Duane Sherrill

“You don’t have any brakes!” I yelled, pointing to the structure looming in our windshield, my life passing before my eyes. “How are you going to stop?”

With a wry grin, my long-time friend and running buddy, known from here on out as Good Time Eddie, calmly responded from behind the wheel. “Don’t worry, Wild Man. The garage will stop us.”

“The what will what?” I incredulously cried out, not believing my ears. “Are you …?”

BOOM! We were thrown forward with a jolt, leaving me a mild case of whiplash. I sat there, shaking off the cobwebs, making sure all my body parts were where they were supposed to be.

“See,” he pointed out as I still seeing stars, my fingernails gripping my seatbelt in terror. “We’re parked.”

The lead up to the harrowing ride in the Sivler Bullet (the name Good Time Eddie gave his car) all started the afternoon before because of apples.

“Whoa there, Sherrill,” I can hear you rudely interject. “You call yourself an editor and you can’t even spell the word …”

Silver. Yes. I have spell check. I know how to correctly spell Silver. Unfortunately, Eddie did not when he was making his customized license plate to put on the front of his silver Toyota Supra which he had named the Silver Bullet.

I can still recall him proudly displaying the license tag to me one night before we went out cruising back in our college days. Well, my college days actually, as Eddie had decided book learnin’ wasn’t for him pretty early on at college.

“Um, Eddie,” I rubbed my chin. “I think you may have spelled it wrong.”

“What’s that, Wild Man,” he chirped in his high-pitched voice.

“You misspelled silver,” I pointed to the plate.

“Are you sure?” he questioned.

“Um, positive,” I replied.

“Oh well,” he shrugged it off. “Nobody will notice.”

To say Eddie was happy-go-lucky would be an understatement. He was always cheerful and always smiling. My mom was the one who gave him the nickname Good Time Eddie because she’d get irritated when we’d stay out late and sometimes come in with the smell of adult beverages on our breath.

“That’s Good Time Eddie,” I recall her saying. “All he ever wants to do is have a good time.”

I think my mom suspected that Eddie and some my other friends were bad influences on her little boy. I never had guts to tell her that I was the Sith Lord in my social circle. The fact that a guy nicknamed Good Time Eddie always called me Wild Man should have be an indication.

Therefore, it was my idea that me and him drive up to the orchard atop Cardwell Mountain to go camping the day before our crash. The next day was Memorial Day, so I was out of school and Eddie, well, he was not gainfully employed. He gleefully volunteered to drive the Sivler Bullet up to the orchard, never mentioning his brake problem as we went UP the mountain.

His family had a camper so we camped out there that evening. However, we were awoken early the next morning by a banging on the side of the camper.

“Get up Eddie!” I could hear someone yelling from outside as I wiped the sleep from my eyes. “Get up and get a job.”

It was Eddie’s grandfather. He was always after Eddie to find work after he left college.

Reluctantly, Eddie opened the door and felt the full ire of his grandfather. “You need to get down that mountain and get a job,” he insisted, looking at me. “Tell him. Tell him he needs to get a job.”

After several minutes of chewing out after the rude awakening, Eddie decided perhaps he would head back to town and try to find a job, even though it was Memorial Day. So, we piled into the Sivler Bullet and headed for the small, winding, one-lane road that led down to the highway.

“That ain’t good,” Eddie said as he pumped the brakes.

“What ain’t good?” I asked.

“The brakes,” he simply responded.

“What about the brakes?” I wondered.

“We don’t have any,” he said calmly.

At this point I got out of the car while it was stopped. “Where you going, Wild Man?” he wondered as I stood outside the Bullet. “You don’t want to walk all the way down the mountain.”

I waved him off. “I want to be able to walk, period, when I get to the bottom of the mountain,” I replied, careful to stay behind the silver Supra as it slowly began to roll down the mountain road.

“It’ll get down there,” Eddie pledged.

“Oh, gravity will see to that,” I agreed.

What followed next was a half-hour descent of the steep slope as Eddie was shifting down to keep the car from running away. When shifting didn’t work, the overhang near the ditch would send him back into the road like a pinball machine. Eventually the dinged and dented Sivler Bullet made it to the highway.

“Okay, let’s call a tow truck,” I suggested as he sat there with the engine idling.

“Nah. We made it this far. We can get home,” he smiled. “Come on. Get in.”

Against my better judgement, I slid in the passenger seat. “But you don’t have any brakes.”

“If the brakes don’t stop it, something will,” Eddie grinned as he hit the gas. Mind you, this statement was made a full 30 years before it showed up in a television commercial.

Somehow we were able to weave our way the 10 miles to his house - though town - without a hint of brakes. It was only as we approached his house that I realized we had a problem.

Long story short, we survived the minor crash into his garage, Eddie went on to get good job and the Sivler Bullet is rusting away somewhere in a barn somewhere in rural Warren County.

Is there a meaning to this story? Of course. This all proves there is a God. The next time you’re having a fight with your agnostic friend about the existence of a high being, just refer them to me. The mere fact I’m alive getting to write this column proves there is a God.

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