The Vagabond

Vag glanced in the back of the library book and noted that it was already three weeks overdue. "Might be a good idea to slip it into the night slot at Lamont and see if I can duck the fine," he mused. "Definitely a shrewd maneuver."

With that he threw on his coat, grabbed the book and his car keys and left the room. As he emerged from the entryway Vag was happy to see that the snow had stopped. He started up the block toward his modest coupe.

"Hey Vag," came a voice from across the street, "give us a hand here will you? We're really stuck this time."

Vag looked over and saw three friends struggling to push a Pontiac convertible out of a snowbound parking space. "Sure," he said and braced himself against the rear fender. With a mighty heave they pushed the car free. It sped off down the street, though not before it had sprayed a thick stream of wet snow over Vag's only clean pants.

"That'll teach you to drive a hydramatic in the winter," he shouted after the retreating Pontiac. He chuckled over his own conventional gear model.

"Now give us a hand with this one, huh Vag?" said one of the other car pushers. "We have to be in Wellesley in half an hour."

Vag slowly shook the snow off his trousers. "O.K., I guess," he murmured and again took a position behind a rear fender, this time attached to a battered pre-war Ford. Throwing his weight behind the car as the driver gunned the motor, Vag was immediately enveloped in a cloud of oily black exhaust. But he clung valiantly to his post and the car edged slowly into the middle of the street. Long after the others had zoomed off to Wellesley, Vag was still standing in the empty parking space, coughing carbon monoxide and shaking another load of snow off his pants.

"Oh well, off to Tommy's Bamboo Paradise," he muttered as he recrossed the street and trotted up to his car. Deftly he flicked on the ignition switch, pumped the gas pedal twice and pushed the starter. The engine took hold instantly, and Vag's mind dwelt momentarily on the excellency of his driving machine. He slipped it into first gear and stepped on the gas. The engine raced, the rear wheels raced, but the car stood still. The low whine of wheels spinning on ice split the air.

"Damn it," growled Vag as he shifted into reverse. Same result, though the whine from the spinning wheels was perhaps a trifle higher in pitch. "Must be really stuck this time, he thought. "Better get help." He stuck his head out the window. The street was deserted. A helluva note thought Vag, as he again tried to rock his car off the ice. No dice.

Vag was enraged by this time. He climbed out of the car and slammed the door so hard that the snow on the roof slid off on the ground. "Maybe Durocher was right," he mused as he started back to his room, "nice guys finish last."