Senin, 12 September 2011
Mission Delta 88
Mission Delta 88People drove big cars in the early 70s. My father bought a four-door Delta 88 Royale in 1973. Only 7000 were made that year. The overhead-valve high-compression V8 engine owed its existence to muscle cars such as the GTO. The Delta 88 was no family car. A heavy foot on the pedal rocketed the ton of steel to 100 mph with ease. The V8 begged for gas. My father rarely let me drive this Detroit monster. It was a bad story waiting for a beginning. The tundra of the back seat was designed for teenage submarine races. The Delta 88 was dangerous at all speeds.Even zero.Late summer of 1975. My cousin Cindy had fallen in love with a student from Oxford. His family had hailed for Rhodesia. His uncle had founded National Geographic. A step up from her previous beau, Joe, who had given her a V-8 engine the previous Christmas.Cindy was flying to London to meet Oliver. Her parents had forbidden this trip. She was 22 and free to come or go as suited her heart.Goodbyes ran long at her house in Wollaston, Massachusetts. Her mother cried a salty Neponset River. My mother joined the current of tears. The two sisters were very close, but the clock ticked overtime on their theatrics. Her father didn’t want to say good-bye. Uncle Dave looked at his watch.12:10.Cindy’s flight was at 12:45. The distance to Logan Airport was 14 miles. Cindy ran to the front door. Someone had to drive here to the airport fast. Uncle Dave looked around the room. His son was too young. My older brother was in law school. His eyes fell on me. He held up his car keys.A Impala.“They’ll never make it in that.” My mother stuck the Delta 88′s key in my hand. My father opened his mouth. My mother’s regard shut it. “Get her there on time.”“I’ll do my best.” I had driven taxi three years during college. My diploma read ‘sin laude’. No one booked more money on the weekend than me. Boston was my city. I took the keys.‘In one piece.” Uncle Dave said what my father couldn’t say in front of my mother.“I’ll call from the airport.”12:11 I started the car. The V-8 had been tuned by Dennis Halley. The Vietnam vet was the best mechanic on the South Shore. He loved big engines. 303 cubic inches zroomed like a jet turbines. I goosed the gas and turned on WBCN. The FM deejay was playing BALLROOM BLITZ by Sweet. My two sisters wanted to come along for the ride. My mother stopped them.“Better only two.” She tapped her watch. Time was an issue. Speed was the cure.My cousin kissed her mother and jumped in the front seat.“No red lights.” Cindy fastened her seat belt. She was in love. Women are funny in that state. They have no fear.“No red lights.” My mental map counted four. The Quincy cops changed shifts at noon. Their schedule worked in our favor. The Delta 88 peeled rubber from Anderson Street. Cindy said one word, “Faster.”The Delta 88 fishtailed onto Newport Avenue. A straight line to North Quincy. Traffic was light. Cindy and I had protested against the war in Vietnam. She pulled out a joint.“I got to get rid of this before I get on the plane.”“Light it up.” The light at Beale Street was green. We were going 70. The road dipped past the intersection. The Delta 88 traveled a hundred feet in the air. The suspension prevented our panning out on the asphalt. I pushed the engine. 80. 90. 95. I passed two cars like they were running on lead glue. The lights at West Squantum Street went yellow.I obeyed the old adage.“Yellow means faster.”Horns blared at our passage. We were in another time zone. Nothing was in my rearview mirror but empty road. We smoked the joint in peace for several seconds.“Keep your eyes open.” We whipped into Neponset Circle like Bonnie and Clyde. The lunchtime motorists were not prepared for outlaws. I stomped on the gas. The V-8 honored Detroit with power. The Delta 88 hit 100 up the onramp of the Expressway.“12:17.” Cindy had a Cartier watch. Her beau had given the family heirloom to her as a token of his love. The watch kept good time. WBCN’s DJ segued to Slade’s “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”. Cindy was more into Cat Stevens, but TEA TO THE TILLERMAN was not written for this ride.No traffic on Route 3. No cops either. I hit 110 at the Mass Ave exit.“12:20.” I was ahead of schedule. The odometer had gained 8 miles. Only 6 more to go.“You see any cops?”Cindy had better eyes than me.“No.”The Delta 88 topped 110 on the elevated Central Artery. I dropped down to 60 in the Sumner Tunnel and we arrived at British Airways’ terminal at 12:26. Cindy jumped out of the car. She was carrying one bag. A wave and my cousin was inside the terminal. A state trooper appeared from the right. My trembling hands tensed on the steering wheel. The plastic melted into my flesh.“Move the car, sport.”“Yes, officer.”I drove away according to the traffic laws of the Massachusetts Commonwealth. I stopped at a bar on Mass Avenue. Kelly’s. They had 50 cents beer. Three of them brought me back to earth.I didn’t get back to Wollaston until 1:30.“Did she get away okay?” My aunt was wanted to know if her daughter had arrived safely at the airport.“Fine.”I told them about the trip intown.None of them believed the trip could be completed that fast. They had never seen DEATH RACE 2000. “What about the red lights?”My father believed in defensive driving. He had never gotten in an accident during forty years of driving.“I ran a few.” I had totaled two cars in my short life. Three counting the Mustang I t-boned at Roxbury Crossing."And what about the police?" My father's driving record was clean."They were busy somewhere else.""So she got away good?" My Uncle Dave lit a cigarette."Yes." "Thanks." Uncle Dave thanked me with a beer and I was grateful for the power of a Delta 88. It was pure America in 1975 and still is wherever it is now.Just like the driver.100% Zroom.