"Harold, do you think he's okay? What's wrong with him?"
"I don't know, I just don't know. This has never happened before!"
It had started during breakfast. I was just finishing my toast when Jeremy drove up to me, bumping me softly in the shins.
"Hey there little guy, you want to come up on my lap?" I'd said, fully expecting a round of enthusiastic beeps in reply.
Instead, I got this screeching, modulating sound. Sarah dropped the bowl she was washing up and it shattered on the floor. Jeremy, startled, quickly reversed away, silent.
"Hey babe, what's wrong?" Sarah said, worry in her eyes. Neither of us had ever heard anything like it. It was almost like his battery was running low and his beeper was suffering the effects. Oh God, what if it was? We didn't have anyway of fixing it, we couldn't just open him up.
Jeremy let out another warbling, fluxuating howl and led us on a merry goose chase around the living room, driving all over the place - under the coffee table, behind the sofa but eventually we caught him when he nearly upended himself sliding on a stray magazine, something that warranted me a scathing look from Sarah before she returned to the worrying at hand.
It didn't take long for us to decide to take him to the mechanic.
When we got there, we were both flustered and worried. Jeremy had been screeching the whole way there in intermittent bursts and my own fears about his battery were eating me up. I dared not say anything to Sarah, she was already in tears.
Jim had become a good friend of ours over the last couple of years and not just because of the extra business he'd received being known as the Car Doctor for our son. He'd been understanding and supportive the whole time and so when we finally arrived he'd already put all his other jobs on hold so he could make us a priority.
"Right, let's get him on a rig and have a look at him." Jim said, getting straight to business. We walked into the work area where he had a special rig made up, a miniature he'd built just for Jeremy.
"Do you have any idea what's wrong?"
"Give me a chance!" Jim replied, then he turned to Jeremy. "Hello there littl'un, I'm just gonna take a look at you for a bit, find out what's making that awful racket, alright? Then I'll get you some of that special petrol you like."
Jeremy revved happily and warbled again. Sarah squeezed my hand so hand I thought she might break something.
"Do you two mind waiting outside?" Jim said. "You're a big boy now aren't you Jeremy? Don't need Mummy and Daddy holding your handle."
I looked at Sarah and she looked at me and Jim gave us a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, I'll take good care of him. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about."
We smiled somewhat half-heartedly and went and sat in his office. The wait seemed like forever as we watched him through the office window. He couldn't do a huge deal, not being able to open up Jeremy's hood, but he checked everything, listened to every sound, checked all the emissions. Last of all, he checked the dashboard. Obviously he couldn't fit inside Jeremy to have a proper look so Jim was one of the few mechanics we knew of that had what essentially amounted to an endoscope. He looked around in for a bit and then stood up straight suddenly.
I ran out of the office. "My God, what is it? What's wrong?"
"Gimme a sec." Jim said, grabbing something from his toolbox and reaching through Jeremy's passenger door.
Jeremy suddenly released a burst of static at us and then we were suddenly treated to the voice of Johnathan Ross at full volume, a single word caught mid-sentence before the volume suddenly dropped to zero.
He talked at each other for a moment, dumbstruck, then burst into laughter and tears. His first words!