Stuttering Start

Yesterday I went to get gas and to run a last few errands before I started my trip. I was distracted at a light, and stalled my car. It’s not hard to do when one is weak from being sick — apparently, I did not have the clutch pushed in all the way. That’s not a problem. It happens. But what has never happened before is that the car did not start afterward. Nothing. No grinding, no sound at all. Just a dead click. I was in the middle of three lanes of rush hour traffic on a horribly busy highway. (60 miles per hour on the road, and stoplights every mile or so. Yeah. I know. Crazy.)

Cars all around me were trying to pull into the other lanes, and I just sat there with no way to pull off to the side. So I called my mechanic. We decided I’d have the car towed to him, but I tried one more time, and after a grumble or two, the thing started. So I headed to his garage, thinking all the while how silly I was to stall the car and then not be able to start it again. I mean, it’s not like it’s an unfamiliar car or anything — I’ve had it for more than forty-two years. (Wow. That sounds absurd. Who the heck owns a car that long?)

Everything was fine, and I felt sillier and sillier. Then, on another super busy highway, I heard something metallic fly off the car. So, I pulled over to the side and somehow stalled the car again. I couldn’t find what I’d lost (it was only later I realized the frame around the headlamp had flown away in the wind), and the car did start, but with that same grumbling noise.

About that time, I stopped feeling silly. Obviously something was wrong more than a weak clutch leg. As luck would have it, the mechanic finally heard the noise too. Apparently, the starter was stuttering, a sign of it going bad. So, instead of heading out early this morning, I head out to the mechanic for a new starter.

Someone told me that having the starter go out before a trip is good luck, and it certainly is. Better to have it happen here with a mechanic I know than out in the middle of nowhere with no mechanic at all.

This trip certainly has had a stuttering start, what with my getting sick and now car trouble. Let’s hope this new starter presages a new start for the trip, albeit several hours late, and that my luck continues to hold.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.