"My mom won it in a jitterbug contest when she was 20," she said, "and mom would never sell it." The older plump lady said to me, "My mom loved this old thing. She'd sit behind the wheel and remember when she was young and she was single, then put it back into the garage and it would sit there for another month." She laughed, "My dad cursed it because it ran so erratically, so it sat in the garage most of the time. Mom would get it out and clean it up once a month." As we walked out to the curb she said, "My name is Nancy Clark, by the way."
"Jack Foley," I responded and shook her hand. "I live around the corner."
It was a dusty white 1959 Chevy convertible that sat at the curb in my neighborhood with a "For Sale" sign on it. I hadn't seen it before and it attracted my attention with its styling. The horizontal tailfins and something sticking out of the hood attracted me. I had stopped to look at it and my 15 year old Plymouth shuddered and died as I sat there in the street looking at the dusty Chevy.
The Plymouth restarted fitfully so I parked it and walked up to the house to inquire about the Chevy. A sort of plump older lady opened the door. She was dressed in jeans and a dusty shirt. I could see packing boxes and newspapers strewn around behind her. She was happy to show me the car.
The Chevy started after a while and ran sort of rough at idle but Nancy explained it hadn't been run in a while. She smiled and looked at the car. Nancy was in her late forties, lived in Arizona and wanted to finish selling her late moms stuff. The house was the problem because prices were down and the car was just a car to her. It needed washing and tires: the ones that were on it were all cracked from sitting around. It also needed a new top, not right away, but soon.
After a little haggling I got her down to the $1,200 I could afford and told her I had to run to the bank to get the cash. I was back within an hour and left the Plymouth in front of her house with the "For Sale" sign on it. I sold the Plymouth for enough to get new tires and an oil change for the Chevy.
I took the Chevy to Monterey, down on the coast, to meet with Dave Letterman, play golf and hype a script of mine to him. I was a little early so I stopped at a strip mall in Seaside and went into a doughnut shop for a cup of cheap coffee. A girl who worked in the auto mechanics shop near by was smoking a cigarette in my car and caressing the steering wheel when I came out. She smiled, blushed, and said she was sitting in my car because her daddy didn't like her smoking.
I guess I'm a sucker for a pretty girl, especially one who had dimples in her cheeks and significant attributes in her tube top. I got in on the passengers side, drank my coffee and flirted with her to pass the hour or so that I had to wait. We talked about the car and she thought it was "So Retro." She reached down and pushed the button that opened the top and it all started to come apart.
Mary Ann was most apologetic and ran into the shop to get her daddy.
While I was looking at the top and trying to figure out how to get it up or down to make my tee time, an older dude in coveralls came out and said, "Oh, shit, mister. Mary Ann told me about your top." He was afraid that Mary Ann, his daughter, would be liable for a whole new top so he said he would fix it up so at least it wouldn't be impossible to drive.
I told him I was more worried about my tee time with Letterman and he said, "How about I have Mary Ann drive you to the clubhouse and I'll fix the top? When you get finished, call me, and I'll send Mary Ann to pick you up."
I was in a bind and agreed. As it worked out it was perfect timing. Mary Ann and I arrived just as Letterman was entering the clubhouse and he saw me get out of Mary Ann's convertible to join him. He saw Mary Ann's significant attributes as she blew me a kiss and said, "Just give me a ring and I will come back to pick you up, Jack."
"You old Dog," Dave said and elbowed me in the ribs.
I just smiled at him and we went in to change our shoes. I played just well enough to let him win by four strokes and made my pitch. Mary Ann came and got me afterwards and sort of bounced around the car helping me load my clubs. Dave hoisted his glass at me smiling from the veranda as Mary Ann bounced back into her convertible and we drove off.
When we got back to the shop Mary Ann's dad had the Chevy on the lift and was tinkering with the exhaust system. "Had a loose tail pipe," he said and lowered the lift.
The older mechanic, "Marty" his nametag said, who owned the shop, was watching from the side as we got it off the lift. When he saw the hood, where a dual carburetor manifold sat under the blower of the 427 engine, he almost shit!
"Oh My God, THE 500 Flash!" he said and his eyes got as big as manhole covers. He started to drool. "The factory only built two of these!"
They had apparently only built two because the engine needed two hours of tuning to make it work right for every one hour of running, unless you knew the tricks. Not that it didn't run well, but it was hard to start, and didn't idle well, Marty said it was because of the camshaft timing, but when it was right; it would pull your hair out of your head with its acceleration.
As Marty said, "Who is going to idle a 500 Flash?"
Mary Ann's dad had patched up the top so I could get it home but Marty asked if he could play with it and make it run right. He had a plan. "The car is worth maybe forty grand the way it is but with a little work it would be priceless," he said. "I'll tell you what, we go partners and split what ever we get for it over forty grand and me and the boys will fix it up, how does that sound?" Well, after Wall Street had imploded and since I was down to my last 10 grand trying to scratch up a living, it was fine with me.
Marty gave me a '98 Honda he had been using as a loaner and I went home, found the pink slip to the Flash, went to my bank and put it in a safe deposit box.
Marty fixed up the car and got it running right. When I saw it again three months later it was spotless and he had put about 20 grand in it for the restoration, new paint, tires, new exhausts, top and the engine was polished up and it shined like it was just out of the factory. "Only 20,000 miles on it. I doubt if they ever had to change the tires for wear," Marty said.
News of its existence was spread in the car world by my articles about it in a couple of car magazines. I made $600 each for the articles and was able to eat for a couple of months. We hyped it hard for about six months and Marty just kept making it look better and better.
The other factory prototype had gone out in a flaming wreck in 1961 on a highway in Nevada when the playboy owner had tried to see just how fast he could make it go. The Nevada State Police estimated that it was doing at least 180 when he lost control and left the road. The wreckage was found 200 yards from where he left the highway. I had a follow up article in Car News about the two Flashes which let me eat for another month.
Marty and I put the Flash on a trailer and drove it to Las Vegas to the auction.
When it went on the block the bidding started at $100 grand!
At first there were a lot of bidders, but when the price went to $300 grand it was down to four.
The price jumped to $400 G's and one bidder fell out.
I was having a coronary event and had to sit down. Marty was smiling so hard he almost passed out.
The price kept climbing and at $500 G's the third bidder faded.
$750 G's was the next bid and I had to go to the bathroom and empty my quivering bowels. When I got back and ordered a stiff whisky it was at $875 G's!
Marty was too afraid to listen and went to the bathroom to throw up. When he got back the price was a million and two. Marty sat down and shook my hand. I leaned over and kissed him. He started laughing and when the next bit was a million, three-fifty, he and I both quit drinking and sat in stunned silence.
The auctioneer wiped his brow and took a drink of water. The Flash turned on the stage. Lights glistened off the chrome and polished aluminum of the supercharger. The room was almost silent except for the buzz of the crowd and murmurings of the two agents in their cell phones.
"Going Once for $1 million seven hundred and fifty thousand ..."
"Two Million!" one of the agents shouted.
"Two point two," the other immediately shouted.
I looked at Marty, "Marty, let's let the lady I bought the car from have 10%. O.K.?"
He grinned at me and nodded, "You got her name?"
I smiled at him, "Sure," I grinned. "She was nice and probably needs the money."
When the price was final and the gavel slammed down for $2, 650 G's Marty and I just shook hands and smiled.
My cell phone rang and I answered. It was Dave, "Jack, How did you like the auction?"
I laughed, "Loved it," I said.
"Well, I thought you would. Say, I'm sorry the deal didn't go through on your script but the network wasn't buying it. I felt real bad for you, but maybe I was able to make it up to you today."
"You were bidding on the Flash?"
"Yeah, we got him good, didn't we?" he laughed.
"Who?" I didn't know who, or what he was talking about.
"Enjoy and I'll keep you in mind." He rang off.
Marty and I went out to dinner and had a grand time. The hotel where the auction was held put us in a suite and sent up some entertainment. Marty and I both enjoyed it and tipped the girls $5,000 each.
The next morning after kissing the girls goodbye we went to the auction office, took their check to the bank, split up the money and each of us ended up with a check for $1,210,000 with a $242,000 check made out to Nancy Clark, the lady who sold me the car.
Marty went home driving the truck and trailer, he said he was going to sell the shop and take his wife to Hawaii.
The phone number Nancy gave me over a year ago didn't work so I rented a Caddy convertible from Avis and drove down to Tucson and spent two days finding out where she had gone. The address she had given me in a retirement village was vacant with a Real Estate sign out front. I called the agent and asked about Nancy and he gave me an address.
The GPS in the Caddy led me to a trailer park in the outskirts of Tucson. The tumble weeds were stacked up on the fence and a hot wind blew dust at me as I got out of the Caddy at a ratty looking singlewide trailer.
When I knocked on the door a fat slut opened it, said, "We don't want any," and slammed the door in my face. I knocked again, the slut opened the door and before she could say anything I asked, "Does Nancy Clark live here?"
She scowled at me, yelled, "Nancy!" and walked away.
I almost didn't recognize Nancy when she came to the door and said, "Yes, how can I help you?"
She was in a dress that seemed too big for her frame and instead of the matronly slightly plump woman I remembered, she was thin and haggard and had a fading bruise under one eye.
"Either invite him in or go outside, but shut the fuck'en door," the slut shouted over the TV that was playing in the background.
Nancy stepped out into the heat and said, "Sorry about Glenda, she's my daughter-in-law, she can't take the heat."
"No problem," I said. "I don't know if you remember me, but I bought your mom's car from you about a year ago?"
She looked at me and said, "Oh, yes, I remember you. Jack, isn't it? It was a long time ago and you look so much more prosperous now." She smiled and asked, "I hope you were able to get that thing running again?"
"Yeah, we did. Look can I buy you lunch or maybe some iced tea. I wanted to tell you about the car and well it's too long a story for this heat."
She looked over her shoulder and smiled at me, "Let me get my purse."
On the way to lunch Nancy told me about how she was living with her stepson and his wife now after her second husband Frank had disappeared with the money from her Mom's estate.
"Well, the bank took the house over and Freddy took me in because he said his Daddy was a bastard and I've been living with them for six months now. He's a mechanic and is working part time at the Toyota dealership and another place."
I drove to Red Lion where I was staying. We went in and sat in the restaurant. I showed her the binder where I had gathered up all the articles and pictures of the Flash. Her eyes got a little misty when she saw how Marty had fixed it up but she ate ravenously and smiled apologetically at me with her mouth full while I explained how we had marketed the car.
She finally finished eating, sat back and patted my hand, "Oh, Jack, I'm happy the old car made someone happy. But why did you come all this way to tell me about it?"
"Nancy, Marty and I sold the Flash in Las Vegas last week," and told her the story of the auction but left out the bit about the hookers and all that.
She was grinning and laughing at the story, particularly about Marty having to go out to throw up. Then I said, "Nancy, Marty and I wanted to give you ten percent of the money we got from your Mom's car."
"What?" She sat very still and her eyes looked down at the check as I slid it over the table to her. She stared at it and seemed afraid to touch it in case it would go up in smoke.
"How much?" She asked me. "Just tell me. I don't have my glasses."
I grinned at her, "Two hundred and forty-two thousand dollars," I said slowly.
She stared at me for a moment, wiped her mouth with her napkin, took a big drink of her iced tea, wiped her hands carefully and picked up the check. She played trombone with it squinting and said, "You have got to be kidding me, Jack."
I grinned, "No, Nancy, a certified cashier's check made out to you from the Bank of Nevada. All legal and good anywhere you want to cash it. Marty and I wanted you to have it."
She picked up the check and put it in her purse and asked, "Jack, can you take me to a bank?"
"Sure, Nancy, let me pay the check and we'll go." I paid the check and put her in the car. She was nervous when we went into the nearest bank and I helped her set up an account. The banker was happy to set up the account and said that with the new rules she could be confident that the account was full insured. She took five grand in cash and asked me to take her back to the Red Lion.
She booked a room at the hotel and I asked her why she didn't go back home. She just laughed, "Fuck 'em! They can have anything they can find to hock. They've already hocked almost everything I had in the last six months to pay for their weed habit. I'm never going back."
I kissed her lightly and said, "Enjoy," and went up to my room. I made a few calls and took a nap until dinner time then went down and walked into the bar to have a drink before dinner, thinking I'd drive home the next day.
"Jack!" someone called. I turned around and was able to make out an older woman sitting with a couple of silver haired dudes at a table in the back. It was Nancy so I went to their table.
She got up and kissed me on the cheek and introduced me to Warren and Christopher, the silver foxes who were so much alike that it was uncanny. Nancy was dressed to the nines and her hair was now slightly reddish curled and all fluffy. Her makeup was tastefully done and she looked happy as hell.
I had a drink with them and got her story. She had gone to the dress shop and beauty parlor in the hotel and got all fixed up. Warren and Christopher were twins and were in town on business. They were diamond merchants in LA and were going back there in a few days. Nancy was charming and had Warren particularly entranced as they danced on the small dance floor there in the bar.
Christopher watched his brother dance with Nancy and asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a free lance writer and we talked for a while.
When Nancy and Warren came back, Christopher asked her to dance with him, she smiled and said, "I want to dance with Jack. I'll come back for you later Chris."
Nancy held me close and we just waltzed around, I don't really dance much. She smiled at me and said, "I don't know how to thank you, Jack, for all you've done for me."
I grinned at her, "Well, Nancy, I'm just happy you sold me the car. It all comes around to that."
"At least let me buy you dinner," she said.
"Okay, I was going to eat in the hotel here."
"Jack, do me one more favor?" she looked up at me and grinned.
"Well, pay a little attention to me, you know like you were interested in me as a woman?"
"Why?" I asked.
She grinned at me, "Warren needs a little more competition, to seal the deal."
I glanced over at the silver foxes and saw Warren watching us real closely. I smiled and kissed Nancy on the cheek and whispered in her ear, "You interested in the diamonds?"
She laughed and slapped my chest and hugged me close. She put her face to my chest and said, "I'm going to marry one of them; Warren I think. That Flash money won't last too long."
I laughed a little loud and put my hand on her ass and saw Warren frown.
Nancy pulled my hand back up and said softly, "Not too much, Jack."
We went back and had a drink. Nancy danced with Christopher and we went to dinner. I paid a lot of attention to Nancy and had Warren and Christopher both jacked up a little as we finished our desserts. I leaned over and asked Nancy if she'd like to come up to my room and she slapped me and called me a cad. Warren asked me to leave so I left and turned back to see both brothers consoling Nancy as she cried in her napkin. I gave her a wink and left.
The next morning I checked out and had breakfast. As I was leaving I saw Nancy and the two brothers coming into the restaurant. The two brothers frowned at me when I approached them and I gave Nancy a humble apology for my actions at dinner.
"Will you excuse us," Nancy said looking at the brothers.
Warren and Christopher frowned at me but went to get a table. Nancy took me over out of their line of sight and grinned at me, "Jack, the bit about coming to your room was just right. They were both very attentive to me after that. I think it's going to work."
"So did you get lucky?" I asked.
Nancy giggled and said, "I found out that they do everything together." She blushed and kissed me, "I better hurry, can't let them get too jealous."
I gave her my card and said goodbye.
About two months later, I was looking at the Flash on "Jay's Garage" on my computer when I heard the mailman drop off the mail. Along with the junk mail, I got a short letter from Nancy, she wrote:
I hope you are well and happy. I married Christopher after all and we all went to the Bahamas for the honeymoon. The boys do 'everything' together. I wanted to invite you to the wedding but Warren didn't want a 'cad' like you there. Sorry.
I enclose a picture from our wedding and hope you are enjoying the Flash money.
I looked at the picture, Nancy was radiant in a soft dove grey dress, Christopher in a white tuxedo was beside her and held her arm, Warren was in a black tuxedo and was a little below them in the picture.
Around Nancy's neck was a diamond necklace that sparkled in the camera lens. It must have been a sunny day because the central stone made a brilliant statement.
You might even call it a Flash.