Time for a spooky car tale -- a true, first-hand account with TWO eyewitnesses that mechanics still talk about.
This was about 15 years ago, back when Da-da was thin and good-looking and single and had a mint-green convertible and no children and now Da-da's weeping like a little girl. [sniff] Da-da was at his mechanic's shop, having just had the alternator replaced AGAIN in his 1990 Mustang 5.0, which ate alternators and batteries (and had horrible brakes), but Da-da digresses.
The job done, Da-da hung out while nursing the $168 hole in his wallet, watching one of the mechanics wrench on an intriguing 1958 Buick Estate Station Wagon that had been partly restored to previous glory. It was big and black and had huge chrome bumpers that weighed as much as Da-da's entire car; it was what Da-da calls a, "ten convenience store" car: at 90 mph, it could easily plow through ten convenience stores before it eventually ground to a halt. The car was empty, which was easy to see in its empty expanse of white leather seats.
Da-da stood next to the Buick's driver-side, admiring its bulk. The mechanic, Alex, a cranky hippie who looked like a shaggy Sulu from Star Trek, was leaning into the enormous engine compartment, a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth as always. Even without its hood, the station wagon was possessed of a kind of awful beauty, reminding Da-da of that Steven King book/movie, "Christine." The car even had a name, "Beatrice," painted in bright red letters on the big white dash.
Beatrice was idling variably, while Alex fiddled with the idle speed screw on the carburator. It seemed to be fighting him, never setting where Alex wanted, which Da-da would've found odd if he hadn't grown up around cars and machinery and computers, all of which are demon-possessed. Alex was vainly trying to slow the idle down... but it kept speeding right back up, edging higher and higher. Alex cursed the vehicle soundly...
Then, as they say, it happened.
We both heard something near the dash, Da-da couldn't tell you what, and we watched, hypnotized, as the station wagon's shift lever moved by itself.
With a CLICK-CLICK, the shift lever moved forward deliberately toward the driver's seat, then one click to the right... it suddenly dropped into gear and CHUNKED into... REVERSE!
Suddenly in motion, Alex leapt off the car and Da-da jumped back as the Buick rocketed backward... right into Da-da's fresh green convertible.
The behemoth's bumper smashed nearly the entire driver's side. Of course there wasn't a mark on the Buick's chrome.
Alex looked at Da-da, horrified, waiting for Da-da to explode in anger. But Da-da did what he normally does when faced with the absurd: he burst out laughing.
"Guess Beatrice didn't like your language," Da-da said, and Alex looked at the Buick fearfully.
Other shop mechanics ran over to see what had happened. Troy, the shop's owner and lead mechanic (who had once driven five hours into the desert to pick up Da-da and his vehicle after the head gasket Troy repaired failed in the middle of nowhere), listened to Alex explain what happened. He blinked and looked at Da-da, who nodded and affirmed Alex's account.
"I've been working on cars for 23 years and I've never seen a car put itself in gear before," he said. The other mechanics, some of whom had a few decades on Alex, concurred.
Troy looked at it and said, "Oh. That's Beatrice. Did you say something bad about her?"
Alex nodded and Troy shook his head. "Now you know," he said.
The pinacle of matter-of-factness, Troy jumped into Da-da's car and drove it next door to a body shop, where they went to work. It was done the next day. You couldn't even tell that anything had happened.
Meanwhile, Alex and Da-da just stood next to Beatrice. Da-da took a deferential step back. Alex reluctantly got behind the wheel, started the Buick and pulled it gingerly into the garage, where he worked on it quietly, and with some grudging reverance. Now, whenever anyone asks Alex about the strangest thing he ever saw, he has an answer.