Sterling H2O Car Wash’s automated car-wash tunnel was the inspiration for the climactic scene from great American writer Louis Bargot’s 1968 novel, Ambulances in Wartime.
Foam began to cover the ambulance’s windows and Maggie grabbed my hand and I looked at her and I could see she was worried. I thought about the baby and the war, but mostly the baby. The foam was green and pink and yellow, and Maggie’s face was white and her hair brown.
“Look at the pretty colors,” she said.
“Yes, look at them,” I said.
“Oh, Petey, do you think they’ll have car washes in Egypt?”
“And they’ll have these pretty colors, too?”
“I don’t see why not.”
“Oh, good.” She sat up in her seat and let go of my hand. “Then we’ll go to Egypt and you’ll sell the ambulance and I’ll have the baby and all three of us will take walks past the Sphinx.”
“That will be nice.”
“You think we’ll get much for this ol’ thing?”
“It doesn’t matter. I have money.”
“Oh, I know that, Petey, I just wanted to know if you think we’ll get much for this ol’ thing is all.”
The ambulance jerked forward and water began to drizzle against the metal ceiling. It made a din din sound, and I placed my elbow on the canteen of bourbon in the middle of the seat.
“Marco says there’s an infantry post near Dongola and that they need all the help they can get,” I said.
“Oh, wonderful,” Maggie said before adding, “they won’t be too close to us, though, will they?”
The ambulance jerked forward again and I could see Antalya’s mountainous horizon past the wet windshield. I watched a bead of water zigzag down the glass and collide with another bead and the two of them disappear beneath the wiper.
“You know, I think we’ll get a lot for this ol’ thing,” Maggie said, “It runs good and it’ll be so clean that the locals will think it’s brand new.”
“Perhaps,” I said, and then I sat up and grabbed the canteen and shook it, but it was empty so I set it back down and waved goodbye to the car-wash attendant but he didn’t see me.