I always envy my friends who have a love for cars. I, unlike them, see them merely as modes of transportation—little more, nothing less. Some people worship their cars like they are their babies or at least some relative worthy of treasuring. Not me. I’ll never completely love automobiles. Cars have almost ended me more times than I’d like to count. Something tells me that I will never truly be able to trust them.
If I’m not mistaken, I have been involved in thirteen car accidents—or at least incidents—in my life. For some reason, I’m a friggin’ magnet for maladies when it comes to automobiles. With so many near-death experiences under my belt, can it be fate or is it merely luck that I have survived so many incidents involving vehicles? One incident involving my automobile was enough to change my life forever.
P.O.S.EY was my Piece of Shit Geo Prism that I bought after the death of my Beretta. Posey was also the first car I ever named, and I called her such due to how boxy and how cheaply Geo Prism’s were made. That car was so light that my weak ass could pick half of it up. The doors were so thin that adding a layer of tin foil to the side would’ve added a layer of protection! Posey was a piece of shit, but she got me where I needed to go. Posey was also small and red, so I was never embarrassed to have her.
The years I had Posey were my most tumultuous high school years: eleventh and twelfth grades. I’m one of those that barely made it out of K-12 alive without causing a massacre of my fellow classmates or ending it all in my bedroom because the experience was so bad for me. I was picked on constantly: talked about, bullied, and lost many friends toward the end of my high school career because of who I was, what I’d done, and what I’d no longer tolerate. My only salvation during that terrible time of my life was having my car and the escapism it allowed me.
Growing up in a town of twenty-thousand people in rural Missouri was never easy. My car let me go to St. Louis on the weekends to visit my dad, and let me drive outside of town to go smoke weed in the cemetery with my friends. (I know, I know. Ewwwwww.) My car let me leave the house and get as far away as I could after I’d had another fight with my mother or brother. I mocked Posey with her namesake, but in retrospect, Posey was a great friend to me those last years of my youth.
Little did either of us—my car or I—know it, but Posey would help me escape one of the worst moments of my life—a night I will never forget.
I never was one of the most popular kids in school, but I’d say I was one of the most talked about. Everyone in high school knew I was gay way before I figured it out, and being gay in Sedalia, Missouri wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to be. There were kids who knew me and were OK with me. There were the jocks who openly talked about me, shoved me, and threw fruit and other food at me in the halls. Then there were the ones who would talk about me behind my back.
I did my best to conform, while still trying to be me and have fun. People were always throwing parties outside of city limits where underage drinking was rampant. My junior year is when I started branching out and just showing up to these parties, be it alone or not. I had a lot of girl-friends in those days. They were the ones who would inform me of the parties and were the friends who were constantly sticking up for me to their male counterparts, as well.
One night in the spring of my senior year, my friend Jill called me and told me about a party on this guy Brent’s property outside of town. I knew vaguely who Brent was: a tall, good-ol’-boy-looking guy who was on our football team for all of high school—so one could only assume that he was the epitome of masculinity. But I was encouraged by the fact that I had never had an altercation with him. (Which is quite sad, now that I think about it—that I could differentiate between the ones who had bullied me and the ones who hadn’t.)
I agreed to go to the party on Brent’s land. Jill and I pulled up to what looked like a plowed-over corn field, surrounded by trees, where a bunch of teenagers had set up a campfire and were drinking from a keg. Gotta love high school parties!
We got out of the car, and the other kids had music playing and were just chatting and drinking. We were immediately offered booze and conversation, which was nice. The fire was nice as well. I enjoyed partying with my peers and talking with Jill and some of our fellow classmates. It made me happy that I had decided to come. This party is one I’ll remember, I thought.
After an hour or so of being there, some more people had shown up. Several more girls and a group of Brent’s football buddies had arrived, having been at a party elsewhere. One of those guys that showed up was Darnoc Yrots.
Darnoc Yrots was a douche bag for the ages. I had taken eighth grade PE with Darnoc, and we were OK back then. Civil, even. Back then, he would talk to me here and there. But when he started hanging out with Derf Nonsnarb, the two of them started ganging up on me in PE and in other places in and around school. They’d call me “faggot” and throw grapes and other pieces of food at my head after lunch break. I’d get shoved in gym class and some in the halls. Mostly, I would just ignore them and hope that they would one day morph into actual human beings. Basically, Darnoc was one of those assholes who grew his muscles out big enough that he could be dominant over people and make others’ lives a living hell.
At the party that night on Brent the quarterback’s land, I was drinking my keg-pumped beer, talking to Jill, and enjoying myself. All of a sudden, I saw Darnoc out of the corner of my eye, headed straight for me. I didn’t look at him to avoid getting messed with. I turned away from the direction he was coming from to set my drink down, and when I turned back around, I hardly had a second to realize that Darnoc was standing right in front of me.
That’s when he HIT me. He hauled off and punched me as hard as he could in the mouth with his fist. This hit to my face took me by such surprise that it knocked me back a little bit and stunned me. It rattled my head so much that I could hardly comprehend what happened.
I clutched my jaw in agony and could feel my lip swelling in pain. I tasted blood in my mouth from my busted lip, and my eyes finally focused on my perpetrator in disbelief.
Before I could even ask him why he had hit me or ask what the fuck his problem was, he charged at me and tackled my five-six frame to the ground. This knocked the wind out of me, and before I could pull myself back to my feet, he kept me pinned down on the ground. He called out to two of his buddies to come bring him some rope.
The next thing I knew, he and his friends were tying the rope around my ankles, binding my legs together. All I could distinguish them saying was,
“Fucking cocksucker thinking he can come here.” And, “Fucking faggot!”
Then I was in the air. Darnoc and his boys had thrown the other end of the rope over a massive limb of a nearby tree and had used it to hoist me up and hang me from it. My T-shirt was falling over my face as I hung upside down from that tree. Darnoc and friends kept grabbing my arms, spinning me round and round, taunting me.
I remember thinking that I could die that night. That Darnoc and his friends could beat the shit out of me or leave me hanging up there. Or something else awful and horrific might happen.
I kept trying to pull my shirt down from over my head so that I could reach up and untie the rope that had me hanging from that tree. Suddenly, Darnoc’s and his friends’ laughs and taunts stop, and I heard a deep voice scream at them,
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?”
Before I knew it, I was being lowered down out of the tree and safely back onto the ground. I was dizzy, but I was could see Brent shoving Darnoc and putting his finger in his face in a threatening way.
“He’s a faggot, man. No one invited him here. Did you?” Darnoc asked Brent.
“No, but this is my fucking land and I’m not gonna have that shit go down on my property. Everyone’s supposed to be having fun.”
Brent yelled in Darnoc’s face, and then he pushed through Darnoc and shoved his shoulder against Darnoc’s as he stormed by and walked away from the scene. It all happened so fast that I didn’t even think it was real ’till I realized my head ached and I wiped the blood from my face.
By this time, everyone at the party had formed a circle around the scene, and there I was in the middle of it. My busted lip and teary face must have been a sight to see for my fellow classmates. To spare myself the indignity, I got up, brushed myself off, and started walking to my car. Jill came running after me and got in my vehicle with me.
“Are you OK?” she asked sympathetically.
“Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, I’ll be ok.”
I got in my little red Geo Prism, Posey, and turned the key. My face ached. I didn’t know if my head or my pride hurt worse, and so I didn’t dare look at myself in the rear view mirror before starting the car and driving away.
Before I knew it, the tears started streaming from my eyes and down my cheeks. I kept driving on Brent’s land through the fields and became embarrassed and angry over what had just happened. I started driving faster and wanted to get out of the country and away from my bashers.
I was probably driving sixty miles an hour through Brent’s fields of wheat and rabbit holes when I heard the sound of a massive rock scraping out the underside of my car. I could tell by the loud scrape that the stone had done some serious damage, but I kept driving, wanting to get into town as soon as I could.
I dropped Jill off at her house and didn’t even bother looking at my car, but I could tell something was wrong. I couldn’t think about what had just happened and how humiliating and hurtful the evening had turned out. I was so sad, insulted, and humiliated that the thought did cross my mind that I could just drive my car into a tree, off the road, or into some other car and just end my life. Fortunately for me, the “check engine” indicator light came on the dashboard, and I was forced to return home. That would be what I consider the only time I actually really contemplated committing suicide.
As it turned out, that would also be the last night I would ever drive Posey. Little did I know, I had bottomed out in that field when I drove over and scraped against that rock. My car was so low that the rock ripped a large hole in the transmission. The car itself wasn’t worth the repair, so I ended up selling it off to an auto garage for the parts. As a result, I ended up being carless for the end of my senior year of high school. Which was awful for a gay guy living his last days of blissful adolescence in a small town.
After all my history with cars up until that point, I couldn’t believe that a rock would be what would take Posey out. Sure, it wasn’t exactly a wreck, but that was yet another time where a car had come into the situation and saved my life. To this day I’m so very grateful that Posey served as my get-away car from that terrible incident. She really took one for the team.
Two weeks after I graduated high school, I fled Missouri and moved to California. I didn’t know anyone in the Golden State, but it didn’t matter. I knew any place was better than where I had come from. As a graduation present, my parents bought me—you guessed it—a car. Something I had no idea would be as vital as it was in Los Angeles. And I never looked back.
more by KOELEN ANDREWS
photograph by Jay Mantri