Runaway Highway

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Chapter 8 - The Yellow Ford

Jolene Myers’ POV

I woke up to the sound of Johanna doing the dishes in the kitchen. I reached for my BiPAP machine and turned it off. I slowly pulled my legs from under the covers and rose from bed. I stayed seated for a few minutes while I wrapped my scarf around my head and put on my slippers and my soft robe. When I was ready I got up, using the wall of my small bedroom to help me not lose balance.

Everything was harder these days. Walking was tiresome, getting dressed was a herculean task, and breathing felt like I was doing hard manual labour. The only thing that kept me going my Jo.

Thankfully for me, our house was small enough that it only too a few steps to reach the living room. It wasn’t even 8:30 and Johanna had already tidied it up and was dealing with the few dishes we had left on the sink from yesterday’s dinner.

Johanna was humming a song as she put the dishes away in the cupboard.

“Good morning sweetheart.” I said to her, hugging her from behind. “Look at you! Looks like you’ve been awake for hours.”

“Morning mum. Yeah, I have to leave soon. I didn’t want to wake you up last night, but I have great news. I just made a deal with this guy names Sam. He’s so rich you wouldn’t believe it. Anyway, I managed to convince him to pay me 100 thousand.”

My heart skipped a beat. My jaw went straight to the floor. Johanna had a twinkle in her eyes.

“Honey, are you serious?” I asked. I felt blood rush to my face, warming up my dull skin. She was beaming at me.

“I told you everything would work out. I’ll call the hospital today to schedule the surgery, there’sno time to waste. I haven’t yet discussed with Sam how the payment is gonna work, but I’ll ask him for half upfront. That should do for now. Then, when the next race comes and he wins (he’s gonna have to win), he’ll pay the rest and I’ll pay what I owe to the hospital. Simple.”

She was pacing back and forth on the carpeted floor, getting her bag, getting her jacket, getting her tools. It was clear she was excited about this.

“Sweetie this is just amazing,” I sat down on a chair, still amazed at her feat. “But who is Sam again?”

“Oh he’s a Gazelle. I’m not yet sure what connections he has to the group but I’ll find out today.”

My blood ran cold in my veins. It could not be.

Johanna noticed my changing expression and she furrowed her eyebrows. “Is something wrong? Are you feeling okay?”

She immediately reached for the plastic bag we used to gorcery shop. I was usually sick in the morning most days, so she didn’t think too much of it. Good.

“Oh, no, I’m alright... I don’t know what came over me. I need to eat something, that’s all.” I faked smiled as she brought to the kitchen table the breakfast she had prepared for me.

“Alright mum, I have to go. I have to be at Gazelle’s house in Sharington Road at 9 and it’s still a 20 minute drive.” She leaned over and kissed my forehead, zipping her black bomber jacket.

“Johanna, just one more thing before you go,” I said, reaching for her hand. “Be careful. Don’t say too much. We don’t know these people.”

“It’s alright mum. He needs me so he won’t hurt me. I managed to keep myself out of trouble for this long, now is not gonna be any different.”

After that she went straight out the door.

I stood there emotionless for a few seconds, trying to make sense of what I had just heard.

My own daughter was going to Gazelle’s house.

Bile rose up to my throat. I managed to keep it down, but at what cost. Just the sound of that name repulsed me.

I got up, completely forgetting my food. With effort , I walked to my bedroom and opened my drawer. Inside, under old blankets, was a shoe box. I got it out and sat on my bed. This box contained all the things I had saved that belonged to Victor, apart from the tools and books about mehcnaics Johanna had kept.

I got out a picture of the three of us in our old house. I had to sell it shortly after I became ill or else we would have never been able to pay for my treatments. I loved that house so much. We have a nice garage where Victor worked and where Johanna, even as a toddler, watched him with googly eyes, mesmerized.

I had always shielded Johanna from the truth. It was better for her to think her dad was killed accidentaly in the crossfire of a prision riot than to think he had been deliberatily murdered.

I shivered. She’d be okay if she didn’t know anything.

Johanna’s POV

The morning was cold, but the sun was shining. The roads that lead to Sharington Road (the nicest part of town) were all decent, so getting there was no problem (although I had to drive literarly to the other side of town).

When I got to the road, I slowed down and admired the houses on each side. Some were more modern, some were older, but all of them had had renovations. They were all huge, none was without a wall or a fence to keep strangers from getting in or taking a peep inside. The street was lined with maple trees and at that time of the year the leaves were golden and red. I could only dream of ever living in a street like that.

When I got to Gazelle’s house I parked my car outside and texted him saying I had arrived. As I expected, his house was one of the most modern. It looked like it was three stories high, the exterior completely white. It reminded me of a contemporary museum.

A few moments later, the giant doors of the garage opened like the gates of heaven. Tentaively, I walked towards it. Sam was walking in my direction. He was wearing black jeans and an old grey t-shirt.

“Good morning Johanna,” He said to me, extending his hand. I was tempted to shake it, but I held back. I still had to show him who was in charge. He kept his hand suspended in the air and after a few awkward seconds he retreated.

“Nice house,” I said, making my way towards the garage. He had a nice cobbled stone patio at the front and I noticed vibrant grass towards the side of the house. He probably had a huge garden at the back with a pool or something. It would susprise me if he hadn’t.

“Thanks,” he stated dryly. Maybe I should have shaken his hand. I didn’t want to appear that cold. After all, we were partners now. “Come this way, I’ll show you to the garage.”

With a click of a button, the garage roared to life as the automatic door lifted upwards. From the look of the house I should have predicted that I’d find a fully equipped garage, but it nevertheless surprised me when I saw it. The only thing that separated his garage from a professional mechanic’s shop was the lack of a hydrolic car lift (which I didn’t expect him to have anyway).

I walked inside, taking in all the tools at my disposal. I placed my small toolkit on the first counter with a thump.

“Guess I won’t be needing this. From the looks of it you’ve got everything I’ll need.”

In the garage there were three cars. The first one, the car Gazelle had driven when we met at the windmills the night before. The second one, a really classy and luxorious car, a dark blue BMW 7 Series. The last one, a battered yellow Ford RS200. I recognised it immediately as being Gazelle’s race car not only because of the evident destruction but because that car was built to race.

“You have a pretty good fleet Gazelle, I have to say.” I said, earning a smile and a nod from him. “Which one did you pay for? Oh, let me guess, it was all with your daddy’s money.”

The smile on his face disappeared real quick. Was I stretching the rope too much?

“Alright, enough chatting. Let’s get down to business.” He tossed to me the car keys of the yellow Ford which I caught effortlessly. Even though Gazelle had left the garage door wide open to let the natural night come in, I took my jacket off so my arms wouldn’t be constrained.

Sam was standing close by, watching what I was doing. I didn’t mind him watching. After all, I was messing with his car and he barely knew me. I turned on the engine and listened. The car wasn’t even coming to life.

“So you said you drove your car here after the race right?” I asked. He nodded. I got up from the driver’s seat and opened the hood. “That could be for many reaons. It could be as simple as moisture under the distributor cap or a damanged ignition coil. I suspect it’s one or the other because you actually managed to drive it here, but once you turned off the car you couldn’t start it again. Now, let’s see what we got here.”

I noticed right away his car had many parts from here and there, parts which had been added and replaced throughout the years. That wasn’t inheriantly a bad thing, but when changing the original parts of a car you had to be experienced.

I sighed, already seeing some problem “I can’t be sure without testing the ignition coil and cleaning the disributor, but it seems like the problem might not be so easy. Let’s see... You see that the oil over there? That’s from the transmission. Because the Ford is a manual car, this sort of problem was bound to come sooner or later, especially since you drivers have no care whatsoever for the transmittion and just break it to pieces.”

I leaned back and looked at Sam. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. First, I’ll takle the ignition to see exactly why the car isn’t starting. If by some miracle the engine is intact, I’ll move to the transmission.”

He had his arms foleded over his chest, staring at the motor of his car. “Sure, whatever you think is best.”

Sam’s POV

I stood back as I watched Johanna work. It was amazing to see a young girl like herself know so much about the intricacies of a car. She was mostly quiet as she worked, sometimes humming to herself. I wan’t going to leave her alone in my house and with my car just yet, so I just sat down on a stool, awkward silence filling the air.

“So, how old did you say you were again?” I asked, trying to cut through the silence and make small talk.

Johanna was messing with some wires under the driver’s seat. She huffed as she brought her head from under the stearing wheel.

“Not very nice of you to ask a lady her age.” She said, a hint of humour in her tone. She reached for a pair of pliers. She was wearing high waisted jeans, a black tanktop and an old pair of converse. She wasn’t very muscular, but due to the cut of the top, her shoulders looked strong, her arms secure and confident. I to admit, having a pretty girl like her to look at was better than having hairy Dave sweat all over my car.

“I just asked because you seem pretty young, well actually, way too young to be doing what you’re doing. When did you start working on cars?”

Without lifting her head, she reached her arm. “You got some insulation tape?” She completely ignored what I said.

“Yeah.” I simply said, stunned at her nonchalantness.

“Fetch it for me, will you?” She wiggled her fingers, instructing me to get it.

I thought of saying something rude but ditched the idea. As long as she got my car running, she could be as annoying as she wanted. I reached for the special tape and placed it on her palm. Our fingers momentaringly touched. Her hands were hot.

“I’m twenty two.” She said after a few moments of silence, as if she hadn’t ignored me. “My dad was a mechanic. He really loved his profession. However, he died when I was really young and my mum kept hold of this tools and stuff. He didn’t teach me anything thought, I guess I only inhereted his talent.”

I had heard stories about Johanna growing up with a single mum, but I thought it was because her dad was not interested in having a family, so to speak. I didn’t know he had actually passed away and part of her life in her early years.

“I’m sorry.” I replied, not knowing what else to say. That was when George entered the garage through the door that lead into the house.

“Master Samuel, your mother is here to see you.”

I looked immediately at Johanna. Her eyes were glued to my butler as she tried not to laugh. Her eyes were twinkling, and I could tell she had an obnouxious comment on the tip of her tounge. Great, now she thought I was a spoiled brat. George also seemed surprised to see someone he didn’t know, much less a girl, with her head stuck under my car.

“I’ll be right up.” I simply said, giving George a look that told him to leave. “Can I trust you alone?”

Johanna cleared her throat “What did I tell you yesterday? I got your back.”

I felt a shiver run down my spine with her words. Somehow, it was sexy that she enjoyed annoying me while also being professional.

I left her in the garage and made my way upstairs. It would only be a couple of minutes anyway.

What could that woman possible want from me?

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