by Doug Hawley
6: Auto Rogue
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Have you heard this one
before? - It started innocently enough. Carl/a
and I had gone out for a drive. I was going to
pick up some take out at McBroccoli and Carl/a
was mostly on the lookout for sexy cars. Halfway
there the shocking occurred we were passed
up by another car and that violates the first law
of carbotics all cars were programmed to
go the optimal speed for the conditions. That was
just the beginning the car looked like one
that I had seen in a high school history class
film, a 1969 Dodge Charger, a car which was
totally controlled by the driver with hardly any
safety devices. Stranger yet, the driver bore a
resemblance to Daisy Duke, a character from the
show The Dukes Of Hazzard that we saw.
After a stunned moment, I guessed what had
happened. Id just been passed by The Rogue.
No car had been produced
that was strictly controlled by a human in more
than forty years and the older cars were banned
from the streets for very real safety reasons.
There was a legend about The Rogue, someone who
had an old car and did the driving. The Rogue may
not have been reckless, but it put the fear in
all of the humans who had long since left the
driving to their cars. A few people had claimed
to have seen The Rogue, but the government said
that the sightings were really hallucinations or
swamp gas. Pictures of The Rogue and tire prints
were all faked we were told. If it really existed,
why hadnt anyone captured it, went the
official reasoning. I feared that I had been
another unreliable witness.
Carl/a said I dont
know what you think, but based on what other cars
have told me, that must be The Rogue. We must
When she turned left from
Willamette onto Cascade Street, we did too. We
all went to the Maddox Woods parking lot on the
Willamette River. With great trepidation, I
approached her car, if thats what you could
call it. The driver rolled down her window and
said with the sternest expression, I hope
that you can keep a secret.
First, what is the
secret, and why should I keep it?
Are you ready for a
Youve got our
attention, speaking for Carl/a and myself.
I was looking at her as she
spoke and was getting some vague notion of
recognition, but I could not place her. Maybe it
wasnt Daisy Duke that she reminded me of.
You probably have
guessed that Im The Rogue. My real name is
Sheila Valdez. You wonder how and why I do what I
do. Im the great granddaughter of one of
our craziest presidents, the one who invaded Asia
over ideology or oil or something. Anyway, it was
a tragically stupid idea which had horrible
results. Maybe a little wildness made it to my
generation, but without the stupidity. Whereas he
was reckless with an r Im wreck
less with a w. Years ago when I was
in grade school history they showed us a Dukes
Of Hazzard episode. I was really taken with
the excitement those boys had. It showed what
drivers could do with old fashioned hot cars. Or
so I thought. It wasnt until later that I
learned the best stunts were faked, but by then I
Wait a minute. Sheila
Valdez in Mrs. Spickermans class?
Holy crap, whats
You took me to the
senior prom in high school!
I was too much of a
gentleman to mention what happened after the prom.
Anyway, after we graduated, we went to different
colleges and never saw each other again until now.
Back to my story. My
family had quite a bit of money, so I got this
antique car when I started college in Maine. The
idea was that Id just drive it around the
family compound, but when I decided to come back
to Lake Oswego, I had it shipped out here and
garaged. My contacts in high places helped a lot.
I have a regular smart car, but I like to take
out Duke now and again.
You named the Charger after me?
Slow down, I named it
after the TV series.
Why havent you
The car has a
cloaking device, which makes it look like a
regular smart car, and I usually follow the
Then how did the
legend of The Rogue start?
cloaking goes on the blink, and sometimes I just
want to live dangerously. So far, with the help
of my friends in high places, and my powers of
persuasion, Ive managed to wiggle out of
No wonder I didnt
recognize her at first. In high school, she was a
high fashion stick model type. Now, she looked
more like a curvaceous earth mother. I wondered
about cause and effect. Did the Charger encourage
her to rebel, or was getting the Charger caused
by the rebellion?
On another front, looking
like she does now, I didnt doubt her powers
So how did I catch
I didnt notice
that the cloaking device light was blinking. It
must not be working. Listen, Duke I dont
want to trade on our old friendship, but I hope
that you wont reveal my secret. Could you
just take a ride with me to see how important
Duke, the car, is to me before you decide what to
It occurred that she could
have threatened me with her friends in high
places, but was trying to reason with me
instead, so I accepted her offer. OK, that wasnt
honest. I had been thinking about her ever since
we graduated, and jumped at a chance to spend
some time with her again.
I asked Carl/a if s/he
minded leaving me here. S/he chuckled and said
I wanted to find a way to dump you early so
I could go see Pat tonight. She had promised to
show me some new attachments.
Sheila had to open Dukes
door for me because I was used to them opening by
themselves. Car Duke had an override button which
allowed Sheila to get the cloaking going again.
As we drove, I noticed the total engagement and
joy Sheila experienced as she drove. I had no
idea what she was doing, but it made the car do
what she wanted it to do. We drove up to Skyline
Drive and caught the view for miles around on a
cloudless night. She said What do you think
now? Are you going to rat me out?
Im something of a
dick, but there is no way I could deprive her of
her joy, so I said Your secret is safe with
me. Ill make sure that Carl/a agrees.
So I dont have
to take you into the back seat to convince you?
As the thought Oh,
shit I blew it went through my mind, it
must have been reflected on my face.
She started to laugh, tried
to cover her face to stop, but gave up and
laughed out loud. We are SO getting into
the back seat. I just wanted to see your reaction
first. That is all I need to know, buddy. Ive
been waiting for this a long time too.
Later she asked if I liked
her new look. I told her honestly, I very much
did. She said You dont look like a
nerd anymore; youre more of a hunk.
Thank you hours in the gym, laser treatment of my
eyes saving me from coke bottle lenses, and
Carl/a easily agreed to
keep Sheilas secret and is looking forward
to meeting her smart car, because car Duke wont
be any fun for him. Carl/a and Sheila have a good
relationship. She teaches him about human
physiology that she learned from her yoga
practice. As an aside, I certainly appreciate her
flexibility. He entertains her by expounding on
artificial intelligence. When Carl/a and I were
alone, s/he approved of me dating Sheila and told
me that he will be on his best behavior when we
After awhile we got tired
of saying guy Duke or car Duke. Because car Duke
had no mind, he didnt mind changing his
name to Deuce.
Sheila and I arent in
high school going steady anymore. So far we are
seeing other people, but Im falling in love
all over again. Well see.
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