Car Ride from Hell

This is a short story based on an actual event that happened to my mom when she was a kid. It’s a bit long, but not long enough to justify two parts (in my opinion.) It’s about 1,000 words. I hope you enjoy it!

Car Ride from Hell

The smell in the car was toxic. The windows, no matter how wide open, couldn’t expel the stench as fast as the dog could create it. You may ask why we had a dog on a seven-hour drive from Chicago to Columbus, and the reasoning was that ‘the family said ‘we could and it didn’t seem half bad’. What we weren’t expecting was the present predicament.

The ride to Chicago had been alright, albeit with constant park stops for the dog every hour, and bathroom breaks and food stops on top of that. But the car was cramped. With both my twin brother and I in the backseat, both of us seventeen and nearly grown, the dog created quite a squeeze in the compact car. Mom and Dad had it good.

My brother, nearly six feet tall and with broad shoulders and brawny muscles hidden in what looked like fat, was usually the worst car-mate to have in the back seat. He needed to ‘spread out’ which usually entailed lying across the entire back seat with his head in my lap, sleeping. And no, he wasn’t an attractive sleeper either; my pants ended up soaked with drool and snot if I wasn’t careful. And his snores felt like there was an earthquake specific to the car.

I usually was constricted to the far reaches of the backseat, snug up against the door and with little room to move in any direction. With the addition of the dog, I was no more or less comfortable, but my brother was now in a bad mood. One thing about my brother; being with him in an enclosed space the size of a house isn’t enough room when he is in a bad mood. Not to mention that my parents often stuffed us with sugar during the ride making all of us hyper and irritable. Car rides were hell enough without the dog.

My parents kept complaining that the dog’s breath was vile. I kept complaining that the dog was crawling all over me. And that was just the car ride to Chicago.

We were going to visit family for Thanksgiving. It was cold enough that there was snow on the ground already, and opening a window created a draft that, according to the weatherman, if you were standing still outside would give you frostbite in fifteen minutes. Imagine how that rate must be accelerated if going at the sixty-five mile per hour speed limit, although everyone goes over this; my dad usually drives around eighty.

Thanksgiving was good. It was an interesting affair with the turkey and bean salad. My dog just so happened to fancy a turkey leg, and when she helped herself she was punished by Grandma; she was sentenced to brave the cold on the front porch. Although, it wasn’t much of a punishment; Grandma had left three pies to cool out there, and when she remembered the middles of the pies had been licked clean to the dish (She was a proper dog; only the soft gooey middle would do for such a picky dog. She wouldn’t even touch crackers or popcorn.).

When we left the next day we didn’t realize that Grandma had been feeding the dog the leftovers of the bean salad, hence the current predicament. It was too cold to open the windows for extended periods of time, leaving us to bear the stench for most of the ride.

The car was filled up with the desperate half-coughing cries of the dog’s name; if the head was facing us at least the smell would dissipate some before reaching our nostrils. Although it was pointless; the smell was getting more potent with each release.

The poor dog kept going around in circles, trying to figure out whom to listen to. The dog liked my mother best and started to climb up into the front seat with her, much to my revulsion.

“Dear God! When will this be over?” My brother moaned.

“Only an hour more.” Mom answered, triumphant that she had, for the time being, managed to get the dog to face her. The problem was, the dog soon climbed into her lap and faced the window. I felt bad for Dad, but not too bad; at least it wasn’t me.

“Maybe we could open a window for a second or two?” I suggested. Dad obliged and rolled down his, giving me a blast of frosty air and snow. It only lasted a second before we were shivering enough to warrant the closing of the window, leaving us once again in the deadly stench the dog was creating.

We had to also stop frequently for the dog’s bathroom breaks. During such breaks, we would all get out and roll down our windows, and on snack breaks we did the same, only leaving the dog inside.

I petitioned for another dog break, hoping for a relief from the smell, even if it meant getting frostbite. Frostbite was the lesser of two evils right now; if you’re cold, you can’t smell a thing because your nose runs.

“Maybe we could put the fan on,” My brother suggested.

“That would just blow it around!” I argued.

“It would dissipate faster!”

“But it would have nowhere to go, so where would it dissipate?”

“KIDS! Stop arguing. I put the fan on.”

“Mom!”

“Honey, at this point I’m willing to try anything.”

So the conversation went, arguing and complaining about the remaining hour in the car, each one of us with a different opinion and trying every single suggestion.

“We’re never bringing the dog on a long car trip again,” Dad said, opening the windows for the final time; we were finally five minutes from our house.

“You can say that again.” Mom said. My brother and I agreed.

In retrospect, it seems funny to recount the story. But, as with many things, it was nowhere near funny while it was happening. It was hard to breathe; that’s how bad it was. Suffice to say that we never brought our dog on a car trip longer than an hour ever again and never when a holiday dinner was involved. Once was plenty.

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