I promise you a riotous tale - I shall try to do the whole thing justice. Without getting too wordy. Yeah, good luck with that.
I know this happened in August - because we had just returned from Virginia Beach. I had been there as a group of about 5 "church ladies". Just a relaxing 3 day weekend at the beach - reading, eating seafood, having a spot of wine. My sister Karen was one of the gang at the beach. We had a wonderful time. Then Karen and I drove back together in her white Jetta.
She even remarked along the way how much she loved that car. We talked about the great gas mileage and whether it being white was a good or bad thing. She dropped me and my stuff off at the house and headed down to the river house to meet up with Denise. I got in the shower.
When I got out the answering machine was beeping. And my cell had a couple missed calls. So I hit the button and got this message from Mom (you will have to imagine this in my mother's voice...a surface tension of calm - covering a desperate sense of urgency...) "Chris, when you get this message (when else? before I get it?) give me a call, ok? Karen's car has gone in the river and we may need your help (um....what?)."
Got to admit my curiosity was piqued - so I called. And the basic premise of the conversation was I should come on down to the river because Karen was upset. So I went.
I expect to arrive to cars everywhere and the swat team overhead - at least a few rednecks and a coon hound or two. I was not prepared for what was there.
No cars there at all.
Okay, so it turned out that Denise had gone to pick up Jack or something - and Mom was probably going to get pizza or something. But it was like I had been Punked. Especially when I got out of my car and walked to the edge of the bank.
Because there was no car in the river either.
Then I saw Dad coming toward me - he had been tying a float to the car so we could tell where it was if it rolled and went deeper. When standing on the roof of the car his shoulders just broke the water. Now THAT is a car in the water.
I'm sure that Denise will be happy to share sometime about the part that I did NOT see - the actual car rolling down the bank. And tales from others as it sank...there are some fantastic quotable moments in that hour that I lost in the tale. My favorite quote "wow, it sinks a lot faster now that the windows are rolled down."
I went and put on a swimsuit so that I could see this for myself. My nephew Jack and I had a wondrous time viewing the surreal underwater picture through our goggles. I could see the empty bag from Karen & I's snack stop in Crewe: Chocolate Caramel Bugles. Jack was dying to have an excuse to rescue her luggage from the trunk. I had to warn him how deadly entering the vehicle would be - but we had a great time looking in from the outside.
Little by little everyone returned to the river and the plan was conveyed to me: our friend Pete was going to bring his wrecker by and we were going to find a way to drag her car out of the river. We had to lie to her for a while and make her believe that everything would be fine with the car if it just dried out. She was pretty devastated.
Because I can hold my breath the longest (yeah - insert joke here) I was elected to be the salvage diver. When Pete got there with the wrecker (there is some sidebar here about him coming to do this even though he was out on his first date with a new girlfriend...yeah, one of my sisters holds unusual sway over this man...) we came up with this plan: I would dive down and attach a chain to the tow hook on the back of the Jetta, then Dad in the canoe would hand me the big winch hook from the tow truck to attach to a loop in the chain.
Several things went wrong in this scenario. Once I made the loop and attached to the car, I could hang on the chain with one hand and just barely keep my head out of the water. The distance from my fingertips to my mouth is apparently a finite distance. So that was bad thing one. Bad thing two was a miscommunication between the canoe team and the water team. The canoe team decided that the proper delivery method of a giant iron hook would be to toss it at me. The water team disagreed.
So then we re-set and tried more of a handoff, but this caused the problem of a canoe repeatedly smacking me in the head. While treading water. And hanging on to a chain by my fingertips.
But through determination and teamwork (?) we got the winch attached to the car - and though I believe I heard that the tow truck's front end raised up a few feet off the ground during the process - the car was released from its watery grave.
And we took all her luggage out of the car (3 day trip to the beach - so of course she had 3 suitcases and a hanging bag) and I took it home and washed everything that night. And sat for 2 hours and dried every piece of jewelry from her bag (I believe there were 70 pairs of earrings alone). And we still lied to her and told her that her car was going to be all right.
But we knew in our hearts...she was gone.
And now she will always be to me, sort of an angel...the spirit of a car who lived well and died young...before her time. The White Submarine.
Cool aftermath? A month or so later, Pete sent me $75 that he had charged the insurance company for hiring a salvage diver to attach the wrecker to the car. Geico probably wondered how they got off so cheap.
Karen has learned to laugh about it now. But it took awhile. Sometimes these things take time. Maybe someday somebody else I know will be able to laugh about that accidental porn incident in Sunday school.
But that is a tale for another day!! Unless the proper bribe is placed.
Hamster needs Sushi!