The Rear End

The Walking Dead Car Battery

seemingly imbued with unnatural long life, my car’s battery would rather just die

Mike Paulus |

My car battery’s been living a pretty grim existence over the past few months. It’s warmer now, but multiple strings of subzero days have taken their toll ... on its soul.

Do car batteries have souls? I believe they do. I’m sure a lot of you people think that’s a big, stinky load of hoggie hogwash, but I’m here to tell you – I’ve felt it. I’ve felt my car’s battery pulsing with a life that has nothing to do with its electrical charge.

And I know one thing for sure: That battery sure as hell hasn’t been starting my car this past winter because of any kind of physical properties it may possess. The lead-acid electro-chemical voodoo once locked deep within its very core has long since disappeared. And honestly ... I don’t know how it keeps working.

The lead-acid electro-chemical voodoo once locked deep within its very core has long since disappeared. And honestly ... I don’t know how it keeps working.Two winters ago, I spent a few weeks bringing the very same battery inside my house every night to keep it warm and cozy and snuggly (and, you know, operational). Every morning, I’d lurch out the door, gripping the heavy battery in my gloved fingers. I’d pop the hood and heave it into place. Then I’d begin the frustrating task of screwing in the little braces that clamp it down, keeping it from rattling all over the ding-dang place. The nuts are small. My fingers were cold and thick. I swore a lot.

But we got through it, that ol’ battery an’ me. Springtime came and all was fine. The following winter, the car started right up, no problem, all season long. I forgot all about the trouble we’d had the year before. And then came the unforgiving winter days of January 2014, with their ridiculously low temperatures and insane, Golly it’s colder here than on Mars! wind chills. And one day, the battery just died.

Or did it?

Again, I unhooked the battery and took it down into my basement. There, on the cold concrete floor, I clamped it to an electrical charging contraption, not unlike the machines you see in Frankenstein movies (only smaller). By morning, my little friend the battery had made a miraculous recovery. I placed it within my car. And the car started.

However, the frigid nights did not stop. The cold returned. Over and over, the weather pummeled my little battery day in and day out, until it was gasping for breath. And now each morning, as I start the car, the battery begs me to let it die.

But I can’t let that happen. I need it to stay alive.

It’s as if my battery is some kind of poor, supernatural creature I keep locked inside my car, coaxing strange energy from it so I can ... drive my kids to school and get to work on time.

Every morning, just as it’s about to pass into the nether world and experience the sweet release of death, I yank open the driver’s side door with an unholy screech and tha-rump myself into the seat as the frozen springs groan beneath my weight. I jam the key into the ignition. I turn the key (not gently) as I cast my dark magicks upon it, making soft utterances ... come on, come on, come on, staaaaaaaart ... come on, come on, come on, staaaaaaaart ...

Moments later, beneath the frost encrusted hood, the battery somehow finds a tiny morsel of electricity to which it must cling. Its power flickers. The engine coughs and winces. The belts churn. The spark plugs spark. The car barely rolls out of its frozen slumber. It starts. But not with a roar. It shudders to life with a painful YULP! and a terrible grimace. It is unhappy to be here in the world of the living.

Every day, I reanimate the empty shell, condemning this once magnificent creature to another day of laborious servitude ’neath the harsh winter skies of Wisconsin. Every day, I give thanks for the gift of transportation, though my conscience is burdened by the cruel life I force my battery to endure.

One day soon, it may be beyond my power to resuscitate the battery. When this day comes, I will remove the old thing and bury it out back dispose of it properly. I will get a new battery, and I will connect it to my engine.

And then the march towards its inevitable demise will begin.