Note: The following is a true story:
By Ken Korczak
Arlo went to bed, but knew he would not sleep, not after the awful thing he had just done. Deep in his heart he felt the sting of his own cruel betrayal — and he had done it for money.
The grim reality was this: He had sold out the love of his life for cold hard cash.
As he tossed and turned, Arlo’s mind raced through his long relationship with his beloved. He recalled the first time he laid eyes on her, and how the attraction was strong and immediate. He thought of her tantalizing smell, and they way she wore leather, her grace. He remembered the time they drove cross-country together one wild spring when his life was still spontaneous and carefree.
Arlo took her home with him the same day they met. It was the beginning of a 12-year relationship that never grew stale, a relationship which retained its magic day after day.
But life can be complex. Other people in Arlo’s life were jealous, but mostly uncaring about his relationship with his beloved. These others, including his wife and children, did not understand his bond with her. As time wore on, they slowly convinced him that advantages could be gained by selling her out — that the money he could get for betraying her would be useful, and worth it.
So one day, Arlo called up his buddy, Vlad Kochski. Vlad had coveted Arlo’s beloved for many years, and had mentioned it on many occasions. Arlo told Vlad he could now have her for $6,000, cash. Inwardly, Arlo hoped this somewhat high price would dissuade Vlad, or at least cause him to dicker, but the clever Mr. Kochski didn’t blink before saying “Yes!” and took out his check book.
The transaction was eerie. It was as if Arlo was watching events from outside his body — it seemed as if his soul was displaced as he watched his empty physical body hand over the keys to his cherry red, ‘69 Camaro, with 4-speed transmission, black leather seats 350 V8, twin overhead cams, into the white, fleshy hands of the heavy breathing Vlad Kochski.
Minutes later, Arlo could see the back of Vlad’s fat head through the small sleek rear window of his ‘69 Camaro as he drove away — he could hear her smooth transmission shifting as his most precious love of the past 12 years rushed away from him from 0 to 60 mph in 18 seconds.
Arlo did not sleep that night, not a wink. He didn’t think the pain would be this bad, this deep and so immediate. The fact that he was $6,000 richer was laughable compared to the thought of Vlad’s hammy, wide posterior wearing a grove into the black leather seat of his beloved. Arlo imagined Vlad mis-shifting, grinding her gears — he screamed and jumped out of bed!
Worst of all, he was alone with his pain. His wife and his daughters simply did not understand — could not understand — the way a man can feel about a car. Women! He tried to talk to his dad, but his father was a bottom line oriented man, and tried to assure Arlo that $6,000 eases a lot of pain.
A psychologist might say that Arlo “got stuck” in the grieving process. His heart was broken. His stomach was swollen with emotion. He grew distant from his family, and spent a lot of time alone in the garage where he had kept her. The empty space in the garage now seemed as big as the Grand Canyon. Sometimes, he fancied he could still smell her leather seats, her sweet lubricating oils, the tang of her tires. At other times, he would go rushing out of the garage, just running, going nowhere.
But no matter how far he ran, he could not run away from himself. After several weeks of pain, he decided to call Vlad Kochski to buy her back. He was expecting a firm no, or perhaps an outrageous demand for a much higher price, but he never expected to hear what Vlad had to say.
Just two day ago, Vlad told Arlo in a shaky voice, he had been cruising with the Camero along the curvy lanes of Highway 11 between Greenbush and Karlstad. Suddenly a moose jumped out in front of him. He swerved. He lost control. He rolled her twice, and was brought to a crashing halt as the ‘69 Camero was stopped by the iron-hard truck of a large oak tree.
Arlo’s beloved was totaled.Repairing it, including finding all the original parts for a ‘69 Camero, was far too expensive to even consider. Amazingly, Vlad Kochski limped away from the smash-up with only a broken tibia and a fractured disk.
Arlo listened in stony shock. He felt as if someone had plunged a rusty screwdriver between his ribs. A dozen emotions rushed through him like swift storm clouds moving across a troubled sky. First, he wanted to attack Vlad Kochski and pound his corpulent body into a pulpy mound of dough. Then waves of grief whelmed in, causing him to swoon and almost lose consciousness. Finally, a gray listlessness settled in. Arlo became bland and deflated. He grew deeply depressed and soon his family was seriously worried about his shattered mental state.
Finally, his wife suggested he see a psychologist. This caused Arlo to break into a rage. He scoffed at her suggestion, and turned his fury on her with a verbal barrage: “You never cared about her! You only wanted me to get rid of her — turn her into some kind of cash cow! And, now … now! …” and with that, Arlo broke down and wept bitter tears.
Everyone was a loss. It truly seemed silly that someone could have such a powerful emotional attachment to what was, after all, an object of metal, rubber and plastic. It’s not like Arlo and his Camero had shared true feelings, as only two living beings can — or did he?
In his despondence, Arlo turned to a strange source for help. As it happens, just a few miles from his rural home lived a man, a loner, who not only generally kept to himself, but who was known to pursue, well, let’s just call them “strange” ideas. We’ll call him Smoky.
Arlo, like most people in his small Minnesota town, considered Smoky “a weirdo” — who knows what he was into? — drugs, weird cult stuff, perhaps even liberal politics.
But Arlo had known Smoky years ago when they were both children, and sometimes, certain people can hold an affinity for others, even if one of those “others” has long since dropped out of “normal” society.
Also chose another vehicle from his collection — a sky blue ‘65 Chevy pick-up — and drove over to Smoky’s cabin.
Smoky immediately sensed that Arlo was in pain, and even though Arlo had put up a thin front and started out with aimless small talk, Smoky quickly asked him to talk about the real reason he had come.
Suddenly, as if a dam had broken, Arlo gushed out his story of betrayal and loss, heartbreak and intense mental pain. Smoky listened patiently, and to Arlo’s great relief, Smoky seemed to be taking him seriously. After a long time of moaning, whining and babbling, Arlo felt spent, and even if Smoky had offered no advice or opinion, Arlo knew he would feel better because someone had finally listened to him, and did not mock him.
The mysterious Smoky had much more to offer. To Arlo’s amazement, Smoky not only validated the emotions of loss over a car, but told Arlo that his car had probably missed him as well! In fact, Smoky said, it was very likely that Arlo and his Camero became locked into a kind of mutual, psychic distress over their separation, and that the soul of the Camero after its “death” was still crying out over its unfinished business on earth.
Arlo was stunned at this bizarre theory, yet, in his heart, he not only wanted it to be true, he needed it to be true.
Smoky fulfilled this need by offering Arlo solid, scientific evidence that cars are indeed “living creatures,” and in fact, many of today’s most brilliant minds considered automobiles to be living creatures, which may even possess consciousness! In addition to scientists, many religious leaders also consider objects such as cars to not only be alive, but capable of achieving higher spiritual states of existence.
For example, Smoky told Arlo that Masahiro Mori, Japan’s leading expert on robots, thinks that machines can help human beings achieve spiritual enlightenment.
Smoky also told Arlo about the work of the brilliant quantum scientist Frank Tipler of Tulane University and his colleague John Barrow, who in 1986 published a scientific paper in which they argued that automobiles were living beings, with souls.
In his 1994 book, “The Physics of Immortality” Tipler writes:
(Cars) self-reproduce … granted, their reproduction is not autonomous; they need a factory to external to themselves. But so do male humans; to make a male baby, an external biochemical factory called a “womb” is needed, Granted, their reproduction requires another living species. But so does the reproduction of flowering plants … The form of automobiles in their environment is preserved by natural selection; there is a fierce struggle for existence between various “races” of automobiles. Japanese and European automobiles are competing with native American automobiles for scare resources — money and manufacturing ..”
The very same year that Tipler published his paper, the brilliant biologist Richard Dawkins of Oxford University made the exact same claim — that cars are alive, living beings with minds and souls.
Upon hearing all this, Arlo not only felt better — but vindicated! His emotional attachment to his car was not an aberration, it was natural! His relationship with his car was as valid as the love between a man and a dog, a horse, or even another human being.
True, Arlo still had his loss to deal with, and his grief. But now he could move on, he could work through the grieving process, knowing that his feelings were proper and defensible. Better yet, he could honor the memory of his beloved.
And best of all, the soul of his beloved could now be released from this world to pass on to its next, higher stage in spiritual development.
That night after his visit with Smoky, Arlo slept well and deeply for the first time in weeks. A few hours into his sleep, he dreamed that his ‘69 Camero was cruising the endless pavements along the marvelous avenues of heaven, shifting gears, burning rubber, engine roaring, running free.
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