Old saggy bumper. She was a beauty of a truck. 93 Toyota…I don’t know anything about cars, but I am pretty sure there wasn’t even a model name. It was just the red trucky, saggy bumper. My dad’s weekend truck that drove him back and forth to the dump. I had recently acquired the driving rights to this fine specimen as I had totaled my first car I had purchased with my hard earned teenage paychecks working at Sears in an unfortunate event involving a sneeze and a light post. Dad used to say it was a four cylinder truck, but only three worked. Had to turn off the air conditioner to make it up a hill, but something about that truck just felt like home. Parts falling off, oddly uncontrolled vibrations beneath my butt in the worn out seat, a seat belt that wouldn’t retract, and a radio that would only tune to static, but it was comfortable and familiar.
I was cruising down the road in that ride, elbow flung out the window and left knee propped against the door, one thumb on the steering wheel. I can almost hear dad now, feet on the floor, both hands on the wheel, 10 and 2, but where is the fun in that? Being the timid and somewhat poorly skilled driver that I am, I stopped at the yield sign in front of me just to double check that no one was coming. Fairly certain I was okay to merge, I started out into the road, but was startled by an oncoming car in the far lane who never had a chance in hell of ever being in my way and I hit the brakes. Just as I stopped for the second time at that yield sign, came a jolt from behind. My head flung forward then back, my contorted knee slammed against the window crank, and my chest railed against the seatbelt with too much slack loosely attempting to restrain me. Oh crap, dads going to shoot me.
I pulled over, accompanied by a shiny new American truck and an even more American man in a cowboy hat.
“Sweetie,” he said, half with a draw of Southern charm and half sarcastically pissed off. “Don’t look like too much damage there. Don’t think there’s no need to call the police.”
God, I was thinking. I don’t know what I am supposed to do. So, I just smiled and nodded. Maybe not too much damage to his big shiny ride, but old red had half her little bumper was dangling into the street.
“Let me get you some information, honey.” He said quickly, digging for something to write on and pulling out a napkin that had seen better days. “This here honey is a dealership car. You know Bill?”
Hell no, I don’t know Bill. What on earth is this hillbilly trying to pull?
“You know Bill? Everybody knows Bill. Bill Marlborough down in Bristol, Tennessee. M-a-r, you know Marlborough, spelled like hamburger. Only you take out the H and make it an M, add an rl, and take out the u altogether. He’s going to take care of everything for you, sweet cheeks.”
All the while Tennessee cowboy is scrawling away on that tattered napkin, the name of mystery Bill and his likely fictitious phone number and dealership name. Cowboy thrusted the napkin in my hand, gave it a quick firm shake and smiled a genuine almost fully toothed grin at me. “Just give Bill a call!” He shouted as he climbed into his dinosaur of a truck and sped off around me. Just me and saggy bumper on the side of the road. Well, guess it’s time to go home.
Old Bill turned out to be a good guy after all, he fixed Red up with a shiny new bumper. That’s how she got her name. For some reason, I was always getting into to rear end accidents. Told you I was a stellar driver. Trucky always looked a little run down, well run down’s not the word, well-loved and worn in. But as tired and rusty as she was, she always had a shiny new bumper intact, and so the name saggy bumper stuck.