Hello, Future Acura Owners! by Connor Ferguson

Adam looked over at Paul. Blood was dripping up his face and pooling on the ceiling. There was a chunk of what appeared to be the front of the car wedged between his chin and chest. Ah, so Paul’s dead, then.

Adam might have been dead, too, for all he knew; he had never been dead before, he didn’t know what it felt like. He wondered if Paul had had a good last fuck with his mom. He didn’t want to think about it, but all the same, he thought everyone deserved a good last fuck. Too bad you never know when death will come, so you can’t make it count.

It took seven years for the paramedics to get there. They shined a light into Adam’s eyes and he squinted and they shouted to each other that he was alive. That settles that. They pulled apart the shrieking metal to get at him, hollering incessantly at each other and at him. “Another six inches, then we can get in there!” “You’re gonna be alright, buddy, you’re gonna be alright!”

They birthed him from the car and strapped him to a board, which they loaded into the back of an ambulance, and they were off. He wondered what they did with Paul after that. He would’ve left him for a while, gone and had a sandwich before going to all the trouble of pulling him out of there, maybe even coming back in a few days when things weren’t as busy. Wouldn’t have made any difference to Paul—he was dead.


The first time Adam and Paul met, Paul offered his hand and said “Hey, buddy,” more paternally than anyone in history had ever said “Hey, buddy,” and Adam gave him a bloody nose. This was two weeks after the second time Adam had been compelled, for a variety of reasons too complex to enumerate, to indefinitely suspend his collegiate studies.

Paul, while applying a cold beer can to his face, Adam refusing to look at either him or his mother, explained that it had been a joke, just a fucking joke, man. He wasn’t trying to be Adam’s father or anything. Paul was only four years older than he. Everybody already knew that, but thanks for bringing it up again and making this whole thing even more uncomfortable, Adam thought.

They spent the next two hours in the living room of Adam’s mother’s house at the base of Coldwater Canyon, the house she had unexpectedly inherited from Alan Landau, a friend of her father’s who had tried to put his hand up her dress when she was seven and then had never said a word to her again. Every time Adam looked like he was going to get up to leave, his mom looked into her drink and jerked her eyebrows upwards, and he leaned back. For some reason she felt the need to tell Paul’s life story—he grew up in Oxnard, went to the University of Arizona, and was renting an apartment on Fairfax with his sister’s ex-boyfriend, an aspiring actor who was probably gay.

“How often does he fuck you in the ass?”


Adam listened to the sad singing of the ambulance, vaguely aware of hands scuttling over his body. He wondered what piece of information the police would lead with when they called his mother: your son is in critical condition; or, your boyfriend’s head was just removed by the hood of your car. He wondered which she would prefer to hear first. Assuming he was, as the paramedics kept saying, going to be alright, he wondered if she would rather switch. When you thought about it, she didn’t really need him for anything; he had already been inside her once, and once was enough. But Paul was still useful in that department, of course. And if ever she missed Adam, Paul was young enough that she could always lecture him on what to do with his life.

The paramedics were ripping his chest open to examine his shirt. Everything had slowed down to a painful pace, to the speed at which the twitch of an eye took centuries; then there were pops of light, and the ambulance was back up to eighty-eight miles per hour, and they were passing Adam and Paul driving the other way up to Oxnard. Adam tried to tell the paramedics that they would have to turn around; that they’ll get to the hospital and have to wait, because the nurses in the ER will look at their records and say, “I’m sorry, we can’t admit him, he hasn’t had his accident yet.” Either no one was paying any attention to him or he wasn't actually saying anything.


In the first few months of their relationship, Adam’s mom volunteered an unhealthy amount of information about Paul. She seemed to think that if Adam knew everything about Paul down to the schedule of his bowel movements, then he might start to like him. Though, after their first meeting, Adam quickly became indifferent to Paul. Adam’s usual barista at Coffee Bean (who had been a psychology major until her water broke on a classroom floor junior year and she realized her college career was officially over), thought his mother really wanted to fuck Adam, so she fucked Paul instead, and this upset Adam because clearly he wanted to fuck his mother, too.

On a hot afternoon, Adam took the most circuitous route he could to get to his mother’s house. He let himself in and went straight through to the pool. Stan Getz was coming through the tinny singing rocks that had recently been scattered throughout the yard. His mother sat on the edge of the pool beneath an enormous yellow sunhat. On the two deck chairs were Paul and his mother’s hairdresser, who held such an honored position because he also supplied her with barbiturates, and marijuana when she was feeling nostalgic. Paul wore Wayfarers, and his head moved so little that he may have been asleep. The hairdresser was squinting and had a weathered Robert Ludlum spread on his lap. There was nowhere to sit but the stone wall behind the deck chairs. Adam didn’t consider sitting next to his mother. He leaned against the wall behind the hairdresser.

“How was your week?” his mother said to the pool.


“What did you do?”

“Not much.”

Paul leaned forward to look around the grinning hairdresser at Adam. “Are you looking for work, Adam?”

“Adam’s not looking for a job, he’s going back to school,” his mother responded. Adam said nothing.

“My dad has a friend in Oxnard who’s looking for somebody,” said Paul.

Adam’s mother pulled one foot out of the pool with an impatient splash as she turned around. “You don’t need a job, you’re going back to school.” She grabbed her ear and looked at the ground. “Right?”

“Maybe I am,” said Adam. “Maybe I’m not.”

His mother turned to Paul, but Paul was looking at Adam.

“Well, let me know if you’re interested.”

“Just as long as it’s not picking fruit.”

“My dad’s friend has an Acura dealership, and—”

“Hold on a second,” Adam’s mother said, standing up and putting her hands on her hips. Her
shadow fell across Paul and the hairdresser; rivulets of water made their way down her shins. “He’s not looking for a job because he’s going back to school. That was always the deal, wasn’t it?” She was looking at Paul, who seemed to panic for a moment at her question.

“I could use some money,” said Adam.

She turned to him now. “If you need money, you know you just have to ask.” Her hands dropped from her hips and her shoulders sank. “As long as you’re in school.”

His mother removed her sunglasses and was looking at him pleadingly, the sunhat framing her face like a halo. He felt cornered. He glanced first at the hairdresser, who was beaming and staring at Adam as if waiting for him to deliver the punchline to a joke he already knew, but still found hilarious every time. He turned to Paul and was surprised to get a look of understanding. Adam’s face must have said, “Help me, goddammit,” because finally Paul spoke up.

“It’s not absolutely necessary. You don’t have to go to school to be successful.”

“You did,” spat Adam’s mother. “Clearly I’m in the wrong here,” she said to the hairdresser, who chuckled and looked at his lap, shaking his head.

“Excuse me for wanting to live my own life.”

Adam left his mother’s house that evening having graduated from complete indifference towards Paul to something resembling tolerance. Paul had, in all likelihood, sacrificed sex to get Adam to like him. He was flattered, but also frustrated. This wasn’t something Adam would have ever done in a similar situation, which meant, to Adam’s chagrin, that Paul was more mature than he.


White lights have always annoyed Adam. Though, he can’t sleep in complete darkness, and always required nightlights with an orangey, golden glow. There’s a P.F. Chang’s in Woodland Hills, with low, orange lighting that turns all the food a sickly grey. His mother won’t eat there anymore because of the light, but he always feels safe and warm with that color, like the whole world is just a flashlight behind someone’s ear.

Everything was white: he couldn’t tell if his eyes were closed or open, but when he did what he thought was close them, the light seemed to get brighter. He could hear shouting and the angry roar of the ambulance underneath him, so he knew he wasn’t dead. Or if he was, and this is what heaven sounded like, then eternity would be a real bitch. He felt like he was waiting for something, holding out until some predetermined moment; but, how long that would be, or what would happen when it came, he didn’t know.

The ambulance slowed down. Was this what he had been waiting for? The doors opened and thousands of hands clawed towards him, grabbing his gurney and lifting it up into the air, parading him into what must be the hospital. They set him down in his place of honor, and all of a sudden there was no sound but the screech of curtains being drawn, circling closer and closer around him until it seemed as though he was completely remote to the rest of the world, separated from everyone by stained sheets of speckled, baby blue fabric.


The job was as a greeter at Paul’s father’s friend’s dealership: someone to make sure people didn’t leave too quickly after coming in. Adam wouldn’t be expected (or allowed) to say anything more to customers than “Hello, future Acura owners!”

“Listen,” said Paul on the phone the next day, “you know, you don’t have to take this job. It doesn’t make any difference to me. Your mom has a point, though. Things are usually a lot easier with a degree.”

“I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say, ‘your mom has a point.’”

“All I’m saying is my feelings wouldn’t be hurt.”

“Just tell me what the deal is with this job.”

“Alright. Do you have a suit?”

Two days later they drove to Oxnard to meet the guy. They took Adam’s mother’s car because she wanted more highway driving on the car to bring the average mileage per gallon up so she could feel better about herself. They never discussed who would drive, or whether Adam would pick Paul up, or anything like that. Paul was just in the kitchen reading the paper when Adam arrived at his mother’s house. Paul locked the front door with his own key as they left, and this, strangely, did not bother Adam at all.


Adam didn’t think he remembered his father, but he was convinced that beneath the surgical mask hovering above him was his father’s face. He had come to save him, to rescue him in his hour of need.

The day after Adam’s sixth birthday, his father had come to visit for the first and last time. He was never introduced or announced, but just like now, Adam knew who he was. Adam’s most distinct memories of him were of his pants and shoes, because Adam had gotten the truck he had wanted for his birthday and had very little need to lift his gaze off the floor. The shoes that said “Hey, buddy” were brown, but the toes were practically white with scuffmarks. “I heard it was your birthday,” the shoes said to him. Most adults Adam knew would have squatted down to his level, craned their necks around to catch his eye, but his father remained standing, and so six-year-old Adam began to think that maybe he wasn’t allowed to look at him. He kept pushing his truck back and forth, but he had stopped flapping his lips for the sound of the motor. He was waiting for his father to say something else, but the shoes stayed silent for another minute or so, and then walked away. Adam always thought the moment felt like it belonged to someone else’s life.

Now Adam looked into the eyes of his father, wondering how to tell him that he had another chance now, that Mom’s boyfriend was dead, that he was an asshole anyway and good riddance to him. He forgot each of these things as soon as he thought of them.


They had just entered Ventura County when Adam tried to pass the truck. An eighteen-wheeler was cruising along in the left lane, completely unaware of the impatient line of cars behind him. Just as Adam decided to pull out and pass him on the right, the truck got the idea that maybe he ought to move over. Adam saw it happening and had enough time to almost call out before trying to jerk the wheel, losing control and getting clipped by the rear wheels of the truck, which sent the car arcing up and spiraling off the edge of the freeway.

Connor Ferguson grew up in Topanga Canyon, CA ("Topanga? You mean like the girl on 'Boy Meets World?'") and graduated from Tufts University. He lives in Boston. His short fiction is upcoming from Gargoyle Magazine. He tweets and blogs (sort of).