I actually saw one once, one of those Crankshaft Cowboys. It was years ago.
My grandfather and I were walking long the express link. Smart Cars were silently gliding past when I startled by a distant rumble. It was like nothing I had ever heard but I was captivated. It was almost a sound that you could feel deep inside and it made my skin tingle. The rumble grew as if some sort of monster was closing in on us.
The rumble continued to grow as the beast approached. The growl seem to grow to a crescendo and then hesitate, and begin to build again. It wasn’t a feeling of fear but of anticipation I felt. What could it be. I looked up at my grandfather and you could see excitement in his eyes. He strained to look down the link to catch a glimpse at the approaching beast. He was focused and the hint of a mile was growing across his face. Without diverting his eyes from the link he told me to watch down the link. I would soon see a dinosaur of modern time come to life before my eyes. We are about to see a Crankshaft Cowboy!
I had heard of them, The Crankshaft Cowboys. The stories and the legends were around. They spoke of renegades, modern-day desperadoes, unwilling to give up control. Fighting to remain in control and free. Many believed the stories were nothing more than myths or legends. No one could want to take the risk, to defy the law and put themselves at such great risk for something that had no benefit. They couldn’t actually exist?
As the world began to embrace the smart cars, with no risk of accident and injury, eliminate congestion and sitting in traffic, world leaders began mandating their use. Automakers were mandated to stop producing internal combustion engines in favor of the electric cars. All new cars were to include the technology to be autonomous. To make them affordable to everyone their design was mandated for maximum efficiency and all people movers looked identical. Prices fell and companies like GE and Maytag moved into the electric people mover market. Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart began selling them to the masses. As prices continued to fall, everyone owned on of the new People Mover capsules. People were free to read the paper, nap or anything they wished as they were whisked to their destinations. Cities were able to build inexpensive lighter, elevated people mover boulevards with the reduced weight. It seemed as if transportation change over night. Everyone owned people movers.
Everyone except the Crankshaft Cowboys.As the famous cowboys of the old west, they were rebels. They refused to relinquish control to GPS systems, radars and computers. They refused to lose their individuality in favor of safety, convenience and economics. The rebels had many reasons for their resistance. Some for the love of driving, the freedom and exhilaration of controlling their noisy beasts. Some rebelled from the government controls. The worst of them believed the government would snatch control of their people mover secretly moving them to undisclosed locations for reasons unknown.
They had to beg borrow and steel to feed their hungry beast. Many developed recipes to make their own fuel. no longer were their convenience stores with petrol at every corner. As time moved forward they had to forage for parts to keep the beast going as cars had all been crushed and recycled with the invasion of the smart car capsules.
The sound continued to grow, It was close. The cowboy and his steel stead were very close. I caught a glimpse. The beast sliding in and out of the people movers so sleekly. He was moving much faster than the nondescript capsules. He moved as if he owned the link and he was swatting the tiny people movers aside.
It had two menacing yellow eyes in front that almost appeared to glare at me. The front of the beast looked to have a smirk as it sliced through the traffic. It was black, so black it almost appeared to be a hole in space itself. It had two gray stripes like some kind of cat that streaked back to a glass window.
You could see the cowboy behind the glass skillfully moving a wheel back and forth urging the beast to move through the masses. His other hand would reach down and the beast would let out a load growling growing in intensity, then hesitate and grow again. As it roared past me I saw the brand on the cowboys steed. It said 392 HEMI. The cowboy looked over to me, tipped his head with a smile and then kicked the beast as it roared on.
It was a magnificent sight.
My grandfather told me the beast was a dodge Challenger SRT. he said she was the last of her kind. A masterpiece of both power and beauty. With a look of wishful nostalgia my grandfather explained the Cowboys never took life for granted. They knew how to take control and be themselves. They were the last of a generation that faced life’s challenges and didn’t wait for others to solve them. He had a hint of a tear as the beast faded out of sight and he said they were the last of human individualism.
I wonder where they are today, that Challenger. Is it stuck in the corner of some crumbling garage forever hidden, OR….. Is it out on the old cement highways in the opened country. Is there still a cowboy out in the plains tearing across the country? I hope so. I would like to think there is still hope for us. Maybe the cowboy will return.
This sounds like a story from a distant future, but is it? The technology is here, NOW! Cars can drive themselves. If all cars were self driven we would almost alleviate accidents and congestion. we would all have more free time as our cars drove us like personal chauffeurs. It is coming and coming soon.
So, a few years ahead, as you relax in your nondescript pod, you purchased on Amazon, headed to the office make sure you look up when you hear the beast approaching. Make sure you wave as me and my trusty steed race off to the open prairie to remain free and in control.