A Breakdown on the Expressway

This is a thing that happened.

The Beetle broke down on 83 coming home tonight. I’d stayed at the office until almost seven working on the UK supplement, then headed home.

Somewhere around Belfast Road, the Beetle seemed to be sluggish, underpowered. Near exit 31, on the long upcline, the console beeped at me and the the radiator warning light started flashing at me. (This doesn’t mean it’s overheating. Flashing just means it’s low on coolant. Solid red means it’s overheating.)

On the downhill leg of the hill, the Beetle began to make a strange sound if my foot were on the peddle. If I eased up, the sound subsided. And now the Beetle was truly underpowered. It didn’t want to go.

I made to pull off the road.

And then the engine seized.

I got it off the road safely. Steamed poured out from under the hood. I put on my hazards. I popped the hood, and the clouds of steam dissipated.

I didn’t even notice the pick-up truck that pulled off in front of me.

“You okay?” the driver said to me. “I saw smoke.”

“Overheated,” I said.

“Are you okay? Do you have a phone?” I patted my pants pocket.

He came over to peer into the engine. “Overheating?”

“Yeah. The radiator light started flashing.”

“Do you need any help?”

“I think I’ve got this.”

He nodded. “I’ve got bottled water here in the back. You can have it.” He fished out half a cardboard tray of Deer Park water. “You can pour it in when the engine cools.”

I nodded and thanked him. He set off. His truck had Indiana plates.

I found a towing company to come pick the Beetle (and me) and take it back to Pennsylvania.

Then I waited.


There’s nothing to say, really, about the trip home. The driver of the tow truck and I talked about various things — the Beetle’s behavior before it seized, the comic book industry, dogs. He wasn’t optimistic about the Beetle’s future prospects, to be honest.

Right now the Beetle is sitting in the parking lot; I couldn’t think of a better place to take it, and sitting alongside the road isn’t the place to make rash decisions.

It’s a problem for tomorrow.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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