I reinstated myself in the driver’s seat, folded the map back up and returned it to the glove compartment while running through a mental list of mechanical issues that were all weighed against a range of needs, from those of basic survival to those of a more spiritual nature. In other words, I was applying Maslow’s hierarchy in an effort to convince myself that embarking upon a two thousand kilometre journey into the American heartland was, in fact, a good idea.
A leak in one of the valve cover gaskets was evidenced by a lingering whiff of burnt oil, however, a vigilant eye on the dipstick kept this most serious of issues at bay.
The 727 Torqueflite transmission had never posed me a problem, and its legacy of durability would keep it that way for years.
The brakes were fine despite a corroded sensor that tripped the service light, and the battery had been replaced two weeks previous, so the only scenario capable of marooning us would’ve been that of a flat tire. Any of the tires could have blown at any minute because they were past their warranty date and balding to varying degrees. And the donut spare in the trunk had already seen its fair share of asphalt.
Still, I had an unshakeable faith in Soldier’s ability to soldier on, as it were.
Yep, that’s right, I did the dorky thing and gave my car a name, and maybe it was even a cliché name, but in my book, faithful battle steeds had a way of rising above all things cliché, and they most definitely deserved names. Especially those that carried a person into the battle against abject poverty, day after grinding day.
I heard a whinnying sound whenever I turned the key in his ignition, and I swore I could feel him using his pistons to mimic the beating of a heart, so yeah, looking back on it now, I guess I was guilty of taking the anthropomorphism thing too far, but I had to show respect, I had to give alms, by animating my inanimate hero with a name befitting his selfless service, his supreme sacrifice, his Ashvamedha. Soldier had paid for himself many moons ago; he didn’t owe me a goddamned thing, yet he continued to provide.