Before the seats in Jessie's car could even get warm under our butts, the trip took a turn for the weird. With me at the wheel, something just didn't feel right. Changing lanes on the interstate, I eased up on the gas pedal -- but the car seemed to speed up. I tapped on the break to slow it down and the engine throttled up. At first, I tried to dismiss these events as my imagination. But with my feet nowhere near the pedals and the car speeding up behind a slow-moving granny, I knew something was wrong. I took the first exit we came to.
I pulled off into a parking lot and, for the life of me, couldn't figure out what had happened. I tried to make the car work against me again, but came up empty. We decided to head back to my apartment. There was no need taking a trip that would bring us home late at night in a bum car. On the way home, the problems came back -- with a vengeance.
If I'd let the car do it's own thing, it would have pegged out the speedometer. It quickly reached somewhere around 80 miles an hour without any help from me. The car was literally driving itself. For some reason, I thought a self-driving car would be safer on the surface streets and took another exit.
I had a stop sign at the end of the off-ramp. Fortunately, all of my weight bearing down on the brake pedal was enough to bring the car to a halt, even with the engine revving and the tachometer dipping into the red. I needed a break. I needed time to make a plan. I shoved the car into park. The sound was not pleasant.
Jessie was outwardly upset. Not only does she take an immense amount of pride and care in her vehicles, I think the whole idea of a car driving *us* was starting to get to her. I, on the other hand, appreciated the challenge. I guess I should have shut it down and called a tow truck. But on that day, it wasn't even an option. I took a breath, put it back in gear and off we went.
The traffic lights were good to us as we made the mile or two trip to the apartment. I'd let the car run free for a bit before keeping it in check with a few brake taps. As we neared my complex, I was heavy on the reins with the engine running just as hard as ever. Driving a self-propelled car on the interstate is easy. Navigating it through five-lane surface streets and intersections... Well, I'd like to say it was a challenge (because it was) but, really, it was fun.
My foot was on the break the entire time we navigated my complex's parking lot. Right turn. Right turn. Left turn. And then both feet went on the brake as a I whipped it into a parking spot and shut it down. At the moment, the feeling I had was better than sex. I had 170 horses working against me and I! Thomas Fletcher! not only drove them home but parked them perfectly within the confines of two white lines on the asphalt. I was king of the world.
As it turns out, the King of the World decided not to go to Memphis and spent the evening at home with his fiance. Missing the show was a bummer, but it worth it to have a story for the ages.
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