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Remembering The Bullet




I HAD a 1968 VW panel van, with no side windows, back when I was a younger man living in North Miami. My previous vehicle had been a well used mid 80's Toyota Corolla which had a tree fall on it, cracking the windshield and bending up the hood. Soon after I was the victim of a four car pile up in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, that I was fortunately parked at the end of, sustaining minimal but still noticeable damage to the back of the car. Having lost respect for the vehicle, no real fault of it's own, I unloaded the Corolla and bought the VW being sold across the street. The owner had used it in his business as a painter and after a smile, a handshake and a check for $200.00 it was mine.

It rattled around something fierce when hurtling down I-95 to my various gigs, some as far away as Fitzwilly's in Boca Raton or Racer's Raw Bar in Lantana. My friend Zard acquired some low pile carpet and deftly carpeted the entire interior, ceiling to floor, cutting down on the racket considerably and making it fairly comfortable inside. I recall a large, green, overstuffed pillow that was always in the back. It came to be known as the Green Companion thanks to my friend Don Moody. My new vehicle was about to gain a name of it's own.

I had many terrifying adventures in the VW. When I lost my passenger's side mirror, I was able to make do with just the driver's side and the main rearview mirrors. As time went on my driver's side also fell off at some point while racing down I-95. Since it was a panel van with no windows down the side, I became adept at counting cars and keeping track of what cars were where, and when. I also became aware that I was in a pretty dangerous vehicle, but I was young and dumb and just carried on. It was like riding on the front of a bullet. Thus the VW was christened: The Bullet.

I remember the brakes going out driving home very late one night (or very early in the morning). I down-shifted and coasted and somehow managed to gently plow into a hibiscus bush right in the parking lot of a Hess gas station on Sample Road. I remember listening to music with a portable CD player between my knees which slipped out of my lap and got under my brake pedal making me have to coast through a busy intersection while kicking frantically to dislodge it.

There were fun stories too, but I'll keep them to myself.

I eventually decided to let The Bullet go when a mid-80's Westfalia VW camper van came up for sale. I was just starting to be hanging out with Gale in a serious capacity when she strongly suggested I better get that camper! So I found a used car dealership and took the guy for a ride in The Bullet. We rode through the neighborhood, never leaving the lower gears, and shortly on the main road. When we got back to the dealership, we stood outside as the van set there idling. The guy wanted to see if it leaked oil which is probably the only problem it *didn't* have. So with a smile, a handshake and a check for $200.00, the 68 panel van was no longer mine.

I didn't bother to tell the dealer what I had named it.

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