Filed under: Entertaining Kids at Camp, Entertaining Kids at Camp, Humor, Uncategorized
THE LOST KEY (From the archives of the “Fiero Fiction Series”)
The Lost Key is one of twenty stories I wrote back in the late 90’s. Many of these stories were published as part of the Fiero Fiction Series. They appeared in both the Pontiac Fiero Connection magazine and the Fiero Owner, a magazine published quarterly by the Fiero Owner’s Association of America.
My affection for the little 2-seat, mid engine, composite body car that was only built from 1984 to 1988 still continues – but I am now down to three cars (I once owned seven). I share this story to readers of my Woodall’s Family Camping blog simply because I consider it “Fun”. You see, camping and sitting around the campfire without stories is like forgetting the marshmallows.
In this story, Jimmy Moore is typical of anyone opening the lost ark contained within the center console and floor hugging seats in any Fiero. What he finds, and what he does, could easily happen to any of us.
Like other stories in the Fiero Fiction Series, this one is based on a true story – but becomes embellished with fantasy as it unfolds. Where that truth and fantasy separate is your responsibility to determine!
Jimmy Moore had just tuned seventeen. After a year of driving his Mom’s old Escort, he had managed to save up a few dollars for a car of his own. He had been eyeing a sporty little red coupe on the back row of a local used car lot. With the exception of a miss in the engine, and the need for a complete cleaning and waxing, the car appeared perfect. The used car dealer had been unable to find the source of the miss and was happy to make Jimmy a fantastic deal on the car. With $900 less in his bank account, Jimmy pulled the sputtering little car out onto the highway. He was the proud owner of the perfect first car – a 1986 Fiero.
The miss turned out to be nothing more than a bad spark plug wire. His uncle found that problem almost immediately. Now, Jimmy was removing the seats and console from the inside of the car so he could clean away the dirt and stains collected over the past 13 years.
The area under the ash trays and down inside the console revealed $3.27 cents in lost change, along with a rather strange looking key in a small envelope with “Crestar” imprinted on the outside. Under the driver’s seat, he found a wallet size photograph of a man and a boy, a Bic lighter, comb, sunglasses, more coins, a pocketknife, and a receipt from a Jiffy Lube with a customer’s name and address. The address was in a small town about 30 miles away.
Jimmy’s dad walked into the garage and studied the items he had discovered hidden in the car – now neatly arranged on the workbench. He picked up the envelope with the key and slowly turned it over and over. “Jimmy, this looks like the key to a bank safety deposit box. I bet someone would like to have it back.”
Jimmy decided to check and see if he could find the name and address on the Jiffy Lube receipt in the phone book. Sure enough, it was there. He carefully dialed the number. An answering machine picked up on the fourth ring. A woman’s voice identified the residence as belong to the Keller’s and asked the caller to leave a message. Jimmy responded. “Hi. My name is Jimmy Moore and I can be reached at 555-1234. I recently bought a Fiero from Honest Bob’s Used Car Lot, found a paper with your name, and address in the car. I also found a key that may be to a bank safe deposit box. Please give me a call.”
Almost as soon as Jimmy hung up, the phone rang. The caller identified himself as Matt Keller and said he had recently traded the car in on a newer model. When he decided the missing key might be in the car, he returned to the dealership to look for it. But, the dealer had taken the Fiero to an auction and had no idea who bought it. Yes, the key was his and he desperately needed it back. Mr. Keller told Jimmy he would give him a sizeable reward for returning the key. Jimmy agreed to meet the man after school the next day in the parking lot outside the gym. Mr. Keller would, of course, recognize the car.
About an hour later, Jimmy remembered that he had a dentist appointment after lunch. There was no way he could meet Mr. Keller after school. He decided to call him back.
This time a woman answered the phone.
“Hello, may I speak with Matt Keller please?”
The woman asked, “Who is calling, please?”
“My name is Jimmy Moore. I spoke with Mr. Keller about an hour ago and made an appointment to meet him tomorrow after school. But, I have to break the appointment.”
The woman responded, “Are you sure the person you spoke to said he was Matt Keller?”
“Yes,” Jimmy answered.
“Well, that can’t be possible. You see, Matt Keller was my husband. He died of a heart attack four months ago.”
Jimmy felt a chill run up and down the back of his neck. While the woman listened, Jimmy began to explain all the details about the Fiero, the key and the man he had talked to.
When he had finished, the woman said, “Jimmy, I suspect the man you talked to was my son-in-law. He is a very mean and dangerous person and you do not want to meet him. When my husband died, we found a letter in his desk drawer telling us his will and a large sum of cash were in his safety deposit box. But, we never found the key and have not been able to find the bank where the box might be. I had to sell my husband’s car shortly after his death to help pay the bills. It sounds like you may have found the missing key. If my son-in-law gets the key first, he will open the safe deposit box, take the money, and destroy the will. I will never see any of it.”
After arranging with the woman to safely deliver the key to her, Jimmy hung up the phone. He had a sick feeling in his stomach and hoped he would never have to meet the man he talked with earlier.
Jimmy left school a little before one. He darted out of the building, hopped in his Fiero, and shot out onto Elm St. He was going to meet Mrs. Keller at a Crestar Bank branch office near the dentists’ office and give her the key.
As he moved in and out of traffic, he noticed a gray Mustang hanging about two car lengths back. At first, he though it might be a friend from school playing tag, but when he caught a glimpse of the guy behind the wheel he could see it was an older man. He made three quick hard right turns without giving a signal and came around the block to where he had started. The Mustang followed.
Jimmy was wedged between two trucks at a long traffic light. The car in front was a mom in her mini van preoccupied with a screaming kid. He had nowhere to escape – so he sat and waited. He looked in his rearview mirror; the driver of the Mustang was out of his car and coming toward Jimmy’s door. Quickly he punched the door lock button and finished rolling up the window. It was just in the nick of time too. The stranger was yelling and cursing while kicking the door yelling, “You little snot nosed brat, give me that key right now!”
Jimmy laid down on the horn just as the light changed. Surprisingly, the lady in the mini van pulled out of the way. With the Mustang on his bumper, Jimmy shot out of the intersection with loose gravel flying from his spinning tires. Without any warning, he jerked the wheel to the left, shot across two lanes of traffic, and barely made it onto the entrance ramp for the expressway. The Mustang clipped the back of a Miata as he tried to follow. The Miata spun around in the road and was hit broadside by a UPS truck. As Jimmy came out of the 360-degree ramp onto the expressway, he noticed the Mustang way behind, plowing up grass on the shoulder of the road. He was now almost a full quarter of a mile ahead. The little V-6 Fiero engine was screaming as he pulled it into fourth gear. He was running almost 80, heading east away from town and weaving in and out of traffic. The Mustang pulled over on the paved left shoulder of the HOV express lane and laid down on the gas. In less than a minute, the Mustang was again right behind him.
Jimmy knew he could never outrun the Mustang on the open road. He had to lose him in the curves and traffic holes. He made a run for the next exit. Just as he was ready to cross traffic for the off ramp, the Mustang rammed him from the rear. The impact was so sudden and unexpected that Jimmy lost control of the car and lurched into the grassy median, making several full spins in the process. Seconds later, when he regained his wits, the car was facing west. There was no guardrail, so Jimmy headed up the grassy knoll and back onto the expressway.
The Mustang followed, cutting across the grassy median and into the westbound lanes.
The force of the impact from behind had broken the muffler loose, and a shower of sparks was flying into the air behind the Fiero. Jimmy pushed on the horn, holding the button down as he jerked the little car in and out of traffic trying to escape the Mustang.
The exit to Terminal Street was just ahead. Jimmy figured that he could zip into one of the open doors of the Red Line Trucking garage and find safe refuge. He plunged down the exit ramp without braking. The Mustang was still glued to his bumper.
Suddenly, the trailer section of an eighteen-wheeler appeared across the road right in front of him. All he could do was jab the brakes and duck. With a horrible nerve wrenching sound the little Fiero went completely under the trailer, shattering the windshield and peeling off parts of the plastic top. The car began to slide sideways and came to rest facing back toward the trailer. Jimmy was unharmed, but the guy in the Mustang wasn’t so lucky. He had tried to go under the trailer where the spare tire is carried. The impact ripped off the top of the Mustang and pulled the driver out of his seat onto the trunk lid. There his blood drenched body lay pinned between the massive spare tire of the trailer and the crumpled Mustang.
It had taken several hours for the Rescue Squad to remove the trailer and dislodge the Mustang Driver’s body. Jimmy’s little Fiero was damaged beyond repair. Unfortunately, he did not have any insurance to cover the damage and was once again forced to drive his mom’s old beat up Escort. The police placed no charges against Jimmy. In fact, he was heralded in the local newspaper for being a hero.
He was now sitting in his living room with his dad. Mrs. Keller was across from them, thanking Jimmy again for all he had done. The safe deposit box had been located and opened. Mrs. Keller found the will giving her sole ownership of all of Mr. Keller’s property and assets. There was a very large sum of cash in the box as well. Mrs. Keller was handing Jimmy a small envelope. Jimmy looked inside and found a key. But, this key was not to a safety deposit box. It was a GM key, just like the one to his wrecked Fiero.
His dad cast a smile and a wink at Mrs. Keller, then looked back at Jimmy. “Why don’t you go outside and see if there is anything the key fits?”
Randy T. Agee