If you want backstory on this post, see here.
The summer drew to a close, our weeks together growing short and neither Spencer Tracy nor I willing to broach the possibility of a future. I’m not entirely sure where I intended to head that evening, but I spent most of those final weeks putting distance between us.
Spencer Tracy’s high school friends, who I'd impressed with my awesome driving earlier in the summer, were visiting for the second time.
I left a party, where I’d surely had a good time, and slowly backed my car out of the parking space. The lot where I’d parked looked down over a twenty or thirty foot ravine, ending at the bottom with a small house. To the left were the condos where Spencer Tracy and I spent most of our summer evenings. The night felt thick with memories and feelings, none of which I wanted.
I bumped a retaining wall behind me, then pulled forward into the space to get a better angle.
Only the car didn’t stop.
I punched the brake frantically, stepping on the pedal with both feet. Nothing happened. The car surged forward and pitched over the curb, careening down the wooded ravine. I sat helpless behind the wheel, arms braced for impact. I have no idea if I screamed. Maybe. Probably.
I landed on a second retaining wall, a lucky feat that stopped the car from crashing through the house situated at the bottom of the hill. My heart pounded; I’ve never felt such a flood of panic and relief in my entire life. When I caught my breath I kicked the door open with shaky legs and dropped a few feet into a patch of knee high foliage. I found out a day or so later that the “foliage” was actually poison ivy, but that’s a story for another day.
I staggered back into the condo, my entire body trembling. I do not have any desire to know what I looked like, but when Spencer Tracy’s eyes met mine he knew something had happened. He ran his hands over my cut and bleeding arms and legs, asked if I hurt.
The police knocked on the door; the couple whose house I nearly took down had called them. They took me outside for questioning while Spencer Tracy looked on. “Have you been drinking?”
He peered into my face. “Are you sure you haven’t been drinking, because that would make this whole situation a lot easier to explain.”
I shook my head, too mortified to sass him or feign indignance. I explained what happened with the brakes. He nodded, pretending to believe me, and called a tow truck. Then he got on his radio and I heard, “Just come out here, you have to see it to believe it.”
By the end of the debacle, as a tow truck hauled my little car back out of the ravine, three police cars and a fire truck arrived to chuckle over the proceedings. Spencer Tracy had gone to bed; I think all my shenanigans got the best of him. It’s hard to blame him for that.
I insisted throughout that my brakes had failed me at a most inopportune moment. The tow truck driver sat my car down, unhooked it, then drove it around to prove the brakes worked fine.
Yes, the car drove perfectly and sustained only minimal body damage. That car was a trooper.