by Doug Hawley
7: Auto Write
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I asked Duke one day
recently why he was writing all of the stories
about us. He didnt say anything for awhile,
and then he said exactly what I wanted to hear:
Carl/a, a lot of people are interested in
the relationship between a man and his car, but
so far all of the stories have been from me. I
dont think that Ive treated you
poorly in the stories, but maybe you should write
the next one. Because that was just what I
had in mind, I agreed immediately.
You may not know how a car can write,
because most cars dont. It takes an app
that connects me to a printer.
In case you have missed out on the earlier smart
car (that would be me) stories 1 through 6, they
were all written by Duke and center on our
relationship, the good and the bad, and our
adventures, the good and the bad. If you want to
catch up, they are all in Nugget Tales,
a Manchester publication started back in the
internet era before there were mindphones. Most
of his stories are written with the pseudonym
Recently we had run into a woman that he knew (even
Biblically) back in high school. She is the Rogue
who drives an old Dodge Charger, renamed Deuce,
like the one that was featured in a television
show from late in the last century. I really like
her a lot, but there a couple of downsides. Im
a little jealous of the time that he spends with
her, and I wonder what it would be like if they
have children. Ive heard of the horrors
that the little ones perpetrate on cars
bad odors and vomiting to mention two. Im
not really a fan of crying or screaming either.
I decided that the best course of action was to
talk to Sheila directly. I felt a little like a
father asking What are your intentions
towards my daughter, but I felt that the
air needed to be cleared. As I expected, she took
it fairly well.
Carl (I was talking to her in my man
voice at the time), I think that I could be
in love with Duke, but you dont need to
worry about children. I didnt win the
fertility lottery, I think because of politics
surrounding my evil great grandfather, so Im
medically incapable of giving birth. Dont
feel too sad for me, I was the oldest child in a
huge family of six, and spent a lot of time in
the role of mother to my younger siblings. Later
I did a bit of teaching and had to wipe a lot of
dirty noses and clean up a bunch of messes, so Ive
had my stint of surrogate motherhood. Speaking of
which, Ive been curious about what Duke
Of course with robots doing just about all
of the work, Duke doesnt do much besides
writing his stories which earn him a little cash.
At times he uses his mathematics background for
consulting projects which no one has been able to
automate yet. Like most people, the majority of
his money comes from the government. With so
little work for humans, most people dont
work more than four hours a week. Your turn
Sheila, do you have any gigs besides your secret
identity as Rogue, the spiritual successor to the
Dukes of Hazzard?
Im surprised that we never talked
about it before. In my other life, Im a
clarinet player with Whimsy. Have you heard of us?
Get out of town! I love your concerts and
you are so car friendly.
Some of our best fans are cars. Frequently
you cant hear the humans clapping and
screaming for the cars honking. We always have
plenty of space for cars close to the stage. Theyve
supported us from the jump.
You guys do such a wide variety of music. I
love the rock and Im starting to get into
your Sumatran chants.
We are always trying to stretch and take
the audience with us.
Something just occurred to me. What does
Duke think about your inability to have children?
Hes never told me if he wants to be a
When I told him, he said he would be happy
to just go through the motions. She laughed
at that point. It was more human humor that I
Because we had usually gone out with Duke, up
until this point I hadnt had much of a
chance to find out about her background. I
suggested that we take a ride, and let her tell
me about herself. She agreed, and suggested we
take a ride to the coast. We drove out 26 towards
Seaside and Cannon Beach, two of my favorite
destinations, but quite different. Seaside
appeals to tourists who want cotton candy and
amusement rides, whereas Cannon Beach appeals to
the more upscale looking for good food and
Lets start off back in my school days
when I lived in this area the first time. It was
difficult for me, because people knew about my
great-grandfather. Some ridiculed me because he
was such a miserable president and some wanted to
suck up to me because of the reflected fame of my
famous family. As a result, I was very withdrawn
and involved myself intensely in band to shut
everything else out. Duke was an exception. He
didnt care anything about my family, he
said Forget them; you are your own person.
When he did that, I started to fall in love. When
I was down, he would tell me You are bright
and beautiful, that is all that counts. He
didnt have many friends either, because he
was something of an oddball. He always wore
strange clothes and didnt accept any of the
prevailing thinking. When everyone wanted to play
football, he wanted to play baseball. He would
tell people that we should change the government
to a constitutional oligarchy. Mostly, he was so
far ahead of the crowd; people didnt know
what he was talking about. We ended up being a
very exclusive clique consisting of the two of us.
By the time that we got to high school, it had
turned into a full blown romance. We were stupid
in love. At that age all love is stupid.
As we got closer to graduation, we grew
apart. He was jealous of the amount of time I was
spending practicing my music, and I thought that
he had gone from quirky to totally weird. With my
connections, I got a full scholarship to go to
Bowdoin College in Maine and he got a free ride
at the University of Oregon. Neither one of us
wanted to give up our scholarships and we were
fighting a lot by then anyway. We decided to
split up at that point.
After living in a small town in Oregon, I
was immediately swept up in the tradition and
power of the elite who were going to school at
Bowdoin. I was successful in my classes and in my
music. For a long time, I didnt think about
Duke. I had a series of boyfriends, nothing too
serious. A bunch of us female musicians formed a
band that played at other schools and bars. We
were called the Chestnuts.
Wasnt that sexist?
It was that, Bushtits or Boobies.
So if you were having a great time there,
why are you back here?
It started out with one little thing that
led to a thorough re-evaluation. After the fact I
found out that my group had been on a
three day sailing expedition without me. I asked
Josh, the owner of the boat, what happened. He
said that my roommate Karen had told him that
someone like me from a little town in Oregon
wouldnt appreciate it. It started to eat at
me. What I had thought were my friends really
looked at me as something of a social experiment,
like take a Negro to lunch. I wasnt really
one of them at all. Then I had to ask myself, did
I really want to be one of them? I realized that
they really were class conscious. They were very
formal with all of the help. All of them expected
to get some very important position in the family
business, or something in government, possibly
even an ambassadorship through family connections.
Was that all it took to bring you back?
There was more. Even with our rain here,
the weather on the East Coast is even suckier.
Too hot, too cold, too wet or snowed in. I
remembered going to the snow instead of it coming
to me. My relationship with my distant relatives
in Maine was, well, distant. I started to miss my
immediate family back in Lake Oswego, and even
some of the people that I went to school with.
Maybe I imagined it, but I started to think of my
Maine lovers as being condescending, which in
turn made me think of Duke.
How long did you stick it out in the East?
Long enough to get my degree, then I got
Was there anything good about your Eastern
Most definitely. I broadened my
intellectual horizons and got my ride, Deuce, the
car formerly known as Duke, which started me on
my way to becoming the Rogue.
Why didnt you check out Duke as soon
as you got back?
I told you that it didnt end well,
and I knew he was seeing a number of girls.
You knew that because you were stalking him?
. next question.
Did you plan for him to catch you that
night you were out with the Rogue?
OK, yes I did, but could you leave that out
of your story?
Maybe. You want to dish about how he is at
Duke, I know you will read this so Im
leaving this part out, for your own good.
At the end of the dishing, Sheila said Weve
got to get back to Lake Oswego, I forgot that Im
going out with Duke tonight.
Not only that, but Im driving on your
date. I forgot too. If we have time, Id
like to meet your smart car today.
That can be arranged. Josie is 100% female
by the way. My preference is that all of my males
are human. I hope that you like to hang out with
I didnt tell her how much I liked it.
I hope that Im not being insensitive,
Im never too sure about human manners, but
from what little I know about your family, they
were lily white, and you are a very attractive
caramel color and your last name appears to be
My great grandfather was directly
responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands
and many more indirectly, but at least my family
wasnt racist. Ive got some Korean,
African and Latin in my background. Your question
is no problem, Im happy with that part of
We decided to indulge in something we both loved
on the way back to her house to get ready for her
date. I played some Whimsy instrumentals and we
sang duets all of the way. I got the briefest of
introductions to her smart car Josie before we
went to pick up Duke for their date. Sheila
wanted to hear my story, but we ran out of time
so that will have to wait. Maybe Sheila will
write that story. What do you think of that, Duke?
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