TRUE GHOST STORIES - Dad's Haunted Car
My Dad haunted his old car ...
* As told by Bianca
“There’s Dad’s favourite song again ... they’ve been playing it heaps lately,” I said to my husband Peter, as ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ played on the radio. My father Charles and I had been estranged for many years after I’d moved to Queensland against his advice and wishes. I’d often wondered over the years if we’d reconcile one day, but hadn’t made moves to extend the olive branch myself.
Halfway through the song the phone rang and Peter went to answer it. A moment or so later he came around the corner with a grave look on his face and told me to go speak to my sister Kate on the phone. I knew straight away it was bad news.
“Dad’s passed away,” Kate wept. I couldn’t believe that I’d lost my chance to ever see him again.
My older brother David made plans for Peter and myself to travel to Melbourne with him to attend the funeral, so we solemnly packed some essentials and readied ourselves for the long trip. The three of us would be flying down the following day.
When David arrived to pick us up for the airport he looked ashen and gaunt. “I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night,” he told us. “The lights kept switching themselves on and off all night and the radio kept turning on and off too ... and when it was on the volume would go up and down by itself. I had to get up to unplug it ... and even then it kept playing. I was frightened out of my wits,” he said in earnest.
“It must have been an electrical disturbance of some kind. Best you get that looked at when we get back hey,” Peter said to David. David just grunted in reply.
Dad’s funeral was held on a beautiful, sunny day and the sunlight streamed through the huge chapel windows during the entire service ... up until the very end when the coffin began it’s descent. An ear-shattering thunderclap rumbled through the chapel and some of the women squealed in shock. Everyone looked at one another as the skies clouded over and the windows became dark and bleak. Hail pounded down suddenly and mourners gasped as thunder and lightening took centre stage. Within a few moments the casket was out of sight and Dad was gone.
Just as suddenly as it had started, the thunderstorm abruptly ended and the sun came streaming down again. People commented on the contrasts and whispered remarks about the timing of it happening right at the end of the service.
Later in the afternoon at the wake, my sister Kate suggested that I take Dad’s old Ford, which he’d left to her. She explained that she had nowhere to park it near her unit in the city, and said that it made sense that we take it. We could drive it back to Queensland rather than fly and keep it. It sounded like a great idea so I ran it past Peter, who agreed that taking the car would be a bonus.
Dad’s Ford GT 351 had been his prized possession and he’d owned it since they were first released onto the market, and he’d kept it in mint condition. He’d polish it regularly and never let anything go unrepaired or untended and was a stickler for engine maintenance.
David, Peter and I cancelled our plane tickets and prepared for a long drive home from Victoria to Queensland to begin the following day.
A few hours into the first leg of the trip, Peter commented that the car was started to run a bit rough. “That’s weird,” he said. “The Ford’s overheating.” “That is weird,” I replied. “If there was a problem Dad would have had it fixed straight away. I wonder what’s wrong.”
We continued driving onwards and decided to rest up for the night in a caravan park in a small country town along the way. It was dark and raining heavily when we finally arrived, and we were grateful for the break and the prospect of a long, restful sleep.
Upon preparing the leave the following morning, Peter pointed out that we’d spent the night on Charles street. “And look,” interjected David, pointing to the crossroads sign on the corner. “Its’ on the corner of Wickham road ... our surname. Charles and Wickham ... Charles Wickham – Dad’s name. Pretty amazing I reckon,” David continued with a grin on his face. “Pretty creepy I reckon,” I replied. “Its’ like we’ve been guided here by Dad,” David continued, “and he’s letting us know he’s still around.”
If Dad was indeed around and guiding us, then he wasn’t being very helpful, or friendly for that matter.
The car continued to overheat on and off for hundreds and hundreds of kilometres and one time when we stopped for a break Peter tried to find the fault. He lifted the bonnet and secured it with the steel rod stay. As he leaned forward to take a look at the engine, the bonnet came crashing down on his back. David and I rushed over to lift the bonnet off Peter.
“I know I secured that rod properly,” Peter professed, rubbing a sore spot on his chest where he’d come into contact with the engine.
We refastened the steel rod into place, and David took a quick look under the bonnet to see what he could see, albeit hesitantly. In quick time we decided to push on and get home as quickly and as soon as we possibly could. We hoped and prayed that we’d make it without further incident.
... But we must have hoped and prayed a little too early it seemed, as within an hour or so the car was making odd grinding noises, and was again over-heating and stuttering as it we drove along. Rather than risk further damage we chose to pull in to a mechanics in a tiny country town. The crusty old mechanic came out to have a look and commented on the old Ford. “What a beautiful old lady she is ... let’s see what’s wrong with her hey ...” he said as he approached the car. Peter mentioned to make sure that he secure the steel rod into place.
After an hour or so of tinkering under the bonnet and pumping the gas now and again, the crusty old mechanic lifted his head out from under the bonnet and said that he couldn’t find a single thing wrong on the whole car and that everything looked to be in perfect working order.”
We looked at each other perplexed. After paying the mechanic for his time, we headed off back on the road and another leg on the long and arduous trip home.
The car ran without a hitch until the moment we crossed the New South Wales / Queensland border, where it turned itself off and rolled to a stop at the end of the bridge. Peter stared at the gauges then looked at both David and I with a puzzled look on his face. “I know we had heaps of petrol in the tank,” he said, “and everything was working just fine till just now. What’s going on this time?” he asked in exasperation. David and I had no answer to give him, so remained silent, both of us just as perplexed as Peter was.
Peter turned the key and tried to crank the engine - but to no avail. The car was as dead as a doornail. We were stranded just two hours from home.
I began to feel that Dad was angry with us for taking his precious car out of Melbourne and all the way up to Queensland (where he hadn’t wanted me to be), and after all, he had left his beloved car to my sister Kate rather than to me. He had reason to be upset I supposed.
“Dad ... can you please stop messing with the car and let us get home!” I said loudly, surprising both David and Peter, causing them to jump in their seats. We all burst out laughing, and once finally calmed I repeated my request out loud. David and Peter followed my lead and we began chanting together “let us get home – let us get home – let us get home”, and on Peter’s next attempt to start the car, it sprang back to life without missing a beat. Soon enough we were back on the road and heading home, counting down the miles as we went.
We made it home and into the driveway, where Dad’s old Ford promptly died on the spot ... not to start again for at least another three weeks. We had three different mechanics come by in that time, but none could get the car re-started.
We had a local car enthusiast arrive on our doorstep one day out of the blue, asking about the Dad’s old Ford, saying that he’d noticed it in the driveway. He’d wanted to ask if he could have a closer look at it as he hadn’t seen one in such good nick in a long, long time. I told him about our mis-adventures on our long and arduous trip home from Melbourne, and explained that the car was stranded there unable to run.
The man smiled at me and asked for the keys. He went and stood by the bonnet while I fetched the keys. In no time the driver’s door was open and the bonnet open and secured. I told him to watch out for that retched steel rod. He just grinned at me and continued on with his explorations of the engine. In quick time he tweaked something over here, and adjusted something over there, then dropped the bonnet and just about jogged to the driver’s seat. One turn of the key and the engine purred to life.
The man gave me an offer I could hardly refuse, and that very day I stood by watching as my Dad’s beloved old car reversed out of the driveway and out of my life.
I sometimes see Dad’s old car about town, and from what I can tell it hasn’t missed a beat since being owned by the car enthusiast, and he seems happy enough driving it. I take that to be a sign that Dad approved of his precious car being driven by someone who would truly appreciate it.
* As told by Bianca
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