Biographical Non-Fiction posted April 2, 2021

This work has reached the exceptional level
For 46 years I have carried a secret.

The Car

by blondie560

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

In 1975 my father went into the hospital on Easter eve for a kidney transplant. I was seventeen at the time and the only other person in my family that could drive. We had a Ford Country Squire station wagon, and if you are familiar with the car, you know it was a big ass car with a long front. I mention this because I had only gotten my license eleven months earlier, so I blamed what happened next on my age, lack of experience, maturity, and the fact I had never been in trouble in any way before and was scared to death.

A couple days after Dad’s surgery, I wanted to pick up my paycheck at the movie theater I worked at. When I got there, the parking lot was full. It was Easter break, so the theater was packed. I drove around looking for an empty spot. I found one between two cars on the side of the building. I wasn't crazy about the spot because there was a car on either side. I would have preferred two empty spaces between cars because parking was not my specialty at that point. The alternative was to park in the back lot and then walk around the building to the main entrance. I should'a, could’a, would’a done that, but I didn’t. 

I attempted to pull into the spot, but I didn’t swing far enough out before I cut my wheels, so I was much too close to the car on my left and I was afraid I would clip the back of the car if I kept pulling in, so I backed up to try again. I just didn’t back up far enough to be able to straighten out my wheels, so when I went forward, even though I was far enough away from the car on the left, I couldn't judge the distance of the front of my car. I continued to pull into the spot until I felt the car shudder, and I heard  the awful sound of metal on metal. Shit! I just hit the side of the car on my right. I panicked and put the car in reverse, but I made it even worse. The car wouldn't move, and the feeling of being stuck on the other car made me sick, so I hit the gas to dislodge my car, and I saw the car next to me lift up slightly and again the metal sound was horrible. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I drove forward fast and went around the back of the building and put my car in park. I got out and walked around the car. I was shocked when I saw the back passenger side door curled up at the bottom. What had I done? I opened the door first to see if it worked, and then stupidly I thought I could simply bend it back. My next idea was to pound on it with something. The only thing I had in the car was a snow brush. Yeah, that wasn’t going to do anything.

Obviously in 1975 there were no cell phones, so I couldn’t call any of my friends for advice. I had no idea what the damage was to the other car, but I wasn’t going to go back to the car to look. I was hoping no one had seen what happened. I could see the lobby was empty as I had driven around looking for a spot, so hopefully it had stayed that way for the forty-five seconds this all took place. There weren't security cameras all around either like there is now.  My next move was to do what anyone in panic mode would do; I left the parking lot and drove home, shaking all the way.

We didn’t have a garage, and the way you parked the car in our drive was horizontal to the house. You could only see the driver’s side of the car from the kitchen windows. When I got home, my mother was at the hospital with my father, so I didn’t say one word to my siblings. I didn't tell my mom when she got home either. For the next three days I drove the car back and forth to school, and no one mentioned the side of my car. Thursday afternoon, after I got home from school, some friends of our family stopped by to see how my dad was doing. They parked on the right side of the car. The first thing any of them said was, what happened to the car?

“What do you mean?” Me, playing dumb.

“Your car has been hit. You didn’t know that?”

“What???” Me, being shocked. 

We all walked out to the car to see the damage.

“Oh my God, someone hit the car.” Me, being shocked again. “I've only driven to school and back home. Someone must have hit me in the parking lot and left.” Me, knowing I was going to hell.

My brother, who is three years younger, but has had cars on his mind since he was born, seemed to know what to do. 

“You have to call the insurance guy and report a hit and run accident. You probably have to file a police report too, but it was in a private lot so there is nothing they can do. The accident report has to be filed with the state."

Well hell, I didn't  want to go to the police. Now what was I going to do? I'll crack under the pressure and I'll be arrested. I'm supposed to graduate in two months and then go to college.

My brother knew my auto body repairman uncle could fix it before Dad got out of the hospital. Now that was the best news I had heard since my dad got the transplant.

My mother actually volunteered to call the insurance guy for me. She had never learned to drive and always left all the car stuff up to my dad, so I was surprised she said she’d do it.  The insurance rep told her I needed to file an accident report for the insurance company, and I needed to get an estimate for the cost of the repairs. 

That afternoon after school, I drove to the police station. I blatantly lied to the cop and filed a report to send to the state. I must have been very convincing because he never once questioned my story. I was pretty sure the damage was going to give me away because of the way the metal was curled. It looked like I was hung up on something and pulled away, or maybe I felt that way because I knew that’s what happened. He said it looked like someone sideswiped my car with the front of their car. They probably only had their paint scratched. Another thing about 1975 was the fact that most kids drove used beaters to school then, so the cop said the other driver probably didn't care.

Even when I took the car out to my uncle’s shop for an estimate, he didn’t question what happened. He handed me the estimate that I sent to the insurance company along with the copy of the accident report. My uncle fixed the car, and insurance sent him a check, easy-peasy. Only I knew it was anything but that.

We never told my dad about the accident because his transplant rejected, and he stayed in the hospital for most of the spring and summer with complications. 

I never, until now, have told anyone about what really happened. I’m hoping the statute of limitations has run out because now when I think of all the laws I broke like hit and run, leaving the scene of an accident, lying to a cop, filing a false accident report with the state, insurance fraud, oh my God I could have been put away for life at seventeen. 

That was the first and last time I broke any laws. I am embarrassed that I handled the situation like I did. I had always been a very responsible person, and I wasn't dumb, but I failed everyone that day. I’ve asked God for forgiveness on multiple occasions and I’ve been a good citizen since to atone for my bad behavior. Gosh, hard to believe it's been almost half a century since this happened. 

A Deep Secret writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
The topic for this writing contest is: a deep secret. Share a story based on the topic.

Even though I am telling the story here, I have still never told anyone in my family what I did. Many of those people have since passed away too. Even my husband doesnâ??t know.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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