Wanderlust: That time I sent an old man’s car off a cliff

by Richard Speegle

A few years back, a buddy and I decided to take a road trip form Taos down to Santa Fe to get some sushi. We were traveling just south of Velarde, when we encountered an old Cadillac Seville perched precariously on the opposite side of the highway with the right front wheel hovering over a cliff. Next to it was an elderly gentleman, who was laying on the side of the road, drunk as a skunk at 10 a.m. Good Samaritans that we were, we decided to stop and see if the old guy needed any help.

His car was still running and in neutral, so I thought I would put it in reverse and see if I could keep it from going over the cliff. Bad idea. Just as I tried to move the automatic shifter from neutral to reverse, it jolted the vehicle and started to tip over the cliff. I stepped out of the vehicle and tried as hard as I could to hold on to it with my bare hands and keep it from going over. My buddy was laughing his ass off, and said he saw fingernail scratch marks I had left on the trunk of the car as it dropped over the abyss.

The old guy was cussing at me and yelling he was going to kill me! The Cadillac dropped over the 60-foot embankment and we watched helplessly as it went straight down, then suddenly hit a road at the bottom of the hill and took an abrupt 90 degree left turn. It rolled slowly up a driveway and ended up in the front yard of an old adobe house.

The strange thing that happened next was two guys strolled out of the house, and without even looking at the vehicle that just rolled into their front yard (with nobody in it), nonchalantly got in their pick-up and drove away.

My buddy called the police to come get the old drunk guy on the side of the road and retrieve his vehicle from the yard down below. When the cops got there, they took our names and phone numbers, and hauled the old guy off.

I thought that was it, until I got a phone call from the police that night. I thought, ”Oh shit, they were going to arrest me for messing with the old guy’s car!” But what they asked me was a surprise. The two guys that came out of the house as the Caddy rolled into the front yard, had been robbing the house! They must have wondered what the hell was going on with an unmanned car rolling on to the yard, just as they were leaving the scene of the crime. We gave the cops a description of their truck and they eventually got caught and charged with burglary. To this day, they must wonder who was the invisible driver of the Caddy that turned them in!

Richard SpeegleGot a travel story worth telling? Write it in about 400 words and send it to [email protected]. If you’d rather tell your story, send a brief synopsis to the same address. Either way, your story should be true.

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