Hell-O-Ween 2 The Bloody ‘55
October 16, 2014
The Summer of ‘92 found me in a position most are familiar with—behind the wheel of “that” car. When referring to “that” car there is not a specific year, make or model; it usually varies per individual. But anyone who has driven and owned more than one vehicle knows “that” car. It’s the one that stands out in your mind and is always looked back on fondly because it holds the best memories of your greatest adventures. It’s the one you wish you’d never sold (or wrecked) and that you’d have a hard time not seriously considering buying if you saw a similar one for sale.
For myself “that” car was a stock, dark maroon, 1982 Chevy El Camino. For several years it served as my trusty steed over many a highway and off-road mile. It also happened to be the vehicle in which I first encountered the blood-red ‘55 Chevy.
Midday on a sunny weekend. The windows cranked down, the radio cranked up, a lit cigar and not a care in the world...everything went downhill from here. The roar of its engine was audible as it exited the main road onto the secondary. Seconds later it burst into view, the brilliant blood-red paint screaming out against the dull background of fields and farms it passed. The windows were completely black along with the wheels and grill. Recognizing the make and model there was a moment of admiration, then is swerved into my lane and visibly accelerated. Admiration quickly turned to panic. Panic led to braking, swerving and ditching as the ‘55 thundered by. Sitting in the ousted Camino there came a sigh of relief at having barely missed and survived the encounter with the demon Chevy...sadly it would not be my last.
Throughout that summer and well into autumn my run-ins with the ‘55 continued. Always at the same place, same time, type of day and always ending in the same way. This was getting ridiculously dangerous...it had to stop. Pursuit was out of the question—not enough horsepower to make the effort. So it fell to driving around, looking into garages and attending classic cars shows. All to no avail. Inquiring about the car was equally fruitless; no one had seen or knew anyone who owned a vehicle that matched its description. Then winter came and the Chevy disappeared.
Two years passed before the next rendezvous with the Detroit hell spawn. This time things went a little differently. For one thing I was a more experienced driver but most importantly was driving a 1979, 6.5l V8 Pontiac Trans-Am. When the ‘55 came into view the Trans-Am slid into a flying U-turn. Skittering around the road, squalling tires and locked into hot pursuit (insert Roscoe P. Coltrane joke here). The chase was on.
What followed were countless miles and hairpin turns at speeds topping 90mph, but I was determined as we raced into the twilight. My worries about running out of gas were lost when the Chevy slid sideways onto a dead end side road. I followed as the asphalt gave way to gravel, which gave way to dirt and the Trans-Am fell behind. It didn’t matter. When the road’s end was reached the ‘55 was there waiting.
Sliding to a stop, grabbing the 12-gauge from the back seat and approaching the blood-red Bel Air, ready for a long overdue confrontation. I yanked the driver’s door open to reveal...nothing—other than a half burnt cigarette, with lipstick stains, perched precariously in the car’s ashtray, the car was empty. Had they made a run for it? Were they still nearby? I turned and walking into the brush only to be halted by the sound of a car door slamming shut. Jumping, I jerked around and...the car was gone...but it wasn’t. Where the immaculate classic blood red ‘55 had been sat a rust covered, burned out, over grown heap that remotely resembled the old Chevy. Had I finally lost my mind or had I been taunted by, then chased, a ghost? The truth will forever elude me and the image of the still smoking, lipstick stained, Salem 100 hanging from the rusted ashtray I stared through the glassless window of that weathered relic will forever haunt me.
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