SPEEDLUST

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Chapter 13

The old woman sat sewing in her rocking chair on her front porch. Her husband and her had built that rocking chair many, many years ago, he was gone now, in fact everyone was gone except her grandson. After her husband’s death, the family just drifted apart pursuing their own lives and never thinking about the family, except her grandson, he stayed. His mama, her daughter, had died, his father had left, God knows where that boy was, but she hoped he would stay there. Her grandson wasn’t like either of them; no he was the spitting image of his grandpa in body and soul, always thoughtful and fiercely protective of his grandma.

She paused in her work and looked off across the field, not her field, just the farm that she and her grandson took care of for a share in the crop money. The blue Texas sky met the jagged line of the plowed up black earth in the distance. She loved this life and she had as far back as she could recall. It hadn’t been easy. She and her husband had faced adversity at every turn, the task at hand and her children had always been clean and well fed. They had seen to that first above all things and not just her children, but her grandchildren too. Now there was just the two of them.

That boy was the salt of the earth and he had a heart of gold, but life just seemed determined to crash all his dreams. “Lord, please listen to this old woman, you know I never asked you for anything for me, but Lord please cast your eyes down here upon this place and look into the heart of my young grandson. Cause I knows, if’n you do Lord, you will see what a fine young man this is, and while he would never ask for something for himself, Lord I’m a askin for you to help him and guide him so that he may be happy and if its in your plan, Lord maybe he can find a way, with your help, to see all his dreams come true, Thank You, Lord.”

The old woman averted her eyes from the Texas horizon and looked over at Reese’s picture on the stand beside her, she smiled, and a feeling of warmth crept through her, as she continued sewing and rocking. Fifteen hundred miles away drama was unfolding. Reese was in the battle of his life; he was drenched in sweat as his cool suit was out. The engine had a slight miss that came and went. The opposition drivers seemed to anticipate his every move and shut him down! The car and his body both were shouting to him. “Give it up!” But his mind said, “No, you can win! You can win!” Summoning strength from some unknown region Reese gathered it up, put away his doubts and focused on “You Can Win”.

Reese sat in the coolness of the dark bus, staring at his trophy, holding his check in his hand. This had all happened so quickly that his mind was playing catch up. His share of the winnings, eighty-six thousand dollars, this coupled with his last check gave him enough money to buy the farm his grandma lived on. He reflected on that, then on the years that he had watched his grandma barely making it and never a word of complaint or any indication that he was a burden. No, just the opposite, she had always been happy and gave him love and appreciation. Now came her turn to be appreciated and Reese knew just how to do it, as it had been a dream of his for some time.

Reese stared up to the ceiling and said, “Thank you Lord, for my grandma and for giving me my life and the opportunity to make her happy.” Reese put the check in his pocket then stood up to go out and celebrate with the team. He stopped as he caught a reflection of himself in the glass of a photo. He stared for a moment, proud of his accomplishments and who he was, and then he thought, “Thank you also for Jake Rhoad and giving him faith in me. I promise to never take it for granted and will try to let none of you, who gave me so much, never, ever let you down.”

Steele’s body is sore all over. The pain medication was wearing off. Never one to feel sorry for himself, he now had to battle back the misery created by his loss.

Now his eye fell on Jake sleeping in the chair by the window. A man with one friend like that, what does he have to feel sorry for himself about? Suddenly in his mind he hears a voice, “Old man, I think its time for you to retire from racing.” That whispering voice, a voice he knew. “Jake, Jake wake up! I think you need to get the police!”

Sandy was walking from the press-room when she saw him laughing and talking to a crowd of people, hanging on his every word. Joe Savage was with her, so she asked, “Joe do you know that rather large man in the red and white sport shirt?”

Joe looked over at the group Sandy had indicated with a nod of her head, “Oh yes, that’s Chad Johanson, owner of the Target team. He’s a rich guy that, up until this year, dominated this series.” They walked on and Joe added, “You know, I think Steele used to work for him.”

Sandy turned her head as they walked on looking at the man who looked up from his group of admirers to follow Sandy and Joe with a cold expression on his face. “So that was Johanson,” Sandy thought, then she said, “Joe would you take me to the police station?”

It was extremely dark on the tarmac, insects swarming around the lights illuminating the parking area around the hangars and tower. The Learjet sat ready out towards the runway. Three big men got out of their rental car and unloaded the bags from the trunk not saying anything as they did. “Just toss the keys in the floor board.” Instructed the one that didn’t carry any bags to the others. After closing the car door and trunk the three proceeded along the alley of parked cars towards the jet airplane.

Suddenly stepping out from between some cars came a small figure, walking into their path, stepping into a lighted circle, it was Joe Savage.

Recognizing Joe, one of the big guys carrying luggage whispered, “Watch him boss, that’s the little fucker, I was telling you about.” These two men, that Chad was never without these days, gave Chad confidence coupled with the arrogance of easy success, success that he could always buy or take.

“What in the hell do you want?” Chad uttered the question in a menacing tone.

Joe didn’t look intimidated at all. No, he was smiling and just stared at them without answering.

They stood there in the night for thirty seconds with no sound, and then Chad broke the silence, “C’mon guys,” and started to walk around Joe.

Joe stepped in front of him. “I know it was you that hurt Steele.” Joe spoke in a quiet matter of factly tone. His tone coupled with his manner, stopping Chad and his entourage in their tracks. Chad looked around staring into the darkness expecting to see team Rhoad/Steele emerge from the shadows.

“The point is I want some money or I might just have to tell my story to the authorities,” Joe had went right to the point as he couldn’t tell how long he could stay in the presence of these animals without smashing their faces.

Chad’s expression changed from what had become fear to contempt, this he could deal with, and buying off people was what he did best. “Yeah, I fucked that, smart ass old bastard up and he had it coming. How much do you want? Keep in mind if it’s too much, it might be cheaper just to make you…disappear.”

Joe had the expression as if he had just tasted something bad, then this changed back to his smile. “Oh, I always wanted my own airplane, how about you give me that one,” Joe nodded back over his shoulder, “and we’ll call it even.”

Chad’s eyes flattened into narrow slots and his face turned cold, “You, my little friend have just fucked up. When my boys finish with you, you will be nothing but dog meat. What we did to Steele you should have just accepted it and moved on, now it’s too late for you. Nobody fucks with me! Tear him up boys!”

The luggage dropped as the two men moved up on either side of Johanson when Joe suddenly moved forward--fast! Placing a gun under Johanson’s chin. Chad could feel the coldness of the metal where it was touching his skin. Chad stared down into the little man’s eyes and he had never seen a look that scared him so, it was sinister, diabolical, the eyes conveyed hatred that Chad thought could not be manifested with a look.

“Don’t touch him!” Chad shouted, “You can have the jet, anything!”

Joe pressed even harder and just stared for what seemed to Chad an eternity. “No, I don’t think I want it anymore,” Joe eared back the hammer on the pistol. “No, I think I’ll just make your head disappear,” Joe whispered it so low, but Chad heard every word. Joe pulled the trigger, a squirt of water sprayed onto Chad’s face. “Looks like we’re both getting you all wet,” Joe’s eyes were laughing at him, as the night came alive with armed people rushing in, hurling the three men to the ground, handcuffing them, reading them their rights.

“I’m going to get you…mother fucker!” Chad shouted, spitting as he spoke, the lights showing a red face that looked about ready to explode.

“First you better get a change of britches,” Joe responded, not looking scared at this latest threat.

Jake stepped out of the night as the police took the three criminals away. “He hates you now, Joe,” Jake spoke with emotion, watching the police lead them away.

Joe turned and watched, “Well, he had it coming.”

“Yes, he did, and that’s the same thing he said about Steele,” referring to what he had heard on the police microphone.

The police detective walked up and put his hand out. Joe placed the pistol in his hand. The detective shot it out to the side into the dark watching the stream of water. “Whose idea is this?”

Joe looked up and stated, “Mine, just in case…”

“Well, I hope it hasn’t screwed us up,” his voice tired and disappointed. The detective handed the gun back to Joe and walked off into the night.


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