The Car is Noir


Here’s the car I use to scout locations… a 1940 Buick Eight. I take it for long drives to Del Mar after midnight. stop for a skinny dip in the Pacific, even though it’s cold as hell and nobody calls me skinny.  I towel dry under a full moon while  listening to Hernando’s Hideaway:

I know a dark secluded place.
A place where no one knows your face.
A glass of wine a fast embrace.
It’s called Hernando’s Hideaway ole!
All you see are silhouettes.
And all you hear are castanets.
And no one cares how late it gets.
Not at Hernando’s Hideaway ole!

I keep a pint of scotch in the glove box for nightcaps. I smoke a cigar, then drive to a dark bar with a half-lit  neon sign. You can’t see the ocean from the patio but you can smell it. There’s a piano and a dame in a slinky black dress who moves past me like a wave. One Irish coffee for the road. I take out a Moleskine and jot a reminder to take a snap of the sign out front. The car is waiting for me like a chariot in the moonlight. I climb in and discover I’ve got a passenger and the passenger has a gun and the gun is aimed at my head.  She looks at me like I’m the chauffeur and says “Zoom Street.” I guess I am.

*  *  *  *

OK, so maybe this ain’t my car. Maybe I just spied it parked in front of the church on 6th Avenue, a block from my office. Maybe I took out my camera and fired a dozen shots from every angle. Maybe I’m pipe-dreaming again. Maybe I lean against the window and see if the owner left the keys in the ignition. Maybe I’d steal it if I had any nerves left.

For now I’ll have to satisfy myself with this photo and the imaginary memories it evokes. Hell, every photo has a story to tell.