Chapter 22: More Kids

By the end of February, VB and Ella already had four more kids, two of which were twins. The first had been another Ford E-350, a chassis cab, like LB, and also white, but she was a girl who they named Annie. The second was a 2017 Ford Transit, a large passenger van that existed in the place of older E-350 vans like VB. Ford Transits were differently shaped than E-350 vans, with a more European-style look to them and smaller tires. They also had smaller engines, turbo V6's rather than good old-fashioned V8's like VB had, which generally put out less power and reliability. They named him the Ford Transit Timothy. Like LB and Annie, he was also white.

The twins were white Ford F-150s, Peter and Jacob. They were both supercabs (which meant they had small backseats and rear butterfly doors that could only be opened from the inside when the front doors were opened). The only difference between the two was that Jacob was a higher trim level so he had chrome bumpers rather than the black ones Peter had, and a chrome grill and fancier rims.

One night, to get away from the commotion of four very young cars along with the other kids, who were still young, VB and Impala went for a drive alone. VB had just recently had his headlight that had been scraped by the fence replaced and he was surprised at how much clearer everything looked. His headlight had been scraped for so long he had just gotten used to it.

VB and Impala were starting to become much better friends the more they knew each other, and VB really needed company from another male tonight.

"I can't believe you already have nine kids," Impala was saying.

"Me neither," VB replied.

"Like – what are you guys doing?"

VB snorted at his remark. "She wanted every single one," he said.

"No, I believe you. It's just crazy how many kids you can have in a year. It's been a year, right?"

"Yeah. We got married on the twenty-third. It's already the twenty-eighth." He paused. "Anyway, I thought we were here to have a break from all of that stuff. I don't want to be tied down tonight.

"Of course. Neither do I," said Impala. "Wanna go see if there are some ice puddles in the parking lot of the baseball field?"

"Sure. But we'll have to turn around first." So, the two of them turned around and started heading towards the baseball field, which was a minute from their house in the other direction.

When they got there, sure, enough, the dirt parking lot had around three or four ice covered puddles in it, and, luckily, there was no snow on the ground right now. Driving through them would be easier without it, and that was exactly what they planned to do.

"I'm taking the big one," said VB.

"Hold your horsepower, fatty," Impala cut in. "You'll break that thing in no time, let me go over first."

"Fine..."

The shiny black car drove ahead, but slowly. His front tires hit the ice, but it didn't crack. Instead his two front wheels spun and spun, getting him nowhere.

"That's what you get with front wheel drive," said VB, chuckling. "Try backing up then gun it fast. That's the only way you're getting over it."

Impala grumbled, shifted into reverse, and, with only a tiny slip, was off the ice puddle and back where he had started.

"Now," said VB. "Gas it as hard as you can."

And, he did. His front tires spun so hard for a second that they sent dirt and pebbles all the way into VB's grill and bumper, much to Impala's amusement, and his V6 engine even growled a little. Then, he got right onto the ice, and, with minimal effort, was able to make it over this time. But, the ice still hadn't cracked.

"That was actually pretty fun," he said, turning around. He laughed when he saw that VB's headlights, grill, and front bumper were covered in mud. "Oops, I think I got you a little dirty. Sorry bro."

VB just grumbled. "Well, it's my turn to get through that now."

"Go ahead. You'll probably shatter it, you're more than twice my weight."

"Fine, but if I do, you have to go through it after. Deal?"

"It's gonna be dirty," said Impala. "But okay. It's a deal."

Then, VB gunned it as hard as he could towards the puddle. His rear tires spun in the mud without getting him anywhere for two or three seconds, but Impala had moved out of the way beforehand so he wouldn't get dirty. The ice shattered in a second, and the shock of the cold water hitting VB's undercarriage took another second. But, he powered through it, bouncing from side to side on unseen rocks, his tires occasionally slipping on the wet mud beneath. Then, he was out. He faced Impala.

Impala burst out laughing. VB's whole front end, sides, tires, and probably his whole underside were covered in slushy mud.

"You're something else," Impala said. "Are your shocks and springs all right?"

"Yes, although they don't feel like it. Any more of that and I'll need an alignment, too!"

Impala chuckled.

"Hey, what are you laughing at?" VB asked him. "It's your turn now."

"Oh, come on, VB, I don't think I could make it through that..."

"A deal's a deal," the van said. "Now don't be a wimp and show me what you got."

Impala grumbled, but readied himself to drive through the huge puddles anyways. This time, he drove quicker than he had before, his front wheels whirring on the gravel for a few seconds before he actually took off. He slowed down when he reached the puddle, afraid to damage his front bumper on any rocks he couldn't see. But, slowing down made things worse as far as being cold went. He felt every drip of icy water as it touched his undercarriage. So, he sped himself up a little, his tires often getting stuck in the cold, wet mud, but he did manage to make it out unscratched. Slush caked his sides near his front tires where it had splattered.

"Better hope Bella doesn't see you like that," VB said, laughing.

"Oh, I'll make sure she doesn't," Impala replied, snorting. "If it weren't so cold it'd be a hell of a lot more fun. Maybe we should zoom really fast down this back road to dry ourselves up a little."

"Already?" asked VB. "We've only tried one puddle. What about the smaller ones. Heck, you could break one of those!"

So, they splashed and sloshed through a few more puddles before accelerating quickly on the small back road and heading back home.

Luckily, the temperature climbed above freezing the next day, and it rained, so most of the mud and slush was washed off them.

March arrived shortly, and with it came warmer days and songbirds that caroled joyfully well into the evenings of the much longer days. LB turned a year old in March, and, since he had been his full size for a while now, he was offered a job as a shuttle bus where VB's dad worked. So, he had the body of a bus placed behind his front cab on his once empty chassis, and he drove by VB's house almost every day transporting passengers.

VB and Ella found it hard to get used to the way he looked at first, because, not only was he a shuttle bus now, but he also had decals and words written all over him too. Within a month, though, they had grown totally used to it.

Not much happened during the beginning of March, just VB's usual grocery trips and the occasional visit to a park or cemetery where his owners would walk.

By mid-March, on the 19th, VB and Ella's tenth child was born, a 2017 Ford Explorer named Jaxon. And he was white.

By now, VB and Ella were already thinking of which dealership to send Edwin and Samuel to. The two boys, as close as they were to each other, were going to be sent to different dealerships because they were different types of cars. Edwin, being a Ford Edge, would be sent to the nearest Ford dealership, and Samuel, being a Hyundai Santa Fe, would be sent to the nearest Hyundai dealer, the same one Ella went to, so they wouldn't be too far apart. But, luckily, they still had a few months to go.

Many things happened over the next few months. By now, VB and Ella had five more kids! Ellie, a silver Elantra, and Cindy, a silver Honda Civic, both born in April. They found it odd that Cindy was neither a Ford or Hyundai, but she took after Ella's maternal grandmother, who was also a Honda Civic. Their next daughter was Carrie, a silver Ford Fiesta, and then Cody, a Ford Fusion. The most shocking thing about him was that he was the same deep, sparkling blue as Ella's mother, Elice.

Then, finally, after Cody, it was Willow, a silver Kia Forte. She took after relatives on Ella's side as well, who were also Kias.

It was then that Ella decided enough was enough, and she didn't want any more kids. She was exhausted. Exhausted after having been pregnant so many times, exhausted after having given birth so many times, and exhausted from caring for so many kids. Even though VB did help out as much as he could, it was still a task and she was still the main caretaker.

When she first told VB she didn't want any more he was surprised and a little disappointed. He asked her if she was sure, and if she really didn't want any more even when they all got older, but she seemed pretty positive about it.

In June, VB's owners' new baby was born, their eighth child and their sixth boy. They decided that they probably wouldn't go camping this year, since it'd be hard with a newborn, and of course VB was very let down by it, although the thought of camping at Ames Brook again scared him a lot.

As summer went by, VB did take his owners to parks, beaches, and splash pads, but not as much as he had before the baby was born. He also took them to his owner's parents' house a few times, where his conversations with Kodak and Terry remained the same despite that night on the beach months ago. He also learned that Robert, the dump truck from the housing authority, and CV, had had a daughter who was neighbors with Kodak. She was a red 2013 Ford F-150 named Kendra, and he stopped by sometimes to talk with her, because she was easy-going and it wasn't hard to have a conversation with her.

One day, VB and Ella were having a conversation about Ella's owner's dog, the sweet black labrador, who was now getting very old.

"My owner w-wants to put her down soon, VB," Ella said.

"Put her down?" asked VB. "What does that mean?"

She hesitated to reply for several seconds, and when she finally did, her voice sounded dry. "It means to put her to sleep, VB," Ella said. "Then k-kill her."

"What?" VB gasped. He knew people were awful to their cars, but killing their own dogs was too far.

"So she won't suffer anymore," said Ella. "She's so old. Have you seen the way she walks? She limps badly. And she would be asleep before she died, so it wouldn't hurt. Then her soul would go somewhere else, far away. Somewhere better, where she'll be happy forever. At least that's what my owner says..." Her voice trailed off.

"W-what about cars?" VB managed to ask. "When cars die, when they're crushed at a junkyard, or just left to rot to the point where they'll never start again, or maybe destroyed in an accident, where do their souls go?"

"I-I don't know, VB," said Ella. "I don't think anybody knows the answer to that. Because we can't ask a car that's dead, can we?"

"I guess not." VB thought long and hard about what Ella had said, and decided that if his soul went to a happy place after he died, then it couldn't be so bad after all.

On July 14th, 2017, Ella's owner got into her (with his dog, Maggie), and took her to the vet's. When they came back, Maggie wasn't with them. Ella cried that night, telling VB how she would always miss having that sweet, happy dog hanging her head out the window on car rides. VB tried to comfort her as much as he could, but he simply couldn't understand what it was like having a dog, much less losing one, so he found it hard.

One thundery day, towards the end of July, VB's owners' kids washed him off with the hose and some car soap, right before the thick black clouds rolled in. VB enjoyed thunderstorms. They always reminded him of his adventurous days down in Florida, where thunderstorms were very frequent. Then, sometimes, he got to wondering things like, what if the airport hadn't auctioned him off, where would he be now? He was so happy he was here, and that was all he knew. And, he was so happy Ella's owner had bought her, even though it meant hardly ever seeing Matt. But, he was so lucky to even be able to see Matt at all. Poor Cameron. He was gone. Gone forever, never to be seen by him again. Or was he?

"My owner and I saw that old Camaro who used to live here at a dealership in Swansea," Impala was telling him one evening when he came home from work. "And I saw him, too."

"No!" gasped VB. "You saw Cam?"

"We sure did."

"So he's still out there?" Ella cut in.

"Still runnin' strong."

"You sure it was Cam?" VB asked. "Don't you think he would've been auctioned further away by now?"

"That was him all right," said Impala. "Don't forget I talked to him at the dealership the night I came home, so I know what he looks like. And my owner recognized him too. He's the one who painted his Z/28 decals and all that. He would know."

"You're right!" VB exclaimed. "Can we go there tonight, Imp? Will you show me where the dealership is? Please?"

"Not tonight," he grumbled. "I just got home! But, tomorrow night my owner's not working. We can go then. Ella too." And that was their plan.

When the next night came, everybody was excited and couldn't wait to go, VB and Ella especially.

They set off a little after midnight, and the drive was almost an hour long, but they knew it would all be worth it in the end. And, whoever bought Cameron would probably live nearby, so they could still go see him as they pleased.

When they got there, Impala seemed anxious. "He was right up front yesterday," he said.

"I don't see him anywhere," Ella responded nervously.

"He has to be here somewhere," VB said, trying to remain optimistic. "Let's check out back."

The three cars drove around the whole lot twice and saw not a single car that even barely resembled Cameron.

"M-maybe someone bought him," said Impala.

"They must've," Ella replied sadly.

"But the exact day we wanted to see him?" VB asked.

"Who are you guys lookin' for?" asked a silver Chevy Trailblazer who was sitting in the lot.

"There was a '96 Camaro here yesterday," said VB. "He was an old friend, and we just wanted to stop by to say hello."

"They took him outta here this morning," the Trailblazer said. "He was sent to auction."

VB felt like his engine block had fallen out of him and onto the pavement below. He had come all this way, with his hopes high, to see his old friend Cameron, who he thought he would never see again. Now, all his hope perished. Cameron was gone forever, probably sent somewhere far away. He really would never see him again.