Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Sewer Cap

We could hear the sound of the engine accelerating from the far reaches of Church Avenue. The moan of the small block V8 was fast approaching, its demise was in reach.

“This is going to be a good one,” someone said.

We all quickly got up from my front stoop and ran into the street. Our eyes were all fixed on a late model olive colored Pontiac, it looked like a 68 or 69 GTO. As it raced down East 4th and approached Beverley we prepared ourselves for that horrible sound.
A familiar sound we heard hundreds of times before, a sound that wounded or killed many a car engine or Torque flight transmission. Or maybe worse, ripped an entire motor from its warm enamel painted nest.

As the racing Pontiac crossed Beverley, it’s front nose quickly dipped downwards towards the asphalt. From the distance it looked as though it’s four headlights and painted rubber bumper were gently kissing the black-top below. But then in an instant its face lifted upwards towards the Brooklyn skies above.


With two quick hard hits to its stomach, the Pontiac bounced up and down like a child’s toy. Blue smoke and sparks quickly seized the area under its hot undercarriage. From a high speed one moment to a slow crawl the next, the grasp of the monster had just ripped its guts out right before our very own eyes.

The sound was so loud you could probably hear it from Greenwood Avenue too. It was the sound of metal being crushed and bolts being ripped from the flesh of the car. A transmission pan being slashed down it’s belly, or even worse a heavy steel frame snapping in two.

It was the sound of automotive death on a warm Kensington day.

The Pontiac slowly limped down our block, spewing blood and entrails behind its broken tin shell and warm red tail lights.
The 350 four barrel was just “chugging” a slow horrible song,
gone was the glorious melody of its real V8 power.

The driver quickly pulled over to the right in front of an apartment house, the Margaret Court across the street. He quickly got out of the car holding the top of his head. He was all right, but the force of the impact must have lifted him off his seat and into the air, hitting his head on the roof of his car.

The Pontiac was still smoking and spewing both white and blue smoke. Through the mist of its destruction you could see that the body was broken in two. The nose looking downwards at the ground, while the taillights were angled upwards looking towards
Windsor Terrace.

Yes, this was indeed a bad one, for the Pontiac looked dead.

The driver just stood there staring at the car, and then turned around and slowly walked away up the block. He made a left on to Beverley Road and was never seen again.

That GTO must have been there for what seemed like months.
Like the corpse of a great racehorse, it just lied there rotting in the Kensington summer sun. Until one day it was gone, leaving us only with a puddle of motor oil and red transmission fluid.

Just another insurance payout in the Boro of my birth.

And even today, some thirty-five years later, I still slow down before I cross East 4th street at Beverley. Just taking it real slow and gentle before I get to my house.

I guess some habits are just hard to break you know.

Because you see, a long time ago there was a horrible iron monster that lived in the street. It was probably just a few inches too high for it’s own good. Heavy cast iron, with holes for its eyes. And I’m sure it must have weighed well over a hundred pounds, and took more than one man to move.

And it had the blood of a hundred cars on its face and always thirsted for more. It was murderer plain and simple and proudly bared it’s name to all, never caring when it killed. Just heavy bold letters and in capitals no less, forever reminding us of its deadly presence here
in Brooklyn.

And if the name wasn’t tearing apart the bellies of cars, it was instead emptying the bank accounts of New Yorkers with blue and white bills being slid through a mail slot.

A long time ago there was a killer on the loose
and it sat at the edge of my block.
It showed no mercy and never picked favorites.

So just drive slowly my Kensington friends,
and remember the deadly
"CON EDISON" manhole cover.

Because it’s long gone now,
and only a distant memory
in the Kensington of my youth.

Ron Lopez

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