The year is 1999, it is a wide belief that it is the end of time, but
Bill Gates has made his hundredth billion and Prince’s album 1999 is selling
big again. It was originally released in 1982 the same year Sam was born. Mack
is still around too, he returned from the war or mostly, in 1974. His left foot
had hooked a trip wire on patrol and the RGD-5 connected to it detonated. Mack
ran for his life.
The morning was bright and warm with a promise of real heat for the day. The wind blew out of the east cool and refreshing. The smell of chlorine and chlorophyll wafted on the breeze. Sam stood appraising his mother with the grand wisdom of a teenager. He was thinking “If dad was only.., He would leave this to me. I know mom I know”. Lou was thinking “If only your father were here, he could handle this”. She pursed her lips looking at the man-boy. Lou looked up the street then down as was her habit. She said “You don’t need a sports car. A truck would serve and we could use a truck around here.” Mack looked at her with an unchanging look. He was humoring her, she knew his mind and he knew what he wanted.
Sam tall and straight was the image of his father. Lou’s heart would skip a beat as she rounded a corner and glimpsed Sam. She would look again and see the boy. He filled and broke her heart every day. Sam tore her heart open and filled it at the same time. He was a good boy. He did well in school never causing any trouble. He made friends easily and was always kind even when he didn’t have too. She was very proud of him and when he asked for a sports car, she had grudgingly agreed.
Sam loved the pony cars. He had alternating periods of Camaro and Mustang fervor. The first of the ponies had graduated in price to levels well out of Sam’s reach. He had worked for two years doing odd jobs and had sacked groceries for the last year. Sam had saved all of his earnings and Lou had admired him for avoiding immature desires to spend and spend. She pictured him as the toddler kicking around the patio in his little car. He raced here and there stopping to say “beep-beep, then talking off with a “r-r-r-r-r-room”. He was responsible enough to have a sports car and had wanted one enough to save
for it. Sam had amassed a teenage fortune and possessed his father’s love of muscle cars.
A green Buick was coming up the street. Lou turned to Sam “Sam I’m not going with you to look at cars. “ Sam’s face lite up and then abashed dimmed down. Lou continued “I asked Mr.B for a favor and he took the day to go look at cars with you.” The Buick slid up to the curb across the street. Ben hopped out and bounced across the street “This is gonna be so awesome Sam! What are you going to get? Can I drive it?” and turned to Lou “morning Sam’s mom”. Sam, standing blank faced, looked at them. He pictured Mr.B saying things like “How much of the warranty is left? Do you have all the service
records? Why we should just get one off the lot Sam that way you know what you’re getting.” Sam said “We could do this mom” and Lou replied “Mr.B is taking a day off from the lot to help us Sam” in her stern mom voice. Mr.B walked up and smiled at Lou “Good morning Lou, you look pretty this morning”. Lou’s cheeks flushed and Sam felt his stomach clinch. Mr.B gave the boys a big smile “We better get going before all the good deals are gone. Sam you want to get something off the lot? That way you know what you’re getting. Sam kissed his mom good-bye and walked across the street listening to Mr.B and nodding.
A green car with a man and two teenage boys pulled into Ed Deals dealership in the late afternoon. The man got out, wiped his forehead, and looked up at the sky. A few
white puffy clouds could be seen in the distance. The day had become hot and sticky. Sam and Ben piled out and walked off toward a Camaro on the front row. Mr.B stayed back waiting to talk to slim. Slim walked out of the office and sauntered over to Mr.B. Slim looked at the boys “I thought you weren’t coming in today Ben.” Mr.B replied “I’m doing a favor for boy’s friend Sam. It’s just he and his mom with no man to help them out.” Slim appraised Mr.B then leered “She’s the hot blonde with the nice rack. Right?” Mr.B’s cheeks flushed “I’m a married man Slim” and did his best to seem virtuous. Slim nodded buying none of what Mr.B was selling and admiring him at the same time. Slim stared after the boys “What you got in mind for the boy Ben?” Mr.B paused a moment then said “The boy has some cash, quite a bit in fact, and he needs a truck or maybe a car. It would be a pretty sweet deal to earn a favor from Lou and a commission today Slim.” Slim nodded approvingly.
Sam and Ben walked down the black asphalt row looking at the different cars as they went. They stopped at the end to look at a black Camaro. It had T-tops, leather, alloy
wheel and Sam started to get excited. The windshield had 8,995 and smoking deal written on it with cartoonish pizzazz. Sam pondered the price and calculated the sales tax and insurance. He thought that he would need to negotiate the price down, at least a thousand, before he could afford it. Sam pulled the hood release and the hood popped with a thunk. Ben pressed the safety catch and lifted the hood. Ben whistled looking at the clean engine with a sticker on the air cleaner indicating some special filter. Sam was impressed by the cleanness and noticed the air cleaner. The engine compartment seemed not full to Sam and it took a moment before he noticed what it was not there “It’s a sixer Ben” Ben looked at the engine. He counted the coil packs “one-two-three-four-five-six, yep, a sixer”. Sam started to close the hood as Mr.B walked around the car. Mr.B caught the hood “You know this sixer is two hundred horses Sam. It runs like a scalded dog and is low mileage
to boot. We could test drive it or did you want to go on over to the trucks?” Sam grimaced at the trucks “I guess a test drive would be cool Mr.B.” Mr.B waved his arms back and forth, then with a flourish, a key appeared dangling from his hand. Sam took it and the three of them got in the car.
Sam wanted to feel the car’s potential. Slim waved as Sam turned east heading towards the outskirts of town. The Camaro was peppy and had a tight feel as he drove. Sam was weighing the pros and cons as Mr.B blathered on about features. The car had
34,000 miles that was average for a three-year-old car. Sam felt himself relaxing and he was enjoying driving the car. Ben asked “can we stop and take out the tops dad?” and Mr.B grinned “sure Ben if Sam wants too. It’s his car.” They pulled into a subdivision to remove the T-tops. The tops unlocked with a solid chachunk and were stored in the hatch. The three loaded back up and Ben sat in the back letting his dad ride shot-gun. Sam drove up Alta Vista looking for a place to turn around. He turned to use the other exit and parked on the corner lawn was a red 5.0 mustang. Sam pulled to curb in front of the car. Mr.B
looked confused and a little flustered. Ben hopped across the back seat and got out Sam’s door. Mr.B groaned and followed the boys over to the car.
The windshield had a for sale sign in the right side. The “for sale” was written in flourescent orange and at the bottom a note in marker. The note lacked the usual phone
number and had an address. Ben read the address aloud 5100 Alta Mesa Dr. Sam looked around and said “It’s the fifth house down”. “I’ll go” Ben said and took off. He loped off
toward the owner’s house. Mr.B walked around the car “Something’s funny about this car Sam. I think we should pass on it. It’s got this funny body kit and chrome wheels to boot in this year model all the cars had aluminum wheels”. Ben was dragging up a middle-aged man” I found him Sam. Jack meet Sam. Sam meet Jack”. Jack pulled away from Ben and walked over to Mr.B. He said “those aluminum wheels are sixteen inch and I bought these and new tires for less than a set of tires for sixteen inch tires cost.” Sam and Ben were circling the car having their own discussion. Sam said “Your dads right; this body kit is odd with the rear bumper and grille. Check out that spoiler, I haven’t seen one
like that before. I wonder why he didn’t get a Saleen one.” Ben stood out behind the looking at the stainless exhaust tips. He said “It looks like a Cobra with different wheels on it.” He raised his voice to reach the men talking, “What year is this?” Jack replied in kind “It’s a 91 or 92. I forget”. Ben turned to Sam “that rules out a Cobra, they only made those in 93, but it sure is a nice fake. You see the cobra name plate on the hatch and snakes on
the fender. The body kit is correct as well. I wonder if it has the intake.” Ben yelled over to Jack “can we pop the hood?” Mr.B was looking annoyed and checked his watch. Jack nodded and threw Ben the keys. Ben unlocked the driver’s door and hit the unlock button.
A blast of heat hit Sam as he opened the passenger door. The interior was black and the seats were leather. Ben remarked” that’s cool it’s even got the 93 seats in it. A 91 or 92
would have a leg bolster, these are smooth”. Ben pulled the hood release and the boys walked around front. Sam lifted the hood and put it on the prop. Ben whistled and said “See the cobra on the intake”. Sam nodded and smiled at Ben. Jack walked over looking irritated. Mr.B walked around the other side to stand by Sam and checked his watch. He said “I guess we should get going boys” and started to walk back to the Camaro. Sam looked at Jack “How much are you asking?” Jack shrugged “It used to be my wife’s car. She got tired of it and I decided to buy her something else and hot rod this one for me. It’s only got 48,000 on it but I had to set the idle real high to get it to run. I’m not sure what’s wrong someone who knew what they were doing could probably fix it real easy. It’s a shame I dropped three grand into getting the heads and intake ported. I put in bigger injectors and a cold air induction. She’ll run like a scalded dog, but it smells like gas when it’s running. I don’t know could you do five?”
Mr.B had stopped and walked back over “let’s go boys; I have other things to do!” Sam looked apologetically at Mr.B “could you give me five more minutes?” Mr.B groaned and crossed his arm, but nodded his assent. Sam turned to Jack “Can I borrow your phone?” Jack smiled and pulled out his cell. Sam called His mom. The phone rang twice before she answered. Her voice was calm and expectant “Did you get a truck?” Sam grimaced “No mom, I found a mustang that I like but it needs some work. The guy says it would be real easy to fix.” Lou asked in a cautious tone “what does Mr.B think? Sam felt it all starting to slip away. There was no way his mom
would go against Mr.B on this decision; then something happened. Mr.B stormed over and plucked the phone from Sam’s hand. Mr.B turned and glowered at Sam. He turned and was pacing back and forth as he started to speak “Hey sugar lips, this boy of yours is out of control. I bust my hump running all over town looking at cars. I try to get him to buy a truck like you wanted and he’s got me looking at a seven-year-old car for five thousand and get this it, doesn’t even run right. I’m sorry Lou, but you know a boy needs a father around.” Mr.B suddenly stopped talking, his face had a surprised look, and his left eye started twitching. He held the phone a little way from his ear and after a minute he
said “can do, no ma’am, and sure glad to help”. Mr.B handed the phone to Sam. Sam held it to his ear. He was half afraid, given all the trouble he had caused, and making Mr.B so angry. Lou said “Sam, I trust you if you truly want this car then buy it.” Sam smiled “thanks mom, I love you.” He nodded a few more times and then said “goodbye”. Mr.B
looked at Sam “you shouldn’t buy this car boy. It’s a mistake.” Sam nodded assent “I know Mr.B, and I appreciate you taking a day to help me with this, but I guess I am going to make this mistake”. He offered his hand and Mr.B shook it with a weak grip. Mr.B looked at Ben “You coming?” Ben asked” Can I hang with Sam?” Mr.B looked at the both of them “I guess, I’m gonna stop off at the bar. I will see you later. Its beer-thirty boy” He winked and sauntered off to the Camaro. He gunned it as he left and clipped a wheel on the curb.
The boys turned to face Jack. Jack was smiling “I guess I sold a car gentleman”. Sam smiled back “Yes sir”. The three of them walked over to Jacks house. Jack and Sam filled out the title and Sam paid him. Jack took the boys out to the garage. He gave Sam a large box full of car parts and manuals. Jack motioned to the rear of the garage and a set of wheels covered by a tarp. Jack pulled the tarp off “You can have these wheels if you want them. I think they are off a Thunderbird” Ben walked over to Sam. He leaned over and in a
quiet voice he said “those are original Cobra wheels”. Sam and Ben loaded the wheels into the hatch and back seat. Ben held the box of parts. Sam got behind the wheel. He still had the title in his hand. He threw it into the box Ben was holding. Sam pushed in the clutch and turned the key. The engine turned and groggily awoke. Sam revved it a couple of time and it settled into a high idle. Ben, rummaging through the box of parts, was thinking aloud “Sam, all of these Cobra parts would cost a bunch. Wouldn’t it have been something if it were a real Cobra? I saw a picture of one in a book one time. They are really rare” Ben stopped rummaging and held up the title “Hey Sam, it’s not a
92, it’s a 93”. The boys looked at each other and laughed out loud. The Cobra slowly backed up on the grass then pulled out in the street.