The advice was – don’t let her go low on oil, whatever you do. Keep plenty of oil in her.
There was an almighty bang and a plume of smoke. I couldn’t see out any of the windows for about twenty seconds. When the cloud cleared, it was like the aftermath of a drone strike. Parents running stunned away with kids. Abhorred traffic and two lads at the pub door coughing and spluttering and unsure what the hell was happening.
One of them came over and said: ‘I think your turbo’s gone.’
‘How do you reckon that?’
‘The smell. The smell of burning sweet rubber.’
‘That’s not too bad, I suppose.’
‘Did you notice anything beforehand?’
‘No. Just put oil in it?’
‘Oil? A good bit.’
He thought, said: ‘You might be fucked so.’
I tried starting it. Sure enough, it fired. Hesitant, then strong. Maybe it was too much oil. Drive her out of it. Hope for the best. I pushed on -away from the new smoke, and the onlookers and into the oil free future.
It was then I noticed the temperature. It was over the usual half. Gone past the dangerous three quarters. And was now at full tilt maximum. I thought then I should maybe stop but I was sure when a big light came on and said: ‘Engine Overheated. STOP IMMEDIATLEY.’
Great craic. I got out, tried to breath, struggled a bit. A Romanian man came along, asked:
‘Car has problem?’
‘Turbo I think.’
‘I think not.’
‘No. I think more like, how you say….KAPUT?’
And he walked off. Darkness coming now. And some cold. Rang the breakdown assistance. Told them I think it was the turbo. They said they’d send someone down. And they did. He pulled up, all lights and swagger, said: ‘Overheated?’
‘Any lights on?’
‘Just for the oil.’
‘And did you put much in?’
‘A good bit.’
‘Oh. You’ll need a taxi home. I’ll let them know.’
He rang the taxi. Put the car on the truck. Said we had to go to some town, some place. Sat in. Talked about life, kids, mortgages, Brexit, the price of cars. Then he said we’ll stop here and wait for the taxi.
We got out. Kind Friday air. Decombusted week. Then – more smoke. It was coming from the back of the truck. Had to be my car, a new fire, a latent sizzle gone rogue. But no. It was the truck. Smoke coming from here too. Something to do with wheels, rubber, axles, calipers. He explained while he poured water over the source and said he had to call a breakdown truck for himself now but he’d have my car back in Athlone by the morning and here comes your taxi.
The taxi man was delighted. Long handy fare. Asked me had I the car long and what happened. And was Athlone nice and do they have good chippers?
After that, we drove and didn’t talk much. Not much to say, only the dark night and the dead road and the carless future. He dropped me off on Connaught Street and I told them they do good chips in Mr.Pizza and he said thanks and charged me a €182 for the fare.
Great day, sure it might be grand. The next day I rang the mechanic and told him the craic and he asked me where the car is now. And sure I hadn’t a clue. Some town somewhere, on the back of a smoky truck. I’ll get back to you on that, I told him.