I learned to drive in a Vega. A real live Vega. At the time I drove it, all systems had sprung leaks and I believe it probably was classified as either a lethal weapon or a death trap, maybe both.
The beauty of the Vega was the hatchback.
We also owned horses during the season of the Vega. Mainly pet horses as they tended to try to kill me, and once the other family members scraped me off the gravel, no one else wanted to ride them either.
As nice as a hay-filled barn is with all the warm horse and dried grass scents, someone has to stock the barn with hay. Enter the Vega and its wonderful truck-like back end.
Dad “let” me head out with him to gather some bales of hay. My brothers and I loved it when Dad “let” us help him. We rolled the Vega down the hill. It could travel up to three miles at a time and fortunately we were on a hay gathering mission less than a mile away. We pushed the seats down and slid glistening 800 pound golden rectangles of horse sustenance into the Vega. Okay, they weren’t 800 pounds, but they were really heavy.
We’d load three of four of the little scratchy gems, putt-putt up the hill, unload them in the barn, coast back down the hill and repeat. On one of the final passes I heard a grunt. I ignored it. Pat makes many noises, a grunt is not uncommon.
Peripherally my eye caught something. Maybe more of an absence of something. I glanced over my shoulder to discover my dad missing. I craned around then discovered the reason for the grunt.
Maybe it hadn’t been a grunt at all, possibly it was a desperate squeak for help. Pat’s toes were wedged between two hay bales. His body a perfect bridge between the pile of hay and the Vega, a bridge spanning his entire five-eleven frame, three feet off the ground. White-knuckled fingers clutched the edge of the Vega.
I froze. Once again, I struggled with controlling the hysteria that tickled the back of my throat. My eyes watered and the bridge who was my father quivered slightly. Oh boy. What to do? My voice cracked. “Dad, you need some help?”
“That’d be nice.” Then he laughed.
I eventually got around to helping him, once I could stand up straight again.
Coming up – Pat’s Public Pratfall.