I got back to my hotel at around four; it was starting to rain, and the month was May.
I looked at myself as I passed the big mirror in the main hall as I proceeded to the staircase, and I had to admit that I looked all right, except for a cauliflower ear, the left one, not my best side. Legacy of a quick and brutal career as a boxer, cut short by a total lack of interest or talent in that field. Hanging round the boxers’ gyms and listening to them talk – that’s when I changed fields. Listening in on people and spying on their activities appealed to me. I was a rat.
The address on the envelope was in the city, possibly Mapes’ last residence before his arrest and incarceration at San Quentin. It wasn’t sealed, the flap tucked inside. It was creased in the middle and folded in two, very neatly, and a short message was handwritten with one of those new fangled pens some guy in Argentina invented, name of Biro. The ink was smudged on the thin writing paper, but I could just make out these words:
As I mentioned in the first part of my thoughts on the Ford Edsel, I abandoned my Borgward with undignified haste, and bought a Volkswagen Beetle.
Looking back, I do remember now that I sold the Borgward to some guy who wanted to race it. Well, the car had a lot of torque, but little else. In any case, it didn’t matter to me, because I was going to lose it, trash it, or sell it, somehow, as I entered a new phase of my life: I was getting married to my first wife.
No, I didn’t actually have an affair with an Edsel. The Edsel was an automobile, even though it was taken off the market because its radiator grill resembled female genitalia.
This was an interesting if somewhat bizarre way of looking at cars. Since time immemorial, automobiles have been associated with sex. Back in the 1920s, the Tin Lizzy, Henry Ford’s first creation off the assembling line, set the standard for all the romantic hijinks that followed. Booze and sex and automobiles just about defined the culture of the young, whichever decade you pick. The older generation looked down on all this sinning and chose respectability. Their automobiles were sedate Buicks or Chryslers, or a similar model from one of the other manufacturers.