My Dad was never on very friendly terms with cars.
“It feels like it ain’t gettin’ no gas,” he explained
to Jack, the mechanic on duty in greasy overalls.

The loaner, a loner, sat in the backlot behind
the filling station, unfulfilled, a rusty old dog,
for days, sometimes weeks, until an overnight
repair required its use. We had to jump start it
again and again.

We were driving up Mariposa when I opened
the glove box, a curious cat, and pulled out
the little box about the size of a matchbox.
“You know what that is?” Dad said.
“No, what?” I had already opened it
and found it was empty.
“Nevermind,” Dad said.

But what was it doing in the glove box
of the loaner? And we went to Jack’s
in the first place because of Church.
It was a little mystery, and still is.

The thing about our car under repair,
it was a 1956 Ford Station Wagon,
a baby blue and white twotone,
it needed a narrative to hold together.

Random, disconnected parts littered
the shop floor, tools hanging from nails
of the bare studs, a transistor radio
playing what would come to be called
oldies, but not for another decade or two.

What you want in a car is a
coherent whole, a story
that makes sense, with reason
and use and value,
even if it is not true.
It’s nuance to suggest it, but
the truth often rings of nonsense.

Photo: Joe Linker with ’49 Ford, a gift from his father,
3 speed on the column, no A/C, no heat, no radio:
The Peace Truck, around 1969, on Loma Vista.
Just visible, tail and fin of Jacobs Surfboard.
After Joe bought his ’64 VW bus, he gifted
the truck to brother-in-law Raymond.