My Car Quest

May 26, 2024

Fiction: The Man In The White Hat

by Wallace Wyss –

Jumped ship. That’s the way they put it back in the 1800s when a sailor, gobsmacked at first sight of the beauty of a land like Tahiti would jump overboard and swim for shore, determined to make a new life in this magic land.

Now Jeb didn’t figure Roger for a ship jumper. No way. Roger had been very disciplined during that long flight to Mars. It had been a long time in the ship, and they had discussed everything about their lives, their hopes, their dreams. And of course what made it nice was that Roger was a car guy.

During that long flight, Roger even admitted one reason he had enrolled in the Space Force was, way back in 2021, when the U.S. had first sent that drone to Mars, he had been a low level government employee reviewing some unreleased Mars Probe footage and saw something in the sand, not far from the landing site and enlarged the picture several times. It was indisputably a taillight from a ’55 Chevy.

On the long flight, Roger presented his theory of why that picture had never been released. Back then, every ounce you transported on ships to Mars cost thousands so that’s why the gov’mint never released that shot because, you had to figure–if the Space Force didn’t take that taillight there on their own rocket then it had to be something from Mars. And ergo, Roger concluded, if there were once ’55 Chevys on Mars, maybe there were civilizations there duplicating life on earth tit for tat. Everything that was once on Earth would be on Mars. And, of significance later, Roger had been obsessed with Ferraris, especially ’60s Ferraris racing cars. Roger had advanced the logical argument that–if they have ’55 Chevys on Mars, why not ’64 Ferrari 250Ps?

Maybe, Roger theorized, what the space Force had inadvertently discovered but never revealed, was that Mars was a parallel world to Earth, a twin brother separated at birth kinda deal, and everything happening there that had happened on earth only the Mars clock was maybe set faster, more into the future, or maybe a tad slower so to speak? They could still be in the Fifties or the Sixties? Roger went on and on how he’d find an old Ferrari there, maybe one that had run at their version of Le Mans, and buy it and wear a beautiful white ice cream summer suit and plantation hat and take it to their version of the Pebble Beach concours. That was his dream. It was a stretch but he went along with Roger’s thinking, if only to keep him happy.

They had been on Mars for only nine hours when Roger took off. He had left Roger inside the ship watching the incoming pictures from the multiple probes they had sent out when they first landed. He was outside, setting up the off-road buggy they’d brought. By the time he got back to the ship, he found that Roger had up and walked without so much as a by-your-leave. Roger the Dodger, he thought.

~ ~ ~

All that was all what, 30 years ago? He’d retired from the Space Force and taken up bee-keeping in Bisbee. Most of his neighbors had no idea whatsoever that he was once one of the elite exploring space, even walking on Mars. The Proud Few, something like that.

Mars wasn’t talked about much anymore, as on Earth wars over oil and lithium had siphoned the money from the Space Force. Still, he was happy to get an invitation to the Smithsonian, which was opening an exhibit commemorating the Space Force. He was a little leery of appearing with the other surviving astronauts, some of whom still bore a grudge against him because, at the time, there had been some criticism that he had elected to return to Earth rather than search for Roger. We never leave one of ours behind and all that. The criticism faded and he was flat forgotten.

At the exhibit, he found his picture, one taken the day he’d graduated from the Academy. He couldn’t believe he had ever looked that young. Only a few feet away, he found a picture of Roger, in civvies. He’d never seen Roger in a white dress suit and that Panama hat. But it was the car that drew his attention–a bright red Ferrari–a mid-engined one from the Sixties.

How the picture had gotten back to Earth boggled his mind. But he had to give Roger credit. Way back, he had put it all together. If they have ’55 Chevys on Mars then you can bet your boots they probably got ’64 Ferrari 250Ps…

Some guys dream. Some guys act, he thought bitterly…Damn it, Roger.

# # #


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Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR/ARTIST: Wallace Wyss, the story’s author, is also a fine artist. He’s taking his 20″ x 30″ oil of Roger the Artful Dodger to sell at his booth at Concorso Italiano unless some cognoscenti reaches him first. He can be found via



Man in White Hat - Ferrari 250P

Fiction: The Man In The White Hat
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Fiction: The Man In The White Hat
At the exhibit, he found his picture, one taken the day he'd graduated from the Academy. He couldn't believe he had ever looked that young. Only a few feet away, he found a picture of Roger...

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