Free short story “Fast Cars, Loud Music”

Also available there: Ranger's Woman Hotline

By reading any further, you are stating that you are 18 years of age, or over. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site. Copyright © Samantha Winston, 2008 All Rights Reserved, Total-E-Ntwined Limited, T/A Total-e-bound. Free Story: Fast Cars, Loud Music

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Nobody ever understands when I say that I want to die driving over a cliff with the music blasting. I can never explain the feeling I get when I think about it. It’s in my genes, and I can’t help it. I was conceived in the back seat of a stolen car, in a parking lot called ‘Angel’s Lot’. That parking lot was named after a French song. I was named after the parking lot.

My mother, a teenage runaway named Lafayette, saw nothing incongruous naming her baby boy Angel. She also thought that the car actually belonged to the guy lying on top of her moaning in her ear, and she was more angry than frightened when the police shined the flashlight and ordered them out of the car.

On my birth certificate, it says father unknown. That’s only because Lafayette could never remember that car thief’s last name. Otherwise, she was one hundred percent sure of my paternity. There’s a good reason for that—he was the only black guy she screwed. The car thief went to prison, and Lafayette spent the next nine months waiting for a letter that never came. A month after I was born, she put the music on loud and drove her Honda to West Palm Beach. I was only a few weeks old, but I swear, I remember each time Bryan Adams came on the radio. She cranked him up loud and cried.

Lafayette worked as a waitress for a while, then she discovered that her roommate was selling drugs and making more money in a week than she could in a year. They became partners, stuffing my diapers full of drugs, and carrying me back and forth between Key West and Miami. When I got too big to carry, they put me in a stroller. Lafayette, by now, could afford a nice stroller for me. That’s something to be said for a life of crime.

Lafayette thought I was cute and precocious when I started talking at eighteen months. When I was two, I asked a police officer ‘wanna buy some dope?’ in my baby lisp. My mother was arrested and sent to prison, and I never saw her again. I was sent to a foster home, and raised by Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. They were nice folks, serious, hard working, caring; but they never understood my penchant for loud music and fast driving.

By the time I was a teenager I was racing every car I could get a hold of, and I already had a solid reputation with the local police, who had wrecked three cars trying to catch me one night. The fact that they hadn’t caught me (Although they knew Damn well who had been driving, Mr. Johnson,) only made my reputation bigger and made it easier for me to get fast cars. Car racing was our town’s biggest sport. We hung out on the racetrack, bummed cigarettes off the mechanics, and got our hands greasy helping out.

I only wanted to drive, and as soon as I figured out what the clutch and the brakes were for, I nabbed a car someone left the keys in and took her out to the track. I immediately forgot what the brakes were for, and flew around the track. The fence was a blur, the music was cranking, and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. For this, was I was born. Of course, the car’s owner wasn’t agreeing with that, and I was kicked off the track as soon as I ran out of gas and had to stop. Otherwise, I think I’d still be out there in that souped-up BMW with the radio blasting.

You can’t keep a good man down, though. The next day I was back, begging for rides, and handing out cigarettes instead of asking for them. Finally I managed to talk Jerry into letting me try his old mule, a corvette he’d wrecked so many times it was all solder marks like a spider’s web. I climbed into the narrow seat, pulled on an old helmet someone found for me, and stepped on the gas. I fishtailed out of the pit-stop, careened around Mitch who was changing tires on a new car, hit a pile of oil cans (thankfully empty, or else I’d have been lynched) and hit the track, rubber screaming. There was no radio in the corvette, it was stripped down for racing and Jerry was deaf anyway.

I did three laps, blew out a tire, flipped the corvette over the fence, and ended up in the hospital for a night. I woke up the next day grinning. I’d found my calling. Not many people are so lucky. I helped Jerry fix the mule and I was back on the track breaking all the records.

The next years of my life were all spent in Indiana, working at the track, racing whenever someone gave me a ride, driving my friend’s Buicks and Fords for them, because I never drank and I never took drugs. A racecar driver needs his reflexes. I was popular come party nights with the senior crowd.

I drove everyone home, some faster than they would have liked, especially if they had dates in the back seat with them. One night while driving Trey Beardsley and his girlfriend Shawna home, I fell in love. It happened in the rear-view mirror. Shawna kept looking at me, and her little pink tongue would dart out and touch her upper lip, and she did it so many times that I soon had a hard-on. I’d never driven like that before. Trey fell asleep, and Shawna unbuttoned her dress and before I knew it, two round, white breasts were peeping at me in the rear-view mirror. She pinched her pink nipples, and I had my first accident. It was weird, one minute I’m in control, the next minute I’m shaking all over the front seat and the car swerves into Doc Beardsley’s yard.

Here’s what happens. Trey and Shawna land in a heap, and she’s still got her dress around her waist. I miss Doc Beardsley’s wheelbarrow full of prize-winning geraniums, but crush his wife’s collection of lawn gnomes. Here’s where I’m lucky. Doc Beardsley hated those gnomes. Shawna’s reputation is down the sink and Doc forbids his son to see her again. I get offered a glass of brandy (By Doc, still pleased about the gnomes), and Mrs. Beardsley tells me (In an icy voice) to please escort Miss Shawna home.

Shawna and I walk about two blocks, then scoot behind the library where Shawna furthers my sexual education. My first memory of making love has a golden, brandy-blurred quality about it, which does it poetic justice. I can’t recall getting my clothes off, but I remember each and every button on Shawna’s white blouse. I remember the feel of her lacy bra—the first bra I ever took off a girl, and how it left a line on her smooth, fragile skin. My lips remember the feel of her skin as I traced that line, feeling her with my mouth and cheeks and hands and chest. I remember her underwear, and how I hooked my finger under the elastic on the leg and pulled it off. I remember the soft blond curls on her sex, and how when I saw that, my cock gave start, like someone had stuck an electric wire on it. Her sex was so pretty, and she offered it to me right there on the lawn beneath the old maple tree.

My body imprinted her body on mine, so that even now I can close my eyes and smell the night grass, my brandy breath, the musky scent of her sex and desire. And I can feel her body beneath mine, her soft breasts, her hips thrusting, meeting my thrusts, and that indescribable moment when suddenly all the breath left my lungs and my stomach muscles all got hard and contracted, and I thought my insides had just come undone with the force of my orgasm shooting into her. And how she wrapped her legs and arms around me and kept kissing me and telling me everything was perfect. Everything was perfect.

Shawna and I saw each other on and off that year, but nothing serious. I was hooked on race cars, and she was studying to be a nurse. Then I got in a wreck and she was my candy-striper. I thought she had the best bedside manners, and told her so. I called her my candy stripper. She smiled sweetly and told me she was practicing injections that day. I guess it was in the stars that we should get married. I was the serious type, and frankly, never thought about any one else after meeting her. She was generous with her charms and with her spirit, so after graduation, we set up house together. I found a job at a race track as a mechanic and test driver, and she went to the local college.

Life should have been perfect. It would have been, except for one of Shawna’s professors, Mr. Murphy. To make up for such a sucker name, he had to overdevelop his personality. Young, first year female students were easy pickings. He made sure they all thought he was the heart and soul of wit.

Shawna came home raving about him on her first day of school. I thought she’d get over it. The problem was, she was too nice. She would laugh at a joke just to make the teller think he was clever. Her heart was pure gold, and unfortunately for me, she was as pretty as a Playboy pin-up.

“Where are you going?” I was standing over the sink scrubbing a day’s accumulation of grease from my forearms.

“Professor Murphy asked me to help him with some research,” said Shawna. She was holding the screen door open with her foot; her arms were full of books.

“Better close that, the mosquitoes are coming in.”

“I’ll be back in about two hours.”

“Did you eat already?” I paused scrubbing. My stomach had started to growl at the mention of food. I glanced into the microwave, sitting next to me. Empty.

“I’ll grab a bite to eat later. There’s some cold chicken in the fridge, and you can wash some salad if you want.” She blew me a little kiss and scampered out the door.

I watched her go, and a little shiver of trepidation suddenly made me uneasy. I’d never had any doubts about her before, but we’d only been married for six months and I was still feeling the edge of all those emotions. I wasn’t the excitable kind except when driving fast, and even then, I was known as ‘ice-head’. I wasn’t worried about Shawna. I was thinking about a certain professor Murphy.

I dried my hands, found a chicken leg in the fridge and nibbled it, but I wasn’t hungry. I kept seeing the door swinging shut behind Shawna. After pacing for five minutes and turning the TV on and off a couple times, I got into the car and went to spy on my wife at the university library.

Professor Murphy had planned everything down to the last detail. There were books spread all over a huge mahogany table. The lights were on in the hallway and in the entrance, but only little spotlights illuminated the bookcases. A sofa had been pulled close enough to the books to look innocent. Sitting on the sofa was Professor Murphy, ostentatiously reading. Shawna was standing at the table, sorting books.

From my viewpoint at the window, I could see them, but heard nothing. She glanced his way, and took him a book. He thanked her, and patted the sofa beside him. She hesitated, and he pulled off his glasses and said something that made her bite her lip. I knew that look. He was making her feel guilty, the bastard! She gave a shrug, and perched next to him on the sofa. He pointed to a passage in the book. She leaned over him to get a look, and he looped his arm over her shoulders. Now, I thought, she will stand up and belt him.

Shawna pulled back, and the professor made a huge show of confusion, and with a flourish, put the book on her lap. Now she was stuck. The book was heavy, the professor’s hand was on the page, pointing, and she could only bend her head down to look. Their heads were too close together for my taste. I didn’t like the way he was gesturing either. His hands kept brushing her upper arms and breast. Then Shawna looked at her watch. She said something to him, and he looked at his watch. Then he leaned over and whispered into her ear. She froze. I’d never seen that expression on her face before. When she stood up, I thought she was going to say something, but instead she turned and walked slowly to the door. He made no effort to get up. As she glanced back at him he put his glasses back on, picked up the book and gave her a perfunctory wave.

I dashed back to my car and was waiting on the couch with a cold beer and the TV blasting when she got home. I’d even had the time to fix her a plate with a chicken breast and a little salad. She looked at it and burst into tears.

“What happened?” I asked, pulling her onto my lap.

“Professor Murphy says that if I don’t sleep with him, he’ll fail me.” She looked straight at me. “You should have pushed the window up a bit, you would have been able to hear what he said.”

“Are you mad at me?”

“Hell no, Angel!” she brushed the tears off her cheeks and kissed me. “But you should know by now I can tell your car’s engine from anyone else’s around here.”

“What are you going to do?”

“It’s not what I’m going to do – it’s what you’re going to do.” She took my hand and slid it into her blouse. “Professor Murphy thinks highly of himself as a stock car racer. He has three cars of his own down at Clark’s raceway.”

“I didn’t know that,” I said.

“You’ve been busy with your formula three thousands,” she said. “Clark’s is a pretty seedy place.”

“Sounds like my kind of racetrack,” I said.

“Liar. You’re too good for that now. You’re going places. Why, I bet you’ll be the first American since Mario Andretti to win a formula One race in Europe.”

I was pleased. That was my ultimate goal in life, and it made me absurdly happy to think that she believed in it. “You’re just saying that,” I said.

Shawna shook her head. “You’re the best. I heard Jerry and my dad talking the other day. You’ve won three races so far this year, and the car’s owner swears by you.”

“They were just test races.”

“The real races start in November. You’ll be winning them too.”

“So what do you want me to do with this Murphy guy?”

“Kill him.”

I wasn’t sure I’d heard her right, so I said, “Pardon me?”

“Listen, Angel. I want you to run your car in the stock race next week, and I want you to smash Professor Murphy to bits. Is that clear enough for you?”

“I think it would be more effective to file a complaint to the Dean,” I said.

“He’s the Dean’s nephew. Besides, who would believe me? It’s my word against his, and you know damn well I don’t have the best reputation in town.” Her voice was wry.

“You shouldn’t have slept around so much in high-school,” I said with a grin.

“We should have moved out of this town when we graduated,” she replied, but I knew she didn’t mean it.

“I can’t kill him,” I said finally. “For one thing, it’s against the law. For another thing, I couldn’t live with myself if I killed someone on purpose. I couldn’t even live with you anymore. It would be too much of a strain between us. Forget that idea, please.”

“All right. Then all I want you to do is win that race. Beat him, then tell him to lay off me or you will kill him.” She grinned, and I knew I’d been manipulated. My hand was still under her blouse, resting on her heart. It was beating slowly, so I kissed her just to see what would happen. It speeded up. That’s love.

I didn’t wait for the race to see the professor ‘Big Shot’ Murphy. I waited for the professor one evening in the parking lot. The way he stiffened when he saw me told me he knew who I was, and why I was there.

“Leave my wife alone,” I said to him.

He smiled a tight, little smile. “I’ve heard some interesting things about your wife from Doc Beardsley,” he said.

“You listen to me…”

“No, you listen to me. Get out away from my car. If you come near me again, I’ll not only have your wife thrown out of school, but I’ll make sure you won’t race again in this town.”

I scratched my head, to make him believe I was thinking. “Well, I suppose we could settle this on the race track,” I said.

His smile could have sliced me to ribbons if he’d taken it off and used it as a weapon. “I would be more than glad to beat you by a mile,” he said.

“I’ll be looking forward to that, sir,” I said loudly, and more quietly, “Just don’t get in my way, I’ll run you right over.”

There were two campus cops heading in our direction, and I’d seen Professor Murphy’s little hand signals to them. I waved to them on the way out.

The race was easy to enter. I had an old car, perfect for stock car racing, and I knew half the guys running Clark’s track, including my old school buddy Clark. He didn’t hold it against me that I was working formula three thousands; he was proud of me he said, clapping me on the back. He signed me up and told me to get my team together by Saturday. I asked Jerry and Mitch to help out, and so there we were Saturday on Clark’s raceway.

Shawna was in the stands, wearing a white sweater and dark glasses. I blew her a kiss before I got in my car, and she blew one back to me. I pretended to stagger, and she laughed.

The race was a big one. It was the weekend before the Grand Prix, and the prize money was good. Experienced drivers were running, and there was Professor Murphy with his team, sponsored by a company I recognized as real pros. He saw me and when no one was looking, made his fingers into a gun and pretended to shoot me. I pretended not to notice, but it was hard, especially since he was only about two feet away from me.

I put on my gloves and helmet, and then got down to business. The race was tougher than I expected. I hadn’t been in a stock car race in too long, so the feeling of contact had faded. At first, I kept my distance building up my concentration and confidence.

I was in fifth place, minding my car, when Murphy shot by and knocked me into the guardrail. I straightened out quick, my reflexes were sharp, and I saw who’d passed me. I can’t remember if I thought about him and Shawna at that moment. When I race, I’m on another planet. A few minutes later, there was a collision ahead of me. It wasn’t very close, but I was in the worst position to avoid it, there was a solid wall of cars behind me and I was hemmed in left and right. I stepped hard on the gas and prayed that whoever had crashed wasn’t in my way. Then I was in the smoke and couldn’t see anything. There came a hard jolt, I heard the sound of metal screaming, and something broke my windshield. A piece of metal zinged passed my ear, and I swerved hard right and hit another car broadside. We both managed to stay straight though. Breaking through the smoke I saw clear track ahead of me and floored it. I spent the next few minutes tearing the windshield out and trying to keep up with the car on my right. The accident was cleared by the time I made it around again. They had dragged everything to the side and there were cones keeping us away from the rail. I didn’t have time to look; I was in a tie for first place and determined to win.

I get like that – forget everything but driving and winning, and there was music in my head, played loud like Lafayette always used to love.

I finished the race in the lead and got out of the car with that same, stunned feeling I always get when I race. Jerry and Mitch know better than try talking to me then. It takes a few minutes for the music to fade and reality to seep back. Not that my races aren’t real to me, but I’m transported to another dimension, where the only things that exist are the track and the cars on it, there’s nothing else, I can’t even feel my body. I am the car. So it takes me a while to extricate myself.

The first words I heard were: “He’s dead, Angel.

I shook my head and looked at Mitch. “What did you say?”

“Your wife’s professor, Murphy son of a bitch.”

“She told you?” I said blankly.

Mitch looked pained. “What did you think? She tells her daddy everything.”

“Not everything, I hope.” I spoke automatically. I peeled my gloves off and rubbed my face but didn’t feel it yet. “Where is she?”

“Hasn’t come down from the stands yet.” Mitch lowered his voice. “I never would have thought it of you, Angel.”

“Thought what?” I jerked my head around. I’d known Mitch longer than I’d known his daughter, and I’d never heard that tone of voice before. He just looked at me and shook his head. Then he turned away and started running his hands over my car the way a horse trainer feels for bumps and sprains on a thoroughbred’s legs. I stared at his back, too stunned to speak.

Then a track official came and grabbed my arm. “The trophy presentation is over here. We’re making it short, under the circumstances. And then you’ll have to talk to the police, I’m afraid.”

I gaped at him, but his words made perfect sense, all of a sudden. “You don’t think I did it on purpose!” I said.

He looked startled. “Hell, Angel, I never said that.”

I blinked, and recognized Pokey, a friend from my high-school days. He was the official now. “Sorry,” I said. “I’m still a little wound up. What happened?” I tugged at my helmet but it was stuck. I pulled harder, and felt something strange, like a cold knife in my skull. I looked at Pokey. “What’s up with my helmet?”

“Your face is bloody,” said Pokey, ignoring me. “Hey Mitch! Your son-in-law’s bleeding!”

Those were the last words I heard for a while. I don’t remember hitting the ground. Mitch says he caught me, but from the bruises on my face, I’d say he missed.

I woke up in the hospital. A large cop and Shawna were in the room with me. She looked like she’d been crying for a week, and I told her so. She heaved a huge sigh. “Angel, if you’re insulting me, you must be feeling better.”

I grinned at the trooper. “Hey George, how’s it going?” George folded his arms across his chest and looked at me.

“I think you’d better get a lawyer, Angel.”

“Shit George, you can’t believe I’d kill that guy on purpose?” I asked.

“Who said anything about killing?” He looked mystified. “It’s the professor’s wife suing your ass for a million dollars.

Now I was confused. “For what?”

“Film shows you rolling right over her husband.” George frowned. “When his car crashed, he got out and staggered right into your car’s path. I said get a lawyer, but it’s not like she’s got a chance to win her case. It’s just a formality.”

“He got out of his car?” I tried to sit up, got an instant headache, and lay back down. “What the fuck he do that for?”

“Stop swearing!” snapped Shawna. “You’re not at the racetrack, you’re in a hospital. There are pregnant women and officers of the law around.

“Pardon me, ma’am,” I said meekly. Then I said, “Huh?” and stared at my wife. “You’re pregnant?”

She smiled. “Sure am.”

“A baby!” I said. I looked at George. “I’m going to have a baby.”

He took his hat off. “Well, congratulations Shawna, he said, giving her a hug. Now you should go home and get some rest, you must be exhausted.”

“How long have I been here?” I demanded.

“Three weeks. Jesus, Angel, I was so scared!” Shawna burst into tears and threw herself on my bed, hugging me and covering me with kisses.

“What the f…I mean, what happened?”

“You had a hole in your head. A piece of metal from Murphy’s car went right through your helmet and into your skull. It was nailed to your head,” she said. “No one can figure out how you finished the race.”

“I won, didn’t I?” I asked.

“Of course!” she wiped the tears off her face and grinned at me. “Dad and Jerry took the check, they’re going to invest it for us.”

“Good old Mitch and Jerry,” I murmured. “What are they buying?”

“A race car,” she said. “We’re naming it Murphy’s Law.”

“The hell we are,” I said, “It’s going to be called Angel’s Lot.”

And then I hugged her tight and kissed her. I felt her heart speed up. It was like driving over a cliff with music blasting.

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