Adam Blake Wright
Every Car Tells a Story

Raising Hands / Karen Cappotto

He stands at the door to his grandfather’s warehouse and kicks at the rusty lock until it snaps apart and splashes into the mud. The door cracks open, slightly, releases a familiar scent—gasoline, old tires, wood shavings—that’s been fermenting in darkness for decades. He takes his girlfriend’s hand and leads her inside.

“Jesus,” she says, covering her nose. “This is how you want to spend the rest of Thanksgiving?”

He kisses Amy’s cheek and slides his fingers across the nearby wall. He discovers the light switch hidden amongst a hodgepodge of tin signs, waits as a mechanical buzz morphs into a faint glow descending from the rafters above. Closing his eyes, he takes another whiff of the warehouse and tries not to think about the long drive from Iowa back to Chicago.

Amy squeals and runs off into the warehouse, lost in a maze of odd shapes and pale shadows. He should chase after her, relish his role as tour guide, and yet he sits cross-legged on the concrete floor, hands deep in his pockets, and looks to the shelves of glass bottles that line the ceiling’s edges. He starts counting, even though he doesn’t need to, knowing good and well that there are exactly 437 commemorative Coca-Colas camouflaged by cobwebs and dust.

As a boy, his job was to clean the bottles. He would climb up a rickety old ladder held by his grandfather, wipe off the handful of Cokes within arms reach, then descend to the floor, move the ladder a few feet, and repeat. Days (no, more like weeks) of his life had been lost to the task, but he didn’t mind, as he was rewarded with chocolate cake and a story—the same story, always the same story, in which Pappy was a Depression-era wild child that stole one of his sister’s dresses and traded it for a Coke from the Webster City Drug Store.

He stops counting bottles when he hears Amy shouting from some far-off corner of the warehouse. He meanders through Pappy’s labyrinth of classic cars, tractors, and fire engines. The collection had started with the bottles, of course, but was then followed by a farm, marriage, kids, toys, more bottles, more kids, more toys, and on and on until his grandfather had an entire armory of motorcycles, Hot Wheels, license plates, and vintage gas pumps that could be admired by the public for three dollars a visit.

He finds Amy sitting on the hood of a 1967 Chevy Impala. Blue exterior, chrome wheels, white leather seats. One of Pappy’s favorites. He remembers his grandfather saying that every vehicle is alive, that each tells a story—camping in the Badlands, a Las Vegas honeymoon, drag racing along Route 20. Amy tosses her long brown hair and unbuttons the top half of her shirt.

“How do I look?” she says.

Moments like this make him want to say, “I love you.” But he isn’t sure yet. Maybe he will tell her later. Maybe when he’s not afraid of the future. Maybe in their apartment, their own world, away from everything else.

They crawl into the backseat and she asks a few questions about Pappy. He tells her about the legal battle, the bickering aunts and uncles, how some thought Pappy’s collection was endearing, how others thought he had an addiction, or a disease, how his mother wants to sell the whole shebang to American Pickers, a reality show hosted by two guys who own a nearby antiques store.

His girlfriend gets bored, kisses his neck, rubs his leg. Soon enough they’re naked, rolling about and steaming the windows of the Impala. He grabs her hair. Amy moans. All this feels wrong—the musty smell, the crunch of vintage leather—but he keeps going, ambivalent to whatever sacred pact he might be violating. Something pokes him in the back. He tries to ignore it, stay present, but he’s uncomfortable enough as is. He finally stuffs his hand between the seat and pulls out an empty Coke bottle: 1984 BIG TEN CONFERENCE—HOW ABOUT THEM HAWKEYES.

He remembers that year, remembers his family whispering at Pappy’s funeral. Whispering about what, he never knew. Never will. But he listens carefully as the Impala tells a story, one in which Pappy loses his farm, withers away to a beanpole, refuses to sell his relics, climbs the ladder by himself, then drinks one last soda pop and calls it quits in the backseat of his adored ‘67 roadster. Amy cradles his face in her hands. “Hey. What’s up?”

“Nothing,” he says, straining to press his ears closer, soothe and serenade the car until every drop of truth trickles from its soul.

“But aren’t — ”

“Doesn’t matter,” he says. “Just keep going.”

But deep down, it’s wrong, all wrong—there are only 436 commemorative Coca-Colas left in Pappy’s warehouse.


This is how you walk down the hallway to your classroom. This is how you say the Pledge of Allegiance. Not like that, like this. A-mer-UH-ca. Not A-mer-EEE-ca. Better say things correctly if you want to pass your end-of-year tests. Stop fidgeting. Sit up straight. This is how you leave your desk for circle time. This is how you ask a question. Raise your hand or you’ll get a marble in the naughty jar.

This is how you take notes. This is how you sharpen a pencil. This is how you turn on the computer. Stop talking out of turn. Raise your hand. Get your art supplies. This is how you draw a smiley face. This is how you make a tree out of glue and glitter and paint. I told you, raise your hand.

But he called me a dirty name.

Doesn’t matter. You still get a marble.

This is how you read a book. If you can’t do it, someone else will help you. This is what we mean by setting. This is how you make a character map. This is how you write a paragraph-long response. If you can’t do it, oh well, because I don’t have time to help you right now. Don’t chew on your pencil. Stop crying. Stop scratching your pants. Stop asking for your “abuela.” She’s not here.

This is how you walk to lunch. This is how you get your tray. This is where you sit. Stop crying. Be quiet and eat or you’ll go to the principal’s office. This is how you ask to go to the bathroom. This is how you wash your hands. Don’t use more than one paper towel, or you’ll get another marble.

This is how you learn about science. This is how to do an experiment. Make a prediction. Pick up your magnifying glass. Write down your observations. Stop crying. Stop asking to go to the bathroom. You just went.

This is how you walk to the playground. This is how you go down the slide. This is how you shoot a basketball. You’re getting another marble, because we don’t throw bugs in other people’s hair. Stop crying. Stand up straight. This is how you look at a map. This is how you tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile. Stop crying. Do you want another marble?

But I don’t understand.

Well, too bad. You’ll be with your “familia” soon enough, and then you can cry as much as you want. But the bus isn’t here yet. Nobody cares what you understand. Finish your project, or I’ll give you another marble. A Dating Site for Vegetables


43 Days / Corn / Single / Iowa State University Research Lab

My self-summary:
I guess to start off I'd say that I'm fairly geeky. My social skills aren't completely dead, but I rarely get out the greenhouse. Aside from that, I like to play with my ears (allergies permitting). I’m tall and skinny, so I hope you’re not looking for some sorta Beefsteak Tomato. I enjoy intelligent humor, but I also have a sarcastic side that’s as black as it comes. Basically, the sicker and more just-plain-wrong, the more I appreciate it. (Although, it does have to be done with style.) Over the past few days I've also gotten into climbing. It is something I've wanted to do from a young age and last week everything just fell into place. It’s an amazing adventure that in such a short time has become a major part of my being.

What I’m doing with my life:
I’m currently working as a research subject for Monsanto. Some days I feel great, other times I feel like crap. I think it has something to do with all this stuff I keep getting sprayed with.

I’m really good at:
Taking orders. Challenge me to a game of 20 Questions – if you dare. *dramatic music*

The first things people usually notice about me:
My golden hair. BLECK! I wish it were black (like the fungus that is my soul).

Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food:
I listen to a lot of classical music in the greenhouse. DON’T EVEN MESSAGE ME UNLESS YOU THINK TCHAIKOVSKY IS THE BEST COMPOSER OF ALL TIME!!!

The six things I could never do without:
1. Warming lamps
2. Allergy pills
3. My pot
4. My journal
5. Scientific method
6. Twine

I spend a lot of time thinking about:
Freedom. It would be nice to choose my own diet one day and just talk with bugs whenever I feel like. Alas, such is the life…

I’m looking for:
• Vegetables who like corn
• 10-70 days
• Anywhere
• Who are available
• For new friends


112 Days / Butternut Squash / Married / Bluff Creek Farm

My self-summary:
We are a bivegetatious couple (butternut squash + cabbage) that enjoys exploring what’s out there!

What I’m doing with my life:
Hubs and I work full-time growing jobs. We have a couple of butterflies and want some more blooms of our own in the future. My fruit sags a little more than it used to, so I guess it’s better late than never to spice things up in the old mulch pile, if you know what I’m saying…

I’m really good at:
Being completely open and honest!

The first things people usually notice about me:
We’re total free spirits!

The six things I could never do without:

On a typical Friday night I am:
Hubs and I are usually swaying in the wind, listening to the gentle bzzzzzzzz of bees, sharing an intimate moment under the stars, or chatting with the peppers next door.

The most private thing I’m willing to admit:
We’re huge nerds! (Seedlings of Catan is the best game ever!)

I’m looking for:
• Butternut squash and cabbage who like butternut squash
• 100-125 days
• Near me
• Who are married
• For new friends, long-term dating, short-term dating

You should message me if:
We are mostly just looking for bivegetatious couples who want a real relationship with a similarly loving, like-minded couple :) Pretty picky when it comes to single crops but it isn't out of the question. (MUST be discrete…there’s a nearby rosemary bush that gossips too much.)


73 Days / Lettuce / Available / Green Goddess Food Truck

My self-summary:
i lived in the DC area for 50 days or so on a friend’s patio and now i'm excited to be back in ohio. i learned a lot but i think the midwest is where my heart is

What I’m doing with my life:
currently i live in a clay pot and travel around with some other cool veggies. we go to street fairs and music festivals and parking lots. it’s a great fit since i love experiencing new things. currently i’m reassessing my priorities – seems like every time I grow leaves, they disappear, and i’ve got to start all over again. now i’m trying to work hard AND play hard!

I’m really good at:
bringing out a veggie’s wild side ;)

The first things people usually notice about me:
my style. straight up blessed with some sweet foliage

The six things I could never do without:
the open road
having a good time
i dunno, maybe something you like???

On a typical Friday night I am:
cruising in the van, ready to show you a good time

I spend a lot of time thinking about:
seedlings, sprouts, squash blossoms, that sort of thing

I’m looking for: • Baby spinach who like lettuce
• 16-21 days
• Anywhere
• Who are available
• For pollinating

You should message me if:
u need a ride to the farmers market or something. i can also hook you up with some miracle-gro

Adam Blake Wright is a dual degree graduate student at Iowa State University, where he pursues an MFA in Creative Writing and an MS in Sustainable Agriculture. As a 2015 Julia Child Foundation Food Writing Scholar, Adam's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Edible: Iowa, Alimentum, Story: Houston, and Spark: A Creative Anthology. He most recently served as the nonfiction editor for Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment and previously worked as an arts educator in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

Karen Cappotto lives in Provincetown, MA, where she maintains her painting and design studios. Her work has appeared in House Beautiful, Elle Decor, This Old House, The Washington Post, and Provincetown Arts. Karen studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Boston College, and Manchester College at Oxford University.