food.
    And they weren’t even Koreans!
    As I recall the Sedona was a poor copycat of the Ford Econoline and the first generation Windstar – what a winning, er, “whining” combination!
    It was one of the few minivans that still had a steel fuel tank; after all, the Koreans just copy originals.
    These idiots have been at war with North Korea since 1950.
    The money they spend on cheap Daewoos and Suzukis could be spent on weapons to obliterate Pyongyang instead.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Great story! A classic tale as per your usual.
    Quite poignant for me. When I was a kid my two younger brothers and I helped my dad (who worked 3 jobs to put us through parochial school) deliver the LA Times during the 1960’s while living in the hardscrabble port town of San Pedro. It wasn’t a grim as your story, though. Lots of fun for us kids, though probably not as much for dad. Saw my first shooting star, lots of late night police action and encounters with wildlife (coyotes) at 4 a.m. If we were good he’d take us to the Hot Dog Hut on Pacific Avenue for a hot chocolate. It was always fun to see the looks on those longshoremen’s faces when my dad would walk up to grab a seat at the counter with two or three kids under 12 in tow. Good times!

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Oh, I almost forgot. Our ride was a 1962 Chevy Impala 4-door sedan, stacked to the headliner with papers. Thursdays (weekly food section) were a pretty tight ride and the bulk of those big, fat Sunday papers required two loads.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Plus, I owned a 2002 example of the Sedona minivan. Got about 120,000 miles out of it when it got too decrepit to move. A guy just driving through the neighborhood walked up to my door asked me what was wrong with it and offered me $700 for it. One of those moments that got me thinking that maybe there is a god.

  • avatar
    stevelyon

    Bravo! Bravo!

    Strong work, Crabspirits.

  • avatar

    Well done, Crabspirits.

    I remember seeing these on the showroom floor, wondering why anyone would buy one. Turd power, horrific gas mileage, high price.

    Must’ve put a lot of cash on the hood w/easy financing.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Good God this is good stuff. Reminds me of a high school friend who had a similar life as Tommy, though Mom was the paper deliverer in a 1982 Buick Lesabre wagon. After going to his house once, I said a few prayers for doing better in the lottery of birth.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Great story!

    But seriously, how do you let a car get this decrepit in only 10 years?? I can’t even fathom it.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    When I was but a lad of 15 years old, in the early 90’s, my hometown still had paperboys. I got referred by a kid down the street and soon had my own route with about 65 subscribers. Back then pretty much everyone still took the paper. Made about $120 a month profit after supplies and such. Between that and yard mowing in the summer I thought I was rolling in it.

    Now, only sleazoid adults like “Dare” have routes of several hundred papers, and I wonder how much money is in it with newspaper circulation down so much. When I threw, you could have concentrated 200-300 subscribers in just a few decent sized neighborhoods. Now, I picture having to drive all over town for that.

    Fast forward to 2006 and I’m working nights and on my nights off I would walk around my apartment complex around 3 am after the late nighters were finally in and the early morning workers were still largely asleep. Love that time of day, so quiet. Anyway, it got where I would see the paper guy every morning, and he drove the nastiest, most clapped out Chevy Astro van. It sounded like ball bearings in a coffee can and gave off the most putrid exhaust imaginable. I’d pray for even the slightest breeze because if there wasn’t one, that odor would linger all over the complex in a slight haze.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I honestly don’t know how Crabspirits does it.

    Not only does he nail the essence of the fictional people who last drove/lived out of the vehicles that he uses as his template & foundation for his short stories, but he hones in on the details like a laser, to extract all the essence out of those details.

    Looking forward to the coffee table “Tales of Automotive Lives” compendium coffee table book, with the big, glossy photographs & cool illustrations that yo along with the narratives.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    You’re the man Crabby. Your stuff deserves to be featured here.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Excellent… Crab…Laughs, and smiles, are few, and far between these days. I’m still chuckling…Dude !

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    This is my favorite CS penned tale:

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1986-maserati-biturbo-spyder/#comment-2654993

    This is my second favorite of his:

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1996-oldsmobile-silhouette/#comment-2089810

    I’d also like to publicly thank Crabspirits for inspiring me to start writing fiction again in the fall of 2013. I went to a prestigious high school and we were taught to write well, but I don’t think I had penned a bit of fiction since 1999 prior to CS’ inspiration. Writing has been a great catharsis for me these past few months.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    The last sentence says it all.

    John

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    It’d take a million Jalopniks to write anything even halfway close to your stuff. With a little polish you could make some good money selling e-books.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      What do think of this Mr. Literary Critic?

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-nova-sedan/#comment-5377521

      edit: serious not sarc

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Just edited my post a bit, it was a bit hypocritical for me to criticize the clarity of Crabs story, only to write a somewhat confusing comment.

        Your story was pretty good, I can tell your classes have been paying off. You and Crabs really should try to find an individual outlet for this stuff though, perhaps your own personal blogs?

  • avatar
    rockets

    He had me at “I’m going to start featuring them now, and you’re gonna need to wash your face afterwards.”

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    The short snippet of Metallica’s title track from And Justice For All gets a lot of love from me, and I don’t even like that song too much. It’s a chore to listen to, it’s repetitive not in a great Rock You Like a Hurricane way, but in a droning boring way.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Well it is a 10 minute song with like eight tempo changes. The begining is a monster though. I’ve never heard them play that song live though.

      The last Metallica show I went to was on Belle Isle in Detroit. They played “Harvester of Sorrow” and “Blackened” from Justice (along with “One”. They always play “One”). I had to get to the island by boat. I thought it was going to end like a Dethklok episode.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    What surprises me about Crabs stories is how he can think up fairly interesting stories for what are normally very mundane vehicles.

    If I ever start making car ads I know who I’m hiring as the writer.

    Some of these stories are a bit “muddy” though, a bit over descriptive at times.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    “After spitting the husks all over the floor, he washed it down with the dregs from the black can, then hurled it out onto East University Avenue to help make the rest of the world as horrible as his immediate reality.”

    Your stories always give me a little bit of understanding of the strange world around me. I now have at least a vague idea of why Monster energy drinks exist, what sort of people throw garbage out of their vehicles, and how anyone could possibly think it’s worthwhile to drive around delivering newspapers instead of just walking them around their own neighborhood, as I did growing up. When I go for early morning walks, I see the kids going from vehicle to house as mommy or daddy drives and I can’t fathom how they could be making enough money to pay for the use of a vehicle and an adult’s time in the process.

    All your stories are great, Crabspirits, and this was one of the best.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “When I go for early morning walks, I see the kids going from vehicle to house as mommy or daddy drives and I can’t fathom how they could be making enough money to pay for the use of a vehicle and an adult’s time in the process.”

      I see the same thing and wonder the same thing. The money may be secondary; getting the kid up early to do a job has its own benefits. But really, those benefits would be amplified if they walked the papers around themselves.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Great story. Depressing, but great.

    I delivered papers for a few months to get by until I landed the grad school stipend and it does, for the most part, truly suck. I liked the quiet of 4:30 AM and the exercise of hauling the papers around, but the pay is pathetic, the garden gnome b*tches are real, and you never get a day off. It worked as a very temporary stopgap or as a kid’s first shot at income, but for an adult to rely on it longer-term is difficult and depressing.

    The carrier in our neighborhood drives from house to house in an early 2000s Suburban, big V8 gurgling away all of the meager pay. He should be walking those papers door to door.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      I did a bit of research on the role, and some of the stories told by paper carriers are more fantastical than anything I could dream up. At the same time, I’m receiving my in laws’ paper while they are in Florida. The mysterious deliveries in the little blue bags purchased by some poor soul basically go straight into the recycling bin. I can’t believe such a job exists when almost anything would be better to me, and that’s with my resume having such stellar careers as mid-summer Texas dumpster diver, lube tech, and most annoying telemarketer in the world. With a turnover rate possibly higher than Radio Shack staff, it’s a miracle that those blue bags make it to my driveway on time every day.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    I am the !(proud) owner of this exact same van – a silver 05, 140K miles, one needed repair away from the scrapyard. I just want it to get me through the spring yard work season to haul mulch bags and sod rolls home from the garden center and tree limbs to the recycling center. Then it can have the death it so eagerly desires.

  • avatar
    319583076

    I’m a big fan, thanks again. Your attention to detail catalyzes your imagination resulting in vivid, realistic story-telling. I never know if your stories will make me laugh, cry, or both. But I do know that I always enjoy them. Well done!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Heh. I’m pretty sure my cousin went to that college on a baseball scholarship.

  • avatar
    Maintainer

    Crabspirits,

    “This junkyard sits across from where Joliet Jake was once picked up by his brother Elwood in a certain Dodge Monaco”

    That line makes your stories much more than fiction for me.
    Having spent a lot of time in the Joliet, Lockport and to an extent the Crest Hill area in the past I can see your muse clearly.
    My ex got wrapped up with some people near the Outlaw clubhouse in Joliet. Not really “good” people either. On many of my “HELP! COME GET ME!!” drives I’d cruise the neighborhoods thinking many of the same things you write.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    The “Boof” of the plexiglas window detaching made me laugh out loud at work. As did the vaporization of the gnome.

    Everybody has been stuck with a garbage car like this at some point. Therefore these brilliant vignettes invoke in the reader a mix of empathy and satire which is most satisfying.

  • avatar
    Thorshammer_gp

    I first started checking out the site because of the Junkyard Find segments, and CS’s stories make them just that much better. This is one of my favorites:
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2000-dodge-intrepid-rt/#comment-5076890
    I had the misfortune of knowing someone in high school exactly like Casey who drove a 2.7-powered Intrepid and was convinced it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Good times.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    This is what happens when you don’t have a HondaVac.

  • avatar
    CarOli

    YES! TTAC gave Crabspirits his own Last Rides column! How did I miss this post over a month ago?

    Excellent as usual Crabby…keep up the good work!

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