Matt could hardly believe it. His old man was so particular about his car. He never let anyone drive it, not even when he’d sprained his ankle and couldn’t manage the clutch without wincing.

But maybe he was softening in his old age. Matt had asked to borrow the car, and had prepared himself for a flat refusal. Instead, Dad had shrugged and said that he could take it to go and collect the piece of furniture he’d found on Gumtree. But the car had to be in the same condition as when he drove out of the yard. Slightly off kilter, Matt had asked if he wanted to come along for the drive. But Dad had shaken his head and turned back to the weekend crossword.

Matt took the keys from the hook near the back door and let himself into the garage. The old dual cab took up most of the space, and he was cautious as he reversed it out, relieved to have managed it without scraping the sides. He’d been driving for a few years now, and had no problem in navigating tight spaces in his car, but this one was bigger, and the steering was less responsive. He’d never hear the end of it if there was so much as a scratch on the bodywork.

It took a while to find a rhythm with the gears. The old beast was slow to get moving, but once he hit the freeway it was powering along, and he felt his shoulders ease a little. He reached a hand out and flicked the radio on. Talkback roared into the cabin, and he quickly turned it down and fiddled with the tuning dial. He twisted it left and right, but the chatter didn’t stop. Matt had to grin. Of course, his Dad had somehow managed to fix it to his favourite station. It was one of his passive-aggressive protests against his Mum’s love of music from the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Her car radio was always playing something catchy, and Dad’s was full of chatter.

Matt thought about pulling over and working out how to connect his phone so he could listen to some of his music. The drive was about a 3-hour round trip, and he was looking for a shoulder or stopping bay along the road when another glance at the radio reminded him that this car stereo was old school. There was AM and FM radio and a slot for CDs. That was it. There was definitely no bluetooth connectivity in the beast.

Sighing, he reached over and opened the glovebox while keeping an eye on the moving traffic around him. No CD cases were visible, and he closed it and turned his attention back to the road. His Dad liked music, but it tended to be old country and western or swing jazz. Maybe the hum of the tyres on the road and the thrum of the engine would have to do.

A few kilometres along, Matt hit the CD button. He turned up the volume and heard the jazzy blast of a swing band. His hand hesitated over the volume knob, then he turned it louder. It was better than nothing. There were no lyrics, just different instruments coming to the fore. Then the drums picked up and Matt found himself tapping the steering wheel in time as an infectious kind of energy overcame him.

The tunes kept on coming, and some of them were familiar from family road trips. Dad’s rule was that his music was played in his car. It had been a long time since Matt had heard the songs, but there were parts that echoed in his memory. As he drove along, he smiled and nodded his head. Maybe his Dad’s taste in music wasn’t so bad after all.

When the CD ended, it started playing again, and he found himself listening out for sections that had snagged his attention the first time. Getting close to the coastal town where he needed to pick up the furniture, he pulled over to get directions from his phone. He hit the eject button on the CD player and looked at the disc. ‘The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert’. It was disc one, and Matt hunted around the car, finding a slim wallet of CDs on the driver’s door. He flicked through, found disc two and put it in the player, ready for the trip home.

I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January, which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find out more about the challenge, join in and read other posts here.

Photo: musical tapestry at The Joan, Penrith