It Was One of Those Days - Pt VII


Here - watch THIS!
May 24, 2001
As I closed the door behind Jim and watched him walk on down the drive back to his cruiser, a cold wave of fear crept up my spine. Jim’s visit this time was not nearly as pleasant as the first time he was here – a fatality in a traffic accident that was potentially linked to street racing puts law enforcement in a foul mood. Jim was no exception to this.

Ned’s death completely changed the course of the investigation, according to what Jim said as he listened once more to my description of the night’s events only a scant two nights ago. Those two nights now seemed like another lifetime ago for some reason… most likely because so much had transpired but then changed and especially because so much emotion had been experienced during the same time. I have street raced my entire life; not a lot but I have off and on. Usually, the ‘races’ weren’t much of a race; mostly just two guys getting into an impromptu red-light run-off. And, for all those many, many years, not so much as a ticket for “Display of Excessive Acceleration” – until now. Now, my actions were under investigation for possibly contributing to the death of another person – something I had never so much as thought of before…

I guess that is what hit me the hardest – I WAS racing Ned. Had I not been, perhaps none of this would have happened. I kept replaying the events that night, over and over. To be honest, it was eating me up and Jim’s visit along with his serious tone really cast a pall over the idea of ever racing again. And that wasn’t me… competitive racing is in my blood and it runs deep. But this was something else… something I couldn’t quite grasp.

“Steve, it wasn’t your fault.”

Kelly’s words brought my thoughts back to the ‘now’.

“I don’t know, Kel… if I hadn’t been racing him, this wouldn’t have happened…” My voice just kind of trailed off.

“Stop it, Steve! Now listen to me and listen well. Yes, street racing IS stupid. But it goes on and ever since the second guy had a car way back when, racing on the street has been here. The truth is, if Ned hadn’t been racing you, he would have been racing someone else and the same thing might have occurred, perhaps worse. Maybe instead of hitting that pole, he might have hit some mom in a Minivan and wiped out a family. Did you ever think of that? Maybe instead of his motor blowing and causing the slide where it did, maybe he would have wiped out onto a sidewalk of school kids. YOU just happened to be the poor guy who was in the other lane but Ned was the one without any sense.”

I listened…

“Steve, Ned was an idiot. Yes, he’s dead but you can’t change that. But HE is the one who put that huge NOS kit on the car. HE is the one who took the stupid chances he did. HE is the one who lost control, not you. In the end, it’s a combination of fate and Ned’s stupid choices. If YOU had ran him off the road, if YOU had lost control and hit him, if YOU had caused his wreck, that would be one thing. THIS is different Steve… and you should know that…”

She moved closer and embraced me, her arms warm and kind…

“Honey, you didn’t cause his death. It was just one dreadful accident that was caused by a series of bad mistakes by Ned, not you. If you hadn’t been racing him, it would certainly have been someone else. And don’t worry about what Jim said about the D/A looking into the case. They HAVE to examine this because of the fatality. But it will be fine… really, it will be fine… ok?”

She looked up at me and smiled… I just wished that I believed her as much as she did…

* * * * * * *

By Wednesday, the story faded off the front page of the local newspaper and off the air on the local news. Ned’s funeral came and went a couple of days after that and the details about his wife finally surfaced. Seems he was separated from her and had been for nearly 3 years but they were still technically married. Vickie was his latest love interest and also attended the funeral, much to the dismay of Mira, Ned’s legal wife. The funeral went well, Ned was spoken of kindly in numerous ways, he was buried and things seemed to slow back down to normal. Jim had even called the day after the funeral and said that the Prosecutor had decided to not press any charges because he did not have any evidence or witnesses who would testify so it was a closed case. For the first time in days, I finally got a good night’s sleep.

The days and weeks passed and as they always do, they turned into months… winter came and went without much hoopla or snowfall. Thankfully, it was a mild one and the greedy CEO’s in the fuel/propane industry didn’t get as rich off me as I’m sure they wanted to. I even sent the Stage II block out after tearing it down for some work to fix the source of the leak which turned out to be not much at all. When it came back, Brandon and I reassembled it and I thought about putting it back in the GN but decided to wait a while, perhaps until late spring. Why? Well, mainly because I was thinking about buying something else and perhaps putting the Stage motor in it. The ‘something else’?

A gorgeous WE4 with a blown motor that a guy I had been bugging for years to sell. The car had less than 20k miles on it and had been in his garage from the day he bought it late in July of ’87. He blew the motor the second year he had it because he didn’t get the filter on tightly enough and lost oil – his wife had been driving it and thought the little red light on the dash meant she needed to check the oil the next time she filled the car up.

The engine seized up less than a mile from home. He towed it home, parked it in disgust, and there it sat, just waiting for someone to pick it up and bring it back to full glory. Well, that someone was going to be me – at least I hoped so. Assuming we could agree upon a price…


It was a glorious, mid-March Saturday evening. The temperature was bumping mid-50’s, the days were slowly but surely getting longer, and even the last of the snow was gone. Kids were seen wearing shorts and tee’s which I always thought was interesting. If the temps had been in the 80’s and dropped to the 50’s, they would have all been wearing parkas and snow boots. But after a long winter of slush and cold temps, let the thermometer climb to 50* and out come the flip-flops and the shorts! Funny, isn’t it?

I had been busy for most of the day cleaning the garage out and had even taken Kelly’s GTO out for a wash and drive. The GTO had grown on me over time – at first, I couldn’t see what she liked about it. I thought it was a bit of an ugly duckling but after driving the LS2 several times, I came to appreciate the car for what it was. It’s a luxurious, powerful automobile with an exceptional drive train and build quality. The interior was second to none and even though getting into the back seats was an exercise in patience-testing, the car was definitely impressive.

When I rounded the corner near our house, I saw Brandon’s car in the drive. Pulling in the drive and on into the garage to park the goat, I saw Brandon leaning against the primary work bench with his arms crossed, waiting patiently with a huge grin on his face.

I turned off the GTO’s 400hp LS2, removed the 2lb key/fob from the ignition (why DO they need a fob that HUGE?) and as I stepped from the car, Brandon just kept looking at me with that goofy grin of his.

Something was definitely up.

“Ok, B – spill it. What’s the reason for that stupid grin on your face? You look like you just got home from dollar night at Hooters.”

“Oh man, Steve… it really isn’t nothing. Other than I just wanted to tell you that the track is opening up next week! And I’m going!”

I had completely forgotten! The first weekend after spring, the strip finally opens and that was coming up. Brandon had been itching all winter to get his car down there and now here was his chance. And I had the itch too it seemed. I had retuned the GN, had pulled the motor from the WE4 (and I STILL felt I paid too much for the car but hey, they aren’t making them anymore…), and was in the process of rebuilding it, still swaying back and forth about putting the Stage 2 in it. I had plenty of time though so I wasn’t in any hurry. It wasn’t like I didn’t already have a car to drive.

The accident from last fall had been almost forgotten at this point but we never did hear any more about Ned’s affairs or what happened. Brandon had said that he heard that Mira got it all – and ‘all’ included two Shelby’s, an ’03 Lightning, an ’03 Terminator, a couple of Mach 1’s (a ’70 and an ’04) and some other toys including a PowerStroke Excursion. Seems that Ned had quite a stable – oh, and that included his wife’s Ford GT as well which was actually Ned’s. Apparently he gave it to her to drive – nice guy, eh? It seemed like it all might have been a bad dream… a really bad dream. Still, life had moved forward once more...

“So, you’re going too, right? To the track, I mean?”

“You know it, Brandon. I’m going. I’m hoping to bust into the 10’s with the GN but I don’t know. It will all hinge on traction and good air. But yes – I’m going. And Kelly had told me a while back she would like to take her goat and see what it could do. That would be interesting!”

We visited for a while as I listened to Brandon’s latest round of local car news. Nothing exciting but he had heard that a black and white Shelby had been seen around town and supposedly there was a wicked SRT-8 Charger or Magnum that had surfaced and that supposedly had been a test bed for some Super Charger company’s preliminary development work, possibly ATI or Vortech.

“If that’s all true Brandon, it should be an interesting year in the neighborhood. And these are just the two you’ve heard about.”

“Well, there’s another interesting angle besides these new rides…”

“What’s that?”

“If what I’m hearing is correct, Ned’s widow is the driver of the Shelby. And from what I’m told, she can drive.”

Now that WAS an interesting twist. Although I hadn’t seen the car around town, I was looking forward to doing so. And I certainly was looking forward to running Brandon’s stock Shelby at the track, if for no other reason than hoping he would let me take it for a pass or two.

Brandon’s car had really come into its own since the day he picked it up. Once he surpassed the factory loaded power reduction (some preset number of miles or engine starts), the power really woke up. He took me for a ride one evening and the stock tires did not have a prayer of hooking up. He already had bought a set of drag radials (E/T’s I think) and had them mounted on a spare set of wheels ready to go, so I hoped to see the beast put down some good times. But I wasn’t sure if his claim of ‘stock’ was legit (knowing Brandon, anything was possible) so I thought maybe I should ask.

“I haven’t heard you say much about mods – is your car still stock other than the wheels? Knowing you, it might have a twin-screw, smaller pulley, and more by now.”

Ah-HA! That grin! I knew he was keeping something under wraps.

“Well, to be honest, I did do one thing – I put a Cold Air Intake in it but that’s it. Other than the CAI and the drag radials however, the car is totally stock. It should be interesting.”

Just as Brandon finished his sentence, we heard the sound of a car that had some serious power coming down the road – actually, it sounded like two different cars. As they neared the curve in the road down from my drive, it was easier to tell it was two cars with two completely different exhaust tones and one even sounded like an automatic. Hmmm….

Brandon and I stepped out of the garage a bit and turned to look down the road into the setting early spring sun just as the lead car came into view. It was the black Shelby with the white stripes. And right behind it looked like a much larger car but one that’s exhaust note was almost overshadowing that of the Shelby – it looked to be an SRT-8 Charger. This car was not one you would lose in the parking lot – it was a bright red but had a blacked out hood and a black spoiler. While the Shelby appeared to be wearing stock size tires and wheels, the SRT-8’s looked to be 20’s but with very wide rear tires, perhaps 315’s or so from the way it looked. And the Charger even had a more sinister whine – it sounded like a big S/C was lurking beneath that power-bulged hood - which was very noticeable as both cars slowed as they neared my drive. Obviously, these were the two cars Brandon had just told me about only moments before…

B and I both thought that perhaps they were just slowing to get a look at his Shelby since his was actually hard to tell from a distance since it wasn’t striped. But when both of them stopped right in front of the house and sat there, it seemed as if they were doing more than looking.

Both cars’ windows were tinted so it was impossible to see who the drivers were but in the still, cool air of that March evening the sounds of the engines idling. Kelly even came to the door and looked out. In the setting sun, the two cars had a long, shadowy look…. There wasn’t any revving or thumping of a stereo as we often hear… they just sat there idling and whining

Idling… whining… idling… whining…

Then, the SRT-8 began to pull around the Shelby and then pulled up even, both noses now side by side. The size differential of both cars was amazing – the Shelby looked tiny compared to the girth of the Charger yet the Charger looked like it could have been just driven from the gates of Hell. The scooped hood, the big meats, the stance – it had a serious, take-no-prisoners attitude. And the paint – it was wickedly gorgeous to be honest. It looked like wet, red metallic, lava – lava that was still cooling…

Brandon and I just stood there, our arms crossed, watching and waiting to see what the two cars were going to do. Perhaps a smoky burnout, as if to challenge? Or, a quick race as if to demonstrate?

Idling… whining… idling… whining…

But then, the sound of transmission linkage being engaged was barely heard above the engine noise. And ever-so-slowly the SRT-8 came on around the Shelby and got back in the lane as the Shelby began to accelerate as well. Very, very slowly both cars drove on by the house and then went on down the road. B and I watched them go on over the slight rise which was about a half mile down from my drive. Neither of us thought to look at the plates – the cars were gorgeous and kept our eyes busy enough.

Brandon turned to me then and then asked, “What do you make of that? Speak of the devils!”

“I don’t know Brandon but didn’t you say that Ned’s wife was supposedly driving a black Shelby around town?”

“Yeah, I did. So, maybe that was her. But I don’t know who owns the SRT-8 and actually, I’m not even positive the Shelby is Ned’s old one. It’s just that I heard she was the driver of one running around town – this one might be a completely different one, I just don’t know…although it would be hard to believe there are even more Shelby’s around. It’s got to be her, don’t you think?”

“Well, I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. They seemed to be interested in your car, that’s for sure!”

Brandon shook his head. “I don’t think they were looking at my car at all, Steve. I think they were looking at something else.”

“What would they be looking at?” I asked...

“What’s sitting over there inside that far bay of your garage, perhaps...? Some people do know about it, you know… maybe they were looking to see ‘it’.”

“I don’t think anyone knows about that car, Brandon… It’s never left the garage yet except at night. It’s not quite ready and I’m still waiting on the new turbo’s plus the experimental air/water intercooler so it hasn’t even been on the street this year at all.”

“I don’t know, Steve. Word gets around…. I’m betting they’re looking for the big dog in this town. Everyone knows where the biggest dog house is… my guess is that they’re more than just curious. For now, anyways…”

To be continued…
You my friend, are the man.
This one is great.
Can't wait for the next chapter.

Are you a literature teacher by chance?
Just curious.
Wonderful story, it would make a good pilot for a TV series.
Thanks for the feedback, guys.

No, I'm not a literature teacher but I did take several courses in Creative Writing, Literature, English, and such both in High School and in College.

Part VIII will probably be up ~Tuesday or Wednesday due to the holidays.

I usually write each chapter at one sitting, taking around an hour or possibly two to get it down and edited for grammar and syntax (although as you've seen, I miss a few here and there! LOL)

I hate predictable stories. I like to read about things that make me 'feel' something or make me imagine the feeling. I think this is why I prefer reality based writings and that describes my style (I've been told, anyways). Sights, smells, feelings (tactile and emotional), tastes, and sounds are things I try to always interweave in my stories and I think it helps us all connect.

Have a very Merry Christmas. And the rest of the story will be up soon. (Although Part VIII is not the last chapter... ;) )
Your stories make me feel like I'm right there with these people.


Good. That's the goal when I write - to make you feel 'involved' and there. If you 'feel' something, it is more real, even if it is an emotion such as happiness or even sadness. Emotions are real and experiencing them adds realism.

Thanks for the feedback. :cool:
my wife keeps asking what are you reading, i tell her that this post is so good that i cant stop reading it ,you are great at this.
Oh Man, I waited to start reading until Part VII was up, because I thought it was the final chapter. After spending around an hour reading, I'm still caught at a cliffhanger:eek: .

As always Raven, a Great story and good inspiration in my own english class writings:D
Part VIII and possibly Part IX will be posted tonight - if all goes well! ;)
LOOK MAN! You've got us strung out like a bunch of junkies... We just need a little something ta take the edge off. You know. Just a few sentances or even a paragraph. No big deal.

Just, for God's sake HURRY!!!

Your friend Keith Richards.:eek: