Chapter 89: “Another One Bites the Dust”
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The other goal of my life resumed its rightful seat next to ‘Love’ in my limited mindshare: my career.
My college days weren’t just behind me, but also, for the first time in four years, ahead of me.
But first, I needed some sort of vehicle to get to school. Sure, I could still walk to work from my and Deirdre’s place, but not all the way to NESCom, which was several miles away.
Luckily, my Memére had offered to gift me her car so that I could attend my studies. She had been living by herself for the past five years since Pepére died and had no need for her car now.
All I had to do was to get a ride up to Northern Maine to pick it up. Luckily, our friends, Ellie and Alex were getting married, and I was asked to film the ceremony and some fun stuff after. How fortuitous!
Travis and I drove up and first, picked up the car at my Mom and Gary’s. The car, a deep-green Buick Le Sabre came with some random items: a small wooden holster for drinks (?) that was free-floating in the middle of the floor, and a thick rope with two metal hooks on each end. I had asked Gary if he wanted these items back (as they had been using the car to bring Memére to her appointments), and he shrugged his shoulders saying I could keep them.
It was liberating that we both had our own vehicle up there. Normally, every time we went up together, one of us was always beholden to the other’s whims. Travis and I then (separately) drove to the wedding in Caribou.
I dreamed of using The New England School of Communications’ equipment for this gig, but alas, I had yet to commence my classes. Instead, I had my trusty old camcorder that I had purchased while living with Ellie’s brother, Tony. As long as I used the tape function instead of the Memory Stick Pro option, the image would hold up well.
The wedding was spectacular. The ceremony itself was on a hill overlooking the beauty of Northern Maine, and the reception wasn’t too far away at this beautiful lodge nestled in between a smattering of trees. I got a lot of great footage and had people speak their well-wishes to the camera (really to Alex and Ellie).
Travis decided to leave early and get a jump on the trip back home. I had school in a few days but didn’t care to leave yet. I wanted to stay longer to get some great post-libations footage and luckily, with my own car, I was able to do just that. Travis left at eight.
I left about an hour later than Trav, and before I got two miles from the wedding reception, I received a call from Travis.
“My car’s stalled on the side of the road, I don’t know what happened, and it won’t start!!”
“Okay, bro. Calm down. Where are you?”
“I’m off of the highway just past Houlton. I just got on, and then my car crapped out.”
Yet another car kaput under the ownership of a Gagnon. As cliché as the saying was, I swear if we didn’t have bad luck, then we would have no luck at all!
I told Travis to hang tight for I would be there in about an hour. “Stay in the car and if a cop comes by, tell them I’m on the way.” When I arrived, I checked out the car. Mind you, I had NO IDEA what I was doing or what I would be looking for, but I wanted to see if anything resembling my prior predicament was taking place.
Nothing explosive, but the engine wouldn’t even turn over. Not even a click. In my limited knowledge, I think the engine had seized. Fortunately, I had recently purchased a membership to AAA and called them up for a tow.
They told me that the tows were only good for up to five miles and if you wanted the next tier, (one hundred miles), that you would need the Premium membership for twenty-five dollars more. And what’s worse is even if I bought it then; it would only be available a few days after I signed up for it.
So, I called a tow company just to see the price. From where we were (Smyrna Mills) it would cost around two hundred dollars to tow to Bangor. How fucking ironic. I had JUST made two hundred dollars for shooting the wedding footage, and I needed that money. But… If I had to use it to save Trav’s car, then so be it.
I debated calling Gary to see if he could tow us with his truck, but it was already past nine at night, and I didn’t want him driving all the way down to Bangor and back for that.
Then it hit me. Gary! He had left me that thick towing rope in the trunk! Maybe I could tow Travis a few miles and shave off some of the cost!
I pulled the rope from the trunk and hooked it under my car on the frame. Then I led the other end under Trav’s front bumper and found a good spot on which to hook onto his front frame.
“Okay, keep your car in neutral, steer it as if you’re driving, and don’t hit into the back of my car. We’ll see how long we can do this before our cars fall apart.”
He hopped in his car and me in mine, and I put the car in drive. I slowly pulled forward, and as the slack became taut, the rope jerked Travis’ car; I thought it had already snapped. Nope, his car was attached and was moving along.
Thank God it was dark, otherwise, this would have been a sight of comedic errors. My car, a thick five-foot rope, and a busted car behind it. Yikes.
As we gradually gained speed, I had to slow down for turns because his car bumped into mine. All I could think of was how my bumper was going to be ruined before I even used the car.
I called him and told him to back off, but he said it wasn’t as easy as the rope was too short. I asked him to please try, and on we went, trudging down the road at an old lady’s click. Sometimes, we’d even reach upwards of fifty miles per hour. For sure, this rope or one of our bumpers (or BOTH) will snap when the line goes taut again.
Amazingly, we kept it up for a few more miles before we saw another vehicle and I, instinctively, slowed down to avoid the attention of any potential law enforcement. This, after all, had to have been illegal.
Of course, my deceleration caused my bumper some more damage. I winced at my decision and refrained from calling Travis up again to give him an earful.
Our sluggish game of tug of war continued on for miles. With each tug, I pictured either the bumper popping off or the frame irrevocably bent. I had no idea what this rope would do to the cheap Plexiglas casing as each tug dug deeper.
Somehow, in some form of divine intervention, Travis and I had made it down to Bangor. One HUNDRED miles of bafflingly pulling his car like a tugboat. We pulled off onto the Hogan Road exit, and I called him instantly.
“Okay, Bro. This will be the scariest part. Who knows how many cops are roaming the streets looking for someone like us to fuck with at two in the morning. Keep your eyes peeled.”
The back and forth of the rope was tested more than ever during these final two miles. With every stop sign or light came more damage to our cars. We were already in Bangor, we mine as well try to get it all the way home. Right?
As we turned right on Mount Hope Avenue, all seemed fine. But once we got to the parking lot of the nearby elementary school, the rope snapped. Not our bumpers or frames, but the rope. We were less than a mile from home.
Moreover, the bumpers were impeccably clean and free of a single scratch or dent. I don’t understand it to this day.
We pushed the car into the parking lot and decided that we would call the metal junker (I had once used), to come pick up the car from there. We grabbed his stuff from his car and drove the remainder of the way home, amazed at our seemingly impossible “luck.”
The next day, the junker grabbed his car and gave him a hundred and fifty, and took the car to their garage.
Later that night, I played back the footage of the wedding from my camera. It played great, but as I went to transfer the footage, it came out corrupted.
No. No! NO! I needed to make this work! The audio was garbage, and the video was skipping. How? This tape should have been the perfect solution for filming! I decided I would use my resources and ask a video instructor when I started school the next day. What a depressing end to an exhausting and exhilarating night.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.