Vale Volvo


Andrew had forty-something cars in his life. I like to think the magic number was 49, the age he was when he died. When I first knew him, at 37, he had owned 37 cars. He bought cars according to his mood, his preferences on a given day, his budget, and some strange principal of vehicle-love indiscernible to a mechanical Luddite like me. Once he bought some awful automatic Falcon wagon because it was cheaper than catching a bus from Townsville to Ayr and had enough fuel to cover that 90 kms.
He went through stages of desiring luxury: ‘automatics are like driving big comfy arm-chairs’ and the peculiar. I owned a Lancia Beta in the early days of the century, because I was charmed by its smooth lines and speed, and Andrew had suddenly decided he wanted the hideous ex-taxi on LPG that I had tired of owning because I felt like I was in a houseboat, without the view. So we swapped, and I got the only speeding tickets of my life. I was driving the Lancia when my cattle-dog refused to let me pick up a hitch-hiker one afternoon, leaving me to wonder forever what might have happened to me had Lupa allowed the harmless-seeming, very young and well-spoken bloke into the car, rather than attempting to rip his face off and wear it for a mask. I was driving the Lancia the night my friend M. had me tow his defunct Landcruiser 25 kms, on twilight, with us both under the influence of something not entirely legal (disclaimer: this was years ago. If you’re stalking me because I applied for a job with you, MANY years ago).
When we moved to Liston, Andrew bought the Volvo. It was a hearse of a car, with the great advantage of being long enough for tallish people to stretch out in on camping trips. I took it to Armidale for a couple of res schools in the early days of my academic endeavours and had a party with the Victorian lit people on the tailgate. Eventually the fuel bills got too high, and we retired the hearse to the nature strip. Andrew moved on, and turned us into a Subaru family by buying a small Subi sedan, the precursor to Lyle the brumby. When he died, he owned as an amusement car an old Mercedes that his brother D told me ran out of fuel as he attempted to drive it back to the Sunshine Coast. At that point, Andrew’ spirit was present everywhere. The running out of fuel thing was, D & I felt, a sign that Andrew was still with us.
Today we farewelled the hearse. The nature strip looks bare. Vale, Volvo. It was time to lose the Volvo, but it might also be time for me to get a Citroen 2CV, and some mechanical skills.


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