The Little Fiat Seicento That Could (a short story, inspired by real-life events)

Some context: I used to drive a Fiat Seicento, and I miss it dearly. It had about six moving parts and was very reliable. They are ten-a-penny in Italy and I always get very nostalgic when I see them. The events described here are quite true-to-life. Enjoy.

As Frank lazily rounded the corner into the more residential area of town, he heard a familiar whining. He jerked his head sharply around, down the hillside, trying to trace the origin of the sound. That was when he saw it – the unmistakeable silhouette of a Fiat Seicento, the boxy contours and factory semi-gloss paint glistening in the low Winter sun. As it approached the main road, struggling manfully up the steep drive, he could hear each one of the engine’s eight hundred and ninety-nine cubic centilitres audibly dragging the machine up the slope, every inch another victory for Italian engineering. For Frank, this was like a homecoming.
He started forward, now with more purpose. He knew what was coming next. He had been in this position before – a seemingly impossible hill-start to join a busy main road. He imagined what the driver must be feeling. The driver was a squat and portly Italian man, clearly cramped for room in the body of the car, but nonetheless determined to get wherever he was going. Frank arrived at the turning shortly before the car – he had the significant advantage of facing downhill, and his acceleration over the first 10mph was similar to that of the Seicento. From this distance, he could see the sheer grit and focus in the driver’s beady eyes as he approached the turning. The whining eased a little and the unmistakable crunch of the handbrake being applied to the wheels echoed around the nearby apartment buildings. Frank felt as though he were in the front-row seat for the best show of the season.
The driver’s eyes darted up and down the road, surveying his options. A bus from the right and a couple of Puntos from the left would mean that he would have to hold on the crest a little while longer. Suddenly, an opportunity presented itself – one of the Puntos had pulled in to drop someone off. This was his chance. In one fluid motion he threw off the handbrake, forced the box-on-wheels into first and pressed the accelerator pedal as far down to the floor as it would go (Frank knew all this because every one of these actions was quite audible from a few yards away). The engine roared – if it could be called a roar – but the Seicento seemed to falter, falling back down the slope a good six feet or so. Frank knew this wouldn’t present a problem, and so did the driver. He had clearly done this thousands of times before. The car slowed once more, the front wheels – the size of sideplates – span a few times, and suddenly the whole assembly lurched forward onto the road and continued around the corner, up the hill, and out of sight. Frank closed his eyes and listened to it screech off into the distance, the sound reminding him of better times.
‘That fan belt needs replacing’, he mused, ‘if only with a rubber band and some string.’

I’m probably gonna do more shit like this in the future, it was quite fun to write.

More to come.

–Frank

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