Don’t Box Me In

by Miles Rost

Rodolfo Dominguez flipped his welding helmet up and turned off the torch. He looked down at his work and smiled.

“I said that one day I’d show them just what I’m made of. It’s just about that time. Just one day more.”

For many years, Rodolfo was considered the odd man out. In high school, he was ridiculed for having a large brain and large girth to go with it. Even after becoming a member of the auto club, he was still made fun of. He took it in stride, making jokes about himself like Gabriel Iglesias did. But he felt that even though he could roll with the punches, he had to prove his mettle. He had to show them that he wasn’t just a fluffy guy. That he was also made of more than that.

He had spent most of the fall and the winter of his junior year of high school in his garage, working and tinkering on a project that he merely called “The Devon Project”. No one outside of his house knew what it was about. No one asked, but here he was, almost finished on the project and just about ready to demo it for the rest of the school. And it was going to be at the annual carnival and exhibition for his high school.

He went to sleep that night, and instead of dreaming triumphant dreams, he had terrible nightmares. Nightmares of failures, of becoming the butt of all jokes, and not surviving the rest of high school. He woke up feeling very nervous, in a pool of sweat and worry. After putting on his glasses and rolling out of bed, at 5AM, he went out to the garage and proceeded to spend his morning with car wax in his hands.

He went to school that morning, and had to deal with certain taunts about his weight and other things. He looked at them, smiled, and said, “Don’t worry about my feelings. Wait for this afternoon, and we’ll have a good laugh about it.” The other kids laughed, seemingly at him, but inside wondered what he would actually do.

At the proper time, the carnival and exhibition was open for business. School was out, with students, teachers, and parents milling around the sprawling high school campus. On one side of the massive high school lawn, were a bunch of cars. Members of the auto club and others brought out their vehicles to show off, and to win contests.

Rodolfo had gone home just before the carnival started, and as he opened the garage door, he pushed his surprise out of the small shed-like building. The sun glistened on the newly painted black exterior, glinting off the chrome and the steel. He turned the key, and the engine started and purred like a kitten who had too much love in it’s heart. The fluffy guy, the man everyone called “Round Rodolfo”, would be making splashes at the carnival this year.

He drove his vehicle to the high school, and pulled in through the parking lot and onto the lawn. People looked at his vehicle, a newly restored 1972 Oldsmobile 442, with a pitch black exterior, Shelby-Cobra emblems all over it, and a hearty engine that made others pale in comparison. He slow-rode his way past the other gawkers.

“Is that Round Rodolfo?” one person asked, in disbelief.

“Wow! How did he get a car like that?” another guy asked.

“Is he still single?” one young lady asked her friend, who looked at her with a look that read “Are you insane, girl?”

Rodolfo did a quick rev and jet, then pulled into the end spot. He got out of his vehicle, turned around, and looked at it. By now, a good crowd had gathered.

“Hey, Rodolfo. Is this yours?” one of the auto club members asked him.

“Yeah, paid for it with my own wages. This is my baby.”

“Looks cool, sir. You got style, man.”

Rodolfo got a compliment, for the first time in a good long time. And boy, it felt good. No longer was he boxed in. He was soon to be known as “Rockin’ Rodolfo”, and would be known for one of the prettiest vehicles in the whole school.

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