In 2020, we fled Queens for the shore after two months of lockdown in our two-bedroom apartment, and my mornings were consumed with entertaining walks with my two-and-a-half year old. Sometimes we saw historic landmarks from various vantages.
I have always wondered about this Victorian-era boutique hotel’s rear window placement.
And we saw the lies of local developers.
On one of those walks, I found a truly broken horse. Parked next to the office of the Gulf service station two blocks from the Margate house – where I replaced a cast wheel on my old Subaru six years ago – here was this 1971 white Mustang, with god knows what under the hood. I remember, as a twelve year old, reading a biography of Lee Iaccoca that my mother had passed down from her MBA classes – so, published in 1986? – that described the public and market response to these bloated, ungainly coupes. And I recalled the passages I had read thirty-three years before as I beheld the beached whale in all its rotting mass, with my sleeping son in his all-terrain yuppie stroller.
Because of the context – all that horrible pandemic context, eight weeks of sirens through my bedsprings context – My consciousness was primed – unlike the rotting sheet metal of the hulk – to see death and wreck and wrack and decay all around. And here it was.
The gas station attendant told me it belonged, like the boat next to it, to the wife of the absentee owner of the garage, and that it had been rolled and dumped into position twenty years before. So this is twenty years of salt spray and rain and snow and sea air and inattention.
There were other cars I saw in Margate that first pandemic spring and summer, but this was without a single doubt the junkiest.
(Margate, New Jersey, June 2020.)