There’s a car that haunts my dreams. Well, it’s a car in the strictest technical sense, anyway, being that it has four wheels, an engine and has some means of being controlled by a driver. I don’t know that you could really call it a car, though. It’s as if a Toyota Camry and a Plymouth Voyager had a child car together and the Camry thought that the offspring looked an awful lot like that PT Cruiser that’s always parked down the street. And when that baby car grew up, instead of becoming something respectable like a family sedan or an airport shuttle or even a taxi, it decided to disgrace its parents and become a theme car for this car looked up to the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile growing up.
My local hospital recognized the car’s talent for showmanship and gave it a job driving around to schools in the area to lecture students about good nutrition. To aid the car in its job, they embellished it with decorations and prosthetics until it looked like that evil clown who scared the literal piss out of me when I was 5 and I got lost at that sketchy circus. But, unlike the memory of that gin-soaked clown, I cannot suppress the memory of the Hospital Health Car.
The vehicle haunts my darkest nightmares. I dream that it is chasing me through the streets of my neighborhood with a three headed, six horned, sweaty toothed doctor behind the wheel. And, just when it is about to capture me, put me in a specimen jar, and return me to the hospital to perform avant-garde experiments on my spleen, I dispatch it with a golden apple whom I've named "Fred Delicious".
It always starts the same way. I’m driving down that lonely, dimly lit stretch of highway in my Mustang with the top down. There’s always a lady sitting in the passenger seat. Usually, it’s Reese Witherspoon. Sometimes it’s Christie Brinkley. Once it was my mother, but I don’t want to talk about that. As I drive past the hospital, the Hospital Health Car hangs a tight left at the intersection and begins its pursuit. The doctor’s evil laugh cackles out of the windows as it gains on me. I drop my foot on the gas as if my shoe had been crafted from cloth woven from a neutron star. All of the little horses in my engine take off running. Reese Witherspoon or Christie Brinkley is thrown back so hard that I fear she may have gotten whiplash and will sue me.
The road narrows as my Mustang screeches through the streets of my neighborhood. Behind me, the maniacal doctor drives the Hospital Health Car furiously, his hands clamped to the steering column, the wheels tearing up the asphalt as that villainous vehicle thunders after me. I take a right and blaze down my block towards my house. I’ve misjudged the ludicrous speed of my Mustang and I crash it into my garage, exploding my hot water heater and blowing up my home. Christie Brinkley or Reese Witherspoon is nowhere to be found in the debris. Hollywood is going to be really angry and really happy with me. The doctor catches me from behind and tosses me like a rag doll onto the ground. “Show me your spleen!” he crows at me. He pins my knees with his boots and retrieves a rusty scalpel from his coat pocket. “You’ll feel a little pinch!” he says. I’m certain that the procedure won’t be covered by my HMO and I’ll have to pay out of pocket. Again.
And that’s when I remember him. Fred Delicious. My apple. My friend. Dad always said “Quit naming and personifying your food, Thomas, it’s embarrassing”, but he also always said “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. So, from my pocket I pull out the apple, show him to the doctor and exclaim “Say hello to my little Fred!” as I shove the apple down the doctor’s throat by taking the long way. The doctor keels over and disappears in a puff of purple smoke that smells like the cologne my grandfather used to wear when he’d go to a funeral for one of his military buddies.
And I wake up, safe in my bed, covered in sweat but glad that I had gone to the grocery store the night before and had bought some chili, soda, milk, crackers, macaroni noodles, sour cream, shredded cheese and an apple named Fred.