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.

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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.