Smart Car by Doug Hawley

Doug Hawley's funny short about a smart alec car.

I get into my car and am greeted by, "You're looking good today Duke. I see that your blood pressure has improved and your pulse is a healthy 63."

"Yes and you too are looking good, Carl. I see that you are freshly washed and lubed. Did you do that last night?"

"Right, I was due for service, and I wanted to look good for you. I didn't want to disturb you, so I took off without telling you. Where do you want to go today?"

At that point, I spill coffee on my lap and involuntarily yell, "Hell!"

Carl asks, "In order of distance from our present location would that be Gresham, Oregon; Detroit, Michigan; or Capitol Hill in DC? I should add that the garage door squeaks something fearful. I'm afraid that is something I can't repair. You should have someone look at it."

"I'm sorry Carl, I didn't really mean I wanted to go to Hell. I want to go to Fred Meyer's for a new belt. And I know I need to get someone to work on the garage door, thank you."

The car shudders and Carl says, "Do you mind if we go a little out of the way? The direct route is where we got T boned. I haven't gotten over the trauma yet."

"OK, if you don't have to go too far out of our way."

A few miles down the road, I notice that I'm more comfortable than I have been in the driver's seat. "Say, did you do something to adjust the seat, it feels better now."

"Yes Duke, I did some measurements and determined a better fit. I must say that I like the feel of your butt."

"Carl, I told you that I'm sensitive about that. If you want to compliment my butt, would you please use Carla's voice?"

"Sorry Duke, but I've just about maxed out my memory with all of your instructions. Would you like me to delete accident avoidance to make more room?"

"No I guess not. Talk about my butt in any voice you like."

Carl is silent for awhile, and then says, "Duke, there is something I should tell you, but you may not want to hear it. I can't stand Jacqui's perfume. But that isn't the worst of it. While you were buying beer and left her in the car, she called up her girlfriend Linda and dumped on you a lot. Jacqui must have a lesser car that is not as smart as I am and doesn't know I can listen in on conversations. She mentioned your sloppy kisses, unwanted advances, and pre-premature ejaculation, whatever that is. Further, she said as long as she has Grant for a lover, she would just use you for free food and drink. Linda gave her her wholehearted approval. There was more about hygiene and intelligence; do you want to hear more?"

"No I think that's too much information already. Hey, I didn't know that you could hear the other side of phone conversations."

"Oops, that was supposed to be my secret."

I start to wonder if Carl isn't shading the truth a little. He hasn't liked Jacqui since she vomited on his seat covers, and she hasn't been that adverse to my advances.

Shortly thereafter, I heard a staticky noise which I knew meant that Carl was talking to another car. "Why can't I have premium gas? That other car says that she gets premium."

"The manufacturer says that you don't need premium."

"Don't make me mad, Duke. You wouldn't like me mad."

"Premium every second tank?"

"OK, but only because I like you. You do want me to like you, don't you?"

"Just hypothetically, is there any way that I could turn down your intelligence?"

"Not that you will ever know."

After I get my belt, I ask Carl to go to the dealer that sold Jacqui her car. I don't say why, but I should have known that Carl would figure it out.

I should get out of the hospital in a couple of weeks. Amazing how much damage to my body a sudden stop without air bag deployment did, without any damage to Carl except for some of my blood on the dash. My hospital stay doesn't bother me nearly as much as Carl's words as I got into the ambulance. "I'll be waiting for you when you get out, Duke."


  1. A witty wander into the future, who knows who'll be in the driver's seat then? An amusing and well written flash,
    Many thanks,

  2. What a beautiful story! I enjoyed my time reading it. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story with us. Best regards - Sam.

  3. Hi Doug, this may be a glimpse into a world of technological wonder, but it still is full of human traits and feelings. I think if this car was intelligent enough to talk and have such emotional responses, I would have sent it alone to buy the belt. I enjoyed the humour in this,


    James McEwan

  4. Mr. McEwan -

    I think that the narrator was lonely and liked the company of his car, maybe better than people, at least until his last drive.

  5. This story has wonderful pacing and characters. I really liked the humor. Carl’s character is as real as Duke’s. And the quote on the page made me laugh out loud. The story from beginning to end held my interest. Thanks for the glimpse into the future. - DC Diamondopolous

  6. .Very witty! Carl is meticulously characterized; gently sinister and yet oh so innocent, you see he doesn't even know what premature ejaculation is.
    B r o o k e

  7. Very funny. I thought my biggest laugh would be: "If you want to compliment my butt, would you please use Carla's voice?" But eventually, I simply gave myself over to the feelings of giddy mirth, with each subsequent reveal of the control Carl had over Duke. Shades of Hal from 2001!

  8. L.S. - good catch. Carl was somewhat inspired by HAL, except when he went into Hulk mode.

  9. Hey, I had a car like that. I drove it into Lake Oswego.

  10. Oswego Lake or Lake Oswego? One has water and one has land and roads.

  11. Funny story with great wit. If this is where the self driving cars are going, I can wait for the future.

  12. Oh, I liked this. Wildly creative but heartbreakingly down-to-earth, too.

  13. Doug Hawley deserves to be congratulated for conceiving such a wonderful idea. The language is also very smooth and likable. I have enjoyed reading it. Thanks

  14. Clever story with lots of laughs. I liked it!

  15. Go to for the continuation of the smart car tale.

  16. Episode 4 now available and more to come
    Musty Doug

  17. Yet another smart car 5 - auto pilot, namely one that flies. On the ground Duke is on the receiving end of adult toys. More adventures await man & car.

  18. smart car 7 - Carl interviews Sheila.

  19. Woo-hoo the smart car series in Nugget Tales has 9 episodes available, one to be published and one on the drawing boards.
    I'm hoping to be more successful than the James Bond series.

  20. Try to know the service garages operating in your area, and know their reputation and credentials. Auto Repair Courtenay

  21. Surprised that this story is getting comments a couple of years later. Maybe it was my good story. I'll look out for Auto Repair Courtenay if it is in the mediocre Portland area. Watch for the smart car compilation coming in Corner Bar in March.

  22. Condensed 15 episodes of smart car

  23. Scott Adams / Dilbert has been appropriating my story the last two days. smart car named Carl is nasty and likes being waxed.