Fixing a taillight to avoid jail

A few updates before I regale you with the story of my past week or so:

L.L. Press has accepted a manuscript submission and signed its author, whose book is tentatively scheduled to be released in October. I’ll withhold details for now but will say the manuscript is very good, incorporates elements of Southwestern folklore and Lovecraftian horror, and is a modern-day fantasy. I’m very excited to publish it.

Another L.L. Press author, L.M. Stockton, will have her novel The Valiant Wayfarer released on March 15. On March 1 we’ll publish a short story of her, titled The Bear Business, which will be a free download. I encourage you to read both as they’re very sweet and compelling stories–vastly different from anything you may have read of mine.

As far as my own works go, I’m working on L.L. Press’ December title and have just about finalized our June and September releases. The June release is a true-crime novel, I’ll elaborate in a later post, and the September release is a satire on Hollywood, superheroes, and the general idea of idols.

Last week I was pulled over for not wearing my seatbelt, which I commonly don’t wear. I doubt I would have been pulled over had my windows not been rolled down but that’s immaterial.

Once I stopped on the side of the road, the officer came to my window and asked for my registration, license, and proof of insurance. While I provided the first two, I could not find the third (until after I got home). When the officer returned to my window from his cruiser, he asks me if I know my right-side taillight is out, which I’d been told numerous times before. I suspect the light had been going off and on, as I never saw it out.

But I said yes and the officer told me, if I go to court and show him my insurance card and that I’ve fixed my taillight, I could be excused from the stop without a ticket.

Cool. But there’s one problem.

When I was first told my taillight was out, I had tried to have it fixed. However, my car’s electrical system is a little wonky–the electrical components on the left side of the car work while the right side’s don’t (which had nothing to do with the taillight or the front light). The problem is confined to the interior lights and the car’s interior locking system.

For about a year now, I’ve gotten into the habit of manually locking my car doors but the one part of the car that’s been inoperable since my electrical system went out is my tailgate.

And when I went to get my taillight fixed several months ago, I was told the mechanics could not fix it because they could not raise the tailgate. Apparently the screws holding the taillight plastic in position are within the frame of the tailgate.

So I was in a pickle. I had to get my taillight fixed but I couldn’t raise my tailgate and I didn’t want to spend the money involved with going to a mechanic.

But I also don’t want to get arrested, of course. I’ve been to jail once and it’s not a nice place.

So what’s one to do?

I’m a very crafty person–not in the arts and crafts sense but in the fix-a-problem-unconventionally way. For example: I may have forged a signature on a doctor’s note I gave to a professor in order not to fail the class because of a missed exam, thereby allowing me to graduate.

So, after some contemplating, I came up with several home remedies for my taillight situation, seemingly the easiest of which I employed: I bought a torque wrench with a dozen differently sized sockets and attempted to unscrew the underside of my tailgate, as I read on an online forum that this was a way to open an uncooperative tailgate on my make and model of car.

This didn’t work, however, so I retrieved a hammer from inside my house and used it to smash apart the convoluted lock contraption on the inside of my tailgate. Aside from jamming my middle finger, tearing the ass of my jeans open, and stripping my tailgate of much of its upholstery, wiring, and the locking mechanism, I accomplished nothing.

I went to sleep and contemplated what else I could do.

When the weekend came, I implemented another idea I’d conceived of previously but didn’t enact because it was a little more strenuous: I went to Home Depot and bought a couple of bungee cords and a sledgehammer. My idea was to bash my tailgate open, fix the light, then use the bungee cords to hold the tailgate closed.

I got a good workout–my arms were burning, my heart rate got up pretty high–but at the end of about half an hour, my tailgate was still not open.

From here I looked around my house for other tools I could use and I found a shovel with a slender metal head. I inserted this into the crevice between the outside of my tailgate and the frame and tried to pry open the tailgate, which also didn’t work.

What did happen, though, was I broken the plastic covering my taillight–the left-side one. Looking inside I saw no reason why I shouldn’t be able to pull out the blown-out taillight lightbulb in the right-side light, replace it, and everything should be fine.

So I bought taillight lightbulbs, broke my left-side taillight, and replaced the bulb.

And it worked.

But then I was faced with another issue: Though the bulbs were fine now, the plastic over the taillights were both broken.


But I’m crafty and I figured there must be translucent red tape I could use to cover the breakages in the plastic but still allow the lightbulbs to shine through.

And I was right.

Breaking the plastic and replacing the bulbs was also an idea I had had prior to trying anything but I had not gone with it because I’d been afraid it was too simple a solution.

But I was wrong.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is trust your instinct. If it seems simple, maybe it is.

An interesting side note to this story: Because of all the purchases I was making–from car-parts and home-repair stores, very odd places for me to patronize–my bank put a block on my debit card. They probably tried to call me to verify that it was me who was making all these purchases but, if I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer calls.

So a secondary moral is: Answer every call you get.

But fuck that.


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