From Beauchamp (Skintight, 2014), a novel about adventures in and around a 1963 Ford Galaxie.
Behold, Ford’s 60 millionth car: “A 1963½ Galaxie 500 XL Sport Roof, Rangoon Red on black, Z-code 390, 4-speed transmission.” So begins the story of a vehicle that will see more than its share of adventures. For its first seven years and 141,970 miles, a Lewisville man drives the car up and down the state highways. Throughout its life, the Galaxie is driven, fixed, and loved by many as it wheels through teenage drag racing, picks up women of questionable character, and has a close encounter with a opossum. Eventually, a mechanic in the year 2042 says, “I was struck by just how different the Galaxie was….Built not just for speed, but for sex appeal.” This future is a funny one in which internal combustion engines are banned (thanks, readers are told, to the “Gore Act”) and Siri-like voices have become a bit too powerful: “ ‘Shut up, you jabbering bitch,’ I pounded my fist on the dash. The car’s voice didn’t miss a beat, telling me I had travelled seventeen miles with no apparent destination.” When the Galaxie isn’t being driven, it’s being repaired or longed for: “She didn’t want the car, but she’d taken it because she knew how bad it would hurt Dorsey to lose it.” The narrative—as speedy as the title suggests—roars with engine-speak (“The 390 initially refused to confine its combustion to the internal side. It leaked oil like a sieve and smoked like a freight train”) and devil-may-care drivers/passengers/admirers: “ ‘This is a nice car,’ she said. ‘I gave my first blowjob in a car like this.’ ” All the while, clean prose details the complex human-machine relationship, which, Beauchamp shows, ages well. “I see only the machine’s after-image,” says one of the Galaxie’s many drivers, “a flickering zoetrope ghost in the place it, and I, had been only seconds earlier.” Though embracing car culture, the tale gives a little slap on the butt for good measure.
A fun, slightly dangerous drive through the car-culture canyon.