Morris grows more excited by the minute as he guns the engine of his classic Monza Spyder while freewheeling through the snowy streets of downtown Silt Ridge. Morris has good reason to be excited: number-one on his list of priorities is this evening’s preproduction meeting for Anthracite Tonite, a one-hour nightly talk show scheduled to launch within the year. If everything goes according to plan – and why wouldn’t it – the gabfest will air on Daddy’s TV stations all across the country, while making Morris a household name. The car purrs as he whips around the corners of deserted side streets. The ancient vehicle had belonged to his current landlady, Francesca LoZelle, whose family owned and operated a world-renowned shirt factory in Silt Ridge generations ago . . . 

My Corvair Monza Spyder

Freewheeling Through Vintage Snowflakes

As snowflakes gently fall across the decrepit skyline of the faded coalmining town, I pull from the warmth of the opera house garage in my company-owned car, a vintage 1962 convertible Chevy Corvair Monza Spyder. Rolling down Main Street, gas lamps reflect across the car’s polished OEM Tropical Turquoise finish.

 Cranking the heat on high, I thrill to the responsiveness of the four-speed manual floor shift transmission. The meticulously maintained Fisher body features a rear-mounted 140 cubic inch air cooled engine. The six-cylinder turbocharged power plant delivers 110 horsepower. At just under 4,000 miles, the pristine vehicle had only one owner: Francesca LoZelle, the lithesome shirt heiress, whose fourth-story garden apartment I currently rent out.

Leave It to the Lawyers

Daddy’s lawyers received market value for the vintage car, and considering the limited edition it was a real steal. Francesca LoZelle never drove the car herself, mainly because she prefers Corvettes. So she thought she got a pretty good deal for something she barely knew she even had. The car was discovered when the staff of lawyers was making arrangements for me to rent living space from the enigmatic heiress. Daddy wants to make sure I stay within my budget and never overspend for anything, including room and board. I like living there just fine, but as I said before, I would prefer if they paid me on time so I wouldn’t have to always go hat-in-hand to Miss LoZelle and explain why I’m late on rent. Again.

Dooley Brinstrom, the TV station’s chief lighting tech, is a mechanic on the side. He makes sure the car operates at all times at peak performance. Like so many part-time and freelance employees at WBVV, he must have a “day job” to support his creative endeavors and his undying passion for TV production. I’m thankful he’s very good at what he does over at the repair shop. I don’t care if he’s less than top-notch as a lighting guy.

Please Don’t Tell Daddy!

I drive past various buildings and former factories, including the country’s supposed first brothel (but please don’t tell Daddy I know what a brothel is). I heard that in subsequent years the ornate stucco building became a gas station. In other words, they replaced the nail beds, torture cells and customized dentist chairs with service bays – again, Daddy doesn’t need to know that I know anything about this. Please don’t tell him! Pretty please! I don’t even know what I’m talking about half the time. Trust me. At any rate, the property has since been converted into a corner convenience store called Carbon King.

As I motor about town I conform to the contours of the vinyl, pure white bucket seats. The ancient cobblestone streets are easily conquered by the vehicle’s heavy-duty, all-independent suspension. As the turbocharger kicks in I feel the effects of a shorter final drive resulting in faster acceleration, reflected in the urgency of the tachometer located on the multi-gauge instrument panel with the smart, brushed-metal trim.

I set my sights on the Five-Point Highway Diner, at the county’s busiest intersection just outside the city limits. It’s going to be a great night of preproduction planning for the “Anthracite Tonite!” talk show. In joyous anticipation, I power down the convertible top and enjoy the fanciful sensation of snow swirling about my face.