In Retirement by AL Bowden

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In Retirement
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I'm in retirement, mused Clarence as he sat in the dark. He sat in the dark and mused a lot these days. He quite liked it most of the time; musing and having his own safe space most of the week and just pootling about with Samantha the rest of it. He liked Samantha. He hadn't expected to. At 31 years young, he thought her inexperience and youth would not afford him the respect and proper treatment he deserved, what with him in his 41st year.
Many of his mates hadn't made it this far. Many had been written off, consigned to the scrapheap, suffered undignified deaths or were in depressing demise. He thought about Colin, whom they passed weekly on their regular jaunts. Sad eyes, unkempt appearance, no-one cared for him. Deflated ego - four flat tires. He was scrapheap fodder, a sad end for a once racy Cortina. And Robin the Reliant whose front tyre had completely come off leaving him sat permanently with his nose in the dirt and his paling rear end in the air for all and sundry to see. Duck-ass death Clarence called it. No, he was one of the lucky ones. It wasn't easy surviving in this day and age. The roads were mayhem and a lot of these modern cars were death on wheels, exuding pure arrogance, spitting out pops and vrooms and skids. Constantly edging forwards in queues of traffic and nosing the rear of the car in front like dogs sniffing each other. It wasn't like that in his day. In fact it got to him so much, the pace, the slow, the jams, it quite literally made his water boil. Samantha, noticing how frustrated he'd get, had timed traffic lights and had taken to turning him off, so he could cool off a bit.
They had a good understanding now, a bit hit and miss at the start when he'd constantly coughed and sputtered "Choke! Choke!", but those days were passed. As were the days when she'd used too much choke and practically drained him and had the gall to slam the wheel and yell "Clarence!" when he stalled. And he would stay stalled, sulking until she took full responsibility for her behaviour. The youth of today! No, she wasn't that bad. Currently it was working out better than the previous owner who had sailed gaily through mid-life crisis- free and slammed into latter-life-crisis aged 60. Thereupon, she had sold her house and him and plundered her children's inheritance travelling the world on a Harley Davidson. He hadn't seen that coming.
Lucky for him, Samantha, realising her money was useless in the bank in the current financial climate, had chosen to salve her conscience when using her savings to buy him and had called him an 'investment'. Clarence had had four previous owners and he'd been labelled a status symbol (he was quite the ticket in his day, a Vitesse, not a humdrum Herald), a reliable runner, a whim and an investment. Not bad for 41 years on this planet. In his heyday with the Countess, his first owner, he'd skidded and slid around country lanes. Blithely, she'd revved slow drivers and poop-pooped at passers-by, giving them a cheery wave as she'd sailed past their scowls. She was responsible for his only speeding ticket. She was barking mad really, when he thought about it. It's a wonder he survived. The old boy who'd had him after was steady and reliable, quite a contrast.
As the garage door made a familiar cranking sound and a sunlit Samantha came into view, Clarence found he felt content. He wasn't sure if it was Tuesday or Friday. The garage was timeless, but he'd got used to the routine. 'Morning, Clarence!' her chirpy voice called as she entered the garage and opened his door. She slipped in behind the wheel and eased him out of the garage and stopped on the kerb. This was usual. Clarence tried to keep his engine running while she closed the garage up, but it was often an effort first thing in the morning. Today though, he remained on the roadside and the garage stayed open. Samantha stood in front of him and held up a sponge, 'Bath time!' Clarence would have purred his engine contentedly but he'd found he couldn't muster the effort and stalled. As Samantha painstakingly polished his last bit of chrome, Clarence glinted proudly in the sunlight. Samantha stood, hands on hips and surveyed him, grinning. Clarence tried to twinkle more. He wanted to go for a run and show off and sparkle. But Samantha reversed him back into the garage instead. Clarence was a little disappointed. 'See you Tuesday,' she said as she plunged him back into dull darkness. He wasn't sure when Tuesday was but it would soon come around and he'd be out and about securing admiring glances. At least he was looked after and cared for, which is all anyone hopes for in old age. Retirement's not all bad, he thought.

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I'm in retirement, mused Clarence as he sat in the dark. He sat in the dark and mused a lot these days. He quite liked it most of the time; musing and having his own safe space most of the week and just pootling about with Samantha the rest of it. He liked Samantha. He hadn't expected to. At 31 years young, he thought her inexperience and youth would not afford him the respect and proper treatment he deserved, what with him in his 41st year.

Many of his mates hadn't made it this far. Many had been written off, consigned to the scrapheap, suffered undignified deaths or were in depressing demise. He thought about Colin, whom they passed weekly on their regular jaunts. Sad eyes, unkempt appearance, no-one cared for him. Deflated ego - four flat tires. He was scrapheap fodder, a sad end for a once racy Cortina. And Robin the Reliant whose front tyre had completely come off leaving him sat permanently with his nose in the dirt and his paling rear end in the air for all and sundry to see. Duck-ass death Clarence called it. No, he was one of the lucky ones. It wasn't easy surviving in this day and age. The roads were mayhem and a lot of these modern cars were death on wheels, exuding pure arrogance, spitting out pops and vrooms and skids. Constantly edging forwards in queues of traffic and nosing the rear of the car in front like dogs sniffing each other. It wasn't like that in his day. In fact it got to him so much, the pace, the slow, the jams, it quite literally made his water boil. Samantha, noticing how frustrated he'd get, had timed traffic lights and had taken to turning him off, so he could cool off a bit.

They had a good understanding now, a bit hit and miss at the start when he'd constantly coughed and sputtered "Choke! Choke!", but those days were passed. As were the days when she'd used too much choke and practically drained him and had the gall to slam the wheel and yell "Clarence!" when he stalled. And he would stay stalled, sulking until she took full responsibility for her behaviour. The youth of today! No, she wasn't that bad. Currently it was working out better than the previous owner who had sailed gaily through mid-life crisis- free and slammed into latter-life-crisis aged 60. Thereupon, she had sold her house and him and plundered her children's inheritance travelling the world on a Harley Davidson. He hadn't seen that coming.

Lucky for him, Samantha, realising her money was useless in the bank in the current financial climate, had chosen to salve her conscience when using her savings to buy him and had called him an 'investment'. Clarence had had four previous owners and he'd been labelled a status symbol (he was quite the ticket in his day, a Vitesse, not a humdrum Herald), a reliable runner, a whim and an investment. Not bad for 41 years on this planet. In his heyday with the Countess, his first owner, he'd skidded and slid around country lanes. Blithely, she'd revved slow drivers and poop-pooped at passers-by, giving them a cheery wave as she'd sailed past their scowls. She was responsible for his only speeding ticket. She was barking mad really, when he thought about it. It's a wonder he survived. The old boy who'd had him after was steady and reliable, quite a contrast.

As the garage door made a familiar cranking sound and a sunlit Samantha came into view, Clarence found he felt content. He wasn't sure if it was Tuesday or Friday. The garage was timeless, but he'd got used to the routine. 'Morning, Clarence!' her chirpy voice called as she entered the garage and opened his door. She slipped in behind the wheel and eased him out of the garage and stopped on the kerb. This was usual. Clarence tried to keep his engine running while she closed the garage up, but it was often an effort first thing in the morning. Today though, he remained on the roadside and the garage stayed open. Samantha stood in front of him and held up a sponge, 'Bath time!' Clarence would have purred his engine contentedly but he'd found he couldn't muster the effort and stalled. As Samantha painstakingly polished his last bit of chrome, Clarence glinted proudly in the sunlight. Samantha stood, hands on hips and surveyed him, grinning. Clarence tried to twinkle more. He wanted to go for a run and show off and sparkle. But Samantha reversed him back into the garage instead. Clarence was a little disappointed. 'See you Tuesday,' she said as she plunged him back into dull darkness. He wasn't sure when Tuesday was but it would soon come around and he'd be out and about securing admiring glances. At least he was looked after and cared for, which is all anyone hopes for in old age. Retirement's not all bad, he thought.

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