July 26, 1968, part 2

July 26 was one of the rare days in the AutoFlick story with two cigarette-flicking sightings. The second takes place on the way home from the race track, late at night. Martine is passed out drunk in the tiny back seat of the Maserati. Izzy is driving.

The journey home seemed timeless, and then it wasn’t.

A few miles from Martine’s house, along the curving and dipping River Road, we cruised up behind a 1966 Mustang coupe just as the driver flicked a cigarette onto the road, where it exploded in a tiny fireworks display. We purred ahead like a confident Italian weightlifter, operas of horsepower in reserve, riding on his left taillight, waiting for the road ahead to give us a passing lane. When it did, we lifted off like a rocket, passing the Mustang, and Juliana leaned toward the open window.

“You dropped something back there,” she yelled as we accelerated into the open road, and then the empty night. “Everybody’s making love or else expecting rain,” she sang to the wind.

When we got back to Martine’s house, I stopped the Maserati outside the garage and turned off the ignition.

I left the wad of money on the passenger seat after Juliana and Martine got out. If I could throw new bell-bottom pants in a trash can, I could leave a few weeks’ pay in a rich guy’s car.

Driving home in my father’s car was a letdown, though I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t.

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